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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Bible Students, "A House Divided"

Below are just a few of the many (way to many to list) "Bible Students Fragments". Many of these divisions still teach some of Charles Taze Russell's incorrect views from 1876 - 1916, it's as if they are frozen in time. However, other Bible Students have rejected all of Russell's teachings, and still others reject only some of Russell's views, but it's all in who you talk to. However, this might not even point you in the right direction. I have talked to many Bible students over the past 15 years, and what some of them have personally told me, was not the same as what they would then post on the Internet. I have also seen some people leave the Bible Student ranks and others appear to change (like waves on the sea) affiliations on a regular bases. What’s ironic is that many Bible Students will not even fellowship with other Bible Students. It appears that every time a leader died or rebellion started in the ranks a new sect popped up. A number of the Bible Student factions have died out long ago.

Some of the current Bible Students are just former Jehovah's Witnesses who have the need to complain about the Watch Tower Society on a regular bases. It is some of these former Witnesses (now "self-appointed" members of the Bride of Christ) who seem to give the Bible Students a bad name. Some Bible Students not only attack the current Watch Tower Society but they even attack fellow Bible Students in public talks, in print and from online discussion boards. Many of the old timers refer to them as "fringe" (radical members) Bible Students, and they want nothing to do with them. Charles Taze Russell died (in 1916) 95 years ago, if a person were 18 when they knew Pastor Russell that would make him/her 113 years old today. So, the Bible Students who knew and worked with Br. Russell must now all be dead. These current Bible Students are not the same as the Bible Students from (1870 - 1916) Russell's day. Pastor Russell did not know any of these factions. However we must be fare and state that the current Watchtower Society is not the same as the Society from Russell's day. In his day Charles Taze Russell was the Watchtower Society, he was the one in charge, and he ran the entire operation. He did have help from others but he was the one calling all of the shots.

The Bible Students are repulsed by the concept of an organization, a group of christian men having oversight over the work is something they would never stand for. This stands to reason because they feel that one man, and only one man, (Pastor Russell) was "The Faithful and Wise Servant" (In 1895, Russell's wife Maria claimed that Russell himself was the figure referred to in the parable at Matthew 24:45-47), as if all scriptural truth was placed in his hands and his alone. This is unusual considering that Charles Taze Russell received many of his views and teachings from others. To include, Henry Grew, Jonas Wendell, George W. Stetson, George Storrs, Nelson H. Barbour, John H. Paton, Piazzi Smyth, and Joseph A. Seiss, just to name a few. Russell freely acknowledged the help that he received from others. Maria F. Russell later claimed that Charles T. Russell was the "Evil Servant". The current Bible Student sects also give the false impression that the faith group known as Jehovah's Witnesses fell out of the sky in 1931. They fail to comprehend that it was Bible Students who worked with and knew Pastor Russell who adopted the name Jehovah's Witnesses in 1931. It was these Bible Students (now Jehovah's Witnesses) who moved forward, the other fragmented Bible Student sects wanted to stay in the past with Russell's teachings from 1876 - 1916. Additional Reading:

- After the death of Pastor C.T. Russell on 1916 October 31, multiple divisions rent the International Bible Students Association. Bible Students Fragments 1917-1967 @ (This is a Bible Students publication, not a Watch Tower publication. It reviews the divisions and sects within the Bible Students ranks).

W. Norman Woodworth, "The Dawn"

It appears that in 1966 the Dawn Bible Students Association under the leadership of W. Norman Woodworth (1891 - 1975) published a small booklet that caused divisions within the Bible Student ranks, however divisions and infighting are nothing new with the "self appointed" Bride of Christ. The Dawn Bible Students tried to show that not all of Pastor Russell’s views were correct, however other Bible Students would not hear of it, because they view Pastor Russell as The Faithful and Wise Servant, The Laodicean Messenger, and The Man with the Secretary’s Ink Horn. Even today, many Bible Students wish that this little booklet would just go away.

What was Pastor Russell's views regarding his writings: As we have been to some extent, by the grace of God, used in the ministry of the gospel, it may not be out of place to say here what we have frequently said in private, and previously in these columns,--namely, that while we appreciate the love, sympathy, confidence and fellowship of fellow-servants and of the entire household of faith, we want no homage, no reverence, for ourselves or our writings; nor do we wish to be called Reverend or Rabbi. Nor do we wish that any should be called by our name. The name of him who died for all--the name Christian--is quite sufficient to designate the spiritual sons of God, the true brethren of Christ; and whatsoever is more than this cometh of evil, of carnality, and tends toward more of the same. Nor would we have our writings reverenced or regarded as infallible, or on a par with the holy Scriptures. The most we claim or have ever claimed for our teachings is, that they are what we believe to be harmonious interpretations of the divine Word, in harmony with the spirit of the truth. And we still urge, as in the past, that each reader study the subjects we present in the light of the Scriptures, proving all things by the Scriptures, accepting what they see to be thus approved, and rejecting all else. It is to this end, to enable the student to trace the subject in the divinely inspired Record, that we so freely intersperse both quotations and citations of the Scriptures upon which to build. - Charles Taze Russell, December 15, 1896And what does the Bible say: "But I urge and entreat you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in perfect harmony and full agreement in what you say, and that there be no dissensions or factions or divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in your common understanding and in your opinions and judgments." - 1 Corinthians 1:10, Amplified Bible

Oh, the Blessedness!


TWO dates stand out prominently in the minds of Bible Students enlightened by present truth. These are 1874 and 1914. Nearly a century has passed since 1874, and more than half a century since 1914. Because of this passing of so many years beyond the time when it was supposed our hopes would be fully realized, the brethren are naturally concerned as to the meaning of this long delay. Various views are being expressed as to what developments there actually have been in the divine plan during this unexpectedly long end-of-the-age period, and what aspects of the divine plan still remain to be fulfilled.

It is, we are confident, the desire of everyone who loves the truth to hold firmly to its great fundamentals, and also to acquire as clear an understanding as possible of the various details related to those fundamentals. It was the great Apostle Paul who wrote that “we know in part.” (I Cor. 13:9) It is with a keen sense of this limitation that we are publishing this brochure in which, as best we can, we set forth what we understand the Bible to teach, together with a liberal number of quotations from Brother Russell’s writings, in an endeavor to reconcile the facts of today with the delayed hopes of the past.

We do not expect that all the brethren will find themselves in full agreement with this presentation. Our hope is, however, that it will serve to promote understanding among the brethren, and an increased zeal for making known the glad tidings of the kingdom.

For nearly forty years your brethren of the Dawn Bible Students Association have been upholding and publishing the precious fundamental doctrines of the truth as served to the household of faith by that “faithful and wise servant,” and we are dedicated to continue doing this. We are endeavoring also to follow the loving and humble spirit of Brother Russell, who at all times was so willing to acknowledge his lack of full knowledge on certain details of the divine plan, and so ready to change his view when he realized that he had not been wholly correct.

It is with the desire that each reader will diligently prove all things by the Word of God, and hold fast to that which is good, that we submit the following article for consideration. Although there are those who hold dissimilar views, at The Dawn and elsewhere, we rejoice that the brethren in general are working together harmoniously in the service of the Lord, the truth, and one another; and we trust that this treatise will increase that wonderful spirit of unity regardless of our agreement or disagreement with it. So we earnestly pray for the peace and spiritual prosperity of Zion. - The Publishers, Read the full booklet at:


Paul S. L. Johnson, The "Epiphany Messenger"

It must be noted that divisions are nothing new within the Bible Student ranks. After the death of Charles Taze Russell in 1916, they soon started. Read about one of the ring leaders by the name of Paul S. L. Johnson. Faith on the March:

"A week before the end of March Paul Johnson left 34 Craven Terrace, early in the morning, quietly, before anyone else was up. The rather undignified-and unnecessary-mode of his departure, often recounted in other years and invariably invoking some hilarity, need not be recounted here. He went, and there was relief at his going. No one knew where he was until news was received from Liverpool that he had sailed for the United States on March 31. He had been in this country for nineteen weeks and in that short time created an unprecedented scene of confusion and misunderstanding amongst the brethren which was by no means allayed by his departure. A number of churches, mostly from the larger cities, such as Glasgow and Manchester, wrote to Brooklyn requesting that he be not allowed to come to Britain again." - Bible Students in Britain, The Story of a Hundred Years Read the full story:

P. S. L. Johnson had been a prominent pilgrim under Pastor Russell. When his interpretations of the separation of Elijah and Elisha, and of “that evil servant,” caused him to be rejected from the editorial committee of the planned new journal at the Asbury Park, New Jersey, convention in 1918, he, Raymond Grant Jolly, R. H. Hirsh, and most of the Philadelphia congregation left. They formed the Laymen’s Home Missionary Movement, and their intense witnessing efforts gathered a sizeable group of mostly former members of the Society as adherents. They held Pastor Russell in high esteem. A prodigious writer, Johnson produced a series of seventeen books under the general title of Epiphany Studies in the Scriptures. Abounding in typology, the LHMM categorized both prominent ones involved in their work, as well as those who differed with them, under various symbolic names. Teaching that the door to the High Calling was closed, they claimed Paul Johnson was the last member of the Church and his successor, Raymond Jolly, was the last member of the Great Company. Their two periodicals The Bible Standard and Present Truth continue to be published today.

