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But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called [you] by your name; You [are] Mine. When you pass through the waters, I [will] [be] with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you. For I [am] the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I gave Egypt for your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in your place. Since you were precious in My sight, You have been honored, And I have loved you; Therefore I will give men for you, And people for your life. Fear not, for I [am] with you; I will bring your descendants from the east, And gather you from the west; I will say to the north, `Give them up!’ And to the south, `Do not keep them back!’ Bring My sons from afar, And My daughters from the ends of the earth–Everyone who is called by My name, Whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him.” Bring out the blind people who have eyes, And the deaf who have ears. Let all the nations be gathered together, And let the people be assembled. Who among them can declare this, And show us former things? Let them bring out their witnesses, that they may be justified; Or let them hear and say, “[It] [is] truth.” “You [are] My witnesses,” says the Lord, “And My servant whom I have chosen, That you may know and believe Me, And understand that I [am] He. Before Me there was no God formed, Nor shall there be after Me. I, [even] I, [am] the Lord, And besides Me [there] [is] no savior. (Isaiah 43:1-11 NKJV)

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As students of the inspired Word of God, we’ve come to understand that the Creator has a wonderful Plan, a systematic method of dealing with mankind. During the various ages and dispensations, and when completed this plan will glorify God and completely satisfy the desires of all mankind. In carrying forward this plan, God had graciously invited the voluntary co-operation of individuals, and groups of individuals, human and spiritual.

From the Genesis account we learn that God created the first human pair to live happily and everlastingly in harmony with Him upon this planet, as we read in Genesis 1:26-28:

“And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. And God bless them and said unto them, Be fruitful and multiply”

Through lack of experience man fell from his perfect state into sin – a disobedience that has since brought a trail of woe and misery. This was foreseen and permitted by the Creator; therefore it is an essential part of the Divine Plan and the best means of indelibly impressing upon the characters of His human family (and angels too, by observation) the value of obedience to Him, and the desire for His protection as the only one who can supply their every need and shelter under His love and power.

Look around you, on the television, on the radio at the newsstands, crime, violence, sickness, sorrow, evil, wars and death all attest to the fall of man. This is not the natural state of man, as evidenced from the fact that all are seeking, in one way or another, relief from these things, and much study and effort is undertaken to eliminate them.

It is not the intention of the Creator to allow this state of affairs to continue indefinitely, neither is it the wish of mankind that it should continue. Evil and evildoers are allowed to demonstrate the fruits or results of their actions and misgovernment; and we are today witnessing the harvest of confusion, trouble and bitterness from the sowing of past ages and decades – Luke 21:26 tells us: “Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on earth.”

The world in general, and professing Christians, have not taken heed to God’s counsels. Nevertheless, all down the ages, the Creator has had His witnesses that He does exist and is not indifferent to the reign of evil, terror and calamities through which mankind is passing. He has declared that when these conditions have served their purpose they shall cease to exist, and that the righteous only will remain active in the ages to come. Revelation 21: 4, 27 tells us: …”And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away…But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.”

Revelation 22:3 tells us:…”And there shall be no more curse, but the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve him.”

Our text in Isaiah 43:10, 11 declares: – “Ye are my witnesses that I am God…Beside me there is no savior.” Who are these witnesses? To whom do they witness? And what is their origin? The answer can be found in their history books, thirty-nine of them. These Books have been written by herdsmen, shepherds, Judges and Kings, by poets, sages, philosophers and statesmen, by men learned in wisdom of ancient Egypt, and in schools of Babylon, by rich men and poor men, by preachers in exile and legislators. The facts to which they bear witness were written in times of victory and honor, in peace, in godly times, in times of unbelief and rebellion, in times of defeat and captivity.

Being greatly favored by the creator, God bearing witness to them by His overruling providence’s and miracles, they became a target of the jealous and hated by many cruel and evil persons to the present time. They have been made the scapegoat’s on which to lay the blame of misfortunes, or to divert from politicians’ broken promises or misgovernment.

Such a stir has been made against a people so small in number. They as well as Christians, have been fiercely persecuted. Why? Because the great truths and principles for which both stand are more important to them than their lives. Jehovah, the only true God, is just and true; the Psalmist wrote: “Justice is the habitation of thy throne.” It is not likely that Jehovah would give His witnesses any law short of His own standard. Listen to His just principles –

“You shall neither mistreat a stranger nor oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. You shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child. If you afflict them in any way, [and] they cry at all to Me, I will surely hear their cry; and My wrath will become hot, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless. If you lend money to [any] [of] My people [who] [are] poor among you, you shall not be like a moneylender to him; you shall not charge him interest. If you ever take your neighbor’s garment as a pledge, you shall return it to him before the sun goes down.” (Ex. 22:21-26)

“If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall surely bring it back to him again. If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying under its burden, and you would refrain from helping it, you shall surely help him with it. You shall not pervert the judgment of your poor in his dispute. – Ex. 23:4- 6

“You shall have the same law for the stranger and for one from your own country; for I [am] the Lord your God. ” – Lev. 24:22

These are samples of some of their laws and standard of Justice. Their political system was the most practical demonstration of freedom and equality that has ever existed before or since. Can we wonder why they are hated by dictators?

Jehovah’s witnesses have done more toward the civilization of the world than any other nation, and these laws were enforced hundred of years before the rest of Europe and Asia dreamt of anything but absolute rule – dictatorship.

These witnesses were the first light in the unrelieved despotism of the east; they were the light of civil and religious toleration in remote and savage times, the pioneers of liberty and civilization; and quite a number of them have been winners of the Nobel Peace Prize. What we have in the New Testament is the fulfillment and perfection of the truth to which they are witnesses, culminating in that perfect Witness, Jesus of Nazareth, Revelation 3:14 tells us: “For to him give all the prophets witness”, yes, a true witness of Jehovah.

What is it that made these people different, and their living and moral standards so much higher than other nations around them? What is the basis of their special privileges and knowledge, and why were they severely punished for disobedience to their laws? The answer is: “To them were committed the oracles of God.” They were an enlightened people. “This people have I formed for myself; they shall show forth my praise.” “Ye are my witnesses, saith Jehovah, and my servant whom I have chosen.” – Isa. 43:21, 10.

Jehovah takes responsibility for the existence and preservation of Israel. Their existence bears testimony that God exists, and their experiences, both of prosperity and adversity, bear testimony that Jehovah has created Israel as a nation, and is responsible for their preservation, even to this day.

We read in Isaiah 43:2,16,17:…”When you pass through the waters, I [will] [be] with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you….Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea And a path through the mighty waters, Who brings forth the chariot and horse, The army and the power (They shall lie down together, they shall not rise”

This has been literally true in their experiences. Remember also Moses’ vision of the burning bush at the time he was called to deliver Israel from bondage; the bush that burned yet never was consumed.

Notice Isaiah 17:12-14: …”Woe to the multitude of many people [Who] make a noise like the roar of the seas, And to the rushing of nations [That] make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters! The nations will rush like the rushing of many waters; But [God] will rebuke them and they will flee far away, And be chased like the chaff of the mountains before the wind, Like a rolling thing before the whirlwind. Isa. 17:14 Then behold, at eventide, trouble! [And] before the morning, he [is] no more. This [is] the portion of those who plunder us, And the lot of those who rob us.”

The prophet here predicts the ruin of Israel’s enemies who come against them like a mighty flood. The Lord is the keeper of Israel, as is stated in Isaiah 43:3, 4: …”For I [am] the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I gave Egypt for your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in your place.”

The fire of persecution, hate and jealousy raged fiercely against them – “When thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt be consumed”; their enemies were defeated. The witnesses of Jesus also find great consolation in this promise.

As a people they were saved out of their troubles and afflictions; they will still have more, but God’s promises of final deliverance will never fail. They are His people, and His care of them is yet to be a mighty witness to His glory among all the nations.

“Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, that I am he” – that I exist, that I live, the self existing One. “Beside me there is no Savior.” There is no one, no dictator, no power, no nation, or combination of nations that can destroy His witnesses. “None shall deliver out of my hand; I will work and who shall turn it back?” He alone is the preserver of Israel. Zechariah 12:3 – “I will make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people; all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered against it.”

Again the Prophet Isaiah tell us in 43:12 … “I have declared and saved, I have proclaimed, And [there] [was] no foreign [god] among you; Therefore you [are] My witnesses,” Says the Lord, “that I [am] God.”

Jehovah informed Israel; giving them His oracles and utterances; they were given the true form worship. He informed them that all nations would be blessed through them. [Psa. 147: 19, 20] Jehovah had informed them that if disobedient to His instructions He would drive them out of their inheritance, lead them captive into strange lands, and scatter them among all nations until. Luke 21:24 states: “the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” A punishment which all the world knows has come to pass. Israel has witnessed the glory and decay of four universal empires, Babylon, Persia, Greece and mighty Rome. But the witnesses still exit; yes, more than exist; they show definite signs of vitality which has astonished even their enemies. Yes the dry bones are resurrecting. Truly, they remain a separate and distinct people. Why? “I am thy Savior”, saith the LORD. “None can deliver (snatch) out of my hand.” “Ye are my witnesses” – You prove that I am God, the preserver of Israel.

“I have saved.” [Isa. 43:12] Many attempts have been made in the past, as well as in recent times, to annihilate these defenseless people, but the decree has always been – “Thus far, and no further.” And suffer they did, but as a people they were never destroyed. Through one means or another the Lord delivered them out of the hands of their enemies. We are all no doubt well aware of the two outstanding attempts made to annihilate them – ancient and modern. In the book of Esther, chapters 3-7, a lengthy account is given respecting Haman, the prime minister of Persia, who, under Persian monarch obtained a decree from the king to have all Jews in the realm destroyed because he hated a Jew’s honorable position at the king’s court. But the plot failed; Haman the Jew-hater was destroyed – hung on the gallows he prepared for Mordecai. The modern attempt, as all the world knows, was by Hitler, the German dictator; again the destroyer was himself destroyed and his empire divided. Although millions of Jews were destroyed by Hitler, the Jews soon after became an organized nation, established in their own land. To the ancestor of the Jews, the Jehovah declared; “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee” Gen. 12:3.

