Impaled on a Torture Stake or Crucified on a Cross?

Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe that Jesus was crucified on a cross.  They believe that it is more accurate to say that he was impaled on a torture stake.  (1) The New World Translation translates the noun (stauros) “torture stake.”  For example, Philippians 2:8 reads, “he humbled himself and became obedient as far as death, yes, death on a torture stake.”  (2) The New World Translation translates the verb (stauroo) “impale.” For example, Mark 15:20 reads, “And they led him out to impale him.”

Jehovah’s Witnesses sometimes use this difference to create doubt in a Bible student’s mind about things one thought that he knew.  If one is wrong on this point, what else could one be wrong about?

On what instrument was Jesus executed?  Let’s examine the Biblical words.  (1) Jesus died on a “xulon” (Acts 5:30; 10:39; 13:29; Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 2:24).  This is commonly translated “tree.”  The NWT translated it “stake.”  Here are some definitions: “1. Wood… that which is made of wood… 2. A tree” (Thayer); “Wood, a piece of wood, anything made of wood” (Vine’s).  “1. Wood… 2. Object made of wood” (BAG).  (2) Jesus died on a “stauros” (Matt. 27:32, 40, 42; Mark 15:21, 30, 32; Luke 23:26; John 19:17, 19, 25, 31; 1 Cor. 1:17, 18; Gal. 6:14; Eph. 2:16; Phil. 2:8; Col. 1:20; 2:14; Heb. 12:2).  This is commonly translated “cross.” The NWT translated it “torture stake.”  Here are some definitions: “1… an upright stake… 2. A cross” (Thayer). It refers to “a stake sunk into the earth in an upright position; a cross-piece was often attached to its upper part” (BAG).  “1. An upright stake… 2. An instrument of torture for serious offenses.  It may be a vertical pointed stake, an upright with a crossbeam above it, or a post with an intersecting beam of equal length” (Kittle’s TDNT Abridged).  These definitions seem to allow for a cross beam.

However, Vine’s does not.  It says, “denotes, primarily, an upright pale or stake… Both the noun and the verb stauroo… are originally to be distinguished from the ecclesiastical form of a two beam cross.  The shape of the latter had its origin in ancient Chaldea, and was used as a symbol of the god Tammuz.”  This is sometimes cited by Jehovah’s Witnesses to not only deny the cross, but to associate it with idolatry.

What is the evidence for the traditional idea of a cross?  (1) certain ancient sources refer to the instruments of Jesus’ death being in the shape of the Greek letter tau.  These include: The epistle of Barnabas 9:8 cf. 12:22 (c. 150 – c. 215 A.D.), The Stromata book 6, chp. 11; Tertullian (c. 155 – c. 240 A.D.), Adversus Marcionem liber 3, chp. 22.  (2) Thomas wanted the see the print of the nails (plural) in Jesus’ hands (John 20:25).  This is consistent with the use of the cross.  However, it does not rule out a stake.  One nail could be used for hands stretched above the head attached to an upright stake, though multiple nails could be used.  (3) The charges are said to have been placed above Jesus’ head (Matthew 27:37).  It does not say that they were placed above his upwardly stretched hands.  The language is consistent with the use of a cross.  However, admittedly, this language does not rule out an upright pole or stake.

The word “impale” certainly sets forth a different image in my mind.  The Jehovah’s Witnesses admit that Jesus was impaled with nails.  Though, they do believe that it is possible that he was impaled on the stake itself (Watchtower, October 15, 1969, wol.jw.org).  There is no Biblical evidence for this.

This, in my opinion is much ado about nothing.  Christianity does not stake (pardon the pun) its faith in the shape of the instrument used.  The Bible does not describe the shape.

What is important?  “Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).  “He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5:15).

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A Clean Trough (Life is Sometimes Messy)

Where no oxen are, the trough is clean; but much increase comes by the strength of an ox.” Proverbs 14:4.

If a farmer wants a clean barn, a barn from which he’ll never again have to shovel dung, all that he has to do is have no oxen, or other animals. He would cease having a mess, if his oxen were stolen, got lost, or died. He could avoid mess, if he never again purchased any oxen or other animals. However, think how much poorer a farmer would be without his oxen (especially in years past when such were used for work).  He would not have the oxen to pull the plow, turn the millstone, pull the cart or wagon, or even produce the dung that he uses to fertilize his plants.

Thoughts for families: If you were the only one in the house, no doubt all would be neat, and well arranged, just the way you want it.  If there were no children in the house, things would often be much easier.  However, think how much poorer your life would be in so many areas.  (No, I am not calling your children “oxen.”  Don’t press the illustration too far!!!). Thank God for children.

Thoughts for the church: If the church were composed of only mature Christians, no babes in Christ, many difficulties and challenges would be eliminated. Many things would be easier. However, we would be much poorer; it is true. Furthermore, if there were no young children in services, crying would not be heard, fingerprints on glass would not be seen.  Many messes would not exist. However, we would be much poorer. There would be little hope for the future of the local church. Life is sometimes messy, but not all messes and challenges are bad. Let’s be thankful for new converts, and children.

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The Little Maid (Young Israelite Girl Saves Syrian Commander)

She is called “a little maid” (KJV) or “a young girl” (NKJV).  She had been torn from her home, a young Israelite girl, taken captive by the Syrians.  She was placed in the service of Naaman’s wife (2 Kings 5:1-2).

Naaman was “Commander of the army of the King of Syria.  It was “by him the LORD had given victory to Syria.”  He is described as “a mighty man of valor, but a leper” (2 Kings 5:2).  [Note: Josephus identifies Naaman as the one who had killed Ahab, King of Israel, some years earlier (Antiquities 8:414 cf. 1 Kings 22:34)].

Imagine that you were in her position.  Would you be bitter?  Would you be filled with hatred?  Would you want revenge?  Would you be angry with God or lose faith in Him? [Note: God wasn’t to blame.  Israel’s defeat was due to the national sins (2 Kings 5:1 cf. 1 Kings 21:17-29; 22:51-53; 2 Kings 3:1-3)].

