My dear Brethren: Grace and peace through our Beloved Master!
As has been our custom for many years to pay tribute to That Servant at this season, we now offer some comment on the Laodicean Star, the first of whom was Brother Russell, whose death on October 31, 1916 we thus commemorate. We do not do this with the thought of “angel worship” – nor do we wish to magnify his talent and character out of keeping with the facts. But we do emphasize that it is our desire to place him in clear focus for what he actually was – That Faithful and Wise Servant. And in keeping with 1 Sam. 2:30 – “Them that honor Me I will honor” – we follow with some analysis on the 16th Chapter of Revelation:
“A VOICE OUT OF THE TEMPLE”
The caption for this treatise is taken from Rev. 16:1, the real thought of which would be better expressed by “A Voice out of the Tabernacle.” To substantiate this conclusion it became necessary first of all to offer an analysis of Brother Russell’s Stewardship Doctrine, which we believe to be:
A correct understanding of the Atonement as portrayed in Leviticus 16, the central teaching of which is Restitution.
It should be noted that those Star Members who received special stewardship doctrines received them early in their ministry; quite often those doctrines were the cause of their leaving the religious group with whom they had been associated; and it was the teaching that provided stimulus throughout their entire ministry. For instance, Martin Luther was motivated by Romans 5:1 to break with the Catholic Church, because this text was a direct contradiction of the Catholic belief in justification by works, as opposed to St. Paul’s clear statement that it is justification by faith that brings “peace with God” in this Gospel Age. Luther’s primary objection, of course, was the sale of indulgences, the elimination of which he believed would at least start a cleansing of the Roman system; but it soon became clear to him – after his expulsion from that Church – that it was simply a surface malady, fed and encouraged by justification by works. Thus, his “justification by faith” almost automatically and very quickly became the antithesis of indulgences and their underlying evils.
While the doctrine of Restitution was not directly responsible for Bro. Russell’s leaving his “orthodox” surroundings, it was indeed indirectly responsible for his doing so. His very vitals rebelled at the teaching of eternal torment for the unsaved world; and this revulsion – much the same as Luther’s experiences with indulgences in turn drove him toward the proper explanation, which he received when the Atonement-Day ritual was made clear to him in type and antitype. That the doctrine of Restitution sparked Brother Russell’s entire ministry after receiving this Truth surely none will dispute. It is probable he never delivered a public discourse thereafter in which Restitution did not have a large and prominent place. And those who witnessed the Photo Drama will recall the oft–repeated expressions: “India needs Restitution; China needs Restitution,” etc., etc. We know, too, that his favorite Scripture was John 3:16,17, the mainspring of which is also Restitution: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” And early in his ministry he urged the Pilgrims and Bethel speakers to stress Restitution in their public discourses, as he himself also did.
To avoid argument, it should be here stated that Brother Russell taught all the stewardship doctrines of the past, in addition to Restitution, although he had to remove many a rough spot from those doctrines – taints, impurities and distortions that had been attached to them by the crown-lost leaders of the past. When the Harvest arrived, the time also arrived to restore “the faith once delivered to the Saints” (Jude 3), so that the “Harp of God” would once more be attuned to its pristine harmonious melody. This Brother Russell accomplished with all the skill of the master artisan! Without Restitution, the “Plan of the Ages” was an empty and unsatisfactory expression, a fact which was recognized by many great and good men of the past. Martin Luther’s fine mind and magnanimous heart rebelled against the fate of the unsaved as it had been taught to him by the Catholic Church; but in vain did he seek the answer. He knew full well of St. Peter’s teaching in Acts 4:12, “There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved”; and he was ever prodded by the indisputable fact that untold millions had never heard that Name. “Somehow there must be a way after death for them to hear that name,” he said; but he had to admit he had no Scripture to substantiate him, and he could not explain how or what the process would be. John Wesley also chose to stress the love of God rather than the wrath of God; he also was too delicately formed to accept with good appetite the teaching of eternal torment – although he did admit to his belief in it, even though his sensitive and loving disposition caused him inner revulsions. Rather, he stressed “The spirit and the bride say, Come.” He could not then know he was more than two hundred years ahead of his time in using Rev. 22:17, because there was no bride then in the full sense of that term.
