Why & How to OBEY GOD

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What is the Purpose of OBEDIENCE in our life?

Our OBEDIENCE to God YHWH is an indicator of our heart attitude.

In John 14:15 we read, “If you love me you will keep my commandments.”

So, obedience demonstrates our thankfulness, our appreciation, our devotion, our reverence for God and our praise.

“Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:17, ESV)

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HOW do we become OBEDIENT? Is there a method to it?

Here are some suggested steps to learning OBEDIENCE in order to please our Heavenly Father:-

Step 1: Reading the scriptures daily to know God’s will

The first step to doing God’s will is to actually know what it is, and learn about what pleases our Heavenly Father by reading His holy words in the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16).

And it [the Word of God] shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear [reverence] the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them.” (Deuteronomy 17:19)

Proverbs 8:34 reads, “Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates.”

Why did the Apostle Paul describe the Brethren from Berea as “more noble” in character than the Thessalonians?

Acts 17:11 (ESV) tells us why. It is because “they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”

It is a lot easier to deal with the issues of life, the trials, difficulties and testings that come to us, if we have daily input from the scriptures. It produces in our heart an overriding confidence and peace that “transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:7), helping us “do ALL things through Christ” who strengthens us. (Philippians 4:13)

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Step 2: Developing the will to do God’s will:

As we learn about the Heavenly Father’s will and what God wants us to do, we experience the “old man” (Ephesians 4:22-24, Romans 6:6-23), that is, the fallen nature appearing on the scene, that wishes to slow things down in our progress of maturity in Christ.

Fighting against the tendencies of the flesh, which we wish to put to “death” from moment to moment, IS THE BATTLE against sin!

How zealously and diligently with GREAT DISCIPLINE over our thoughts, words and actions do we barricade the fleshly interests… the fleshly wants… the fleshly tendencies in order to let the New Creature in us grow?

You see, the “Old Man” and the “New Creature [in Christ]” are AT WAR with each other! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

If the “old man” gains strength, the “New Creature” in Christ, weakens.

 

In Galatians 6:17-27 we read,

“17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. 27 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.

 

  • Which one are we choosing to feed right NOW?
  • Which one will we choose to feed after we read this post?
  • Which one will choose to feed for the remainder of today?
  • How about tonight?
  • How about tomorrow and then for the remainder of this week and this month and year and until the day we die?

Are we consuming more spiritual food than earthly food?

Let’s say we eat breakfast, lunch and dinner with a few snacks in between, well, then that would mean the spiritual food would require to be served seven or more times a day or else the flesh will receive the growth and not the spiritual mind!

Better still, we shall like to feast on the spiritual ALL DAY as it is this kind of “food” that has no side effects but only most righteous and richest benefits (John 17:3, 1 John 2:25). Consuming spiritual food means feasting with Jesus and the spiritual “eagles” (Matthew 24:28; John 6:53-56, Isaiah 40:31).

In 2 Corinthians 5:15-18 the Apostle Paul well explains how all the “New Creatures” in Christ, should treat each other :

 

“14 For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. 15 And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.

16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one [who is “in Christ”] from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way.

17 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. 20 So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

 

May we find time each day to read a psalm and read or sing a hymnrecall and share some biblical verses with whomever we can edify along our day’s pilgrimage. Let us pray on our knees if we can, like the prophet Daniel did (Daniel 6:10)… like the Apostle Paul did (Ephesians 3:14), and above all, like our Lord Jesus did (Mark 1:35, Matthew 6:9-13, Matthew 14:23, Luke 6:12, Luke 22:32, 41-44, Luke 23:34, John 11:41-42, John 12:27-28, John 17:1-26, Hebrews 5:7). By being able to come boldly before the throne of Heavenly grace through our Advocate, Christ Jesus, we are able to keep on the right track, asking for our Father to mercifully show us His will EVER STEP of the narrow way. 

Do we with great joy in the hope set before us, thank our Heavenly Father even when severe stormy experiences come our way?

How much effort do we put in to represent our titles of members of “a royal priesthood”… the “peculiar people”“God’s special possession” (1 Peter 2:9)?