These things (bitterness, hatred, etc.) do not seem to have characterized her.  What we are told of her, we would do well to emulate.  Consider…

1.  She had no joy in her master’s disease, but she sought to help him (2 Kings 5:1-3).

We can learn from this.  We should not hate our enemies (Matthew 5:43-44).  We should not rejoice in our enemies calamity (Proverbs 24:16-18).

2.  She did not seek revenge, but was kind (2 Kings 5:1-3).

We can learn from this.  Her efforts helped change him.  We should seek to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:17-21).

3.  She did not forget God (2 Kings 5:1-3).

She knew that there was a prophet in Israel, who could help.  She told Naaman of this (2 Kings 5:1-3).

Sometimes, when people are removed from family and friends, they also move away from God.  However, this young girl evidently remained a believer, and not only a believer, but she was even a proclaimer of a message of hope to others.

This may have provided a lesson from which later exiles could learn.  One writer said, “Despite her captivity, she is not bitter or unhelpful.  Rather, she shares what she knows about the Lord and the prophet out of concern for Naaman and her mistress and desire to see God’s glory magnified. In this way she acts like Daniel, Mordecai, Ezra, Nehemiah, and other exiles who care for the spiritual and physical well-being of their conquerors”(Paul House, 1&2 Kings, p.272 quoted by Michael Whitworth in How to Lose a Kingdom in 400 Years, p.278 in a footnote).

Here is some words of exhortation for us. Let us shine as lights in this world, wherever we may be, and in whatever situation we may find ourselves (Matthew 5:14-16). Let us not be overcome by evil, but seek to “overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). Let us learn from this young Israelite girl.

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The Battle of Monongahela: God’s Providence?

The date was July 9th, 1755.  The war was the French and Indian War with the British.  Both Franklin and Washington had warned British General Braddock of a possible ambush.  Braddock, without concern marched his men in a line stretching four miles long on a narrow, twisting forest path, near modern day Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Braddock was skilled in open field, European style warfare, and not what was to occur that day in the woods of Pennsylvania.  To Braddock, to hide behind trees was cowardice.

A force of 72 French regulars, 146 Canadian militiamen, and 637 Indians (combined force of 855) ambushed the 1,300 English in the woods.  The battle was very one-sided: 714 British soldiers were killed or wounded, of the 86 British officers 63 were killed or wounded – Braddock himself was mortally wounded; The French side lost about 30 men and three officers.

Washington, at 23 years of age, was a part of this great battle.  His coat was ripped four times by musket balls.  Two horses were shot out from under him.  A gold seal which hung around his neck bearing his initials was shot off him (this was found some 80 years later).  Yet, Washington was unharmed.

Chief Red Hawk told of shooting eleven times at Washington without killing him.  At that point, because his gun never had such trouble hitting its mark, he ceased firing at him, convinced the “Great Spirit” protected him.  Washington met an Indian chief, 15 years after the battle, near what is now the border of Ohio and West Virginia.  He said, “Our rifles were leveled, rifles which, but for you, knew not how to miss –t’was all in vain; a power mightier far than we shielded you.     Seeing you were under the special guardianship of the Great Spirit, we immediately ceased firing at you.”  Another Indian is said to have said, “Washington was never born to be killed by a bullet!  I had 17 fair fires at him with my rifle, and after all could not bring him to the ground!” (The Bulletproof George Washington by David Barton).

George Washington believed that he had been protected by the providence of God. He wrote to his brother John on July 18, 1755: “But by the All-powerful Dispensation of Providence, I have been protected beyond all human probability or expectation; for I had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot under me, yet escaped unhurt, although Death was leveling my companions on every side of me!” (encyclopediavirginia.org).

Due to the nature of providence there is not a way to say with 100% certainty that this was due to God’s providence.  (See Esther 4:14; Philemon 15).  However, we do know that God is ultimately in control (Acts 17:26). It is so even today.

Furthermore, we know that we are to be good citizens.  We are to obey the laws of the land (Matthew 17:24-27; 22:17-21; Romans 13:1-2; Titus 3:1; 1 Peter 2:13-14).  We are taught to pray for those in authority (1 Timothy 2:1-2; cf. Jeremiah 29:7).

Clearly, this is a country with great prosperity and freedom.  In the scriptures, it is taught that we are to be good stewards of what we have (1 Corinthians 4:2; Matthew 25:14-ff; Luke 19:11-ff; Luke 12:48b).  No other people in the history of the world has been so free and prosperous.  How are we using our blessings? Are we using our freedom and prosperity to spread the Good News?

 No, I cannot say with 100% certainty that Colonel Washington was protected by God’s overpowering providence.  Though it does make one wonder.

Here are a few thought on life in this(or any country). These are some things that I know. I do know that God wants us to obey this nation’s laws (with but one exception Daniel 3; 6; Acts 4:18-20; 5:29).  I do know that we should pray for the leaders of this country, whomever they may be,  that we may live a quiet, peaceable life (1 Timothy 2:1-2).  I know that we are blessed to live here and with the great opportunities we have comes responsibilities. I do know that we are to live as lights in this world (Matthew 5:16). Furthermore, may we always remember that this world is not our home.

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Pharoah’s Offers of Compromise

Is compromise good or bad?  It depends on what is being compromised.  Compromise can be a good thing.  It may make the difference in whether or not a house sells, or a business transaction takes place.  It may make the difference in getting a piece of a pie, or none of the pie.  It can also be a very bad thing.  We should never compromise on what God says.

Moses and Aaron told Pharaoh, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘Let My people go, that they may hold a feast to Me in the wilderness” (Exodus 5:1).  At first, Pharaoh totally denied the request saying, “Who is the LORD, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go?  I do not know the LORD, nor will I let Israel go” (Exodus 5:2).

In time, Pharaoh would witness the power of the LORD in the form of plagues upon Egypt.  Pharaoh would offer Moses and Aaron compromise offers.  However, they would have none of it.  Let’s notice –

1.  “Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, ‘Go, sacrifice to your God in the land’” (Exodus 8:25).