The struggles of these good and fully faithful men to reach a satisfying answer is well set forth by the parable of the lost coin in Luke 15:8-10; and Brother Russell’s peace of mind at finding the answer is well stated in the words, “Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I had lost.” To make this teaching clear to all, we here itemize what seems to be basic truths, the “ten pieces of–silver,” or the ten strings of the Harp of God: (1) the Creation – of Adam and Eve; (2) the Condemnation – the fall into sin; (3) the Law – given to Moses at Sinai; (4) the Ransom – the anti–lutron by Jesus; (5) the Resurrection – Jesus the first-born from the dead; (6) the High Calling – “a new and living way” (Heb. 10:20); (7) Justification; (8) Sanctification; (9) Restitution – the sounding of the Jubilee trumpet (Lev. 25:9 – See E–8, p. 659); (10) the Second Death.
But, just as preceding Star Members had their stewardship teachings perverted by the crown-lost leaders who followed them, so Azazel (the meaning of which is Perverter) immediately led the crown-lost leaders to pervert Brother Russell’s stewardship doctrine of Restitution. This began in a mild way at first – not so much perversion in its early features, as it was failure to “wait on the Lord.” That Evil Servant and his henchmen determined to “rush” Restitution with their “Millions-Now-Living-Will-Never-Die.” When time itself proved that teaching to be an abortion, they then produced a real perversion – No restitution at all for Adam, or any who refuse now to accept their teachings! Just as the “Millions” teaching came early after the Star Member was gone, and was then only a mild perversion, so we are probably now seeing a repetition on a smaller scale in the teaching of the “quasi–elect consecrated” and Epiphany Campers Consecrated.
The foregoing elaboration is presented to prepare the explanation of why the temple in Rev. 16:1 is really the Tabernacle. It is the same temple as described in Rev. 11:19 – “The temple (tabernacle) of God was opened (explained) in heaven (among the brethren in the heavenly places – Phil. 3:20), and there was seen in his temple (tabernacle) the ark of his covenant” – the ark representing in its chest the Christ, head and body, and in its mercy seat and two cherubim the four attributes of God, this latter being the explanation given in Tabernacle Shadows. In conversation with Brother Johnson, he told this writer several times that he had no trouble in understanding the volumes, but had some difficulty in understanding certain features of Tabernacle Shadows. When he mentioned this to Brother Russell, he kept repeating to him: “But those volumes all came out of Tabernacle Shadows.” From this we can readily see why Tabernacle Shadows was basic to the understanding of Parousia Truth – just as “Elijah and Elisha” is basic to Epiphany Truth. Thus, the “voice out of the Tabernacle” was in reality the Seven Volumes of Scripture Studies given to the “seven angels” (God’s true Church in the Harvest time), with the instruction: “Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth.” (Rev. 16:1) Therefore, we conclude Brother Russell’s stewardship doctrine to be as aforementioned, as it occupied a large place – a very large place – in Tabernacle Shadows; and we venture the opinion that, aside from the inspired writings, Tabernacle Shadows is the biggest little book ever published.
It should be noted here that it was not many years after Brother Russell’s death that Tabernacle Shadows was cast aside completely by those who took over his executive offices. And not many years after Brother Johnson’s death those who took over his executive office perverted some of the fundamental teachings of Tabernacle Shadows – mainly by putting Justification in the Camp, outside the linen curtain of Christ’s righteousness, and without the cleansing access to the Laver, so vital to Justification of any kind in this Gospel Age.