In verse 21 of Isaiah 43 we read: …”This people I have formed for Myself; they shall declare My praise.”

You see the Lord has a purpose in preserving His witnesses. They are the ones who will transmit the knowledge of the true God in future times as Isa 2:2, 3 states: “The word of the Lord shall go forth from Jerusalem.”

Returning to verse 12: “I have showed.” Another translation read – “I foretell.” The Lord has foretold many things concerning His ancient people, Israel. The history of the Jews was written in advance – their rise to fame, their disobedience, their punishment, their scattering among the nations.

Hosea 3:4, 5 states: …”For the children of Israel shall abide many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, without ephod or teraphim. Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They shall fear the Lord and His goodness in the latter days.”

The Lord has foretold their experiences, past, present and future, no strange god or prophet could do this. The Jewish people, God’s witnesses, are one of the most outstanding proofs of the inspiration of the Bible: They witness to the existence of a Supreme Being, the Creator and Preserver of Israel. They witness and prophesy accurately to the work, office and glory of the Messiah; no false witness or prophet could do this. If others bear witness to Jehovah, it could be only a second-hand witness, for of necessity the witness would be a repetition of the words of Israel’s recorded witness, written in the Old Testament. So, beware, Satan has his counterfeits in this matter too – false witnesses, and therefore, a witness against Jehovah.

Verse 4 of Isaiah 43 states: …”Since you were precious in My sight, You have been honored, And I have loved you; Therefore I will give men for you, And people for your life.”

God made them honorable because He chose them and made them the depository of the precious truths of true worship; therefore, they are precious in His sight. Because of His strange and miraculous dealings and providence’s with His ancient people, Israel, God and His Word will be glorified in the eyes of all nations. Remember, all this applies to a people whom the Lord chose hundred of years before the Christian dispensation.

When the Book of Isaiah was written there were no Christians, we read of them only in the New Testament, and they followed Jesus Christ. They are not referred to particularly as Jehovah’s witnesses, but as the sons of God, as Christ’s brethren, and witnesses of Jesus. Rev. 20:4 states: “And I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God.” Also Rev. 2:13 we read of “Antipas, my faithful martyr (or witness)”. And so faithful Christians give their lives particularly for the witness of Jesus.

What is the present state of these witnesses of Jehovah? Verse 5 and 6 of this 43rd chapter of Isaiah tells us: … “Fear not, for I [am] with you; I will bring your descendants from the east, And gather you from the west; I will say to the north, `Give them up!’ And to the south, `Do not keep them back!’ Bring My sons from afar.”

This is being fulfilled today: the God of Israel is regathering His witnesses, His afflicted people to their home. Yes, it is now time for them to go home. And home they went. In a past issue of the journal “Jews in the News” it had this to say: “It was the power of God which brought the New Jewish State into being, for how else could such victories have been won by a handful of untrained people in the face of such overwhelming odds, with the surrounding states as enemies, and greater enemies supporting them in the background. Many believed in God and the fulfillment of their promises, and when they saw this wonderful protection even the unbelieving were conscious of miracles working on the side of Israel.”

They became established in Palestine against the will of many people. Not one nation helped them; even as some of them approached their beloved land in unseaworthy ships, they were turned back by the powers that be, to their great disappointment and anguish, but the promise still held good – “I (Jehovah) will work, and who shall hinder it” – turn it back – Isa. 43:13. The Jews in Israel have a saying, that he who does not believe in miracles is not a realist. They have witnessed the greatest Divinely inspired phenomenon of our day.

But there are those who say, didn’t God cast away natural Israel when they rejected and put the Messiah to death? And didn’t Jesus say, “Your house is left unto you desolate?” – Matt. 23:38. Therefore, does not spiritual Israel inherit the promises? This is partly true, the chief place of favor and some of the most choice promises will be inherited by spiritual Israel – “Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for, but the election hath obtained it.” However, natural Israel has not been cast off forever. The 11th chapter of Romans refers to this temporary casting off, and shows how the followers of Jesus of both Jews and Gentiles inherit the best of the promises. These are referred to as the priesthood, the holy nation, a little flock.

This is the day of the Lord’s preparation; the hour has struck in the Divine Plan of the Ages, for the deliverance and regathering of God’s ancient people. The God of Israel is moving swiftly and mightily on behalf of Jacob’s posterity.

Isaiah 11:11, 12 reads: …” It shall come to pass in that day [That] the Lord shall set His hand again the second time To recover the remnant of His people who are left, From Assyria and Egypt, From Pathros and Cush, From Elam and Shinar, From Hamath and the islands of the sea. He will set up a banner for the nations, And will assemble the outcasts of Israel, And gather together the dispersed of Judah From the four corners of the earth.”

In this pioneering effort, to reclaim their waste and barren land, there is of course much sacrifice, hardship and austerity among them. They complain and grumble, and they have over 65 languages in which to grumble, and they have come from about that number of countries. But beneath this surface there is a powerful, vigorous vitality, as if some invisible force is driving them on. During the first few years of being established as a nation was witnessed the most spectacular migration of the 20th century. Picture this; 150,000,000 homeless, penniless, sick and bitterly persecuted people swarming into the United States of America during the same period of a few years, to seek a haven of refuge, and you have some idea of how many destitute newcomers, proportionately speaking, the tiny State of Israel has taken in. And these migrants are not hand picked, as is usually done by other countries, but the poor, the rich, the lame, the disabled, the sick and the old are all taken in, even the dying. It is astounding, and the wandering Jew is still going home, and he is there to stay. I remind you of Amos 9:14, 15: “… I will bring back the captives of My people Israel; They shall build the waste cities and inhabit [them]; They shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them; They shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them. I will plant them in their land, And no longer shall they be pulled up From the land I have given them,” Says the Lord your God.”

Remember this was promised to a people who were given an inheritance in a special way, the bounds of which were marked out by Divine decree; they transgressed, they were plucked up out of their land and scattered among all nations and now are being regathered.

It does not make sense, nor harmonize with the Scriptures to try and spiritualize these Scriptures, or force them to apply to a nation, or group which has not even the features of a Jew, not even the customs nor the unique experiences and promises which belong exclusively to the Jew, to Israel. How strange it is that many people and groups want to make the Jewish promises apply to themselves, their particular group, or to a Gentile nation. All of this, is of course a trick of the Adversary, to distract attention from the real people, and the purpose of fulfillment. How odd of men to choose the Jewish God, yet spurn the Jew.

What does all this mean? what relationship have these things to the nations in general? It means that the Gentile times have ended. Jesus said – “Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” – Luke 21:24

The word “until” marks a turning point in the times and seasons of Israel’s experiences and captivity. The time is up that was allotted to the powers that be to rule the world; the retribution and breaking down of the Gentile powers has begun; the saving and restoring of Israel is well under way, and we are witnessing these movements. It means, as stated in Isaiah 43:21 – “This people have I formed for myself; they shall show forth my praise.” Jesus, the Witness of Jehovah, said – “Salvation is of the Jews” John 4:22 – “The word of the LORD shall go forth from Jerusalem” – Isa. 2:3.

This means that the blessing of all the families of the earth through Abraham’s seed will soon take place, for the Millennial reign of Christ and His Glorified Saints, His joint-heirs, will soon begin. The blindness of Israel concerning their Messiah will soon depart, as predicted by Jesus in Matt. 23:39: … “for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, `Blessed [is] He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ”

The word “until” marks a turning point in the religious life of Israel. There will also be a great change in human society – a desire to learn the ways of the Lord, and the beating of swords into plowshares as Micah 4:1-4 tells us.

There are a number of Jews, some being rabbis, who are bearing testimony by word and pen that Jesus of Nazareth is their Messiah. One of them has said: “Can anyone today be such a Jew as Jesus was?” Decidedly no! In recent years thousands of New Testaments in Bulgarian, Hebrew, French, German, Yiddish, Polish, and other languages have entered Israel duty free. When Benjamin Disraeli was asked if he was a converted Jew, he replied – “I am not a converted Jew, but a completed Jew.” Israel is being regathered and being made a completed Israel, and it is reported that the New Testament is being read also in schools, not so much to believe its contents at the present time, but to become acquainted with its history.

The natural blindness of Israel to the fact that Jesus is their Messiah continues only for a definite period. This hinges upon another part of God’s plan to be completed first, namely, the selection from among the Jews and Gentiles of the required number to make up God’s elect, the joint-heirs, joint-rulers with Christ; all these must first come into the Church. This number will constitute the governing body with the King of the Jews to administer the Laws of the impending Millennial Kingdom, as stated in Romans 11: 25-27: “… For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; For this [is] My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.” Notice these are the same names given in Isa. 43.

In Romans 11:11 we have the question: “… I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation [has] [come] to the Gentiles.” Verses 12 and 15 continue: “…Now if their fall [is] riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness! … For if their being cast away [is] the reconciling of the world, what [will] their acceptance [be] but life from the dead?”

The restoration and recovery of natural Israel will yet mean, in the age to come, the enrichment of life for the whole world of mankind. Zec. 8:23 states: “… “Thus says the Lord of hosts: `In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard [that] God [is] with you.” ‘ ”

Verses 28,29,32 and 33 of Romans 11 continue: “…Concerning the gospel [they] [are] enemies for your sake, but concerning the election [they] [are] beloved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God [are] irrevocable. … For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all. Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable [are] His judgments and His ways past finding out!”

The Lord will do these things not because the Jews are righteous, but because of His great name’s sake. Three reasons why He will do this are thus shown from Romans 11:28,29,32: (1) Because of the Father’s sakes – Israel’s ancestors. (2) Because of his unchangeableness; He will honor His promises. (3) Because of His love and great mercies’ sake.

