It is now seventy-one years since Brother Russell left us; and, as promised in our paper No. 373 of last October, we shall now continue with some observations concerning him as gleaned from the book of Jeremiah, beginning with Chapter three.
In Jer. 3:1 there is the emphatic condemnation of Israel for their evil conduct, the same being pointedly applicable to apostate Christendom prior to 1914. And seeing this very clearly, Brother Russell just as emphatically flogged Christendom in like manner. “Thou hast polluted the land with thy wickedness.” (v. 2) And for this reason the showers of Present Truth were withheld from them, causing them to consider that Truth as gross error. (v. 3) “The water which thou takest out of the river shall become blood (error) upon the dry land.” (Ex. 4:9) “Thou gavest them also blood (error) to drink; they deserve it.” (Rev. 16:6, Dia.) But they asked the impudent question, My father, art thou not the guide of my youth?” (v. 4) Yet the accusation is thrust back at them: “Thou has spoken and done evil things as thou couldest.” (v.5)
During the period of 1874 to 1893 God asked Brother Russell whether he had seen the evil deeds of apostate Christendom as they approached the state in every great kingdom and every energetic leader – anyone or anything that showed promise of increased power and wealth for them. “Thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing.” (Rev. 3:17) This conduct reached a climax in the 1893 Chicago congress of religions, where the idea is promulgated that it makes no difference what one believes so long as he is sincere – Combinationism of the worst sort. Today we have prominent evangelists preaching the same thing: Join any religion you wish, just so you join something – a far cry from the Apostle Paul’s teaching: “One Lord, one faith, one baptism.” (Eph. 4:5) “Neither let us commit fornication [illicit union of church and state], as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.” (1 Cor. 10:8) But in spite of that evil the invitation came yet once more, “Turn thou unto me; but she returned not.” (v. 7); but “defiled the land.” (v. 9) Yet the invitation came once again – through a world-wide ministry of Brother Russell and associates – “Return, thou backsliding Israel ... for I am merciful.” (v. 12)
“A PROPHET UNTO THE NATIONS”
In our paper of last October (in 1976) on this same subject we offered some detailed comment in applying Jeremiah 1:5 to Brother Russell: “I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” So far as we know, Brother Russell never applied this prophecy to himself; but what he wrote, what he said and what he did clearly point him out as the antitype of the Prophet Jeremiah. Note the close similarity in many of the words, phrases and clauses in Vol. 4, The Battle of Armageddon, that are found in the book of Jeremiah. To substantiate this we now quote excerpts from Vol. 4 of the Scripture Studies:
“In this critical hour it is, alas! a lamentable fact that the wholesome spirit of ‘The Great Reformation’ is dead. Protestantism is no longer a protest against the spirit of antichrist, nor against the world, the flesh or the devil. Its creeds at war with the Word of God, with reason, and with each other, and inconsistent with themselves, they seek to hide from public scrutiny.” (pp. 161, bottom, and 162, top)
And on p. 182, Brother Russell treats of The Great Parliament of Religions. “The Chicago Herald, commenting favorably upon the proceedings of the Parliament, said: ‘Never since the confusion at Babel have so many religions, so many creeds, stood side by side hand in hand, and almost heart to heart, as in that great amphitheater last night. (in 1893) Never since written history began has varied mankind been so bound about with Love’s golden chain. The nations of the earth, the creeds of Christendom, Buddhist and Baptist, Mohammedan and Methodist, Catholic and Confusian, Brahmin and Unitarian, Shinto and Episcopalian, Presbyterian and Pantheist, Monotheist and Polytheist, representing all shades of thought and conditions of men, have at last met together in the common bonds of sympathy, humanity and respect.’
“How significant is the fact that the mind of even this enthusiastic approver of the great Parliament should be carried away back to the memorable confusion of tongues at Babel! What is not, indeed, that instinctively he recognized in the Parliament a remarkable antitype?