And from this great little book, bearing Brother Russell’s stewardship doctrine, came the “seven vials of wrath” – better translated by the Diaglott as “seven bowls of wrath.” We say this is a better translation because it was mainly in their controversial features that the seven volumes “plagued” those whose errors they exposed. Bro. Johnson has ably explained in Epiphany Vol. Eight that the bowls, chargers and spoons of Numbers 7 represent refutative, correctional and ethical teachings; thus, these bowls are the same as the “refuting” of 2 Tim. 3:16. And what is it we refute? We refute error! And it is the refutation of error that always arouses the antagonism of errorists. In these seven “bowls” there was much of corrective and ethical teachings, too; but these did not elicit the same savage reprisals as did the refutations of error. Even the members of antitypical Balaam (those who teach error for profit) agree that professing Christians should behave themselves – outwardly, at least; they endorse the correctional and ethical teachings of the Bible with lip service anyway.
It should be borne in mind that those mainly aroused by these refutations were the members of antitypical Saul and their ledlings; and a moderate analysis of their character will disclose why this was so – and still is so. Brother Russell says Saul “manifested considerable hypocrisy” (see Berean Comments on 1 Sam. 15:13); and his antitype is also not lacking in this “dis”grace. Nor were their prototypes lacking in it, as witness the words of Jesus, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” It should be noted that all of them are inclined to falsehood, and that another of the root evils of hypocrisy is an overweening approbativeness. Note 1 Sam. 15:17: “When thou wast little in thine own sight... the Lord anointed thee king over Israel”; but, having once reached the head of the crowd, he apparently became power-drunk with his own importance, and resorted to “rebellion” (Revolutionism). And with such characters, the unforgivable sin that incites their hatred (Isa. 66:5 – “Your brethren that hated you.”) is to parade their errors before the gaze of the mob. Therefore, the “bowls” that came out of Tabernacle Shadows were indeed “the wrath of God” to them. To such, Present Truth has always been a “savor of death unto death” (2 Cor. 2:16); whereas, to the Faithful it has ever been a “savor of life unto life.” The observation was appropriate in the Parousia concerning the members of antitypical Saul, as it is still appropriate concerning them: They know that we know that they know they don’t know! Thus, they “receive of her plagues.” (Rev. 18:4)
“And the first went, and poured out his bowl on the earth (organized Society), and there came an evil and malignant ulcer on those men having the mark of the beast, and on those worshipping his image.” Volume One was published in 1886, and truly it proved to be a “malignant ulcer” to antitypical Saul and his henchmen; it was a ‘hot penny’: they could not hold it, and they were afraid to drop it. The stewardship doctrine of Restitution, with which Volume One is replete, made material for a “plan of the ages,” the likes of which had not been known since the days of the Apostles; and it placed Restitution and eternal torment at opposite ends of the measure. It did indeed “spoil the vines” for many a hell–fire evangelist! Also, Chapter 14 – The Kingdom of God – made a shambles of the teaching that we now have Christendom – Christ’s Kingdom; and it showed the present order to be a far, far cry from “Thy will be done on earth.” Our Lord’s Return, The Permission of Evil, The Day of Judgment, etc., etc., all combined to make this “bowl” a “malignant ulcer” – “a savor of death unto death” to many members of antitypical Saul.
This is pointedly typified in Ex. 4:9: “The water which thou takest out of the river shall become blood upon the dry land.” “The water” in this text is the Truth as contained in the Bible – so excellently presented in Volume One – The Divine Plan of the Ages. The “dry land” typified the withered and sere condition of society as it existed at the time of the book’s appearance. And the “blood” represents the faulty reasoning of Christendom’s religious leaders, who branded the book as error – bloody, repulsive, abhorrent, death-dealing – whereas, it actually contained the water of life uplifting, life–giving, to all who were “of the Truth.” It should be noted that at that time many preachers were describing the animal sacrifices of the Law as bloody and barbaric – because they could not see the grand antitype of the “better sacrifices” (Heb. 9:23) that were offered during this Gospel Age by “the Church which is His Body.” (Eph. 1:22,23)
The second “bowl,” “The Time is at Hand,” made its appearance in 1889; and the third, “Thy Kingdom Come” in 1891 – “and they became blood.” These “bowls” defined clearly “The Man of Sin” and his counterfeit Millennium as a direct contradiction to Restitution. About this time many of the more “cultured” of antitypical Saul were describing the Jewish sacrifices as blood, blood, blood – barbaric and out of place in Christianity; but these bowls pointed to the “better sacrifices” as fundamental and inseparable to Christianity, that “without shedding of blood there is no remission of sins” (Heb. 9:22), that the consummation of the better sacrifices provided the hope for Restitution, and the only hope for “Thy kingdom come.”
