THE TRADITION OF THE MEHDI

THE TRADITION OF THE MEHDI.

Oddly enough Mohammedans are the most stubborn of adventists, looking forward with full assurance of faith to the second coming of Christ. Closely connected with this article of Moslem belief is the doctrine of the Mehdi, who is to prepare the way for the coming of Christ and is to assist him in conquering an evil world. The universal acceptance of this doctrine by all Moslems is the source of the attention now paid in the Moslem world to the claims of any adventurer who calls himself a Mehdi.

Since the fame of the rebel chief of the Soudan has extended to the ends of the earth, it may not be amiss to group together the principal traditions accepted among Moslems as to those last days of the earth, of whose approach the coming of the Mehdi is to be a sign.

The Koran forms but a small part of the basis of the Moslem faith. It is explained and extended by a vast array of reputed sayings of the Prophets. These traditional sayings are authenticated by a long chain of evidence, and have among most Moslems equal force with the Koran itself. It is in these traditions that one must look for the full details of the prophecies by which Moslems are taught to forecast the approach of the end of all things. It is true that the traditions are often conflicting and abound in wonders. A Moslem divine once said to me frankly: “I am ashamed to speak of these things; for when men set about making a religion they always forget that their work will be criticised.” But the traditions are accepted by the masses in Turkey; and he who should openly reject them would be accounted as worse than a blasphemer. The traditions are the main source of the Moslem religion as expounded in Turkey.

Mohammed is reputed to have said that the world was already in its last period when he entered upon his ministry. “Comparing your times with the times of past revelations,” he said, “your epoch is the time between mid-afternoon and sunset.” The Jews had the morning, the Christians the noon, and to the Moslems was given the perilous period of the decline of light. The duration of the Moslem era is fixed by tradition at more than one thousand and less than fifteen hundred years.

These signs of the end are to be of gradual development. There will be an increase of ignorance among the people. The exposition of the holy law will decline and cease. Doctors of the law will be wicked and oppressive. The people will drink wine. Ignorant men will sit in high places and be accounted wise. The fool and the son of a fool will become a ruler of the people, and men will give bribes to be delivered from his wickedness. Men will obey their wives and disobey their parents. It can easily be seen that the time of the end cannot be far off if these are its signs. New Yorkers had best look around them as they read among other tokens that “very high houses will be built, and love for musical instruments will increase,” in the wicked last days!

There will be so great a scarcity of honest men that every trustworthy man will be famous far and wide, and those who are accounted wise and brilliant will not possess the smallest atom of faith in God. The people will hate, and try to destroy all who speak the truth, and missionaries of Anti-Christ will preach, in all the world, lies acceptable to men. Finally, most terrible of all, women will become rebellious, and will begin to put various sorts of curious things on their heads, and will begin to wear tight-fitting dresses. We may, perhaps, agree with the pious old Moslem who, long years ago, grouped these “signs” together—” My brethren, the most of these evil customs are already in full vigour among you.”

But these lesser tokens only lead up to the greater signs, without which the end of the world will not come. Prominent among these greater signs is the appearance of the Mehdi, or “Guide.” He will be of the family of the prophet and his name will be Mohammed, son of Abdulla. He will be a perfect man, full of holy knowledge, and he will come at a time when there is no longer a Caliph. This provision, by the way, the Soudan Mehdi avoids by declaring that the Turks are not true Mohamedans, and that, therefore, their Sultan cannot be recognized as Caliph. The Mehdi will become the centre about whom all true believers will be grouped. He will himself believe that which is true in the faith of all religious sects, and all true people of God will be united in him without sectarian differences. All these people he will lead to Jesus Christ. For about the same time with the coming of the Mehdi, Moslems believe that Dejjal (Anti-Christ) will appear. Some seem to regard him as a beast, but the best authorities among the Turks declare that this Dejjal will prove to be a one-eyed Jew from Khorasan. On his forehead will be written the word Kiafir (blasphemer) in letters which all true believers—and they alone—can read. Seventy thousand Jews will follow after him, and he will go through the whole world, visiting all countries, during a space of forty days. It should be remarked, however, that of these forty days the first is to be as long as a year, the second as long as a month, the third as long as a week, and the rest each twenty-four hours long. During the time of this Dejjal Moslems expect that Jesus Christ will descend from heaven for a period of forty years. He will slay Dejjal with a javelin, and then the whole earth will be filled with righteousness. Neither man nor beast will any more know hate, but everywhere happiness and equality will reign. So shall begin the last stage of the earth’s existence. Then other great signs and wonders will occur. Gog and Magog will overrun the earth, and by their oppression of the people of God will usher in the last day. Then they will be miraculously destroyed, and God’s true people will be translated in the twinkling of an eye, so as to escape the horrors of the age of fire.

