We look back to last year and with grateful hearts thanking God for all His benefits toward us. We say at the beginning of the New Year, “Praise ye the Lord; 0 give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good; for his mercy endureth forever.” (Psa. 106:1)
Earthquakes, tornadoes, fires and other tragedies have continued. “We weep with them that weep.” (Rom. 12:15) All that have experienced these tragedies have our heartfelt sympathy. Quite a few people have gone to their aid for which we are grateful. “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.” (Prov. 15:3) Crime is in every country – thievery, murder, rape, and child abuse, suicide among the young, terrorism and illegal drugs and alcohol.
We are indeed in the Time of Trouble! Disease, too, is increasing. Medical science is trying to find cures for some of our incurable diseases, and have found some relief. However, when some help is found, new diseases are uncovered. We thank God for our good doctors.
“Aids To Cause Labor Shortages In Places: WASHINGTON ‑ The virus that causes AIDS is likely to cause enough illness and death among adults in the most productive age groups to slow the growth of the labor force in developing countries, according to a recent report...
“‘This report is a call to arms for developed and developing nations alike,’ Atwood said...
“The cost of treating HIV and AIDS can be enough to send many households in developing countries into permanent poverty, and per‑capita income is likely to fall as families spend more time and money caring for the sick or dying, the report said.” (The Orlando Sentinel, December 2, 1997)
“Aids Epidemic Is Worse Than Feared, Experts Say: WASHINGTON – The AIDS epidemic is worse than anyone feared, with HIV virus infecting twice as many people as experts calculated and threatening to orphan more than 40 million children, experts said Monday. Heads of the top agencies fighting AIDS, from the United Nations to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), urged governments to give more to fight the virus and said there was new hope for preventing its spread.” (The Orlando Sentinel, December 2, 1997)
The past three years, we have discussed financing and how the present order of things is deteriorating rapidly. Today, the financial condition of the world is very unpredictable. Gold is the lowest it has been in the past 18 years and still we have poverty throughout the world. People talk about the economy being good, yet more large companies are cutting back with layoffs. Unemployment is at an all time low and the stock market is at an all time high. People change jobs more frequently than in the past. For almost three years in a row, the retail sales for Christmas have been lackluster. Factory output is declining, bargain hunters pack the stores and the discount stores are recording the biggest sales.
We quoted years ago that one of our biggest problems in the U.S. today is that we have the most expensive health care system in the world which is a problem that all businesses face – how to handle this problem without government help. It is a necessary benefit that a large employer has to cover to keep his employees, but the cost of health care is growing faster than their salaries.
More companies are hiring temps (contract employees). The employer doesn’t have to worry about Social Security, Workman Compensation or Health Insurance.
Personal debt is at an all time high yet savings and the stock market are at an all time high. “In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury [poverty].” (Prov. 14:23)
There are more billionaires and millionaires today than anytime in history. “For thus saith the Lord, Ye have sold yourselves for nought; and ye shall be redeemed without money.” (Isa. 52:3) “Thou sellest the people for nought, and dost not increase thy wealth by their price.” (Psa. 44:12)
Any economist will tell you that low employment, high debt, low inflation and a high stock market does not make economic sense. “For wisdom is a defense, and money is a defense: but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom [truth] giveth life to them that have it.” (Eccl. 7:12)
Jehovah’s Witnesses: The Witnesses claim all God’s promises to the Jews belong to them. The Lord says “Salvation is of the Jews.” (John 4:22) St. Paul says, “To the Jew first. “(Rom. 2:10) God will make a “full end” of all the nations whither He has scattered the Jews, but He will never make a “full end” of the Jews (Jer. 30:11). The prototype of the Witnesses is Papacy. The Papacy persecuted the Jews, tortured and killed them during the Dark Ages. God’s Word will always be with us (Isa. 55:11), and so will the Jews. God will not permit the destruction of His Word, nor will He permit the destruction of the Jewish nation. “I am with thee, saith the Lord, to save thee.” (Jer. 30:11) The Jewish nation is still here.
Religion is a big business for the errorists. The witnesses boast about their numbers as their strength, but their numbers are their weakness. Papacy has a much larger number than the Witnesses. However, they will all be destroyed during this Epiphany period to make room for the real Kingdom (Acts 17:31). We mean the systems will be destroyed, not the people, because there will be some good people of the world who will survive into the Kingdom (Matt. 24:22).
The Laymen’s Home Missionary Movement: The LHMM’s magazines are good. As long as they quote from Brother Russell they will be good. Their non‑existent class is not mentioned in their magazines very much. However, we are informed they still teach CONSECRATED EPIPHANY CAMPERS privately. Their trouble is they are teaching Great Company errors instead of the faith once delivered unto the saints.
