Category Archives: Bible Students

P_S_L_Johnson_small

PAUL SAMUEL LEO JOHNSON, known internationally as Professor Johnson, author, lecturer, biblicist, pastor, editor, scholar, professor and preacher, was born at Titusville, Pa., October 4, 1873; died October 22, 1950. He was married January 3, 1905, to Emma B. McCloud, daughter of a Columbus contractor. No children blessed this union. His wife survives him.

Both of his parents were of Hebrew descent and pre-natal influence largely contributed to his work as a servant of God. His father and he inherited their immense physical strength from his grandfather, who was a very strong man. His father was a baker in Poland, who, while in his twenties, came to America, where for six months he worked 20 hours each day, except on the Sabbath when he rested, in order that he might send for his wife and children to come to America. Bro. Johnson’s father was of high intelligence and as a linguist could speak fluently in 14 different languages. His mother sailed to America in a sailboat which many times was in danger of capsizing in the severe storms which it encountered. These trials occasioned her, a naturally devout woman, to draw very close to God for His help. Little Paul inherited his religious capacities from his mother, and his physical strength and mental powers from his father. He was born about nine months after his parents’ reunion in America and the family settled in Titusville, Pa., which at that time was a booming oil city.

“Bro. Johnson’s father was very prominent in Hebrew religious circles and became the president of the synagogue in Titusville. When he traveled he was often invited to address the congregations and in later years when he moved from city to city he was elected as the president of those synagogues also. Little Paul was educated in the knowledge of Hebrew, which gave him some fine training for his future work. He became Bar Mitzvah (son of the commandment) on Oct. 15, 1886. He also did well in his other studies, especially history. At the age of eight, with the encouragement of his father, he started to write a history of the United States. Another significant event in little Paul’s early life was his being taken by his father to the funerals of Bros. Stetson and Storrs, where he first saw Bro. Russell and heard him deliver the sermons. His father’s prominence in Hebrew circles occasioned many trials for his son Paul, which especially occurred after his mother’s death when he was only 12 years of age. Having been his mother’s favorite son and loving her very, very dearly, her death on January 4, 1886, was the occasion for much grief for young Paul. He mourned his mother as few children would mourn the loss of one of their parents. A short time later his father remarried, an act of which young Paul did not approve. He was mistreated by his family due to his love and allegiance to his departed mother, which caused a great deal of disagreement in the family circle. He became so distraught and discouraged that he ran away from home several times in 1887.

The last time he ran away he came to Philadelphia with another lad around his own age and found work as a bootblack. It was here that he first took notice of a picture of Jesus in His sufferings and at that time expressed sympathy for Jesus; shortly thereafter he found a Bible in a rubbish heap and carried it with him when he and another boy attended a service at the Arch St. M.E. Church (Broad and Arch Sts., Phil.). The minister spoke to the congregation on a subject which was beyond the boys’ comprehension. This caused young Paul to take out his Bible and start to read it while the sermon was being delivered. John 3: 16 caught his eye and as he meditated on the words, “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life, his heart was filled with further sympathy and love for Jesus. He recognized Jesus as His Savior and repented of his sins, thus receiving faith justification. This occurred on December 25, 1887. Bro. Johnson believed that he consecrated and was Spirit-begotten on that date. Later that day he attended a meeting in a Y.M.C.A. and there told of his decision to accept Christ. On making this confession and telling of his nationality, he was told that he must immediately write to his parents’ and tell them of his decision to accept Christ. Accordingly, he wrote to his parents, telling them of his acceptance of Christ and joining the Methodist Church. When he returned home later his father said nothing except to remark sarcastically, “I’m a Methodist, I am!” because he did not wish to desecrate the Sabbath. But as soon as the Sabbath was over he asked young Paul, “Why did you become a Christian?” Young Paul’s reply was: “So that I could obey Moses and the prophets.” His father then attempted in vain to force him to renounce Christ and become a “yehuda” again, but young Paul staunchly refused, being firm in his conviction that Jesus had died for him. He was ready to adhere to it at any cost. Because of his stand his father declared him to be incorrigible and he was sent to Morganza Reformatory on February 8, 1889, where he was grossly mistreated by the other boys, who were imprisoned there for criminal offenses, as well as by the officials of that institution. His father promised to take him out of the reformatory if only he would renounce Christ; but in spite of all his efforts the young convert undauntedly clung to Jesus as his personal Savior and was fully consecrated to Him, though he had many incorrect ideas regarding God’s plan. There was a Lutheran minister, a Pastor Kuldell, who regularly visited the reformatory. He came during young Paul’s stay and was told that there was a young Hebrew lad who was imprisoned there for accepting Christ as his Savior. Pastor Kuldell had many conversations with the young boy and greatly assisted him in his Christian life. Young Paul quickly gained the friendship of an official of the institution, earned the merits which were necessary for his release and left the institution on July 1, 1889. Since his father, in sending him to a penal institution, renounced his right as guardian of the boy (a fact which his father learned to his chagrin when he tried to have him returned to Morganza), the state appointed a guardian for the young lad.

He renewed his consecration vows and was baptized on July 14, 1889, and returned home. His father ridiculed him and disowned him as a son on July 15, 1889, even having a mock funeral service for him. The young lad was sent to Allegheny where his guardian lived and where he worked in a shoe store for some time. Providentially, the Lord placed him within a half-block of the Bible House where Pastor Russell lived, but did not give him the Truth at that time. The Lord had other plans for young Johnson, viz., that he acquire the education necessary to fit him for the great work which the Lord would have for him to do in later years. Without this excellent education in the various schools of learning he would not have been so well fitted for the defense of the Truth as given by the Lord through “that wise and faithful Servant,” for how could he have refuted all the attacks upon the Truth without his knowledge, e.g., of Greek and Hebrew? On one occasion his landlady went to hear Pastor Russell and came back and said she did not believe in hell because Pastor Russell says there is no hell. Young Johnson said, “If Pastor Russell does not believe in hell, which the Bible certainly teaches, he must be an infidel.” The Lord permitted him through this misrepresentation to hold to that mistaken view for over 14 years, during which he was further educated and trained for his future work.

PREPARATION FOR THE MINISTRY

A natural step was his preparation for the ministry, so on September 8, 1890, he entered Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. He had little difficulty in mastering his studies, for he had rare intellect, in fact so great that he was nicknamed “the mental giant.” He was mistreated there by the students because of his nationality and their jealousy, but he successfully overcame all these obstacles. He turned many of these efforts at persecution into long-remembered humorous incidents. Had he not been gifted with a sense of humor, he would have fainted by the wayside. He easily surpassed the other students in his attainments, e.g., in Church History he never missed a question. The history professor gave him a mark of 99 instead of 100, because he reasoned that no one was perfect and thus he could not conscientiously give him a perfect mark. Bro. Johnson graduated from the college on June 19, 1895, having won the valedictory and also the highest honors ever given in the history of that university. In that same year he entered the Theological Seminary of the Ohio Synod of the Lutheran Church, from which he graduated May 25, 1898. His teachers all recognized his ability as a scholar.

