My dear Brethren: Grace and peace through our Beloved Master!
(Continued from No. 245 ‑ November 1, 1975)
In Part One of this subject we offered synoptic analysis of “The World That Was”; in Part Two we offered comment on “This present Evil World,” with detailed information concerning the origin of the various heathen religions before the Patriarchal Age; then the description of that Age, the Jewish Age and the Gospel Age, which latter we have treated in some detail concerning the erroneous religious beliefs that have arisen. since the beginning of the Christian era. Especially did we stress the elective salvation that has prevailed during the Gospel Age, with the extreme misunderstandings that have arisen concerning it.
Now we begin Part Three by stating that much of this misunderstanding is the result of a sad confusion concerning predestination and condemnation which has been applied to this Christian Age – this “good news” Age – with one extreme view by John Calvin, who taught that all not predestinated to salvation in this Age (and this would include the majority in Christian countries, and the entire population in many heathen lands) were predestinated to an eternity of torment in the fires of Hell. By no stretch of the imagination could this be a “good news” Age to those who would inherit eternal torment when this life is finished – nor would it be “good news” to those who are predestinated to know that many of their loved ones will have that fate. While the Bible definitely does teach predestination and condemnation, this does not mean that any individuals were predestinated to salvation or condemnation at birth; the confusion arises from the mistaken belief that the call of this Age is final and determinate a misapplication of the elective and non‑elective salvations.
The elective salvation of this Age is for the very purpose of blessing the non elect in the next Age – in “the world to come” – which we shall discuss later. St. James makes this quite clear in his statement as recorded in Acts 15:14‑17: “God at the first did visit the Gentiles (who had been ignored all during the Jewish Age) to take out of them a people for His name (Christians)... After this (in the Age to come) I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David... that the residue of men (all the non‑elect in Christendom and all the heathen) might seek after the Lord.” This will occur when the Lord’s prayer becomes fact: “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth.” Then the present “blindness of Israel” will be healed; then the “ransom for all men” will be available for all men – if they choose to have it so. Then will apply the words of Rev. 22:17: “The Spirit and the bride say, Come.... And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”
Some sects in Christendom have embraced the foregoing Scriptures, and have carried them to the opposite extreme of eternal torment. They contend every person who has ever lived will experience salvation – that even the Devil and his demon angel cohorts will be saved. Of course, they are forced to keep silent on such texts as Heb. 2:14: “Through death He (Jesus) might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the Devil.” The doctrines of election and free grace have greatly perplexed Christians for centuries – the result of their inability to “rightly divide the Word of Truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15)
All during this Christian (good news) Age the selection of the Church has been taking place – gathered from all nations, but especially from the nations of Christendom. “Thou has redeemed us by thy blood out of every kindred, and nation, and people and tongue.” (Rev. 5:9) But we stress again that this has been a call – not a command; it has applied only to those who would “follow in His steps.” (1 Pet. 2:21) This call has now been substantially completed, and preparation is being made for the introduction of the next Age – “the world to come” – in the very near future. All of this has been progressing in orderly fashion “according to the Plan of the Ages, which God hath formed for the anointed Jesus our Lord.” (Eph. 3:11, Diaglott translation)
The sowing of the glad tidings of this Gospel Age should logically conclude with a reaping, a harvest – just as was true at the end of the Jewish Age. In the 13th Chapter of Matthew Jesus offered the parable of the sower, the wheat and the tares; and in verse 36 the Disciples asked him to explain the parable. In concluding His explanation Jesus said, “The harvest is the end of the world.” The word world in this text is from the Greek aion, and means the Age or Dispensation. In other words, the “harvest” is the end of the Christian or Gospel Age. Jesus also explained to them that the tares would be first gathered into bundles for the burning; and this burning has been proceeding in ever‑increasing severity since the outbreak of the World War in 1914; and will proceed to a completion in the very near future.
This bundling for the burning began first with the nations, then proceeded to various organizations, and will find finality with individuals before this present generation passes away. (“This generation shall not pass away, till all these things be accomplished.” – Matt. 24:34.)