“The Rev. Barrows .... spoke enthusiastically of the friendly relations manifested among Protestant ministers, Catholic priests, Jewish rabbis and, in fact, the leaders of all religions extant .... He said: ‘The old idea, that the religion to which I belong is the only true one, is out of date. There is something to be learned from all religions, and no man is worthy of the religion he represents unless he is willing to grasp any man by the hand as his brother. Some one has said that the time is now ripe for the best religion to come to the front. The time for putting on any airs or superiority about his particular religion is past.’ ... The New York Sun, in an editorial on this subject said: ‘We cannot make out exactly what the Parliament proposes to accomplish’ ... It is possible, however, that the Chicago scheme is to get up some sort of a new and compound religion, which shall include and satisfy every variety of religious and irreligious opinion. It is a big job to get us a new and eclectic religion satisfactory all around; but Chicago is confident.’
“It would indeed be strange if the spirit of Christ and the spirit of the world would suddenly prove to be in harmony, that those filled with the opposite spirits should see eye to eye. But such is not the case. It is still true that the spirit of the world is enmity to God (James 4:4); that its theories and philosophies are vain and foolish; and that the one Divine revelation contained in the inspired Scriptures of the apostles and prophets is the only divinely inspired truth.” (pp. 182, 183)
“The theme announced for the last day of the Parliament was, ‘The Religious Union of the Whole Human Family’; when would be considered ‘The elements of perfect religion as recognized and set forth in the different faiths,’ with a view to determining the ‘characteristics of the ultimate religion’ and ‘the center of coming religious unity of mankind.’
“Is it possible that thus, by their own confession, Christian (?) ministers are unable, at this late day, to determine what should be the center of religious unity, or the characteristics of perfect religion? Are they indeed so anxious for a ‘world religion’ that they are willing to sacrifice any or all of the principles of true Christianity, and even the name ‘Christian’, if necessary, to obtain it? Even so, they confess. ‘Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked and slothful servant, saith the Lord.’“ (pp. 185, 186)
“The great religious Parliament was called together by Christians, Protestant Christians; it was held in a professedly Protestant Christian land; and was under the leading and direction of Protestant Christians, so that Protestants may be considered as responsible for all its proceedings. Be it observed, then, that the present spirit of Protestantism is that of compromise and faithlessness. This Parliament was willing to compromise Christ and his gospel for the sake of the friendship of antichrist and heathendom. It gave the honors of both opening and closing its deliberations to representatives of papacy. And it is noteworthy that, while the faiths of the various heathen nations were elaborately set forth by their representatives, there was no systematic presentation of Christianity in any of its phases, although various themes were discoursed upon by Christians. How strange it seems that such an opportunity to preach the gospel of Christ to representative, intelligent and influential heathen should be overlooked and ignored by such an assemblage! Were the professed representatives of Christ’s gospel ashamed of the gospel of Christ? (Rom. 1:16) In the discourses Roman Catholics had by far the largest showing, being represented no less than sixteen times in the sessions of the Parliament.
“And not only so, but there were those there, professing Christianity, who earnestly busied themselves in tearing down its fundamental doctrines – who told the representative heathen of their doubts as to the inerrancy of the Christian Scriptures; that the Bible accounts must be received with a large degree of allowance for fallibility; and that their teachings must be supplemented with human reason and philosophy, and only accepted to the extent that they accord with these. There were those there, professing to be Orthodox Christians, who repudiated the doctrine of the ransom, which is the only foundation of true Christian faith, others, denying the fall of man, proclaimed the opposite theory of evolution, – that man never was created perfect, that he never fell, and that consequently he needed no redeemer; that since his creation in some very low condition, far removed from the ‘Image of God,’ he has been gradually coming up, and is still in the process of an evolution whose law is the survival of the fittest. And this, the very opposite of the Bible doctrine of ransom and restitution, was the most popular view.” (pp. 187,188)
“Said the Rev. Dr. Rexford of Boston (Universalist): ‘I would that we might all confess that a sincere worship, anywhere and everywhere in the world, is a true worship. ... The unwritten but dominant creed of this hour I assume to be that, whatever worshiper in all the world bends before The Best he knows, and walks true to the purest light that shines for him, has access to the highest blessings of heaven.’