He graduated from the seminary May 25, 1898 and accepted a position at a small missionary church in Mars, Pa., where he stayed until he was called to Columbus to take charge of St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church. He there manifested his zeal by building a new edifice for his congregation in a very short period of time. He was a strict believer and expounder of the Lutheran faith and on one occasion when he preached on the doctrine of eternal torment, a member of the congregation said to him, “You certainly made the church smell of sulphur this morning!” It was on this same morning that the congregation was being offered tracts by some of the brethren of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, among whom was a Bro. Van Hook of the Columbus Ecclesia. Pastor Johnson called his audience’s attention to the volunteers, who had unwisely stationed themselves too close to the door, and cautioned them against taking the papers. He believed he knew all about the teachings of Pastor Russell, hence thought he was protecting his flock.

Early in 1903 he desired earnestly to have a more fruitful ministry for the Lord. Having read R.A. Torrey’s booklet on the baptism of the Spirit as an indispensable equipment for the Lord’s service, Pastor Johnson, still serving as a minister in the Lutheran Church, was so deeply impressed with the theory of the booklet that he re-consecrated himself, this time, he thought, for service, an unclear idea he had imbibed from the said booklet. Among other things, he told the Lord that he was willing to become a doormat on which the church members might wipe their feet, if that should be the Lord’s way of making him more effective for the Lord. He arose from his knees fully persuaded that the Lord had given him the desired gift. From that time onward, despite several errors that he had imbibed from the booklet, he manifested a different spirit from that which prevailed in the Lutheran Church and shortly afterward his study of the Bible extending over a period of 2½ months, without human aid, opened up to him a number of teachings that drew him away from those of the Lutheran Church and into some truths which were peculiarly harvest truths. However, his prejudice against “Russellism” was so great that he would not read its literature, nor listen to its expounders.

The following are the teachings that solely from Bible study without human help became clear to him from about February 23 to May 5, 1903, after which date no further such openings of the Scriptures came to him at that time: (1) the unity of God, as against the trinity; (2) human mortality, as against the deathlessness of the soul; (3) death, not eternal torment, as the penalty of sin; (4) Papacy, the beast, and Protestantism, the image of the beast, as Babylon; (5) the identity of the Millennium and the Judgment Day and that they are the same period; (6) probation for the non-elect dead during the Millennium; and (7) 1914 as the end of the Age. Immediately, while in the nominal church he began to teach and preach some of these things, which, of course, caused a great amount of opposition in the congregation and among the leaders of the Lutheran Church. His leaving the Lutheran Church was given wide publicity in newspapers all over the country. This occurred May 1, 1903.

HE FINDS THE TRUTH

Strengthened through the firm stand that he had taken and by the truths which the Lord had opened to him, he longed to be of greater service to the Lord, but realized that there were many things regarding God’s plan that he did not know. It was then that he contacted a friend who was an adherent of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society and asked him for advice on the subject. This brother promised to send one of the elders of the Columbus Ecclesia to confer, with him. By the strange irony of Providence, who should come to assist him but Bro. Van Hook, the tract distributor whom he had vigorously opposed when still Pastor of the St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church. Bro. Van Hook was amazed at the amount of Truth the Lord had revealed to Bro. Johnson without his having read Truth literature and tactfully induced him to read Bro. Russell’s writings, especially the Volumes and the Towers, which Bro. Johnson did, rapidly absorbing the glorious Truth as he studied it. How his heart rejoiced when he came to the chapter on “Christ in You, the Hope of Glory,” where he received his first knowledge of many of the glorious promises made to the Christ class. “Tabernacle Shadows” served to deepen this impression.

Under the guidance of the Columbus Ecclesia, Bro. Johnson increased in knowledge and the fruits of the Holy Spirit and at their request did unofficial pilgrim service in the surrounding vicinity, which service was also widely publicized in newspapers, his first sermon under the auspices of that ecclesia being preached on June 14, 1903. It was unusual for anyone so new in the Truth to be given such opportunities of service and soon his activities came to the attention of Pastor Russell, who invited him to Allegheny to discuss the matter of his being appointed as a pilgrim of the Society. After a short visit at the Allegheny Bible House during which Bro. Russell tested him, and upon receipt of a letter of recommendation from the Columbus Ecclesia, he appointed Bro. Johnson a pilgrim, i.e., a full-time traveling speaker, on May 1, 1904, exactly one year to the day after he had renounced the Lutheran Church. He labored long and fruitfully in the pilgrim service, traveling throughout the United States.

Having had difficulty in 1903 in seeing the Church’s share in the Sin-offering, he had earnestly prayed to the Lord to steel his mind against that doctrine if it were untrue, as it seemed to him at that time to impinge against the doctrine of the Ransom; but he vowed unto the Lord that if He would prove it to him as being true, he would defend that doctrine unto death. Upon ending that prayer he again opened the book on “Tabernacle Shadows” and for the first time the host of Scriptures treating of the Church’s share in the Sin-offering became clear to his mind and he joyously realized that Pastor Russell had set forth the matter aright. Often thereafter, he preached on this doctrine as he traveled from city to city, proving it by abundant literal and figurative Scriptures. On January 3, 1905 he was united in marriage to Sr. Emma B. McCloud, the service being performed by Pastor Russell at the Bible House in Allegheny. Sr. Johnson thereafter traveled with Bro. Johnson for many years in the pilgrim work.

His having originally experienced much difficulty in seeing the two parts of the Sin-offering enabled him afterward to appreciate that doctrine probably more fully than any other individual in the Truth, excepting Bro. Russell. He proved this in the 1908-1911 sifting, during which time many lost their standing, rejecting the Truth on the two Sin-offerings, Mediator, Covenants and Ransom. Remembering his vow of 1903, Bro. Johnson threw himself into the controversy with every power of body, mind and heart. Almost everywhere he went during the height of the sifting from early in 1909 to May, 1910, he preached on one or another of the four pertinent subjects, especially emphasizing the Church’s share in the Sin-offering, as he recognized it to be the key to the other involved points.

His zeal and heavy work contributed to his suffering “brain fag” on May 22, 1910, but the Lord immediately thereafter rewarded him for his steadfastness in service by giving him a sudden, unpremeditated insight into the types of the five siftings of the Harvest, as St. Paul points them out in 1 Cor. 10: 5-11. This understanding flashed through his mind with no study at all, by a sudden illumination. Since he believed that he had received some very important new truths in that trial, he desired to report the matter to Bro. Russell as quickly as possible. Writing out a paper explaining the matter, he boarded a train for Brooklyn, to which city the Society headquarters had been moved. Before reaching Brooklyn the train was wrecked, the only experience of this kind Bro. Johnson ever had in his career, but he arrived unharmed at Bethel and submitted his paper to Bro. Russell, who made an abstract of the lengthy article and later published it in the 1913 Tower. Returning to the West Coast, Bro. Johnson for about three months did hard physical labor and thus successfully overcame the brain fag under which he had suffered. He had feared that his brain was forever wrecked and could no more retain its hold on the 300 lectures which he delivered in rotation, quoting on the average of 125 Bible passages in each, but the Lord granted him an exceptionally quick recovery, for his wearied brain held firmly to all his discourses and he resumed his pilgrim work, being more fruitful than before. During the ensuing years, he traveled throughout the U.S. and Canada giving lectures for the brethren and the public, during which time he lectured in almost every city of 10,000 or over in the U.S. and Canada. Pastor Russell in later years sent him only to the larger cities and classes.