And the time features were indeed a powerful refutation of those who were loudly proclaiming “no man knoweth the day nor the hour”; and of those who were lustily singing, “When my work on earth is ended, and time shall be no more.” The second “bowl” demonstrated the correct translation of Rev. 10:6 to be, “The time shall be no longer delayed”; that is, the “time is at hand” for God, through the Christ, to carry out His promise of Restitution – that the time had arrived for the blessing of all the families of the earth. Many of us recall the opposition that came when “The Second Coming of Christ” was preached. As instance, the tale of one brother, long in the Truth: A Pilgrim was coming to a small town in Ohio to preach on the Second Coming; and the brother was trying to rally his neighbors to the meeting. Said one, “You know the Bible teaches no man knoweth the day nor the hour, and I think we ought to rotten–egg the fraud out of town when he gets here.” The brother, using considerable tact, said, “Well, come on, and bring your eggs; if he is a fraud, I’ll help throw a few at him myself.” The Pilgrim gave a very masterful presentation, at the conclusion of which the brother went to the rostrum and said to his neighbor, “Well, Joe, you’ve now heard the man; do you want to start throwing your eggs?” The man had been most impressed, and his only answer was, “I guess not.”
It should be noted, too that Volume 3 contained a moderate explanation of the Great Pyramid of Giza, showing from the prophetic statement of Isa. 19:19–22 that the “altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt” was indeed “a sign and a witness” to the great Plan of the Ages as contained in the Bible. Thus the pertinence of v. 7: “I heard another (angel) out of the altar” – in “the midst of the land of Egypt.” This truth, too, has been completely rejected by some, and distorted by others since Brother Russell’s death.
The fourth bowl appeared in 1897; and it certainly affirmed its title, “The Battle of Armageddon,” in that “power was given to scorch men with fire.? It pointed out the prevalent sins among rulers, clergy, aristocracy and labor; and was a true fulfillment of Jesus’ words in John 16:8-11: “When the Holy Spirit is come, it will reprove the world of sin (the wrongs they are committing), of righteousness (point out the right way to do), and of judgment” (warn them of the coming judgment, which in this instance was in its initial phase to be the “battle of the great day of God Almighty”). But, “as it was in the days of Noah,” they neither heeded nor wanted to hear that message – “repented not to give God glory.”
It should be noted that the “fourth bowl” described events that are happening today as though the book were written this year; whereas, it was written 78 years ago. The forecasts of that book are in part a fulfillment of Dan. 5:25-29 – the much-quoted “handwriting on the wall.” It explained that the statement, “The kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians” (v. 28) indicated that Christendom would be divided into two hostile camps: a conservative camp, consisting of church, state and capital, and a radical camp, consisting of trade unionists, socialists, communists, anarchists and nihilists.
At the time the book was written these antagonistic factions had only a faint beginning, which developed to some degree up to 1914; but it was the outbreak of the war in 1914 that caused a clear cleavage between them, as typified by Elijah smiting Jordan (type of Christendom and the curse) – when the waters (peoples) of that river developed into two distinct warring factions. The terse substance of Volume 4 – “The Battle of Armageddon” – gave 1914 as the end of “the times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21: 24); Great Babylon’s judgment and downfall; the overthrow of Satan’s empire, to be followed by God’s Kingdom on earth. All of these things were set forth in precise detail and accuracy – so much so that, when the great events began to transpire in 1914, it directed the world’s attention to Brother Russell as the outstanding interpreter and Bible lecturer of his time, the greatest religious teacher in Christendom. And in the Fall of 1917 the czarist regime in Russia was overthrown, it being one of the strongest and most absolute monarchies that had ever existed in all human history. There the text began to be fulfilled, “the mountains (strong autocratic governments) carried into the midst of the sea (the lawless elements of society).” This feature of prophecy has now been carried to a completion; the last autocracy being Ethiopia, which was toppled over in 1974.