New Covenant Bible Students

In 1907, after teaching for approximately 25 years that the Church was being developed under the New Covenant, Russell changed his views and declared that the New Covenant was future and that God would make this covenant with the house of Judah and the house of Israel. This change in teaching did not set well with some and there were those who left the Society at this time. In addition to the New Covenant change, he was also challenged by some brethren on his teaching that the Church shared with Jesus in the Sin Offering. He based this teaching on the types in Leviticus 8, 9 and 16. Many of his followers had come to accept and recognize him as that "wise and faithful servant" in the Parable which Jesus spoke, who was "serving meat" when the Lord returned invisibly (as they believed) in 1874. These and other teachings were challenged by those who separated in 1909.

Those who left at that time were called "New Covenant Bible Students" by some; others called themselves "Free Bible Students," inferring that they were no longer under the control of a man or organization. Conferences of the "Free Bible Students" began to be held in the New England area in 1909. These are known as the Christian Believers Conferences and are still held yearly in August. There is a week-long conference held every July that began about 50 years ago by a "Free Bible Student" mid-west group that is held in western PA. These are called the Berean Christian Conferences. A Western Christian Believers Conference is being held in January 1998 for the first time in southern CA. In England there is a "Free Bible Student Conference" also held every August. In addition there are some other conferences or conventions held around the country and in England by individual Free Bible Student groups throughout the year.

What did Pastor Russell have to say about this faction?Back in 1909, the then president of the Watch Tower Society, C. T. Russell, wrote about those who turned away from Jehovah’s table and then began to mistreat their former fellow slaves. The Watch Tower of October 1, 1909, said: "All who cut loose from the Society and its work, instead of prospering themselves or upbuilding others in the faith and in the graces of the spirit, seemingly do the reverse—attempt injury to the Cause they once served, and, with more or less noise, gradually sink into oblivion, harming only themselves and others possessed of a similarly contentious spirit. . . . If some think that they can get as good or better provender at other tables, or that they can produce as good or better themselves—let these take their course. . . . But while we are willing that others should go anywhere and everywhere to find food and light to their satisfaction, strange to say, those who become our opponents take a very different course. Instead of saying in the manly fashion of the world, ‘I have found something which I prefer; goodbye!’ these manifest anger, malice, hatred, strife, ‘works of the flesh and of the devil’ such as we have never known worldly people to exhibit. They seem inoculated with madness, Satanic hydrophobia [rabies]. Some of them smite us and then claim that we did the smiting. They are ready to say and write contemptible falsities and to stoop to do meanness.”

World War I, which had been occupying Europe since 1914 Summer, saw U.S. participation beginning 1917 April 6. The Watch Tower stand on conscientious objection then occasioned the 1918 May 8 arrest and subsequent conviction of J.F. Rutherford, W.E. VanAmburgh, A.H. MacMillan, R.J. Martin, C.J. Woodworth, G.H. Fisher, F.H. Robison, and Giovanni Dececca. (Warrant for the arrest of R.H. Hirsh was also issued, but he had already resigned under pressure; so the warrant likely was not pursued.) These were imprisoned in Atlanta from 1918 June 21 until their release on bail 1919 March 21. Their convictions were reversed 1919 May 15. During the imprisonment of these eight Watch Tower leaders, C.H. Anderson was acting President and J.F. Stephenson was acting Secretary-Treasurer. The Watch Tower offices were temporarily removed to Pittsburgh in 1918 ca. Sept. 25 for barely more than a year. The Society’s annual meeting in 1919 Jan. 4 in Pittsburgh reelected J.F. Rutherford President and W.E. VanAmburgh Secretary-Treasurer. But the others elected to the Board of Directors, viz. C.A. Wise (Vice President), R.H. Barber, W.E. Spill, W.F. Hudgings, and C.H. Anderson, were freer to carry out their responsibilities. When the imprisoned leaders were released, Barber resigned in favor of MacMillan.

Pastoral Bible Institute (PBI)

Amid the rancor of the Watch Tower’s Pittsburgh convention meetings (1918 Saturday Jan. 6), several withdrew to a hastily-convoked mini-convention at the Fort Pitt Hotel for the balance of the weekend. A Committee of Seven was convoked. The first scheduled convention outside the IBSA was held 1918 July 26-29 in Asbury Park, New Jersey. The Committee Bulletin was then published monthly from August to October. Two or three hundred attended the Providence, R.I., convention 1918 Nov. 8-10. It was there resolved to form the Pastoral Bible Institute (P.B.I.) to resume the pastoral work outside the Society; it was incorporated in New York 1918 Nov. 23. A new journal, The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, commenced publication immediately with a December issue4 under an editorial committee composed of I.F. Hoskins, R.E. Streeter, I.I. Margeson, H.C. Rockwell, and Dr. S.N. Wiley. The PBI published Streeter’s books on Revelation (2 vols., 1923) and (posthumously) Daniel (1928). The PBI offices were in Brooklyn until ca. 1960. The work was split between St. Louis and Batavia, Ill., when the 177 Prospect Pl., Brooklyn, property was disposed of. Recent circulation of The Herald was several thousand. Among the better-known pilgrims were: Isaac Hoskins (part time), H.A. Friese, L.F. Zink, J.J. Blackburn, Wm. McKeown, Benjamin Boulter, Paul Thomson, Walter Sargeant (d. 1941 Nov. 18), John T. Read (noted for his singing voice), Alec L. Muir, Fred A. Essler, and W.J. Siekman. (See further in the Appendix.) For many decades an annual convention in late September at Atlantic City, N.J., was closely associated with the PBI.

Stand Fasts and the Elijah Voice Society

The IBSA classes in the Northwest backed the Seventh Volume all the way. But Charles E. Heard of Vancouver and many others felt Rutherford’s recommendation in 1918 Spring to buy war bonds was cowardice, and sacrilegeously perpetuating harvest work. The Stand Fast Bible Students Association was organized 1918 Dec. 1 at Portland. It published Old Corn Gems (Jos 5:11-12) and organized many conventions in the Northwest and throughout the U.S. Heard, Wm. B. Palmer, R.O. Hadley, W.M. Wisdom (briefly), Ian C. Edwards, H.A. Livermore, Allan A. Yerex, and Finley McKercher were all prominent. Many (non-doctrinal) divisions followed a Seattle convention 1919 July 25-27. In 1922, John A. Hardeson and C.D. McCray (later dropped out) organized the Elijah Voice Society for an ambitious regathering and witness work. They published the Elijah Voice Monthly. The E.V.S. became the most prominent Seventh Volume group, though they never quite gathered "Gideon’s 300." In 1923 Fall, Edwards and Heard organized Stand Fasts into the Star Construction Company in Victoria (although Heard was persuaded by his wife to stay in Vancouver). Fearing the time of trouble, Edwards in the Fall of 1924 took the company of more than 300 to Sooke and then to Port Renfrew and the Gordon River on the southwest part of Vancouver Island. When the business failed in 1927, Dr. Alec McCarter (dentist) and Oscar Kuenzi closed out the property. From twelve hundred adherents or more in 1919 in the Northwest and near Wisconsin, these Seventh Volume movements have dwindled to near vanishing.

Laymen’s Home Missionary Movement

Paul S.L. Johnson had fallen out with Rutherford in 1917 but continued to visit IBSA classes for a couple of years (though not under Watch Tower auspices). He was one of the prominent founders of the Committee of Seven, though the affiliation was brief. He organized the Laymen’s Home Missionary Movement and began publishing monthly the Present Truth and Herald of Christ’s Epiphany ("PT" -for believers) on 1920 Jan. 1, and bimonthly the Herald of the Epiphany (in 1952 renamed The Bible Standard and Herald of Christ’s Kingdom - for witness work) on 1920 July 16. By 1941 Johnson taught that Pastor Russell had been the Parousia (Presence) messenger of the Reaping period but that he himself was a special "Epiphany messenger" for the separation time and Time of Trouble.7 (In later years it was taught that he was the last member of the Church and that R.G. Jolly was the last member of the Great Company-also a heavenly class.) He wrote voluminously on the interpretation of types and shadows before his death in 1950 Oct. 22. Adherents now believe they constitute an earthly class of "Youthful Worthies" or (since 1954) of "Epiphany Campers," who will reign on earth with the Ancient Worthies. Johnson was succeeded as executive trustee by his chief adherent, Raymond Grant Jolly (1886-1979) [then by August Gohlke (1916-1985), and then by Bernard W. Hedman]. The headquarters was moved from Philadelphia to the Chester Springs suburb 1967 Oct. 15. The LHMM publishes the Bible Standard and Present Truth journals in English, Polish, French, Dano-Norwegian, and Portuguese. Perhaps 250-300 partake of the Memorial8 in the U.S. and Canada. There is a greater number of adherents abroad (e.g., of perhaps 6200 others, about half are in Nigeria, one third in Poland, and several others in France, India, England, Scandinavia, Brazil, and the West Indies). In Poland the LHMM separated from the other Bible Students 1927 April, under the leadership of Czeslaw Kasprzykowski in Warsaw (who then disassociated a few years later). Wiktor Stachowiak (1897-1990) became the Polish representative 1936-1990.