Brethren, how much do we strive to live in the world as citizens of heaven but NOT be “of the world”?

Do we long for earthly friendship OR are our minds consumed by the joys of our friendship with Jesus, whom we are training to be like in character-likeness?

Are we consumed by the friendship we have also in the Apostles and Ancient Worthies whom we are all getting to know actually RIGHT NOW?! The Bible is like a Reading Manual for our preliminary “Orientation” Program given to us by God’s grace, whereby we look forward to working with these whom proved faithful unto death.

The Apostle Paul explains that learning God’s will and wanting to do God’s will is a matter of development in our lives.

 

For it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13)

 

This means that we not only just learn to desire doing God’s will, but that we actually DO do it to the best of our abilities. These experiences and training in the school of Christ, involve TIME and we DO it with GREAT JOY being motivated by “the precious and very great promises” of God which in turn, gives us HOPE.

“And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:3-5).

The Apostle Peter explains about these precious promises in 2 Peter 1:2-14 (ESV), which  reads:

 

“2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

12 Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. 13 I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, 14 since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.”

 

By clinging onto the Divine gifts from God founded upon His word, the new mind in Christ, by God’s grace and mercy, is able to overtake or over-weigh the “old mind” of the flesh, growing into maturity in Christ through the tests of faith, to prove worthy as sharers in the grandest prize of all—belonging to Jesus’ body, bring the Heavenly Father greatest possible joy and being granted the privilege to bring the world of mankind into harmony with GOD during the 1000 year Millennial Kingdom Age.

We come to delight in God’s will and delight in doing it when the desire to do so is continuously presented before God.

If we do our part,
God will do HIS part in our lives
and IMMEASURABLY MORE!

(Ephesians 3:20)

 

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There is a wise saying:

“God helps those
who help themselves.”

Expecting miracles without asking, seeking and knocking is perhaps how this can be understood based on what we read in Matthew 7:7-11,

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

 

In Philippians 4:6, we are reminds:

DO NOT BE ANXIOUS ABOUT ANYTHING,
but IN EVERYTHING
by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving
let your requests be made known to God.”

 

In Isaiah 26:9 we read,

“With my soul have I desired thee in the night;
yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early.

 

A Desire to Serve God

One of the ways that God brings us to the point where we desire to serve Him is by showing us His Divine Plan of Salvation that we can truly love and respect now “early” before the resurrection of the world—who will all desire God and turn to Him in the Millennium when all shall be taught to walk up the Highway of Holiness in order to gain eternal life, and most will seek life. For is not God’s love better than life itself.

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Let us think back in our lives to a time where we have studied scripture, or attended a convention, or had special fellowship with brethren or in some way come to a special appreciation of God’s character. For instance, when examining some glorious beauties of the Truth and recognizing the perfect harmonious relationship between the Scriptural types and anti-types. Perhaps it was that “eureka” moment of enlightenment upon some glorious gem of God’s Divine Truth that had never been realized before (Daniel 12:10, Proverbs 2:4-6).  Here we were left with a stronger desire and eagerness to seek and do God’s will since. We continuously learn that GOD is more perfect than any other living being that we have ever know.

The Heavenly Father’s love, is the TRUEST, MOST LOYAL LOVE because it is PERFECT LOVE—a love that is balanced perfectly with PERFECT JUSTICE, PERFECT WISDOM, PERFECT POWER and PERFECT STRENGTH (Ephesians 3:14-19).

 

“This God—his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him” (Psalm 18:30).

 

Jehovah’s love is reflected in Jesus—God’s only begotten Son (John 3:16).

When disappointment and discouragement comes with trials, testings and failures and the realisation of the emptiness of what the world has to offer, we know then that there is no real choice between serving God and serving the flesh/the world. This is another way God’s power works in our lives, guiding us through those experiences and teaching us things.

Perhaps the most painful experiences to the flesh are actually the GREATEST BLESSINGS to the New Creature’s development, for perhaps these are the moments of existence when the SURRENDERING up of self-will occurs fastest or with the best results. When we “let go” of the pain and not fight against the experience, we learn not to attach feeling or any label to the “what is” experiences of the flesh, trusting that “all things work out for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28). By numbing the flesh in this way, one can concentrate on feeding the Spiritual Mind and take care to develop joy in the hope given to God’s people through the marvelous precious promises in the Bible.

