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,  “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.


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?,  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?,  (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,

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?,  (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,  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?,  “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?,

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?,  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).


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


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?

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,

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.


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,

(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,

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,

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,

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, 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” (

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,  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,

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,  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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Western Religions: Jehovah’s Witnesses and The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, Part 1

The Jehovah’s Witnesses claim a membership of approximately 8.6 million world-wide (How Many of Jehovah’s Witnesses Are There Worldwide?,  The number are said to total about 1.2 million in the U.S.A. (2018 Country and Territory Reports,  “Jehovah’s Witnesses are among the most racially and ethnically diverse religious groups in America…  36% are white, 32% are Hispanic, 27% are black and 6% are another race or mixed race” (A Closer Look at Jehovah’s Witnesses Living in the U.S.,


1.  Charles Taze Russell (b.1852-d.1916). Russell was born and reared in Pennsylvania.  He was born in Allegheny City (now a part of Pittsburgh) on February 16, 1852.  His father owned a chain of men’s clothing stores.

Russell was brought up in the Presbyterian church but became dissatisfied with it.  “By the time he was 20, Russell had left both Presbyterianism and Congregationalism because he could not reconcile the idea of an eternal hell with God’s mercy” (Charles Taze Russell,  “His religious background was Presbyterian and Congregational.  However, he was perturbed by such teaching as predestination and eternal torment in hell fire” (Mankind’s Search for God, p. 351, Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania).

He met an Adventist preacher when he was 17 or 18 years old (note: not S.D.A., but one of the splinter groups that survived The Great Disappointment). He spent the next 9 years immersing himself in Adventist doctrine (Michael S. Demory, Jehovah’s Witnesses, ‘So called,’ p. 25).  It is from the Adventist that Russell received the doctrine of the mortality of the soul (Editor David Brown, 2002 Spring Lectureship, Jehovah’s Witnesses, p. 101, 103).  “During the 1870’s, Charles Taze Russell established himself as an independent and controversial Adventist teacher.  He rejected belief in hell as a place of eternal torment and adopted a non-Trinitarian theology that denied the divinity of Jesus” (Jehovah’s Witness,

Russell eventually separated from the Adventists.  “Difference arose on Biblical interpretation, especially on the manner and object of the Lord’s return, although the chronology was left intact.  Russell collaborated with the Adventist N.H. Barbour, the two publishing a book together; a year later, in 1878 they parted because they disagreed on the atonement” (Jon Karel Van Baalen, The Chaos of Cults, p. 257).  “In 1878 Russell had a major disagreement with one of his collaborators, who had rejected the teachings that Christ’s death could be an atonement for sins… Russell severed all ties with his former collaborator” (Mankind’s Search for God, p. 352, Watch Tower Bible And Tract Society of Pennsylvania).

Russell continued to teach.  He had organized a Bible study group, several years earlier. He continued to work with this group.  “The Jehovah’s witnesses are an outgrowth of the International Bible Students Association, which was founded in 1872 in Pittsburg by Charles Taze Russell” (Jehovah’s Witness,

He also made use of the printed page.  “In 1879 he began publishing a magazine, Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence” (Encyclopedia Britannica © 1979, Vol. 10, p. 131).  The first issue was a printing of 6,000 copies (Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults, p. 38).  Today, the magazine is known as The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom.  42 million are said to be printed every month (The Watchtower – No Other Magazine Comes Close,  “Russell formed the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania (1884), with himself as President” (Jehovah’s Witness,  One writer has suggested that “it could perhaps be said that this marked the time of the founding of the Jehovah’s Witness organization” (Leonard White, A Brief History of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Guardian of Truth, April 15, 1993).

2.  Joseph Franklin Rutherford A.K.A. Judge Rutherford (b.1869-d.1942).

Rutherford was born and reared in Missouri.  He was born in Versailles on November 08, 1869.  His father was a farmer.  Rutherford was brought up in the Baptist church.

He became a lawyer in 1892.  He was first a prosecutor.  He received the nickname “Judge” due to his temporarily serving as a substitute judge.  He did this on four occasions.  All four times were for one day each (Editor David Brown, 2002 Spring Bible Lectureship, Jehovah’s Witnesses, p. 141).