Illustrative of the foregoing, we mention the Triple Alliance, formed in 1882 between Germany, Austria‑Hungary and Italy; and the Triple Entente, formalized in 1893 between Great Britain, France and Russia, and fully in existence in 1907. At the outbreak of the World War in 1914 these six nations were pitted against each other in the greatest conflict in history up to that time. After the completion of the war these bundles fell apart – were fully “burned” – so much so that they are seldom mentioned now; many people who were not yet born in 1914 do not understand what we are talking about if we mention the Triple Alliance or the Triple Entente. And this same situation will eventually prevail with many of our present organizations – after which individual “tares” will be destroyed to a completion.
One of the evidences that the foregoing statement is true is to be found in Dan. 12:1: “There shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time.” The World War, which began in 1914, was up to that time the world’s greatest calamity; and Dan. 12:4 tells us that this would be one of the evidences of “the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” During this present century the automobile and the airplane have accelerated transportation in a manner not dreamed of one hundred years ago. The average cruising speed of the ordinary commercial plane is now about 600 miles per hour, or ten miles per minute. A hundred years ago it took a real good horse drawing a carriage to make ten miles in one hour; and it was not possible for such a horse to continue that speed for several hours without intermittent rest.
And the increase in knowledge has kept pace with the increase in travel. Prior to the year 1800 there were just two inventions of any consequence – the printing press and gun powder. But after “the time of the end” began in 1799 the steamboat (in 1803) and the railroad train (in 1813) came into being; with a great flood of inventions appearing later, and especially so since 1874. The first hand carpet sweeper appeared in 1869; the first commercial typewriter in 1874; the Bell telephone was patented in 1876. Shortly thereafter came the electric light, considered by some to be the most beneficial invention in all history for the human race. Pages could be written on this subject; but we believe enough has been said to prove that we are in “the time of the end” of this Gospel Age, the end of “this present evil world”; and that we are on the threshold of “the world to come” – that kingdom for which Jesus taught us to pray. We are now in 1976, just 6102 years from the beginning of “the world that was.”
However, hand in hand with the mechanical contrivances has come a tremendous increase in Biblical knowledge, history, and critical translations, most of which have come in the past hundred years. Brilliant Greek and Hebrew scholars have given us vastly improved works, compared with the common King James version of the Bible, which latter is known to have about 20,000 mistakes in it. One of the most enlightening bits of knowledge came in the Fall of 1874, when it became clear that the “Lord is that spirit (2 Cor. 3:17), invisible to the human eye; and, as such, He would establish His kingdom on earth in the near future.
Also along with the great increase in knowledge – secular and biblical – there came “the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world” (Rev. 3:10), which began in 1878 and continued concurrently with the harvest work. This hour produced a great scourge of insidious errors – such as Christian Science, Spiritism, Materialism, Evolution and various faith‑healing counterfeits, along with a surge in Higher Criticism, Rationalism, Agnosticism, Atheism, Deism and Pantheism. During this same time there developed much political radicalism, which had its first great national victory in Russia in the Fall of 1917 – when the Czarist regime was toppled by Kerenski, et al with many similar movements operating since that time. Furthermore, “the heavens (the present religious systems) shall be rolled together as a scroll” (Isa. 34:4; Rev. 6:14), with great effort being made to combine the various systems into one great universal church, largely ignoring loyalty to principle and striving to win great numbers and gain great favor.
But in the face of all this, many sectarians claim that the people are now more ready for the truth than ever before. We would mention especially the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who make this contention, even as they in the same breath admit that Satan is still “The god of this world, who hath blinded the minds of them which believe not.” (2 Cor. 4:4) Especially is this true, they say, since 1914, when they claim Satan was cast out of Heaven; yet they contend those “blinded” ones must join them before Armageddon if they are to experience any salvation. Along with this “strong delusion” they also advertise “A BIBLE YOU CAN UNDERSTAND.”