“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” (Jude 3) That Servant’s comments on this text is “The common salvation – Restitution for the world.” It is our pleasure to bear witness to the world of that Glorious Kingdom (Acts 17:31).
“Bible’s English Beginning: WASHINGTON – The pope didn’t want him to do it. Nor did the King of England. Or the Holy Roman Emperor. Yet, despite their formidable opposition, William Tyndale, an ordained priest, went ahead and did the unthinkable translated the Bible into English.
“In 1526 – ten years after he set out on his quest – Tyndale prevailed over his adversaries and published the first English translation of the New Testament.
“It was, however, an achievement that he would ultimately pay for with his life. Although several thousand were printed at the time, only two complete copies of the 1526 Tyndale Bible, printed in Worms, Germany have survived to this day.
“In 1516, Tyndale appealed to the Bishop of London to produce an English version of the Bible, but his request was turned down. The Catholic Church and English throne were firmly against the creation of a Bible in any language other than Latin or Greek. Their fear was that by making God’s word more accessible, ordinary citizens, armed with independence of faith, might one day revolt against the ruling establishment.
“Undeterred, Tyndale left England for the European continent to continue his efforts. It was to be the last time he ever saw his native land.
“With the church’s religious supremacy under siege by the Reformation, Tyndale’s labors hardly went unnoticed. He soon became a marked man in the eyes of the guardians of the faith, and a target for the acrimonious rhetoric of Sir Thomas More, the chancellor of England, who vilified him as a ‘hell hound’ and a ‘beast.’
“After an attempt to print his English Bible in Cologne, Germany, ended with a raid by authorities in 1525, Tyndale took his manuscript up the Rhine River to a printer in Worms. A year later, as many as 6,000 editions of his New Testament were finally produced.
“A number of Tyndale’s Bibles were smuggled into England. Many were confiscated, however, and ceremoniously burned outside St. Paul’s Cathedral.
“In 1535, Tyndale was betrayed by a confidant in Antwerp, and kidnapped by men loyal to the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V.
. “During his imprisonment, Tyndale worked on translating the Old Testament from Hebrew, which he had started before his capture. Finally, after 16 months of incarceration, Tyndale was convicted of heresy by a secular court and sentenced to death. He was strangled and burned at the stake in Vilvorde, Belgium, on October 6, 1536. (Excerpts by Chuck Myers, The Orlando Sentinel, July 26, 1997)
Catholics: “Vatican Denies Gold Claim And Won’t Open Archives: VATICAN CITY – The Vatican denied Tuesday it had stored money and gold for Croatian fascists after World War II and said it has no plans to open its archives for the period. The Vatican restated its denial in a statement by chief spokesman Joaquin Navarro‑Valls on some of the issues that surfaced at a recent conference on Nazi gold in London. The charges first surfaced in July with news reports of the discovery of a 1946 Treasury Department document charging that the Vatican let the fascists hide gold coins and cash worth about $130 million that had been taken from Serbs and Jews.” (The Orlando Sentinel, December 10, 1997)
The Pope cannot obtain forgiveness for the sins of others, although he can express his sorrow for the misdeeds of the Dark Ages. Those that committed these horrible sins are dead and cannot repent now. But when they are resurrected in the Kingdom (Acts 17:31), if repentant, can ask forgiveness for these hideous crimes against Jews and faithful Christians. They will have to ask God to forgive them and not go to a man.
The Jews individually and as a nation have endured terrible persecutions and tortures. If these people could have killed them as a nation, they would have done so, but God would not let them. Anyone that has faith in God’s Word should realize that the Jews cannot be eliminated.
Not only Jews, but true Christians have also endured terrible cruelties and died for their faith, many being burned at the stake.
Thomas Hawkes was one of the Christians who suffered death at the stake for refusing to accept the Pope’s errors. He was asked about baptism because he refused to have his son baptized in the Catholic church. Hawkes told Bishop Bonner that he had nothing against baptism itself, just against its Catholic embellishments. When Bonner could not convince Hawkes that the Catholic service was as effective as the Protestant one, he called Mr. Harpsfield, the archdeacon of London. “Christ used ceremonies,” Harpsfield began. “Didn’t He take clay from the ground, and spit on it, and make the blind man see?” “I know that,” Hawkes replied. “But He never used it in baptism. If you want to use it, use it as Christ did.”