Such is the tradition of the Mehdi and its chronological importance to Moslems. In Turkey, pious souls point out that the demoralization of the people is fully up to the mark that has been foretold. Immorality is rife. Men are crushed for speaking the truth. The one fixed rule for business is fraud. Ignorant men are put in high places. Courts of the holy law sell their decrees to the highest bidder. Women are discontented with their state of subjection, and they hate the uncouth envelopes which the law forces upon them in the place of a graceful dress. The year 1300 of the Moslem era has passed. According to the traditions, the world has less than two hundred years to live, and it is high time for the Mehdi to come. With an eagerness that arises from sincere faith in these prophecies, the Moslems of Turkey watch every obscure man who seems inclined to rise up and become a leader of the people. Any such man they are ready to hail as the Mehdi, if they can find for their faith the shadow of an excuse.

There is something pitiful in the sight of these multitudes, conscious of hopeless corruption, so enervated that they have hope of renewal only in a direct intervention of God, and yet so convinced that this intervention can only be through some visible agency that they are content mutely to drift along just as they are rather than risk taking steps which might be disapproved by him that is to come. But pitiful as the spectacle is, there is in it much to stir the Christian’s heart.

The followers of the false prophet are at last arriving at an epoch in their history when they are taught to expect enlightenment through Jesus Christ. Discount, because of their wrong idea of Christ, all we choose from this expectation of the Moslems; allow for their supposition that Christ will come to enforce the Koran upon the nations; remember their firm hope that Christ’s first act on earth will be to put to the sword all the Christians of the present day; modify the picture of the faith of these people by all such considerations, and still you have the fact that the waiting millions of Islam believe the time to be drawing near when Jesus shall teach them the truth. To the Christian there is something thrilling in the thought that even now the Moslem nations are anxiously watching for a “guide” to lead them to Christ.

Zion’s Watch Tower, April & May, 1884

H. O. Dwight, of Constantinople, in N.Y. Independent

THE CROSS & CROWN SYMBOL — What Does It Mean?

“NO CROSS, NO CROWN”

“THE purple grape must be crushed
To make the sweet, red wine,
And furnace fires must fiercely burn
The drossy gold to refine;
The wheel must cruelly grind,
Else where the jewel’s light?
And the steel submit to the polishing,
Or how would the sword grow bright?
“How then, my soul, wilt thou
The Spirit’s fruits possess,
Except thou lovingly yield thyself
To the Hand that wounds to bless?
Then patiently let the fire
Consume all earthly dross—
Thou canst not hope to wear the Crown,
If thou refuse the Cross!”

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The Watch Tower, September 1, 1914


But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.

Galatians 6:14 

‘In Bible Student usage, a Cross and Crown symbol appeared for the first time on the cover of the Watch Tower magazine for January 1891 and continued to be displayed until 1931. At first there was no natural wreath encircling the Cross and Crown, merely an artistic geometric pattern. Later, beginning January 1, 1895, a band of greenery was added, giving the wreath the distinctive appearance it has today, as frequently used on Bible Student convention programs and letter heads. Since it never was unique to the Masons, its adoption by the Bible Students carries no significance in relating it to that group (or any other group, for that matter).

Bible Student meaning for the Cross and Crown is taken from the Scriptures where both symbols are given a prominent place. The cross, besides being the instrument used in the death of Christ, is also a metaphor of the trials and persecutions of the believer. (See Matt. 16:24.) The crown is frequently used as a symbol of the glory, honour and immortality granted to Christ and his church for faithfulness in serving God. (See Rev. 3:21; 2:10.) The Bible also makes it clear that gaining the crown is dependent upon bearing the cross faith fully even unto death. (See James 1:12.) The poem, “No Cross, No Crown,” emphasizing this point, appeared in the July 1, 1911 issue of the Watch Tower. This again is not a concept unique to Bible Students and may be found in church hymnology dating back to at least the eighteenth century. And finally, the wreath encircling the Cross and Crown symbol is taken as a sign of victory. Its use in crowning the winners in the Greek games is directly alluded to in 1 Corinthians 9:25.’

Messenger of the Millennial Hope, 2006, p. 226 – C. F. Redeker


“NO CROSS, NO CROWN”

 Oh blessed crown of glory!
Oh crown of righteousness!
Oh crown of life immortal,
How can I thee possess?
In answer to my longing
A voice said, soft and clear,

“The crown is yours, beloved,
If you the cross will bear.”

 “What is the cross?” I questioned.
‘Tis bearing every day
The trials which the Father
Permits along the way;
‘Tis sharing the reproaches
Your Master meekly bore,
While those who claim to love him
Revile you, more and more.

 The world will look upon you
With disapproving eye;
And friends whom you love dearly
Will coldly pass you by.
They’ll have no patience with you;
Your good works they’ll deride,
And every righteous motive
To you will be denied.

And all the powers of evil
Will gather to assail;
They know your every weakness
And where they might prevail.