His first known contact with the Watch Tower occurred in 1894, when two Watch Tower representatives came to his office.  They sold him a set of Russell’s “Studies in the Scripture” (Cathleen A. Koenig, Judge Rutherford,

He, in time became a Bible Student.  He was baptized a Bible Student in 1906.  Shortly thereafter, he moved to New York to serve as legal counsel for the Watch Tower (ibid).

Following Russell’s death in 1916, Rutherford became President of the Watch Tower.  He made many changes.  There were doctrinal changes.  “Judge Rutherford discarded some of Russell’s beliefs, such as the notion that the measurements of the Great Pyramid of Egypt verified biblical predictions of the second advent” (Encyclopedia Britannica © 1979, Vol. 10, p. 131).  There were organizational changes.  Bible student congregations went from being “a loose connection of semi-autonomous congregations into a tight-knit organization” (Editor David Brown, 2002 Spring Bible Lectureship, Jehovah’s Witnesses, p. 143).

These changes led to division.  Several smaller groups broke away.  These include: Chicago Bible Students Association; Pastoral Bible Institute; the Laymen’s Home Missionary Movement; the Standfast Bible Students Association (Demory, p. 28; Editor Brown, p. 144).

In 1931, the group, over which Rutherford presided, was renamed the Jehovah’s Witnesses (Editor Brown, p. 144; 1931 Resolution Naming “Jehovah’s Witnesses,”  This name is said to be taken from Isaiah 43:10-12 (Why Are We Called Jehovah’s Witnesses?

Other personalities could be considered.  To date there have been eight Watch Tower Presidents, seven since it was incorporated in 1884.  However, these two personalities, Russel and Rutherford, may be considered founders of the organization that we know as the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

3.  History According to Them

“The modern-day organization of Jehovah’s witnesses began at the end of the 19th century… while Russell took the lead in the Bible education work at that time and was the first editor of The Watchtower, he was not the founder of a new religion.  The goal of Russell and the other Bible students… was to promote the teachings of Jesus Christ and to follow the practices of the first-century Christian congregation.  Since Jesus is the founder of Christianity, we view him as the founder of our organization” (Who Was the Founder of Jehovah’s Witnesses?,

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that there have been witnesses throughout history, beginning with Abel (cf. Hebrews 11:4; 12:1; Rev. 1:5; Acts 22:15).  “At Hebrews 11:4, Paul identifies Abel as the first witness of Jehovah’s (Why Should Jehovah have Witnesses?,  It should be understood that the appearance of the word “witness” does not mean that the reference is to what is today called the “Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

“The Watch Tower teaches that there was no true Christian church on earth at the beginning of the twentieth century… only the Jehovah’s Witnesses emerged as the one true religion” (No True Religion on Earth Until 1919? Jehovah’s Witnesses View of Church History by Robert Bowman Jr.,  The Watch Tower said this in 1954, “Seventy years ago sincere worshipers of Jehovah were to be found scattered and bewildered in numerous false religious systems of this world, for in those days there was no one organization to which they could assemble together… The truths taught by Christ Jesus and his apostles have been restored” (Restoration of True Religion Today,

4.  Persecution

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the civil governments of this earth are part of Satan’s world (You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, pp. 209-210, Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania).  They “refuse to vote, run for public office, serve in any armed forces, salute the flag, stand for the national anthem or recite the pledge of allegiance” (Brittanica © 1979, Vol. 10, p.131).

These positions have brought them into conflict with many governments of the world.  (1) “Rutherford and seven of his colleagues were sentenced to 20 years in prison (U.S. Federal Prison, B.H.) for conspiring to promote draft evasion during a time of war.  These convictions were later overturned” (Religions – Witnesses: History,  “They were freed after nine months, and the government eventually dropped its prosecution” (Britannica © 1979, Vol. 10, p. 131).  (2) “At one time more than 6,000 witnesses were inmates of Nazi concentration camps.  Communist and Fascist states usually forbid Watch Tower activities” (Britannica © 1979 Vol. 10, p. 131).  “By the second half of World War II over 50% of German Witnesses had been sent to concentration camps.  Overall, one in four German Witnesses died during the Nazi period” (  (3) “Witnesses were also persecuted in Britain, Canada, and the United States.  After the war the Witnesses brought several suits in American courts dealing with their beliefs and practices, resulting in 59 Supreme Court rulings that were regarded as major judgments on free exercise of religion” (Jehovah’s Witnesses,  These are just a few examples.