Aren’t we glad that we are free from the creeds and interpretations of men, of whom Paul warns are as “wise in their own conceits”: for these make verse 32 read quite differently, namely: “Concluded them all in unbelief that he might condemn everlastingly.” We’re glad this is wrong, and the Apostle Paul has stated it right, and presents to us a God of wisdom, Justice, Love and power. Then, in due time, man shall say;…” “So they will say, `This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden; and the wasted, desolate, and ruined cities [are] [now] fortified [and] inhabited.’ …I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” – Ezek. 36:35,26

If you would like more information about the “Bible Students” feel free to contact us. We recommend to all “Jehovah’s Witnesses” as well as interested ones to request their copy of “The Divine Plan of the Ages.”

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Thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against It.”  Matthew 16:18

THERE are many churches, bearing a great variety of names, and holding to many shades of belief with respect to the teachings of Jesus and his apostles. When we consider these differences of viewpoint it is not out of order, we think, to inquire as to what the church really is, and what the divine purpose is concerning it. Is there any way of knowing which is the true church, or do all the denominational groups together make up the true church?

The word church does not appear in the Old Testament and its first use in the New Testament was by Jesus when he told Peter that “the gates of hell” would not prevail against it. It is a translation of the Greek word ekklesia, which means ‘a calling out’, or ‘a selection’. Jesus said to his disciples, “I have chosen you out of the world.” (John 15:19) Basically, then, the church is a company of people who, in accepting the invitation of Christ, have become separated from the world.

The church is not a building, although the word church is used to denote the place where a congregation meets. If the expression “meeting house” were more universally used to describe the gathering place of a congregation, it might help to lessen some of the misunderstanding which prevails concerning the true significance of the word church itself.

In Jesus’ ministry he used the word church only three times: once in his remark to Peter, and twice on another occasion when instructing his disciples in the proper procedure for dealing with misunderstandings which might arise among them. (Matt. 18:17) The next time the word appears is in Acts 2:47, following the account of the three thousand souls who accepted Christ as a result of Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost. It is a simple statement, saying merely that “the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”

In this simple statement of fact there is room for reflection. On the Day of Pentecost alone three thousand became identified with the ‘church’, and thereafter there were daily additional converts, yet there is no record of any formal initiation services. All of these converts were Jewish people, and when, under the persuasive ministry of the apostle, they recognized that Jesus, whom their leaders had crucified, was the Messiah of promise, they believed on him and were baptized for the remissions of their sins.

It was as simple as that! Later, as the number of the disciples increased, and they assembled for mutual edification, these groups of people were called ‘churches’. In Acts 11:22 we read of “the church which was in Jerusalem.” In Romans 16:5 Paul extends greetings to “the church that is in their house”— that is, the house of Priscilla and Aquila.

From these texts we learn that in those early days of Christianity each group of believers, regardless of its size and location, was, considered a church. And indeed it was a church, because each such assembly of believers was made up of those who, by the Gospel, had been called to separate themselves from the world and to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.

These individual groups bore no denominational names, but were identified by their location, being spa-ken of as the church at Jerusalem, the church at Philippi, the church at Rome, or, as in some instance, the church that held its meetings in the home of one or another of the believers.

In Revelation. chapters two and three, seven churches are mentioned and identified by the cities in which they were located and the special messages sent to them.

There is reason to believe that these seven churches are in a general way representative of all believers throughout the entire age—which is another, a broader use of the word church as descriptive of all, in every place, whom the Lord looks upon as being “called out” from the world to serve him and his cause.

Jesus had in mind this broader, more general meaning of the word when he said to Peter that ‘the gates of hell’ would not prevail against the church. It is this application also that Paul makes when, in Ephesians 1:22,23, he speaks of Christ as being the “Head over all things to the church, which is his body.” It is in this wise that Paul again writes about “the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”—I Tim. 3:15

In I Corinthians 12:12,13, Paul elaborates on the thought of the church being the ‘body’ of Christ. He says, “As the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”

How to Join

How does one join the church—the church, that is, which was established by Jesus and the apostles? Acts 2:47 reads, “The Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” This indicates that becoming a member of the Lord’s church depends upon him. This, we believe, would be conceded by all Christian people. But just how does the Lord add members to his church, and what qualifications must one possess in order to be recognized by the Lord as belonging to his church?

Briefly, the Scriptures indicate the steps of approach to the church as being, first, a repentant recognition of the fact that we are members of a sin-cursed and dying race, and could therefore have no standing before the Lord in our own righteousness. (Mark 2:17; Acts 26:20)

Next, the acceptance of Jesus Christ as our personal Redeemer and Savior, realizing that only through the merit of his shed blood can we be acceptable to God. — Acts 13:38,39; 16:31; Rom. 3:22; 5:1

Then, upon the basis of our confidence in the merit of the shed blood of the Redeemer, we are invited to present ourselves in unreserved devotion to do the will of God. We could speak of this as making a consecration of ourselves to God. And let us emphasize that this consecration is made to God, not to man, nor to an organization of men.— Rom. 12:1,2

The Scriptures are very explicit as to what this consecration will mean in our lives. Jesus said, “If any man will come after me [be my disciple], let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matt. 16:24)

To deny self does not mean merely the giving up of some petty pleasure or satisfaction for a short period of time, or even for all time. It is, rather, just as the expression implies, a complete denial of self. It is the same word that is used concerning Peter’s denial of Christ—. when he said that he did not know Jesus at all. So to deny self is to deny ourselves the right to recognize our own wills. We renounce our wills and accept instead the will of God as expressed through Christ and the Word.

And what is the divine will for those who, responding to Jesus’ invitation, deny self? It is expressed in his further invitation, “Take up the cross, and follow me.” Jesus used the symbolism of cross-bearing to denote going into death. When Jesus gave this invitation he was himself laying down his life in sacrifice. His sacrifice was completed at Calvary when he cried, “It is finished.”— John 19:30

Those who accept Christ’s invitation to take up their cross and follow him, likewise lay down their lives in sacrificial service. They are not all literally crucified, although in the beginning of the age some were. Many suffered martyrdom in other ways. In the case of every follower of the Master, the will to serve and to suffer regardless of the consequences must and will be present.

Following in the footsteps of Jesus is described by Paul as being “planted together [united] in the likeness of his death.” (Rom. 6:5) Before we came to Christ we were ‘dead’ in trespasses and sin. But through obedient faith in the merit of his shed blood we are released from Adamic condemnation. Yet we die, not as sinners, however, but as joint-sacrificers with Jesus. Paul expressed the thought when he wrote, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, your reasonable service.”—Rom. 12:1

Baptized Into Christ

In Romans 6:3, Paul wrote: “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are boned with him by baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” The baptism here referred to is not in water, but into Christ, and into his death.

The word baptism in the New Testament is translated from a Greek word meaning ‘to bury’ or ‘submerge’. Our baptism into Christ is the burial of our will into his will. It is a death baptism because it is the divine will that we die with him.

In Revelation 20:4 this thought is symbolized by the use of the word “beheaded.” Here we read of those who are “beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the Word of God.” This does not refer to a literal beheading, but to the renouncing of our will, as represented by the head, and accepting Christ as our Head.

Paul elaborates further on this point, saying, “By one Spirit are we all baptized into one body.” (I Cor. 12:13) It is by the influence of the Holy Spirit, through the Word of truth, that we are drawn to the Lord, and led by his love to present ourselves in full consecration to him.

Since this consecration means the renouncing of our own wills and accepting the will of God in Christ, he thus becomes our Head, and we become members of the church, which is his body.

Thus we see how it is that God, by the power of his Spirit, adds members to the church of Christ. Our part in it as individuals is to yield to the influence of his Spirit, and take the steps which the divine Word indicates; that is, the steps of repentance, acceptance of Christ, and the presenting of ourselves in full consecration to do the Lord’s will.

Can we know, after taking these steps, whether or not the Lord has accepted us, and does actually recognize us as probationary members of the church, the body of Christ? We believe so. Paul said, in a text already quoted, that having been “buried [united] with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Ram. 6:4) Are we joyfully walking in ‘newness of life’?

Paul also wrote, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (II Cor. 5:17) Have the ‘old things’ belonging to the times past of our lives passed away, in the sense that they hold no real attraction for us? Do we find our greatest joys in the new things of the Lord—our new vocation of divine service; our new hopes, new aims, new ambitions?

Having taken this step of full consecration to the Lord, our former friends and relatives may fail to understand us; in some cases they may even persecute us. But in any event, they will not find in us the same degree of companionship, for they will not be in harmony with our new way of life. Not that we will love them any less, nor cease to do all we can for them, but simply that the ways of the world and the ways of the consecrated people of God are far apart. Are we having this experience?

Paul again wrote, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” Then he adds, “But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.”—I Cor. 1:9,10

Is the Lord leading us day by day into a deeper appreciation of the marvelous truths contained in his Word? Are the ‘deep things’ of his Word pertaining so our calling in Christ Jesus more clearly understood as we seek so know and to do his will? If so, we have this additional evidence that he has accepted us awl is leading us in the path of righteousness.

Jesus himself gives us a very definite assurance of our standing before the Lord. First he declares that no man can come unto him unless drawn by his Heavenly Father. (John 6:44) then he tells us that those who do come to him he “will in no wise cast out.” (John 6:37) What further assurance do we need than this?

Yes, our rejoicing in the spiritual things of the new way of life in which we are walking; our loss of interest in the former things of the flesh and the world; a measure of misunderstanding and perhaps even of persecution, from the world; our increasing appreciation of spiritual things, particularly as they pertain to our heavenly calling—all these are evidences that our consecration has been accepted by the Lord, and that we have actually been ‘baptized’ into ‘the church’, the body of Christ.

Water Baptism

The question of water baptism naturally arises, and properly so, for Jesus himself was baptized—buried–in water, and we are to follow in his steps. What is the purpose of water baptism? John baptized for the remission of sin, and could not understand why Jesus requested baptism, for he knew that Jesus was not a sinner, but rather, that he was the Holy and Just One.