In 1899 came the fifth “bowl” poured out upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness (great portions of the beast’s teachings were proven to be error, superstition and tradition – the “precepts of men”); and they gnawed their tongues for pain” (v. 10). It should not cause much argument when we declare that Volume 5 was Brother Russell’s masterpiece. His analysis of the Holy Spirit, of Life Everlasting and Immortality, of the Trinity, The Soul, of Sheol-Hades-Gehenna, left his opponents “speechless.” Of a truth, “they gnawed their tongues with pain.” So clear and convincing were the presentations of the fifth “bowl” that many segments of the secular press gave it unstinted praise; although antitypical Saul and the lesser lights “repented not” (v. 11).
Then came the sixth “bowl” early in this century, which contained much less of controversial writings than the previous five had done. In fact, its title – “The New Creation” – is well in keeping with verse 12 – “that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared”; its purpose was to instruct the true church (kings of the east) in every good word and work. It was the “law,” the better way, to every one who is “of the truth.” And any one who knows and faithfully abides by the teachings of Volume Six can be assured of the best of present possessions – “a good and honest heart.”
The seventh vial – titled “The Finished Mystery” – did not appear until 1917; and, as Brother Johnson so aptly stated, it appeared in a vile condition. It had been produced by uncleansed Levites – a “rush” production, at the urging of That Evil Servant in his haste to “eat and drink with the drunken” (Levites drunken with error). However, as the seventh “bowl” (its controversial features), there was not too much fault to be found with it, the reason for this being that the “bowl” portions of “The Finished Mystery” were almost completely paraphrase or exact quotation from the Star Member. It was the injection of their own ideas into what should have been a priestly production that brought those uncleansed Levites eventually to Atlanta Federal Penitentiary. They had run ahead of the Lord to publish the seventh vial; had published it in a vile condition; and the Lord rewarded them “according to their works” – by reducing them to durance vile (prison). In fact, the expression in verse 6 regarding Vol. 3 is also emphatically pertinent here: “Thou gavest them also blood to drink (revulsive error); they deserve it.” (Rev. 16:6, Dia.)
It would seem in order here to declare that the “seventh bowl” not only plagued Big Babylon, but it also produced a severe contagion right in the backyard of those who had published it; ecclesias in many quarters were split right down the middle over the book; it was made a test of fellowship near and far. It was not enough just to keep quiet if you did not believe all of it; you must openly espouse it. At that time we ourselves were ejected from the colporteur work because we did not offer it for sale, although we were offering the other six volumes to the public.
And as evidence of its “vile condition” and nefarious influence among the brethren, it was not more than 10 or 15 years after its appearance in 1917 that “The Finished Mystery” (the name of the seventh bowl) was placed on the list of forbidden things – in direct contrast to the ruling of 1917. Those who didn’t accept the book in 1917 were disfellowshiped – but any one caught reading and accepting its teaching at the later date was also disfellowshiped. From one extreme violation of Christian principles to a worse violation – all by the same people in the space of a few short years! Well may the text apply to them: “Instruments of cruelty are in their habitations.” (Gen. 49:5) Note the marginal reading of the text: “Their swords (use of the Scriptures) are weapons of violence.”
It is timely to mention here that in 1969 the Jehovah’s Witnesses produced a new book – “Then Is Finished The Mystery of God” – which deals with Revelation; whereas, the 1917 Finished Mystery contained a verse by verse comment on both Revelation and Ezekiel. However, this 1969 publication is choked with error also, even more than the 1917 book. And the reason for this is readily understood: The Witnesses have gone from bad to worse, and have much more error today than they had in 1917. Will they also place this latest “Finished Mystery” on the forbidden list for another “mystery”? This remains to be seen, of course.
