My dear Brethren: Grace and peace through our Beloved Master!
“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial, which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you,” is the counsel of the Apostle Peter in 1 Pet. 4:12; and in v. 16 he appeals further, “If any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.” It is often most helpful to the proper understanding of any text to discern its background, the basis which prompted its expression; and such is definitely true in the present instance. It will be noted in v. 1, chapter 1, that the Apostle is addressing his letter to “the strangers” of the Black Sea Provinces. The Diaglott expresses it much clearer: “Peter, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, to the sojourners of the dispersion.” Who were these “sojourners of the dispersion”? Apparently, they were such Jews as had been exiled from or about Jerusalem, or those who had left because conditions there were more or less unbearable for them. It would seem these are the same ones mentioned in John 7:35, when the Jews who were hearing Jesus said among themselves, Whither will he go, that we shall not find him? Will He go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles”?
Among such dispersed ones, those who had suffered afflictions for some cause or other, there would certainly be found some who were ready listeners to the message that Jesus was indeed the Christ, their Messiah; and it would seem St. Peter had been among them, had convinced some, and was striving to “establish them in the Present Truth.” Of a certainty, those Jews had never seen Jesus personally; therefore, their acceptance of Him had been prompted by the testimonies of St. Peter or others (I Pet. 1:8). The prophecy (Isa. 8:14) that “He shall be for a stone of stumbling, and for a rock of offense to both the houses of Israel” was not without purpose. Those Jews who received Him gladly did so from the heart; but those Jews who rejected Him likewise hated Him from the heart – hated also their former brethren who then accepted Him. To some He was the savior of life unto life; to some the savior of death unto death; and the latter snarled the opprobrious name “Christian” at their former fellows, as they spat upon the ground in the same breath, the worst of all insults they could express toward the new converts. Thus, St. Peter was telling such who had become His disciples that if they suffered under the offensive name “Christian” to be not ashamed, but to “glorify God in this name.”
Today the name Christian is often spoken with respect, even by many Jews in the more enlightened countries; the name itself is no longer “a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” Now, the Christians (?) themselves must find other insulting terms for those of their fellows who differ with them in belief and practice of religious ritual. To some, who believed Brother Johnson and his ardent adherents were in the second death, the epithet “Johnson-ite” would bear similar meaning to their fellows as did the name “Christian” in Apostolic times. Thus, we might substitute the words, “If any man suffer as a Johnson-ite, let him not be ashamed.” Let us keep in mind that if we “suffer as a Christian” because of the Truth, we need never be ashamed – whether it be labeled Hoefleism, or whatever opprobrium erstwhile brethren may use in contempt – the same as did the Jewish brethren of Jesus in contemptuous use of the name “Christian.” “As He was in this world, so are we.”
The expression “fiery trial” in our text is from the Greek purosis, meaning literally “a burning,” being the same word found also in Rev. 18:9 and 18:18 (the word occurs but three times in the Bible), where the “burning” of that Great City which is called, spiritually, Sodom, is described. This may be regarded as a fitting sarcasm in contrast that the same word should be used to describe the “sweet-smelling savour unto the Lord” which comes from the “burning” – the sharp and faith-developing trials – of the true Christians on the one hand, and the “burning” – the utter destruction – of the “vine of the earth” on the other hand. And all of this is emphasized further by St. Peter in v. 17 of chapter 4: “Because the season is coming for the judgment to begin from the house of God; and if it begin first from us, what the end of those who are disobedient to the glad tidings?”
“THAT OLD SERPENT THE DEVIL”
All of the “burning” – fiery trials – of God’s people under the reign of evil have been instigated by “the God of this world,” the evil one; and this has been markedly true of the difficulties of all new creatures during this Gospel Age. This is apparent at the very outset of the Age, when “the Apostle and High Priest of our Profession, Christ Jesus” was “led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the Devil.” (Matt. 4:1) The word here translated “Devil” is from the Greek ‘diabolos,’ and is a specific name for the individual Satan – the Devil. It is the same word as found in Rev. 20:2: “He laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the devil, and Satan.”