But Jesus was not baptized for the remission of sin. In asking John to baptize him he simply said, “Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness.” (Matt. 3:15) It is Jesus’ example that we follow in our water baptism. To him it was a symbol of his covenant to die, and of his hope to be raised from the dead,

And how aptly water immersion pictures these two thoughts! When one is lowered into the water by the immerser, he becomes helpless in his hands, and would remain buried, as in death, except as raised up out of the water. So in our consecration we give ourselves up to die with Christ, inspired by the promises of God that we will be raised up in the resurrection, even as Jesus was, to be associated with him in the great future work of his kingdom.

Water baptism, then, is a beautiful symbol of our true baptism into Christ is it essential? Not in the sense that it is a saving ordinance. But since those who are properly eligible for water immersion have renounced their own wills, and have covenanted to do the Lord’s will, they will recognize that this is part of the Lord’s will for them, and will gladly comply. Any other attitude would indicate something less than an all-consuming love for the will of God.

Church Organization

The Scriptures do not indicate that the various groups of called out ones in those early years of Christianity had any elaborate organizational arrangements, nor does the Bible teach that this was God’s design for the church as a whale. However, the disciples at that time were not without some organization. Their meetings were not without order, and various privileges of service were assigned to different ones according to their several ability in the Early Church organization, Jesus was universally recognized as the Head. This was in keeping with Jesus’ own instructions to his disciples when he said, ‘One is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.” (Matt 23:8) Paul wrote, “Christ is the Head of the church: and he is the Savior of the body.” (Eph. 5:23) In I Corinthians 11:3 he presents the same thought, saying that “the Head of every man is Christ. .. and the Head of Christ is God.” Jesus is not only the Head of his church—he is also its foundation. “For other foundation can no man lay,” wrote Paul, “than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (I Cot. 3:11) In Ephesians 2:19,20 the church is referred to as “the household of God,” and is declared to be “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone.”

The Apostle Peter wrote, “Wherefore also it is con-mined in the scripture, Behold I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.” (I Pet. 2:6) Peter’s affirmation that Jesus is the chief cornerstone in Zion, the church, is specially noteworthy in view of the misunderstanding which has been attached to Jesus’ statement, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.”— Matt. 16:18

This assertion has been misconstrued to mean that Peter was to be the ‘rock’ upon which the church of Christ would be built. But this interpretation is at once seen to be in error when we discover that Jesus used two different Greek words in making the statement. When he said, “Thou art Peter,” the Greek word translated Peter is petros, meaning ‘a piece of rock’. But when he said, “Upon this rock I will build my church,” he used the Greek word petra, meaning a ‘mass of rock’, such as a boulder.

Peter had just said to Jesus, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Malt 16:16) Jesus was pleased with this confession. We might paraphrase his reply to Peter in order to get its meaning a little clearer: “Peter, your name means that you are a small piece of rock, a pebble, as it were, but by comparison with the meaning of your name, the great fact of my Messiahship, and that I am the Son of God, is as a great mass of rock, a great boulder, and the church will be built upon me as its foundation.”

Twelve Apostles

In the divine arrangement the entire church, from Pentecost to the end of the age, was to be served by twelve apostles specially appointed by God. It was in keeping with this that Jesus chose just twelve men to be associated with him during his ministry in order that they might receive personal training from him. These were Peter, Andrew, James, John Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon, and Judas.—Matt. 10:2.4

Judas, as we know, proved unfaithful, and the Scriptures indicate that Paul was chosen by the Lord to take his place. Acts 1:23-26 informs us of an effort by the remaining eleven to make a choice of one to take Judas’place. They decided upon Matthias. However, this action was taken before they received the Holy Spirit, and there is no evidence that the Lord honored their choice. Matthais’ name does not appear after this.

The word apostle simply means ‘one who is sent’, or a ‘delegate’, an ambassador of the Gospel. From this broad standpoint every Christian is an apostle, for we are all ambassadors of Christ. In fact, the word is used in the Bible with reference to others than the twelve apostles, but this does not mean that they occupied the same high position of authority in the church as that given by divine appointment to those specially chosen by the Lord.

In John 17:12 Jesus refers to these divine appointees as those whom his Heavenly Father had given him. These special apostles did not select each other for the position, so they had no authority to select Matthias to take the place of Judas. Just as the Lord had selected the others, so in his own time and way he selected Paul, and gave him authority as one of the twelve apostles.

These twelve were more than just preachers of the Gospel They were miraculously inspired by the Holy Spirit, which enabled them to speak and write the truths of the Gospel with authority and accuracy. Their word was, and is, law to every Christian. It is because of this authoritative position which they occupy in the organization of the church that the completed church—likened to a city—is shown to have twelve foundation stones and in these stones are written the names of “the twelve apostles of the Lamb.”—Rev. 21:14

Other Servants

In Ephesians 4:11 the Apostle Paul informs us that the Lord provided for other servants in the church; that, in addition to apostles, he arranged for prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. Peter speaks of the Old Testament writers as God’s “holy prophets.” (II Pet. 3:2) These wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit; so the Christian takes their word, even as that of the apostles, as authoritative. (II Pet. 1:21) But when Paul speaks of ‘prophets’ as servants in the church, he uses the term in a much broader sense, applying it to public expounders of the Gospel.

These prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, are all essential servants in the church, but not inspired as were the twelve apostles. Nor are they appointed in the same miraculous way as were the apostles; Paul instructed Titus to ‘ordain’ elders in every city.—Titus 1:5

The expression in the New Testament, ‘laying on of hands’, is, according to the Greek text, more properly the stretching forth of the hand, as in voting. The clear implication is that by apostolic authority the lesser servants of the church were to be appointed, or elected, by the congregation which they were to serve.

Thus, while Jesus is the Head over the whole church, from Pentecost throughout the entire age, all the other servants were to be chosen by the brethren themselves, as they were needed, and as there were opportunities to serve.

The scriptural term. ‘elder’, applies generally to all who serve the church along spiritual lines. A pastor, a teacher, an evangelist, or a prophet would come under the general designation of ‘elder’. The Greek word presbuteros, from which it is translated, signifies one who is mature. In the church it would describe one who is recognized as being sound in the faith and spiritually mature in experience.

The word ‘bishop’ is also used in the New Testament, and applied to servants elected by the church. The Greek word episkopos. from which it is translated means ‘superintendent’ or ‘overseer’. All elders are properly, according to opportunity and ability, overseers in the church; for it is their duty to watch over the flock of God and care for their needs, particularly along spiritual lines.

The word ‘deacon’ appears a few times in connection with the arrangements of the Early Church. It is a translation of a Greek word, diakoitos, which means to ‘run errands’ or give assistance. The indications are that deacons were appointed to help with the material arrangements of the church. The first of these to be appointed were in the church at Jerusalem. See Acts 6:2-4.

The scriptural qualifications for those who can properly be elected by a congregation to serve as elders, or bishops, and deacons are set forth by Paul in I Timothy 3:1-13. In these qualifications, the expression, ‘apt to teach’ implies a proper understanding of the truth of the divine plan as taught in the Bible. Any group of consecrated brethren, large or small, which has brethren who meet these qualifications is authorized by the Scriptures to elect them to these services. When this is done, these appointments are recognized by the Lord.

The Scriptures make it clear that no group of Christians needs to look to a parent church for authority to elect servants, hold meetings, and carry on the work of the Lord in its community. Nor do congregations need to be large in order to exercise their liberty along these lines. The Biblical record is that many of the churches, or groups of Christians, in apostolic times were organized in the homes of believers who held their regular meetings in these homes.

The same thing is being done today. And now, as in the past, the Lord is richly blessing those who find others with whom they can cooperate as a group—or, within the scriptural meaning, a church. These can elect their own servants by the simple method of stretching forth the hand. No membership roll is needed, nor is such authorized by the Scriptures.

There is not much information in the Scriptures to indicate the nature of the meetings held by the various groups in the Early Church. Certainly the apostles, andothers, on occasions, gave discourses. But profitable meetings can be held even though there may be no one qualified to preach a sermon. Meetings for Bible study in which all present have an opportunity to express their thoughts or ask questions are very helpful. An elder. if one has been elected, should serve to keep the study orderly. Prayer and testimony meetings are also spiritually profitable to those who are seriously endeavoring to know and do God’s will.

The Bible Students will gladly render any assistance possible to those who may need help in establishing meetings of this sort. We may even know of others in your area who would rejoice to participate in such an arrangement.

The Mission of the Church

The present mission of the church is the perfecting of the saints for a future work of service, to develop in herself the graces of Christian character, and to be God’s witness to the world concerning Christ’s kingdom of blessing now so near. And there is also a glorious future work for which the church is now being prepared!

Jesus said to Peter, “Upon this rock I will build my church.” (Matt. 16:18) That which is ‘built’, in due time reaches completion. It is not God’s design that the ‘building’ of the church shall go on forever. It is not a case of all who will ever obtain salvation through Christ becoming members of the church. The very meaning of the word, ‘a calling out’, is contrary to this concept of God’s purpose through the church. The church is called out from the world. It is not God’s plan to bring the world into the church.

“Thou art the Christ,” Peter testified, “the Son of the living God.” This expression identified Jesus with the messianic promises of the Old Testament, and indicates that Peter properly recognized in Jesus the one whom God had sent to fulfill those promises. In order to see clearly the full divine purpose through the church, it is essential to keep in mind the Old Testament promises concerning Christ for the church is called out from the world to be associated with him in the fulfillment of those promises.

God said to Abraham, “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” (Gen. 12:3; 22:18) In Galatians 3:16 Paul informs us that this ‘seed’ of promise is Christ. But Paul gives us additional information concerning the seed of promise. In verses 27 and 29 we read, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ,.. . and if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Here is unmistakable proof that those who, through full consecration to do God’s will, become members of the church, which is the body of Christ, are part of the promised seed through which all the families of the earth are to be blessed.