It is easy to come across as overly aggressive when speaking with Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Walter Martin writes, “an intricate part of their belief system is the conviction that Christians will always attack Jehovah’s Witnesses on a personal level as well as a religious level, hence the Witnesses readily assume a martyr or persecution complex the moment an antagonism is manifested toward Russell, Rutherford, their theology, the Watch Tower or themselves… this illusion is made to seem all the more real when unthinking Christians unfortunately accommodate the Witnesses by appearing overly aggressive toward the Watch Tower theology or the Witnesses personally” (Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults, pp. 33-34).  They expect to be mistreated.  We must be careful how we speak, especially to these people.  If we come on very aggressively, they will likely leave never to return.  The opportunity for study with these people is usually found in a mild, less dominating approach.






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Western Religions: Seventh-Day Adventists, Part 2

Belief and Practice

1.  God. In Questions on Doctrine, they say, “We believe – That God is the sovereign creator, upholder, and ruler of the Universe, and that He is eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent.  That the Godhead, the trinity, comprises God the Father, Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit” (Questions on Doctrine, pp. 21-22).

2.  Man. (a) “We believe – That man is free to choose or reject the offer of salvation through Christ; we do not believe that God has predetermined that some men shall be saved and others lost” (QOD, p. 23).  Thus, they believe in free-will.

(b)  “We believe – That man was endowed at creation with conditional immortality; we do not believe that man has innate immortality or an immortal soul” (QOD, p. 23).  “Conditional immortality” is the concept that man is mortal, and that immortality is a gift of God.  It is not given to all.  It is given to those whom God counts righteous through Jesus Christ.

(c) “Seventh-day Adventists hold – That the condition of man in death is one of unconsciousness.  That all men, good and evil alike, remain in the grave from death to the resurrection” (QOD, p. 15).  This is known as “soul sleep.”

3.  Salvation.  “We believe – That salvation through Christ is by grace alone through faith in His blood” (QOD, p. 22).  “Seventh-Day Adventists hold – That every person in order to obtain salvation must experience the new birth; that this comprises an entire transformation of life and character by the recreative power of God, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ” (QOD, p. 12).

What about baptism?  “Seventh-Day Adventists hold – That baptism is an ordinance of the Christian Church and should follow repentance and forgiveness of sins” (QOD, p. 12).  They teach that baptism follows forgiveness of sins.  They practice baptism by immersion (ibid). Note: I had a public debate 2012 with Kevin Miller, then V.P. of the Alaskan Conference of S.D.A. Church (He is now President). In that debate, he denied that baptism was essential to salvation.