He is saying, in effect, “I will let you make your sacrifices to your God.  But, you do not have to leave this land to do so.”  He reasons, if they do not leave, then I can maintain some control of them.

Moses replies: (a) If we offer sacrifices here, then the Egyptians will want to stone us (Exodus 8:26).  There would be no peace in this land (See: Sacrificing The Abomination by B.H.).  (b) No, we will do what He told us to do.  “We will go three days’ journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to the LORD our God as He commanded us” (Exodus 8:27).

In application, some have accepted this compromise.  (a) Some try to serve God, without being a member of the church.  It will not work.  (b) Some worship God.  But, they do so as the world suggests that they should.  They compromise on the role of women in the church.  The compromise on LGBTQ issues, and what constitutes a God approved marriage. They let the world dictate the terms of acceptable Christianity. (c) Some worship God.  But, they never leave the world. There is peace between them and the world.  This is because their lives are not clearly distinguishable from the world (cf. John 15:19).

While we live in the world, we are not to be of it (John 17:16; Romans 12:1-2).  We are to be a separate people (2 Corinthians 7:14-18).

2.  “So Pharaoh said, I will let you go, that you may sacrifice to the LORD your God in the wilderness; only you shall not go very far away” (Exodus 8:28).

He is saying, in effect, “OK, I will let you leave the land to worship, but you do not need to go so far out of the land to do it.  Stay close to Egypt.”  He reasons, if he can keep them near, then he can get them back.

Moses replies: “Let Pharaoh not deal deceitfully anymore in not letting the people go to sacrifice to the LORD” (Exodus 8:29).  Moses does not directly respond to the “go not far away” offer.  He has already stated, “We will go three days journey into the wilderness” (Exodus 8:27).  He tells Pharaoh not to be deceitful.  Pharaoh had already broken his word (cf. Exodus 8:8, 15).  He was about to do so again (Exodus 8:28, 32).  Moses seems to sense that this is more deceitful talk.

In application, some have accepted this compromise.  (a) Some are willing to serve God.  But, they don’t go very far to do so.  James Burton Coffman comments, “Don’t be a fanatic.  Don’t go very far!  This is the motto of all lukewarm, indifferent Christians” (Coffman, Exodus, pp. 103-104).  (b) Some will attend if the church meets nearby. However, they will not go far to attend a sound church.  Moreover, they certainly would not think of organizing a church which belongs to Christ in their community if one does not exist.  (c) Some are willing to give, but not very much.  After all, there are the cares, and riches, and pleasures of life (Luke 8:14).  (d) Some are willing to attend on Sunday morning, but don’t ask them to do much more than this.   They don’t want to go very far. They do not want to teach. They do not want to promote the Gospel meeting. The do not want to attend Bible class, Sunday evening worship, mid-week Bible study, the Gospel meeting, or anything extra, just the minimum.   There is an old preachers’ joke.  A congregation was searching for a preacher.  They selected a man, telling him, “We like a little preaching, and you are as close to a little preaching as we were able to find.”

Full devotion is needed.  We are to be “fervent in spirit, serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11).  We are to be “zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14).  We are to love the LORD with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Luke 10:27).

3.  “So Moses and Aaron were brought again to Pharaoh, and he said to them, ‘Go, serve the LORD your God. Who are the ones that are going?’” (Exodus 10:8).

It is not apparent to this point why Pharaoh asks this question.  Let’s read on.

Moses answers, “We will go with our young and our old; with our sons and our daughters, with our flocks and our herds we will go, for we must hold a feast to the LORD” (Exodus 10:9).

Pharaoh replies, “The LORD had better be with you, when I let your little ones go!  Beware for evil is ahead of you.  Not so!  Go now, you who are men, and serve the LORD for that is what you desired” (Exodus 10:10-11).

Pharaoh is saying in effect, “The men can go worship.  However, they cannot take their families.  I am warning you, if you leave with the children, then there will be trouble.” He knows that if he keeps the children in Egypt, then the fathers will return to Egypt.

In application, some have accepted this compromise.  (a) Some are willing to serve God alone.  They do not try to take others with them: family, friends, neighbors, fellow students or co-workers.  James Burton Coffman comments, “If you must be a Christian, do not attempt to take others with you.  Keep your religion to yourself!” (ibid). When it come to your children, do not “train up a child in the way he should go.”  Let him seek his own path, and direct his own steps.  (b) Some are willing to worship, and even attend Bible class, but are content to leave their children at home.  After all, they are only young once.  There are sports, and other extra-curricular activities.  There is school work to do.  There are birthday parties and sleep-overs.

However, the Bible teaches that we have a responsibility.  We are to bring our children up “in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Joshua said, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).  The soul winner is wise (Proverbs 11:30; Daniel 12:3).  James wrote, “he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:20).

Church attendance can leave valuable lessons in the mind of our children.  A well-known Gospel preacher, Robert Taylor Jr., has written, “I heard great preaching as I grew up.  I am glad I got to attend area gospel meetings as a boy and that I was not placed with a baby sitter when our family went far and near to such.  I well remember the very first time I heard N.B. Hardeman.  It was at Trenton, Tennessee… I well remember the first time I heard Guy N. Woods preach.  His sermon was, ‘Where are the Dead?’  it was delivered at a meeting in Humbolt, Tennessee.  I still preach sermons from notes I took while yet a youngster” (Robert Taylor Jr., The Bible Doctrine of Christian Fellowship, p. 84).

4.  “Then, Pharaoh called to Moses, and said, “Go, serve the LORD; only let your flocks and your herds be kept back. Let your little ones also go with you” (Exodus 10:24).

He is saying, in effect, “OK, the children can go, but not your possessions.”  He knows that if they would agree to leave their material interests in Egypt, then they very likely would return.

Moses replies, “You must also give us sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.  Our livestock also shall go with us; not a hoof shall be left behind.  For we must take some of them to serve the LORD our God, and even we do not know with what we must serve the LORD until we arrive there” (Exodus 10:25-26).