“He surely did strike the key-note of the present dominant religious sentiment; but did the Apostle Paul so address the worshipers of ‘The Unknown God’ on Mars Hill? Or did Elijah thus defend the priests of Baal? Paul declares that the only access to God is through faith in Christ’s sacrifice for our sins; and Peter says, ‘There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:12; 17:23-31) (page 190)
“The Rev. James Devine of New York City said: ‘We are brought now to another fundamental truth in Christian teaching, the mysterious doctrine of atonement. Sin is a fact which is indisputable. It is universally recognized and acknowledged... God cannot tolerate sin or temporize with it or make a place for it in his presence. He cannot parley with it; he must punish it. He cannot treat with it; he must try it at the bar. He cannot overlook it; he must overcome it. He cannot give it a moral status; he must visit it with the condemnation it deserves.’ (Page 198)
“‘Christianity must speak in the name of God. To him it owes its existence... It has no philosophy of evolution to propound.’ (page 199) ‘It speaks, then, to other religions with unqualified frankness and plainness, based on its own incontrovertible claim to a hearing... All this it does with a superb and unwavering tone of quiet insistence. It often presses its claim with argument, appeal and tender urgency; yet in it all and through it all should be recognized a clear, resonant, predominant tone of uncompromising insistence, revealing that supreme personal will which originated Christianity, and in whose name it ever speaks...’” (pages 201, 202)
“In marked contrast with the general spirit of the Parliament was also the discourse of Mr. Grant, of Canada: ‘It seems to me that we should begin this Parliament of Religions, not with a consciousness that we are doing a great thing, but with an humble and lowly confession of sin and failure. Why have not the inhabitants of the world fallen before the truth? The fault is ours. The Apostle Paul, looking back centuries of marvelous, God-guided history, saw as the key to all its maxims this: that Jehovah had stretched out his hands all day long to a disobedient and gainsaying people; that, although there was always a remnant of the righteous, Israel as a nation did not understand Jehovah, and therefore failed to understand her own marvelous mission. If St. Paul were here today would he not utter the same sad confession with regard to the nineteenth century of Christendom? Would he not have to say that we have been proud of our Christianity, instead of allowing our Christianity to humble and crucify us; that we have boasted of Christianity as something we possessed, instead of allowing it to possess us; that we have divorced it from the moral and spiritual order of the world, instead of seeing that it is that which interpenetrates, interprets, completes and verifies that order; and that so we have hidden its glories and obscured its power. All day long our Savior has been saying, ‘I have stretched out my hands to a disobedient and gainsaying people. But the only one indispensable condition of success is that we recognize the cause of our failure, that we confess it, with humble, lowly, penitent and obedient minds, and that with quenchless Western courage and faith we now go forth and do otherwise.’
“Would that these sentiments had found an echo in the great Parliament! – but they did not. On the other hand, it was characterized by great boastfulness and to the ‘marvelous religious progress of the nineteenth century’; and Count Bernstorff’s first impression, that it meant a bold compromise of Christian principles and doctrine, was the correct one, as the subsequent sessions of the Parliament proved.