The Bible is flooded with precious promises and we know they are true because already so many have prophecies have been fulfilled with the Nation of Israel as promised long ago, by the mouth of the holy prophets. For instance, what was once a valley of dry bones, is now an independent country which has gained not only “tendons” and “ligaments”, but “muscles” and soon “the bones” will live again and all things shall be renewed in the approaching millennial reign of Christ with his bride of 144,000 members. (Ezekiel 37, Revelation 7)

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Step 3: Incorporating God’s will into our lifestyle:

We have responsibilities at work and with our families, entertainment, school, neighbours, activities with brethren etc., but how many opportunities do you think you have for obedience in any particular day?

Well, nearly everything we do is an opportunity for obedience.
Every time we interact with people is an opportunity.

A lot of the commandments in the Old Testament apply to us as well as in the New Testament. Let’s consider a few:

  • 2 Timothy 4:2: “Be instant in season and out of season.”

That’s about teaching the word, but really it can apply to us in every regard.

  • Hebrews 13:16: “Forget not to do good and communicate, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”

This is talking about an entire lifestyle, being connected with your brethren, being aware of what type of things they’re going through; because if you are, you will have no lack of opportunity to do good.

  • James 1:27: “Pure religion before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”

That’s a commandment and a perfect balance between commitment to brethren and personal caring.

There are other things in the Old and New Testament about how to relate to other people, but there are other commandments that also tell us how to act when not with other people, even when we are by ourselves.

  • Philippians 4:8: “Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely and of good report; if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things. Also, Pray without ceasing.”
  • 1 Timothy 4:15: “Meditate upon these things: give yourself wholly to them, that your profiting may appear to all.”

This instructs us to take the necessary time to think about what we do in the eyes of God and respect it, so that we may stand in awe of the grandeur of the high standard of being Christ-like, and thus pleasing to our Heavenly Father as His Sons and Daughters.

  • Psalms 4: 4: “Stand in awe, and sin not; commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still.”
  • In Hebrews 12:12  we read, “Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees.”

 

In other words, let us be a strengthening influence upon the brethren around us. Let us seek out those hands that hang down and lift them up. Remember Moses, when his hands were up the children of Israel would win and when down they would lose, so it was important for his hands to be held up. We have the same opportunity with our brethren.

 

  • Hebrews 12:13 “And make straight paths for your own feet lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but rather let it be healed. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” 

By striving to BE RIGHTEOUS IN THE EYES OF GOD—that is by being amongst the company of the the Bible characters during our daily meditations of the Word, we can be saturated with Godly thoughts… Godly words—which result in Godly actions. We can BE GOOD examples to others, someone others can look to for encouragement.

 

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Acknowledgment:

This post was inspired by the content of an excerpt from a talk by Br. Tim Alexander titled “Five steps Towards Obedience.”

URL: https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/05/11/why-how-to-obey-god/

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The Origin and Meaning of Easter & Lent

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The Word Easter in the Bible

The only place in the Bible where the word “Easter” is found is in Acts 12:4, yet it is a mistranslation of the Greek word pascha. The word pascha should properly have been translated “Passover” (Strong’s G3957, “pascha, the Passover”). It has been correctly translated Passover in most modern translations. The corresponding word in the Hebrew Old Testament is Strong’s H6453, pecach, also defined as Passover.

Acts 12:4 describes events that took place in the springtime when the Apostle Peter’s apprehension and imprisonment by King Herod coincided with the Jewish festival of Passover, after Herod had earlier arrested and killed the Apostle James, brother of the Apostle John. In respect of Jewish religious custom, Herod waited till after Passover to act on Peter’s fate, planning to kill Peter as he had James. God did not allow this, and sent an angel to free Peter. Soon after, Herod himself was struck dead of a ghastly disease (Acts 12:23).