In application, some have accepted this compromise.  (a) Some worship God, but do not surrender all to Him.  James Burton Coffman comments, “If you must be a Christian, go ahead; but don’t invest any money in it.  Use your wealth for yourself.  Of this class of Christians are these whose pocketbooks were never baptized!” (ibid). They live in expensive homes, drive expensive automobiles, have expensive toys, and take expensive vacations, but give little to support the Lord’s church. (b) Some compartmentalize their lives. Christianity is Christianity. Business is business. The two shall never meet.  I am a Christian on Sunday.  I am a business man (or woman) the rest of the week, and my Christianity does not affect how I do business.

A true Christian is a Christian always, not just on Sundays.  Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:27).  Christianity is to be lived on a daily basis (e.g. Hebrews 3:12-13; 2 Corinthians 11:28; Ephesians 5:1; James 2:15-16; 4:13-17).

What motivates us to give?  (a) Remember that all things belong to Him (cf. Psalms 24:1).  (b) Remember what Christ did for us (2 Corinthians 8:8-9). (c) The key to liberal giving is to first give ourselves to the Lord (cf. 2 Corinthians 8:1-5).

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The Excuses of Moses

Moses is one of the greats in Biblical history.  He is by name more than 800 times in the Bible (only Jesus and David are mentioned more).  He is included among the heroes of faith (Hebrews 11).

 However, when God initially appeared to Moses saying, “Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt” (Exodus 3:10), Moses was reluctant.  He made excuses.  Let’s notice…

 1.  “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11)

“Why me?”  (a) Perhaps, this excuse came from not wanting to get involved.  He had had, very likely, a quiet, peaceful life for the last 40 years (Exodus 7:7 cf. Acts 2:23).  He had a wife and children (Exodus 2:21-22; 18:2-4).  He had a job, keeping the flock of his father-in-law (Exodus 3:1).  (b) Perhaps, this excuse came from self-doubt.  He had fled Egypt, 40 years earlier, in fear (Exodus 2:11-15).

God did not accept Moses’ excuse.  He reassured Moses, “I will certainly be with you” (Exodus 3:11).

He is with us today when we do His will.  Let us boldly say, “The LORD is my helper; I will not fear.  What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6 cf. Luke 12:4).

We can do what He has asked us to do.  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13).

2. “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me ‘what is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” (Exodus 3:13).

“I do not know what to say.”  (a) Perhaps, this excuse came from a sense of inadequacy.  “I don’t know enough.”  (b) Perhaps, this excuse came from authority.  “From where do I get my authority to speak?  How do I answer?”

God provided an answer.  Tell them “I AM WHO I AM… I AM has sent me to you” (Exodus 3:14).

What do we say today?  We need to proclaim His Word.  “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11).  “Preach the word!  Be ready in season and out of season.  Convince, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2).

We need to develop ourselves into teachers.  We should not remain unlearned.  Let us “proclaim the praises of Him who called (us) out of darkness and into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).  We are commanded to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).  The writer of Hebrews rebuked some saying, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food” (Hebrews 5:12).

3.  “But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, ‘The LORD has not appeared to you’” (Exodus 4:1).

God took away this objection.  He provided miraculous evidence, “that they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you” (Exodus 4:5).

He has provided us with wonderful evidence as well (e.g. Isaiah 53 cf. Acts 8:26-ff; Luke 24:26-27; Acts 17:1-3; 18:4; 19:8; 28:23).

Not everyone is going to receive the message.  Pharaoh didn’t.  Jesus told a parable of four soils, in which only one received the word, as it should be received (Luke 8:4-8, 11-15).  Not everyone received the word when it was preached in the book of Acts (e.g. Acts 13:48-50, 17:1-5; 17:11-13; 17:32-34; 18:4-8; 19:5-10; 28:24).  However, it is our duty to preach (cf. Hebrews 5:12; 2 Timothy 4:1-2; 1 Peter 2:9).

4.  “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue” (Exodus 4:10).

“I am not good with words.  I am not good at delivering speeches.”  (a) Perhaps, this was merely an excuse.  The New Testament has the Spirit-filled Stephen declaring, “And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds” (Acts 7:22).  (b) Perhaps, there was, in Moses’ mind, some truth to these words.  He had not been in a position of speaking in such a grand setting in 40 years.  He may have been “out of practice.”

God rejected this excuse.  First, He reminded Moses that He created man.  He knows what a man is capable of doing (Exodus 4:11).  Second, He promised to be with Moses, saying, “Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say” (Exodus 4:12).

Let us remember that God has provided to us “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3).  He has, through His word, “thoroughly equipped us for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  It is not eloquence that is essential, but a heart that cares enough to present God’s word.  It is the gospel message which is “the power of God to salvation” (Romans 1:16).  “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not us” (2 Corinthians 4:7).

5.  “O My Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send” (Exodus 4:13). 

“Won’t You send someone, anyone else, other than me?”  This is the meaning.

God replied, “Is not Aaron the Levite your brother?  I know that he can speak well.  And look, he is also coming out to meet you.  When he sees you, he will be glad in his heart.  Now you shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth.  And I will be with your mouth and with his mouth, and I will teach you what you shall do.  So he shall be your spokesman to the people.  And he himself shall be as a mouth for you, and you shall be to him as God” (Exodus 4:14-16).  Moses had exhausted God’s patience.  He was angry with Moses.  He wanted no more excuses.  He wanted action.

Sometimes we wait for someone else to act.  There is a story entitled, “Whose Job is it, Anyway?”  It involves four bodies: Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody.  There is a job to be done.  Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.  Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.  Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job.  Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.  In the end, Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could do.”  If there is a cause, let’s get to doing it.  If we don’t do it, then who will?

If you feel inadequate to do the task alone, then get someone to help you.  But get the task done.  Moses had Aaron.  Jesus sent the twelve out in pairs on the limited commission (Mark 6:7).  He did the same with the seventy (Luke 10:1).  In India, some of the song leaders in the church seem nervous about trying to lead a song by themselves. Therefore, I have seen them recruit another member to stand with them and help them lead singing.  One does not have to do everything alone.  But let’s do what needs to be done, and not make excuses.