 

They’ll try to overwhelm you
By coming like a flood,
You must with force oppose them,
Resisting unto blood.

 The flesh will strive to win you,
Exerting every power,
‘Twill be perpetual warfare
Between you every hour—
A fight that ceases only
When one of you is dead.
It is no easy pathway,
Beloved, that you tread.

 And then I answered, “Master,
I’ve counted all the cost;

And deem it highest honour
To bear with Thee the cross.
And I will bear it gladly,
Till it works out in me
That blessed transformation
Which proves me part of Thee.

 And when the cross grows heavy,
By faith, I gaze upon
The crown Thou art reserving
For those who overcome—
The crown of great rejoicing,
The crown of righteousness,
The crown of life immortal
I’m striving to possess.

-Sister Doney

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The Watch Tower, July 1, 1911

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THE PASSOVER

THE PASSOVER.

This was and yet is among Israelites one of the most important of their religious observances. It was the first feature of “the Law” given them as a typical people.

The ceremony, as originally instituted, is described in Exod. 12. A lamb without blemish was slain, its blood was sprinkled on the doorposts and lintels of the house, while the family within ate the flesh of the lamb with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. On that night (the fourteenth of the first month, Jewish time), because of the sprinkled blood and the eaten lamb the first-born children of Israel were passed over, or spared from the plague of death which visited the first-born of the Egyptians. On this account, and because on the next day Israel marched out from Egyptian bondage—free—therefore, by God’s command (Exod. 12:14), they commemorated it every year on its anniversary.

The Israelite saw only the letter of this ceremony, and not its typical significance. So, too, might we have been in similar darkness had not the Holy Spirit of God given us the key to its meaning by inspiring the Apostle to write the words (1 Corinthians 5:7):

“CHRIST OUR PASSOVER IS
SACRIFICED FOR US; THEREFORE
LET US KEEP THE FEAST.”

Our attention being thus called to the matter by the Spirit, we find other Scriptures which clearly show that Jesus, “the Lamb of God,” was the antitype of the Passover lamb, and that his death was as essential to the deliverance of “the Church of the first-borns” from death, as was the death of the typical lamb to the first-borns of Israel. Thus, led of the Spirit, we come to the words and acts of Jesus at the last Passover which he ate with his disciples.

God is very exact, and the slaying of the typical lamb, on the fourteenth day of the first month, foreshadowed or typified the fact that in God’s plan Jesus was to die at that time. And, it is remarkable, that God so arranged the reckoning of time among the Jews that it was possible for Jesus to commemorate the Passover with the disciples, and himself be slain as the real “Lamb” on the same day. [The Jewish day, instead of reckoning from midnight to midnight as usually reckoned now, commenced at six o’clock in the evening and ended at six the next evening.] Thus Jesus and the disciples, by eating the Passover, probably about eight o’clock, ate it “the same night in which he was betrayed,” and the same day in which he died—thus every jot and tittle should be and was fulfilled.

Just five days before his crucifixion Jesus presented himself before them, to be received or rejected—when he rode to the city on the ass, fulfilling the prophecy, “Behold, thy king cometh unto thee” (Matt. 21:5), and fulfilling, at the same time, that feature of the Passover type which provides that the lamb must be received into the houses five days before the time of its killing (Exod. 12:2). Thus Jesus made his last presentation to Israel as a nation, or house, five days before the Passover, as we read: “Then Jesus, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany….On the next day [five days before] much people that were come to the feast, when they heard Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,…went forth to meet him (John 12:1,12,13). Then it was that their king came unto them—sitting upon an ass’s colt.” Then it was that he wept over them and declared, “Your house is left unto you desolate.” “Ye shall not see me henceforth till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matt. 23:38,39).

Jesus knew the import of the Passover, but the disciples knew not. He was alone; none could sympathize, none could encourage him. Even had he explained to the disciples, they could not have understood, or appreciated his explanation, because they were not yet begotten of the Spirit. Nor could they be thus begotten until justified from Adamic sin—passed over, or reckoned free from sin by virtue of the slain Lamb, whose shed blood ransomed them from the power of the destroyer—death.

Thus alone—treading the narrow way which none before had trod, and in which he is our Fore-runner and Leader—what wonder that His heart at times was exceeding sorrowful even unto death. When the time had come they sat down to eat the Passover, and Jesus said unto the disciples: “With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God” (Luke 22:15,16). Doubtless he longed to have them understand how it would BEGIN to be fulfilled, a little later on in that very day, by the slaying of the real Lamb.

Probably one reason he specially desired to eat this Passover with them was, that he there designed breaking the truth of its significance to them to the extent they could receive it; for, “As they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take (eat), this is my body” (Mark 14:22). “This is my body, which is given for you: THIS DO in remembrance of ME.” “And he took the cup and gave thanks and said, Take this and divide it among yourselves. …This cup is the new covenant, in my blood, which is shed for you” (Luke 22:17-20).