Others prominent in the LHMM work included John J. Hoefle, Michael Kostyn (until ca. 1930) and C.J. Schmidt of Detroit, F.A. Hall of Indianapolis, Wm. Eschrich of Milwaukee, Daniel Gavin of Springfield, Mass., Carl Seebald of Muskegan, Mich., Alex Wayne (Wojnerowski) of Memphis, John Treble of Miami, and J.L.A. Condell of Jamaica. Principal conventions were at Philadelphia, Muskegan, Chicago, and Hyde, Cheshire, England. There have also been some splinter groups: W.S. Stevens of Atlanta left in 1935 and circulated a letter claiming Johnson was dictatorial. S.A. Cater9 of Vancouver, B.C., departed in 1948, and Thomas T. Ryde in Los Angeles left soon afterwards. Cyril Shuttleworth, the British representative, left in 1951. John W. Krewson split with Jolly in 1954-1955 over whether Krewson (not eligible for the heavenly hope) should assume the teaching position? he published The Present Truth of the Apocalypsis journal through his Laodicean Home Missionary Movement in Philadelphia and later in Florida. About 1956 Feb. John J. Hoefle left and began issuing a monthly newsletter through his Epiphany Bible Students Assn. of Mount Dora, Fla. Hoefle taught that the elect of the church continued longer than the other two groups had taught. Those who left were commonly disfellowshipped (whether before or after leaving).

Dawn Bible Students Association

In the early 1930’s there was interest in an energetic effort to regather Bible Students outside the Society and to put forth a public message. The new effort was spearheaded by the New York (Brooklyn) ecclesia, with support from around the country. W. Norman Woodworth and John E. Dawson (who had commenced Frank & Ernest radio broadcasts on WBBR in 1927) having left WBBR and the Society, the Brooklyn Radio Committee attempted radio broadcasts in New York, and then Boston, beginning 1931 April 12. The broadcasts were discontinued after three months each due to shortage of funds. Radio Echo tracts were issued from 1931 April 29 through 1932 September. A monthly tract-sized paper, The Dawn, was issued to answer radio requests. The Witness Bulletin was published for a few years beginning 1931 October.

The Pastoral Bible Institute declined to sponsor the work, but many of its leaders expressed moral support. Therefore Dawn Publishers, Inc., was organized 1932June 7 in New York to replace ecclesia sponsorship. The Dawn was expanded into a monthly magazine 1932 October. The free Bible Students News was issued for four years beginning 1935 ca. June. Bible Students News was again published from ca. 1947to 1950. The Dawn offices were originally in Brooklyn, 251 Washington St., then 136 Fulton St., before being moved to 199 Railroad Ave., East Rutherford, N.J., ca. 1944 Jan. 1. Thereupon, the Dawn Bible Students Association was incorporated 1944 May 22 in New Jersey; Dawn Publishers was merged into it in 1953. Recent circulation of The Dawn was around 15-20,000. In the later 1930’s Bill Gleason arranged for Russell Pollock to broadcast programs on the California Rural Network. Soon afterwards, Frank & Ernest resumed radio broadcasting (Norman Woodworth and George Wilson, with Don Copeland announcer). Many gave enthusiastic support to the new activity: Lilia Woodworth and Norma Mitchell, Corey Mitchell, Ruth Roark, Rose (Johnson) Bertsche, Oscar Magnuson, W.F. Hudgings, William Robertson, Jere Reimer, Arnold Greaves (a printer), Mr. and Mrs. Rodgers, Walter Sargeant, Mr. and Mrs. J.H. Hoeveler, Mr. and Mrs. John Hutchinson, and some from farther away, L.F. Zink, George Kendall, Christian Zahnow, among many others.

Watchers of the Morning

In the early 1930’s troubles arose in the PBI. Some of its prominent members began to believe the Church was under the Mediator and under the New Covenant (rather than part of the Mediator of that covenant when it goes into operation in the thousand-year kingdom of Christ), and that the Church has no part in the sin offering (rather than joining with Jesus Christ in that offering). Some also doubted that the Lord had returned in any sense, and that the sleeping saints had been raised from the dead. Others protested that none should be engaged in the ministry except those in harmony with "Present Truth." Still others, who were in harmony with "Present Truth," defended the right of those who were not to continue in the service without limitation. At the PBI annual meeting 1936 June 6 the "liberal" directors, Dr. S.D. Bennett, J.J. Blackburn, J.C. Jordan, P.L. Read, and P.E. Thomson, were elected, together with their nominees, Chester E. Stiles of Washington, D.C., and Benjamin Boulter of New Jersey. The "Present Truth" directors, I.F. Hoskins and B.A. Parkes, were not elected, nor their nominees, P.A. Gates of Memphis, C.H.S. Kuehn of Toledo, C.W. McCoy of Spokane, S.N. McElvany of Pittsburgh, and G.C. Stroke of Buffalo. Thereupon, Isaac Hoskins withdrew from the PBI and in 1937 April began publishing Watchers of the Morning, emphasizing "Present Truth." Among those cooperating with Hoskins were H.H. Eddy of Providence, R.I., C.W. McCoy of Spokane, and Charles F. Moser of Toledo. Watchers of the Morning continued until Hoskins died (1957 Sept. in the Los Angeles area). (His sister, Edith, stayed with the PBI.)

Epiphany Bible Students Association

After the death of Paul S. L. Johnson in 1950, the Laymen's Home Missionary Movement began to experience troubles in its leadership. In the spring of 1955, charges of fraud and dishonesty in business were circulated against John J. Hoefle (1895-1984), a prominent leader who had spoken at Johnson's funeral. Hoefle, in turn, accused the leadership of the Layman's Home Missionary Movement of slander and lying, and, in the ever growing polemics, some doctrinal distinctions between Hoefle and Raymond Jolly, who had succeeded Johnson as head of the organization, began to appear. They disagreed on the nature and validity of John's baptism (Acts 19:1ff), which Hoefle saw as an excuse for Jolly to accuse him of being out of harmony with both Johnson and Charles Taze Russell, founder of the Bible Student Movement. Hoefle was formally disfellowshipped on February 8, 1956. Hoefle began to publish the correspondence on the controversy and his opinions on the ongoing administration of Jolly. By the end of 1957, these letters had become a regular monthly publication. In 1968, the title Epiphany Bible Students Association began to appear on the masthead. Hoefle continues in the Russell/ Johnson theological school with only minor differences with the Laymen's Home Missionary Movement, primarily of an administrative nature and concerning variations on the interpretation of specific texts. For example, both the LHMM and the Hoefle taught of two classes of individuals who would appear in the future Kingdom of God: the Ancient Worthies who would rule (Ps. 45:16) and the Youthful Worthies who would be in partnership with them. The LHMM under Jolly, were teaching that as of 1954, all of the Youthful Worthies had been won and began to speak of a new class of people, the Consecrated Epiphany Campers. Hoefle rejected this teaching, claimed that no such class existed, and that the Youthful Worthies would be won until the time of restitution. The Epiphany Bible Students Association is organized around individuals who receive the monthly newsletters. There are regular meetings for Bible study at the Mount Dora Bible House, the headquarters in Florida. Other study groups around the country meet in private homes. Leonard E. Williams has succeeded Hoefle as president of the association, and Emily Hoefle, his widow, remains active as the secretary.

Laodicean Home Missionary Movement

John W. Krewson was a member of the Laymen's Home Missionary Movement who withdrew in protest over the leadership of Raymond Jolly, who had succeeded Paul S. L. Johnson. In 1955, within months of Johnson's death, Krewson was disfellowshipped and soon began to publish a periodical, The Present Truth of the Apocalypsis. He offered LHMM members an option to John J. Hoefle, who had also been disfellowshipped and had formed the Epiphany Bible Students Association. They began to argue, each casting doubt on the other's right to preach and asserting that the other was not a pilgrim (preacher with proper credentials). As time passed, Jolly, Hoefle and Krewson have continued the intrafamily feud; sometimes Jolly and Krewson agree against Hoefle, and sometimes Hoefle and Jolly agree against Krewson. Krewson and Hoefle disagreed on Johnson's status as the last saint, Hoefle arguing that Charles Taze Russell's appointments of other pilgrims (who were still alive) was ample refutation. Both Hoefle and Jolly joined in refuting Krewson's teaching on the apocalypse. The Laodicean Home Missionary Movement is loosely structured around Krewson's periodical by individuals and small groups who use it for study and edification.

The Berean Bible Institute

The BEREAN BIBLE INSTITUTE: was established in 1918 in Melbourne Australia for the dissemination of Bible teachings, mainly by means of printed publications. The principal publication, titled "Peoples Paper and Herald of Christ's Kingdom", was initially a monthly publication but is now published quarterly. It was first published in 1918 and is now published in January, April, July and October each year. The current format comprises 12 pages of A4 size. The Berean Bible Institute is an independent entity incorporated in Victora, Australia. It maintains ties of fellowship and co-operation with similarly minded Bible Student groups and individuals in the United States of America, Great Britain, Europe and other parts of the world. The Institute seeks to encourage personal and group study of the Bible, with a view to enabling individuals to gain a greater understanding and appreciation of the Divine Plan for human salvation. A consequence of such knowledge should be the development of personal conduct that conforms to the will of God as expressed in the Bible. Berean Bible Institute policy is to encourage each one individually to heed the words of the Apostle Paul: "Prove all things, hold fast that which is good" (I Thessalonians 5:21). The Institute offers a range of FREE Booklets on Bible topics, published mainly by various groups in USA, as well as priced reference Books on the Scriptures. The Berean Bible Institute does not solicit funds and there is no membership or joining fee. It is funded by income from bequests received over the years and the free will gifts and donations of those who appreciate its work. All services are provided free as far as resources permit. In particular the Peoples Paper is provided free to everyone who requests a copy.