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Practical Atheism

Let’s define what is meant.  Practical atheism is “holding an intellectual belief in God but thinking, feeling, and behaving as if there were no God” (Rubel Shelly, Atheists on the Church Rolls, quoted by Dick Sztanyo in Practical Atheism and Practical Theism, warrenapologetics.org).  “Practical atheism is found in the lives of many people who believe in God but who live as if He does not exist” (Dick Sztanyo, ibid).

The Bible mentions such people.  Jesus spoke of those who receive the word, but live unfruitful lives (Luke 8:14).  Paul wrote of those who “profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abomination, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work” (Titus 1:16).

Here is an example of modern day practical atheism.  One professes to believe in God, and professes to believe that the Bible is God’s word, yet he does not study the Bible, and it is certainly not the standard by which he looks to conduct his life.

Burt Jones has written an article entitled, “What’s The Difference? He asks –

  1. “I am bewildered by the atheist who would not dream of financially supporting the church, and by the Christian who will not financially support the Lord’s church, and I ask – what’s the difference?”
  2. “I am perplexed at the skeptic who does not believe in the Bible, and the negligent Christian who never reads it, and I ask – what’s the difference?”
  3. “I am confused by those who do not believe in Bible classes, and the Christian (who does – B.H.) who chooses never to attend a class, and I ask – what’s the difference?”
  4. “I am troubled by the man of the world, and the Christian who lives like a man of the world, and I ask – what’s the difference?”
  5. “I am astonished at the atheist who does nothing to build up the Lord’s church, and the Christian who finds fault with others, but does nothing himself, and I ask – what’s the difference?” (Brad Harrub and Burt Jones, Diamonds in the Rough, pp. 15-16).

May we not live as practical atheists.  Let us strive hard to live consistently with what we believe.  “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:26).  “Let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18).  Remember what Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).

 

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Life’s Setbacks, Don’t Let Them Stop You

Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) accomplished many things as a young man and in middle age.  He was a Professor of Physics by age 24, and a Professor of Chemistry by age 26.  He was the Dean of Science at the University of Lille by age 32.  He had discovered pasteurization by age 40.  He helped save France’s silk producers when he was 43.  He identified the micro-organism causing the silk worms disease, and offered a solution.

Then came a major setback.  John Hudson Tiner writes, “Then at the crest of his fame, a tragedy struck.  Louis suffered a stroke that paralyzed his left side.  It threatened his life. He was 46 years old.  Because of the stroke, most people believed his scientific career was over” (John Hudson Tiner, Exploring The History of Medicine, p. 84).

He did not let this stop him.  He learned to walk again.  Moreover, he went on to make many important scientific discoveries in later life.  He found a vaccine for Chicken Cholera in 1880, a vaccine for Anthrax in 1881 and a vaccine for Rabies in 1885.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) also accomplished many things as a young man. He was elected to the New York state Senate when he was 28.  He was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy when he was 31.  He was the Democrat candidate for Vice President when he was 38.

Then came a major setback.  He was struck with a paralytic disease when he was 39. Jonathan Alter writes, “He felt a violent chill and went to bed before supper.  The next morning, August 11, 1921, he staggered into the bathroom to shave before collapsing on the bed.  At age thirty-nine, he would never walk – in the conventional sense of the word – again” (Jonathan Alter, The Defining Moment, p. 50).

This did not stop him.  He was elected governor of New York in 1928.  He would serve as the 32nd President of the United States from 1933 – 1945, being elected an unprecedented four times.

Application

Let’s be productive and accomplish something on earth while we can.

Too many give up too easily.  This is certainly true when it comes to the work of the Lord.  Consider the following passages:

  1. “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
  2. “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13).
  3. “And let us not grow weary while doing good for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:9).
  4. “Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:20-21).
  5. “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love and sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).
  6. “For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise” (Hebrews 10:36).
  7. “Yes, I think that it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you…” (2 Peter 1:13, cf. 2 Peter 3:1).
  8. “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).

 

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Western Religions: Jehovah’s Witnesses and The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, Part 3

Beliefs and Practices

1.  God. They say, “We worship the one true and Almighty God, the Creator, whose name is Jehovah” (What Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Believe?, jw.org).  They do not believe in the Trinity.  “The true God is one Person, separate from Jesus Christ… God’s holy spirit is not a person.  It is Jehovah’s active force, used by the Almighty to accomplish his purposes” (Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life, p. 31, WTBTSOP)

2.  Jesus. (a) They claim to be Christians.  They say, “We follow the teachings and example of Jesus Christ and honor him as our Savior and the Son of God… Thus we are Christians… However, we have learned from the Bible that Jesus is not Almighty God” (What Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Believe?, jw.org).  (b) They believe that Jesus was “God’s first creation” (What does The Bible Really Teach?, p. 41, WTBTSOP).  He enjoyed close association with Jehovah “for billions of years – long before the starry heavens and earth were created” (What Does The Bible Really Teach?, p. 42, WTBTSOP).  (c) They believe that Jesus is Michael the Archangel.  “The Bible indicates that Michael is another name for Jesus Christ, before and after his life on earth” (What Does The Bible Really Teach?, p. 218, WTBTSOP).  (d) They teach that “Jesus is not to be worshipped, as we worship only Jehovah God” (Watchtower, November 1, 1964, p. 671, wol.jw.org).

3.  The Holy Spirit.  They believe “The holy spirit is the active force of God.  It is not a person but is a powerful force that God causes to emanate from himself to accomplish his holy will” (Reasoning From the Scripture, p. 381, WTBTSOP).  Again, “The Bible’s use of ‘holy spirit’ indicates that it is a controlled force that Jehovah God uses to accomplish a variety of his purposes.  To a certain extent, it can be likened to electricity, a force that can be adapted to perform a great variety of operations” (Should You Believe in the Trinity?, p. 20, WTBTSOP).