In the foregoing they are directly contradicted by the Bible itself – in language any one can understand who knows how to read: “In the time of the end .... none of the wicked shall understand.” (Dan. 12:4,10) The Apostle Paul corroborates this in 2 Tim. 4:3,4: “The time will come (in the end of this Age) when they will not endure sound doctrine... And they shall turn away their ears from the truth.”
During this period there arose also great social reform movements, such as prohibition, crusades against vice, denunciation of the drug traffic, uplift from slum, poverty, disease, etc. Many of these cared not that they ignored sound doctrine, made little or no effort to follow the Bible teachings. One outstanding effort in this line is the abolition of capital punishment, which now has the jails in America so overcrowded that many of them are in very dire straits. These various evils have so undermined sound government that it is well‑nigh impossible to succeed in any political campaign without resorting to rash promises which are impossible of fulfilment, which in turn has eroded the respect which the ordinary citizens once had for their rulers.
The treaties between nations are experiencing similar deterioration. Before the czarist regime fell in 1917, when the Czar would ride down a dusty road, the peasants would rush out into the road and kiss the dust over which his carriage had gone. This was not good, of course, but the same class of people have now gone pretty much to the other extreme, and do not extend even common courtesy to those in authority. Along with the harvest of the “wheat” (the Lord’s faithful followers) there has also been fulfilment of Jesus’ words: “In the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into My barn.” (Matt. 13:30) Further confirmation of this thought is to be found in Dan. 7:11: “I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame” – in the trouble that has been steadily increasing since 1914.
The “chaff” of the Jewish Harvest and the “tares” of the Christian harvest bear a relationship – both are sentenced to be burned; but this should not be construed as a literal fire. Fire in the Bible often indicates a destructive influence; and that is its meaning here. John the Baptist had said, “Jesus will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” (Luke 3:16) The “fire” in this prophecy was the terrible destruction by the Roman army in the year 70 AD (“the chaff He will burn with fire unquenchable”); and the burning of the tares has a similar meaning here in the end of “this present evil world.” Literal tares are imitation wheat; and the tares of the parable represent imitation Christians, as note the following by one writer:
“In passing through the country of the ancient Philistines, on the south of Palestine, I asked the guide one day, a native Syrian, if he knew of a plant which was apt to make its appearance among the wheat, and which resembled it so much that it could hardly be distinguished from it. He replied that it was very common, and that he would soon show me a specimen of it. Shortly he pointed out to me some of this grass growing near our path; and afterwards, having once seen it, I found it in almost every field where I searched for it. Except that the stalk was not so high, it appeared otherwise precisely as wheat – just as the ears begin to show themselves, and the kernels are swelling out into shape. I collected some specimens of this deceitful weed, and have found, on showing them to friends, that they have mistaken them quite invariably for some species of grain, such as wheat or barley.”
This bundling of the tares has been quite prominent since 1874. Various human combinations, such as national bundles like me Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente, which were largely responsible for the 1914 war; capitalistic bundles like trusts, etc.; proletarian bundles such as unions; ecclesiastical bundles like federations, etc. The “fire” of the 1914 war unmasked many of these; e.g., Who now rates the Kaiser or Hitler as Christians? This burning of the tares will continue to a completion in the years immediately ahead.
Another item of interest here in “the time of the end” is the prophecy that Israel’s “blindness” will be cured. “It shall come to pass in that day (the end of this Age) that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem..... and they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn because of it.” (Zech. 12:9, 10) Israel is established as a nation now, and is prominent in world affairs, and world troubles.
In 1878 two events occurred which cast “a shadow before” of the greater things we witness today. In that year Delitzch’s Hebrew translation of the New Testament began its work among the Jews; and in June 1878 the Berlin Congress of Nations (presided over by Disraeli, the first Jew ever to be Prime Minister of England) passed some resolutions that made things much more tolerable for Jews in Palestine. In the years that have followed, the Jews have become measurably reconciled in their age‑old prejudice toward Christ; and many consider Him one of the greatest of Jewish prophets. His sayings are often quoted in Jewish pulpits, seminaries and social circles; and many Jews now accept Him as their Messiah.