We believe the words dragon, serpent, Devil and Satan portray the four unholy attributes of Azazel – the personification of evil in perfection – just as Power, Wisdom, Justice and Love describe the four character attributes of Jehovah – the personification of Goodness and true Holiness in perfection. As the “dragon,” the Evil One has attempted to devour the Gospel-Age saints by the unholy use of power, just as he through Pagan Rome actually did “devour the child”—Rev. 12:4. Honest opponents are devoured and crushed by the unholy use of power, just as that great apostate “Woman Jezebel” used unholy power to become “drunken with the blood of the saints”—Rev. 17:6. But in all of this seeming victory, God’s holy use of power has preserved the fully faithful, has “laid up for them a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous judge will give them in that day... to all those who love His appearing.” As the “serpent,” the evil one has been the deceiver, the beguiling tempter, of the Age in a perverted use of wisdom – Azazel means perverter. “Now the serpent was more crafty than any living thing” – Gen. 3:1, Rotherham; and “The woman was deceived”—I Tim. 2:14. But the “pure wisdom which is from above” has kept the fully faithful during the Age from being ‘‘hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”
As the “devil,” the Evil One has been the false accuser, the calumniator (so the Greek) of God’s people, especially so in the Parousia-Epiphany in the persons of antitypical Jannes and Jambres, the slanderous false-accusing sifters described by St. Paul in 2 Tim. 3:1-9. And slander, lying, false statements, misrepresentations, bad conscience manifested toward the fully faithful, are they not all an abuse of justice, i.e., “in”-justice? But here again, the “justice that is laid to the line” has spoken – or will eventually speak – in vindication of all those ‘‘whose righteousness is of Me, saith the Lord.” Then, finally as “Satan,” the Evil One is the adversary or opposer of God’s fully faithful people – often using the measurably faithful to oppose the fully faithful – the “buckwheat” class meddling in the affairs of the wheat class – attempting to usurp their office powers, frequently using the Truth given by God through His faithful mouthpieces to their own advantage, often palming it off as their own – all motivated through a lack of love – those persons “Who received not the Truth in the love of it,” and who have been given an “energy of delusion” in return. “Thou has given them blood (error) to drink!” (Rev. 16:6) But the true love, coming from the One “altogether lovely” provokes to good works (Heb. 10:24) – just as the lack of it opposes such “good works,” and attempts to promote evil works. Thus, there is clearly depicted the “High and Lofty One, who inhabiteth eternity, whose Name is Holy,” as contrasted with the Evil One who will be “bound a thousand years, cast into the bottomless pit, that he should deceive the nations no more,” and eventually annihilated.
THE PATTERN OF TEMPTATIONS WELL DEFINED
If we “consider Him,” it becomes clear enough that Jesus had His most severe trials at the very outset, and then at the end of His walk on the “narrow way.” After His anointing “with the spirit without measure” at Jordan, He was possessed of a consuming zeal, which so engrossed Him He did not even stop to eat for forty days. It would seem reasonable to believe that, knowing the great import of His mission on earth, and that “the King’s business required haste,” He memorized the entire Old Testament in those forty days, as well as to “rightly divide the word of Truth” on the various Tabernacle types, etc., of which He Himself would be the central figure in the antitype. According to His own words a little later, He had instructed those who have followed Him during the Age that every Tabernacle type had to continue until its antitype appear – “Till Heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the Law, till all be fulfilled.” (Matt. 5:18; Luke 16:17) Then, at the extreme and of His earthly ministry came the most severe trial of all – Gethsemane and the Cross; and this pattern is also clearly marked in the experiences of the Apostles – much persecution immediately after Pentecost, with greater climax toward the end of their lives – James killed with the sword (Acts 12:2), Peter crucified head downward, John thrown into a vat of boiling oil, Paul having his head chopped off, etc. – with all of them their most severe testings occurring at the beginning and at the end of their narrow-way experiences.