4.  Man. (a) They believe that man has freedom of choice.  “God dignifies us with free will, the power to make decisions of our own rather than having God or fate predetermine what we do” (What Does the Bible Say About Free Will?, jw.org).  (b) They believe that man’s soul is mortal.  Rutherford taught, “The doctrine that man has inherent life and that the soul of man is immortal is as false as the Devil himself and is the result of the Devil’s first lie… Every man is ‘A’ soul, that is to say, a living, breathing creature.  He does not possess a soul separate and distinct from his body; but the body of flesh and the breath of living creatures, together constitute the soul.  When a man dies he is completely dead and entirely without knowledge or consciousness” (J.F. Rutherford, Salvation, pp. 36-37, archive.org).  The Watch Tower says, “When a person dies, he ceases to exist.  Death is the opposite of life.  The dead do not see or hear or think.  Not even one part of us survives the death of the body.  We do not possess an immortal soul or spirit” (What Does The Bible Teach?, p. 58, WTBTSOP).

5.  Salvation. “Deliverance from sin and death is possible through the ransom sacrifice of Jesus… To benefit from that sacrifice, people must not only exercise faith in Jesus but also change their course of life and get baptized” (What Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Believe?, jw.org).  “Water Baptism is a requirement to have a relationship with Jehovah God” (What Does The Bible Really Teach?, p. 175, WTBTSOP).  This baptism is by immersion (ibid).  There seems to be a lack of urgency in the matter.  “If these elders agree that you qualify, they will tell you that you can be baptized at the next opportunity… Baptisms are a regular feature of annual assemblies and conventions held by Jehovah’s Witnesses” (ibid, p. 182).  They point out “Baptism does not guarantee salvation.  The apostle Paul wrote: ‘Keep working out your own salvation with fear and trembling.’ (Philippians 2:12).  Baptism is only the beginning” (ibid, p. 183).

At times, they seem to deny that baptism is essential.  They write, “repentance must precede, but sins not washed away by baptism” (Make Sure of All Things, p. 30, WTBTSOP).  Their position should be clarified. I have found their position to be  ambiguous when speaking with them. In 1908 Charles Taze Russell (J.W.) debated L.S. White in Cincinnati, Ohio, at Music Hall. Six propositions were debated. The fifth proposition was “The Scriptures clearly teach that immersion in water ‘in the name of the Father and of the Son  and of the Holy Spirit,’ of a believing penitent is for, in order to, the remission of sin.” L.S. White affirmed this. Charles Taze Russell denied this. This probably is still their position.

6.  Morals. Jehovah’s Witnesses teach many good morals.  They write, for example, “We adhere to God’s original standard of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, with sexual immorality being the only valid basis for divorce (Matthew 19:4-9)” (What Do Jehovah Witnesses Believe?, jw.org).

7.  Resurrection.  (a) Not all will be raised.  “During the millennium, the resurrection will take place.  Those who willfully sinned against God’s holy spirit, or active force, by unrepentantly acting contrary to its manifestation or leadings will not be resurrected” (Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life, p. 185, WTBTSOP).  (b) Some righteous will a part of the First Resurrection, and be raised to life in heaven.  “Raised to immortal life in the heavens, the 144,000 joints heirs of Christ cannot die” (Is This Life All There Is?, p. 183., WTBTSOP).  (c) Some righteous will be raised to live again on earth (Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life, p. 186).  (d) Many unrighteous will be raised to live again on earth.  They will be given a second chance.  For some it will be their first real chance to know Jehovah (Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life, p. 186).   Not all those raised again to life on earth will pass the test, or judgment day (in their view – this 1,000 year period).  “There will be some… who will become disloyal to God.  The condemnatory judgment passed on them for unfaithfulness will be ‘second death’” (Is This All There Is?, p. 182).  “The judgment will not focus on what people did before they died… Those resurrected thus come to life with a clean slate, so to speak… The individuals will be judged on the basis of what they do during Judgment Day” (What Does The Bible Really Teach?, pp. 214-215).

8.  Heaven, Earth, Hell. There are three eternal destinies.  (a) Heaven.  “Jehovah God, Jesus Christ, and the faithful angels reside in the spirit realm… A relatively small number of people – 144,000 – will be resurrected to life in heaven to rule with Jesus in the Kingdom” (What Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Believe?, jw.org).  The Kingdom “is a real government in heaven… It will replace human governments and accomplish God’s purpose for the earth” (ibid).  (b) Earth.  “God created the earth to be mankind’s eternal home… God will bless obedient people with perfect health and everlasting life in an earthly paradise” (ibid).  “Only those who have shown themselves to be desirous of doing the divine will with a complete heart will remain after the kingdom destroys its enemies” (Is This Life All There Is?, p. 142, WTBTSOP).  (c) Hell.  Hell refers to “total destruction, not conscious torment for all eternity” (ibid, p. 123).  Rutherford taught, “Hell is not a place, it is a condition of death, which means non-existence.  The word is often used as synonymous with grave, which means not merely the place of burial but the condition of the dead” (J.F. Rutherford, Reconciliation, pp. 296-297).

9.  The Lord’s Evening Meal. This is what they call the Lord’s Supper.  It is observed once per year on Nisan 14th (Passover).  It is for the 144,000.  “Who should partake of these memorial emblems?  Logically, only those in the new covenant – that is, those who have the hope of going to heaven… God’s holy spirit convinces such ones that they have been selected to be heavenly kings… What about those who have the hope of living forever in Paradise on earth?  They obey Jesus’ command and attend the Lord’s Evening Meal, but they come as respectful observers, not partakers” (What Does The Bible Really Teach?, pp. 207-208, WTBTSOP).

Who composes the heavenly class?  Not many do today.  “By the 1930’s, then, it was becoming clear that, in general, the heavenly class had been chosen.  For decades now, the search has been for other sheep, whose hope is earthly.  If an anointed one proves unfaithful, it is most likely that a person who has long served God faithfully as one of the other sheep would be called to fill the vacancy thus caused in the 144,000” (Watchtower, February 15, 2003, p. 20).  If you were not a convert by the 1930’s, then you are not likely to be of the heavenly class or “Little flock.”

This creates a strange situation.  In many locations the unleavened bread and red wine are passed without anyone partaking.