There is a 13 point baptism vow which is made before baptism. (1) Do you believe in God the Father, in His Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Spirit, a unit of three coeternal Persons? (2) Do you accept the death of Jesus on Calvary as the atoning sacrifice for your sins, and believe that by God’s grace through faith in His shed blood you are saved from sin and its penalty?  (3) Do you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, believing that God, in Christ, has forgiven your sins and given you a new heart, and do you renounce the sinful ways of the world? (4) Do you accept by faith the righteousness of Christ, your Intercessor in the heavenly sanctuary, and accept His promise of transforming grace and power to live a loving, Christ-centered life in your home and before the world? (5) Do you believe that the Bible is God’s inspired word, the only rule of faith and practice for the Christian? Do you covenant to spend time regularly in prayer and Bible study? (6) Do you accept the Ten Commandments as a transcript of the character of God and a revelation of His will? Is your purpose by the power of the indwelling Christ, to keep this law, including the fourth commandment, which requires the observance of the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath of the Lord and a memorial of Creation? (7) Do you look forward to the  coming of Jesus, and the blessed hope, when “this mortal shall…put on immortality” ( 1 Cor. 15:54 KJV)? As you prepare to meet the Lord, will you witness to His loving salvation by using your talents in personal soul-winning endeavors to help others be ready for His glorious appearing? (8) Do you accept the Biblical teaching of spiritual gifts, and believe that the gift of prophecy is one of the identifying marks of the remnant church? (9) Do you believe in Church organization? Is it your purpose to support the Church through tithes and offerings, and by your personal effort and influence? (10) Do you believe that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit; and will you honor God by caring for it, avoiding the use of that which is harmful, abstaining from all unclean foods; from the use, manufacture, or sale of alcoholic beverages; from the use, manufacture, or sale of tobacco in any of its forms for human consumption; and from the misuse of or trafficking in narcotics or other drugs? (11) Do you know and understand the fundamental Bible principles as taught by the Seventh-day Adventist Church? Do you purpose, by the grace of God, to fulfill His will by ordering your life in harmony with these principles? (12) Do you accept the New Testament teaching of baptism by immersion, and desire to be so baptized as a public expression of faith in Christ and His forgiveness of your sins? (13) Do you  accept and believe that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is the remnant church of Bible prophecy, and that people of every nation, race, and language are invited and accepted into its fellowship? Do you desire to be a member of this local congregation of the world Church? [Seventh-Day Adventist Church Manual (2015), pp. 45-48] Once the vow has been made, the church votes on accepting the candidate into membership subject to baptism (ibid).

They believe that one can fall.  “It seems abundantly clear that the acceptance of Christ at conversion does not seal a person’s destiny.  His life record after conversion is also important.  A man may go back on his repentance…” (QOD, p. 420).

4.  Morals. S.D.A. members tend to be very moral people.  The believe that the Ten Commandments to be “great moral, unchangeable precepts, binding upon all men in every age” (QOD, p. 12).  The believe that one should abstain from alcohol and tobacco (QOD, p. 24)

5.  Health. They emphasize healthy living and diet. “We feel it is to be our Christian duty to preserve our bodies in the best health for the service and glory of God” (QOD. p. 624).

They have a long history of being health conscious.  Dr. John Harvey Kellogg and W.K. Kellogg were S.D.A.

There are five “blue zones” which have been identified around the world, places where the population live significantly longer than average.  These are: Okinowa, Japan; Ikaria, Greece; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica; and Loma Linda, California – which is home to a large number of S.D.A. members (Seventh-Day Adventist Diet: A Complete Guide,

6.  The Sabbath. “We believe – that the seventh day of the week is the Sabbath; we do not believe that the Sabbath has been abolished, changed to the first day, or is merely a seventh part of time” (QOD, p. 24).  They believe that the Sabbath was instituted in Eden and continues to be a perpetual memorial of a finished creation (QOD, p. 149).

Sabbath keeping was practiced early on in the S.D.A. church.  James Bates wrote a tract on the subject in 1846 (James Bates,  This tract came to the attention of James and Ellen White (ibid).  Ellen White claimed that she had a vision on April 7, 1847 in which she saw The Ten Commandments, and a halo of glory surrounded the fourth commandment (A Vision 1847,   This was viewed as confirmation that they  were to keep the Sabbath.

What about those who do not keep the Sabbath?  They believe that currently there are true Christians in all churches and “None are condemned until they have had the light and seen the obligation of the fourth commandment.”  But that the time is coming when there will be no excuse.  “The line will be clearly drawn between the false and the true” (QOD, p. 183 quoting Ellen G. White, Evangelism, pp. 234-235).

7.  The Resurrection. “Seventh-day Adventists hold – That there shall be a resurrection of the just and the unjust.  The resurrection of the just will take place at the second coming of Christ; the resurrection of the unjust will take place a thousand years later, at the close of the millennial” (QOD, p. 14).  The second coming of Christ will be visible, audible, and personal (QOD, p. 451, 452, 459).  “The millennial reign of Christ covers the period between the first and second resurrection during which time the saint of all ages will live with their blessed Redeemer in heaven” (QOD, p. 17). 

The wicked or unjust will be raised and devoured by fire (QOD, p. 17).  This is “eternal punishment” by result.  They do not believe in an eternal existence of being in punishment (QOD, p. 23, 540).

The fire which consumes the wicked will purify the earth.  “The earth, restored to its pristine beauty, will become forever the abode of the Saints of the Lord” (QOD, p. 17).

  *Note: Most of the previous quotes in this article are from Questions on Doctrine.  This book was published in 1957 by “a Representative Group of Seventh-day Adventist Leaders, Bible Teachers and Editors.”  It is still fairly accurately reflects basic S.D.A doctrine.

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Western Religions: Seventh-Day Adventist, Part 1

The Seventh-Day Adventist church claims a membership of approximately 21 million world-wide.  The numbers are said to total about 1.2 million in the U.S.A. and Canada (Who Are Seventh-Day Adventists?,


1.  The Great Second Advent Awakening

In the first half of the nineteenth century, many preachers in England and America began to proclaim that Christ’s coming was near.  This is known as “The Great Second Advent Awakening.”

One of these preachers was William Miller.  He was a Baptist preacher in Low Hampton, New York.  He concluded from his study of Daniel that Christ would return between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844.  When it did not happen, new dates were set – first April 18, 1844 and then, October 22, 1844 (He took the 2,300 days of Daniel 8:14 to refer to 2,300 years.  He started counting with 457 B.C., Artaxerxes decree.  This would make 1843 A.D. 2,300 years later by his calculations).

Failure of these dates resulted in what is known as “The Great Disappointment.”  Many had “their faith and their hearts broken, never to trust man or God again” (Foy Wallace Jr., God’s Prophetic Word, p. 232).

Some regrouped.  Among them were those who formulated explanations or why Christ had not returned.  Among them were also those who began to teach various unique doctrines.

2.  Three Groups

Three of the groups are of interest to our study.  (a) One group, led by Hiram Edson, was located in western New York.  They believed that the problem was not with the date, but with the location.  Walter Martin explains, “They had expected Christ to come to earth to cleanse the sanctuary, but the sanctuary was not the earth but was located in Heaven!  Instead of coming to earth, therefore, Christ had passed from ‘one apartment’ of the sanctuary into the other ‘apartment’ to perform a closing work now known as ‘investigative judgment” [Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults, p. 416).  [As a side note: Members of the Bahai Faith believe that the fulfillment of William Miller’s calculations is the Bab (Barron Harper, Did You Miss the Return of Christ?].  (b) Another group, led by Joseph Bates, was located in Fairhaven, Massachusetts.  They began to advocate Sabbath keeping (Martin, pp. 417-418).  (c) A third group, led by James White and Ellen G. Harmon (later White) was located in Portland, Maine.  This group recognized Ellen “as the possessor of the ‘spirit of prophecy,’ a restoration of the spiritual gift of prophecy” (Martin, p. 418).

3.  Seventh-Day Adventist

The S.D.A. church was formed when these three groups united.  Walter Martin writes, “When the Edson-Crosier, Bates, and White adherents joined forces, the Seventh-day Adventist’ denomination was launched.  Although the name ‘Seventh-day Adventist’ denomination was not officially assumed until 1860 at a conference held in Battle Creek, Michigan, nevertheless Seventh-Day Adventism had been launched.  In 1855, the Adventist headquarters were established in Battle Creek and remained there until 1903, when they were transferred to Takoma Park, a Maryland suburb of Washington, D.C.” (Martin, p. 418).  Its headquarters is now located in Silver Spring, Maryland (


1.  The Bible

 “Seventh-day Adventists uniformly believe that the canon of scripture closed with the book of Revelation we hold that all other writings and teachings, from whatever source, are to be judged by, and are subject to the Bible, which is the spring and norm of the Christian Faith” (Questions on Doctrine, pp. 89-90).

2.  Ellen G. White

“Seventh-day Adventists regard her writings as containing inspired counsel and instruction concerning personal religion and conduct of our denominational work…   we base our teaching on the scriptures, the only foundation of all true Christian doctrine.  However, it is our belief that the Holy Spirit opened to her mind important events and called her to give certain instructions for these last days.    And inasmuch as these instructions, in our understanding, are in harmony with the word of God… We as a denomination accept them as inspired counsels from the Lord” (Questions on Doctrine, pp. 92-93).


Ellen G. White wrote 53 books.  Some describe her as a plagiarist.  Seventh-day Adventist pastor, Walter Rea so describes her.  He said that he had not found a single major work by White that did not use a previously published source.  He provided examples.  Rea said, “The important thing is that she and the denomination always claimed that she didn’t copy and that she wasn’t influenced by anyone” (John Dart, Seventh-day Adventist Prophet White is Called Plagiarist, Los Angeles Times, Nov. 7, 1980).  Others admit that she borrowed from others but likens it to a New Testament writer quoting from an Old Testament writer (ibid).

Let’s be clear, the real issue is not whether she borrowed from other sources or not.  The real issue is whether or not she had the gift of prophecy.  It is the position of this writer that a proper understanding of 1 Corinthians 13 implies that she did not.





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Western Religions: The Latter-Day Saints (Mormonism) Part 3

Beliefs and Practices

1.  God. Joseph Smith wrote, “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost” (The Articles of Faith 1).

The Father and the Son have a body of flesh and bones, like we do (D&C 130:22; The Pearl of Great Price, Book of Moses 6:9).

God has progressed, according to some early Mormons.  Orson Hyde, an early Mormon apostle, said “Remember that God, our Father, was perhaps once a child and mortal like we ourselves, and rose step by step in the scale of progress… until He has arrived at the point He now is” (Journal of Discourses Vol. 1, p. 123,  Wilford Woodruff said, “God himself is increasing and progressing in knowledge, power, and dominion, and will do so world’s without end” (Journal of Discourses Vol. 6, p. 120).  [Note: This doctrine of progression seems contrary to the Book of Mormon (Mormon 9:9-10, 19; Moroni 8:18) and The Doctrine and Covenants (20:17,19).

Brigham Young said that Adam of Genesis was “our Father, and our God, and the only God with whom we have to do” (Journal of Discourses Vol. 1, p. 50).  This is the God who beget Jesus (ibid).  Note: Most Mormons today reject this Adam-God view.

2.  Man. Man is said to have a pre-mortal existence (The Pearl of Great Price, Book of Abraham 3:22-23).  Weldon Langfield, a former member of the LDS church, writes, “The theory that all humans existed before birth in a spirit world is now a bedrock doctrine of the LDS church.  In fact, Mormon parents, as they have babies, believe that they are providing bodies for those spirits.  That is why they tend to have large families” (Weldon Longfield, The Truth About Mormonism, p. 78).

Man is accountable for himself.  Joseph Smith wrote, “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgressions” (The Articles of Faith 2).

Man has free-will.  This is plainly taught in the Book of Mormon (2 Nephi 2:27; 10:23; Alma 13:3; 30:8; Helaman 14:30-31).

Man can become like God.  Lorenzo Snow, fifth President of the LDS church, said, “As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become” (The Grand Destiny of the Faithful,

3.  Salvation. Joseph Smith wrote, “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.  We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost” (The Articles of Faith 3-4).

The Living may be baptized for others who have died.  This is how they understand 1 Corinthians 15:29.  This is why they keep genealogy records.  However, The Book of Mormon seems to teach that one’s destiny is sealed at death (Alma 34:35).  I suppose that Baptism for the Dead provides an exception.

Blood Atonement has been taught.  Some sins are believed to require the sinner’s blood for atonement.  Brigham Young taught this (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 3, p. 247, Vol. 4, p. 54).  Brigham Young said, “Suppose you found your brother in bed with your wife, and put a javelin through both of them, you would be justified, and they would atone for their sins, and be received into the kingdom of God” (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 3, p. 247).

4.  Marriage. The LDS church use to condone polygamy (D&C 132:34, 52).  Joseph Smith had up to 40 wives (Mormon Church Polygamy: Joseph Smith had up to 40 wives,  Brigham Young had a total of 55 wives (Polygamy, Brigham Young and His 55 Wives by John G. Turner,  Wilford Woodruff, President of the LDS church in 1890 gave an official declaration saying, “In as much as laws have been enacted by Congress forbidding plural marriages… I hereby declare my intention to submit to those laws, and to use my influence with members of the church of which I preside to have them do likewise.”

There are two types of marriages.  Civil marriages end at death.  Temple marriages or celestial marriages are for time and eternity (D&C 132).

5.  Morals. Mormons today, tend to be very moral people.  Joseph Smith wrote, “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men” (The Articles of Faith 13).

They abstain from wine, strong drink, tobacco, and hot drinks (D&C 89).  Hot drinks mean coffee and tea.

6.  Heaven and hell. Their beliefs may be summarized in the following words, “In Mormon theology, there are three heavens: the telestrial, the terrestrial, and the celestrial.  The lowest heaven is designated for the heathen people who reject the Gospel, who are… suffering in hell pending the resurrection.  The second heaven will be inhabited by Christians who did not accept the Mormon message, Mormons who did not live up to their church’s requirements, and men of good will of other religions who rejected the revelation of the saints.  The final or celestrial heaven is itself divided into three levels, the highest of which is godhood or the possession of a kingdom for one’s self and one’s family” (Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults, p. 224).  See D&C 76:67-ff; 88:21-ff.

7.  Other beliefs. (a) They believe in modern-day miracles (The Articles of Faith 6-7).  (b) They are millennial in eschatology (The Articles of Faith 10).  (c) They believe in two classes of priesthood.  The Aaronic priesthood is for younger Mormon.  It is conferred at the age of twelve.  The Melchizedek priesthood is conferred at the age of eighteen.  They seem to believe that this is essential to church restoration (The Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith 2:71-ff; D&C 13; The Articles of Faith 5).  (d) They believe that it is permissible to use water in place of the fruit of the vine in communion (D&C 27:1-2). (e) Many Mormons wear temple garments (Mormon undergarments or underwear). “Temple garments are worn by adult members who have made sacred promises of fidelity to God’s commandments and the gospel of Jesus Christ”(Temple Garments, church of “Mormon undergarments must be worn day and night by members who have received the ordinance of the temple endowment to remind them of the commitment they made to God, according to Brigham Young University. The LDS Church’s handbook states the garments also “provide protection against temptation and evil” (Lindsey Bever, Mormon Church peels back mystery of sacred underwear,  “The power is in the symbolism of the garments, not any kind of miracles that result from wearing them. Within Mormon folklore, there are stories of garment wearers receiving physical protection…but this isn’t part of official LDS doctrine” (McKay Coppins, A Brief Guide To “Mormon Underwear,”

Branches of Mormonism

There are many branches to Mormonism.  Wikipedia currently lists twelve. says there are over 100.  Most are small in number.  Here are a few:

1.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. This is by far the largest branch.  It is headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah.

2.  The Community of Christ (Previously known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints). This is the second largest branch.  It currently numbers about 250,000.  This branch is headquartered in Independence, Missouri.  They rejected Brigham Young as a prophet.  They were organized by Joseph Smith III.  They reject polygamy, the idea of God progressing, the Adam-God doctrine, and blood atonement, and baptism for the dead.

3.  The Church of Jesus Christ (Bickertonite or Rigdonite). This is the third largest branch.  It currently numbers about 23,000.  This branch is headquartered in Monongahela, Pennsylvania.  They reject polygamy, celestrial marriages, two separate priesthoods, and many other LDS teachings.  They believe that many teachings of Joseph Smith were not from God.  They rejected the leadership of Brigham Young.  They accept only the Bible and the Book of Mormon as scripture.

4.  Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. This branch is estimated to number 10,000.  It is based out of Hildale, Utah.  They are especially known for their practice of polygamy.

5.  Church of Christ, Temple Lot (Hedrickite). This branch numbers about 7,000.  It is headquartered in Independence, Missouri.  They reject polygamy, celestrial marriage, baptism for the dead, and the LDS organization.  They accept only the Bible and the Book of Mormon as scripture.  They own the lot on which Joseph Smith prophesied that a temple would be built (cf. D&C 84:1-5; 57:1-6).  It is still not built.

[Sources on branches: Encyclopedia Britanica; Frank S. Mead and Samuel S. Hill, Handbook of Denominations; Weldon Longfied, The Truth About Mormonism;; and Wikipedia].

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