We cannot doubt that the design of the Master was to call their minds from the typical lamb to himself, the antitype, and to show them that it would be no longer proper to observe a feature of the Law which he was about to fulfil. And the bread and wine were to be to them thereafter the elements which, as remembrancers of him, would take the place of the lamb. Thus considered, there is force in his words, “This do in remembrance of ME”—no longer kill a literal lamb in remembrance of a typical deliverance; but, instead, use the bread and wine, representatives of my flesh and life—the basis of the real deliverance—the real passing over.  “Hence, let as many as receive me and my words henceforth do THIS in remembrance of me.”

Thus our Lord instituted his Supper as the remembrancer of his death, and as a substitute for the Passover as observed by the Jews. Is it asked why Jesus ate of the typical lamb first? We answer that he was born under the dominion of the Law, and must observe its every requirement.  Since he made an end of the Law, nailing it to his cross, we are free from Law, as relates to either the Passover or the Lord’s Supper—its substitute—but we are of those who esteem it a privilege to celebrate each year the anniversary of our Lord’s death; to DO THIS in remembrance of him—”for even Christ our Passover is slain, therefore LET US keep the feast.”

It would be difficult to determine just when or why this impressive season for the commemoration of our Lord’s death was ignored, but it was, doubtless, as an “expediency.” Doubtless zealous teachers thought that the great Teacher had made a mistake, and that it was “expedient” to have it oftener than once a year; and all seem to have understood Paul to teach that it made no difference how often it was observed when he said: “As often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come” (1 Cor. 11:26). But a careful study of all Paul said on the subject should convince all that this was not the case. In the context he tells them (verse 23) that he delivered to them that which he also received of the Lord: “That the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread,” etc. Here notice not only that the time selected by Jesus seemed the most appropriate, but that it was so appropriate that Paul was informed, by a special revelation from the Lord, that this was instituted the night he was betrayed.

How often could the Church break that bread and drink that cup as a proper memorial of the Lord’s death? Surely only on its anniversary. In the same way, when American independence is celebrated, it is on its anniversary—the Fourth of July. It would be considered peculiar, at least, if some should neglect July fourth and celebrate it at sundry inappropriate times. And if speaking of the fourth of July, we should say, as often as ye thus celebrate ye do show forth the nation’s birth, who would understand us to mean several times a year? Likewise, also, the Lord’s Supper is only properly a celebration on its anniversary.

Some think that they find records in Scripture which indicate that the early Church ate the Lord’s Supper every First-day. To this we answer, that if this were true we should have no more to say on the subject; but where is the record? We are referred to Acts 20:7: “Upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them,” etc. But is there any evidence that the bread was broken as a remembrancer of the Lord’s death? If so, why was it never called the Lord’s Supper, and why was the wine omitted? Was the cup not as important an emblem as the bread? Because it is written that Jesus was known to the two disciples at Emmaus (Luke 24:30) in the “breaking of bread,” who will claim that that was more than an ordinary meal? Who will claim that they were eating the Lord’s Supper? No one.

So far from being an appropriate time for the commemoration of our Lord’s death, the first day of the week, or Lord’s day, would be most inappropriate. Instead of being set apart or used by the early Church to commemorate Jesus’ death and the sorrowful scenes of the Lord’s Supper, Gethsemane and Calvary, it was to them a glad day—a day of rejoicing and hosanna’s, saying, “THE LORD IS RISEN INDEED.” Hence its name and general observance by the Church as a day of worship and praise.

The seeming custom of breaking bread every Lord’s day, perhaps had its rise in the fact that disciples were few and came sometimes long distances to meet together on the Lord’s day, and socially ate a meal together.  Perhaps, too, a blessed association of thought and interest lingered round the breaking of bread on the first day, when they remembered how repeatedly Jesus manifested himself to them on that day—after his resurrection—and how it was while they were eating that he made himself known (Luke 24:35).

Even the faint traces of this once established custom in the Church—of celebrating the anniversary of the Lord’s death and resurrection—which the Roman and Episcopal Churches still observe, after an accommodated fashion, on “Good Friday,” has been almost lost sight of by the other sects.

It has been the custom of many of the WATCH TOWER readers to DO THIS in remembrance of our Lord’s death on its anniversary. Believing that it properly takes the place of the type—the Passover—we reckon it according to Jewish, or lunar time, and hence frequently on a different date from “Good Friday,” which is reckoned on solar time. The Passover this year comes on Lord’s day, April 22d, at six P.M.; hence the time answering to the hour of Jesus’ death would be three o’clock, P.M., of that day, and the time for the eating of the Lord’s Supper would be about seven to eight o’clock of the Saturday evening preceding April 21st. It should be remembered that the Lamb was slain the day before the Feast of Passover commenced. It will be celebrated as usual. We should, as heretofore, seek to follow the example of the first Communion service—using unleavened bread* and wine—whilst we talk together of their significance and value.