The Jersey City Bible Students

The Jersey City Bible Students: was formed in the late 1800s as a result of the ministry of the Late, Pastor Charles Taze Russell. At the time Christians in the Jersey City area formed a small Bible study group. It is known to be the oldest Bible Students congregation. It supported Pastor Russell and the International Bible Students Association until late 1916, when it was evident that the Society under its new leadership were no longer in harmony with the Divine Plan as outlined in scriptures and espoused in the writings of Pastor Russell's "Studies in the Scriptures." The Jersey City brethren then immediately withdrew their support of the Society to function independently of it and others. It has a rich history and has survived till today. Millennial Morning is sponsored by the Associated Bible Students of Jersey City. We are a completely autonomous, non-denominational Christian fellowship, not affiliated with any of the church systems of today. We as a group own no property, take no collections, and pay no ministers for their services. This fellowship has no CENTRAL head, office or publishing house. We study the Bible together with others of like precious faith and maintain an association and fellowship that is worldwide through conventions. Our most distinguishing characteristic as seen by the world is that we believe God has a plan, which is revealed in the Bible and ALL of mankind from Adam to the last person to be born on earth will be resurrected. They will be resurrected regardless of their belief, regardless if they have heard of God and without regard to nationality or skin color. We welcome all to share with us in the study of God's Word. There is no organization to join and no creed to affirm. Our services are as simple as the church in the days of the Apostles. Our congregation benefits from the prayer support of one another and our fellowship is warm and friendly.

Christian Millennial Fellowship

Christian Millennial Fellowship: This is not a complete history of all the off-shoots of Bible Students, but merely an attempt to show where CMF began its history in the string of "The Adventist Family." Charles Taze Russell began publishing the Watch Tower in 1879. He was assisted by a group of followers called "Millennial Dawn Bible Students." In 1881, the Zion’s Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society was set up. In 1907, after teaching for approximately 25 years that the Church was being developed under the New Covenant, Russell changed his views and declared that the New Covenant was future and that God would make this covenant with the house of Judah and the house of Israel. This change in teaching did not set well with some and there were those who left the Society at this time. In addition to the New Covenant change, he was also challenged by some brethren on his teaching that the Church shared with Jesus in the Sin Offering. He based this teaching on the types in Leviticus 8, 9 and 16. Many of his followers had come to accept and recognize him as that "wise and faithful servant" in the Parable which Jesus spoke, who was "serving meat" when the Lord returned invisibly (as they believed) in 1874. These and other teachings were challenged by those who separated in 1909. Those who left at that time were called "New Covenant Bible Students" by some; others called themselves "Free Bible Students," inferring that they were no longer under the control of a man (Pastor Russell) or organization (Watchtower Society).Conferences of the "Free Bible Students" began to be held in the New England area in 1909. These are known as the Christian Believers Conferences and are still held yearly in August. There is a week-long conference held every July that began about 50 years ago by a "Free Bible Student" mid-west group that is held in western PA. These are called the Berean Christian Conferences. A Western Christian Believers Conference is being held in January 1998 for the first time in southern CA. In England there is a "Free Bible Student Conference" also held every August. In addition there are some other conferences or conventions held around the country and in England by individual Free Bible Student groups throughout the year. A group of separated brethren in the Hartford, Connecticut area formed a congregation and were known as the New Creation Bible Students. Gaetano Boccaccio was one of their elders and in 1940, he began to publish The New Creation magazine. This ministry expanded to publishing tracts and booklets as well as the magazine, which is now distributed world-wide. This ministry was given the name of Christian Millennial Fellowship (CMF). This CMF ministry is still active today and since the death of its founder in 1996, its headquarters are now in Port Murray, NJ under the direction of Elmer Weeks. There are many independent CMF groups in foreign countries that have embraced its message and are actively spreading the good news. CMF cooperates freely with all the independent Free Bible Students groups. CMF is supported by the generosity of donors from around the country. All of its publications are offered free of charge and the CMF staff members are volunteers who donate their time and energy as unto the Lord.


The Epiphany Bible Students Association is organized around individuals who receive the monthly newsletters. There are regular meetings for Bible study at the Mount Dora Bible House, the headquarters in Florida. Other study groups around the country meet in private homes. Leonard E. Williams has succeeded Hoefle as president of the association, and Emily Hoefle, his widow, remains active as the secretary. Laodicean


There are no longer meetings held. I ran by the house and asked the housemaid where Ms Hoefle resided before her death in 2010? at over 100 years of age. At the time (c. 2005) they were less than a dozen people meeting at the residence (nursing home) on Sundays. However when Ms Hoefle died (I believe it was 2010) the meetings stopped and her relative (I believe her niece) still sends out newsletters but no more meetings are held. There never was an official "Mt Dora Bible House" in Mt Dora. The followers simply met at the residences of J. Hoefle, then his wife Emily from what I can conclude. A Marjorie Williams (I believe Leonard E. Williams is now deceased) now sends out newsletters only, mostly (over 95% of which) are reprints of Russell's writings or once in a blue moon, a reprinted article from the pen of Hoefle (deceased in the early to mid 1980s). There is however, a thriving congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses in Mount Dora that has approximately 110 publishers. (I've given talks there within the last 10 years) Little contact was ever made between the followers of Hoefle and the local congregation however with Hoefle preferring to stay away from them (I gather this from comments made from his writings on one or two "run ins" he had) No local publishers in Mt Dora presently (as of Nov 2012) know anything of Hoefle or his followers and the longtime friends (pre-1970) have mostly passed away or moved away from the Mt Dora area. In the surrounding congregations only 2-3 older Elders know of the Hoefle groups existence (that's out of 4-6 congregations locally). - by JW Chris G.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

William Miller: Herald of the Second Advent

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American farmer and Baptist preacher who announced the imminent coming of Christ and founded the movement popularly known as Millerism, or the Millerite Movement, characterized by a distinctive type of premillennialism and giving rise to a group of denominations classed as the Adventist bodies. Miller was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and was reared in Low Hampton, in northern New York, almost on the Vermont line. As an ambitious frontier boy with an unquenchable desire for knowledge, he was largely self-educated. Upon his marriage with Lucy P. Smith in 1803, he moved to Poultney, Vermont. Through friendship with several prominent citizens who were deists, Miller abandoned his religious convictions and became an avowed skeptic.

In the War of 1812 Miller served as a lieutenant and captain. At the close of the war he moved his family to Low Hampton, where he hoped to live quietly as a farmer through his remaining years. At various times he served his community as a deputy sheriff and justice of the peace. But Miller was not at peace with himself, for he was at heart a deeply religious man. In 1816 he was converted. Concerning this he wrote in 1845: “I saw that the Bible did bring to view just such a Savior as I needed; and I was perplexed to find how an uninspired book should develop principles so perfectly adapted to the wants of a fallen world. I was constrained to admit that the Scriptures must be a revelation from God; they became my delight and in Jesus I found a friend” (Apology and Defence, p. 5).

Challenged by his skeptical friends, he set out to study the Bible: “I commenced with Genesis….Whenever I found any thing obscure, my practice was to compare it with all collateral passages, and by the help of Cruden[‘s Concordance] I examined all the texts of Scripture….Then by letting every word have its proper bearing on the subject of the text, if my view of it harmonized with every collateral passage in the Bible, it ceased to be a difficulty” (ibid, p. 6).

Miller concluded that Scripture “is its own interpreter,” and that the words ought to be interpreted literally, that is, in their ordinary historical and grammatical sense, except in those instances where the writer used figurative language. In this Miller simply was following the path of conservative theologians. In his studies of the prophecies he reached the conclusion that the writers pointed to his day as the last period of earth’s history. Specifically, he put his first and greatest emphasis on the prophetic declaration, “Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed” (Dan. 8:14) from which he reached his conclusion in 1818, at the close of two years’ study of the Bible, that “in about twenty-five years [that is, about 1843]…all affairs of our present state would be wound up” (ibid, p. 12). Seeking to criticize his own conclusions and to examine all objections, he “was occupied for five years” (ibid, p. 15) more in examining and reexamining the arguments for and against his beliefs.

Convinced of “the duty of presenting the evidence of the nearness of the advent to others” (ibid.), he tried to excuse himself on the ground that he was not a public speaker. He was “very diffident and feared to go before the world” (ibid, p. 16). He wrote an extended statement of his beliefs to a minister friend named Andrus, in 1831, but he could not free his mind from that impelling sense of duty.

Finally in August 1831 he covenanted with God that “if I should have an invitation to speak publicly in any place, I will go and tell them what I find in the Bible about the Lord’s coming” (ibid, p. 17). What he did not know was that even as he was making such apparently safe terms with the Lord, there was traveling down the highway a young man bearing an invitation for him to preach the following day. The tumult that this unexpected invitation produced in Miller’s soul sent him to a nearby grove where he could pray. Into that grove went a farmer; out came a preacher. After dinner Miller left with the youth for nearby Dresden.

Invited to remain during the week, Miller found himself engaged in a revival. The preaching of the soon coming of Christ seemed naturally and inevitable to lead men to seek make ready for that solemn event. Miller was soon to find himself in the position of having to turn down more requests than he filled simply because he could not be in more than one place at once, or because he had to spend some time on the farm.