And Satan, master of psychology, makes his boldest and strongest attempts when his intended victims are weakest. This he did in the case of Jesus, when He was weakened from His fast and arduous concentration at the end of the forty days. And this he did by evidencing real concern for His physical welfare. “You are hungry and weak,” he had implied, “but You have received the Holy Spirit without measure; you have power to provide your every need; command that these stones be made bread.” This would not only try out the new power He had received, but would provide His temporal necessities at the same time. It might even decide Satan to repent and be converted, to join hands with him in the work He was about to undertake. Inasmuch as ‘‘He was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin,” we may be certain His followers all during the Age would be similarly tried – tempted to use the power of the Truth to their own present advantage; yet accomplish just as readily the work given them to do. Numerous are the examples along this line: Balaam, who succumbed to the temptation (Num. 22); St. Peter “offered money” for the power he had, but emphatically responding that “the gift of God is not to be purchased with money” (Acts 8:18-20); the Gospel-Age builders of Great Babylon becoming “rich, and increased of good, and in need of nothing,” as they foolishly determined to bring to earth the Kingdom of God before the “due time” – “my Lord delayeth.” “Money is power,” says Solomon; but it does not bring the power that maketh wise unto salvation; yet it has deceived many into believing they could be the “rich man” in this world, and “Lazarus” in the next. Just a cursory look at our Lord’s course should convince them of their fallacious reasoning.
TEMPTATION TO USE UNLAWFUL METHODS
At Jesus’ prompt rejection of Satan’s first bit of sophistry, he took up a second mode of attack: “if thou be the son of God, cast thyself down” from the pinnacle of the temple (Matt. 4:6). This task of redeeming, uplifting mankind from the mire of sin, from relieving the poverty and human frailty, so apparent on every hand, just could not be done without some sensational methods; and this has been the thinking of the minds of worldly men throughout the Age. One outstanding weakness of the “great multitude” all during the Age has been this very mistake; thus, they become “doubleminded” – a mind to serve the Lord while using Satan’s methods. They would do great works, win great numbers, gain great favor with their fellows, yet bask in the smile of Heaven at the same time – a combination never parried by the fully faithful, but readily grasped by those befuddled by Azazel, attempting to juggle the “pearl of great price” with one hand, as they juggle “the pleasures of sin for a season” with the other hand. “They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare” (1 Tim. 6:9) – “lifted up with pride they fall into the condemnation of the Devil.” (1 Tim. 3:6) “The Kingdom of Heaven cometh not with outward show,” said Jesus, and He set us the example of being “meek and lowly of heart.” There can be no argument with the statement, “The entrance of thy word giveth light,” and the great “quickening” that comes upon entrance of the Truth into the human mind has caused the large majority to “think more highly of themselves than they ought to think.” But the jester spoke a great truth when he declared, “O, if you would only know how much you have to know to know that you don’t know nuthin.”