“The confident and assertive attitude of Catholicism and the various heathen religions was in marked contrast with the skepticism of Protestant Christianity. Not a sentence was uttered by any of them against the authority of their sacred books; they praised and commended their religions, while they listened with surprise to the skeptical and infidel discourses of Protestant Christians against the Christian religion and against the Bible, for which even the heathen showed greater respect.” (pages 203, 204)
“As evidence of the surprise of the foreigners on learning of this state of things among Christians, we quote the following from the published address of one of the delegates from Japan at a great meeting held in Yokohama to welcome their return and to hear their report: ‘When we received the invitation to attend the Parliament of Religions, our Buddhist organization would not send us as representatives of the body. The great majority believed that it was a shrewd move on the part of Christians to get us there and then hold us up to ridicule or try to convert us. We accordingly went as individuals. But it was a wonderful surprise which awaited us. Our ideas were all mistaken. The Parliament was called because the Western nations have come to realize the weakness and folly of Christianity, and they really wished to hear from us of our religion, and to learn what the best religion is. There is no better place in the world to propagate the teachings of Buddhism than America. [We observe here that some heathen religions – saturated with spiritism – are presently making great progress here in America, eighty years after Volume 4 was written.] Christianity is merely an adornment of society in America. It is deeply believed by very few. The great majority of Christians drink and commit various gross sins, and live very dissolute lives, although it is a very common belief and serves as a social adornment. Its lack of power proves its weakness. The meetings showed the great superiority of Buddhism over Christianity, and the mere fact of calling the meetings showed that the Americans and other Western people had lost their faith in Christianity and were ready to accept the teachings of our superior religion.’
It is no wonder that a Japanese Christian said, at the close of the address, ‘How could American Christians make so great a mistake as to hold such a meeting and injure Christianity as these meetings will do in Japan?’ (page 105)
“The closing sentiments of the great Parliament show how determined is this spirit of compromise an the part of Protestant Christianity. So desperate are the straits to which the judgment of this day has driven them, that they hail with the greatest enthusiasm the least indication of a disposition toward union even on the part of the very grossest forms of heathenism. (page 233)
“But while the general impression created by the great Parliament was that it was the first step, and a long one, toward a realization of the angel’s message at the birth of Christ, of peace on earth and good will toward men, rightly viewed it was another manifestation of the faithlessness of Christendom. Surely, as saith the prophet, ‘The wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid., (Isa. 29:14) And again we hear him say, ‘Associate yourselves, O ye people, and ye shall be broken in pieces; and give ear, all ye of far countries: gird [bind] yourselves [together] and ye shall be broken in pieces. Take counsel together, and it shall come to naught; speak the word [for Unity] and it shall not stand.’ (Isa. 8:9,10)
“With the Psalmist we would again propound the question, ‘Why do the people imagine a vain thing? [Why do they cry Peace! Peace! when there is no peace?] The kings of the earth [civil and ecclesiastical] set themselves and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure., (Psa. 2:1-5)
“When spiritual Israel now, like fleshly Israel anciently – abandon his Word and his leading, and seek to ally themselves with the nations that know not God, and to blend divine truth with the world’s philosophies, they take such steps at a peril that they do not realize; and they would do well to mark God’s recompenses to his ancient people, and take warning.” (pages 238, 239)
The foregoing is merely selected excerpts from Vol. 4, The Battle of Armageddon; but we continue now with a few paragraphs from the author’s foreword dated October 1, 1916:
“The first edition of this volume was published in 1897 [90 years ago, yet it sounds as though it were written this year]. It relates to the closing epoch of this Gospel Age, the overlapping between it and the New Dispensation – a period which brings to the world wonderful blessings, which, in turn, because of unpreparedness of heart, more and more become causes of friction, discontent, trouble. If the blessings of the last 42 years [from 1874 to 1916] were to continue at the present rate of increase, the discontent of humanity would likewise increase [the evidence of which is presently about us in unmistakable current events], and the very purpose of God in the establishment of Messiah’s Kingdom and the blessing of humanity thru it, would be frustrated.
“Describing our day in the prophecy of Daniel, our Lord says, “Many shall run to and fro and knowledge shall be increased. The wise shall understand, and there shall be a time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation.” (Dan. 12:1-4, 10) In other words, the increase of knowledge is responsible for the increase of discontent and fear which are bringing Armageddon, or the Day of Vengeance of God, upon the whole world.”