In 1832 Miller published a series of eight articles in the Vermont Telegraph, a Baptist weekly. In 1833 he incorporated these articles into a 64-page pamphlet entitled Evidences from Scripture and History of the Second Coming of Christ About the Year A.D. 1843, and of His Personal Reign for 1,000 Years. In that year he was given a license to preach by the Baptists, and by the close of 1834 he was devoting his whole time to preaching. During 1836 he brought out his “lectures” in a book, which was later reprinted several times and enlarged from 16 to 19 lectures, with a supplement containing chronology and charts.

From October 1834 to June 1839 Miller’s manuscript record book lists 800 lectures that he had given. He accomplished this single handedly at his own expense, and with no theological training, wholly in response to direct invitations.

Miller was a good preacher, not a good promoter. However, help in the area of promotion soon came. In December 1839 he was invited by Joshua V. Himes, of the “Christian Connection” (now part of the Congregational Christian Church and the United Church of Christ), to speak in Boston. For Himes there was only one question of importance. If this message was really true, then what steps should be taken to blazon it over the whole land? Convinced of its correctness, he assured “Father Miller” that “doors should be opened in every city in the Union, and the warning should go to the ends of the earth” (Sylvester Bliss, Memoirs of William Miller, p. 141). Himes, a born promoter, immediately began publication of The Signs of the Times. Thus was launched the extensive publication activities of the Millerites, which later included other periodicals and a series of booklets called the Second Advent Library, composed of writings of Miller and others.

In 1840 Miller began lecturing in New York. In the late summer he, with a group of other ministers, signed a call for the first “general conference on the second coming of…Christ,” though he was prevented by illness from attending and several subsequent conferences.

From 1840 onward Millerism was no longer the activity of one man primarily, but of a great and increasing group of men. Miller kept closely in touch with the activities of the movement, even when he was absent from the lecture platform because of illness. No other lecturer could take his place. In spite of the increasing tension between church organizations and the Millerite movement, there were still churches late in 1843 whose members were ready to go on record with their signatures by the score, urging Miller to come and preach.

What type of man was Miller that he could persuade preachers of different denominations to accept his teaching? Even his friends painted a rather modest picture of his platform ability. There must have been a certain force and appeal not only in the earnestness of the man but in the logical way in which he marshaled his arguments. True, there was patently an error somewhere in his reasoning, for Christ did not come “about the year 1843,” but that error was not immediately discernible. He lived in a day when it was uncommon for preachers to make a major appeal to the emotions, yet he did not appeal primarily to the emotions, but to the intellect through a reading of the Word. There were often strong crying and tears in his meetings, and men coming forward to kneel in contrition, but he sought to bring the conviction through a forthright preaching and exposition of the Scriptures, not by a maudlin appeal to the emotions.

In connection with a camp meeting at Newark in 1842, the New York Herald reporter gave this word picture of Miller: “In person he is about five feet seven inches in height, very thick set, broad shoulders’ lightish brown hair, a little bald, a benevolent countenance, full of wrinkles, and his head shakes as though he was slightly afflicted with the palsy. His manners are very much in his favor; he is not a very well educated man; but he has read and studied history and prophecy very closely; has much strong common sense, and is evidently sincere in his belief” (New York Herald Extra, composed of articles of Nov. 4-15, 1842).

Said a daughter of a Millerite preacher: “His power was in his strong mellow voice and earnest manner, making his most cultivated hearers to forget his homely phraseology and provincial pronunciation” (Jane Marsh Parker, “A Spiritual Cyclone,” Magazine of Christian Literature, September 1891, p. 325).

Miller’s counsel to a preacher friend might properly have come from a seasoned instructor: “Lead your hearers by slow and sure steps to Jesus Christ. I say slow because I expect they are not strong enough to run yet, sure because the Bible is a sure word. And where your hearers are not well doctrinated, your must preach Bible. You must prove all things by Bible….If you wish them to believe as you do, show them by your constant assiduity in teaching, that you sincerely with it” (letter to Truman Hendryx, Mar. 26, 1832).

Although Miller repeatedly declared that his prophetic views were not new, he insisted that he came to his conclusions exclusively through a study of the Bible and reference to a concordance. According to a colleague, Southard, he never had a commentary in his house, and did not remember reading any work on the prophecies except Newton and Faber.

Miller used the general phrase “about the year 1843” to describe his belief as to the time of the Advent until in January 1843 he set forth the time as sometime “between Marc 21st, 1843, and March 21st, 1844.” He never set a date or day within this period. Writing from Washington shortly before Mar. 21, 1844, he said: “If Christ comes, as we expect, we will sing the victory soon; if not, we will watch, and pray, and preach until He comes, for soon our time, and all prophetic days, will have been filled” (Advent Herald, Marc. 6, 1844, p. 39).

After the passing of Oct. 22, 1844 - a date that Miller did not set, but accepted at the last moment - Miller wrote to Joshua Himes: “Although I have been twice disappointed, I am not yet cast down or discouraged….My hope in the coming of Christ is as strong as ever. I have done only what after years of sober consideration I felt to be my solemn duty to do….I have fixed my mind upon another time, and here I mean to stand until God gives me more light. - And that is Today, TODAY, and TODAY, until He comes, and I see HIM for whom my soul yearns” (letter, Nov. 10, 1844, in The Midnight Cry, Dec. 5, 1844, pp. 179, 180).

He believed that perhaps a small error in the reckoning of chronology might still explain the Lord’s delay in coming. He was at first still confident that Providence had overruled in the preaching of the definite time, Oct. 22, and that Christ would probably come before the end of that Jewish year. Not until the spring of 1845 did he affirm that the 1844 movement was not “a fulfillment of prophecy in any sense,” and declared himself in opposition to “any of the new theories” that developed immediately after Oct. 22 in an endeavour to explain the disappointment. He disclaimed the doctrine (taught by some of the prominent Millerites) that the wicked will finally be annihilated, and that the dead lie unconscious in their graves until resurrection.

Miller’s hope and confident belief to the last were that some minor error in the chronology explained the disappointment. He died in December 1849, in the literal expectation of the immediate coming of Christ.

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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Jesus Christ—Sent by God

NEARLY everyone today has heard of Jesus Christ. His influence on history has been greater than that of any other human. Indeed, the very calendar used in most parts of the world is based on the year he is thought to have been born! As The World Book Encyclopedia says: “Dates before that year are listed as B.C., or before Christ. Dates after that year are listed as A.D., or anno Domini (in the year of our Lord).”

2 So Jesus was not an imaginary person. He really lived as a man on earth. “In ancient times even the opponents of Christianity never doubted the [actual existence] of Jesus,” notes the Encyclopædia Britannica. So just who was Jesus? Was he really sent by God? Why is he so well known?


3 Unlike any other human, Jesus was born of a virgin. Her name was Mary. An angel said of her child: “This one will be great and will be called Son of the Most High.” (Luke 1:28-33; Matthew 1:20-25) But how could a woman who had never had sexual relations with a man have a child? It was by means of God’s holy spirit. Jehovah transferred the life of his mighty spirit Son from heaven to the womb of the virgin Mary. It was a miracle! Surely the One who made the first woman with the wonderful ability to produce children could cause a woman to have a child without a human father. The Bible explains: “When the full limit of the time arrived, God sent forth his Son, who came to be out of a woman.”—Galatians 4:4.

4 So before being born on earth as a man Jesus had been in heaven as a mighty spirit person. He had a spirit body invisible to man, just as God has. (John 4:24) Jesus himself often spoke of the high position he had held in heaven. Once he prayed: “Father, glorify me alongside yourself with the glory that I had alongside you before the world was.” (John 17:5) He also said to his listeners: “You are from the realms below; I am from the realms above.” “What, therefore, if you should behold the Son of man ascending to where he was before?” “Before Abraham came into existence, I have been.”—John 8:23; 6:62; 8:58; 3:13; 6:51.

5 Before coming to earth Jesus was called the Word of God. This title shows that he served in heaven as the one who spoke for God. He is also called God’s “Firstborn,” as well as his “only-begotten” Son. (John 1:14; 3:16; Hebrews 1:6) This means that he was created before all the other spirit sons of God, and that he is the only one who was directly created by God. The Bible explains that this “firstborn” Son shared with Jehovah in creating all other things. (Colossians 1:15, 16) Thus when God said, “Let us make man in our image,” he was talking to this Son. Yes, the very one who later came to earth and was born from a woman had shared in the creation of all things! He had already lived in heaven with his Father for an unknown number of years!—Genesis 1:26; Proverbs 8:22, 30; John 1:3.


6 Mary had been promised in marriage to Joseph. But when he learned that she was pregnant he believed she had engaged in sexual relations with another man, and he was therefore not going to marry her. However, when Jehovah told him that it was by means of His holy spirit that the child had been conceived, Joseph took Mary as his wife. (Matthew 1:18-20, 24, 25) Later, while they were visiting the city of Bethlehem, Jesus was born. (Luke 2:1-7; Micah 5:2) When Jesus was still a baby, King Herod tried to kill him. But Jehovah warned Joseph so that he took his family and ran away to Egypt. After King Herod died, Joseph and Mary returned with Jesus to the city of Nazareth in Galilee. Here he grew up.—Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23.