In ancient times Palestine was truly a land flowing with milk and honey, a goodly land; and it is becoming once more highly productive under the present ambitious Jewish leadership. The second largest industry is the citrus fruit production. Israel’s prosperity is already exciting the envy of the nations round about; and skillful military techniques have become a vicious irritant to their neighbors. These irritants are certain to increase in the immediate future; and the anarchistic elements of the Gentile nations will ultimately make a desperate attack upon them Ezek. 38:10; 39:29), which will terminate in the second phase of Jacob’s Trouble. (Jer. 30:4‑8) “Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when He fought in the day of battle” (Zech. 14:3) – “the day of battle” here having reference to those times of major triumph under Moses, Joshua, Gideon, David, etc. Thereafter the land that was promised to “the fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,” will be forever theirs.
Thus as a nation in the promised land – having accepted Christ as their Savior they will be the nucleus of the world of mankind waiting to receive the earthly phase of Christ’s Kingdom – to be set up first in their midst. This will be the final purpose of this Christian (Gospel) Age – the greatest of the three Ages of “this present evil world” – to be followed immediately by the Millennial Age of “the world to come,” wherein will be accomplished “the restitution of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets.” (Acts 3:21)
It is well to emphasize here that there have been, broadly speaking, two kinds of Jews. At the time Jesus came, they were described as the “wheat and the chaff,” that being a small picture of the “wheat and the tares” in Christendom at the end of this Age. As said, at that time John the Baptist spoke of them thus: “He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit, and with fire... will gather the wheat into His garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.” (Luke 3:16,17) This was markedly accomplished when the Roman army under Emperor Titus leveled Jerusalem in the year 70 AD. They had said, “His blood be upon us, and on our children” (Matt. 27:25); and God took them at their word. When Titus had finished his work, there was a circle of crosses around Jerusalem, with a dead Jew on every one of them.
But of those that escaped they were scattered hither and yon throughout the earth, and they lost not only God’s favor, but they lost also much of the virility and truth which had been theirs under Moses and Aaron. “Your house is left unto you desolate.” (Matt. 23:38) This desolation was so thoroughly accomplished that the Jews do not now have a High Priest, because that priest must come from the Tribe of Levi; and that Tribe was so thoroughly dissipated during the dispersion that the Jews do not now know which of their number are of that Tribe. Therefore, their Passover and Day of Atonement services are simply exercises in futility because they do not have a High Priest to officiate therein – although the orthodox Jews who are trying to keep the Law Covenant to the best of their ability are to be commended for their sincerity and efforts to keep the Law.
And of the “chaff” of that time St. Paul wrote: “Not that which is external makes the Jew... but the Jew is hidden within, even circumcision of the heart – spiritual, not literal; whose praise comes not from men, but from God.” (Rom. 2:28,29, Dia.) That is, certain facial features sitting in a synagogue are not to be reckoned as the real Jew; but only that which is produced by a proper adherence to the Law and the Prophets is the only real Jew to whom the promises belong. And there are very few of these indeed! The great majority give only token recognition and observance of the true Jewish religion. Their motto over the centuries has been “Get the money”; and at times they have shown a savage ruthlessness in doing that.
Although the Jews played a very prominent role in the Old Testament and in religious lore up to the time of their rejection of the Messiah, and His pronouncement of desolation upon them as a nation, their decline began immediately with Jesus’ death, and judgment was violently meted out to them in the year 70 AD. And, when their nation was thus desolated, so that their national unity was completely dissolved, the Gentile “dogs” (Matt. 15:26,27) took over earth’s authority. This has continued throughout the Age – until the Times of the Gentiles ended in 1914 – since which date the Gentile nations have been declining, and the Jews are once more in the picture of nations; and this condition will prevail unto a completion in the years immediately ahead.