*Unleavened bread may be procured through any Hebrew family.


THE IMPORT OF THE EMBLEMS.

It might be profitable to some to point out the significance of the broken loaf and the cup.

Of the bread, Jesus said: “It is my flesh”—i.e., it represents his flesh—his humanity which was broken or sacrificed for us. Unless he had sacrificed himself—his humanity for us—we could never have had a resurrection from death—could never have had a future life; as he said, “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man…ye have no life in you” (John 6:53).

Not only was the breaking of Jesus’ body thus the providing of a bread of life, of which if a man eat he shall never die, but it was also the opening of the narrow way to life and the breaking, or unsealing, of truth, as a means of aid to walk the narrow way which leads to life. And thus we see that it was the breaking of him who said, “I am the way, the TRUTH and the LIFE; no man cometh unto the Father but by ME” (John 14:6).

Hence, when we eat of the broken loaf, we should realize that had he not died—been broken for us—we should never have been able to come to the Father, but would have remained forever under the curse of Adamic sin and death, and should never have been made acquainted with the way, the truth, the life, or the Father.

Another thought: the bread was un- leavened—without leaven. [Leaven is corruption, an element of decay or decomposition.] Leaven is a type of sin and the decomposition, decay and death which sin works in mankind; so, then, this type declares that Jesus was free from sin—a lamb without spot or blemish—”holy, harmless, undefiled.” Had Jesus been of Adamic stock, had he received the life principle in the usual way from an earthly father, he, too, would have been leavened, as are all other men, by Adamic sin; but his life came direct from God—hence he is called the bread from heaven.  (See John 6:41). Let us, then, appreciate the bread as pure, unleavened, and so let us eat of him; eating and digesting truth, and especially this truth; appropriating by faith his righteousness to ourselves by which we realize him as the way and the life.

The Apostle, by divine revelation, communicates to us a further meaning of the bread, and shows that not only did the loaf represent Jesus, individually, as our head, etc., but that, after we have partaken thus of him, we may, by consecration, be associated with him as parts of one loaf (one body) to be broken for, and become food for, the world. (1 Cor. 10:16).  This same thought of our privilege as justified believers, sharing now in the sufferings and death of Christ, and thus becoming joint-heirs with him of future glories, and associates in the work of blessing and giving life to all the families of the earth, is expressed by the Apostle repeatedly and under various figures; but when he compares the Church to the loaf now being broken as a whole, as Jesus was individually, it furnishes a striking and forcible illustration of our union and fellowship with our Head.

He says, “Because there is one loaf we, the many [persons] are one body; for we all partake of the one loaf.” “The loaf which we break, is it not a participation of the body of the Anointed one?” (1 Cor. 10:16,17Diaglott).

The wine represents the life given—the sacrifice—the death. “This is my blood (symbol of LIFE given up in death) of the new covenant, shed for many FOR THE REMISSION of sin;” “Drink ye all of it” (Matt. 26:27,28).

It is by the giving up of his life as a ransom for the life of the Adamic race,  which sin had forfeited, that a right to LIFE comes to men. (See Rom. 5:18,19). Jesus’ shed blood was the “ransom for all,” but his act of handing the cup to the disciples, and asking them to drink of it, was an invitation to them to become partakers of his sufferings, or, as Paul expresses it, to “fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ.”  (Col. 1:24.) “The cup of blessing, for which we bless God, is it not a participation of the blood [shed blood—death] of the Anointed one?” (1 Cor. 10:16—Diaglott). Would that all could realize the value of the cup, and could bless God for an opportunity of suffering with Christ that we may be also glorified together.” (Rom. 8:17.)

Jesus attaches this significance to the cup elsewhere, indicating that it is the cup of sacrifice, the death of our humanity. For instance, when asked by two disciples a promise of future glory in his throne, He answered them: “Ye know not what ye ask; are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of?” Wine is also a symbol of joy and invigoration: so we will share Jesus’ glories, honours and immortality—when we drink it new with him in the kingdom.

Let us then, dearly beloved, as we surround the table to commemorate our Lord’s death, call to mind the meaning of what we do, and see to it that we feed on Him; and, when strengthened by the living bread, let us drink with him into his death. “For if we be dead with him we shall live with him; if we suffer we shall also reign with him.” (2 Tim. 2:11,12).

WHO MAY COMMUNE?

Every member of Christ—even one alone with the Master may commemorate—but, so far as possible, all members of the one loaf should meet together. Ceremonious formality would be out of place—but, “Let all things be done decently and in order.”