7 When Jesus was 12 years old he traveled with his family to Jerusalem to attend the special celebration called the Passover. While there he spent three days in the temple listening to the teachers and asking them questions. All the people who listened to him were surprised at how much he knew. (Luke 2:41-52) As Jesus grew up in Nazareth, he learned to be a carpenter. He no doubt was trained to do this work by his foster father, Joseph, who also was a carpenter.—Mark 6:3; Matthew 13:55.

8 At 30 years of age a big change occurred in Jesus’ life. He went to John the Baptizer and asked to be baptized, to be put completely under the waters of the Jordan River. The Bible reports: “After being baptized Jesus immediately came up from the water; and, look! the heavens were opened up, and he saw descending like a dove God’s spirit coming upon him. Look! Also, there was a voice from the heavens that said: ‘This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved.’” (Matthew 3:16, 17) There could be no doubt in the mind of John that Jesus had been sent by God.

9 By pouring out His holy spirit on Jesus, Jehovah was anointing him or appointing him to be the king of His coming kingdom. Being thus anointed with the spirit, Jesus became the “Messiah,” or the “Christ,” which words in the Hebrew and Greek languages mean “Anointed.” Therefore, he became, in fact, Jesus Christ, or Jesus the Anointed. So his apostle Peter spoke of “Jesus who was from Nazareth, how God anointed him with holy spirit and power.” (Acts 10:38) Also, by his baptism in water Jesus was presenting himself to God to carry out the work that God had sent him to earth to do. What was that important work?


10 Explaining why he had come to earth, Jesus told the Roman governor Pontius Pilate: “For this I have been born, and for this [purpose] I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth.” (John 18:37) But what particular truths was Jesus sent to earth to make known? First, truths about his heavenly Father. He taught his followers to pray that his Father’s name be “hallowed,” or held holy. (Matthew 6:9, King James Version) And he prayed: “I have made your name manifest to the men you gave me.” (John 17:6) Also, he said: “I must declare the good news of the kingdom of God, because for this I was sent forth.”—Luke 4:43.

11 How important to Jesus was this work of making known his Father’s name and kingdom? He said to his disciples: “My food is for me to do the will of him that sent me and to finish his work.” (John 4:34) Why did Jesus consider God’s work to be as important as food? It was because the Kingdom is the means by which God will fulfill his wonderful purposes for humankind. It is this kingdom that will destroy all wickedness and will clear Jehovah’s name of the reproach that has been brought upon it. (Daniel 2:44; Revelation 21:3, 4) So Jesus never held back from making known God’s name and kingdom. (Matthew 4:17; Luke 8:1; John 17:26; Hebrews 2:12) He always spoke the truth, whether it was popular or not. He thus provided an example that we should follow if we want to please God.—1 Peter 2:21.

12 Yet, to make it possible for us to gain everlasting life under the rule of God’s kingdom, Jesus had to pour out his lifeblood in death. As two apostles of Jesus said: “We have been declared righteous now by his blood.” “The blood of Jesus [God’s] Son cleanses us from all sin.” (Romans 5:9; 1 John 1:7) So an important reason why Jesus came to earth was to die for us. He said: “The Son of man came, not to be ministered to, but to minister and to give his soul [or, life] a ransom in exchange for many.” (Matthew 20:28) But what does it mean that Christ gave his life “a ransom”? Why was the pouring out of his lifeblood in death necessary for our salvation?


13 The word “ransom” is often used when there is a kidnapping. After a kidnapper captures a person, he may say he will return the person if a certain amount of money is paid as a ransom. So a ransom is something that brings the deliverance of a person held captive. It is something that is paid so that he does not lose his life. Jesus’ perfect human life was given to obtain mankind’s release from bondage to sin and death. (1 Peter 1:18, 19; Ephesians 1:7) Why was such a release needed?

14 This was because Adam, the forefather of all of us, had rebelled against God. His lawless act thus made him a sinner, since the Bible explains that “sin is lawlessness.” (1 John 3:4; 5:17) As a result, he was not worthy of receiving God’s gift of everlasting life. (Romans 6:23) So Adam lost for himself perfect human life on a paradise earth. He also lost this wonderful prospect for all the children he would produce. ‘But why,’ you may ask, ‘did all his children have to die, since it was Adam who sinned?’

15 This is because Adam, when he became a sinner, passed sin and death on to his children, including all humans now living. (Job 14:4; Romans 5:12) “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” the Bible says. (Romans 3:23; 1 Kings 8:46) Even godly David said: “With error I was brought forth with birth pains, and in sin my mother conceived me.” (Psalm 51:5) People, therefore, have been dying because of the sin that was inherited from Adam. How was it possible, then, for the sacrifice of Jesus’ life to free all people from bondage to sin and death?

16 A legal principle in God’s law for the nation of Israel is involved. It states that ‘life should be given for life.’ (Exodus 21:23; Deuteronomy 19:21) By his disobedience the perfect man Adam lost perfect life on a paradise earth for himself and all his children. Jesus Christ gave his own perfect life to buy back what Adam lost. Yes, Jesus “gave himself a corresponding ransom for all.” (1 Timothy 2:5, 6) Because he was a perfect man, even as Adam had been, Jesus is called “the last Adam.” (1 Corinthians 15:45) No human other than Jesus could have provided the ransom. This is because Jesus is the only man who ever lived that was equal to Adam as a perfect human son of God.—Psalm 49:7; Luke 1:32; 3:38.

17 Jesus died at 33 1/2 years of age. But on the third day after his death he was resurrected to life. Forty days later he returned to heaven. (Acts 1:3, 9-11) There, as a spirit person once more, he appeared “before the person of God for us,” carrying the value of his ransom sacrifice. (Hebrews 9:12, 24) At that time the ransom was paid to God in heaven. Deliverance was now available for humankind. But when will its benefits be realized?

18 Even now Jesus’ ransom sacrifice can benefit us. How? By exercising faith in it we can enjoy a clean standing before God and come under his loving and tender care. (Revelation 7:9, 10, 13-15) Many of us may have committed terrible sins before we learned about God. And even now we make mistakes, sometimes very serious ones. But we can freely seek forgiveness from God on the basis of the ransom, with confidence that he will hear us. (1 John 2:1, 2; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11) Also, in the days ahead, the ransom will open up for us the way to receive God’s gift of everlasting life in his righteous new world. (2 Peter 3:13) At that time all those exercising faith in the ransom will be released completely from bondage to sin and death. They may look forward to life forever in perfection!

19 How do you feel on learning about the ransom? Does it not warm your heart toward Jehovah God to know that he cares for you so much that he gave his dear Son in your behalf? (John 3:16; 1 John 4:9, 10) But think, too, of Christ’s love. He willingly came to earth to die for us. Should we not be grateful? The apostle Paul explained how we should show our gratitude when he said: “He died for all that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died for them and was raised up.” (2 Corinthians 5:14, 15) Will you show your gratitude by using your life to serve God and his heavenly Son Jesus Christ?


20 Jesus is well known for the miracles he performed. He had deep feeling for people who were in trouble, and he was eager to use his God-given powers to help them. For example, a person with the terrible disease leprosy came to him and said: “If you just want to, you can make me clean.” Jesus “was moved with pity, and he stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him: ‘I want to. Be made clean.’” And the sick man was healed!—Mark 1:40-42.

21 Consider another Bible scene, and imagine Jesus’ tender feeling for the people described: “Then great crowds approached him, having along with them people that were lame, maimed, blind, dumb, and many otherwise, and they fairly threw them at his feet, and he cured them; so that the crowd felt amazement as they saw the dumb speaking and the lame walking and the blind seeing, and they glorified the God of Israel.”—Matthew 15:30, 31.

22 That Jesus really cared about these suffering persons and truly wanted to help them can be seen by what he next told his disciples. He said: “I feel pity for the crowd, because it is already three days that they have stayed with me and they have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away fasting. They may possibly give out on the road.” So Jesus, with just seven loaves and a few little fish, miraculously fed the “four thousand men, besides women and young children.”—Matthew 15:32-38.

23 On another occasion Jesus met a funeral procession that was coming out of the city of Nain. The Bible describes it, saying: “There was a dead man being carried out, the only-begotten son of his mother. Besides, she was a widow. . . . And when the Lord caught sight of her, he was moved with pity for her.” He deeply felt her sorrow. So, addressing the dead body, Jesus commanded: “Young man, I say to you, Get up!” And wonder of wonders! “The dead man sat up and started to speak, and he gave him to his mother.” Think how that mother must have felt! How would you feel? News about this remarkable event spread far and wide. No wonder Jesus is so well known.—Luke 7:11-17.

24 Yet the miracles Jesus performed were of only temporary benefit. People that he healed developed physical problems again. And those he resurrected died again. But Jesus’ miracles proved that he was sent forth by God, that he was really God’s Son. And they proved that, with God’s power, all human problems can be solved. Yes, they showed on a small scale what will take place on earth under the kingdom of God. At that time the hungry will be fed, the sick will be cured, and even the dead will be raised! And never again will sickness, death or any other troubles cause unhappiness. What a blessing that will be!—Revelation 21:3, 4; Matthew 11:4, 5.


25 There are three parts to the life of God’s Son. First, there are the unknown number of years he spent with his Father in heaven before he became a human. Next, the 33-1/2 years he spent on earth after his birth. And now there is his life back in heaven as a spirit person. What position has he had in heaven since his resurrection?