On October 31, 1916, his close friend and associate, Pastor Russell, died on a Sante Fe train near Pampa, Texas. His death was a great loss to Bro. Johnson, for they loved one another very much. Bro. Russell had made arrangements for Bro. Johnson to go to England in November to serve the brethren and investigate Society matters there. After Bro. Russell’s death he went on this trip. There Bro. Johnson experienced one of the most severe trials of his brilliant career. He worked hard in England and Scotland for several months and became very weary due to this hard work and great loss of sleep. The trouble there distressed him, for he could not understand how brethren could act so deceptively, for he had learned to look at the brethren as “Christ in you the hope of Glory” and could not conceive of how so-called brethren could mistreat one another as they did. Details of his work and its results in England are given in his writings, especially E7 and E10. He returned to America, only to become embroiled in controversy with various ones here.

It was at this time that J.F. Rutherford, setting aside the arrangements which Bro. Russell had made, usurped control of the Society by declaring, through a legal technicality, that the offices of the majority of the Board, who opposed him, were vacant. He then proceeded to elect some of his own supporters in their places, thereby seizing complete control. It was this course which caused Bro. Johnson and others to arise in opposition, and for Bro. Johnson to become his leading opponent. As J.F. Rutherford and others set aside one after another of the truths which were given through Bro. Russell, Bro. Johnson rallied to the defense of the Truth, as his writings (especially the ones on Merariism and Gershonism) attest. His ability to analyze the various matters and his thorough knowledge of the Scriptures made it possible for him to be very thorough and detailed in his refutations, so that the errorists who opposed him were left without any Scriptural ground on which to stand. When many of the others who opposed J.F. Rutherford’s course decided to form a corporation of their own, and began to practice some of the very things which they had condemned in J.F.R., Bro. Johnson again arose in opposition and became the leader of those who opposed their course. The many who viewed the situation as he did gathered themselves around him and it was about this time that he founded the Laymen’s Home Missionary Movement, an interdenominational religious movement which now has members in about 40 countries. He became the editor and publisher of many of Pastor Russell’s works; he became and continued during his earthly lifetime as the editor, author and publisher of the PRESENT TRUTH AND HERALD OF CHRIST’S EPIPHANY, a monthly religious journal which was also translated into several different languages and published by various branches of the Movement, and the “Herald of the Epiphany,” an eight-page bi-monthly religious journal which contains the simpler features of God’s plan. He also traveled and lectured extensively in various places. He was author and publisher of GOD,” “CREATION,” “ELIJAH AND ELISHA,” “THE EPIPHANYS ELECT,A MISCELLANY,” MERARIISM,” “GERSHONISM,” “NUMBERS (VOL. 1),THE PAROUSIA MESSENGER (VOL. 1),THE EPIPHANY MESSENGER,EXODUS,” “THE BIBLE,” “SAMUELS — KINGS — CHRONICLES,” “THE PAROUSIA MESSENGER (VOL. 2),CHRIST — SPIRIT — COVENANTS,etc. He directed a large public work, the publication of millions of free Biblical tracts, most of them written by Pastor Russell, and a lecture bureau, with over 100 speakers. He continued in his work, including his service as General Pastor, Teacher and Trustee and Director of the Movement to the end.

BROTHER JOHNSON’S LAST MONTHS

AN ACCOUNT of our dearly beloved Bro. Johnson’s last months would not be complete without relating some events in his past few years, for his physical afflictions caused a gradual death. As the dear brethren generally know, Bro. Johnson wore out his body in the Lord’s service. In July, 1946, while on a pilgrim trip in England he had an attack of nervous exhaustion. This no doubt was accompanied by a slight stroke. The doctors whom he consulted in England firmly advised him to cease his activities until he could recuperate, but his zeal for the Lord and His people prompted him to continue his trip throughout England, Denmark, Poland, France and Belgium before returning to America. He recuperated somewhat from this attack and went about his normal activities at the Bible House. He had traveled to the Los Angeles and Chicago Conventions, and had been home only one day when on Nov. 19, 1946, he was stricken with a severe attack of coronary thrombosis, which kept him bedfast for nine weeks. In most cases sufferers of this type of thrombosis die instantly, but the Lord preserved Bro. Johnson, for his work was not yet finished. After his partial recovery from the attack of thrombosis, he resumed his normal activities, though at a much slower rate, due to his decreased strength. He frequently worked to exhaustion, as many of his messages in the PRESENT TRUTH informed us.

He continued his normal activities under great difficulties for some two years, until he was forced in Sept. 1948 to undergo a rectal operation. It usually takes some time to recover after an operation of this kind, but before he had had an adequate chance to recuperate, he, against the doctors’ advice, left by plane for the West Coast to attend the Los Angeles Convention. On the way back he stopped off at the Chicago Convention and served the brethren there, despite much physical suffering. After his return home, he required considerable physical rest. After recuperating somewhat, however, he went back to his normal routine, but with decreased ability; he required more physical assistance now than at any other time, for the operation had greatly weakened him.

He very gradually grew weaker, and this became more noticeable in the last six to ten months of his life on earth. He was still serving the Philadelphia Ecclesia on the first Sunday of each month with a discourse and a question meeting. He went about his daily routine, which at that time consisted of handling his correspondence, i.e., reading it, noting the orders, subscriptions, etc., and answering it, working on the books, and also working on and overseeing the publication of the PRESENT TRUTH, Herald, etc. He was still reading the Parousia and Epiphany volumes daily as he had opportunity, in order that he would be better able to remember the Truth. Sometimes when reading the Epiphany volumes, especially “God” and “Creation,” he would tell us that he marveled at the fact that the Lord had given these things to the brethren through him. His condition appeared to be the same, but he was beginning to lose his appetite and much of his weight and strength, which losses were aggravated by frequent stomach and intestinal upsets.

One day early in February he awoke in the morning with a severe pain in his chest. He said that it resembled the pain he had had when attacked with coronary thrombosis. This had happened on a few occasions before, so he followed the doctor’s suggestion and changed his position, i. e., he got up out of bed and stayed up until later in the morning. His doctor later told us that incidents like this seemed to indicate that some of the small vessels of the heart were bursting and becoming useless.

In the first part of March our dear Brother had an attack of intestinal grippe which continued for about three days. During this spell the doctor kept him on a rigid diet, which was continued for some time afterward. This sickness prevented his service to the Philadelphia Ecclesia on March 5. He experienced another stomach upset in the middle of April, but our dear Brother still went on with his regular work as before, though weakened still more. It was during this time that he spent a considerable amount of time on his finishing touches to the book, “Christ—Spirit—Covenants,” and got it ready for the press. Early in August he was again taken sick with another stomach attack, this time accompanied by a severe bowel condition. This was the worst he had had and it lingered longer than the others. This attack began on the day on which he was scheduled to serve the Philadelphia Church. Only by exercising a great amount of will power was he able to go to deliver the discourse and conduct the question meeting. His subject was Ps. 46, which proved to be a great blessing to the brethren. About a week later he returned to his normal diet and resumed his routine duties.