Another thought: while it is proper that we should thus commemorate “Our Passover,” or its anniversary, yet it should not be forgotten, that in a sense we eat and drink, and have this sacred fellowship with our Lord every day and every hour. The night in which Israel ate of their Passover lamb, with “bitter herbs,” typified the entire Gospel Age; and their deliverance from Egypt followed in the morning. So with us, we eat of our Lamb with the bitter trials and afflictions of evil in the present age—but joy cometh in the morning—our deliverance from earth and the dominion and oppression of evil. The morning already is dawning, let us hasten the more to “fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ.”

The Apostle Paul seems to enforce the ideas we have just presented relative to the meaning of this ordinance, and shows the necessity of a proper appreciation of its meaning. He warns (1 Cor. 11:27-30Diaglott), that “whoever may eat the bread and drink the cup of the Lord unworthily will be an offender against the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and thus [with an understanding and appreciation of its significance] let him eat of the bread and let him drink of the cup; for he eats and drinks judgement [condemnation] to himself who eats and drinks not discriminating [appreciating] the Lord’s body. Through this [lack of a proper appreciation of the true import—that it signifies our sharing in the sufferings and death of Christ—for this reason] many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.”

The truth of Paul’s remarks we can each bear witness to. Many in the Church, not only of the nominal Church, but many members of the true Church, “whose names are written in heaven,” are weak and sickly, and many have gone asleep entirely, become dead to spiritual things, and, as dead branches, are cut off from the vine—the overcoming Church (John 15:2).

If, then, we would become strong and full of spiritual vigour, and “not sleep as do others,” when we annually ratify our covenant, let us examine ourselves, and thus let us partake of the sufferings and the emblems, that in due time we may partake of His glory also.

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Zion’s Watchtower, April, 1883

Memorial Meditations, 2001

TRINITY—Is Expression “The Triune God” Scriptural?

QUESTION—What is understood by the expression, “the triune God?” (E.S.M.)

ANSWER—Some have thought this to be a scriptural expression, but it is not to be found in the Bible. It is believed to have originated in the heathen mythologies of the Hindoos in ancient India. Webster defines the term “triune” as three in one—”an epithet used to express the unity of a trinity of persons in the Godhead.” We know of but one passage in the Bible that actually teaches the doctrine of a “triune God.” But this passage is now conceded to be spurious by all Bible scholars. The words found in 1 John 5,7 (“in heaven the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one; and there are three that bear witness in earth”), are not contained in any of the oldest Greek manuscripts. The Religious Dictionary, page 944, says: “It was not until the fourth century that the Trinitarian view began to be elaborated and formulated into a doctrine, and an endeavor made to reconcile it with the belief of the Church in one God . . . Out of the attempt to solve this problem sprang the doctrine of the Trinity . . . Trinity is a very marked feature in Hindooism, and is discernible in Persian, Egyptian, Roman, Japanese, Indian, and the most ancient Grecian mythologies.” – Q846:2

TRINITY—Pastor Russell’s View.

QUESTION (1911)—1—Please give your views of the Trinity?

 ANSWER—I wish the brother had quoted the text of Scripture. But I will say that I have never found any text of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation that mentions the Trinity, and if anybody has found one, it would be worth something to me to know where it is. I would give ten dollars for it right away. I cannot find any reference to the Trinity in the Bible. You will find it in the hymn books, and in all kinds of theological books, but you will never find it in the Bible. There is just one text of Scripture which implies it—it does not say it—in 1 John 5:7, where we read that there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word and the Spirit, and there are three that bear record on earth, the water, the spirit, and the blood, and these three agree in one, and the other three agree in one. What does it mean? Well, it would be very foolish the way it reads. That is one of those things where they tried to make a trinity in olden times, and not having any text of Scripture for it, they tried to manufacture one, and, as usual, they made a botch of it. Now, what does it say? “There are three bearing record in heaven.” What are they bearing record to? That Jesus is the Son of God? Who is bearing record in heaven that Jesus is the Son of God? The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit bearing record in heaven that Jesus is the Son of God? What do they need to bear record of that kind for? Are the angels in need of it? The idea of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit going through heaven testifying to the angels that Jesus is the Son of God! It is ridiculous! These words are interpolated. It reads without these words, “There are three that bear record, the water, the Spirit and the blood, and these three agree in one testimony.” That is the way it reads without the interpolated words. These words were interpolated, so far as we know, about seven hundred years after the words were supposed to be used. Do not misunderstand me. I fully believe in the Bible kind of a trinity. The Bible tells about the Father, and I believe that; the Bible tells about the Son, and I believe that; and the Bible tells about the Holy Spirit, and I believe that, too. I believe whatever the Bible says. And if anyone finds any text that tells about the Trinity, I will believe that too.  Q716:1

“THE LORD YOUR GOD PROVETH YOU.”

“And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.” “There shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold I have told you before.” Matt. 24:11-24.
“If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder come to pass whereof he spoke unto thee, saying, let us go after other gods which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” Deut. 13:1-3.