Even among the better intellects of men – not instructed in Present Truth – some see this sore developing; and some of them admit their helplessness to provide a cure. We ourselves know that the only cure will be the fruition of the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” As we say once more God bless his memory, we close with the quotation of poetry that was published in the Nov. 15, 1916 Watch Tower as a tribute to him!
“Loved and hated! Revered and reviled!
Spurned and courted! Flattered, defiled!
With never a falter and never a frown
He kept to his moorings, and laid his life down
In the place where God put him. What more can be said
For soldier or hero? For living or dead?
He wept with the anguished; he smiled with the glad;
He lifted the fallen; he heartened the sad;
He pitied the sinner, inspired the saint;
He strengthened the feeble, recovered the faint.
God gave him a Message — he gave it to men;
He patiently told it again and again.
“When men’s eyes were blinded and ears could not hear,
And men’s souls were stunted by folly or fear,
When minds were beclouded by dullness or doubt
He maneuvered the Message and turned it about
Till ‘the wayfaring man, though a fool’, could behold
And hear the glad Gospel he patiently told.
And yet will like rabble as stood by the Cross,
Not knowing their folly, not sensing their loss,
Flouting and scouting and wagging their head
Stand by in contempt while we weep o’er our dead,
Dishonoring the prophet of this, their own time.
And crowning him saint when the World sees their crime.
“Behold now the Man? — Or wait world-old way
To pay him the tribute we owe him today?
Stand reverently now, with uncovered head,
And look at ‘that Servant’ and honor the dead!
A man has gone from us, leaving none in his place,
Yet his Message of Truth men can never efface.
He’d the mind of a master, the heart of a child,
The courage of Caesar, a soul undefiled.
He’d the love of a father, a shepherd’s kind care,
The faults of a human and sympathy rare.
He lifted a standard and held it up high.
He lived — ready to live and ready to die!”
While we consider the office and work of the Parousia Messenger were much more important than that done by the Epiphany Messenger, we would stress our warm approval and appreciation of his character and the work he did. He valiantly and tenaciously retained and defended the Parousia Truth as given us through Brother Russell, and built his Epiphany structure upon that Truth. He emphasized that advancing Truth is not intended to destroy fundamental Truth already established, but simply enlarges and strengthens the Truth we already have; and we know from our own personal and intimate association with him that he was fully sincere in that belief. We were close personal friends and co-workers together from early in the Epiphany until the day of his death and we are indebted to him for much of our understanding on Jeremiah. So we say of him also, God bless his memory! We honor these faithful servants when we keep the faith “once delivered unto the saints.” God honored them by making them His mouthpieces, and it is our pleasure and privilege to honor whom God honors.
Sincerely your brother, John J. Hoefle, Pilgrim
(Reprint No. 268, October 1977)
QUESTION: – Does That Servant teach that the Epiphany and the “Time of Trouble” are one and the same, as does the Epiphany Messenger?
ANSWER: – Yes, That Servant teaches the same as the Epiphany Messenger on the “Time of Trouble.” Both teach that “The Time of Trouble” began in its wide sense in 1874, but in its narrow sense the “Time of Trouble” began in 1914 when the World War started. In its “narrow sense” – beginning the destruction of Christendom and the Nominal Church – the Epiphany and the “Great Tribulation” are one and the same. As most Truth people know, Sodom types Christendom and the Nominal Church, and Egypt types the world of mankind – this “present evil world.” (Rev. 11:8 – See Berean Comments)
In “The Battle of Armageddon”. Parousia book 4, is this: “Her destruction will have a beginning by the end of the appointed “Times of the Gentiles” – 1914.” And on p. 158 of this book: “These [the Little Flock] have no share in the judgment of great Babylon, but are previously enlightened and called out of her. (Rev. 18:4)” And from the Reprints we quote the following:
“To the very best of our ability we have endeavored to make clear that the parousia of our Lord is wholly different from His epiphaneia. Both of these Greek words are translated ‘coming’ in our common Bible, but in the Greek they have very different significations. The word parousia signifies presence, but does not signify any outward manifestation of that presence. It is used in respect to the first stage of the second advent, in which our Lord is said to come “as a thief in the night” to reckon with his own servants and to take the faithful of them with Him to the heavenly mansion or condition prepared for them.