It is a common fallacy of professional men – doctors, lawyers, preachers, technicians – to consider others stupid because the general knowledge of their particular vocation is so limited in the general mind. This is a mistake, of course, because many uneducated people could have made excellent doctors, lawyers, etc., had they been given the opportunity. It is a sage observation that the big difference between the professors and the students is that the professors read the books first. Therefore, it is sound counsel to all, and especially to the leaders in the church, to consider St. Paul’s words: “Who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? Now, if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?” (I Cor. 4:7)
TEMPTATION TO COMPROMISE
With Jesus’ positive rejection of Satan’s suggestion, there came immediately the third temptation – the temptation of Combinationism, which has overcome vast multitudes throughout the Age, and especially so here in the end of the Age. Satan would have Jesus to join with Him to accomplish His mission. Could not the two of them do it better than one of them alone? Would not two heads be better than one? Satan made it clear, of course, that he himself would be chief of the two heads: “All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” This temptation of Combinationism to God’s people has been among the most alluring all during the Age – not stated in exactly the same words, of course, but with the same underlying principle. “Money is power,” says Solomon; and this influence is stronger today than at any time in history, because there is so much more of it in the hands of so many more people of differing ideals and desires. The person today who contributes, say, $10,000 per year to his particular church, will not be lightly considered when he states his wishes to the preacher. one great source of strength with the last two Principal Men was their decision, SEATS FREE – NO COLLECTIONS. Since they asked no one for money, they could afford to tell them the truth; there was no need to compromise. This revives the story of an Admiral from the American Navy: Deciding to go to church one Sunday morning as he returned from the sea, he walked to a pew near the front, occupied by one lone old man. As he joined the party, he was given reproachful glances, which, however, he ignored. The old man, not to be thus disregarded, took one of his personal cards from his pocket, wrote on it, “I paid $1,000 for this seat.” The Admiral turned the card to the other side, handed it back to its owner with the answers “You paid too much.” And certainly Jesus would have “paid too much” had He succumbed to the tricky deceit of Satan.
TRUTH STRANGER THAN FICTION
It is a sound observation that truth is stranger than fiction; and this is illustrated all about us today. Who wishes to hear the Truth? Even among former brethren – those who once claimed to love the Truth more than life itself – there is very little of the “hearing ear” any more. And this situation is very evident in Churchianity everywhere; they are willing to listen to and receive almost any kind of hocus-pocus just so long as it isn’t the Truth. Thus, to the vast majority, even of those who once claimed to be “in the Present Truth,” the Truth is indeed a “stranger,” thus emphasizing the truth of Jesus’ inquiry: “When the Son of man cometh, will He find the faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8) And the Berean Comment is most fitting: “The question implies that at that time the true faith would be almost extinct.” But for those who do have the faith – the Present Truth – there is the comforting assurance of Psa. 89:15: “Blessed are the people that know the joyful sound (that have an ear for the Truth); they shall walk, 0 Lord, in the light of thy countenance.” Such have meat to eat that others know not of; to such the Aaronic blessing is sure: “The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace” – the peace of God, which passeth understanding.
All of the three temptations of Jesus, which He met and rejected without wavering, have come in principle to all of His followers during the Age, added to which they have also been tempted to sin. It is well to bear in mind that temptation is an appealing suggestion. Without appeal, there can be no temptation. Thus, the statement, “God cannot be tempted of evil” – evil is distasteful to every pore of His Being; just the reverse of Satan, whose characterization of The Evil One is indicative of the full corruption of evil that pervades every pore of his being. Nor is it any sin to be tempted; sin enters only when we are “overcome of evil.” Therefore, “be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” In all of their temptations, the fully faithful eventuate as “more than conquerors” – they gain the “crown of righteousness” which wins for them a throne. “He that overcometh shall sit with me in my throne, even as I overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne, is the sure promise of the fully faithful new creatures.
But the Scriptures are very clear that a “great multitude” are not such overcomers; they will never gain a throne. At best, they will serve “before the throne” that is the heritage of their more faithful brethren. And we believe it is sound and just observation that every one of the Great Multitude leaders today has failed in at least two, and probably in all three, of those temptations which came especially upon Jesus – selfishness, error, worldliness – with the additional charge against some of them that they also fall under the fourth temptation, Sin. Thus, we offer St. Paul’s counsel: “Exhort each other every day, while it is called Today, so that no one among you may be hardened by a delusion of sin.” (Heb. 3:13, Dia.)
Sincerely Your Brother,
John J. Hoefle, Pilgrim
QUESTION OF GENERAL INTEREST
QUESTION: On p. 12 of this Jan-Feb. PT Bro. Jolly discusses two “wolves” who no longer collaborate with him. Is he referring to you as one of these “wolves”?