When the disciples came to Jesus inquiring what should be the sign of his presence and of the end of the age, before answering their question [See art. “The Sign of His Presence” in our January issue.] he took occasion to give some important information as to events which should transpire before that time. Among others he foretells the rise of many false prophets and false Christs, and of their power to deceive. Then he adds, “Behold I have told you.”

To be forewarned is to be forearmed, if we heed the warning. But forgetting the warning and instruction, the many, as Jesus foretold, are deceived by these pretenders, and because iniquity abounds, the love of many of God’s children waxes cold. Standing where we do to-day, in “The Time of the End,” and looking back, we are able to discern many false Christs and false prophets, and can see how Jesus’ words have proved true, that many have been deceived thereby.

The word Christ means anointed, and is applicable not only to the anointed head, but also to the anointed body of Christ, all who as followers of Jesus have made a covenant with him by sacrifice: hence those systems pretending to be the anointed body, and who are not really such, are false Christs. The various great religious systems each claim to be the anointed body, the church, the body of Christ, though each regards its founder as its head. Though these systems contain members of the true church whom they have blinded and enslaved, yet as systems they are false—false Christs and being deceitful ensnarers of the true they are really anti-Christs.

The chief and greatest of these systems is the great “Mystery of Iniquity,” the Church of Rome, whose head is the Pope. Its “lying wonders” have truly deceived many, and out of this system have sprung the various minor systems, each claiming to be the church, the body of Christ, and each acknowledging and following others than the true head of the true Church—Christ Jesus, though all assume his name.

Not only have these great false christs anti-christs arisen, flourished, and deceived many, but many individual false prophets, or false teachers have also arisen; and through the combined influence of all these, iniquity (erroneous faith and practice) abounds. The truth has been covered, and error has been advanced, accepted, and acted upon. In the significant language of the prophet (Isa. 59:14,15), “Truth is fallen in the streets, and equity cannot enter. Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey.”

Since inquiring minds begin to weary of the confusing errors presented by the various and conflicting false christs and false prophets, it is becoming quite a popular method with all of these, to silence inquirers with the assurance that what they believe is really of little importance, that the all important thing is to live a virtuous life, and to give their influence and support to some one of the many false christs or false prophets, and to work in harmony with them and under their direction.

But let us consider for a moment what has been the effect of some of the false doctrines which have been advanced, and see if this idea, which has now become so common, is a correct one. Take for example the dogma of inherent immortality. This idea was first advanced as a fundamental doctrine of Christianity by the apostate church of Rome, and has been held and guarded with special care by all denominations of so-called Protestants. From this as a root principle, have grown the dogmas of eternal torment, of purgatory, of death as a mere transition period, an instant of change with no cessation of life, for say they, man is immortal, and cannot die. If man must live forever somewhere, they argue that such everlasting existence must be in torment if not in bliss. In harmony with this idea, death cannot be regarded as an enemy, nor as the punishment of sin; nor can any blessing be seen in the scripture teaching of a resurrection. And further, if death be not regarded as the punishment of sin, the logical inference is, that the death of Christ as man’s Redeemer or Substitute, availed nothing. This logical inference has not yet been drawn by the masses of those who compose these great systems, simply because of their drowsy lethargy; but for centuries the false idea of inherent immortality has been strengthening its roots, and shooting out and building up its branches, and soon the sure fruit will be a general denial of the redemption secured through Jesus’ death. Already, prominent thinking ones in these various systems, reasoning, not from the Scriptures, but from the so-called orthodox standpoint, are boldly declaring their conclusions, and with no little effect upon others.

This is the logical effect so far as faith is concerned, of that one single item of error firmly rooted. This error and those which have grown out of it, have also deterred the church from pursuing the most important part of her work, viz.: the building up of each other in the truth as presented in the Scriptures, from which alone come the highest and purest incentives to a holy life and to untiring zeal in the divine service. Furthermore, by inculcating ideas of God which represent him as cruel and vindictive, encouragement has been given to those base qualities of man’s depraved nature, and as a consequence, the most cruel persecutions and pitiless and revolting crimes that the world has ever witnessed, have been perpetrated in the name of Christianity, and by those claiming to be the followers of Christ.

Take another dogma which is held and guarded with the utmost jealousy by all these systems, viz.: the dogma of The Trinity, an idea so absurd that its very absurdity is taken as proof of its divine authority, though not a text of scripture can be quoted in its support, save a single spurious clause (1 John 5:7-8. Without the interpolated words it reads plainly as follows:—”For there are three that bear record, the spirit, and the water, and the blood; and these three agree in one” testimony), introduced for this express purpose, now generally known and admitted to be an interpolation. This dogma teaches that God is three separate and distinct persons, equal in power and glory; that the Father is a person, the Son is a person, and the Holy Spirit is a person, yet all three are one person. In this confusion of ideas none can form a clear conception of God, and all their thoughts of him must be very mixed and cloudy. It tends also to mystify their comprehension of the sacrifice which Jesus made for our redemption; for, if the three persons are one person, then when one died all must have died, and the universe was left without God for three days, and mere chance must have raised him up from death if the true idea of death be accepted; or if death be considered but a period of transition from one nature to another, then this must have been the case with Jesus also, and consequently if he was of the divine nature before death, he must be a different nature now.