10.  Other beliefs and practices. (a) The lessons in every Kingdom hall is the same.  “On any given Sunday, Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world will open the same study material and study the same lesson” (Demory, Jehovah’s Witnesses So Called, p. 21).  The teachings flow from The Watch Tower, which is now located in Warwick, New York.  (b) They will not usually accept your literature.  They explain, “Witnesses do not go to people’s door search for truth or enlightenment.  Rather, they have already devoted countless hours learning the truth from God’s word… It would be foolhardy, as well as a waste of valuable time for Jehovah’s Witnesses to accept and expose themselves to false religious literature that is designed to deceive them” (Watchtower, May 1, 1984, p. 31).  (c) Jehovah’s Witnesses do not celebrate holidays (What Does The Bible Really Teach?, p. 222-ff) or birthdays (Reasoning From the Scriptures, p. 68-ff, WTBTSOP).  (d) Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in the use of blood transfusions (ibid, p. 72-ff).

Terminology

When studying with certain religious groups it is important to understand that while they may use familiar sounding words, their definition is different.  This is certainly true of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Here are some examples.

  1. The Bride of Christ, The Body of Christ, The Church, The Church of Christ are references to Jesus and the 144,000.
  2. The Christ may be used to refer to Jesus and the 144,000.
  3. The Gospel is sometimes used of the message which will be preached during the millennial kingdom.
  4. Salvation is sometimes used of salvation from the Battle of Armageddon.
  5. Judgment Day refers to the millennium, a period of 1,000 years, during which those living on earth will be tested. (Terminology points taken from Jehovah’s Witnesses, ‘So Called’ by Michael Demory and Jehovah’s Witnesses, Editor David Brown, 2002 Spring Bible Institute Lectureship).
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Western Religions: Jehovah’s Witnesses and The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, Part 2

Authority

1.  The Bible.

They write, “As the inspired word of God, it is a channel for the operation of God’s spirit” (The Bible: God’s Word or Man’s?, p. 181, Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania).  “The Bible is a gift from God, one for which we can be truly grateful.  This unique book reveals things that we could never find out otherwise” (What Does The Bible Really Teach?, p. 18, Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania).

They have produced their own translation of the Bible.  It is known as the New World Translation.  The New Testament was released in 1950, the entire Bible in 1961.  The translators remain anonymous.  They state that the reason for this is because, “The translators were not seeking prominence for themselves but only to honor the Divine Author of the Holy Scriptures” (Reasoning From the Scriptures, p. 277, WTBTSOP).

This translation has done some very controversial things.  Here are a few: (1) It uses the name Jehovah in the text of the New Testament.  This is done, even though the sacred name (the Tetragrammaton, YHWH) does not appear in any New Testament manuscript.  (2) In John 1:1 “the word was God” (NKJV) is rendered “the word was a god” (NWT).  It is true that the definite article is not present.  However, the definite article is not required in a predicate nominative when it is preceding the verb.  E.C. Colwell has written, “Definite predicate nouns which follow the verb (this is the usual order) usually take the article.  Definite predicate nouns which proceed the verb usually lack the article… The absence of the article does not make the predicate indefinite… When it proceeds the verb, it is indefinite in this position only when the context demands it” (A Definite Rule For The Use of the Article In The Greek New Testament by E.C. Colwell, University of Chicago, Journal of Biblical Literature, 52 (1933): 12-21, ColwellRule.pdf).  (3) In John 8:58, “before Abraham was, I Am” (NKJV) is rendered, “Before Abraham came into existence, I have been” (NWT).  There is no justifiable reason for this.  It is present tense, not perfect.  Wayne Jackson comments, “Before Abraham was born [aorist], I am [present]” (8:58).  The change in tense is no accident.  The aorist, with reference to Abraham, declares that there was a point in time when he did not exist, and came to be.  By want of contrast the present tense… reflects the timelessness of Christ.  It affirms that he is an eternally existing being” (Wayne Jackson, Treasures From the Greek New Testament, p. 64).  (4) In Colossians 1:16-17, the world “other” is supplied in brackets four times.  “Because by means of him all [other] things were created in the heavens and upon earth, the things visible and the things invisible… All [other] things have been created through him and for him.  Also, he is before all [other] things and by means of him all [other] things were made to exist” (NWT).  This is not derived from the wording in the Greek text.  It comes from their view of the meaning of Jesus being referred to as the firstborn (Colossians 1:15, for more info. See Jesus: A Created Being by B.H.).

They do indicate that they are willing to study with you out of the translation you prefer” (Reasoning From the Scriptures, p. 279, WTBTSOP).

They claim that all teaching should be tested by the word of God.  They write, “Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that all religious teachings should be subjected to this test of agreement with the inspired scriptures, whether the teaching is offered by them or by someone else.  They invite you – urge you – to do this” (Jehovah’s Witnesses – Who Are They? Wol.jw.org).

2.  Watch Tower Material.

Consider their own words.  Charles Taze Russell wrote, “Furthermore, not only do we find that people cannot see the divine plan in studying the Bible by itself, but we see, also, that if anyone lays the Scripture Studies aside, even after he has used them, after he has become familiar with them, after he has read them for ten years – if he lays them aside and ignores them and goes by the bible alone, though he has understood his Bible for ten years, our experience shows that within two years he goes into darkness.  On the other hand, if he had merely read the Scripture Studies with their references and not read a page of the Bible as such, he would be in the light at the end of two years, because he would have the light of the scriptures” (Charles Taze Russell, The Watchtower, Septempber 15, 1910, p. 258 – quoted in Josh McDowell and Don Stewart’s Handbook of Today’s Religions, p. 45).  These words appeared in the watchtower more, recently, “We all need help to understand the Bible, and we cannot find the scriptural guidance we need outside the “’faithful and discreet slave’ organization (The WT Organization – B.H.)” (The Watchtower, February 15, 1981, p. 19, wol.jw.org).

