Category Archives: Bible Students

God’s Witnesses

witnessesIsaiah says, “You are My witnesses declares the LORD.” (Isaiah 43:10) The rest of Isaiah 43 shows that God’s witnesses are the Jews. For example, verse 22 says, “Yet you have not called on Me, O Jacob; but you have become weary of Me, O Israel.” The Jews are the unwilling witnesses to the truth of the Bible since their unusual history was mapped out in advance in its pages.  The Bible says the Jews will be hated everywhere. “I will make them a terror and an evil for all kingdoms of the earth, as a reproach and a proverb, a taunt and a curse in all places where I will scatter them.” (Jeremiah 24:9)

They would be scattered to every nation. The Bible says, “Moreover, the LORD will scatter you among all the peoples, from one end of the earth to the other…” (Deuteronomy 28:64; see also Ezekiel 20:23)

It would seem obvious that if the Jews were spread thin over all the earth, they would disappear marrying the Gentiles and blending in with them, but God said this would not happen. “‘For I am with you,’ declares the LORD, ‘to save you; for I will destroy completely all the nations where I have scattered you, only I will not destroy you completely.’“ (Jeremiah 30:11)

Seventy years after the Jews went into captivity in Babylon they returned to the Holy Land under Ezra and Nehemiah just as Jeremiah 29:10 predicted.

Deuteronomy says a nation symbolized by an eagle would fight against the Jews. (Deuteronomy 28:49-50) The standard of the Roman Empire was the eagle.

The Jews would be, “led captive into all nations” until the end times (Luke 21:24)

They would return to Israel gradually. (Ezekiel 37:1-10) It was 51 years from the first Zionist conference until Israel became a nation in 1948.

They were to become one nation and not two, like they had been before. (Ezekiel 37:21-22)

This was an unusual prophesy happening to the Jews alone. Truly they are God’s witnesses.

Believing in the True Doctrine

doctrineIt is in fashion at this time to believe it does not matter what you believe as long as you believe Christ is your Savior, and lead a good life. People who believe this ignore the fact that the reason Eve sinned was she believed a lie! It is important to believe the truth because false doctrine leads to sin.

Solomon knew this because he said, “Zeal without knowledge is not good; a person who moves too quickly may go the wrong way.” (Proverbs 19:2)

The New Testament also says false doctrine leads to sin. I Timothy 6:4 says, “Anyone who teaches anything different is both conceited and ignorant. Such a person has an unhealthy desire to quibble over the meaning of words. This stirs up arguments ending in jealousy, fighting, slander, and evil suspicions.” Paul tells us we must avoid having, “…lustful passions as the Pagans do in their ignorance of God and his ways.” (I Thessalonians 4:5)

Not only does the Bible tell us that lies lead to sin, it also tells us that Truth leads to righteousness. Paul said, “This same Good News…is changing lives everywhere. Just as it changed yours…” (Colossians 1:6) This is why Jesus said, “You are truly my disciples if you keep obeying my teachings, and you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)

It is common these days to say right living is important: right doctrine is unimportant. This view ignores the fact that sin entered the world because Eve believed a lie. False doctrine leads to false practice as untruth leads to sin – thus it is important, not only to avoid false doctrine, but also to learn and to practice the teachings of Jesus.

I Will Come Again

2nd coming“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I WILL COME AGAIN, and
receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John
14:3

When this age-abiding promise was first uttered by Jesus to his
apostles, it did not make sense. To the naturally minded men who
followed Jesus, they assumed the logical move would be for Jesus to
take charge as a King, throw off the yoke of Roman bondage, exalt the Jews and bless the world. Why should he leave now? There was work to be done here. When Jesus spoke of his death and strangely of his leaving, the idea simply did not fit into their expectations.
But as they wended their way along the path to Gethsemane, Jesus had assured them, If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again.

Dazed, these words made little impression on his little band. But forty days later on Mt. Olivet, huddled together in amazement with eyes turned heavenward, straining to catch the last glimpse of their
ascending Lord, this promise came alive. “I will come again.” Yes their beloved Master would return. The Apostles wove that glorious theme into the fabric of their ministry and their very lives.

No other doctrine is discussed more in the New Testament—over one third of its writings deal with this momentous event. How our hearts trill at the hope of being united with the returned Lord, our heavenly Bridegroom, seeing him as he is, living with him and experiencing his love forevermore—and the reality of reigning with him (Rev. 20:5) in a kingdom that extends to the ends of the earth, bringing “peace…like a river and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream.” Isa. 66:12

Long have faithful Christians prayed with the Apostle John, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” Centuries have passed. Seemingly nothing has
happened. But suddenly our day is charged with an air of expectancy.

Few would question that we are living in an unprecedented time of
human history. Most Bible-believing Christians feel we are living in
the very time the Bible says Christ is to return. There is a surge of
interest in prophecy—a revival of interest in the second advent. Many speak of the imminent coming of Christ. This expectancy is based on our Lord’s Great Prophecy recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 17 and 21. Many believe that the nearness of Christ’s return is indicated by such signs as the following: Israel restored (Matt. 24:32; Jer. 16:13-18); knowledge and travel increased (Dan. 12:40); evils exposed as never before (Luke 12:2; 1 Cor. 4:5); infidelity rampant from university to pulpit (Luke 18:8; 2 Tim. 4:1-4); men seeking pleasure, morality rotting (2 Tim. 3:1-5, 13); strikes, walkouts (James 5:1-4); racial strife, riots (Zeph. 1:7-9)’ juvenile delinquency (2 Tim. 3:2); wars and war preparations intensified (Joel 3:9-11); men crying fearfully for peace (1 Thess. 5:3, Luke 21:26); trouble everywhere (Matt. 24:21,22).

But let us take a closer look at our Master’s words and see what these signs really prove.

And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him
privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming [Greek, parousia], and of the end of the world? Matthew 24:3

Coming or Presence

The Greek word translated “coming” is parousia. It really means
“presence.” If parousia means “presence,” then the fulfillment of the
signs of this prophecy would mean that Christ is not coming shortly,
but he is already secretly here as a “thief in the night.” Remember, the Scriptures show that Christ’s initial return would be a thief-like, secret presence (1 Thess. 5:2; 2 Pet. 3:10; Rev. 16:15) before “every eye shall see him.” The following dictionaries (standard works in fundamentalist and evangelical bookstores) confirm this definition of presence.

W. E. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words:
Parousia, literally, a presence, para, with, and ousia, being…denotes
both n arrival and a consequent presence with.”

Robert Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible: Parousia, a being alongside, presence.”

Moulton and Milligan’s Vocabulary of the Greek Testament Foreword: “Parousia, as applied to the return of the Lord, is simply the anglicizing of the Greek word which literally means ‘presence.'”

The Bible Definition

However, we are not confined to dictionary definitions. The Lord has provided a Scriptural definition for the Greek word parousia. Parousia appears in Matthew 24:27 where it is mistranslated “coming.” The following chart compares its parallel citation in Luke 17:26, providing the Bible’s own definition for parousia.

Matthew 24:37Luke 17:26 But as the days of Noah were, = As it was
in the days of Noah, so shall also the parousia of the Son of man be =
so shall it be in the days of the Son of man.

The phrase “parousia of the Son of man” in Matthew 24:27 means the same as the phrase, “in the days of the Son of man” in Luke 17:26. the “days of the Son of man” (Luke 17:26) refers to the time that Christ is present, just as the “days of Noah” would refer to the time when Noah was present among his wicked generation. Therefore, parousia in Matthew 24:37 should be translated “presence of the Son of man” instead of “coming” of the Son of man.”
This is further confirmed by the Apostle Paul’s usage of the word. The thought of “presence” is plainly shown by the contrast with “absence” in Philippians 2:12. “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence [Greek, parousia] only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” This is also shown in 2 Corinthians 10:10.

Evangelical and Fundamentalist Consent to “Presence”

The Emphasized Bible translated by Rotherham is published by Kregel, an evangelical publishing house. Rotherham relates his struggle with the word parousia in the third edition of his translation. Although contrary to his theology, he acknowledged that parousia means “presence” and so translated it in every occurrence. He states on p. 271 in the Appendix:
“In this edition the word parousia is uniformly rendered ‘presence’
(‘coming,’ as a representative of this word, being set aside). The original term occurs twenty-four times in the N.T., viz.: Matthew 24:3, 27, 37, 39; 1 Corinthians 15:23; 16:17; 2 Corinthians 7:6, 7; 10:10; Philippians 1:26; 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 3:3; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 2:1, 8, 9; James 5:7, 8; 2 Peter 1:16; 3:4, 12 and 1 John 2:28. the sense of ‘presence’ is so plainly shown by the contrast with ‘absence’ (implied in 2 Cor. 10:10, and expressed in Phil. 2:12) that the question naturally arises,—Why not always so render it? The more so, inasmuch as there is in 2 Peter 1:16 also, a peculiar fitness in our English word ‘presence.’

This passage, it will be remembered, relates to our Lord’s
transformation upon the Mount. The wonderful manifestation there
made was a display and sample of ‘presence’ rather than of ‘coming.’
The Lord was already there; and, being there, he was transformed (cp. Matt. 17;2,n.) and the ‘majesty’ of his glorified person was then
disclosed. His bodily ‘presence’ was one which implied and exerted
‘power’; so that ‘power and presence’ go excellently well together—the ‘power’ befitting such a ‘presence’; and the three favored disciples were at one and the same moment witnesses of both.”

Harry Rimmer (D.D., Sc.D.), who was styled “Fundamentalism’s
outstanding spokesman” until his death, admitted that the word
parousia meant personal presence. In his book, The Coming King, he
observed that the Greek word parousia is used 13 times in describing the return of Christ and not once does it have the thought of “coming.”

Christianity Today (a well-known evangelical magazine) published a
series of essays on “Fundamentals of the Faith.” the essay in booklet
form on “The Second Advent of Christ” had this to say about parousia: “…let us look at the Greek words used in the New Testament for the idea of the return. First of all, there is the word parousia, which means basically ‘presence.'”

No doctrine is more frequently mentioned in the New Testament that Christ’s second advent. Yet, few doctrines have been as greatly
fragmented into such diversified concepts. Much of the beauty of this doctrine has been wrested from the grasp of God’s people. All secular Greek dictionaries define parousia, “presence.” Most Biblical
dictionaries likewise define parousia, “presence.” Most current
fundamentalist and evangelical writings on the second advent usually begin by correctly defining parousia, “presence.” Then a strange thing happens. Somehow the word “coming” replaces “presence.” Incorrect theology requires parousia to be translated “coming,” but Scriptural harmony requires that it be translated “presence.”

“Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth”

Historically there is not a single Protestant concept of the second
advent that has an unbroken lineage back to the time of the
Reformation. Since that time, Bible-believing Christians have
fluctuated among a number of conflicting concepts.

Our purpose in this work is to set aside all theories of men and
ascertain from the Scriptures, and the Scriptures alone, the glorious
beauties of this momentous event. The faithful Christian is to “study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). The Word of Truth was originally written in Hebrew and Greek. But now the average Christian is no longer dependent upon the translators or scholars to determine the meaning of a specific Hebrew or Greek word in a given text. In fact, many of the new “translations” are mere
paraphrases of former translations, with little or no consideration given to the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts. Further, even the best
translations have some flaws since they are the works of man.

The ready accessibility of Biblical concordances, Hebrew and Greek
dictionaries and lexicons in libraries and Bible bookstores is one of the blessings of our day. With the Bible in one hand and a concordance and lexicon in the other, the average Christian can verify the meaning of original words in the Hebrew Old Testament or Greek New Testament manuscripts. He can be a “workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

For many centuries, the church has been on a rough and stormy sea
longing for the blessed haven of Christ’s return. Now, with the chart
and compass of God’s word, the Christian can trace the various
independent lines of prophecy and see the blessed haven just before
him. As there is the danger of shipwreck upon reefs just beneath the
water’s surface along many shorelines, so the Christian must be his own mariner avoiding the ensnarements of unscriptural or even partially Scriptural theories on the second advent. As a “workman that needeth not to be ashamed,” he will utilize, whenever necessary, the tools that make the Hebrew and Greek texts of Scripture readily accessible.

If this work inspires the reader to a deeper search of the Scriptures on this subject, then it will have made a contribution to the fellowship of believers.

A Secret Presence Before “Every Eye Shall See Him”

Having observed that the word parousia means presence and not
coming, Matthew 24:3 properly reads: “What shall be the sign of thy
presence and of the end of the world?”

Luke 21:25 refers to “signs” in the plural.

The Scriptures show that the first stage of our Lord’s parousia,
presence, will be secret. “The day of the Lord will arrive [will be here,
Greek, heko—see Strong’s, Young’s or Vine’s] as a thief.” 2 Peter 3:10, Rotherham A thief enters a house quietly, doing a secret work.
Consequently, the first works of our returned Lord are during a secret presence. The world will, at first, be unaware that Christ has returned.

“But ye brethren are not in darkness that day should overtake[implies, a period of overlapping] you as a thief.” 1 Thess. 5:4 Later, his presence will be made manifest to all. The Scriptures use another Greek word, apokalupsis, to describe this revealment to all. “The Lord Jesus shall be REVEALED [apokalupsis] from heaven in flaming fire taking vengeance.” 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8 It is in reference to this revealment to all, that Scriptures like Revelation 1:7 apply; “He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him.” Christians, who are not overcharged with the cares of this life, will experience the joys of discerning the signs of his secret presence (Luke 21:34-36), before they are “caught up together” with him.

The Binding of Satan

binding-of-satanThere are six pictures or Jesus establishing the Kingdom round in the last three chapters or Revelation.  The binding or Satan is the first or these six.  The restraint or Satan’s power is the keynote of Rev. 20:1-3.  Jesus is here correlating things that he had told the apostles and disciples before.  We will consider some or these in discussing this passage.  In reading the passage we see several important points.  In verse 1 we read about the angel which comes down from heaven having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.”  The angel is Jesus, who has the keys to hell and death.  (Rev. 1:18)  The key is to the bottomless pit, and represents power to release and confine anything or anyone in the confines or its door.  The bottomless pit represents oblivion. The Diaglott translates it as the deep abyss.  It certainly represents a condition or complete restraint.  The second thing the Lord has in his hand is a chain.  We will examine this symbol later.

In the second verse the symbols continue.  The person referred. to by the four symbols emphasizes Lucifer, God’s archenemy, in all his various disguises and forms.  In Vol. 4 foreword, pages V to VIII, Bro. Russell identifies the Dragon as Rome, the world civil power.  This is elaborated in Reprint article, page 4609 (The Binding of “The Strong Man”).  The serpent identifies him as the father or lies and evil associated with deception.(John 8:44)  The word Devil” in the King James Translation is translated accuser’ in the Diaglott.  Satan has accused God’s people or various dishonesties, wearing them out in their stand for righteousness at any cost.  He is also the accuser of God Himself–“And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die; for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.’  (Gen. 3:4, 5)  Rather than “Satan” as in the King James version, the Diaglott renders it as “Adversary.”  Remembering God’s curse on Satan in the Garden or Eden, we see here the early stages of the execution of that curse of Gen. 3:15–“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”

The rest of verse 2 (Rev. 20) says that God’s archenemy is bound 1,000 years.  Two very important elements are here, for an incorrect thought on either the binding, what it is what it is not, or the 1,000 years will give us the wrong thought entirely.

Binding here comes from the Greek word, “de’o.”  It means to bind, fasten, tie when translated literally. Vine’s commentary on the Greek text says that when used symbolically, it implies a restraint or collective process. Arndt and Gingrich suggest that it is used metaphorically.  Remembering that we are reading Revelation as signs, or symbolically (Rev. 1:1) we will do ourselves harm to read only the literal meaning out of “bound” and ignore its symbolic significance.  We will examine other uses or the word “deo” in the symbolic sense and will see the appropriateness or the thought or restraint in a collective way.  The 1,000 years here, as in other uses, refer to the length or time Jesus is to bind or restrain Satan, not less and not more than the length or time Jesus is to bind or restrain Satan, not less and not more than 1,000 years.  The time periods and numerical values or Revelation should evidently be understood literally to be consistent with other Scriptures about the same measures. Thus, the emphasis or verse 2 is that Satan is restrained in a collective sense, a period or 1,000 years.

Verse 3 (Rev. 20) also tells us that Jesus also puts Satan into the abyss. And there he shuts him up, absolute confinement from humanity, and sets a seal on him, without hope of anyone without the “key” releasing him.  The purpose is to keep the devil from the deception he had practiced for over. 6,000 years.  It is important to recognize here that even though Satan is spoken of as being restrained by the chain (bound) for 1,000 years, the Scriptures are not saying that he is placed into the pit (absolute confinement from humanity) for the full 1,000 years.  This distinction is very important for the Lord is telling us that Satan is restrained (bound) for the 1,000 years and that for the latter part of the 1,000 years, his restraint is so complete that it is likened to solitary confinement, (in the abyss).  The purpose of the abyss confinement is to stop the deception Satan has practiced on the nations previously.  It is not until he is put into the abyss, then, that he stops the practice of deception on the nations.  This distinction makes it clear that Satan is permitted to deceive the nations during the early part of his binding period, the part that is not also the time he spends in the abyss.  However, the binding of the first part of the 1,000 years when he is restrained, but not to the extent of absolute confinement, restrains him to some degree from the license he exercised prior to the 1,000 years.  So we have three conditions identified:  1)  Satan being fully at liberty to deceive the nations before; the 1,000 years, 2)Satan having his liberty to deceive the nations restrained, with his deceptions permitted only to the extent Jesus saw it could be used to destroy its own influence, and 3) complete restraint and confinement, that the nations would not be deceived by him until the end of the 1,000 years.  The last part of verse 3 tells us that he will be released from the abyss, complete confinement, to again serve the interests of righteousness by practicing deceit on the nations.  This condition is elaborated in verses 7 through 10.  We are assured there that his final loosing will serve the purpose of exposing the dishonest among the human family in the Kingdom, and finally end in Satan’s own complete destruction.

Satan’s Liberty and Restraint

Verses 4 and 5 (as corrected by the removal of the spurious part) are not part of the description of Satan’s binding, but serve to emphasize the condition of the Church during that time.  They show that the 1,000 years is coincident with the period of the first resurrection.

So we see that the power struggle of the two great enemies, Jesus and Satan, is described in a capsule. The 1,000 years is the time when righteousness is being exercised to restrain the power and influence of Satan for the eventual destruction of evil practices and finally Satan himself.  But to understand the process by which this is achieved we must investigate the doctrinal statements relating to the working of good and evil during the 7,000 years, and the triumph of Jesus’ power during the last of those 7,000 years.

First we must recognize that Satan’s power is restrained in varying degrees for the entire 1,000 years, though it is not eliminated until some time after the 1,000 years have started.  The Scriptures tell us the magnitude of Satan’s power before the 1000 years have started.  They say that he had great power.  1 John 5:19 tells us that the whole world lieth under the evil one (Diag. translation).  Eph. 2:2 calls Satan the prince of the power of the air, whose spirit works in the sons of disobedience. Both these Scriptures emphasize that Satan’s power included the domination of the world as well as controlling the evil spirit beings.  It is very significant that both apostles recorded the power of Satan over the world and evil spirits but not over the true church.

Satan’s power is referred to in symbol as darkness.  This refers to the darkness of the mind enchained by ignorance, dishonesty, superstition. As noted above, John 8:38, 41, 44 refer to Satan as a liar from the beginning and the father of lies.  2 Cor. 4:4 refers to him as the god of this world who has blinded the minds of the human family, to keep them from recognizing God.  2 Cor. 11:13-15 tells us that Satan is transformed into an angel of light.  The word here translated “transformed” is a very different word from that of Rom. 12:2.  In the Romans reference the word comes from the Greek metamorpho meaning an orderly change, as in the change of a caterpillar to a butterfly, and a justified, spirit begotten human being into a New Creature.  The word in 2 Cor. 11, referring to Satan’s change comes from the Greek metaschematizo, meaning to change in fashion or appearance.  It is not a real change that Satan makes, in-to an angel of light, only an appearance of a change.  He is really an angel of darkness, and is content to appear only as an angel of light. The Scriptures carry the thought of false angels of light over to Satan’s associate angels.  They too only appear as angels of light, while really remaining as angels of darkness.  Paul tells us, in 2 Thess. 2:1, 10 that Satan’s power and signs and lying wonders exercised with all deceivableness of unrighteousness extended to those under his influence. The devil’s power, dishonesty and deceit of the people, are referred to as that of a sorcerer, producing a child of the devil, full of subtlety and mischief.  Satan, joined by the consortium of evil angels, is a prince over his household.  (Eph. 2:2; 2 Pet. 2:4)  The great organizations of Christendom are his masterworks of deceit.  He has put the administration of its various religious, political, economic and social institutions under the authority of his loyal, evil angels.  Jude 6 tells us that Satan’s disciples are confined in chains of darkness. Satan’s superior control, through the chains of darkness, has kept the institutions loyal to his designs.  The chains of Jude 6 are translated from the Greek word desmos, meaning bonds.  The close association of deo–meaning bound in Rev. 20:2–and desmos–meaning chains in Jude 6, emphasizes the restraint of the victim, though in both cases the restraint alone does not mean immobilization.  In the Revelation Scripture, the complete immobilization is referred to by the abyss condition.  Therefore we see that Satan’s power is represented by darkness and is literally deceit, dishonesty (in their various forms) and ignorance, even over his own household.