And so one absurdity leads to another, and leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ as set forth in the Scriptures, the various false bodies of Christ have built themselves up into systems of great size and influence in the world. Their great claims and apparent success have deceived very many of God’s children; repressed their zeal for the truth, left them in almost complete ignorance of the Gospel hopes, both for the world and for the little flock of overcomers, led them to worldly conformity, and prejudiced them against the truth and against all true truth seekers. And as the prophet said, the few remaining truth seekers become a prey—a prey to the hatred, opposition and persecution of the church nominal. Ah, yes, what we believe makes a very great difference. Our FAITH has a most potent influence in moulding both our character and our destiny; and every child of God should beware of any system or person that seeks to guard its theory against thorough examination and criticism by underrating the importance of a correct faith.

True to Jesus’ words, because iniquity (erroneous doctrine and consequent erroneous practice—worldliness, etc.) abounds, the love of many waxes cold. The Lord seems afar off, incomprehensible and almost unknown. How can they delight in his word who are ignorant of it? or how rejoice in his promises who do not comprehend them? or how strive for the offered prize who do not discern it?

The elect of God cannot be thus deceived; they have walked and are walking with God in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, searching, believing and trusting his word, walking in its light and striving to fulfill the conditions for the attainment of its exceeding great and precious promises. This fixedness of purpose, and adherence to it, not only designates such to be the elect of God, but it shields them from the deceptions and snares of false christs and false prophets (teachers). Though many such have doubtless lived and died in those false systems, they overcame their influence through faith and loyalty to God. We should not forget that the separation of the wheat from the tares was not commanded until the “harvest.” Matt. 13:30. It was the Lord’s design to let wheat and tares grow together until the harvest; but in this harvest time it is his will that all such should come out and be separate when his truth makes manifest the true character of these systems.

But even after coming out of these anti-christ or false-christ systems, there are many false prophets who assume authority to direct the consecrated, who teach theories subversive of the truth and pervert the Scriptures to support them. Such false prophets always have been and always will be found, so long as Satan has power in his hands; that is, until he is bound.

And our Heavenly Father permits it so to be: why? To prove his people: “For the Lord your God doth prove you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” The Lord would prove whether we have received the truth in the love of it and of its Author. It is very often the case that truth is received by some because of their love for those who bear it, and without personal searching to prove that it is from God. Such have not received the truth in the love of IT, and sooner or later some circumstances will unsettle them. If the prop falls into error such will surely fall with it; or if love for the prop grows cold, the love for truth thus received grows cold with it. But love for our brethren in Christ, and special love for those who serve us most, will never overthrow the faith of those who receive the truth in the love of it.

Should controversy arise because the way of truth is evil spoken of even among those through whom the blessed Gospel has been received, and who have been greatly loved for their work’s sake, it will only impel those who are wholly the Lord’s, to a more diligent searching of the Scriptures, and thus more earnest inquiring of the Lord to make very plain the way.

Peter reminds us that there were false prophets in Israel, even as there should be false teachers among us; (2 Peter 2:1) and Moses declares that it was permitted to prove Israel. If faithful to God, no consideration of a personal character, should lead them to turn away from God’s truth after these false teachers. When we remember that these things happened to Israel as types for our instruction, the words of Moses become very significant:—”If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods…thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him, neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him. But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death and afterwards the hand of all the people.” (Deut. 13:6-9.)

Thus the Lord proved Israel’s determination to obey him at the sacrifice of any earthly friendship if need be. And in this Israel was a type of both the world in the age to come, and also of the church in the present time. Temptations even from dearest friends to depart from the living God and serve idols, whether those idols be self-exaltation, or any other thing, must be resolutely met with a fixed purpose to follow the Lord wholly. Such suggestions may not be harboured nor consented to by those fully consecrated to God, even though they come in the most deceptive disguise, and by dearest friends. And not only so, but deceptive errors and influences must be put to death; they must be pelted to death by the stones of truth. Our weapons are not like those of fleshly Israel—not carnal but spiritual, and mighty in pulling down the strongholds of error. 2 Cor. 10:4.

Ever bearing in mind that the Lord your God doth prove you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and whether your love to him is paramount to every other love, however strong, we may meet the trials of severing friendships and dissolving earthly ties, with firm unflinching confidence in God, who will crown with everlasting joy, the faithful overcomer who has fought to the end the good fight of faith.

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ZION’S WATCH TOWER – JUNE, 1885 – [R766 : page 7]

AUTHOR: CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL