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Those who are associated with the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society often have misconceptions in regards to the Society’s early years and history. Those who take the lead among the Jehovah’s Witnesses [the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses] have written about the years before 1925 as though there was a governing body in existence in those early years of the Society. While it is believed by many that a governing body did exist in 1918, in reality no governing body existed until recent years.

The Watchtower leaders have often presented distorted and sometimes outright false statements concerning the things taught by Charles Taze Russell and the early Watch Tower movement . The truth is that Charles Taze Russell never advocated such an organization that now exists as “Jehovah’s Witnesses.” After Russell’s death, “Judge” Joseph Franklin Rutherford usurped authority through legal trickery. He began to teach new ideas that took his followers farther and farther away from the Bible.

One of the greatest changes he effected was on the ransom. The teachings of The Watchtower and those of the earlier Zion’s Watch Tower are so different that they have been viewed as two different entities. The reader should note that when we refer to The Watchtower, we mean the modern-day publication produced by the leaders of “Jehovah’s Witnesses.” When we refer to Zion’s Watch Tower, we mean the publication that was being produced before “Judge” Rutherford invented a new organization called “Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

We will now proceed with examining how the two different doctrines concerning the ransom has led the modern-day Watchtower leaders into self-contradiction.

According to the modern-day Watchtower leaders, Messiah “came to inspect his slaves in 1918.” (The Watchtower, March 15, 1990, page 13) According to this same Watchtower:

“Well, by then [1918], who had given sincere truth-seekers the correct understanding of the ransom sacrifice….?”

The answer given is:

“The facts show that it was the group of anointed Christians associated with the publishers of the magazine Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald Christ’s Presence…”

(The reader should note that in 1918 there was no “Jehovah’s Witness” organization.) If Zion’s Watch Tower was printing the truth about the ransom-sacrifice in 1918, then what the modern-day Watchtower is teaching cannot possibly be true. Let us show what we mean.

What is the teaching of The Watchtower of today concerning the ransom-sacrifice? The March 15, 1990 Watchtower answers:

“Jesus came ‘to give his soul a ransom in exchange for many.’ (Mark 10:45) But who are the many? Adam is evidently excluded because he was a perfect man who deliberately chose to disobey God and died an unrepentant, willful sinner.”

The article goes on to say:

“The course taken by each individual determines whether he will benefit from Jesus’ sacrifice. Like Adam, the willfully wicked do not have the ransom merit and eternal life forced upon them. As Christ said: `He that exercises faith in the Son has everlasting life; he that disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him.’ (John 3:36)”

Thus The Watchtower of today would make all who disobey the Watchtower leaders [who supposedly represent Jesus] in this life as willfully wicked, and receiving no benefit from the ransom. (This disregards John 12:46-48, which shows that those who disobey Jesus today will be judged in the resurrection day. In this life, the wrath, inherited from Adam, simply remains upon him.) Likewise, according to the present-day Watchtower leaders, Adam would receive no benefit from the ransom.

Now compare this with Zion’s Watch Tower of 1918 (August 15, 1918):

“When this ransom price shall have been formally delivered over to Justice in the end of this Gospel age, then, it will … have been exchanged for Adam and his posterity, the world of mankind, all of whom will be immediately transferred by the Father to the Son, that the work of the Millennial Kingdom may begin. The ransom price is designed to bring to Adam and his race the earthly life and the earthly life-rights and honors which were lost in Eden through disobedience.” (See Reprints, page 6314)

Again in Zion’s Watch Tower of October 1, 1918 (Reprints, page 6337), we find this statement:

“As in the one man Jesus Christ both Adam and all his children will be justified from the original condemnation, that which came upon the human race because of Adam’s disobedience.”

Please note that in the two quotes above, from the early Zion’s Watch Tower in 1918 that the ransom is presented quite differently from that in 1990. In 1918 Adam and all his posterity are to benefit from the ransom. In 1990, according to present-day Watchtower leaders, Adam will receive no benefit from the ransom, nor will many billions of mankind living today that might be destroyed during the destruction of Satan’s world.

A little reflection on the above should lead one to see that if Zion’s Watch Tower was teaching the truth concerning the ransom in 1918, then what The Watchtower of today is teaching is false, for they do not teach the same thing. Of course, just because the whole world receives benefits from the ransom of Jesus does not mean that “everlasting life” will be “forced” upon them. It only means that they will be given full opportunity to come into harmony with Jehovah and His Son, Jesus. Those of the world who then refuse will eventually be eternally destroyed in the second death at the end of the 1,000-Year Reign of Jesus, when the Kingdom is returned to the Father. (Revelation 20:7-9; Psalm 37:9,10; Matthew 25:41,46; 2 Thessalonians 1:9,10; 1 Corinthians 15:24) With Zion’s Watch Tower of 1918 we are general in agreement on this; therefore we are in disagreement with The Watchtower of modern times which would deny that Jesus gave his life as “a ransom for all.” (1 Timothy 2:5,6) It is this “ransom for all” teaching that will actually vindicate Jehovah as not only the rightful ruler, but that his ways are best in all things. It is only through the “ransom for all” that all the wicked will come to know Jehovah. Psalm 83:18; Compare Ezekiel 16:62,63.

We must, in all honesty, state that The Watchtower today does believe that millions of the unsaved dead will be awakened in the resurrection day and given opportunity to obey Jesus during the millennial kingdom. (See The Watchtower, March 15, 1990, page 31) In this we see an inconsistency of logic, however. On page 4 of the March 15, 1990 Watchtower we read:

“When Adam sinned, he lost everlasting perfect human life, with all rights and prospects. Hence, the same thing was redeemed by means of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice.”

How anyone could make this statement and then turn around and deny its clear meaning is beyond logic. If Adam’s “everlasting perfect human life” was redeemed by the ransom, then it would clearly mean that Adam would be released from sin’s condemnation of death. To reason otherwise would destroy the entire principle of the ransom.

The claim is made that Adam did not repent. The Scriptures nowhere state this. We are not informed as to whether he did or did not repent. There are some reasons to believe that he did have a change of heart. But Jehovah did not offer to him any deliverance based upon his repentance. Rather, another method of deliverance was vaguely suggested when Jehovah stated to the serpent: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will bruise you in the head, and you will bruise him in the heel.” (Genesis 3:15) How much better are the ways of Jehovah than the reasoning of man!

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

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

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

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

SAVED AS THROUGH FIRE

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

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

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

INVULNERABILITY OF THE TRUTH

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

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

SIGNIFICANCE OF THE PRESENCE OF THE KING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LIFT UP TRUTH’S GLORIOUS BANNER!

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

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

JEHOVAH, the name given in the Old Testament Scriptures to the Supreme Being, the great Creator of the universe, is described by the Apostle Peter as the “God of all grace.” (1 Peter 5:10) The grace of God is the favor of God, the favor which he So lovingly manifests toward all his human creatures, favor which is unmerited by them because of their sin. In order that we may be assured of his abundant favor, Jehovah has revealed by the almost innumerable promises of his Word his intention, in his own due time and way, to bestow his blessings upon “all the families of the earth.” This loving purpose is first clearly stated in a promise God made to father Abraham, when he said to him, “In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3) This promise was repeated several times to Abraham and was confirmed by God’s oath. (Genesis 22:16- 18) Later, It was renewed to Abraham’s son Isaac, when God said to him that “all the nations” were to be “blessed.” (Genesis 26:4) To Isaac’s son Jacob it was again renewed. – Genesis 28:14, 15 Certainly Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were Justified in believing that this promise applied to all the “families,” or “nations,” of the earth who lived In their day; However, the Inhabitants of the earth who were contemporary with these patriarchs did not receive the promised blessings, nor were they offered to them. With few exceptions, all the families of the earth who have lived both before and since the days of the patriarchs have fallen asleep in death without having had an opportunity to participate In them.

Two thousand years after Abraham died, the Apostle Paul wrote about the promise God had made to Abraham and showed that it was to be fulfilled through Christ and those of this age who are “baptized into Christ”—the church. (Galatians 3:8,16,27- 29) This means that two thousand years elapsed after the promise was made before God’s chosen channel of blessing began to be developed. Jesus, primarily, is that channel; but as Paul shows, his church will be associated with him as “heirs according to the promise”; and nearly two thousand years more have elapsed in the calling and selection of the church. Meanwhile other millions continue to die without having an opportunity to receive the blessings which Jehovah promised.

However, we are assured in the Scriptures that all the millions who have died are looked upon by God as merely being “asleep” and that in his own “due time” they will be awakened from the sleep of death and be given an opportunity to receive the promised blessings. The stated purpose of God to restore the dead to life Is one of the fundamental teachings of the Word of God. It Is described in the Old Testament in various ways. Isaiah spoke of the “ransomed of the Lord” and said that they would “return.” Ezekiel mentions It as returning to a “former estate,” that Is, the state of life as In contrast with the state of death.

Jeremiah describes the resurrection as a returning from “the land of the enemy,” that Is, the great enemy, Death.—Isa 35:10; Ezekiel 16:55; Jeremiah 31:16n the New Testament the Apostle Paul wrote, “As in Adam all die, even So in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:22) In Romans 8:19- 23 Paul assures us that all creation, as well as the church of this Gospel Age, will be delivered from the corruption of death. He shows that all mankind is now “waiting for the manifestation of the sons 0f God”—waiting, that is, for the “seed” of Abraham to be completed and for the promised blessings of life to begin flowing out to the people.