Robert Morey gives this advice, “A Witness is trained not to trust himself or others to interpret the Bible.  In light of this, it is obviously fruitless to battle verse by verse with a Witness.  Besides being a waste of great amount of time, it is not efficient because even if you manage to silence a witness, and to give him arguments which he cannot answer, he will just contact the Watchtower and they will give him answers.  As long as the Witness trusts the Watchtower as a reliable and faithful guide, you will never get anywhere with him… you must demonstrate that The Watchtower is not trustworthy or reliable.  You must prove that The Watchtower is not ‘God’s visible organization on earth’… until his confidence in the Watchtower is destroyed, a witness cannot place common ground between you and a Witness” (Robert Morey, How To Answer a Jehovah’s Witness, pp. 14-15).  While we must be careful with our words, this is a point that one is wise to remember.

Trustworthiness

1.  Failed Prophecies

It should be stated that Jehovah’s Witnesses claim to be prophets.  These words appeared in the Watchtower, “So, does Jehovah have a prophet to help them, to warn them of dangers and to declare things to come?  These questions can be answered in the affirmative.  Who is the prophet?…  Today they are known as Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses” (They Shall Know That a Prophet was Among Them, Watchtower, April 1, 1972, p. 197, wol,jw.org).

(a) Russell taught in 1910, that 1914 would bring about the end of earthly governments.  He wrote, “We consider it an established truth that the final end of the kingdoms of this world, and the full establishment of the Kingdom of God, will be accomplished by the end of A.D. 1914.  Then the prayer of the church, even since the Lord took his departure – ‘Thy Kingdom come’ – will be answered; and under that wise and just administration, the whole earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord” (Charles Taze Russell, The Time is at Hand!, Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. 2, p. 99, archive.org).

This did not happen.  The end of earthly governments did not happen in 1914.

“After Russell’s death in 1916, and the failure of the end of the world to come to pass in 1914, Judge Rutherford changed from an emphatic end, to the year 1914 being the ‘beginning’ of the end” (Michael Demory, Jehovah’s Witnesses, “So-Called”: Exposing the Errors of the Watch Tower Society, P. 219).  Rutherford wrote, “The things there prophesied (Matt. 24, B.H.) began to come to pass in 1914, and they are still in the process of fulfillment” (J.F. Rutherford, Prophecy, p. 52, archive.org).

This is still their position. They wrote in 1974, “The Bible clearly pinpoints the generation alive in 1914 C.E. as the one that will yet witness the ushering in of Kingdom rule free from satanic interference.  Hence, many living today will have the opportunity to never die” (Is This Life All There Is?, p. 165, WTBTSOP).  More recently, in 2005, they said, “1914 indeed marked the birth of God’s heavenly kingdom and the beginning of ‘the last days’ of this present wicked system of things” (What Does the Bible Really Teach?, p. 218, WTBTSOP).

(b) Rutherford wrote in 1920 a book entitled Millions Now Living Will Never Die.  In it he said, “There will be the resurrection of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and other faithful ones of old… we may expect 1925 to witness the return of these faithful men of Israel from the condition of death, being resurrected and fully restored to prefect humanity and made the visible, legal representatives of the new order of things on earth” (p. 88).  Again, “Millions of people now on earth will still be on earth in 1925.  Then, based upon the promises set forth in the divine word, we must reach the positive and indisputable conclusion that millions now living will never die” (p. 97, books.google.com).

Rutherford did not give up on this.  In 1929, he built Beth-Sarim (House of Princes) in San Diego, California.  It was designed to house the resurrected faithful (Rutherford, Salvation, p. 311, archive.org). The Watch Tower Society sold the house in 1948. It is located at 4440 Braeburn Rd. San Diego, California 92116. It is a 5,100 square feet house. The property has been designated a Historical Landmark by the city of San Diego (Wikipedia).

Other dates could be mentioned.  However, not one such prediction is verifiably fulfilled.

They now admit that they have over-stepped at times.  “Jehovah’s Witnesses, in their eagerness for Jesus’ second coming, have suggested dates that turned out to be incorrect.  Because of this some have called them false prophets.  Never in these instances, however, did they presume to originate predictions, ‘in the name of Jehovah.’  Never did they say, “These are the words of Jehovah” (Why So Many False Alarms?, Awake!, March 22, 1995).  This is a stunning admission.

2.  Miracle Wheat Controversy

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported on November 1, 1916.  “’Pastor’ Russell’s Watch Tower publication advertised wheat seed for sale at $1.00 a pound.  It was styled ‘Miracle Wheat,’ and it was asserted that it would grow five times as much as any other brand of wheat… The Eagle first made public this new venture of the Russellites and it published a cartoon picturing the ‘Pastor’ and his ‘Miracle Wheat’ in such a way that ‘Pastor’ Russell brought suit for libel, asking for $100,000 in damages.  Government departments investigated the wheat… and agents of the Government were important witnesses at the trial of the libel suit in January, 1913.  The ‘Miracle Wheat’ was low in the Government test, they said.  The Eagle won the suit” (newspaper.com).

3.  Changing Doctrines

Here are a couple of examples: (a) They once taught that Jesus should be worshipped (The Watchtower, October 15, 1945, p. 313).  This is now taught against (The Watchtower, November 1, 1964, p. 671).  (b) They now make a distinction between the use of blood fractions for the purpose of building up resistance to diseases by means of antibodies and the use of blood and blood plasma in transfusions.  By their own admission, they did not always do so (The Watchtower, September 15, 1958, p. 575, wol.jw.org).  The use of serums containing blood fractions for the purpose of building up antibodies to fight against disease is now left to the individual conscious (The Watchtower, November 15, 1964, p. 680, wol.jw.org).

Changes in doctrine are explained as “new light” being given.  “God continues to shed light upon his people.  As a result, their faith “is like the bright morning light that grows brighter and brighter (Proverbs 4:18).  Increasing light from Jehovah continues to illuminate their way organizationally, doctrinally, and morally” (The Light Keeps Getting Brighter, wol.jw.org).  Michael Demory comments on their use of Proverbs 4:18, “the witnesses believe this verse refers to their receipt of ‘new light’ (Revelation) from God… this verse is not speaking about revelation from God, but the righteous individual’s ability to increase his understanding of God’s will to live a holy life” (Demory, p. 185).  Regardless of the context, one should realize that they believe in continuous revelation.

 

 

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