That Fit-Man experience had a salutary effect upon at least one of the eight who went to Atlanta: George Fisher, who wrote the Ezekiel comments of the Seventh Volume (which part Brother Johnson declared to be far superior to the Revelation part by Clayton Woodworth). Brother Fisher eventually saw “the Judge” in his true colors; and before his death he personally wrote to the writer of this article: Any one who does not see JFR as That Evil Servant is just that much out of Present Truth.
It is worthy of note that it was not the “bowl” features of Volume Seven that brought its writers into trouble; it was their own foolish statements about the war then raging, and their diatribe on Patriotism, which remarks were definitely out of order at the time. Therefore, in their incarceration they did not suffer altogether “as a Christian” (1 Pet. 4:16); rather, they paid for their own folly – although it should be noted that any persecution which came to them because of the true and opportune features of the seventh “bowl” would be counted to them for righteousness’ sake.
Although the Bible is high in praise of the Old Testament Prophets and the New Testament saints, it is equally frank in recording some of their failings and misdeeds. This is one of the things that stamps the Bible as the Word of Truth. In like manner, we would say concerning both members of the Laodicean Star that they made some mistakes, as they were not infallible; but we often pause in amazement at the grand system of Truth they gave to us. This is especially true of Brother Russell, who was faced with a mountain of vicious error that had accumulated during the Age, with some of the best minds in Christendom sponsoring those errors. Thus, it is a tribute to his courage and faithfulness, to his sensitive and brilliant mind, that he prevailed against such an array of antagonists. It should be stressed here that he also had the exalted privilege of being held in the Lord’s hand (“He had in His right hand seven stars”—Rev. 1:16), which gave him “Eloquence and wisdom, which all of your opponents will not be able to gainsay, or resist.” (Luke 21:15, Dia.) We believe all those who knew him intimately will agree with this appraisal.
We offer the foregoing as a help and guide to all God’s people who may be inclined to follow blindly the errors and bad judgment of uncleansed Levites; because they do so at their own peril – “God brought down their heart with labor; they fell down, and there was none to help.” (Psa. 107:12)
We also pay tribute to the Epiphany Messenger who faithfully upheld and defended the Truth given to us by That Servant, refuted the errors and exposed the errorists in keeping with 1 Sam. 2:30: “Them that honor Me I will honor.” And with this writing comes the prayer of the writer that it may prove a blessing to all our brethren – and a means of growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Beloved Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, thereby continuing “in the faith once delivered unto the Saints.”
“Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he will give thee the desires of thine heart. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.” (Psa. 37:3,4,6)
Sincerely your brother,
John J. Hoefle, Pilgrim
THE JULY–AUGUST PRESENT TRUTH
On pp. 61-63 of the above PT are some questions on “Tentative Justification in the Epiphany Camp,” etc. – a loose disjointed “profusion of words.” RGJ offers copious citations from Brother Johnson to justify his teaching of Tentative Justification in the Epiphany Camp, which citations need his own extended comments to produce support for his contentions. We concede that everything in those three pages quoted from Bro. Johnson is copied correctly; but we now make just one request: Let RGJ produce one statement anywhere from Brother Johnson’s writings – just one – to show he taught acceptable consecrations in the Epiphany Camp. Tentative Justification in this Age is given for the very purpose of consecration. But the statement he himself offers from E–10:209 states the Camp in the finished picture will contain the “unconsecrated” – a clear contradiction of his present contention. As Brother Johnson would say: Why do these Levites offer Scriptures and quotations which clearly dispute their claims? Is it not because they are in the clutches of Azazel?
At least some of these “unconsecrated” in the finished picture have been tentatively justified before they were ejected from the Court into the Camp. At that time they lose their tentative justification and “cease altogether to be of the Household of Faith.” (See E–4:406) The only thing they do not lose is their “repentant and believing” disposition. All of us know that Tentative Justification since shortly before Pentecost has been a Gospel-Age faith justification (Rom. 5:1); and E–11:169, bottom, says this: “There will be no more faith justification working during the Millennium” (See also E–11:170, bottom and E–11:183, top). Also, “During that Age (the Millennium) there will be neither a tentative nor a vitalized justification.” (E–15:261) We accept those statements as the Truth, so we now ask RGJ if he does. And if he does, will his Epiphany Campers Consecrated lose their tentative justification when the Mediatorial reign begins, or will they retain their tentative justification during the entire restitution process?