Hawkes was asked, “Suppose your child should die unchristened? Then both you and your child would be damned.” Hawkes retorted, “Don’t judge further than you may by the Scriptures.” Hawkes was asked, “What do you think about mass?” Hawkes replied, “I say it’s detestable, abominable, and useful for nothing.” The following day Dr. Chedsay and Bishop Bonner talked with Hawkes, asking him what he thought about the Catholic Church. Hawkes’ answer: “It’s a church of vicious cardinals, priests, monks, and friars, which I will never give credit or believe.” Hawkes went on to say that the Catholic Church engaged in the worship of idols, praying to saints, holy bread and holy wine, none of which are found in or commanded by Scriptures. He was condemned as a heretic, and burned at the stake.
Bishop Ridley was also among those faithful Christians who were charged with heresy. On September 30, 1555 he appeared before a panel of bishops to answer the charges of heresy. The Bishop of Lincoln began by urging Ridley to recant and submit himself to the Pope. The Bishop stressed three points: (1) The Pope was descended from Peter, who was the foundation of the Church. (2) That the early Church fathers confessed the Pope’s supremacy in their writings. (3) That Ridley once believed himself.
Ridley replied to the three points: (1) First, he said, it was not Peter who was the Church’s foundation, but Peter’s confession that Christ was the Son of God. This belief is the foundation of the Church, not mere man. (2) Secondly, the Bishop of Rome was supreme in the early Church because the city of Rome was supreme in the world of the day, not because he had any more religious power than the other bishops. As long as the diocese of Rome was true to the gospel, its bishops deserved respect from everyone in the Church, but as soon as they began setting themselves above kings and emperors for their own honor, the bishops of Rome became anti‑Christian. (3) To the last point Ridley admitted he did once believe as they did, just as Paul was once a prosecutor of Christ.
The following articles were then put forward against him (and Latimer): (1) He maintained that the true body of Christ was not present in the bread and wine. (2) He taught that the bread and wine remained bread and wine after consecration. (3) He believed that the mass is not a propitiatory sacrifice for the living and the dead. (4) That Dr. Weston and others declared these beliefs heretical. (5) That all the above is true and well‑known.
Ridley was asked to reply to the charges with simple yes or no answers and was promised that he could amend his answers the next day, when he’d had more time to think about them. Before he answered, Ridley protested that whatever he said, he would be saying it unwillingly and his answering would not indicate that he accepted either the panel’s or the Pope’s authority over him.
To the first charge, he said that Christ’s body and blood were present spiritually in the bread and wine, but not physically. To the second, he replied that the bread and wine remain bread and wine after consecration. To the third, he said that Christ made one perfect sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. Communion was an acceptable sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, but saying it removed man’s sins implied that Christ’s work was not enough. To the fourth, Ridley replied that his beliefs had been declared heretical by Dr. Watson, but unjustly. To the fifth, that he believed exactly what he said, although he didn’t know what everyone thought of his beliefs.
Ridley arrived on October 1 with his answers to the charges written out, asking permission to read them to the crowd that filled St. Mary’s Church. But he was forced to turn his papers over to the bishops first, and they declared them heretical, refusing to read them aloud. In return, Ridley refused to answer their questions, saying all his answers were contained in his written replies. He was condemned as a heretic and turned over to the secular authorities for punishment. Latimer was brought in. He agreed to answer the panel’s charges again, but his answers were the same as the day before and he refused to recant. He was also condemned and turned over to the authorities.
The morning of October 15, the Bishop of Gloucester (Dr. Brooks) and the vice chancellor of Oxford (Dr. Marshall), along with others from the university, arrived at Mayor Irish’s house, where Ridley was being held a prisoner. Ridley was given the opportunity to rejoin the Church. When he refused, they forced him to go through the ceremony expelling him from the priesthood. The ceremony over, Ridley read a petition to the queen asking that she help Ridley’s sister and brother‑in‑law and others who had depended on him for their support. Dr. Brooks promised to forward the petition to the queen, but doubted she would honor it.
That night Ridley’s beard and legs were washed. At supper, he invited everyone in the mayor’s house to his burning, as well as his sister and brother. When the mayor’s wife began to cry, he comforted her by saying, “Quiet yourself. Though my breakfast will be somewhat sharp and painful, I’m sure my supper will be pleasant and sweet.”
Ridley and Latimer were to be burned on the north side of Oxford, in a ditch by Baliol College, well guarded by the queen’s orders. When everything was ready, they were brought out by the mayor and bailiffs. Ridley wore a furred black gown, velvet nightcap, and slippers. Latimer wore a worn frock, a buttoned cap, and new long shroud hanging down to his feet.