ANSWER: There is no doubt in our mind that he is surreptitiously berating us in this instance, although, true to his “past performance” he is too “refined” (a polite way of saying he is too cowardly, with his “bad conscience” – See E-10:585) to unmistakably name his opponent – as a faithful leader would do in this Epiphany period, as did the leader of the LHMM before him – the faithful Epiphany Messenger. That Evil Servant (the unfaithful leader in the Society after faithful Brother Russell) used this same technique against Brother Johnson (while unashamedly castigating and naming him unmistakably in private as a Second-Deather) that R. G. Jolly now uses toward us – all the while shouting he adheres to “the faith once delivered unto the saints.”
It will be noted at the top of page 13 he says we “refuse to recognize the advancing Truth as it becomes due”; and in this same article he eulogizes (?) the other ‘‘wolf’’ (his “cousin,” J. W. Krewson) as “indulging in many fanciful interpretations, wild speculations, self-exaltations and manifest vagaries, resulting in most regrettable frenzies of delusion and holier-than-thou spirit in himself.” More about this a little later, but first let us set out some of R. G. Jolly’s “advancing Truth” that we refuse to recognize:
(1) Brother Russell’s Epiphany Parallels;
(2) Antitypical John’s Beheading;
(3) The Pyramid’s corroboration of the death of the last Saint;
(5) Consecrated Epiphany Campers.
Be it noted that the above are basic for just about every bit of “Advancing Truth” that appeared in the Present Truth magazine for a number of years after Brother Johnson’s demise. And whence came this “Advancing Truth”? Why, every bit of it came from the very same “cousin” Krewson – the “wolf” – that R. G. Jolly now describes as “indulging in many fanciful interpretations, wild speculations, manifest vagaries, etc.” At the time these items appeared in the Present Truth we refused to accept them, considering them even then in the same vein of which R. G. jolly now speaks – “fanciful interpretations, wild speculations, manifest vagaries.” Nor did we hesitate then to go to R. G. Jolly in brotherly gentility – not once, but repeatedly – and inform him of our conclusions – all of which he ignored.
R. G. Jolly refers to his presentations as “the faith once delivered unto the saints”; but his claim is as hollow as a sea shell. These things are actually “the faith (the errors) that was once delivered” to R. G. Jolly by “cousin” Krewson – which we have repeatedly and determinedly exposed as “manifest vagaries” – the same kind of “manifest vagaries” that are still coming from J. W. Krewson, which “manifest vagaries” R. G. Jolly now also treats with perspective similar to ours – although he is saddled with the embarrassing task of ‘contending’ for the vagaries his “cousin” delivered to him when they were collaborating together – all the while complaining that we don’t accept these vagaries as “advancing truth” and help him contend for it. But, “the leopard cannot change his spots”; and, whereas, J. W. Krewson is now more than ten years older and more “seasoned,” his “vagaries, wild speculations and frenzies of delusion” (R. G. Jolly’s own words in 1965) are in exact style to those with which he hoodwinked R. G. Jolly from 1950 to 1954 – not any worse, just more of them.
Aside from the four items set out above – which we do indeed refuse to recognize as “advancing Truth” – let R, G. Jolly declare if these are not yet the basis for his “Advancing Truth” –which he still strenuously attempts to uphold, although now admitting that their originator is presently saturated with “regrettable frenzies of delusions.” In all this we have, however, exposed the true kinsmanship of the “cousins” – that they are two of a kind – the rift between them coming only over the contention as to which of them should be greatest. See our paper No. 76-A, which treats of 1 Sam. 14:50. And we affirm once more that no such “cousin” relationship exists between us and J. W. Krewson, or between us and R. G, Jolly – nor did it ever exist. We opine that R. G. Jolly would still welcome us in brotherly fashion, with open arms, if we should join with him in “defending the faith” once delivered unto him by J. W. Krewson; but J. W. Krewson is not our “cousin,” and, not having this relationship with him, we were never influenced by the flattery of having him place us into the “parallels” of That Faithful and Wise Servant.