HE SERVES AT THE CONVENTION

He attended the Philadelphia Convention under a great physical handicap and served the dear ones on two days. After the Convention he was in good spirits and was much more active in his work, including the reading of some books on the Reformation. He felt so much better that he asked one morning to have all the arrangements made to go to the Chicago Convention and later also talked of going to Los Angeles, if able. On Sept. 9 for the last time he entertained some guests at the Bible House and seemed to feel better as he recounted some of his early experiences to them for about two hours at the table. On Sept. 19 he had another spell of stomach sickness, which was to be his last. Extending over a period of several days, it weakened him very much.

On the 23rd and 24th of Sept. some difficulty in breathing developed. The doctor diagnosed it as pulmonary edema due to heart and other troubles, and suggested a minor operation, but Bro. Johnson said that he did not want to go to a hospital. After he had been given special treatment he seemed to improve, but this was only temporary, however, and he soon began feeling worse again. On Oct. 2 he sat at his desk for the last time. On his birthday, Oct. 4, he was very weak and tired, but the doctor advised Sr. Johnson to have a birthday party for him in spite of his illness, saying that Bro. Johnson might not be with us long. Sr. Johnson was carried upstairs and we had a birthday party for him. He appreciated it, especially a cake and a little bunch of flowers, but could hardly eat, due to weakness and weariness. He seemed to be very tired for several days, even though his heart and blood pressure were better.

The doctor decided to change his medicine and this seemed to result in his mind becoming so active that he got very little rest day or night until the doctor changed the medicine again. But now he was much weaker due to lack of sleep for about a week. It was also about this time that Bro. Alger, an osteopathic physician, arrived to treat Bro. Johnson. Bro. Johnson’s hand was getting too shaky to sign his name very legibly. The last time he signed his name was on Oct. 15 and at that time he had also stopped attending to the mail. He seemed to be restless again and weaker. On the day that Bro. and Sr. Hedman returned from their trip he was definitely worse. He did not clearly recognize them the next morning. During Tuesday night, Oct. 17, he continually called for water, for his illness caused an abnormal thirst. Finally he fell asleep and early the next morning he seemed better and more talkative. Several times he repeated the words, “O come, let us worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” This was the last thought on the Scriptures he was heard to express. During his illness he often would be praying aloud, saying, “Lord, give me the heritage of the saints,” “Jesus, give me Your life,” etc.

On Thursday morning he was no longer able to speak to us and the only recognition he showed was to nod his answer when asked if he wanted a drink of water. He seemed to be very tired, however, and it was only with difficulty that he was awakened to eat his breakfast. He continued in this tired condition for the rest of the day. Bro. Alger suggested consultation with another osteopath, and his suggestion was followed. On Friday Bro. Johnson seemed to have much difficulty in swallowing his food and this increased gradually until he was unable to take much food without choking on it. On Saturday morning he could not take even a drink of water. When the doctor arrived and examined him he said that no more could be done for him, that he would be with us only a few hours more. All were surprised and shocked to hear this, as we firmly believed that the Lord would keep him here much longer. We did not think that it could be this way, and yet the good Lord, who makes no mistakes, had arranged it so. Several days earlier we had asked whether intravenous feeding and other special treatment would help, but the doctor had said it was not advisable in Bro. Johnson’s case. We asked him again if there was anything which could possibly be done and he replied, No.

We decided to have him call in another doctor to give his opinion of the case. He came and after an examination suggested removing him to a hospital. He said there was a slim chance of his responding to special treatment. So our dear Brother was moved to the M.E. Hospital early Saturday afternoon, where he was given intravenous feeding and oxygen, which seemed to help him to breathe easier. But tests showed that he had a very high uremic count in his blood. A specialist examined him and confirmed the opinion that he did not have much chance for recovery. There was a case similar to his in the hospital in which there had been a recovery and we reasoned that if this other man had recovered in a similar case, surely the Lord would preserve Bro. Johnson. So we were a little encouraged again. One of us stayed at the hospital with him, while the others went back to the Bible House.

On Sunday morning Bro. Johnson was decidedly worse, his breath getting shorter, his kidneys ceasing to function and his blood pressure and pulse getting weaker. They now placed him into an oxygen tent. It became quite evident that unless the Lord performed a miracle Bro. Johnson would not remain in the flesh much longer. Some of the other brethren came and Bros. Krewson, Hedman, A. Gohlke and Jolly in turn offered a special prayer at the bedside subject to the Lord’s will. It was then that the following telegram was sent to some of the classes: “DEAR BRETHREN, BROTHER JOHNSON CRITICALLY ILL. HOSPITAL. PRAYERS DESIRED FOR GOD’S WILL.” Bro. Johnson never regained consciousness again. He did not have any noticeable pain and at about 2: 30 his breathing began to become irregular and it finally ceased at 2: 40 p.m. Thus ended the earthly pilgrimage of this beloved servant of God. His labors of love on behalf of the Lord, the Truth and the brethren had finally used up his human all. He now went home to meet His beloved Lord and Master.

After Bro. Johnson’s death the following telegram was sent to various ecclesias and to our representatives in other countries: “OUR DEAR BROTHER JOHNSON PASSED BEYOND THE VEIL TWO FORTY SUNDAY AFTERNOON. FUNERAL FRIDAY, OCTOBER 27, ONE O’CLOCK, TABERNACLE. FAITH CAN FIRMLY TRUST. PRAYERS NEEDED.” The following letter was mailed to other ecclesias and to certain isolated individuals “Greetings in the name of our dear Lord and Redeemer!

PSLJohnson4Our dear Brother Johnson passed beyond the veil on Sunday, October 22, at 2: 40 p.m. at the M.E. Hospital, Philadelphia. The funeral services will be held Friday, October 27, at 1: 00 p.m. in the Epiphany Tabernacle, 11th St. and Snyder Ave., Philadelphia, followed by interment at Whitemarsh Memorial Park, Ambler, Pa. Of course, we all feel our loss very deeply, but rejoice in his great gain. This came earlier than we had expected, but God, who doeth all things best, saw fit to take him home at this time. It is not ours to question why, for we can rest by faith in our Father’s supreme wisdom and love and trust Him to guide us in this dark hour. “We would rather walk in the dark with God than go alone in the light.” Please notify the dear ones in your locality as you have opportunity. We especially ask for your prayers on our behalf and on behalf of all God’s dear ones. (Signed) R.G. Jolly, on behalf of the Bible House Family.”

 The Present Truth #384, December 1950

Fredrik Homer Robison (1885-1932)

RobisonF. H. ROBISON, the only son of Mr. and Mrs. James A. Robison, of Oakland, California, was born February 3, 1885, at Greenwood, Indiana, and it was there that he spent his youth, graduating from high school at the age of fourteen. It was about this time that God touched his heart and he became a believer, affiliating with the Disciples of Christ. Gratitude to God filled him with a desire to dispense the gospel. He entered Franklin College to continue his education and there further displayed an aptitude for languages in the study of New Testament Greek.

Being a gifted student, an earnest seeker after truth, he loved the Word and soon advanced beyond the average, being compelled to look for independent doors of opportunity. Problems presented themselves for solution. Finally he decided to leave the place of his birth. He went to Canada and took out a claim in the Rainy River district of Ontario. He resided there about one year, teaching part time and part time employed in the immigration service. He returned to Indiana in 1904 and entered Butler College in Indianapolis, remaining there until the opening of Winona Technical Institute, also in Indianapolis, and enrolled there as a student of lithography that he might be equipped not only for his present need, but to have the knowledge of a trade, for use in the missionary field. It was his purpose to carry the gospel to Japan independently.

With a year’s instruction at the John Herrin Art Institute in Indianapolis and some knowledge of chemistry to his credit, he made splendid progress and in less than two years accepted a position as poster artist in one of the largest lithographing houses in the United States, located at Cleveland, Ohio. He became one of their foremen in charge of artists. It was while in this position that he pursued the reading of Pastor Russell’s works, having become slightly interested during his sojourn in Canada. During all this time his linguistic talents were being exercised more or less in the attainment of a knowledge of Spanish, French and German, as well as New Testament Greek. After reading Pastor Russell’s works, he employed a Japanese friend to translate some of the literature into Japanese, still thinking of the foreign mission field, but later abandoned this to become a home missionary, as a colporteur for Pastor Russell’s works.

After about one year in this new field of endeavor, he prepared for secretarial service and was called to the headquarters of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, then located in Allegheny, Pennsylvania. It was there that he met Miss Almeta Nation, to whom he was married in 1909. He became private secretary to Pastor Russell and held that position until after the Society’s offices were transferred to Brooklyn, New York, in 1909, when he was made secretary in charge of the foreign work.

As private secretary to Pastor Russell he accompanied him on a trip around the world with a committee sent to investigate foreign missions. Japan was one of the places visited.

As secretary, of the foreign work he had a good opportunity for pursuing the study of languages and could translate twenty-three in all, giving discourses in German, Greek, and English. He made week-end pilgrimages in and about New York City, addressing both public and private gatherings.

While acting as secretary to Pastor Russell, he was handed a copy of Dr. Bullinger’s Apocalypse to read and report the gist of its contents. In response to an inquiry by Pastor Russell after reading, he replied “Dr. Bullinger seems to think that the book of Revelation is for the Jew.” Pastor Russell replied, “He may be right.”

When the first installment of the CONCORDANT VERSION was issued it fell into the hands of members of the Society, and several called the attention of Headquarters to it. As the plates of the Emphatic Diaglott were worn out, they were looking for something to replace it, and Brother Robison was delegated to call on the Concordant Publishing Concern in Los Angeles, with a view to placing it on the Society’s list of literature. When he came it was immediately explained to him that the CONCORDANT VERSION could not, in any way, be changed to suit the views of the Society, but must be held strictly to the facts in the original. At this his face brightened with a radiant smile, as he replied, “That is just what we want!” So it was arranged that a special edition should be published for their use, without notes of any kind. During the ensuing visit as he had presented Brother Knoch with a copy of a small volume on the Revelation, he was given a copy of Dr. Bullinger’s book on The Chief Musician. This was chosen because it was of a neutral character, so that he should not be able to say that he had been unduly influenced during his visit. But he was not at all sectarian, and he became much interested in Dr. Bullinger’s writings, echoes of which appeared in his articles in the Watchtower. He became vitally concerned with the CONCORDANT VERSION, and suggested that we call the notations above the line superlinear, and those below sublinear, in order to avoid the confusion which interlinear was causing. As he became more and more interested in the truth, his position became precarious. At last, he sent a characteristic post card, announcing the crisis which severed his relations with the International Bible Students Association.

Brother Robison was one of four men designated in the will of Pastor Russell to be co-editors of the Watch Tower, the official organ of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. He held this position until the spring of 1922 when he resigned and went to Washington, D. C., to accept secular work as a commercial artist in the art department of the Washington Post. He afterwards served the government and later became art director for the American Automobile Association, with headquarters in Washington, D. C.

Brother Robison was never a “Russellite” nor a “Societyite.” It was because of this that his opportunities to serve on the editorial staff of the Watch Tower were cut short and he was compelled to seek new fields of endeavor.

After resigning from his commission as co-editor of the Watch Tower and elder of the New York congregation, in response to many inquiries as to why he left the Society, he published in blanket form his reasons therefor. He also wrote “Are Bride and Body Identical?” published by the Concordant Publishing Concern, which has been circulated quite widely among those who have had International Bible Students Association teaching, and some very helpful articles from his pen have appeared in UNSEARCHABLE RICHES. Many have been enlightened as a result of his ministry and among them are former readers of the Watch Tower who are now rejoicing in the truths recently recovered by means of the CONCORDANT VERSION.

Brother Robison conducted an independent Bible study class in Washington, D. C., sponsored by some of his friends. He also served on the faculty of the Columbia Bible Training School, conducting studies in the life and epistles of Saint Paul until returning to New York to seek employment in the fall of 1931. The current business depression took its toll in unusual demands on the splendid vitality that had been his for so many years. The Commercial Art Service in New York City, by whom Brother Robison was employed, made contracts for more rush work than was their custom under normal conditions. So many jobs of a nature requiring long hours and continuous application were faithfully executed by our beloved brother that the strain was too great for his already overtaxed heart. He contracted a heavy cold while on a job of the nature just mentioned, and because no one in his office understood it sufficiently well to carry it to a successful completion, he got up out of bed to return to the task. He finished it so that delivery could be made on scheduled time. It cost him his life.

In this last effort of Brother Robison is revealed one of his characteristics. He was honest, conscientious, and faithful in any task assigned him even at great inconvenience to himself. It was his endeavor to “do all things as unto the Lord.” One of his favorite poems was, “Not I but Christ.”

Another one of his characteristics, which so few possess, was magnanimity. He was sympathetic. The things in others that often pained his sensitive nature were endured patiently. Often he would be heard to remark about such people: “Well, what can we expect? They have not got it to give.” Those who knew him intimately appreciated his friendship. Friendships meant much to him. He was a lover of children. His sense of humor was keen and will be remembered by many.

Pneumonia and pleurisy developed, and after six days and nights of suffering, Brother Robison fell asleep. His faithful wife, an osteopathic physician, gave him constant attention, and she has been very brave. A service was arranged for six o’clock p. m. Sunday, April 17 (the same day), and, although the opportunity for notifying his friends was limited, a number of beautiful floral offerings were received, and those in attendance were sufficient to comfortably fill the undertaking parlors. The response of these friends to the needs of Sister Robison in her sorrow was greatly admired and appreciated. The following day the body was shipped to Indianapolis accompanied by Sister Robison, where it was taken to Greenwood.

After services in the Christian Church, attended by his parents and other near relatives and friends, he was buried in Greenwood Cemetery in a most beautiful spot, with the birds he loved so much singing overhead, not far from where he and his sister used to play.

Good night, dear brother, your work here must have been finished. While you are resting we will console ourselves with the blessed thought that our communion has only been commenced. This is not the end. Your splendid powers will yet find congenial exercise in the service of your Lord, quite unhampered by the hindrances that fetter all who are faithful in His service. Your sympathies will be satisfied by seeing all the barriers between those you love broken down. We have not lost you but for a brief and weary night, and we will meet again in the morning. So we will not say good bye, but good night, knowing that you are asleep in the care of Him Who will not fail to wake you, in immortal glory, when He comes to call His own.

Unsearchable Riches July 1932

Gaetano Boccaccio

February 27, 1996

BOCCACCIO. Gaetano Boccaccio, 89, of Hartford, beloved husband for 68 years of Benedetta (DeMarco) Boccaccio, died Monday (Feb. 26, 1996) at home. Born in Palazzolo Acredie Prov. of Siracusa, Italy, he was the son of the late Paul and Angelina (Salustro) Boccaccio, and graduated from public schools in 1918 and immigrated to Hartford in 1919. He was a barber in Hartford for over 70 years and owned and operated Tom’s Barber Shop on New Britain Avenue, Hartford, retiring in 1971. A member of the Barbers Union, Local No. 73 and was an Elder of the Berean Christian Church and editor of the New Creation Magazine. Mr. Boccaccio was awarded first place for “Memories of Hartford” sponsored by the City of Hartford and Phoenix Mutual Insurance Co. and received an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity. Besides his wife, he is survived by three daughters, Eva Mazzotta and her husband Vincent of Newington, Josephine Richard of Enfield and Mary Bowman and her husband, Arthur of Springfield, VT; two sons, Paul Baccaccio of Enfield and Thomas J. Boccaccio and his wife, Maureen of Sugar Hill, GA; 17 grandchildren, and 37 great grandchildren. Funeral and burial are private and at the convenience of the family. There are no calling hours. The D’Esopo Funeral Chapel has charge of arrangements. Memorial donations may be made to the VNA Hospice, 60 Hartland St, East Hartford,

Brief Biographies

Henry Dunn
(1801-1878)

Four articles by Henry Dunn appear in Zion’s Watchtower (Reprints, pp. 644, 649, 653, and 796). All come from Dunn’s book, The Study of the Bible written in 1871. “Bros. George Storrs, Henry Dunn and others were preaching and writing of ‘the times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy Prophets’ (Acts 3:21) and that ‘In the ages to come, God would show the ­exceeding riches of his grace.’ (Ephesians 2:7)”—Charles Taze Russell, Supplement to Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence, July 1, 1879.

For many years Dunn was the secretary of the British and Foreign School Society and was identified with the history of public education in England. After retirement he went to Italy and joined the Protestant missions there, devoting his life to a study of the Scriptures and the writing of Christian literature. He published his own magazine, The Interpreter, in 1860-61 and was said to have been heard to “express his obligation to a remarkable book, never much known and now almost forgotten: Dunbar Isidore Heath’s Future ­Human Kingdom of Christ. It was this book that inspired Dunn’s Destiny of the Human Race that is credited by both George Storrs and Charles Russell as helpful in the thoughts on the doctrines of two sal­vations and times of restitution. Shortly before his death, Dunn wrote a series of articles for Storrs’ magazine, The Bible Examiner. Pastor Russell wrote that on these doctrines both Storrs and Dunn were influential in his thinking.

 

Henry Grew
(1781-1862)

Grew was born in Birmingham, England, but moved to Boston with his parents at the age of fourteen. At the age of twenty-three he was elected deacon of the Baptist Church he attended, and was later ­licensed to preach in Hartford, Connecticut, where he served over a decade until he was dismissed for views the church deemed heretical.

He not only preached against slavery, but, from the Bible alone, Henry Grew determined that the doctrines of the immortal soul, hell-fire, and trinity were not scriptural. He wrote several books against the doctrines, one of which was picked up by George Storrs, who was later convinced of Grew’s views regarding the state of the dead. Grew’s clear scriptural exposition and ideas later influenced the Adventists and other ­individuals, directly to such as George Stetson and George Storrs, and indirectly through these to Pastor Charles Taze Russell.

Although he had only a moderate income, he was able to bestow half his income in charity. He gave a considerable amount to missionary work as well as to the poor of the city. He not only cared for their well being, but also for their spiritual welfare.



Dunbar Isidore Heath
(1816-1888)

Dunbar Isidore Heath was a Reverend at Cambridge, elected scholar in 1836, and again in 1843. As a recognized authority on Egyptology, he was one of the early translators of the papyri in the British Museum. In 1852 Heath wrote The Future Human Kingdom of Christ in which he distinguished the “saved nations from the glorified saints” by outlining an early concept of “the two salvations.” He was prosecuted for heresy in 1861 by the Bishop of Winchester and sentenced by the Court of Arches for publishing these ideas. He would not recant and tried to appeal his sentence by attempting to defend his character and doctrine from the Scriptures through the writing of several booklets. All of this failed and as a result of this prosecution he suffered not only the loss of his profession, but sustained heavy financial losses as well.

 

Dwight Moody
(1833-1899)

Speaking of Dwight Moody and his associates, Pastor Russell wrote: “It is our thought that the Lord used these men, and through their ministry the fore-ordained number was completed at the fore-ordained time, 1881” (Reprints, p. 4303).

Moody was born seventeen years before Pastor Rus­sell. He was one of the most successful evangelists of the nineteenth century. His ministry ­dif­fered somewhat from those of his contemporaries in that he laid stress on a full commitment to God rather than merely the “believe and be saved” formula of his peers. He urged his hearers to find a way to leave their earthly careers and spend their full time in service to God.

Moody was never endorsed by a seminary, ­dis­daining such ordination as a qualification for the ministry of the gospel. Though an aggressive fund-raiser, Moody refused to be personally ­financed by members of his audiences. Influenced by a strong personal friendship with the Jewish Christian ­Joseph Rabino­witz, Moody was vitally interested in the development of ­Israel as a nation headed for a great destiny in the plan of God.

 

Isaac Newton:
Bible Student and Scientist*

Isaac Newton (1642-1727) was born in Lincolnshire on Christmas day nearly two months premature, and posthumous to his father. In the superstition of the day, all three of these circumstances of his birth were ­considered to portend a child of exceptional abilities, and so he was to prove. He was born in the last year a witch was publicly burned at the stake in England. When he went to his grave at age 85, he was and still is ­remembered as one of the greatest scientists of all time.

But the advocates of rational thought were inventing a fiction, for first and foremost Newton was a man of faith. This community has long ignored or belittled Newton’s strong commitment to Christianity and earnest non-conforming Bible study. Although it is easy to take exception with a number of the details in his interpretations, his keenness of mind permitted him to see truths that we might believe were little-known until the time of the harvest. Nearly one million words, mostly unpublished even today, range over biblical prophecy, the Times of Restitution, translation and manuscript errors, chronology, the measurements of Ezekiel’s temple compared against the New Jerusalem, and the Great Pyramid and its measurements as a witness, to name but a few.

Newton’s public anti-Trinitarian positions and writings continually created difficulties for his patrons. These kept him out of the Royal society and required special royal dispensation for him to hold a post as professor, ironically enough, at Trinity College, Cambridge. Most significantly, he is responsible for the scholarship that challenged the spurious acceptance of 1 John 5:7 into the Greek New Testament.

In Of the World to Come Newton shows a clear grasp of the heavenly salvation, the earthly salvation, and the “little season.” He dismisses eternal torment with this opening salvo: “So then the mystery of this restitution of all things is to be found in all the prophets; which makes me wonder with great admiration that so few Christians of our age can find it there. For they understand not that the final return of the Jews from captivity … and the setting up of a peaceable, righteous, and flourishing kingdom at the Day of Judgment is this mystery … First, the earth shall continue to be inhabited by mortals after the day of Judgment and not only for a 1,000 years, but even forever … And that the citizens of this city are not the saints raised from the dead, but a race of mortal men like the nations over whom they reign … [That after the judgment of Isaiah 66] the saving in these and such like places of Scripture is of mortals at the last day from both misery and death both temporal and eternal. … [for] the rest of his kingdom are the nations that have been saved; and they are mortals remaining on earth.”

Although he published several seminal scientific works within his lifetime, when Newton died unmarried, the executors of his estate largely found his religious writings to be an embarrassment. They kept all but four ­sequestered where they remained unread until the twentieth century.

__________________________________________

* This synopsis is based on the highly recommended The Religion of Isaac Newton by Frank E. Manuel, ­Oxford (1974). See also H. MacLachlen, Isaac Newton (1950).

 

George Stetson
(1814-1879)

The first Stetsons from England arrived in 1634, fourteen years after the Mayflower and the Pilgrims landing in America. For over forty years George Stetson followed in the footsteps of Christ and associated with Henry Grew and George Storrs in his early ministry, and even later with Jonas Wendell and Charles Russell (Reprints, p. 3821). He was not only a minister, but also a school teacher, and physician. As a member of the Advent Christian Church he and Wendell worked together in several churches throughout Pennsylvania and Ohio in the early 1870s. They also wrote for George Storrs’ magazine The Herald of Life and the Coming Kingdom, and for other magazines such as The World’s Crisis.

“He had been a faithful undershepherd, ever holding before his hearers, as the great incentive to ­holiness and purity of life, that which filled his own soul with joy and peace and helped him to live ‘above the world’—viz: The appearing of the Heavenly Bridegroom—The King of Glory, and our gathering together unto him. Our brother was a man of marked ability, and surrendered bright prospects of worldly and political honors to be permitted to preach Christ, when the glories and beauties of the word of God dawned upon his heart. The truth cost him much, yet he bought it gladly.” (Reprints, p. 46)

For ten months during 1872 Stetson pastored the church in Pittsburgh where he met a young Charles Taze Russell. Then he led the Edinboro, Pennsylvania, congregation for six years until his death. His dying request was that Pastor ­Russell give his ­funeral sermon (Reprints, p. 46) where over twelve hundred ­attended and heard the good news of the kingdom of God.

 

George Storrs
(1796-1879)

While traveling on a train, George Storrs picked up a tract he found on the floor which was about the condition of the dead. He found out later that it was writ ten by Henry Grew. In 1842 after a few years of study on this subject, Storrs began to preach this message to many of the Adventists. After writing a book on the subject, he started a magazine, entitled The Bible Examiner, for the same purpose. He differed from Grew’s teachings in respect to the des tiny of the wicked. Storrs believed these would go into second death and not be resurrected to judgment. The two debated the matter until Henry Grew’s death in 1862.

A decade later, during a severe illness, Storrs reconsidered his views on the wicked, and determined that the Scriptures taught that the wicked would be resurrected to an education in the knowledge of God, to judgment, and that all the families of the earth would be blessed because of the promise to Abraham. He was later surprised to find other individuals teaching these same doctrines, one of whom was Henry Dunn, who a decade earlier had been teaching these things in Eng land. Because of these views, his friends forsook him and Storrs be came an independent publisher of these teachings. During these years Pastor Russell wrote for Storrs’ magazine until Storrs’ death in 1879.

 

R. E. Streeter
(1847-1924)

R. E. Streeter was one of the founding fathers of the Pastoral Bible Institute and an original member of the editorial board of The Herald magazine. He became a Christian in 1877 and originally associated with the Free Baptist church. Finding denominational restrictions too binding, he left that fellowship and joined the Evangelical Advent church. He first received The Divine Plan of the Ages in 1896 but rejected it as a false teaching. The following year he was sent on a successful missionary assignment to South America and the West Indies where he received another copy of that book and read it on his return journey. This time he accepted its message.

As editor beginning in 1892 of a small journal, The Testimony of Jesus, he continued its publication and presented to his readers the new views he was learning. Eventually he discontinued the magazine and in 1902 entered the pilgrim ministry under Pastor Charles Taze Russell.

He was a member of The Herald’s editorial committee beginning in 1918 and was elected a trustee of the Pastoral Bible Institute in 1923, serving in that capacity until his death the following year. He was a deep student of prophecy and was the author of Daniel, the Beloved of ­Jehovah and The Revelation of Jesus Christ.

 

W. Norman Woodworth
(1891-1976)

W. Norman Woodworth devoted his life to his convictions. After he served for several years as a colporteur in the maritime provinces of Canada and the state of Maine, Pastor Russell asked him to come to Bethel to learn to operate a movie ­projector and assist in the ­developmental work of The Photo Drama of Creation. He presented the Drama in several Ohio cities, then in Chicago where his first day’s audience was 1,500 in the afternoon and 3,500 in the evening.

He remained with the Society after the death of Pastor Russell until 1928 when he left because of a serious disagreement with Rutherford. He helped revive a radio program called “Frank and Ernest” and wrote a small pamphlet, Radio ­Echoes to send to interested listeners. This eventually became The Dawn magazine. Bro. Woodworth remained the editor of that journal and wrote many of its articles until his death in 1976.

Tagged

Chronological Bible Students History

Bible Student History

1871   C. T. Russell Contacts Storrs
1876   C. T. Russell Meets Barbour
1877   Our Lord’s Return Pamphlet
1877   “The Three Worlds”
1879   Zions Watch Tower Magazine
1881   “Food for Thinking Christians”
1881   Colporteur Work Begins
1881   “Tabernacle Shadows”
1883   Non-English Translations Begin
1884   Tract Society Formed
1886   “Divine Plan of the Ages”
1889   “Old Theology” Tracts
1889   “The Time Is At Hand”
1890   “Thy Kingdom Come”
1892   “Watch Tower” Semi-Monthly
1893   First Convention Held
1894   Pilgrim Ministry Begins
1895   “To Us the Scriptures Teach”
1895   Danish, Polish Work
1895   Allegheny Church Trial
1897   “The Day of Vengeance”
1899   500,000 Evolution Tracts

1899   “The At-One-Ment”
1900   London Tabernacle
1903   Russell-Eaton Debates
1904   “The New Creation”
1905   “Daily Heavenly Manna”
1906   Russell Separation Trial
1907   “Comment” Bible
1908   “Overland Monthly” Articles
1908   Russell-White Debates
1908   Covenants Controversy
1910   Hippodrome Talk to Jews
1911   “Die Stimme” for Jews (Yiddish)
1912   Around the World Trip
1914   “Photo-Drama of Creation”
1915   50 Million Tracts Distributed
1916   Death of Pastor Russell
1918   PBI Organized
1920   LHMM established
1932   Dawn Organized
1938   General Conventions Begin
1952   Television Work Begins
1982   Int’l. Conventions Begin

 

 