And with this summary we conclude Part III of The Three Worlds; and this series of articles will be completed with Part IV in the near future. It is our hope that the three sections provided thus far have proven enlightening and profitable information to all our readers. “If ye continue in My word... ye shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31,32)
Sincerely your brother, John J. Hoefle; Pilgrim
QUESTION OF GENERAL INTEREST
QUESTION: – In John 3:16,17 it is stated that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son... that the world through Him might be saved.” But in 1 John 2:15 we are told, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” Skeptics seize upon these texts as one instance where the Bible contradicts itself. What is the correct thought on these texts?
ANSWER: – The Bible is harmonious with itself. If this were not true – even in a single instance – it could not be regarded as “the Word of Truth.” In both these texts the word “love” is from the Greek agapao; but the word “world” is from the Greek kosmos. Agapao in both texts carries the thought of duty love; but the word kosmos has two different meanings – just as many of our English words have two or three different meanings. In the first text the kosmos means the inhabitants of the earth; whereas, in the second text it carries the thought of the present social order or arrangement.
In the Bible we are told to love our neighbors as ourselves, but nowhere are we told to love the present social order. It was the present social order that crucified our Lord; and it was the present social order that has shed “the blood of the prophets and of saints,” and it has been condemned to destruction “by fire,” the fire being a figurative expression used to denote complete annihilation.
In 2 Pet. 3:10 we are told that “the earth (another expression for the present social order) and the works that are therein (the selfish and depraved acts of men) shall be burned up.” The whole chapter from which we have quoted one small text is written in highly figurative language, but much confusion has resulted by men attempting to accept these figurative statements as literal. If they were literal, it would indeed be a sore and unexplainable contradiction of many other Bible statements – such as “The earth (the planet on which we live) abideth forever.” (Eccl. 1:4) This “burning” began in 1874 in a broad sense; but it actually began in a narrow violent way in 1914 with the outbreak of the World War; and has been steadily progressing since 1914 – so much so that it is now apparent to many persons of sharp discernment. As one outstanding instance, we quote President Woodrow Wilson, who said concerning the great war, “The world is on fire.” Thus it becomes apparent that God has arranged for the salvation of the people living in this present social order, although He has condemned the social order itself to destruction.
It is our thought that the Jehovah’s Witnesses would be well advised to ponder this point in their present proclamations, because they are heralding just the reverse of what the Scriptures teach on the subject – also it is just the reverse of the error which they taught for 1925 – Millions Now Living Will Never Die. These people change their teachings just as easily and just as readily as the chameleon changes his color. They reverse themselves when their predictions fail; and their “dedicated” adherents close their eyes, open their mouths, and swallow any new delirium that they present to them. For the past few years they have been very vociferous in their declaration that the large majority of earth’s inhabitants now living WILL DIE – be annihilated in Armageddon when the present kosmos is overthrown. They now have about two million “saved” persons in their organization; and it is only those who accept them that will survive Armageddon. While the Bible does teach that large numbers of the human family will perish in Armageddon, nowhere does it teach that such death means their eternal annihilation; but the Bible does teach clearly and emphatically the eternal annihilation of the present kosmos – the present social order.
The Witnesses’ present teaching is indeed a far cry from what they were teaching some fifty years ago, at which time they placed great stress upon Zech. 13:8, 9: “It shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the Lord, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: They shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, the Lord is my God.” When they were using this text, they tried to give it a very literal explanation; namely, one‑third of earth’s population would survive Armageddon, which would mean by present reckoning that over one billion living through 1925 would live right on through Armageddon, and into the Kingdom, which is how they arrived at their slogan “Millions Now Living Will Never Die” – after the year 1925. Of course, time itself made them look quite ridiculous, so they were forced to come up with some new hocus‑pocus. Now only their “dedicated” devotees will live on into the Kingdom; all others will be annihilated by that seething cauldron. Thus through fear they have persuaded many to join them – just as did the Roman Catholic Church in the Dark Ages gather numbers to avoid the fate of eternal torment.