Looking back, Ridley saw Latimer following him. “Oh. Are you here? “he called. “Yes. As fast as I can follow,” Latimer answered.
Ridley reached the stake first. Holding up his hands, he first looked toward heaven. When Latimer arrived, Ridley ran to him cheerfully, held him, and kissed him, saying, “Be of good cheer, brother, for God will either assuage the fury of the flame or else strengthen us to bear it.” After they said their prayers, the two men talked quietly together for a little while, but no one knows what they said.
The officers prevented Ridley and Latimer from answering the sermon that was given by Dr. Smith. They would be allowed to speak only if it were to recant.
Ridley cheerfully gave away his clothing and other items he possessed, then asked Lord Williams to do what he could to help those who depended on him for their living. The chain was fastened around the two men. “Good fellow, tie it tight, for the flesh will have its way,” Ridley commented. Then his brother brought him a bag of gunpowder to hang around his neck. “I will take it to be sent by God, therefore I will receive it as sent of Him. And do you have some for my brother?” Told he did, Ridley sent his brother to Latimer before it was too late. Then they brought a torch and laid it at Ridley’s feet. “Be of good comfort, brother Ridley, and play the man,” Latimer called. “We shall this day light such a candle by God’s grace in England, as I trust shall never be put out.”
When Ridley saw the flames leap up, he cried with a loud voice, “Lord, into Thy hands I commend my spirit. Lord, receive my spirit!”
The sight of Ridley and Latimer’s struggle moved hundreds in the crowd to tears, seeing years of study and knowledge, all the godly virtues, so much dignity and honor all consumed in one moment. Well, they are gone, and the rewards of this world they already have. What a reward remains for them in heaven on the day of the Lord’s glory, when He comes with His saints! (From Foxe’s Christian Martyrs, by John Foxe)
Tolerance: “A newly issued Vatican guidebook on how the Roman Catholic faith should be taught urges Catholics to overcome all forms of anti‑Semitism.
“The 300‑page guidebook, prepared for use by religion teachers, tells the teachers to pay particular attention to Judaism and promote ‘tolerance, understanding and dialogue.’” (World Jewry, October 1997)
Hate Campaign: “The Manchester Guardian reports that during the recent national election campaign in Poland, the country’s Catholic radio station – which has five million listeners – was a strong supporter of the Solidarity Party, railing against ‘Jewish Freemason plots’ to take over Poland, and calling for a President who was a Catholic, not a ‘Communist Jew.’” (World Jewry, October 1997)
“Move To Make U.S. Priest A Saint Is Pushing Ahead: HARTFORD, CONN. – A hardworking, Irish‑American priest who died 107 years ago deserves to be made a saint, his supporters said Thursday as a campaign began to evaluate his worthiness for sainthood. The Rev. Michael McGivney, born in Waterbury, Conn., the son of Irish immigrants, founded the Knights of Columbus in New Haven, Conn., in 1882. He died of tuberculosis in 1890, at age 38. If the McGivney movement succeeds, he would be the first U.S.‑born male and the first U.S.‑born parish priest to be canonized, church officials said.” (The Orlando Sentinel, December 19, 1997)
God knows who are His (2 Tim. 2:19). The McGivney movement, the Popes nor any other man has the power to make anyone a saint. Only God can do that! God is the heart searcher.
The following is from That Servant: “A New Dogma: The ‘Assumption’ Of Virgin Mary: It is nearly fifty years since Pope Pius IX decreed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of our Lord’s mother. The present pope, Pius X, it is said, purposes soon to decree that it shall be the faith of Romanism that the Virgin’s flesh did not corrupt in death – that she was received direct into heaven. It is conceded that the place and time of her death are not certainly known. On the strength of this lack of knowledge the Pope assumes that she experienced ‘Assumption.’
“The dogma of the Virgin’s immaculate conception is not only contrary to the Word of God – that condemnation passed upon all of Adam’s posterity – but it reflects against the Divine character and plan thus: If God could justly and properly so arrange that one of Adam’s race should be born sinless He might have done the same for us all. And if our birth in sin is God’s fault, to that extent He is responsible for all the deformity, mental and physical, with which we are born. In that event Christ’s death as the ransom price for Adamic sin was unnecessary. Let God be true – let His Word stand, though it make every creed and dogma of men appear foolish.