MORE ABOUT CORNELIUS
Along with the above RGJ makes further comment on Cornelius; and we are now told that “repentant and believing” has two meanings: (1) a “general sense,” and (2) a “specific sense.” Of course, neither Messenger ever offered such conglomeration; that is just some more invention by RGJ. And on p. 62, col. 2, par. 5, we find this: “And if Cornelius was the same centurion mentioned in Luke 7:2–9 (though it is far from certain that he was)....” Note now the Berean Comment on Acts 10:37: “Probably having heard Christ himself preach it at the time the servant was healed.” Clearly enough Brother Russell did not consider it “far from certain.” If language means anything at all, Brother Russell was fully persuaded that Cornelius was the same centurion. Of that Centurion (a Gentile in the Roman Army) Jesus said, “I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.” (Luke 7:9) If that Centurion was not Cornelius, doesn’t it seem most strange Jesus would single out another Gentile as the first to be inducted into the Christ Company?
Also, RGJ now offers the nonsensical statement that in the “general sense” a Mohammedan can have a very repentant attitude and believe sincerely in Allah... so be “repentant and believing.” The North American Indian also had a very decided conviction about a “Great Spirit,” and a “happy hunting ground” after death. The Indians buried the dead man’s dog and horse with him so he would have them “on the other shore.” Why not include him with the Mohammedan – make the “Combinationism” all–inclusive in the “general sense”? The Adversary is still very busy with the third Slaughter-Weapon Man of Combinationism! It matters not where we dwell – with Mohammed or Confucius – we can be “repentant and believing” in the “general sense! (?)
When the Truth given to us by the Epiphany Messenger began to pinch too much on some of RGJ’s errors regarding the Epiphany as the last special period of the Gospel Age, he invented 1954 as the Epiphany’s end in a “restricted sense.” Now That Servant’s conclusions about Cornelius are pinching his “strange fire” (false doctrine), so he produces another invention: One can be consecrated and converted in a “general sense” without being repentant and believing in a “specific sense! Well, the only ‘sense, we can discern in such mumbo jumbo is RGJ’s “non”-sense! Cornelius was in much the same condition before Peter’s visit as were those sincere Jews who recognized Jesus as a prophet sent from God, but they did not clearly understand their relationship to Him until they received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The order to open the “way” for the Gentiles was not given to Peter until 3½ years later. The “general and specific sense” regarding “repentant and believing” is simply some more of RGJ’s symbolic witchcraft (especially deceptive false teachings).
If RGJ is “far from certain” that Cornelius was that Centurion, then he raises the possibility that there were two Gentiles in the Roman Army that had a faith (belief) superior to the Jews. And, if that would not make them repentant and believing in the “specific sense,” we must now conclude that none of those who accepted Jesus were repentant and believing in the “specific sense.” Let each one be persuaded in his own mind!
Let us keep in mind that the Apostles themselves could not understand the Divine Plan until Pentecost – nor did any of them know (even after Pentecost) that the Gentiles would be received into the Body of Christ 3½ years later – this Truth not being due for them. Since the Apostle Peter did not know that the “way” would be opened for the Gentiles until the Lord informed him, it is no detraction from Cornelius that he did not know that Jesus could be his Savior – the Savior of the Gentiles who were “repentant and believing” – until he was informed. Some knowledge is always necessary, and the knowledge that he could accept Jesus as his Savior was necessary for him to make an acceptable consecration before he could receive the Holy Spirit. Brother Russell says Cornelius had been consecrated and converted many years before Peter came to him. If Cornelius was converted, accepted the God of Israel, and consecrated, he was no longer a heathen, as are the Mohammedan and the Indian. Four days before Peter came he had been “fasting and praying.” (Acts 10:30) Just how much more could he do to make him “repentant and believing” in the “specific sense”?