When the lawyer asked Jesus which is the great commandment (Matt. 22:37‑40) He answered him in this manner: The first “thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all the heart, soul and mind... and the second, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” From this it is very clear that the requirements of the Law given through Moses are a duty, and many of the Jews tried to keep it, but could not do so because of their fallen condition. And in this connection it should be noted that when “the restitution of all things” (Acts 3:19‑23) is fully established under the Kingdom reign, perfect duty love will be required of all who gain life under that arrangement – a “new heavens and a new earth (a new social arrangement) wherein dwelleth righteousness.” Just the opposite of that condition prevails now, which is the reason for its “burning,” which will proceed to a completion in the very near future.
As stated aforegoing, the word “love” in both texts in the question is from the Greek agapao, which conveys the thought of duty love. There are a number of other texts which contain the word love, but are translated from different Greek words. One of these is the Greek agape, which carries the thought of a sacrificial love, and has been in operation specifically since Pentecost; but it has not been required of the world in general during this Gospel Age, nor will it be required in the next Age when “the restitution of all things” becomes operative. The only ones required to practice sacrificial love during this Age have been those who have accepted Jesus in the full sense determined by His words: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matt. 16:24) But this has been an invitation – and not a command.
Such persons as the foregoing have been a very small minority, and they have not loved the world as it refers to the present social order. This is graphically typified by the acts of the Prophet Elijah in his attempts to reform the Jews – especially so as respects Ahab and Jezebel. He there typed the Gospel‑Age Christians who have attempted to reform the present social order, and have failed badly in their efforts. However, the reformers have shown great love for the people, the inhabitants, of this “present evil world,” and have done much good for them in their ministries.
me Jews under the Law were not required to practice agape love; in fact, they knew little or nothing about it. This is clearly stated by Jesus (Matt. 5:43,44): “Ye have heard that it hath been said, m Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate shine enemy, But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you’“
The foregoing, however, applies only to those who have come into the Christian family; it is not now required of the “world” (the inhabitants of earth), nor will it ever be required of them in the next world. Much confusion has resulted as Christians all during the Age – since shortly after the demise of the Apostles – attempted to apply these words to every one now, which error came about through the loss of the Truth on the two salvations – the “common salvation” (Jude 3), and the “great salvation.” (Heb. 2:3) The “common salvation” is not available during the Gospel Age; and the “great salvation” will not be available in the next Age. Any attempt to mix the two salvations is certain to result in rank confusion.
Love for our enemies was not required under the Law Covenant, such love being sacrificial love – from the Greek agape. Our Lord was the one who brought this agape love into focus – just as He also “brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.” (2 Tim. 1:10) Had “the ancients” in Old Testament times been instructed in agape love, David and Samson would not have prayed for the death of their enemies.
The inhabitants of this world who will receive restitution in the world just ahead are not now required to practice agape (sacrificial) love in this Age – nor will they be required to do so in the next Age, or at any time in the future. However, we would stress in conclusion that a proper understanding and analysis of love in the two texts is not the real crux of the problem; it is rather the two meanings of the word “world” (kosmos) that make them readily understandable. All who “follow in His steps” also love the world (its inhabitants).
LETTERS OF GENERAL INTEREST
Dear Brother Hoefle: Grace and peace be multiplied!
Enclosed is a few dollars of the Lord’s money to help in spreading of His Truth. With the demands of the present, it isn’t very much. This seems to be the day when no man can work. May the Lord bless you and yours real good. I appreciate your writings and agree with them. Your brother in Christ, ------- (FLORIDA)
Dear Brother Hoefle: Grace and peace be multiplied!
Your good letter of the 7th is here, and as always very glad to hear from you. I was quite surprised that Brother Jolly shook hands with you both. I wonder if he is having second thoughts about his Campers Consecrated. Let’s hope so! Of course, he has been warned very thoroughly by you, Brother Hoefle, and if he does not change it will not be because you haven’t tried. But we leave it with the Lord.
Yes, I can imagine you have nice weather all year round. I visualize your lovely place since seeing it last winter. May God grant you good health to carry on His work. Be assured of my prayers and Christian love to you and all the dear ones with you.
Your brother by His Grace, ------- (NEW JERSEY)