“Our Lord’s parousia and the gathering of the elect, we understand, has been in progress since October, 1874. It will continue until all of the “elect” shall have been gathered and glorified. In one sense our Lord will continue to be present as the world’s King to the conclusion of the Millennial Age; but His parousia, in the sense of secrecy of presence, will terminate when, as the Scriptures, declare, ‘He shall be revealed in flaming fire (judgments), taking vengeance on all who will not obey the truth,’ but enlightening and revivifying all who will hear and, to the extent of their opportunity, obey His message. The parousia is to the church and for the church only. The epiphaneia or apokalupsis of the Lord in power and great glory is not to the church, nor for the church, but to the world and for the world.” (Reprints 4543, bottom)
“Emphasizing the suddenness with which the calamity will overtake the world, Jesus said that on the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained down fire and brimstone from heaven; and He declared that thus it will be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed. The Greek text shows a difference between the parousia, or presence, of Christ before the time of trouble, and the later epiphaneia, or revealing,” (Reprints 5456, top, col. 2, par. 2)
“The Scriptures indicate that the Gentile governments will receive from their own peoples their first notice that their lease of power has expired. The people will take note of the sign of the Son of Man in the heavens. The judgments of the Lord will begin to be manifest in the world, and will run counter to many of their interests. This manifestation of His presence is Scripturally called the epiphaneia, the shining forth, the revealment, of the King of Glory. ‘He shall be revealed in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ (2 Thes. 1:7-10) As a result, the nations of earth will be broken to pieces like a potter’s vessel.—Psa. 2:8, 9” – (Reprints 5527, col. 2, ¶ 2)
There is more from That Servant that will prove that the Epiphany Messenger simply elaborated on his teachings regarding the “Time of Trouble,” or the Great Tribulation, as the Epiphany period, but what we have given will suffice for now. Quite a few of the brethren have lost sight of this Truth – even the LHMM, founded by the Epiphany Messenger, now teaches that we are in the beginning Basileia since 1954 – the overlapping of the Epiphany – when three major stages of the Great Tribulation are yet future. one section of the Epiphany brethren teaches that there are four periods – the Parousia, Epiphany, Apokalypse (a separate period) and the Basileia – something never taught by Brothers Russell and Johnson; nor do the Scriptures support this claim. “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing (the Epiphany) and his kingdom (the Basileia).” The way the Apokalypsis brethren teach, this text should read: “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing (the Epiphany) and at his revealing, or Apokalypsis (a separate period from his “appearing”) and his kingdom (Basileia).”
To some extent the LHMM teaches four periods of the Lord’s Second Advent – the Parousia, the Epiphany, the “Overlapping,” which will witness three more severe stages of the Great Tribulation, as well as the annihilation of the Man of Sin (2 Thes. 2:8), and the Basileia. Their “overlapping” has no similarity to the overlapping of the Parousia of 26 months (1914 to Nov. 1916). As it is now more than 32 years overlapping, and we are not yet in Armageddon, the second stage of the Great Tribulation, with Anarchy and Jacob’s trouble still future after that.
We are living in the day when “they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Tim. 4:3,4) Some of the Lord’s people who have received present truth are now setting much of it aside for opinions of their own. Some now say the end of the “Times of the Gentiles” is still future, and we are not in the “Time of Trouble” since 1914 - although some of the thinking worldlings realize the world is in a “Time of Trouble” such as has never been before. Some deny our Lord’s presence; the Jehovah’s Witnesses are teaching that Armageddon will destroy not only this present system of things, but also annihilate all who do not join with them before Armageddon. This is “bad news” to those whose eyes are blinded (?) and do not accept their teachings. They teach that the world is not so blinded today, as not to be able to recognize the truth (?) they are now teaching - that when they have had a chance to “learn of them,” and don’t accept them, it will be their last chance. This is much the same as the Papacy has taught: You must accept us, or receive eternal torment!