This means that instead of the fullness of God’s purpose toward the children of men being represented in the establishing of the church, it is only the beginning of his plan to bless mankind. In James 1:18 we are told that the church is a “kind of firstfruits” of God’s creatures. This expression is also used in Revelation 14:4 and applied to those who are associated with the “Lamb” on the symbolic Mount Zion.

In the 15th chapter of I Corinthians, Paul points out very clearly that the hope of life for both the church and the world depends upon the resurrection of the dead. “If there be no resurrection of the dead,” he argues, “then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.” (vss. 13,18) But he gives us assurance of the resurrection, saying, “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”—vs. 22

Then Paul shows that there is to be a definite order, or sequence, in the resurrection: “every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.” (vs. 23) The firstfruits here referred to include the church, for as James explains, we are a “kind of firstfruits [unto God] of his creatures.”

But “afterward” (I Cor. 15:23) others are to be resurrected. Who are these? Paul explains that they are those who, “are Christ’s at his coming.” This is a faulty translation; a proper translation of the Greek text would be, “those who become Christ’s during his presence.” This is a reference to the thousand years of his kingdom. when Christ and his church will reign for the purpose of destroying sin and death, and giving all an opportunity to accept the gift of life provided by his shed blood. This is shown by Paul’s further statement, which immediately follows:

“Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” (vss. 24-26) Yes, this is the great, the ultimate, purpose of God to be accomplished through Christ and the church—the ‘afterward’ blessing to reach all mankind when the building of the church shall have been completed.

Heavenly and Earthly

In his lesson on the resurrection Paul reveals that some are to receive heavenly bodies, and some human. or earthly bodies, the determining factor in each case being the sort of seed, or “bare grain,” that is sown.— vss. 37,38

To those who, through full consecration to do God’s will, are buried with Christ in sacrificial death, and throughout the remaining years of their natural lives “walk in newness of life,” there will be given a celestial, or a heavenly body. They are prepared for this during their earthly pilgrimage by continuing to “set their affections on things above.” Their hopes are heavenly. Through faith they are seated together with Christ “in heavenly places,” while still here on earth pursuing their heavenly goal; therefore, they are made spiritual seed. In the resurrection, these will receive a heavenly body as a reward.

However, the vast majority of people are not interested in spiritual things. This does not mean that they are necessarily wicked. Most of them are not. They love the good things of the earth because they were created human, earthly beings, and God does not condemn them for their lack of aspiration to heavenly things. it is in the very nature of things that these are earthly seed, and as a result will be raised from the dead as human beings.

But speaking of ‘the’ resurrection of the church, described in Revelation 20:6 as the “first resurrection,” Paul explains, “It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: it is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: “it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.”— 1 Cor. 15: 42-44

To this Paul adds, “There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.” In other words, he would have us understand that in describing the change of nature to be experienced by those who participate in the first resurrection, he is not implying that these are the only ones to be raised from the dead, for all mankind are to be resurrected, only they are to receive natural bodies.

Paul continues his lesson, saying, “The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy [those who die with human hopes and desires], such are they also that are earthy [in the resurrection]: and as is the heavenly [those who now set their affections on heavenly things], such are they also that are heavenly [in the resurrection].”—vss 47-49

Paul concludes this lesson on the resurrection, saying, “For this corruptible must put on incorruption. and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 0 death, where is thy sting? 0 grave, where is thy victory?”—vss. 53-55

Thus in a few words Paul presents both the hope of the church and the hope of the world. The resurrection hope of the church is “glory, honor, and immortality.” (Rom. 2:7) No human being possesses immortality by nature. It is a reward given to those who faithfully follow in the footsteps of Christ unto death. In Revelation 2:10 we read, “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”

The call and preparation of these for the fruition of this glorious hope in “the first resurrection” has been the work of God through the Holy Spirit during the present age. But Paul explains that “when” this is accomplished, and the last member of the body of Christ has entered into glory, “then’ will be the time for the fulfillment of those glorious promises of the Old Testament concerning the destruction of death—0 death, where is thy sting! 0 grave, where is thy victory!

This is a quotation from Isaiah 25:8, and Hoses 13:14. Both texts assure us of the divine purpose to destroy man’s great enemy, Death, and the grave—or sheol, as it is in the Old Testament, and hades, in the New—the Hebrew and Greek words for ‘hell’, respectively. It was this same glorious consummation of the divine purpose toward the human race that Jesus referred to when he said that the gates of hell would not prevail against the church.

What a wonderful assurance! Throughout the reign of sin and death, hell, which is the grave or tomb, has continued to claim its victims. But in Revelation 1:18 Jesus tells us that he has the “keys” of hell. He purchased these keys—that is, the right to unlock hell’s gates—by his own death as man’s Redeemer. When his church is completely built, she will be associated with him in bestowing the promised blessings of life upon all mankind.

Thefact that meanwhile so many millions continue to go into death, into the Bible hell, will not deprive them of these blessings. The gates of hell did not prevail against Christ and they will not prevail against his church; for by divine power they will be swung wide open and all Death’s prisoners released!

This,then, is to be the future work of the church. And what a glorious work it will be! What an incentive it should be now to prove faithful to the Lord. Perhaps you are just learning of this glorious purpose of God through Christ and the church. If this knowledge has reached you prior to becoming a Christian, we suggest that you consider well the steps of repentance, belief, and consecration as we have scripturally outlined them; and trusting in the strength of the Lord, and in appreciation of his abundant grace, devote yourself to him and his cause.

There is no greater peace or joy that anyone can experience than that which results from being at-one with the Lord, and in living a life of full devotion to him. There are trials, yes, but as Paul reminds us, these are in reality “light afflictions,” lasting but for a “moment” when compared with the eternal “weight” of glory which the Lord has promised. 2 Cor. 4: 17,18

It is surely a blessed privilege to be among the ‘called out’ ones—the church—at the present time, for surely the Lord is blessing his people, especially in revealing to them the beauties of his plan of salvation. And how thankful we are that through Christ and his church the whole world is yet to have an opportunity to rejoice in the blessings the Lord has designed for them—blessings of “restitution,” as Peter described them, “which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”—Acts 3:19-21

In view of God’s harmonious and loving plan of salvation for both the church and the world, some of the beauties of which have already been revealed to us through his Word, we can well understand the great Apostle Paul’s feelings when he wrote:

“0 the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out [completely]! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been his counselor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again! For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen!”—Rom. 11:33-36

The Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that only they will survive the “Battle of Armageddon”, all non-witnesses will be destroyed on site, and that the birds of heaven will be called to eat the flesh of the dead (Revelation 19:19, 20) They teach that the world will be in peace for a thousand years, at that time Satan will be allowed one last chance to deceive the people, at that time Satan and all those who side with him will be destroyed in the second death. What do the Scriptures really say about Armageddon? Below are a list of Scriptural comments examining the teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses on this subject.

People who live in so-called “judgment periods” will be resurrected. All final judgment for the world is reserved for the Millennial Judgment Day.

Adam was a sinner and was justly sentenced to death. But so are all of his children.

Romans 3:10 just as it is written: “There is not a righteous [man], not even one.

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

If Adam had not sinned, no ransom would be needed. The ransom (corresponding price) consisted of the sacrifice of the perfect man Jesus to redeem the perfect man Adam who had sinned. Incidentally Adam’s offspring were condemned and incidentally they are redeemed.

1 Corinthians 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.

Romans 5:18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense [judgment] came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act [the] [free] [gift] [came] to all men, resulting in justification of life.

1 Timothy 2:6 who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

[NOTE: In all three of these verses the same Greek word PAS is used. It is also used in Matthew 24:14 “And 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.” In these four instances the New World Translation is inconsistent, rendering it “all” in Matthew 24:14 and in 1 Corinthians 15:22, but “all kinds” in Romans 5:18 and footnote of 1 Timothy 2:6.]

Hebrews 2:9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.

Matthew 20:28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

This text cannot be understood to contradict the thought of a ransom for all, since in Romans 5:19 The same Greek word polus rendered “many” or “all” – “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.”

The slaying of animal sacrifices in the Old Testament pointed forward to Christ’s scarifice to cover sins. Since it was God’s intention to redeem Adam from death, He provided him with a cost of skin.

Genesis 3:21 And Jehovah God proceeded to make long garments of skin for Adam and for his wife and to clothe them.

There are no Scriptures to show that Adam is excepted from the benefits of the ransom.

The World in Noah’s Day

The disobedient angels, who were largely responsible for the evil and corruption in Noah’s day, were not then judged. Since their judgment day is still future, it seems reasonable that the people will also be judged in the future.

Genesis 6:4-12 The Neph’i·lim proved to be in the earth in those days, and also after that, when the sons of the [true] God continued to have relations with the daughters of men and they bore sons to them, they were the mighty ones who were of old, the men of fame. Consequently Jehovah saw that the badness of man was abundant in the earth and every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only bad all the time. And Jehovah felt regrets that he had made men in the earth, and he felt hurt at his heart. So Jehovah said: “I am going to wipe men whom I have created off the surface of the ground, from man to domestic animal, to moving animal and to flying creature of the heavens, because I do regret that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of Jehovah. This is the history of Noah. Noah was a righteous man. He proved himself faultless among his contemporaries. Noah walked with the [true] God. In time Noah became father to three sons, Shem, Ham and Ja’pheth. And the earth came to be ruined in the sight of the [true] God and the earth became filled with violence. So God saw the earth and, look! it was ruined, because all flesh had ruined its way on the earth. [NWT]

2 Peter 2:4 Certainly if God did not hold back from punishing the angels that sinned, but, by throwing them into Tar’ta·rus, delivered them to pits of dense darkness to be reserved for judgment.

Jude 6 And the angels that did not keep their original position but forsook their own proper dwelling place he has reserved with eternal bonds under dense darkness for the judgment of the great day.