Aside from the foregoing, R. G. Jolly has indeed offered some of his own perversions (Azazel means Perverter) of “the faith once delivered unto the saints” – such as now including the Great Company in the “good and faithful servant” class, and in the ‘Salt,’ the ‘Light,’ the ‘us’ and the ‘we’ of the saintly fraternity; but these aberrations are certainly not “the faith once delivered unto the saints” – they are the “strong delusions” that come to all who “received not the Truth in the love of it,” hence we do not accept such. Let none be deceived: There is a clear, fixed and eternal line of demarcation throughout the Scriptures between the Little Flock and the Great Company, between the Fully Faithful and the Measurably Faithful, between the “good and faithful” and the “unprofitable servant” Class; and it is indeed now a new and strange vagary to observe a crown-loser counseling his kinsmen that the “great Tribulation” and “tears” (Rev. 7:14, 17) are a thing of the past for them (even before Armageddon!) – that their failures and revolutionisms are forgotten – that they should be rejoicing over their promotion once more into the same Class as were the Saints under Brother Russell. And just think of it, Brethren! Those who do not agree with him in such nonsense have “lost the spirit of the Truth.” (See his page 13, col. 1, top) And such teachings by him are but “further elaborations” of the Truth once delivered to the Saints!
He explains further of us that we are a “hireling,” one who flees when we see the wolf coming; but not so with him – brave little con that he is! Of course, those of our readers who know the facts recognize only too well the gross falsehood of this statement, because the true situation is just the reverse: He has steadfastly refused invitation from Ecclesias that invited him to appear before them to defend his “advancing Truth,” and he has advised his Yes-men to do the same, leaving those who openly embrace him to fare for themselves against our “ravages.” Let him show one instance where we have ever done similarly; therefore, we offer to him the very appropriate Scripture, “Why call ye me Lord, and do not the things which I say?”
ANNOUNCEMENTS OF GENERAL INTEREST
THE MEMORIAL – In 1965 the Memorial of our Lord’s crucifixion should be held after six p.m. on April 14. This date is determined by the moon nearest the Vernal Equinox coming new at Jerusalem at 2.42 a.m. April 2, thus making that day begin at 6 p.m. April 1, with Nisan 14 beginning at six p.m. April 14.
THE SPRING SPECIAL EFFORT – Actuated by the Epiphany Messenger’s arrangements, it has been our custom to designate a certain period each Spring for Special Effort in antitypical Gideon’s Second Battle, the period for 1965 being March 21 through April 18. The tracts specially composed for this effort are – What Is The Soul, Where Are The Dead and The Resurrection – all of which are available free of charge and postage prepaid for those who wish to engage in this good work at church doors, etc. Orders should be placed early enough to allow for ample delivery time.
THE BEREAVED WORK – For all faithful brethren seeking “opportunities of service” we consider the bereaved work a good work throughout the year – and not to be neglected. While these tracts are the product of Brother Russell and Brother Johnson, we consider them today as “PRESENT TRUTH” just as much as they were fifty years ago; thus, they are not “timeworn and threadbare.” Also, we consider them sufficient in themselves for this work – without any special additions of other literature or letters on our part. To add such items actually cheapens the fine ideals established in the work by Brother Johnson, we believe. In other words, we adhere strictly to Brother Johnson’s prescribed method because we believe it to be sound, so we do not suggest letters or other tracts to accompany the Gideon tracts.
It gives us genuine pleasure to report our greatest distribution of these tracts in 1964 – with the same being true of our “extras” of monthly papers; and it is our fond hope that this will stimulate those who have been lax in this effort to join wholeheartedly in it with us. Also, we entertain the pleasant anticipation of obtaining the Parousia and Epiphany Studies in the Scriptures, to make available for sharpshooter work before the year is out. And may this anticipation “stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance.... lest ye fall from your own steadfastness.” (2 Pet. 3:1, 17)