(By Brother Hoefle, Reprint in No. 268, October 1997)
QUESTION: – Much has been said about the “repentant and believing” in the “finished picture” of the Epiphany Camp. Exactly what is meant by “repentant and believing” Jews and Gentiles?
ANSWER: – To repent means “to amend or resolve to amend one’s life as a result of contrition for one’s sins.” (Webster) And “believing” means to accept Jesus as Savior. If they were sincere they began to practice righteousness and abhor sin. Such “repentant and believing” have entered the Court, and thereby received Tentative Justification. This condition maintained put them in a position to consecrate, and if faithful would become one of the elect. This applies to all during the Gospel Age who were truly “repentant and believing”
However, the privilege of entering the Court is not given to the “repentant and believing” of those in the “finished picture” of the Epiphany. They do not enter the Court and do not receive Tentative Justification. But such people are in position to receive the Holy Spirit that is poured out “for all flesh” (Joel 2:28) when the New Covenant is inaugurated – before the unbelieving and unrepentant Jews and Gentiles can receive the Holy Spirit, although it is poured out for all who eventually become “repentant and believing”
The question may be asked, Can such “repentant and believing” Jews and Gentiles consecrate in the Epiphany Camp? Yes, of course, consecration is always in order. As That Servant has truly said, that is always the proper attitude for all mankind. However, to be “repentant and believing” and practice righteousness, is a consecration to do what is right insofar as they are able: Thus they practice duty-love toward God and Man. Consecration has two parts – one part by the consecrator, and the other part, God’s acceptance. But God does not deal with Restitutionists, either during this Age or during the Mediatorial reign. He has put all Restitutionists in the hands of the Mediator Christ and the Church. When the New Covenant is inaugurated such “repentant and believing” Jews and Gentiles will be among the first to receive the Kingdom blessings, as they gladly accept its requirements.
Cornelius was in much the same position at the beginning of the Age – before the door was opened for the Gentiles – as the “repentant and believing” Jews and Gentiles of the Epiphany Camp in the “finished picture.” The difference with Cornelius, God accepted his consecration when the “due time” arrived for the Gentiles to become prospective members of Christ’s Body. But when the “due time” arrives for Restitutionists to receive the Holy Spirit, The Christ will accept their consecration. The similarity of Cornelius and the “repentant and believing” Jews and Gentiles of the Epiphany Camp is this: That Servant has said, No doubt Cornelius and his house had already accepted Christ, because the Holy Spirit was poured out upon them “even while Peter yet spake.” However, God did not accept Cornelius’ consecration until the “due time” arrived. Nor will The Christ accept Restitutionists’ consecration until the “times of refreshing” have come (Acts 3:19-21), and the New Covenant is inaugurated.
Of course, when we speak of the “repentant and believing” we do not include the mere professors. There are many who claim to be “repentant and believing” but mere lip service and attendance at public worship is sometimes worse than nothing more than “tares ready for the burning,” as tares – not necessarily as people. Such are well described in Rev. 2:9: “I know the blasphemy of those which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.” “He is not a Jew which is one outwardly.” (Rom. 2:28)
It requires no great powers of discernment to perceive “too slack an appreciation of the Lord’s Word” among the multitudes of Christendom; and this same situation is becoming increasingly apparent with many so-called Truth people. This may be because some of the leaders do not practice what they preach, and have become something like the Scribes: Jesus said of them, “Whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.” (Matt. 23:3) And the Apostle Paul tells us in Heb. 5:12: “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God.” Also in Rom. 2:21,22: “Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou sayest a man should not commit adultery, doest thou commit adultery? thou that abhorest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?” However, we believe that there are many leaders among the Truth groups who are sincere in preaching the Truth they have received, and practice righteousness accordingly. Nevertheless, God not only holds the leaders responsible for the Truth they know, but also for the Truth they could know; and that not only applies to the leaders, but to all of God’s people.