“Similarly the dogma of the Assumption is unscriptural. Ascension to glory is to come by resurrection. Our Lord Himself was the first‑born from the dead, and no member of His Church was to be received into glory with Him until He would ‘come again and receive us unto himself.’ (John 14:3)” Pastor Russell, Reprint 3329, March 1, 1904)
“The Pope’s Hail Mary: Will Mary‑loving Pope John Paul II cap his career by declaring a new dogma? A recent anthology from a small Roman Catholic publisher in Santa Barbara, Calif., predicts that as early as next year, John Paul will exercise his power of infallibility to declare Mary the Co‑Redemptrix of humanity and ‘Mediatrix’ of all graces. That would make her a participant in salvation – along with her son Jesus Christ. There has long been talk of such a move, since devotion to Catholicism’s Queen of Heaven is never far from the heart of this Pontiff.
“Last year the Vatican quietly asked a special international panel of theologians for advice. The Vatican daily newspaper disclosed last week that the advice was unanimous – leave things be. Among the reasons: Popes have shunned Co‑Redemptrix talk for a half century; the bishops of Second Vatican Council (1962‑65) decided not to give Mary any new titles; and such a dogma could raise ‘ecumenical difficulties.’ Translation: Protestants and Orthodox would go into orbit, feeling Christ has been demeaned as the unique Savior. (By Richard N. Time Magazine, June 16, 1997)
Episcopal: “Episcopalians Bolster Law On Ordaining Women: PHILADELPHIA – In a dramatic strengthening of church law permitting women priests, the Episcopal Church moved Friday to crack down on a handful of bishops who have refused to ordain qualified women in their dioceses.
“Bishops who refuse to ordain women would be subject to a church trial if the resolution is approved. The resolution is specifically directed at the church’s four bishops who refuse to ordain women.
“The fact that four Episcopal bishops still will not ordain women more than two decades after church law permitted it has been a sore point within the church.
“Bishop Frederick H. Borsch of Los Angeles said it is time for the church to bring the four bishops into conformity with church law. ‘We’ve been patient for a generation and I think it’s time – slowly, carefully, thoughtfully – to see that... we have the ministries of ordained women,’ he said in an interview before the vote.’” (Excerpts by Larry B. Stammer, The Los Angles Times, July 19, 1997)
“But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” (1 Tim. 2:12) “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.” (1 Cor. 14:34)
LUTHERAN: “Lutherans OK Historic Pact With Three Other Denominations: PHILADELPHIA – Leaders of the nation’s largest Lutheran denomination voted on Monday to enter into a historic agreement for close cooperation with three other denominations but narrowly rejected establishing similar ties with the Episcopal Church.
“In approving a document called the Formula of Agreement, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America decided to bridge gaps within Protestantism – ones that have existed nearly since the Reformation – between the faith’s Lutheran and Reformed traditions. Although not a merger, the document calls for ‘full communion’ between the 5.2 million member Lutheran denomination and three other churches, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the United Church of Christ and the Reformed Church in America, which together account for about 5 million baptized members.
“Its practical effect means that the churches retain their creeds and theological traditions, but fully recognize each other’s sacraments and clergy members and can collaborate in missionary work and major social service projects.
“A key provision of the agreement provides for ‘exchangeability’ of clergy members, an important consideration in the case of hundreds of small congregations whose meager finances keep them on the edge of survival. Under this provision, for example, an isolated Lutheran church that could not afford a full‑time pastor could share the services of a minister from a nearby Presbyterian church, thereby possibly freeing up money for purposes like a day‑care program or food pantry.
“For that reason, the Lutherans’ decision to vote down a similar agreement with the 2.5 million‑member Episcopal Church – an action by which Lutherans effectively truncated their role as a unifying Protestant force – came as a bitter blow to some. But the vote on the Lutheran‑Episcopal document, called the Concordat of Agreement, fell a mere six votes short of the necessary majority. Some members wept with disappointment after the vote. Others said the agreement failed because of persistent fears among some Lutherans of binding themselves to a church in which bishops play so large a role.
“Afterwards, Lutheran officials, as well as representatives of the other Protestant churches involved, appeared stunned by the mixed results.
“The Rev. Dan Martensen, director of the Lutherans’ Department of Ecumenical Affairs, said he felt ‘sadness’ over the vote against the Lutheran‑Episcopal agreement. But the Lutherans’ top officer, Presiding Bishop H. George Anderson – who has been widely praised here for supporting the agreements while also allowing their opponents ample opportunity to speak against them – called for respecting the voting results. ‘I really think that what we saw today was a quite honest and accurate reflection of where the Lutheran Church is,’ he said.” (Excerpts by Gustav Niebuhr, The New York Times, August 19, 1997)
“Behold, they shall surely gather together, but not by me: whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall for thy sake.” (Isa. 54:15)
(To be continued)