In John 1:9 we read concerning Jesus that he is “the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.’ The Sodomites and other wicked people of Abraham’s day certainly were not enlightened by Christ; So this means that they too, being among “all the families of the earth,” are to e awakened from the sleep of death in order to receive that enlightenment.

Jesus said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” (John 12:32) Until the present time, comparatively few of earth’s millions have been drawn to Christ. The vast majority have died without even having heard of him or understanding the great purpose of Jehovah, which Christ came to earth to accomplish. This promise by Jesus would, therefore, go unfulfilled unless the wicked dead Revelation restored to life.

In Isaiah 25:6- 9 we are promised that a time is coming when Jehovah will make unto “all people” a “feast of fat things.” What a beautiful symbol this is to emphasize the abundance f God’s grace toward all mankind! This promise also states hat God, Jehovah, will remove the “veil that is spread over all nations.” Certainly this applies to the nations of the past as well as the present, yet the “veil” of misunderstanding concerning Jehovah was not removed from their “faces” while  they lived and will never be removed unless they are awakened from the sleep of death and enlightened by the glory of God, which will then fill the earth. It will be then that Jehovah will “swallow up death in victory.”

This will be accomplished during the messianic kingdom reign. It will be then that “all the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. For the kingdom is the Lord’s and he is the Governor among the nations.”— Ps 22:27, 28

In April 1986, the Watchtower stated that because certain first century “Christians” taught that the resurrection had already occurred, they were apostates:

Yet, on this one basic point, what they were teaching as to the time of the resurrection, Paul rightly branded them as apostates, with whom faithful Christians would not fellowship.

  “Paul wrote about some in his day: “Their word will spread like gangrene. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of that number. These very men have deviated from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already occurred; and they are subverting the faith of some.” (2 Timothy 2:17, 18; see also Matthew 18:6.) There is nothing to indicate that these men did not believe in God, in the Bible, in Jesus’ sacrifice. Yet, on this one basic point, what they were teaching as to the time of the resurrection, Paul rightly branded them as apostates, with whom faithful Christians would not fellowship.” Watchtower 4/1/86, Page 31:

In their lastest history book: Jehovah’s Witnesses: Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom published in 1993, the book shows that the founder of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society [now the legal representatives of Jehovah’s Witnessesses] Charles Taze Russell, taught that the resurrection began in 1878:

[The Bible Students] concluded that … the resurrection to spirit life of those already sleeping in death began then.

“Based on the premise that events of the first century might find parallels in related events later, they [the early Bible Students associated with C. T. Russell] also concluded that if Jesus’ baptism and anointing in the autumn of 29 C.E. paralleled the beginning of an invisible presence in 1874, then his riding into Jerusalem as King in the spring of 33 C.E. would point to the spring of 1878 as the time when he would assume his power as heavenly King. They also thought they would be given their heavenly reward at that time. When that did not occur, they concluded that since Jesus’ anointed followers were to share with him in the Kingdom, the resurrection to spirit life of those already sleeping in death began then.” Proclaimers, Page 632

Russell taught this for the remaining years of his life. The Watchtower Society was still teaching this in 1925:

It is the understanding of the consecrated that the sleeping saints were resurrected in 1878. [Watchtower 2/1/25, Page 371]

By 1927, however, the Watchtower Society said:

… the resurrection of the sleeping saints did not take place in 1878. [4]

“It seems impossible to find anything in these parallel events to indicate the resurrection of the sleeping saints in 1878… Again referring to the quotation from Volume III: The conclusion there reached, that the parallels bear upon the resurrection of the saints, results from the assumption that the Lord was supposed to have taken his power and begun his reign in 1878, and that therefore he would resurrect his saints at approximately the same time. But there is nothing to indicate that Jesus Christ took his power and began his reign in 1878. He could not consistently do so until the expiration of the Gentile Times… the Gentile Times ended in 1914, and the nations were angry, and it was the Lord’s due time to take possession and oust Satan. Seeing then that the Scriptures conclusively prove that the Lord Jesus Christ did not take his great power and begin his reign in 1878, but that he did so in 1914, it follows that the resurrection of the sleeping saints did not take place in 1878.”  Watchtower 5/15/27, Page 151

This presents a curious situation: Charles Taze Russell was an apostate according to the 1986 Watchtower, since he declared that the resurrection had already occurred.

Moreover, the Society says that Jehovah selected it as His earthly organization in 1918. At that time, they were still teaching Russell’s “apostate” interpretation.

Note: In the Watchtower (06/01/27), it was stated (on page 165) that the resurrection had in fact taken place in 1918: “The anointed and faithful ones constitute the temple of God… Such of course include both the sleeping saints and the faithful ones who afterwards have their instantaneous change… Jesus went to heaven to prepare a place for his saints… it would hardly seem that he would awaken the sleeping saints until this preparatory work was completed… it follows, then that the temple of God was brought together in 1918, and that that marks the time of the resurrection of the sleeping saints.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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