Although there was no Great Company as a Class during That Servant’s lifetime, yet he well realized that many with him were not saints. During the last ten years of his life he wrote copiously about the Great Company – prompted, no doubt, by his observation of those closely associated with him. He said if he hadn’t found such a Class in the Scriptures, that he would be looking for such a Class in the Scriptures. And his opinion of those around him was fully corroborated very soon after his death – when the real character of those people came to the surface. Clearly enough, they had built their house “upon the sand,” and the frailty of their foundation soon became apparent to close observers. Such, however, are not “tares,” although they have much the same experience in the end of the Age: They will come out of “great tribulation.” (Rev. 7:14)
Such crown-losers must not only repent of their sins against their covenant, but they must also be converted. Conversion from the Bible standpoint is the entire process of turning from depravity into the image of God. But when they become repentant of their partially willful sins, and converted, God will receive them. “Know you, That he who turns back a sinner from his Path of Error will save his Soul from Death (the Second Death), and will cover a Multitude of Sins.” (Jas. 5:20, Dia.) However, there is much more to true repentance than mere remorse for evil deeds. In strict Scriptural definition, it includes intellectual conviction of sin (John 8:9); heart’s sorrow of sin (Prov. 28:13; Matt. 3:8); confession of sin (Ezra 10:1; Prov. 28:13; Acts 19:18); restitution for sin (Lev. 6:4,5; Ezek. 33:15; Luke 9:8); and opposition to sin (Rom. 7:15,19,23).
All of the foregoing should be considered as vital requirement to classify any one as a “repentant and believing” member of the Epiphany Camp “in the finished picture.”
(By Brother Hoefle Reprint No. 285, March 1979)
QUESTION. – Is there any difference between “Death” and “Annihilation”?
ANSWER. – The Standard Dictionary, our best authority on such matters, gives the following definition of Annihilate: (1) To put out of existence; destroy absolutely; reduce to nothing. (2) To destroy the identity of. Its synonym is, Exterminate, i.e., destroy entirely. Words are only vehicles for conveying thought, and much depends upon the vehicle which best expresses your meaning in the question. The spark of animal energy which God supplied to Adam and which he, in turn, dispensed to his offspring, but which was forfeited for him and for his posterity by his act of disobedience, passes at death from the individual as absolutely as it does from a brute beast. The word “life,” however, as used in a large number of instances, does not stand merely for the spark of animal energy, but is a synonym for soul or being.
In God's purpose or arrangement this being has not in death become extinct, exterminated, annihilated; for he has provided for it a future. There is, however, no sentient being in the sense of consciousness, or knowledge, or appreciation of pain or of joy, or any other experience. But the Divine Creator, who first gave being, has declared that in the case of Adam and his children it is His purpose to provide a Redeemer, through whom all may be restored as completely as before they came under the death sentence.
The world, who do not recognize God or His power, and who have no knowledge of the promise of resurrection through the merit of Christ's redemptive work, might properly enough speak of one in death as being extinct, as a dead animal. This is the standpoint of the agnostic. But by believers, instructed of God respecting His purpose in Christ and in the resurrection of the dead eventually, and in the opportunity of eternal life to every one, this matter is to be viewed from the same standpoint from which our Lord viewed it when He said, “He is not a God of the dead, but of the living; for all live [or are alive] unto Him” (Luke 20:38); or as the Apostle Paul stated when he spoke of “God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were” (Rom. 4:17); that is, God purposes their awakening, and speaks of the present condition of Adamic death as merely a suspension of life, and not as annihilation, extermination, extinction.
By That Servant, Reprint 5041, Col. 1 and 2