Tagged , ,

Bible Student Beliefs

Several beliefs, while not unique to the Bible Student movement, when taken collectively, outline a doctrinal position that is distinct from mainstream Christianity. Some of these teachings are:

  1. Inspiration of the Bible: Bible Students are united in holding that the sacred Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, are inspired and are the final authority for authentic truth. Correct doctrine is to be established in beliefs that harmonize all scriptures on each subject. No non-scriptural words may be made an article of faith.
  2. Creation: Bible Students believe in creation, while admitting for some evolution in the animal creation, and that man (and thence, women) are a direct creation of God, physically and mentally perfect.
  3. Original Sin: Believing that Adam and Eve were created perfect, the Bible Student position is that the sin of disobedience in the Garden of Eden resulted in all their posterity being born under the blight of sin, imperfection, and death.
  4. Nature of God: The Bible Student position is neither Trinitarian nor Unitarian. While they believe that Jesus is the Son of God and possesses the nature of God, the divine nature, since his resurrection, they do not accept the position of co-eternity or co-equality between the Father and the Son. Rather than accepting the doctrine of incarnation, they hold that Jesus was wholly flesh while on earth, having divested himself of his spiritual nature. Nor do the accept the concept of the holy spirit being a person; it is the disposition or influence of God.
  5. Nature of Man: In distinction from inherent immortality, the Bible Student view is that man is mortal by nature, and that immortality is available only by meetings conditions of obedience. They hold that the human soul is not a distinct entity, but is the result of the union of the body and the breath, or spark, of life, and that death is the dissolution of these two elements.
  6. State of the Dead: Because death is the dissolution of body and breath, the soul that sins dies goes out of existence until the resurrection process begins in the future kingdom of Messiah. The Bible “hell” is the grave, and is neither a place of eternal fire or conscious separation from God.
  7. Virgin Birth: While Jesus was miraculously begotten by God through the holy spirit in the womb of Mary, the Bible implies that she did not remain a virgin thereafter and probably had children by Joseph after the birth of Jesus. Her nature was the same as others of the fallen race, and there is no indication of an “immaculate conception” by Mary.
  8. Ransom and Restitution: The main purpose of Jesus’ first advent was to provide a ransom, or substitutionary atonement for Adam, and hence the entire race descending from him. This Ransom was provided at the cross of Calvary, and is efficacious for all who have ever died. It promises resuscitation for all humanity in Christ’s 1000-year kingdom, along with the opportunity to obtain and maintain perfect human life for eternity. The ransom also provides for the rehabilitation of planet earth to perfect Edenic conditions.
  9. Resurrection: After Jesus Christ was crucified, he was raised to spiritual life by his Father, God, and given a divine body in the express image of God’s person.
  10. The Heavenly Calling: At his first advent, Jesus began calling out from mankind a special class to be his church, or bride. To these he promises a part in heaven with himself and the Father, and a kingdom role of reigning over mankind with himself for blessing all the families of the earth. Those who accept this invitation make a complete consecration or commitment to do the will of God as they see it revealed and at the cost of a surrender of the right to a life on earth. This consecration is witnessed by a baptism (complete water immersion,)
  11. Second Advent: As with most Christians, the expectation that Jesus Christ would return to finish the work that he began two thousand years ago is an important part of their faith. Most Bible Students share the following beliefs in the second advent:
    1. Object: That the object of the return is the resurrection of the dead and the establishment of a new world order of peace and righteousness, in which all sin, sorrow, and death will be eliminated.
    2. Manner: That Jesus returns invisibly, at first unnoticed by the world at large, though eventually manifesting that presence to all.
    3. Time: Though not in universal agreement, the majority of Bible Students believe that the time for his return was in the near past (1874), and that he is in process of finishing his church, evicting the old regime of the adversary, and supervising the preparation of Israel for kingdom work.
  12. Return of Israel: The establishment of the nation of Israel and the return of the Jewish people to their ancestral homeland is an indication of the restoration of the favor of God to that nation, and an indication of the nearness of Messiah’s kingdom. Bible Students anticipate a return of Israel to the borders promised to Abraham; and a final conflict in the Middle East, in which their ancient prophets will be resurrected and God will, through them, bring about an unprecedented miraculous deliverance, introducing the worldwide kingdom of Christ, expanding thence to a worldwide dominion of peace.
  13. Church Organization: The Bible Student community is organized on a strict congregational basis, with each local group totally autonomous. Each group selects its leaders (elders and deacons) by a total vote of their consecrated members, and cooperates with other congregations as determined by that local group. All expenses are paid entirely by freewill voluntary offerings with no collections of mandated costs, The ministry serves on a non-paid and voluntary basis.

 

Tagged

A Delightful Inheritance

LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup;
you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me
in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.—Psalm 16:5,6, NIV

Tim Thomassen

The Lord’s people have a wonderful heritage. This is seen more clearly the deeper one probes into the Word of God. The Scriptures confirm this. “Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart” (Psalm 119:111, NIV).

The word “heritage” suggests something that has been inherited. Literally, it could be an heirloom, an estate, patrimony, or portion. It is a possession.

Some have been privileged to have been raised in an environment in which the Bible has been studied and its precepts followed closely. Others have come to know the beauties of the truth in different ways, having been led by the holy spirit through other instrumentalities.

Once we have been introduced to God’s marvelous teachings, it is necessary to decide what we should do with them. Do we embrace or ignore them? Will they become the focal point of our life or merely occupy a distant place in our thoughts and affections?

Perhaps some are facing these decisions currently. If so, it is hoped that the following precious promises will provide strength and encouragement:

“The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way.”—Psalm 25:9

“Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.”—Psalm 37:4,5

“Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.”—James 4:8.

If we are endeavoring to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18), we must continue to “keep on keeping on.” It is my prayer that we receive God’s message with great eagerness and examine the Scriptures daily to see if what we have been told is true (Acts 17:11). May we do our best to present ourselves to God as approved workmen who do not need to be ashamed and who correctly handle the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).

Both individually and collectively, may we do good unto all men, especially the household of faith (Galatians 6:10). May the Lord grant us wisdom, strength, and the means to “preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2, NIV).

The Lord’s people in this end of the age are told in Revelation 18:4 to “come out of her [Babylon] … that ye be not partakers of her sins.” We should depart from any form of denominationalism, encourage each other not to be in bondage to the creeds and practices of men or organizations, teach the gospel to anyone who has a “hearing ear,” while continuing to lay down our lives in sacrifice.

“Come out, then, from among them, the Lord says to us, separate yourselves from them, and do not even touch what is unclean” (2 Corinthians 6:17, Knox).

Many indicators suggest strongly that we are living in the time of the harvest, the end of the age (Matthew 13:39). It is a period of separating the real wheat from the tares. There may be many fine and noble people among the tares. However, they are not part of the wheat class because they are not begotten of the truth and its spirit. Only God’s truth sanctifies (John 17:17). Furthermore, we are told that this is “the will of God, even your sanctification” (1 Thessalonians 4:3).

Truth is a rare thing. Proverbs 23:23 counsels us to “buy the truth, and sell it not.” Truth, wisdom, and understanding are precious. They should never be sold nor compromised. May we be faithful to this end while cultivating the character likeness of our Master, Christ Jesus.

 

Tagged ,
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.