26 Clearly, Jesus was to become a king. Even the angel announced to Mary: “He will rule as king . . . forever, and there will be no end of his kingdom.” (Luke 1:33) During his earthly ministry he spoke all the time about the kingdom of God. He taught his followers to pray: “Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.” And he urged them to “keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom.” (Matthew 6:10, 33) By his faithfulness on earth, Jesus proved that he was worthy to be king of God’s kingdom. Did he begin ruling as king as soon as he returned to heaven?

27 No, he did not. The apostle Paul refers to Psalm 110:1, explaining: “This man [Jesus] offered one sacrifice for sins perpetually and sat down at the right hand of God, from then on awaiting until his enemies should be placed as a stool for his feet.” (Hebrews 10:12, 13) Jesus was awaiting Jehovah’s command: “Go subduing in the midst of your enemies.” (Psalm 110:2) When that time came, he began cleansing the heavens of Satan and his angels. The result of that war in heaven is stated in these words: “Now have come to pass the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ, because the accuser of our brothers has been hurled down, who accuses them day and night before our God!” (Revelation 12:10) As seen in an earlier chapter of this book, the facts show that this war in heaven has already taken place, and Jesus Christ is ruling right now in the midst of his enemies.

28 Very soon Christ and his heavenly angels will take action to rid the earth of all present worldly governments. (Daniel 2:44; Revelation 17:14) The Bible says that he has “a sharp long sword, that he may strike the nations with it, and he will shepherd them with a rod of iron.” (Revelation 19:11-16) To prove worthy of protection during this coming destruction, we must exercise faith in Jesus Christ. (John 3:36) We must become his disciples and submit ourselves to him as our heavenly King. Will you do that?

- You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, Published by the WTB&TS

Friday, November 14, 2008

Why You Can Trust the Bible

Some people say the Bible is unreliable, and their views have gained wide acceptance. Thus many today dismiss what the Bible says as untrustworthy.

On the other hand, what Jesus Christ said in prayer to God promotes trust: “Your word is truth.” And the Bible itself claims to be inspired by God.—John 17:17; 2 Timothy 3:16.

What do you think about this? Is there sound basis for trusting the Bible? Or is there really evidence that the Bible is unreliable, that it contradicts itself and is inconsistent?

Does It Contradict Itself?

While some may claim the Bible contradicts itself, has anyone ever shown you an actual example? We have never seen one that could withstand scrutiny. True, there may appear to be discrepancies in certain Bible accounts. But the problem usually is lack of knowledge regarding details and circumstances of the times.

For example, some persons will draw attention to what they consider a discrepancy in the Bible, asking: ‘Where did Cain get his wife?’ The assumption is that Cain and Abel were the only children of Adam and Eve. But the assumption is based on a misunderstanding of what the Bible says. The Bible explains that Adam “became father to sons and daughters.” (Genesis 5:4) Thus Cain married one of his sisters or possibly a niece.

Often critics are just looking for contradictions and so may declare: ‘The Bible writer Matthew says that an army officer came to ask Jesus a favor, while Luke says that representatives were sent to ask. Which one is correct?’ (Matthew 8:5, 6; Luke 7:2, 3) But is this really a contradiction?

When the activity or work of people is credited to the one who is actually responsible for it, a reasonable person does not claim a discrepancy. For example, do you consider a report to be in error that says a mayor built a road even though the actual building of the road was done by his engineers and laborers? Of course not! Similarly, it is not inconsistent for Matthew to say that the army officer made a request of Jesus but, as Luke writes, that such a request was made through certain representatives.

As more details are known, apparent discrepancies in the Bible disappear.

History and Science

The historical accuracy of the Bible was once widely doubted. Critics, for example, questioned the existence of such Bible characters as King Sargon of Assyria, Belshazzar of Babylon, and the Roman governor Pontius Pilate. But recent discoveries have verified one Bible account after another. Thus historian Moshe Pearlman wrote: “Suddenly, sceptics who had doubted the authenticity even of the historical parts of the Old Testament began to revise their views.”

If we are to trust the Bible, it must also be accurate in matters of science. Is it? Not long ago scientists, in contradiction of the Bible, asserted that the universe had no beginning. However, astronomer Robert Jastrow recently pointed to newer information that refutes this, explaining: “Now we see how the astronomical evidence leads to a biblical view of the origin of the world. The details differ, but the essential elements in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same.”—Genesis 1:1.

Men have also changed their views relative to the shape of the earth. “Voyages of discovery,” explains The World Book Encyclopedia, “showed that the world was round, not flat as most people had believed.” But the Bible was correct all along! More than 2,000 years before those voyages, the Bible said at Isaiah 40:22: “There is One who is dwelling above the circle of the earth,” or as other translations say, “the globe of the earth” (Douay), “the round earth.” (Moffatt)

Thus the more humans learn, the greater the evidence is that the Bible can be trusted. A former director of the British Museum, Sir Frederic Kenyon, wrote: “The results already achieved confirm what faith would suggest, that the Bible can do nothing but gain from an increase of knowledge.”

Foretelling the Future

But can we really trust the Bible’s forecasts for the future, including its promises of a ‘righteous new heavens and new earth’? (2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:3, 4) Well, what has been the Bible’s record of reliability in the past? Time and time again prophecies given even hundreds of years in advance have been fulfilled in exact detail!

For example, the Bible foretold the overthrow of mighty Babylon nearly 200 years before it happened. In fact, the Medes, who became aligned with the Persians, were named as the conquerors. And although Cyrus, the Persian king, had not even been born as yet, the Bible foretold that he would be prominent in the conquest. It said that Babylon’s protecting waters, the river Euphrates, “must be dried up,” and that “the gates [of Babylon] will not be shut.”—Jeremiah 50:38; Isaiah 13:17-19; 44:27–45:1.

These specific details were fulfilled, as the historian Herodotus reported. Further, the Bible foretold that Babylon would eventually become uninhabited ruins. And that is just what happened. Today Babylon is a desolate heap of mounds. (Isaiah 13:20-22; Jeremiah 51:37, 41-43) And the Bible is full of other prophecies that have had dramatic fulfillment.

What then does the Bible foretell concerning the present world’s system of things? It says: “The final age of this world is to be a time of troubles. Men will love nothing but money and self; they will be arrogant, boastful, and abusive; with no respect for parents, no gratitude, no piety, no natural affection . . . They will be men who put pleasure in the place of God, men who preserve the outward form of religion, but are a standing denial of its reality.”—2 Timothy 3:1-5, The New English Bible.

Surely, we are seeing the fulfillment of this now! But the Bible also foretells for “the final age of this world” these things: “Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be food shortages.” In addition, “there will be great earthquakes, and in one place after another pestilences.”—Matthew 24:7; Luke 21:11.

Indeed, Bible prophecies are undergoing fulfillment today! Well, then, what about yet-to-be-fulfilled promises, such as: “The righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it,” and, “They will have to beat their swords into plowshares . . . , neither will they learn war anymore”?—Psalm 37:29; Isaiah 2:4.

‘That’s just too good to be true,’ some may say. But really, there is no reason for us to doubt anything that our Creator promises. His Word can be trusted! (Titus 1:2) By examining the evidence further, you will become ever more convinced of this.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Bible quotations are from the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures.

Return of Christ

Definition: Before leaving the earth, Jesus Christ promised to return. Thrilling events in connection with God’s Kingdom are associated with that promise. It should be noted that there is a difference between coming and presence. Thus, while a person’s coming (associated with his arrival or return) occurs at a given time, his presence may thereafter extend over a period of years. In the Bible the Greek word er′kho‧mai (meaning “to come”) is also used with reference to Jesus’ directing his attention to an important task at a specific time during his presence, namely, to his work as Jehovah’s executioner at the war of the great day of God the Almighty.

Do the events associated with Christ’s presence take place in a very brief time or over a period of years?

Matt. 24:37-39: “Just as the days of Noah were, so the presence [“coming,” RS, TEV; “presence,” Yg, Ro, ED; Greek, pa‧rou‧si′a] of the Son of man will be. For as they were in those days before the flood, eating and drinking, men marrying and women being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark; and they took no note until the flood came and swept them all away, so the presence of the Son of man will be.” (The events of “the days of Noah” that are described here took place over a period of many years. Jesus compared his presence with what occurred back then.)

At Matthew 24:37 the Greek word pa‧rou‧si′a is used. Literally it means a “being alongside.” Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon (Oxford, 1968) gives “presence, of persons,” as its first definition of pa‧rou‧si′a. The sense of the word is clearly indicated at Philippians 2:12, where Paul contrasts his presence (pa‧rou‧si′a) with his absence (a‧pou‧si′a). On the other hand, in Matthew 24:30, which tells of the “Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” as Jehovah’s executioner at the war of Armageddon, the Greek word er‧kho′me‧non is used. Some translators use ‘coming’ for both Greek words, but those that are more careful convey the difference between the two.

Will Christ return in a manner visible to human eyes?

John 14:19: “A little longer and the world will behold me no more, but you [Jesus’ faithful apostles] will behold me, because I live and you will live.” (Jesus had promised his apostles that he would come again and take them to heaven to be with him. They could see him because they would be spirit creatures as he is. But the world would not see him again. Compare 1 Timothy 6:16.)

Acts 13:34: “He [God] resurrected him [Jesus] from the dead destined no more to return to corruption.” (Human bodies are by nature corruptible. That is why 1 Corinthians 15:42, 44 uses the word “corruption” in parallel construction with “physical body.” Jesus will never again have such a body.)

John 6:51: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread he will live forever; and, for a fact, the bread that I shall give is my flesh in behalf of the life of the world.” (Having given it, Jesus does not take it back again. He does not thereby deprive mankind of the benefits of the sacrifice of his perfect human life.)

What is the meaning of Jesus’ coming “in the same manner” as he ascended to heaven?

Acts 1:9-11: “While they [Jesus’ apostles] were looking on, he was lifted up and a cloud caught him up from their vision. And as they were gazing into the sky while he was on his way, also, look! two men in white garments stood alongside them, and they said: ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus who was received up from you into the sky will come thus in the same manner as you have beheld him going into the sky.’” (Notice that this says “the same manner,” not the same body. What was the “manner” of his ascent? As verse 9 shows, he disappeared from view, his departure being observed only by his disciples. The world in general was not aware of what happened. The same would be true of Christ’s return.)

What is meant by his ‘coming on the clouds’ and ‘every eye seeing him’?

Rev. 1:7: “Look! He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, and those who pierced him; and all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in grief because of him.” (Also Matthew 24:30; Mark 13:26; Luke 21:27)

What is indicated by “clouds”? Invisibility. When an airplane is in a thick cloud or above the clouds, people on the ground usually cannot see it, although they may hear the roar of the engines. Jehovah told Moses: “I am coming to you in a dark cloud.” Moses did not see God, but that cloud indicated Jehovah’s invisible presence. (Ex. 19:9; see also Leviticus 16:2; Numbers 11:25.) If Christ were to appear visibly in the heavens, it is obvious that not “every eye” would see him. If he appeared over Australia, for example, he would not be visible in Europe, Africa, and the Americas, would he?

In what sense will ‘every eye see him’? They will discern from events on earth that he is invisibly present. Also referring to sight that is not physical, John 9:41 reports: “Jesus said to [the Pharisees]: ‘If you were blind, you would have no sin. But now you say, “We see.” Your sin remains.’” (Compare Romans 1:20.) Following Christ’s return, some persons show faith; they recognize the sign of his presence. Others reject the evidence, but when Christ goes into action as God’s executioner of the wicked, even they will discern from the manifestation of his power that the destruction is not from men but from heaven. They will know what is happening because they were warned in advance. Because of what is overtaking them, they will “beat themselves in grief.”

Who are “those who pierced him”? Literally, Roman soldiers did this at the time of Jesus’ execution. But they have long been dead. So this must refer to people who similarly mistreat, or ‘pierce,’ Christ’s true followers during “the last days.”—Matt. 25:40, 45.

Can it really be said that a person has ‘come’ or that he is ‘present’ if he is not visible?

The apostle Paul spoke of his being “absent in body but present in spirit” with the congregation in Corinth.—1 Cor. 5:3.

Jehovah spoke of his ‘going down’ to confuse the language of the builders of the tower of Babel. (Gen. 11:7) He also said that he would “go down” to deliver Israel from bondage to Egypt. And God assured Moses, “My own person will go along” to lead Israel to the Promised Land. (Ex. 3:8; 33:14) But no human ever saw God.—Ex. 33:20; John 1:18.

What are some of the events with which the Bible associates the presence of Christ?

Dan. 7:13, 14: “With the clouds of the heavens someone like a son of man [Jesus Christ] happened to be coming; and to the Ancient of Days [Jehovah God] he gained access, and they brought him up close even before that One. And to him there were given rulership and dignity and kingdom, that the peoples, national groups and languages should all serve even him.”

1 Thess. 4:15, 16: “This is what we tell you by Jehovah’s word, that we the living who survive to the presence of the Lord shall in no way precede those who have fallen asleep in death; because the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a commanding call, with an archangel’s voice and with God’s trumpet, and those who are dead in union with Christ will rise first.” (So, those who will rule with Christ would be resurrected to be with him in heaven—first those who had died in years past and then those who would die following the Lord’s return.)

Matt. 25:31-33: “When the Son of man arrives in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will put the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left.”

2 Thess. 1:7-9: “To you who suffer tribulation, relief along with us at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with his powerful angels in a flaming fire, as he brings vengeance upon those who do not know God and those who do not obey the good news about our Lord Jesus. These very ones will undergo the judicial punishment of everlasting destruction from before the Lord and from the glory of his strength.”

Luke 23:42, 43: “He [the sympathetic evildoer impaled alongside Jesus] went on to say: ‘Jesus, remember me when you get into your kingdom.’ And he said to him: ‘Truly I tell you today, You will be with me in Paradise.’” (Under Jesus’ rule, all the earth will become a paradise; the dead who are in God’s memory will be raised with an opportunity to enjoy perfect life on earth forever.)

- Reasoning From the Scriptures, published by the WTB&TS

All Suffering Soon to End!

At some time in your life, you have likely asked, ‘Why all the suffering?’ For thousands of years, the human family has suffered greatly from wars, poverty, disasters, crime, injustice, sickness, and death. The past hundred years have seen more suffering than ever before. Will all of this ever end?

The comforting answer is yes, and very soon! God’s Word, the Bible, proclaims: “The wicked one will be no more . . . But the meek ones themselves will possess the earth, and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.” For how long? “The righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it.”—Psalm 37:10, 11, 29.

After God removes wickedness and suffering, the earth will be transformed into a paradise. Then people will be able to live forever in perfect health and happiness. God’s Word foretells: “[God] will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore.”—Revelation 21:4.

In that new world, even dead ones will be brought back to life to share in those blessings: “There is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Acts 24:15) That is why Jesus Christ could tell a repentant evildoer who expressed faith in him: “You will be with me in Paradise.”—Luke 23:43.

Why Did Suffering Start?

Since God purposed for humans to have such a marvelous future, why did he permit suffering to start? Why has he allowed it for so long?

When God created Adam and Eve, He made them perfect in body and mind. He put them in a paradise garden and gave them satisfying work to do. The Bible states: “God saw everything he had made and, look! it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31) If they had obeyed God, they would have produced perfect children, and the earth would have become a global paradise, where people would live forever in peace and happiness.

God implanted in Adam and Eve the wonderful gift of free will as part of the human makeup. They were not to be mindless robots. However, their continued happiness depended upon their using free will in the right way—to obey God’s laws. God says: “I, Jehovah, am your God, the One teaching you to benefit yourself, the One causing you to tread in the way in which you should walk.” (Isaiah 48:17) Misuse of free will would result in catastrophe, since humans were not created to be successful independent of God. The Bible says: “To earthling man his way does not belong. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.”—Jeremiah 10:23.

Sadly, our first parents felt that they could be independent of God and still be successful. But when they pulled away from God’s rulership, he no longer sustained them in perfection. So they began to degenerate until finally they got old and died. Consistent with the laws of genetics, we have inherited that imperfection and death.—Romans 5:12.

The Main Issue—Sovereignty

Why did God not destroy Adam and Eve and start over with another human pair? Because God’s universal sovereignty, that is, his right to rule, had been challenged. The question was, Who has the right to rule, and whose rule is right? By extension, Could humans do better if not ruled by God? In allowing them enough time to experiment with total freedom, God would establish once and for all whether they are better off under his rule or their own. The time allowed had to be long enough for humans to try all types of political, social, economic, and religious systems apart from God’s guidance.

What has been the result? Thousands of years of human history tell us that there has been more and more suffering. In the past century, the human family has experienced the worst suffering ever. Millions were murdered during the Holocaust. Over 100 million have been slaughtered in wars. Crime and violence are rampant. Drug abuse is epidemic. Sexually transmitted diseases continue to spread. Tens of millions die each year of hunger and disease. Family life and moral values have broken down everywhere. No human government has the answers to these problems. Not one of them has overcome aging, sickness, and death.

The human condition is just as the Bible foretold for our times. God’s Word identifies our era as “the last days” of this system of things when “critical times hard to deal with will be here.” And just as the Bible said, ‘wicked men and impostors have advanced from bad to worse.’—2 Timothy 3:1-5, 13.

Suffering Is Near Its End

All the evidence shows that we are nearing the end of man’s tragic experiment in independence from God. It has been clearly demonstrated that rulership by humans apart from God can never succeed. Only God’s rulership can bring peace, happiness, perfect health, and everlasting life. So Jehovah’s toleration of wickedness and suffering is nearing its end. Soon God will intervene in human affairs by destroying this entire unsatisfactory system of things.

Bible prophecy says: “In the days of those kings [human rulerships now existing] the God of heaven will set up a kingdom [in heaven] that will never be brought to ruin. . . . It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms [present rulerships], and it itself will stand to times indefinite.” (Daniel 2:44) The vindication of Jehovah’s sovereignty, his right to rule, by his heavenly Kingdom is the central teaching of the Bible. Foretelling a key part of the sign of “the last days,” Jesus said: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.”—Matthew 24:14.

When the end comes, who will survive? The Bible answers: “The upright are the ones that will reside in the earth, and the blameless are the ones that will be left over in it. As regards the wicked, they will be cut off from the very earth.” (Proverbs 2:21, 22) The upright are those who learn Jehovah’s will and do it. Jesus Christ said: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.” (John 17:3) Yes, “the world is passing away . . . , but he that does the will of God remains forever.”—1 John 2:17.

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are from the modern-language New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures—With References.