Romans 5:12-14 That is why, just as through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned-. 13 For until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not charged against anyone when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death ruled as king from Adam down to Moses, even over those who had not sinned after the likeness of the transgression by Adam, who bears a resemblance to him that was to come.

There are no Scriptures to show that the people in Noah’s day are excepted from the benefits of the ransom.

Sodom and Gomorrah

The Sodomites would have repented and not been destroyed if they had received as much light as Capernaum in Jesus’ day. Sodom’s judgment day is yet future.

Matthew 11:23-24 And you, Ca·per’na·um, will you perhaps be exalted to heaven? Down to Ha’des you will come; because if the powerful works that took place in you had taken place in Sod’om, it would have remained until this very day. Consequently I say to YOU people, It will be more endurable for the land of Sod’om on Judgment Day than for you.”

The Scriptures definitely prophesy the return of the Sodomites from Death.

Ezekiel 16:55, 61-62 And your own sisters, Sod’om and her dependent towns, will return to their former state, and Sa*mar’i*a and her dependent towns will return to their former state, and you yourself and your own dependent towns will return to YOUR former state….And you will certainly remember your ways and feel humiliated when you receive your sisters, the ones older than you as well as the ones younger than you, and I shall certainly give them to you as daughters, but not owing to your covenant.’…”‘And I, I myself, will establish my covenant with you; and you will have to know that I am Jehovah.

Jude 7 So too Sod’om and Go·mor’rah and the cities about them, after they in the same manner as the foregoing ones had committed fornication excessively and gone out after flesh for unnatural use, are placed before [us] as a [warning] example by undergoing the judicial punishment of everlasting fire.

[NOTE: If this Scripture id understood to mean Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed and are not to come forth in the resurrection, it would contradict the scriptural promises just cited. A harmonious understanding is obtained by noting that “eternal” is from the Greek AIONIOS, meaning “age lasting”. Thus the people of these cities were blotted out not for all eternity, but only until the close of the age, that is, the Gospel Age, and will come forth in the resurrection of the Millennial Judgment Day.]

Fleshly Israel in Jesus’ day

Jesus clearly said that the period of his earthly ministry was not a time of judgment.

John 12:47-48

But if anyone hears my sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I came, not to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 He that disregards me and does not receive my sayings has one to judge him. The word that I have spoken is what will judge him in the last day.

[NOTE: The last day is the time of resurrection.]

The Scribes and Pharisees must come forth from the dead in the Kingdom in order to “see” Abraham , Isaac and Jacob. They will be “thrown outside” of the position of rulership due to their unfaithfulness.

Luke 13:28 There is where [YOUR] weeping and the gnashing of [YOUR] teeth will be, when YOU see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves thrown outside.

Even those who crucified Jesus were considered as doing it in ignorance.

Acts 3:12-17 When Peter saw this, he said to the people: “Men of Israel, why are YOU wondering over this, or why are YOU gazing at us as though by personal power or godly devotion we have made him walk? The God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob, the God of our forefathers, has glorified his Servant, Jesus, whom YOU, for YOUR part, delivered up and disowned before Pilate’s face, when he had decided to release him. Yes, YOU disowned that holy and righteous one, and YOU asked for a man, a murderer, to be freely granted to YOU, whereas YOU killed the Chief Agent of life. But God raised him up from the dead, of which fact we are witnesses. Consequently his name, by [our] faith in his name, has made this man strong whom YOU behold and know, and the faith that is through him has given the man this complete soundness in the sight of all of YOU. And now, brothers, I know that YOU acted in ignorance, just as YOUR rulers also did.

Spiritual Israel, the Church class, gains the chief favor, the heavenly reward, but natural Israel is not cast off.

Romans 11:2, 15, 25-26, 32 God did not reject his people, whom he first recognized. Why, do YOU not know what the Scripture says in connection with Eli’jah, as he pleads with God against Israel?…For if the casting of them away means reconciliation for the world, what will the receiving of them mean but life from the dead?…For I do not want YOU, brothers, to be ignorant of this sacred secret, in order for YOU not to be discreet in your own eyes: that a dulling of sensibilities has happened in part to Israel until the full number of people of the nations has come in, 26 and in this manner all Israel will be saved. Just as it is written: “The deliverer will come out of Zion and turn away ungodly practices from Jacob… For God has shut them all up together in disobedience, that he might show all of them mercy.

The New Covenant is yet to be made with natural Israel and their iniquity forgiven.

Jeremiah 31:31-34 “Look! There are days coming,” is the utterance of Jehovah, “and I will conclude with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah a new covenant; 32 not one like the covenant that I concluded with their forefathers in the day of my taking hold of their hand to bring them forth out of the land of Egypt, ‘which covenant of mine they themselves broke, although I myself had husbandly ownership of them,’ is the utterance of Jehovah.” 33 “For this is the covenant that I shall conclude with the house of Israel after those days,” is the utterance of Jehovah. “I will put my law within them, and in their heart I shall write it. And I will become their God, and they themselves will become my people.” 34 “And they will no more teach each one his companion and each one his brother, saying, ‘KNOW Jehovah!’ for they will all of them know me, from the least one of them even to the greatest one of them,” is the utterance of Jehovah. “For I shall forgive their error, and their sin I shall remember no more.”

Only natural Israel was scattered, not the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Thus natural Israel is unmistakably referred to in the following prophecies:

Ezekiel 11:16-20 therefore say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said: “Although I have put them far away among the nations, and although I have scattered them among the lands, yet I shall become to them a sanctuary for a little while among the lands to which they have come.”‘ 17 “Therefore say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said: “I will also collect YOU from the peoples and gather YOU from the lands among which YOU have been scattered, and I will give YOU the soil of Israel. 18 And they will certainly come there and remove all its disgusting things and all its detestable things out of it. 19 And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I shall put inside them; and I shall certainly remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, 20 in order that they may walk in my own statutes and keep my own judicial decisions and actually carry them out; and they may really become my people and I myself may become their God.”‘

Jeremiah 32:37-41 ‘Here I am collecting them together out of all the lands to which I shall have dispersed them in my anger and in my rage and in great indignation; and I will bring them back to this place and make them dwell in security. 38 And they will certainly become my people, and I myself shall become their God. 39 And I will give them one heart and one way in order to fear me always, for good to them and to their sons after them. 40 And I will conclude with them an indefinitely lasting covenant, that I shall not turn back from behind them, for me to do them good; and the fear of me I shall put in their heart in order not to turn aside from me. 41 And I will exult over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land in trueness with all my heart and with all my soul.'”

Jeremiah 24:6-7 And I will set my eye upon them in a good way, and I shall certainly cause them to return to this land. And I will build them up, and I shall not tear down; and I will plant them, and I shall not uproot. 7 And I will give them a heart to know me, that I am Jehovah; and they must become my people, and I myself shall become their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.

Amos 9:14-15 And I will gather back the captive ones of my people Israel, and they will actually build [the] desolated cities and inhabit [them], and plant vineyards and drink the wine of them, and make gardens and eat the fruit of them.’ 15 “‘And I shall certainly plant them upon their ground, and they will no more be uprooted from their ground that I have given them,’ Jehovah your God has said.” [NOTE: captivity is from the Hebrew, SHEBOOTH, meaning figuratively “a former state of prosperity.]

The Jews are to be used as a “teacher nation” in the Millennium.

Zechariah 8:13 And it must occur that just as YOU became a malediction among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so I shall save YOU, and YOU must become a blessing. Do not be afraid. May YOUR hands be strong.’

Zechariah 8:22 And many peoples and mighty nations will actually come to seek Jehovah of armies in Jerusalem and to soften the face of Jehovah.’

The World from 1918 to Armageddon

Some will definitely survive Armageddon who were unrighteous and disobedient.

Zephaniah 3:8-9 “‘Therefore keep yourselves in expectation of me,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ’till the day of my rising up to [the] booty, for my judicial decision is to gather nations, for me to collect together kingdoms, in order to pour out upon them my denunciation, all my burning anger; for by the fire of my zeal all the earth will be devoured. For then I shall give to peoples the change to a pure language, in order for them all to call upon the name of Jehovah, in order to serve him shoulder to shoulder.’ [NOTE: The righteous already new the pure language.]

Psalm 46:1-10 God is for us a refuge and strength, A help that is readily to be found during distresses. That is why we shall not fear, though the earth undergo change And though the mountains totter into the heart of the vast sea; Though its waters be boisterous, foam over, Though the mountains rock at its uproar. Se’lah. There is a river the streams of which make the city of God rejoice, The holiest grand tabernacle of the Most High. God is in the midst of [the city]; it will not be made to totter. God will help it at the appearance of morning. The nations became boisterous, the kingdoms tottered; He sounded with his voice, the earth proceeded to melt. Jehovah of armies is with us; The God of Jacob is a secure height for us. Se’lah. Come, YOU people, behold the activities of Jehovah, How he has set astonishing events on the earth. He is making wars to cease to the extremity of the earth. The bow he breaks apart and does cut the spear in pieces; The wagons he burns in the fire. “Give in, YOU people, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Zechariah 14:1-3, 12-19 “Look! There is a day coming, belonging to Jehovah, and the spoil of you will certainly be apportioned out in the midst of you. And I shall certainly gather all the nations against Jerusalem for the war; and the city will actually be captured and the houses be pillaged, and the women themselves will be raped. And half of the city must go forth into the exile; but as for the remaining ones of the people, they will not be cut off from the city. “And Jehovah will certainly go forth and war against those nations as in the day of his warring, in the day of fight….”And this is what will prove to be the scourge with which Jehovah will scourge all the peoples that will actually do military service against Jerusalem: There will be a rotting away of one’s flesh, while one is standing upon one’s feet; and one’s very eyes will rot away in their sockets, and one’s very tongue will rot away in one’s mouth. “And it must occur in that day [that] confusion from Jehovah will become widespread among them; and they will actually grab hold, each one of the hand of his companion, and his hand will actually come up against the hand of his companion. And Judah itself also will be warring at Jerusalem; and the wealth of all the nations round about will certainly be gathered, gold and silver and garments in excessive abundance. “And this is how the scourge of the horse, the mule, the camel, and the male ass, and every sort of domestic animal that happens to be in those camps, will prove to be, like this scourge. “And it must occur [that], as regards everyone who is left remaining out of all the nations that are coming against Jerusalem, they must also go up from year to year to bow down to the King, Jehovah of armies, and to celebrate the festival of the booths. And it must occur that, as regards anyone that does not come up out of the families of the earth to Jerusalem to bow down to the King, Jehovah of armies, even upon them no pouring rain will occur. And if the family of Egypt itself does not come up and does not actually enter, upon them also there shall be none. The scourge will occur with which Jehovah scourges the nations that do not come up to celebrate the festival of the booths. This itself will prove to be the [punishment for the] sin of Egypt and the sin of all the nations that do not come up to celebrate the festival of the booths. [NOTE: Some that are left, were aggressors (in Armageddon) and again shall be disobedient]