However, great as Satan’s power is, it is not supreme.  The Scriptures record our need to be armed with the righteousness of God and exercise it as our faith.  (Eph. 6:11, 12; 1 John 5:4)  In so doing we will be free of the power of the evil one.  Satan’s power has always been restrained from doing injury to the New Creation.  Jesus reassures us of this in John 14:30 where he tells us that the prince of this world has nothing in him.  Paul also warns us that we wrestle not with flesh and blood, but with Satan and his minions, to be victorious if we keep on the whole armour of God.  And we are delivered “from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of His dear Son.”  Thus we see that Satan held virtually complete power over the people of the world, the nations.  But when it came to his power over the church, he is deficient because of Jesus’ righteousness and our growth in the truth, the light.

In reviewing Satan’s power, we note three conditions of its restraint:  1) by God’s power, 2) at God’s time and by His discretion, and 3) by the use of the truth–as may have been specified.  We recall the experience that Job had, due to his faith in the Lord, and Satan’s jealousy of that faith.  God’s permission to Satan included the restraint of Satan’s power to take Job’s life.  God here literally restrained Satan’s power.  Just how He did it we do not know.  But we do know that His restraint was sure because Job’s life was saved.  Satan’s power is also restrained by Jesus and the Church.  The Scriptures tell us that both use the truth to destroy sin, with the symbolism of light destroying darkness. In Matt. 4:1-11 we learn about Jesus rejecting Satan’s influence, or restraining his power by a “thus saith the Lord;” Jesus’ use of the truth. In 1 John 3:8-12 the apostle John is telling us that Jesus’ power destroys the works of the devil.  The Apostle Paul emphasizes the restraining of Satan’s power over even the weak ones in the Truth because the power of the  Holy Spirit in Bro. Timothy was strong enough to recover the weak “out of the snares of the devil.”  In Rev. 12:9-12 the Apostle John sees the Christian overcoming Satan by the blood of the Lamb and the Word of the Testimony.  Again Satan’s power is thwarted by the greater power of Jesus’ sacrifice and the power of the Truth to overcome evil of any kind.  In 1 Pet. 5:8, 9 the apostle tells us to resist the devil by steadfastness in the faith.  Again the devil a power is restrained by the Truth and its faithful use.

Our Lord had a very important experience with the scribes when they accused him of casting out devils by Beelzebub.  (Mark 3:22-27; Matt. 12:22-30; Luke 11:14-26)  .Reading these passages gives us an important insight into the relationship of Jesus’ and Satan’s powers.  The element of time is clearly shown as a vital part of their relationship.  And the delay of Jesus, to exercise his power over Satan, is in itself a special power.  In reading the passage in Luke, we note several points. First, Satan is not casting out himself when his scheme is failing. Second, the casting out of demons indicates the exercise of a greater strength than Satan’s, for if he seems to rise against himself, it means his schemes are failing and his defeat is near.  Also, the Lord said again that Satan’s empire would be near its end when his house was divided.  And he stressed Satan’s fall again by saying that when Satan’s kingdom was divided it meant its fall.  Jesus established the point of Satan’s loss of power three different ways.  It must be very important for us to understand our Lord to repeat it three times.  After the emphasis of three references, then Jesus explains that in order to break up Satan’s house, he, Satan, must first be bound.  The word here of bind is the Greek word de’o, meaning to bind, fasten, tie and thus to restrain.  Then Jesus explains that the binding would occur as a surprise, that it would be done by one who was stronger than Satan and one who would have the authority to restrain Satan.  And then, to make the timing of the binding very clear to us, Jesus said that the binding would occur before the spoiling of Satan’s goods.  It is important to note here something that Jesus did not say.  Jesus said that he would bind Satan, restrain his power.  But he did not say that we could recognize that restraint by a lessening of evil in the world.  He said that we could recognize that restraint by the dividing of Satan’s kingdom and his house.  The lessening of evil would have been an obvious sign of the dividing of Satan’s house, if it were a valid sign.  And the parable would have been an appropriate place for Jesus to include the lessening of evil as a valid sign, if it were.  But, we believe, the fall of Satan’s kingdom and house means greater evil than when Satan was in full power, not less. The Luke passage adds a portion of Jesus’ advice not included in the other passage.  Verses 23-26 of Luke 11 seem to allude to Satan’s minions of evil angels who revolt from Satan a power and now, for their own evil purposes, start using the part of Satan’s empire they formerly controlled for their evil prince.  In both cases their control is against Jesus (V. 23), but when they control the evil institution for their own benefit, rather than Satan’s, the evil seems to be uncontrolled.  It also seems to degenerate to an even lower level than when under Satan’s own power.

Recognizing that before the disintegration of Satan’s empire can start Jesus must have begun his restraint over the evil one, let us examine some Scriptural bindings where the Greek word deo is used.  In Matt. 16:19 our Lord commissioned Peter with power to restrain or loose as he was directed by the Holy Spirit in promoting the Kingdom message.  He told Peter that his actions would be recognized and honored in heaven.  And we see Peter explaining the freedom from the law and the liberty and bondage of Christ not only to the Jews but also finally to the Gentiles. Paul was bound in the spirit to go to Jerusalem.  (Acts 20:22)  A wife is bound to her husband (Rom. 7:2) by the law until her husband dies.  In Luke 13:16 the beloved physician tells us that Satan bound a woman to her infirmities.  There are many other general statements of binding.  They, as these, refer to restraint in some manner or form, and to a greater or lesser or unspecified degree.  As in the case of the married woman, she was to reserve certain rights to her husband only.  But the law did not prescribe that she had no rights of her own.  It did not incapacitate her as a person by binding her to her husband.  The binding in each of these cases of the use of deo refers to a definite restraint of the one bound but not the incapacitation of the bound one.

Now let us consider the binding of Satan in the context of what we have already considered here.  First we recognize that the parable Jesus gave about the binding of the strong man refers to the same binding as in Rev. 20:1-3.  We note that there is only one binding of Satan by Jesus because there is only one destruction here.  Secondly, we recognize that the act of binding of Satan began very early in the Lord’s second presence (Matt. 24:43) for if Satan had realized our Lord’s presence he would have avoided his own binding and the consequent binding of his goods and house. Thirdly, Satan’s binding is symbolic (Rev. 1:1) and represents restraint in some form, symbolized by the chain.  The chain representing the restraining force, must include more than one thing.  We do not know the actual description of everything used to restrain Satan as a spirit being. But whatever it is, it binds Satan to permit the collapse of his empire. As Bro. Russell points out, the chain includes the truth.  We have seen references of its power are symbolized in Isa. 27:1; Psa. 74:13, 14; 2 Thess. 2:6-10.  As these symbols of the sword, strength and brightness of his presence, Jesus uses the truth to destroy Satan’s power.  1 Thess. 4:16 refers to the shout of the archangel (Dan. 12:1) in establishing the Kingdom of righteousness to replace Satan’s empire.  Isa. 42:13-16 prophesies that the Lord will use jealousy, pain and discomfort, neglect and starvation, and disclosure of the truth as part of the chain to keep Satan from stopping the destruction of his house and goods.  These are all things that our minds can grasp as tools, or as the Revelator puts it, chains which the Lord uses to restrain Satan’s power.  There are probably other restraints of a strictly spiritual nature which our natural minds would find difficult if not impossible to comprehend.  We do not know what they are but leave it with the Lord to apply them as they are needed.

The fourth consideration about the binding is that it results in a divided Satanic house that falls.  It results in the evil angels working against Satan and his stratagem, Christendom and its orderly structures. It appears reasonable to view the evil angels as using parts of Satan’s goods to their own selfish purposes, now opposing Satan as well as Jesus. Nihilism, communism, socialism, humanism, the clergy challenging their hierarchical authority; people questioning all religious and other forms of authority, wanting more and more education, only to promote the decrease of faith in God and the imbalance of technological achievement versus the sociological values–these continue to disrupt Satan’s evil, but organized empire, precipitating an evil and chaotic revolution and the empire’s final destruction.  The structure of society is collapsing in disarray.

The shouts of liberty, to be free of Satan’s burdens, are being wrongly used to promote chaos and their own eventual destruction.  The false claims issue from the evil organizations only draw them to the Battle of Armageddon (Rev. 16:13-16).  Zech. 8:10, Rotherham’s translation, tells of the time when God looses every man’s hand against his neighbor.  Then the four winds of Revelation, loosed after the church is complete, will turn men to yearn for the higher authority.  Then the binding’s early stages, just enough restraint to bring chaos within Satan’s house, will have served its purpose and will completely enclose God’s archenemy in the bottomless pit, where he will have no influence at all.  That is the time, of course, when Jesus will have suppressed all evil in all the evil angels too, and all men are drawn to Christ (John 12:32).  It seems very important to recognize the difference between just the binding, or restraint of Satan, and the combined binding and absolute confinement in the bottomless pit.  The latter is completely restrictive while the former is restrictive only to the extent that it best serves the Lord’s purposes.

Before summarizing the thoughts of this study it is important to mention the keys from the Pastor used to gain the understanding here presented. The following reprint articles were most helpful:  THE BINDING OF THE “STRONG MAN” (Reprint 46O9); BINDING OF THE STRONG MAN (reprint 3784); THE WHEAT AND THE TARES (reprint 4635); THE DISPUTED CLAUSE (reprint 501); NOT IN VAIN (reprint 877); THE BINDING AND LOOSING OF SATAN (reprint 1233;1687, par. 2);  The Binding of Satan (Sermon Book, pages 94 to 106) was also most helpful.  Volume References include B 353; A 324; E 18 and 20; C 57 and the Foreword of Volume Four.  Also the notes from Brother Chester A. Sundbom’s talk on SATAN’S HOUSE DIVIDED helped in gaining the perspective of God’s viewpoint of Satan’s binding.

Now to summarize:  Satan’s binding of 1,000 years began at the Lord a second presence.  And the binding started then, is continuing progressively more restrictive until he is fully restrained, being placed in the bottomless pit.  Sin is everywhere worse than before.  Therefore it means that he is more active, but less in control of the evil angels who are now active on their own behalf.  The binding of Satan exposes his power as error.  It does not eliminate all sin.  The destruction of the nations and institutions is the restraint of their lies and methods by the truth and righteous methods and the use of evil against evil, as in the revolution of Satan’s house.  The increased activity of sin in Satan’s chaotic empire means that Satan is being bound rather than indicating that he isn’t being bound.  The binding of Satan permits the destruction of his house rather than the preservation of it.

As applied to our own lives, this truth should make us the more rejoicing Christians, that we may lift up our heads as we see these things coming to pass.  (Luke 21:28)  “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good  that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!”   Isa. 52:7-12.

Signs of the King’s Presence

jesus-returnThe words of the Prophet, given in our text refer to the close of the present Gospel Age. It is the same Day prophesied by the Apostle Paul when he declared, “The fire of that Day shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.” (1 Cor. 3:13.) It is the Day of which the Apostle Peter wrote so graphically when he said that in that great Day of the Lord the heavens should be on fire and the elements should melt with fervent heat, and that the earth and all the works therein should be burned up. (2 Pet. 3:10.) It is the Day of which the Prophet Zephaniah spoke when he said that in the great Day of the Lord all the earth should be devoured with the fire of God’s jealousy. (Zeph. 3:8) Isaiah, Jeremiah, and many of the faithful Prophets of God prophesied of this Day. The Prophet Daniel was instructed by the angel of the Lord that in that Day there should be a “Time of Trouble such as never was since there was a nation.” (Dan. 12:1) Our Lord Jesus Himself verified this prophecy, and added that never afterwards should there be such a time.—Matt. 24:21,22

The Scriptures call this Day “the Day of the Lord,” “the Day of Jehovah,” “the Day of God,” “the Day of Christ,” ” the Day of Vengeance,” “that great and notable Day,” etc. It is the Day in which the Old Order is to perish and the glorious New Order is to be ushered in. In foretelling this Day, both the Prophets and the Apostles speak of the class which will stand in this Day when all others shall fall. St. Paul says that everything which can be shaken down will be; and that only the Kingdom which will then be set up, and which cannot be shaken, will remain. (Heb. 12:25-29) The present order of society—the nominal church systems, financial institutions, political institutions—all —will go down in this time of trouble.

During this Gospel Age many who have not been Christians have associated themselves with the Church. The civilized world of today call themselves “Christians,” in contradistinction to the nations, which they call “heathen,” though from the Scriptural standpoint they are all heathen—Gentiles. Among all these various nations we find many religions, whose devotees claim that they have consecrated themselves to God. But the touch-stone by which these claims may be tested is the Word of God. See Gal. 1:6-9.

To the true Church of Christ alone will God give the Messianic Kingdom. Some who really have Christ and His work of sacrifice as their foundation will be saved, but at the expense of all their works, their character-structure, which the “fire” of this Day will consume. The tare class in the nominal churches will be bundled and “burned,” not as individuals, but as professed Christians; that is to say, their professions will be seen to be without foundation.

SAVED AS THROUGH FIRE

The ones who are upon the Rock Christ Jesus, the only true Foundation, are those who have accepted Jesus as their Ransom-sacrifice, and have consecrated themselves wholly to God through Him. All these “have been called in one hope of their calling.” (Eph. 4:4) Many of these will fail to make their calling and election sure and will suffer great loss. They did not build properly upon this Foundation, Christ, a structure of gold, silver and precious stones of Truth and of whole-hearted loyalty to the Lord. They will suffer the loss of the Kingdom, and through much tribulation will take a lower place, before the Throne—not rulers, but honorable servants of the ruling class. All who have been begotten of the Holy Spirit must, as we have shown elsewhere, either be born upon the spirit plane or lose life altogether. Those who prove wholly faithful will be born Divine beings. Those not wholly faithful, and who miss the great “prize,” though not denying the Lord that bought them, will be born spirit beings of a lower order.

The tribulations which characterize the end of this Age will thoroughly awaken these careless ones. Certain special tribulations, we understand, have come to those who were of this class all through the Age. But apparently a larger number of these are living now, at the close of the Age; and these must go through “the great tribulation,” and must wash their soiled robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Rev. 7:9-17) They will have a blessed portion after their purification, but far less glorious than that to which they were called.

The Apostle Paul in his writings lays special emphasis upon the fundamental importance of correct doctrinal teaching. It made no difference whether Paul or Apollos or even an angel from Heaven taught anything, it must be in harmony with the foundation doctrines which had been given them by the Lord. (Gal. 1:6-12) He assured the Church that what he had taught them was from God; and that even if an angel should bring them another gospel, it would be a proof that such angel had deflected from loyalty to the Lord. That Jesus Christ died to secure the Redemption-price for Adam and his race is the foundation doctrine of the church, which was received from Jesus Himself and from His faithful mouthpieces and which was shown in the Divinely given types of the Law. Whoever taught this fundamental truth faithfully was a real help to the people of God. Yet even such a teacher might help them to build, even on this proper foundation, a faith and character structure which would not stand the tests of the great Day of the Lord.

INVULNERABILITY OF THE TRUTH

This prophecy of our text is still in process of fulfillment. The “refiners fire” is even now doing its work, and thousands and tens of thousands are falling all about us. The Prophet’s query is very pertinent at this time. We see that the false teachings which have come down during these many centuries since the Apostles fell asleep have made humanity incapable of reasoning correctly on religious subjects. In the past we have had our own experiences along this line. Whenever anything religious was mentioned we seemed to lose our common sense. Now we have lost our fear of the dread penalty of using our reason. We have come back to the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles, and we find them grand and beautiful.

Those who have been teaching errors will soon be ashamed (Isa. 66:5), while the fire of this Day will only manifest the Truth to all. No power, no tongue, no pen, can successfully contradict the Truth, the great Divine Plan of the Ages. It is strong before its enemies and before all who make assaults upon it, and ere long the folly of its foes shall be made known to the whole world. “There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

SIGNIFICANCE OF THE PRESENCE OF THE KING

The coming of the King to possess His Kingdom will mean a personal as well as a national and a church examination, judgment and treatment. It will mean, when the Kingdom is fully inaugurated, the suppression of vice in a manner and to a degree never attempted by any earthly reformer. There will be no license to do evil in any form. The only liberty granted will be liberty to do right. It is no wonder that so few experience joy at the proclamation of the return of earth’s rightful King to reign! To many it will mean the loss of their present advantages over their fellowmen. To many it will mean the prohibition and cutting off of sins now indulged in and enjoyed.

Nevertheless, both the King and the Kingdom are not only coming, but are here; and the present troubles and shakiness in church and state, and the general awakening of the people are the results of influences emanating from that King and Kingdom. Though men know it not, it is the work of the Kingdom of God that is even now preparing for the wreck of all the kingdoms of the earth, that the way may be opened for the establishment of righteousness in the world, that men’s hearts may be humbled and prepared for the righteous Government which is to take control of earth. Worldly men cannot realize this; for this Kingdom cometh not with outward observation—with outward show and display. Therefore they cannot say, “Lo, here,” or “Lo, there.”

In spite of the awful war now raging, growing fiercer and more deadly every day, these continue to hope for peace, trying to convince themselves and others that the trouble must soon be brought to an end, and that matters will then go on as formerly. They blind themselves to the true conditions and refuse to believe that God has determined to permit this trouble to spread and involve the entire world and to bring about the utter overthrow of the Present Order of things. Selfishness, pride and love of money have closed their eyes. We give here an extract from a poem written some years ago by a Christian minister, which forcefully describes present conditions and the judgment of God which is now to be visited upon the world for their lasting good:

“Woe to the Age when gold is god, and law a solemn jest, That helps the boldly vile to crush the noblest and the best! When Mammon o’er cheap millions flings, his gilded harness strong, And drives them tame beneath his lash, down broad highways of wrong; While Truth’s shrill clarion down the sky peals faintly o’er the rout, And dust and fumes of earth and sin shut Heaven’s blest sunlight out! Then look for lightning!—God’s red bolts must cleave the stifling gloom, In righteous wrath to purge the world in Sodom’s fearful doom!”

But we are thankful that while the judgments of a righteous God against sin must come at this time, yet the ultimate results will be glorious, when the world will come forth chastened, subdued, purified by the awful baptism of fire and blood; when they shall come to see that sin, selfishness and corruption have wrought their legitimate outcome. Then mankind will be ready to cry to the Lord and to long for His deliverance, and He will be entreated of them and will lift them up and bless them.

But the coming of the King means much trouble and the general overturning of the kingdoms of this world which, while professing to be kingdoms of God, are really under the control of the “prince of this world,” Satan, “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.” (John 14:30; 16:11; Eph. 2:2) It means the shaking of society in a manner and to an extent never before known, and so thoroughly that another shaking will never be necessary. (Heb. 12:26,27) It means the breaking in pieces of the empires and governments of the world as a potter’s vessel. It means the passing away of the present ecclesiastical “heavens,” and the fall of many of its bright “stars.” At present the sunlight of the true Gospel, and the moonlight of the Law with its types and shadows, are obscured by the thick clouds of worldly wisdom. “The sun shall be turned into darkness, the moon into blood.”—Joel 2:30, 31

While many would rejoice to see society relieved of many of its selfish, life-sapping ulcers, they seem to realize that so just and impartial a Judge as the Lord Himself might cut off certain long-cherished sins to which they desire to cling; they fear to have their personal selfishness touched. And their fears are well founded. He will bring to light all the hidden things of darkness, and correct and suppress private as well as public sin and selfishness. He will expose depths of corruption never before realized. He will make “Justice the line and righteousness the plummet; and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place.” (R.V.) He will “bring down them that dwell on high, the lofty city (Babylon). He layeth low, . . .even to the dust.” He will bring down them who have “made lies their refuge.”—Isa. 28:15, 17, 18; 26:5, 6

LIFT UP TRUTH’S GLORIOUS BANNER!

It is written that the Day of the Lord would come as a thief and a snare upon the whole world, and that only God’s fully consecrated Church would be in the light and not be taken unawares. Many of the consecrated have been deceived by looking for the Heavenly King to come again in the flesh. They forgot that the only reason for His coming in the flesh at His First Advent was “for the suffering of death” as man’s corresponding-price; and that now He is highly exalted, a glorious spirit Being. “He was put to death in flesh, but made alive in Spirit.” (1 Pet. 3:18) They forgot that the Apostle Paul also said,”Though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet henceforth know we Him (so) no more.” (2 Cor. 5:16) The true children of God are coming more and more to see how the Master comes at His Second Advent, and are not expecting to see Him in the flesh and with their natural eyes.

We who know that the King of Glory and His blessed Kingdom are the only remedy for the wrongs and woes of man should be pointing the groaning creation to this Kingdom, rather than to the poultices of their own contriving which can do no real good. Tell them the meaning of present world-wide conditions, and how, beyond the troubles now overspreading the world, will come the glorious Times of Restitution foretold by all the holy Prophets since the world began. Tell them that the death of Jesus was the Redemption price for the entire race of Adam, and that His return is for the purpose not only of delivering His Church, but to bind Satan and set free all his captives, including all who are in the graves, giving all who will an opportunity to come into the liberty of sons of God, under the terms of the New Covenant, soon to be established.

Charles Taze Russell Is Not The Founder of Jehovah’s Witnesses

russellpicContrary to some publicity made concerning “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” Pastor Charles Taze Russell is not the founder of this religious group. He was never associated with them, nor did he ever claim the name. Pastor Russell died in 1916, while the “Jehovah’s Witnesses” did not come into existence until 1931. Linking Pastor Russell with “Jehovah’s Witnesses” leaves the decidedly mistaken view that their teachings and beliefs are alike. Such is not the case.

Pastor Russell founded what has been called “The Bible Student’s Association.” This movement had its beginning in the 1860’s in Allegheny, Pa. when earnest Christians formed a Bible class for advanced Bible study to meet the then rising wave of infidelity. In 1879, Zion’s Watch Tower Society was formed, later knows as The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. This Society did not become the central authority for the Bible Students, for all cooperating congregations of Bible Students held strictly to congregational self-government. The Society only served to coordinate the activities of the various congregations.

After the death of Pastor Russell in 1916 the purpose of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society changed completely. The teachings of the six volumes of “Studies In The Scriptures” were discarded. The congregations in harmony with the Society relinquished congregational rule. The Society became the central head and authority over all congregations willing to yield their sovereignty. Basic doctrines of the Society seriously digressed from the teachings of Pastor Russell, and before long Judge Rutherford declared that those associated with the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society were “Jehovah’s Witnesses” on this earth. Here is where the name emerged — certainly not in Pastor Russell’s time.

After Pastor Russell’s death, The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society began to rise as a hierarchy over the once independent congregations. Many refused to surrender their Christian liberty and here started the work of separation. As early as 1917 this exodus from the Society began, and those who appreciated the wonderful harmony of the Bible as taught by Pastor Russell are today known as “Associated Bible Students.”

The following doctrines are an example as to how Bible Students still retain the basic teachings of Pastor Russell in contrast with “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” who do not.

BIBLE STUDENTS: Pastor Russell was led to believe in a future probation because millions have died and continue to die without hearing the Gospel. Of those that do hear, uncertainty and confusion exists in their minds because Christianity of today is burdened with contradictory beliefs and teachings.

JW’S: “Jehovah’s Witnesses” see no further probation for any of the present generation who do not subscribe to their teachings – which means that a large percentage of the world’s population is to perish eternally in Armageddon. In this respect their views are less generous than most established Churches. They not only see no hope for those who live today, who do not subscribe to their teachings, but they entertain no hope for a large percentage of the millions who have gone into the grave since the creation of man. For example, JW’S believe that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, etc. have perished eternally, with no hope for a resurrection.

BIBLE STUDENTS: Pastor Russell pointed to the Scriptures, such as Ezek. 16:55, where it declares that these are all going to return to their “former estate.” And our Lord, in Matt. 10:15, confirms this thought when he said, “It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city”- (speaking of the Jews). Thus our Lord pointed forward to a day of judgment for those people who died centuries ago. And again it says, in Acts 17:31 that, “He hath appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness.”

JW’S: “Jehovah’s Witnesses” deny that Adam will ever have a resurrection, while the Scriptures plainly state that Jesus Christ tasted death “for every man.” Heb. 2:9; 1 Tim. 2:5,6.

BIBLE STUDENTS: Pastor Russell pointed to these scriptures and many others such as 1 Cor. 15:22 – “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” Also Hosea 13:14 – “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be they plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction.”

Pastor Russell taught, according to the Scriptures, that now is “the day of salvation” for those who are to be the Bride of Christ, the Little Flock; and that another day – a day of salvation is awaiting mankind in general, in the Millennial Age – “the times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”

One of the main teachings of Pastor Russell was that all would be enlightened with a knowledge of God’s Truth before they are placed on trial and judged for their final destiny. For the majority of mankind this would be when they are raised from the dead at the time of the general resurrection. Their final judgment would be based on their conduct while enlightened, not while in ignorance. This teaching separated Bible Students from all other religious groups. Now it separates them from “Jehovah’s Witnesses” as well. This view broke with the concept of salvation current in his day. At that time nearly all evangelists taught a literal hell of torment for those who did not accept Christ in this life. They felt hell-fire threats were necessary to restrain evil and, if need be, to bring salvation by fear. Many theologians have since broadened their concept of salvation beyond this life, but “Jehovah’s Witnesses” hold strongly to the position that those who reject their message are rejecting salvation.

Contrary to our Lord’s Word, every “Jehovah’s Witness” becomes a missionary of life or death, using the fear of eternal destruction or second death as their final appeal.

The Jewish People: Israel, and the Jewish people, present another major difference between Pastor Russell and the JW’s. After applying the Scripture, “Ye are my witnesses saith Jehovah” (Isa. 43:12) to themselves, “Jehovah’s Witnesses” declare that the Jewish people have no special role in the Divine Plan since the death of Jesus. On the contrary, Pastor Russell taught that the Jewish people and nation have a leading role in the Divine Plan for man, and accordingly during the year 1910 he spoke to vast Jewish audiences, comforting them according to the Scripture, Isa. 40:2 – “Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned; for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” He encouraged them not to join the various churches of today but to wait for the fulfillment of the many Old Testament promises that they would be blessed as a nation.

While they were yet a scattered and dispersed people, he said, upon the basis of these promises, that they would be regathered to Palestine and established as an independent nation. Time has proven this to be so. Although denied by “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” Bible Students today teach that the new state of Israel emerged in Divine Providence and is a precursor to the fulfillment of God’s promise to that nation that, – “Lo the days come, saith the Lord, that I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah, saith the Lord: and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it.” (Jer. 30:3)

And again, Jer.24:6, 7, says, – “I will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land: and I will build them and not pull them down; and I will plant them and not pluck them up. And I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.”

And a further promise in Jer. 31:27-34 was that, – “Like as I have watched over them to pluck up, and to destroy and to afflict; so will I watch over them to build and to plant, saith the Lord… and I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in that day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they break… but this shall be the covenant that I will make… I will put my Law in their inward parts and write it in their hearts… and they shall be my people… I will forgive their iniquity and I will remember their sin no more.”

From these facts it can be seen that Pastor Charles T. Russell was neither in principle nor in spirit, the founder of “Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

The Three Ways

3waysTHE Bible tells us of three different paths a person may take, three ways in which he may go. Each leads to a different destination.

There is a broad way leading to destruction, a narrow way leading to life, and a highway of holiness. We read of these “ways” in Matthew and Isaiah:

“Wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat. Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life; and few there be that find it.”–Matthew 7:13,14

“And a highway shall be there, and a way; and it shall be called the way of holiness.”–Isaiah 35:8

Six thousand years ago in Eden, when Adam disobeyed God and was condemned to death, he started upon this downward road. After 930 years, Adam reached its end–destruction, death. All of Adam’s race were born upon this road leading to death and share in Adam’s sentence, “Thou shalt surely die.” (Genesis 2:17) As years and centuries have rolled on, the downward path has become more and more smoothly worn, causing the race to speed more rapidly to destruction; daily the way becomes more glazed and slippery with sin. Not only does the way grow more slippery, but mankind daily loses the power of resistance. Today’s average length of human life is only a small fraction of Adam’s. Men reach the end of the road– destruction–much quicker than the first man.

Cannot one resist the downward, sinful tendency and, by determined effort, escape from this way leading to destruction? Some have tried.

During the past six thousand years a comparatively few have tried to change their course and retrace their steps. Though their efforts have been commendable, they have not been successful. It is like a man swimming against a current too swift for him; he is carried downstream in spite of his best efforts. Sin and death have reigned relentlessly over mankind, and driven them down this broad road to destruction.

If no one can escape this way of death by his best efforts, it would seem that the situation is hopeless; all must go to destruction. But this is not so because a new way has been opened, the “narrow way” that leads to life instead of death. This way has been open for nearly two thousand years, but comparatively few have found it. It is a very exclusive path because a person does not enter it based upon his own worthiness, but by special invitation. This is why it is described as “narrow” or limited, having a “strait” or difficult “gate” which few find and enter.

We are not to think that all except the few who walk the “narrow way” are condemned to everlasting destruction. There is another “way” called “the way of holiness.” (Isaiah 35:8)

This is the  “highway,” an easier way that all the rest of mankind will eventually take. It also leads to life and will be open to all at a time still future.

Let us consider the very special “narrow way” to which some are now invited, called “a new and living way.” (Hebrews 10:20) Although the “narrow way” and the “highway” both lead to life, the “narrow way” leads to a stupendously higher form of life than the “highway.” The invitation to walk in this way is the most wonderful gift ever offered to anyone. It is to those who are so walking, to the true Christian, that Peter refers when he says that there “are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world.” (2 Peter 1:4) Those who walk this “way” are promised the highest form of life, a spirit life, with immortal divine bodies of the same nature as their Lord. Such are described as those who “seek for glory, and honor, and immortality.” (Romans 2:7) How high an honor this is! We are told, “No man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God.” (Hebrews 5:4)

Is an invitation to walk the way leading to this great reward given only to the wisest, the most important and high-ranking people of the world? Not at all. On the contrary, the apostle Paul tells us:

 “Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world, to confound the wise.”–1 Corinthians 1:26,27

Consideration is not given to race or nationality. Those who attain the divine nature are selected “out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.” (Revelation 5:9)

The basis of any approach to life is Jesus Christ and this applies to the “narrow way.” Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6) When Adam disobeyed God and caused the whole race to enter the broad, downward road to destruction, God did not abandon mankind. Although he permitted evil conditions to prevail for a time to teach valuable lessons, he still loved his human creation. He loved mankind so much that he provided a redeemer from death.

 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”–John 3:16

By God’s arrangement, Jesus came to earth as a man and gave his life as the ransom price for Adam and his race. This guarantees “that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.” (Acts 24:15)

Those who walk the “narrow way” receive the merit of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice beforehand so they may be justified in God’s sight. They consecrate to God and become acceptable sacrifices themselves. These are said to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. As we read, “It is a faithful saying; For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him. If we suffer, we shall also reign with him.”–2 Timothy 2:11,12

The promise to these is, “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10) When this special church class is complete, the merit of Jesus ransom sacrifice will be applied to all others. Then that third way, the wonderful “highway of holiness,” will be opened. (See Isaiah 35:8-10)

What will that “highway” will be like? We read that “it shall be called the way of holiness.” It is a way that leads to righteousness. It is God’s kingdom under Christ, soon to be fully established on earth, that will lead the people to righteousness and human perfection.

Then it says, “The unclean shall not pass over it, but it shall be for those.” This means that it is the purpose of God’s kingdom to cleanse the unclean, to take away their sins. When the kingdom has done its work, there will be no more sin. No person who remains unclean will pass completely through that kingdom.

Then it says, “The wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.” Under Christ’s benevolent government, the way to righteousness will be made so plain and simple that even those who are foolish and inclined to stray will make no mistake. “No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon.” We read that now “your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) In that kingdom this will no longer be the case. Satan will be restrained. His evil influence will not be felt on that “highway.” Neither will the “ravenous beasts” of tyranny, injustice, violence and oppression be found there. Instead there will be peace and tranquility, security and love.

 “But the redeemed shall walk there; and the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion, with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads.”

The “ransomed” are those for whom Christ died, and Christ “tasted death for every man.” These are “the ransomed of the Lord” who shall return from the dead in a great resurrection. They will come to “Zion,” which means the heavenly kingdom that will then rule the world. What a time of singing and joy it will be! Families parted by death will be reunited; pain, sickness, sin and death will be no more; happiness will fill the earth. “They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away!”

The ‘Evil Slave Class’

biblestudents2For Years it has been said that Bible Students are guilty of creature worship. That this “creature worship” led to the largest schism in Watchtower history, and separated the “Faithful Slave Class” from the “Evil Slave Class”. What is the creature they are charged with worshipping? None other then Charles Taze Russell, organizer of the International Bible Students Association and founder and first president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. And who are these accusers who make such a claim? None other then the very Society Russell founded, the Watch Tower and it’s current members the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Notice this statement found in the book; Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Divine Purpose

The insistence that Russell had been “that Servant” led many to regard Russell in what amounted actually to creature worship. They believed that all the truth God had seen fit to reveal to his people had been revealed to Russell, and now nothing more could be brought forth because “that servant” was dead.” [1959, pg 69]

As recent as 1988, in the book Revelation – It’s Grand Climax at Hand! The Watchtower makes this claim:

“The John class, however, emerged from the tumultuous days of the first world war with a love for Jehovah and for the truth that impelled them to serve him with flaming zeal. They resisted those who tried to introduce sectarianism through practically idolizing the first president of the Watch Tower Society, Charles T. Russell, following his death in 1916.” [p. 35, 36]

Who were “those” the “John class” tried to resist? And how did “those” try “to introduce sectarianism”? The answer lies in the book; God’s Kingdom of a Thousand Years Has Approached published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society in 1973. It had this to say concerning the issue of idolizing C.T. Russell:

“This view was prominently featured in the book published in July of 1917 by the People’s Pulpit Association of Brooklyn, New York. This book was called “The Finished Mystery” and furnished a commentary of the Bible books of Revelation and Ezekiel and The Songs of Solomon. On its Publishers page the book was called the “Posthumous Works of Pastor Russell.” Such a book and religious attitude tended to establish a religious sect centered around a man” [pg 347]

Who or what was the People’s Pulpit Association? The answer again can be found in the pages of the book Qualified to Be Ministers published in 1967, by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. It had this to say about the Association:

“Such a corporation came into legal existence February 23, 1909, and was named People’s Pulpit Association. Thirty years later, in 1939, the name was changed to its present one, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Inc.” [pg. 309]

So, in essence, the Watchtower Society itself was to blame for promoting the idolizing of C.T. Russell, not a group of individuals. The Book The Finished Mystery was published by the Watchtower Society, it was sanctioned by then president J.F. Rutherford, and was the cause of much schism within the Bible Students Association, not because it was promoting Russell, but because it was filled with misquotes, half truths and perversion of thoughts.

Nowhere within the pages of C.T. Russell’s writings, is there a thought alluding to worshipping him. Never did he ever claim to be “That Faithful and Wise Servant” mentioned in Matthew 24:45-48. Yes … there were those in his day who believe he filled that office, members of the Association, some representatives of the Watch Tower Society, but Russell never made such a claim for himself. In fact his thought on the matter was:

“I have nothing to say about the subject. What I would say would not change matters any way. You have your right to your opinion and they have their right to theirs. [Convention Reports 1909, pg. 25]

Russell did teach “that servant” to be a class, representing the church as early as 1897 in the book, The Battle of Armageddon, but some years later, would change his mind and believed it to be an individual. Yet he never claimed to be that individual.

In fact, the thought of promoting Russell as “That Servant” and giving him prominence was J.F. Rutherford. In the 1916 Watchtower it stated:

Thousands of the readers of Pastor Russell’s writings believe that he filled the office of “that faithful and wise servant,” and that his great work was giving to the Household of Faith meat in due season. His modesty and humility precluded him from openly claiming this title, but he admitted as much in private conversation. [pg 357]

The only ones who admitted to these so-called private conversations were, Rutherford, VanAmburgh and MacMillan, the three individuals responsible for seizing control of the Watch Tower Society. Their motives behind such a promotion was to appease the close friends, colleagues and supporters of Russell. Rutherford vowed to continue the work Russell had started. But in promoting Russell, elevating him and his writings to that of equal par to the Scriptures, he created a monster. Many Bible Students parted company with the Society. Some actually believed and accepted this new idea. It was even taught through the pages of The Watch Tower that Russell was still directing the affairs of the Society from heaven.

Evidently Rutherford, decided to slay the monster he created, by cunningly denouncing all he had stated and written in The Watch Tower. Not only was Russell pushed to the background, but the Scriptures had been reinterpreted. Russell’s books were left to go out of print, with no new editions being published. His name if mentioned at all, was done only in passing, as “first President” of the Society. His writings were replaced by newer ones. This cause more schisms and departures by Bible Students who could not and would not accept the Society’s leadership, and autocratic rule.

For years afterwards, Bible Students and Jehovah’s Witnesses grew apart, animosity and hatred was promoted by the Society towards the independent Bible Student groups who rejected the Society as God’s Sole Channel of communication. The Society rewrote its history, omitting many important facts, and in the cases cited above distorted many events, to place them in a good light and branding Bible Students as evil opposers who would rather follow and worship a man, rather than their organization. The Society claiming to be “The Faithful and Wise Slave Class” denounced all independent Bible Students outside of the Society as “The Evil Slave Class”, The Watchtower of June 15, 1987, had this to say:

“By the summer of 1918 … At the time of the Society’s conventions that summer, some apostates turned away and formed their own opposing religious groups. Manifesting the traits of an “evil slave,” they were ‘winnowed’ like “chaff” to be separated from Jehovah’s faithful remnant. (Matthew 3:12; 24:48-51) The Memorial of Christ’s death was celebrated on Sunday, April 13, 1919, with 17,961 attending in many lands. As compared to a partial report for 1917, the Memorial attendance had dropped by more than 3,000, indicating the effects of sifting.”

It was not so much that Bible Students “opposed” the work of the Society, the issue was the Bible Students and the Society were no longer in harmony doctrinally, the 3,000 or so who “dropped” out by 1918, eventually grew in the coming years, by 1930 seventy-five percent of the original Bible Students had abandoned the Society.

For years, the Society shifted the blame on Professor Paul S.L. Johnson, a colleague of Russell, an ordained minister, born a Jew, who joined the Bible Students Association and became an important promoter of Bible Truths. He was the Society’s scapegoat for many years. Most of the attacks on Johnson came after his death in 1950, and continued until the 1980s, it was as the old saying goes “beating a dead horse”, as Johnson was not alive to defend himself.

The Society tried to silence the Bible Students, by holding on to the copyrights of such works as Studies in the Scriptures and the Watch Tower Reprints. As Bible Students, they relied on their Bibles and nothing more. When the copyrights ran out, Paul S. L. Johnson, decided to reprint the Studies in the Scriptures. He contacted Rutherford, as they at one time were like brothers. Rutherford’s reply came in the destruction of the original plates. It was a slow process, but Johnson in 1937, made the Volumes available to the brethren. In that same time period the Dawn Bible Students Association, also reproduced the volumes. And years later, The Watch Tower Reprints were made available to the brethren by way of the Chicago Bible Students Republishing committee [with the exception of the years 1917-1919.]