Isaiah 24:19-22 The land has absolutely burst apart, the land has absolutely been shaken up, the land has absolutely been sent staggering. The land absolutely moves unsteadily like a drunken man, and it has swayed to and fro like a lookout hut. And its transgression has become heavy upon it, and it must fall, so that it will not rise up again. And it must occur in that day that Jehovah will turn his attention upon the army of the height in the height, and upon the kings of the ground upon the ground. And they will certainly be gathered with a gathering as of prisoners into the pit, and be shut up in the dungeon; and after an abundance of days they will be given attention. [NOTE: This being “given attention” (or “visited” KJV) shows that the rulers, etc. who went down in death at Armageddon, will be resurrected from the dead.]

The marking and slaying of Ezekiel 9:4-6 and Revelation 7:1-3 are not literal.

Ezekiel 9:4-6 And Jehovah went on to say to him: “Pass through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and you must put a mark on the foreheads of the men that are sighing and groaning over all the detestable things that are being done in the midst of it.” And to these [others] he said in my ears: “Pass through the city after him and strike. Let not your eye feel sorry, and do not feel any compassion. Old man, young man and virgin and little child and women YOU should kill off-to a ruination. But to any man upon whom there is the mark do not go near, and from my sanctuary YOU should start.” So they started with the old men that were before the house.

Revelation 7:1-3 After this I saw four angels standing upon the four corners of the earth, holding tight the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow upon the earth or upon the sea or upon any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the sunrising, having a seal of [the] living God; and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying: “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until after we have sealed the slaves of our God in their foreheads.”

[NOTE: The Revelation account continues that only the 144,000 were sealed, showing the marking to be symbolic or acceptance in the heavenly bride class, and the slaying symbolic of rejection or casting off from this position, not the sealing of Jehovah’s Witnesses and the destruction of all others.

Revelation 7:4 And I heard the number of those who were sealed, a hundred and forty-four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of the sons of Israel

Some Scriptures speak of mankind or certain ones not rising again. This refers to their not rising throughout the reign of sin and death, but in the Millennial Age they will come forth in the resurrection.

Job 14:10-15 But an able-bodied man dies and lies vanquished; And an earthling man expires, and where is he? Waters do disappear from a sea, And a river itself drains off and dries up. Man also has to lie down and does not get up. Until heaven is no more they will not wake up, Nor will they be aroused from their sleep. O that in She’ol you would conceal me, That you would keep me secret until your anger turns back, That you would set a time limit for me and remember me! If an able-bodied man dies can he live again? All the days of my compulsory service I shall wait, Until my relief comes. You will call, and I myself shall answer you. For the work of your hands you will have a yearning.

Isaiah 26:14-19 They are dead; they will not live. Impotent in death, they will not rise up. Therefore you have turned your attention that you might annihilate them and destroy all mention of them. You have added to the nation; O Jehovah, you have added to the nation; you have glorified yourself. You have extended afar all the borders of the land. O Jehovah, during distress they have turned their attention to you; they have poured out a whisper [of prayer] when they had your disciplining. Just as a pregnant woman draws near to giving birth, has labor pains, cries out in her birth pangs, so we have become because of you, O Jehovah. We have become pregnant, we have had labor pains; as it were, we have given birth to wind. No real salvation do we accomplish as regards the land, and no inhabitants for the productive land proceed to fall [in birth]. “Your dead ones will live. A corpse of mine-they will rise up. Awake and cry out joyfully, YOU residents in the dust! For your dew is as the dew of mallows, and the earth itself will let even those impotent in death drop [in birth].

Jeremiah 51:57 And I will make her princes and her wise ones, her governors and her deputy rulers and her mighty men drunk, and they must sleep an indefinitely lasting sleep, from which they will not wake up,” is the utterance of the King, whose name is Jehovah of armies.

Psalm 9:17 Wicked people will turn back to She’ol, Even all the nations forgetting God.

Genesis 3:19 In the sweat of your face you will eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. For dust you are and to dust you will return.”

Psalm 90:3 You make mortal man go back to crushed matter, And you say: “GO back, YOU sons of men.”

The Judgment and separation of the sheep and goats is not taking place now.

Matthew 25:31-46 “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. “Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, YOU who have been blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for YOU from the founding of the world. For I became hungry and YOU gave me something to eat; I got thirsty and YOU gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and YOU received me hospitably; naked, and YOU clothed me. I fell sick and YOU looked after me. I was in prison and YOU came to me.’ Then the righteous ones will answer him with the words, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty, and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and receive you hospitably, or naked, and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to you?’ And in reply the king will say to them, ‘Truly I say to YOU, To the extent that YOU did it to one of the least of these my brothers, YOU did it to me.’ “Then he will say, in turn, to those on his left, ‘Be on YOUR way from me, YOU who have been cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels. For I became hungry, but YOU gave me nothing to eat, and I got thirsty, but YOU gave me nothing to drink. I was a stranger, but YOU did not receive me hospitably; naked, but YOU did not clothe me; sick and in prison, but YOU did not look after me.’ Then they also will answer with the words, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them with the words, ‘Truly I say to YOU, To the extent that YOU did not do it to one of these least ones, YOU did not do it to me.’ And these will depart into everlasting cutting-off, but the righteous ones into everlasting life.”

First the Church class must be completed and glorified, since they are the “angels” who are with Jesus at the time. “Angels” is from the Greek word AGGELOS, meaning “messengers”, as in James 2:25 – Rahab the harlot was justified by works, when she had received the messengers.

(Revelation 3:21) To the one that conquers I will grant to sit down with me on my throne, even as I conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.

(1 Corinthians 6:2) Or do YOU not know that the holy ones will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by YOU, are YOU unfit to try very trivial matters?

(Colossians 3:4) When the Christ, our life, is made manifest, then YOU also will be made manifest with him in glory.

The judgment is based on the works done: feeding the strangers, clothing the naked, visiting those in prison and the sick, etc. These are symbolic of an attitude of love and helpfulness to fellow men, assisting each other up the highway of holiness toward perfection during the Millennial Age.

Jesus’ bothers (verse 40) are those who do God’s will: “Whoever does the will of God, this one is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:34-35)

The term “brothers” need not be limited to the Church in the Gospel Age, but can also be applied to those who do God’s will in the Millennial Age. Those who would so limit it (to try to prove the setting is not future) run into the inconsistency of having the sheep class (earthly) ministering food etc., (truth) to Christ’s brothers (the Church Class) while they really believe the reverse is true – That the spirit-begotten remnant of the Church class ministers the truth to the other sheep class.

A similar acount of the judgment day is given in Revelation 20:11-15, and is definitely shown to be during the reign of Christ and the Church.

“And I saw a great white throne and the one seated on it. From before him the earth and the heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and scrolls were opened. But another scroll was opened; it is the scroll of life. And the dead were judged out of those things written in the scrolls according to their deeds. And the sea gave up those dead in it, and death and Ha’des gave up those dead in them, and they were judged individually according to their deeds. And death and Ha’des were hurled into the lake of fire. This means the second death, the lake of fire. Furthermore, whoever was not found written in the book of life was hurled into the lake of fire.”

The Millennial Age – the Judgment Day taught in the Bible.

There is a day of judgment, the Millennial Age, rather than various judgment periods.

Acts 17:31 because He has appointed a day in which He is going to judge the world in righteousness by a Man whom He appointed, having given proof to all by raising Him from the dead.

2 Pet. 3:7-8 But the present heavens and the earth being kept in store by the same word, are being kept for fire until the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But, beloved, let not this one thing be hidden from you, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

That time is yet future.

Micah 4:1-4 But it shall be in the last days the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be lifted up above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it. And many nations shall come and say, Come and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob. And He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths; for the law shall go forth out of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 3 And He shall judge between many peoples, and will decide for strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, And they shall not still learn war. But they shall sit each one under his vine and under his fig tree; and there shall be no trembling; for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken,

Psalm 96:10-13 Say among the nations, the LORD reigns; and the world shall be established; it shall not be moved; He shall judge the peoples in uprightness. Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fullness of it. Let the field be joyful, and all that is in it; then shall all the trees of the forest rejoice before the LORD; for He comes, for He comes to judge the earth; He shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with His truth.

Isa. 26:9-10 With my soul I desired You in the night; yea, with my spirit within me I will seek You early; for when Your judgments are in the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness. Let favor be shown to the wicked, yet he will not learn righteousness; in the land of uprightness he will deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the LORD.

Psa. 72:2-8 He will judge Your people in righteousness, and Your poor with judgment. The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills by righteousness. He shall judge the poor of the people; He shall save the children of the needy, and shall crush in pieces the cruel one. They shall fear You as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations. He shall come down like rain on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth. In His days the righteous shall flourish; and abundance of peace, until the moon is not. He shall also have the rule from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.

That judgment day will be for the whole world.

John 5:28-29 Do not marvel at this, for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have practiced evil to the resurrection of condemnation. [judgment] [NOTE: The New World Translation is misleading in rendering the Greek word MNEMEION as “memorial tombs” since the correct definition is “monument, grave, tomb, or memorial”, which gives the thought of man’s memory of his loved ones, and does not refer to God’s memory at all. All the dead are in God’s memory and will be raised for judgment. Those who then prove unfaithful will be destroyed eternally.]

Acts 24:15 And I have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.

Phil. 2:10-11 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of heavenly ones, and of earthly ones, and of ones under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Rom. 14:10-11 But why do you judge your brother? Or also why do you despise your brother? For all shall stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.”

Second Death.

The Ransom sacrifice releases Adam and his offspring from first death (Adamic), but second death is a death from which there will never be a resurrection.

An individual must be released (reckonedly or actually) from Adamic death before it is possible to suffer second death.

Before the Gospel Age none were released from Adamic death, so none were released from Adamic death.

2 Tim. 1:10 But it is now made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has made death of no effect, bringing life and immortality to light through the gospel

During the Gospel Age, only those who are enlightened with the truth, justified by the blood of Christ (reckonedly released from Adamic death), and spirit begotten, and who then deny Christ and fall away from the truth go into second death. Only the prospective members of the body of Christ are now justified and on trial.

Heb. 6:4-6 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good Word of God and the powers of the world to come, and who have fallen away; it is impossible, I say, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify the Son of God afresh to themselves and put Him to an open shame.

Heb. 10:26-29 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He who despised Moses’ law died without mercy on the word of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will be thought worthy to receive punishment, the one who has trampled the Son of God, and who has counted the blood of the covenant with which he was sanctified an unholy thing, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?

Matt. 12:31 Therefore I say to you, All kinds of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven to men, but the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit shall not be forgiven to men.

During the Millennial Age, after coming forth in the resurrection (actually released from Adamic death), those who continue to be disobedient to God will fall into second death. The whole world will then be on trial for life or death (second death).

Acts 3:23 And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be destroyed from among the people.”

Jer. 31:29-30 In those days they shall not say any more, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the teeth of the sons are dull. But every man shall die in his iniquity. Every man who eats the sour grapes, his teeth will be dull. Behold, the days come, says the LORD, that I will cut a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah,

Psa. 145:20 The LORD watches over all those who love Him; but all the wicked He will destroy.

Rev. 20:12-15 And I saw the dead, the small and the great, stand before God. And the books were opened, and another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead in it. And death and hell delivered up the dead in them. And each one of them was judged according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the Lake of Fire. This is the second death. And if anyone was not found having been written in the Book of Life, he was cast into the Lake of Fire.

Conclusion

Adam and all his children are under God’s condemnation and dead in his sight, without any standing before him, until they learn of and exercise faith in the ransom. It makes no difference whether one dies at an early age by a specific act of God or later in life by so-called natural causes; both are the results of sin and divine condemnation.

Rom. 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Matt. 8:22 But Jesus said to him, Follow Me, and let the dead bury their dead.

John 3:18 He who believes on Him is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God.

1 Tim. 2:4 who will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

The view that God desires to destroy all people except those of one denomination is not in harmony with God’s will. God desires to bless, not to destroy mankind.

Luke 9:53-55 And they did not receive Him, because His face was going toward Jerusalem. And seeing, His disciples James and John said, Lord, do You desire that we command fire to come down from Heaven and consume them, even as Elijah did? But He turned and rebuked them and said, You do not know of what spirit you are.

Isa. 60:2-5 For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the peoples; but the LORD shall rise on you, and His glory shall be seen on you. And the nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawning. Lift up your eyes all around, and see. All of them gather themselves; they come to you. Your sons shall come from far, and your daughters shall be nursed at your side. Then you shall fear and become bright, and your heart shall throb and swell for joy; because the abundance of the sea shall turn to you, the wealth of the nations will come to you.

Acts 3:25 You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, “And in your Seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.” [NOTE: Other texts where this promise is recorded use the word “nations”, but here the promise is made more all-inclusive with the word “kindreds”, or “families” as in the New World Translation}

John 12:32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all to Myself.

Luke 2:10 And the angel said to them, Do not fear. For behold, I give to you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

Eze. 18:21-23 But if the wicked will turn from all his sins which he has committed, and keep all My statutes, and do justice and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. All his transgressions that he has done, they shall not be mentioned to him; in his righteousness that he has done he shall live. Do I actually delight in the death of the wicked? says the Lord Jehovah. Is it not that he should turn from his ways and live?

“But flesh with the life thereof, which Is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.”—Ge 9:4

THIS and other similar texts of Scripture are being used by some In an effort to prove that donating blood to save another’s life, or receiving a transfusion of blood, Is forbidden by God and a sin So gross as to result In eternal death. Are we justified In placing such an interpretation upon the divine injunction against eating or drinking the blood of lower animals?

The science of transferring blood from one human being to another in order to save life was not known in ancient times. Obviously, then, there is no direct reference to it in the Word of God; So our conclusions as to whether or not it can properly be placed in the same category, from God’s standpoint, as the assimilation of the blood of beasts through the digestive organs must be based wholly upon the principles Involved rather than direct statements of the Bible.

What common factors are Involved in drinking the blood of lower animals and the medical science of blood transfusion? So far as we are able to see, there is only one, which is the word blood. Apart from this, the two practices have nothing whatsoever in common.

God forbade his ancient people to drink the blood of lower animals. It Is human blood that is used In the science of blood transfusion.

Drinking the blood of lower animals necessitates their death. Blood transfusions do not require the death of those who donate their blood.

The life- sustaining vitamins derived from drinking blood reach the system through the digestive organs, the remaining elements being eliminated from the body as waste; thus the blood, as such, is destroyed.

In transfusions the blood of the donor is channeled directly into the bloodstream of the patient.

Thus we see that there is no similarity at all between the ancient custom of drinking blood, which was forbidden by the Lord, and the modern science of blood transfusion. Therefore, only by being definitely misapplied can the Scriptures be construed to forbid deriving benefit from this very humane application of medical science. No one should permit such a flagrant misapplic ation of God’s commands to deter him from receiving the benefits of blood transfusion through fear of disobeying God and of being 8entenced to the “second death.”

THE BLOOD OF ATONEMENT

In Leviticus 17:10,11 we read: “And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” The expression, “any manner of blood,” cannot be construed to include human blood, for human blood was not offered on altars by Israel.

The “atonement” made by the blood of animals was of a typical nature only and pointed forward to the atonement which would be made for Adam and his race by Jesus’ blood. “Almost all things are by the Law purged by blood,” we read, “and without shedding of blood is no remission, It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.”—Heb 9:22,23 The “blood of bulls and goats” did not actually take away the sins of the Israelites, but God used those sacrifices to point forward to the shedding of Jesus’ blood; So he attached a great sacredness to animal blood, and for this reason did not want the Israelites to consider It common, or as ordinary food. This viewpoint of the typical blood is used by Paul to teach a lesson. Speaking of those who, having come to a knowledge of the truth and accepted the provisions of God’s grace through Christ, and willfully turn against the Lord, the apostle said, “Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing?”—Heb 10:29

Since Jehovah wants his people to consider the blood of Jesus as sacred and holy, It Is understandable why he limited the use of animal blood to picture the real blood of atonement. With the Israelites it was part of a school of experience designed to lead them to Christ. But this could not be construed in the remotest sense to be related to the modern medical science of blood transfusion.

Symbolically speaking, It is essential to “drink” the blood which was prefigured by those typical sacrifices, the blood, that Is, of Jesus. Jesus said, “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” (John 6:53) In non symbolic language this simply means that in order to have everlasting life, either by faith now, or actually In the age to come, it is essential to accept Christ and his sacrificial work on our behalf—to recognize that he died for our sins and for all mankind, including Adam. But this acceptance of Christ Is wholly unrelated to blood transfusion as now practiced In the medical world.

HEATHEN CUSTOMS BANNED

A problem was presented to Jewish Christians In the Early Church when Gentile converts began to associate with them. These Gentiles were sincere In their acceptance of Christ, but seemingly In many cases their Christian faIth was merely superimposed upon their forms of heathen worship, many of which were repugnant to Jewish believers, and some even licentious. Certain Jewish teachers in the church thought to discipline their Gentile brethren by insisting that they obey the ordinances of the Law, such as circumcision The apostles, and others more mature in the faith, met in conference at Jerusalem to decide what should be done about this problem. In view of the circumstances, they agreed on a minimum requirement of Gentile converts—they were to “abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication.” (Acts 15:29) Fornication Is unequivocally condemned In the Scriptures.

The idolatrous worship of the heathen of that day included feasting on the meats which had been offered to Idols, and fornication. Partaking of blood could easily have been associated with these revelries. The immature Gentile Christian would see no wrong in these things, but to bring them into the church would have been disastrous; So the apostles wisely insisted that they abstain from them. However, these instructions to Gentile believers in the Early Church have no bearing whatever on the present- day medical science of blood transfusion.

The Watchtower, endeavors to prove that the divine injunction against drinking blood includes human blood. They cite the case of David, who refused to drink the water secured for him by three men at the risk of their lives. David said, “My God forbid it me, that I should do this thing: shall I drink the blood of these men that have put their lives in jeopardy?

Here David is speaking symbolically. Instead of drinking the water secured at the risk of life, he poured It “out to the Lord.” As David reasoned It, the water represented the blood of his benefactors, and this, he thought, should be offered to the Lord rather than to accept the sacrifice on his own behalf. There is no relationship here whatever to God’s command not to drink the blood of lower animals, and certainly It Is wholly unrelated to blood transfusion.

If you have an opportunity to donate your blood to save the life of a relative or friend, or a brother In Christ, do not hesitate thus to serve. Or If your doctor says that blood transfusion will save your life, or the life of your Child by all means take advantage of this modern blessing.

For with the jeopardy of their lives they brought it.”—1Ch 11:17- 19