Through the years many Jehovah’s Witnesses, upon obtaining these writings, have come to know the Truth, not only in regards to the Watchtower but in regards to God’s Plans and purposes. In 1971 the Watchtower had this to say, about the Bible Students and their witness work:

“The modern-day history of Jehovah’s witnesses shows that attempts have been made by some, making up an “evil slave” class, to assume control over Jehovah’s work and his people. This was especially seen during the World War I period. Jehovah, however, has cleansed his organization, and made it wholly theocratic. The credit is due to him, not to man.” [pages 436-7 ]

This led the Watchtower to warn Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide, to read only those publications stamped with the insignia “Published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society”. Russell’s books were viewed as “old light” and many were tyold to not waste time reading errors. In some cases Russell’s writings were on a “blacklist” on books not to read. Yes it is true that many Kingdom Hall libraries have Russell’s books, but there are there as a result of donation from a deceased witness, or there simply as a ornament of sorts. There have been documented cases of Jehovah’s Witnesses being disfellowshiped simply because of their reading, studying and apllying what they read in Russell’s volumes. Notice this quotes from the Watchtower:

“Individually, careful watch has still to be kept. The records show that, in our congregations, some need to be warned, others put on probation, and others have to be disfellowshiped. Why? Because, while claiming to be in the truth, they do not practice the truth. This often starts in a small way, but, if persisted in, it leads away from the light into the darkness. [ibid]

What is this “truth” these Jehovah’s Witnesses claim to be “in”? it is the truth of the scriptures, the truths they learned in regards to God’s plans and purposes, the truths they learned from such works as “Studies in the Scriptures” written by the late Charles Taze Russell. Elders, Ministerial Servants, Pioneers, Bethelites and rank and file members of the Society, have been disfellowshiped because of their accepting these writings as containing truth.

The Society’s publications having a much larger circulation then all the Bible Student literature combined, tried a new tactic, everytime they mentioned the term “Bible Students” they always had in parenthesis “as Jehovah’s Witnesses were then known as”. Giving the reader the thought that Bible Students and Jehovah’s Witnesses are one and the same. When people came across the name or writings of Russell or Bible Students, they would automatically associate it with the Witnesses.

In recent years, with the advent of computers, and counter cult ministries, Witnesses were being made aware of the Bible Students, and the real issues being raised by the Watchtower Society. Some did their research, many returned to their roots, namely the Bible Students Association. Some were simply enlightened to their history as Jehovah’s Witnesses. It was not until the Society was forced to write a new history, still intent on perverting the truth, they nevertheless, did admit a distinction between Bible Students and Jehovah’s Witnesses:

“After the death of Brother Russell, some former associates refused to cooperate with the Watch Tower Society and the International Bible Students Association, even opposing the work of these societies. Such fragmented groups used a variety of names, some of them clinging to the designation Associated Bible Students.” [Jehovah’s Witnesses – Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom, pg. 151]

This however does not state that the Bible Students still exist today, it merely referred to “fragmented” groups during the schism of 1917. However the fact that you are reading this … shows that you now know … that Bible Students and Jehovah’s Witnesses are two distinct groups, with distinct beliefs. It is not so much the importance that we stress the individuality of both groups, for we do recognize the Watchtower Society, and do recognize our Jehovah’s Witness friends. But the fact that we have been misrepresented, not by Christians in general, but by the very association we helped build.

It is very strange … that the Watchtower Society, forbids its members from associating with the “evil slave class”, namely the Bible Students, and have chastised those witnesses, who possess and read Russell’s writings, and at the same time, the Society has been in contact with various Bible Student groups, exchanging literature and purchasing one anthers books. This is has been verified by both correspondence to and from the Society from Bible Students, as well as eye-witness accounts of Bible Student literature sitting on not only Kingdom Hall libraries, but Watchtower libraries as well.

One would be apt to conclude this is a love/hate relationship on the part of the Watchtower Society. But we know the promises contained in Scriptures will not allow this relationship to continue. For one day, in God’s due time, all of mankind will learn the truth, and all will reside under His loving care.

Do Bible Students Worship C.T. Russell?

photo-of-young-charles-taze-russellFor Years it has been said that Bible Students are guilty of creature worship. What is the creature they are charged with worshipping? None other then Charles Taze Russell, organizer of the International Bible Students Association and founder and first president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. And who are these accusers who make such a claim? None other then the very Society Russell founded, the Watch Tower and it’s current members the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Notice this statement found in the book; Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Divine Purpose:

The insistence that Russell had been “that Servant” led many to regard Russell in what amounted actually to creature worship. They believed that all the truth God had seen fit to reveal to his people had been revealed to Russell, and now nothing more could be brought forth because “that servant” was dead.” [1959, pg 69]

As recent as 1988, in the book Revelation – It’s Grand Climax at Hand! The Watchtower makes this claim:

“The John class, however, emerged from the tumultuous days of the first world war with a love for Jehovah and for the truth that impelled them to serve him with flaming zeal. They resisted those who tried to introduce sectarianism through practically idolizing the first president of the Watch Tower Society, Charles T. Russell, following his death in 1916.” [p. 35, 36]

Who were “those” the “John class” tried to resist? And how did “those” try “to introduce sectarianism”? The answer lies in the book; God’s Kingdom of a Thousand Years Has Approached published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society in 1973. It had this to say concerning the issue of idolizing C.T. Russell:

“This view was prominently featured in the book published in July of 1917 by the People’s Pulpit Association of Brooklyn, New York. This book was called “The Finished Mystery” and furnished a commentary of the Bible books of Revelation and Ezekiel and The Songs of Solomon. On its Publishers page the book was called the “Posthumous Works of Pastor Russell.” Such a book and religious attitude tended to establish a religious sect centered around a man” [pg 347]

Who or what was the People’s Pulpit Association? The answer again can be found in the pages of the book Qualified to Be Ministers published in 1967, by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. It had this to say about the Association:

“Such a corporation came into legal existence February 23, 1909, and was named People’s Pulpit Association. Thirty years later, in 1939, the name was changed to its present one, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Inc.” [pg. 309]

So, in essence, the Watchtower Society itself was to blame for promoting the idolizing of C.T. Russell, not a group of individuals. The Book The Finished Mystery was published by the Watchtower Society, it was sanctioned by then president J.F. Rutherford, and was the cause of much schism within the Bible Students Association, not because it was promoting Russell, but because it was filled with misquotes, half truths and perversion of thoughts.

Nowhere within the pages of C.T. Russell’s writings, is there a thought alluding to worshipping him. Never did he ever claim to be “That Faithful and Wise Servant” mentioned in Matthew 24:45-48. Yes … there were those in his day who believe he filled that office, members of the Association, some representatives of the Watch Tower Society, but Russell never made such a claim for himself. In fact his thought on the matter was:

“I have nothing to say about the subject. What I would say would not change matters any way. You have your right to your opinion and they have their right to theirs. [Convention Reports 1909, pg. 25]

Russell did teach “that servant” to be a class, representing the church as early as 1897 in the book, The Battle of Armageddon, but some years later, would change his mind and believed it to be an individual. Yet he never claimed to be that individual.

In fact, the thought of promoting Russell as “That Servant” and giving him prominence was J.F. Rutherford. In the 1916 Watchtower it stated:

Thousands of the readers of Pastor Russell’s writings believe that he filled the office of “that faithful and wise servant,” and that his great work was giving to the Household of Faith meat in due season. His modesty and humility precluded him from openly claiming this title, but he admitted as much in private conversation. [pg 357]

The only ones who admitted to these so-called private conversations were, Rutherford, VamAmburgh and MacMillan, the three individuals responsible for seizing control of the Watch Tower Society. Their motives behind such a promotion was to appease the close friends, colleagues and supporters of Russell. Rutherford vowed to continue the work Russell had started. But in promoting Russell, elevating him and his writings to that of equal par to the Scriptures, he created a monster. Many Bible Students parted company with the Society. Some actually believed and accepted this new idea. It was even taught through the pages of The Watch Tower that Russell was still directing the affairs of the Society from heaven.

Evidently Rutherford, decided to slay the monster he created, by cunningly denouncing all he had stated and written in The Watch Tower. Not only was Russell pushed to the background, but the Scriptures had been reinterpreted. Russell’s books were left to go out of print, with no new editions being published. His name if mentioned at all, was done only in passing, as “first President” of the Society. His writings were replaced by newer ones. This cause more schisms and departures by Bible Students who could not and would not accept the Society’s leadership, and autonomous rule.

For years afterwards, Bible Students and Jehovah’s Witnesses grew apart, animosity and hatred was promoted by the Society towards the independent Bible Student groups who rejected the Society as God’s Sole Channel of communication. The Society rewrote its history, omitting many important facts, and in the cases cited above distorted many events, to place them in a good light and branding Bible Students as evil opposers who would rather follow and worship a man, rather than their organization.

For years, the Society shifted the blame on Professor Paul S.L. Johnson, a colleague of Russell, an ordained minister, born a Jew, who joined the Bible Students Association and became an important promoter of Bible Truths. He was the Society’s scapegoat for many years. Most of the attacks on Johnson came after his death in 1950, and continued until the 1980s, it was as the old saying goes “beating a dead horse”, as Johnson was not alive to defend himself.

The Society tried to silence the Bible Students, by holding on to the copyrights of such works as Studies in the Scriptures and the Watch Tower Reprints. As Bible Students, they relied on their Bibles and nothing more. When the copyrights ran out, Paul S.L. Johnson, decided to reprint the Studies in the Scriptures. He contacted Rutherford, as they at one time were like brothers. Rutherford’s reply came in the destruction of the original plates. It was a slow process, but Johnson in 1937, made the Volumes available to the brethren. In 1940, the Dawn Bible Students Association, also reproduced the volumes. And years later, the original Watch Towers were made available to the brethren by way of the Chicago Bible Students.

The Society’s publications having a much larger circulation then all the Bible Student literature combined, tried a new tactic, everytime they mentioned the term “Bible Students” they always had in parenthesis “as Jehovah’s Witnesses were then known as”. Giving the reader the thought that Bible Students and Jehovah’s Witnesses are one and the same. When people came across the name or writings of Russell or Bible Students, they would automatically associate it with the Witnesses.

In recent years, with the advent of computers, and counter cult ministries, Witnesses were being made aware of the Bible Students, and the real issues being raised by the Watchtower Society. Some did their research, many returned to their roots, namely the Bible Students Association. Some were simply enlightened to their history as Jehovah’s Witnesses. It was not until the Society was forced to write a new history, still intent on perverting the truth, they nevertheless, did admit a distinction between Bible Students and Jehovah’s Witnesses:

“After the death of Brother Russell, some former associates refused to cooperate with the Watch Tower Society and the International Bible Students Association, even opposing the work of these societies. Such fragmented groups used a variety of names, some of them clinging to the designation Associated Bible Students.” [Jehovah’s Witnesses – Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom, pg. 151]

This however does not state that the Bible Students still exist today, it merely referred to “fragmented” groups during the schism of 1917. However the fact that you are reading this … shows that you now know … that Bible Students and Jehovah’s Witnesses are two distinct groups, with distinct beliefs. It is not so much the importance that we stress the individuality of both groups, for we do recognize the Watchtower Society, and do recognize our Jehovah’s Witness friends. But the fact that we have been misrepresented, not by Christians in general, but by the very association we helped build.

It is very strange … that the Watchtower Society, forbids its members from associating with the “evil slave class”, namely the Bible Students, and have chastised those witnesses, who possess and read Russell’s writings, and at the same time, the Society has been in contact with various Bible Student groups, exchanging literature and purchasing one anothers books. This has been verified by both correspondence to and from the Society from Bible Students, as well as eye-witness accounts of Bible Student literature sitting on not only Kingdom Hall libraries, but Watchtower libraries as well.

One would be apt to conclude this is a love/hate relationship on the part of the Watchtower Society. But we know the promises contained in Scriptures will not allow this relationship to continue. For one day, in God’s due time, all of mankind will learn the truth, and all will reside under His loving care.

Questions and Answers About Bible Students

questions-answersWhat Are Bible Students?

Bible Students are Christians interested in the study of God’s Word for the promotion of true knowledge.

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Where are the Bible Students Located?

Bible Students can be found in all walks of life and in every land and country.

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What is the origin of the Bible Students?

The Bible Students Association was formed in the 1860s, in Alleghney, Pa. A group of Christians under the eldership of Pastor Charles Taze Russell, who helped form a Bible study group to unearth the hidden mysteries of the Word of God.

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Isn’t Charles Taze Russell the Founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses?

That is a misconception. Pastor Russell was the organizer of the International Bible Students Association. It was this loosely formed association that helped published the [Zion’s] Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence journal, and the [Zion’s] Watch Tower Society.

This Society was an organizer of Bible Student conventions and other activities, but it did not dictate any creeds or rules to the independent congregations.

After Pastor Russell’s death, The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society began to rise as a hierarchy over the once independent congregations. Many refused to surrender their Christian liberty and here started the work of separation. As early as 1917 this exodus from the Society began, and those who appreciated the wonderful harmony of the Bible as taught by Pastor Russell are today known as Associated Bible Students.

By 1930, the Society no longer resembled that of its former self. Many Bible Students abandoned the Society, and by 1931, the name “Jehovah’s Witnesses” was adopted by the new leadership to differentiate between the Society’s Bible Students and those independent of the Society.

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What are the doctrinal differences between the two groups, if any?

There are some similarities between the two groups. Both believe in two salvations, an earthly and a heavenly. Both believe in the Kingdom of God as the means of bringing about true peace on earth. Both deny the existence of a place of fiery torment and deny the Trinity doctrine. Apart from these similarties, the two groups are world’s apart.

The following doctrines are an example as to how Bible Students still retain the basic teachings of Pastor Russell in contrast with “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” who do not.

BIBLE STUDENTS: Pastor Russell was led to believe in a future probation because millions have died and continue to die without hearing the Gospel. Of those that do hear, uncertainty and confusion exists in their minds because Christianity of today is burdened with contradictory beliefs and teachings.

JW’S: “Jehovah’s Witnesses” see no further probation for any of the present generation who do not subscribe to their teachings – which means that a large percentage of the world’s population is to perish eternally in Armageddon. In this respect their views are less generous than most established Churches. They not only see no hope for those who live today, who do not subscribe to their teachings, but they entertain no hope for a large percentage of the millions who have gone into the grave since the creation of man. For example, JW’S believe that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, etc. have perished eternally, with no hope for a resurrection.

BIBLE STUDENTS: Pastor Russell pointed to the Scriptures, such as Ezek.16:55, where it declares that these are all going to return to their “former estate.” And our Lord, in Matt. 10:15, confirms this thought when he said, “It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city”- (speaking of the Jews). Thus our Lord pointed forward to a day of judgment for those people who died centuries ago. And again it says, in Acts 17:31 that, “He hath appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness.”

JW’S: “Jehovah’s Witnesses” deny that Adam will ever have a resurrection, while the Scriptures plainly state that Jesus Christ tasted death “for every man.” Heb. 2:9; 1 Tim. 2:5,6.

BIBLE STUDENTS: Pastor Russell pointed to these scriptures and many others such as 1 Cor. 15:22 – “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” Also Hosea 13:14 – “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be they plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction.”

Pastor Russell taught, according to the Scriptures, that now is “the day of salvation” for those who are to be the Bride of Christ, the Little Flock; and that another day – a day of salvation is awaiting mankind in general, in the Millennial Age – “the times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”

One of the main teachings of Pastor Russell was that all would be enlightened with a knowledge of God’s Truth before they are placed on trial and judged for their final destiny. For the majority of mankind this would be when they are raised from the dead at the time of the general resurrection. Their final judgment would be based on their conduct while enlightened, not while in ignorance. This teaching separated Bible Students from all other religious groups. Now it separates them from “Jehovah’s Witnesses” as well. This view broke with the concept of salvation current in his day. At that time nearly all evangelists taught a literal hell of torment for those who did not accept Christ in this life. They felt hell-fire threats were necessary to restrain evil and, if need be, to bring salvation by fear. Many theologians have since broadened their concept of salvation beyond this life, but “Jehovah’s Witnesses” hold strongly to the position that those who reject their message are rejecting salvation.

Contrary to our Lord’s Word, every “Jehovah’s Witness” becomes a missionary of life or death, using the fear of eternal destruction or second death as their final appeal.

The Jewish People: Israel, and the Jewish people, present another major difference between Pastor Russell and the JW’s. After applying the Scripture, “Ye are my witnesses saith Jehovah” (Isa. 43:12) to themselves, “Jehovah’s Witnesses” declare that the Jewish people have no special role in the Divine Plan since the death of Jesus. On the contrary, Pastor Russell taught that the Jewish people and nation have a leading role in the Divine Plan for man, and accordingly during the year 1910 he spoke to vast Jewish audiences, comforting them according to the Scripture, Isa. 40:2 – “Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned; for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” He encouraged them not to join the various churches of today but to wait for the fulfillment of the many Old Testament promises that they would be blessed as a nation.

While they were yet a scattered and dispersed people, he said, upon the basis of these promises, that they would be regathered to Palestine and established as an independent nation. Time has proven this to be so. Although denied by “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” Bible Students today teach that the new state of Israel emerged in Divine Providence and is a precursor to the fulfillment of God’s promise to that nation that, – “Lo the days come, saith the Lord, that I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah, saith the Lord: and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it.” (Jer. 30:3)

And again, Jer.24:6, 7, says, – “I will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land: and I will build them and not pull them down; and I will plant them and not pluck them up. And I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.”

And a further promise in Jer. 31:27-34 was that, – “Like as I have watched over them to pluck up, and to destroy and to afflict; so will I watch over them to build and to plant, saith the Lord… and I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in that day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they break… but this shall be the covenant that I will make… I will put my Law in their inward parts and write it in their hearts… and they shall be my people… I will forgive their iniquity and I will remember their sin no more.”

From these facts it can be seen that Pastor Charles Taze Russell was neither in principle nor in spirit, the founder of “Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

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How are Bible Students governed?

The Bible Students are autonomous. Meaning they are self-governing. The ecclesia [congregation] itself elects it’s own officers [i.e. elders, deacons, etc.] and committees [i.e. witness, comfort, convention] to help the class run as smoothly as possible. There are no paid clergy and no collections are taken during the meetings.

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How are the services organized?

The congregation itself determines what is to be studied, the elected elders [those spiritually mature-minded] conduct the meetings in an orderly fashion.

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How is the work financed?

The work is financed by voluntary contributions of it’s members. Bible Students for over one hundred years have prided themselves on the motto: SEATS FREE – NO COLLECTIONS.

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Where do Bible Students meet and have their services?

Unlike the more established churches, the Bible Students meet in individual homes and rented halls, depending on the size of the congregation. We do not own our own church buildings, as this affords us the opportunity to direct our monetary resources in spreading God’s Word.

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Do Bible Students preach/witness? And if so, how?

BIble Students, individually and congregationally, have the liberty to witness in whatever fashion is suitable to them. We realise that their are many different avenue to witness, thus what may suit one class or individual, may not suit another. Thus we leave it to each consecrated member and class to determine what best suits their environment. That said, let it be known that we take advantage of every avenue open to us, this would include going door to door, tracting in the neighborhood, public showings, advertisments in newspaper, magazines and billboards, county fairbooths, etc.

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What are public showings?

Publics showings are shown in rented halls. They can be in the form of a public discourse on a timely Bible topic, or they can be in the form of a movie or slide presentation.

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Do Bible Students publish any literature?

Yes. The Association as a whole and as individual congregations have published throughout the years volumeously. The six volumes of Studies in the Scriptures by the late Pastor Charles Taze Russell are still republished today. Along with many other older and current writings, reflecting over 100 years of service.

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Are there any Bible Student publishing houses?

Yes. There are quite a few throughout the United States and Europe. Some have come and gone in recent years. There are also individual congregations and Bible Students who published independent of each other. These publication however are used and distributed by the association worldwide, regardless of who publishes them.

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Are there any Bible Student Journals and Magazine in print?

Most congregations publish a monthly newsletter, distributed to those they come in contact with through their independent witness work. However there are several journals and newsletters published for the general public and the association.

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How many Bible Students are there?

Since Bible Students do not take roll-call, that is a difficult question to answer. Bible Students can be seen in all four corners of the earth, some are isolated, and others have abundant association.

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Since the congregations are autonomous, are all Bible Students in agreement, doctrinally? Just how closely are the Bible Students in harmony? Do you still hold to the doctrinal teachings as espoused by Charles Taze Russell?

To say that all Bible Students think alike would be to undermine the freedom in Christ we share. Most Bible Students accept the teachings of Scriptures as set forth in the Studies in the Scriptures as being doctrinally sound and supported by God’s Word. However since Pastor Russell never claimed infallibility, it is safe to say that some of his thoughts are opened to interpretation. However, these interpretations, do not take away from The Divine Plan of the Ages, as espoused by Pastor Russell.

It is safe to say there are those, individually and as publishing houses who have taken liberty with the Plan of Salvation as espoused by Pastor Russell.