The “four quaternions (“squads”—in the NIV) of soldiers” (Acts 12:4) refers to four groups of four soldiers each, perhaps each group of four serving in rotation through the 24 hour day, at Jerusalem. During each period four soldiers guarded one prisoner as indicated in Acts 12:6—Peter was chained to one soldier on either side, with two guarding at the doorway.

A Real Angel, A Real Deliverer

During the festive week of Passover and Unleavened Bread, God’s mighty power delivered Peter from prison and death in a miraculous manner.

“The angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. (9) And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision. (10) When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him” (Acts 12:8-10).

“It is worthy of notice that the miracles performed here were only such as were beyond Peter’s natural power. Whatever he could do he was required to do, namely, putting on of his sandals and his cloak, and following the angel. He could have been transported. His own sandals or other sandals could have been fastened to his feet. A new coat might have been provided. But the lesson is a more profitable one as it was given. Similarly in the Lord’s dealings with us today, we should remember that it is ours to do everything within our power, and the Lord’s to overrule all things for our good, and to supply our deficiencies from his abundance. Thus still he gives us day by day our daily bread, in the rain and the sunshine and the seed; but he expects us to labor for it, to plow the ground, to sow the seed, to harrow it, to thrash it, grind it and bake it.

” ‘When Peter was come to himself,’ when he realized the facts in the case, that he was free, he said, ‘Now I know of a surety that the Lord hath sent his angel and delivered me out of the hand of Herod and … of the Jews.’ St. Peter’s faith was strengthened. Willing to die, he found that the Lord was willing that he should live and labor and endure, and he was equally pleased, rejoicing, we may be sure, for the privilege of further service, even though it would mean further sacrifices and sufferings for the Lord’s sake and for the sake of his people” (Charles T. Russell, R4347).

From this account in Acts chapter 12, we are assured that “the Heavenly Father himself loves us and that all the heavenly powers are pledged to those whom he has accepted in Christ Jesus, and these unitedly guarantee blessings to all those who abide in God’s love. This means to abide in faith in the Redeemer. It means to abide loyal to our consecration, to do the Father’s will to the extent of our ability. That will is declared to be, that we shall love the Lord supremely, our neighbor as ourselves, and all the members of the household of faith, as Christ loved us” (Charles T. Russell, R4347).

Why Easter Sunday?

Dear friends, have you ever wondered WHY Easter Sunday is one of the most sacred Christian holidays?

It is because Christian churches have generally adopted Easter Sunday as the resurrection day and the proper time to celebrate the raising of Jesus Christ from the grave, which occurred on the third day after Jesus’ crucifixion. Jesus died on Nisan 14th  (Friday, about 3 pm, 33 AD), and was raised the following Sunday morning, Nisan 16th. This was the “third day” counting inclusively—Friday, Saturday, Sunday (Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1‑2, John 20:1, Luke 24:1,24, 1 Corinthians 15:4).

Later on, it was determined in the Christian world to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus always on a Sunday, and remember the death of Christ by Good Friday, irrespective of whether Nisan 14th and 16th on the Jewish calendar actually falls on Friday or Sunday in a given year. Among brethren of the Bible Student fellowship, it is different. Jesus sat with his disciples for his “Last Supper” (Luke 22:20) on the evening that had just begun the calendar day Nisan 14th, and there instituted a memorial of his approaching death. We customarily observe our Memorial accordingly—on the night following Nisan 13th—that is, the night which technically begins the calendar day Nisan 14th. This year, in 2017, that means a Sunday night (April 9th) memorial of Jesus’ death, but the day of the week varies year by year.

Further in this post we shall explain why “Good Friday” is not celebrated by the Christian world closest to the exact day of our Lord’s commemorated day of death. But in brief, here, it is because of the decision made by the Papal Anti-Christ church (lead by Constantine as we explain later) and they were not concerned about the Jewish date of Jesus’ death. Their new rule (established in 325 A.D.) fixed it relative to the equinox rather than relative to the Jewish calendar. The truth of the matter is, that it is Nisan 14th which the Bible explains is the date when the memorial of our Lord’s death is to be annually commemorated—not the nearest Sunday to this or any other date.

Pagan Influences Came in Later

Today, in our memorial supper, we recognize the influence of the Hebrew traditions by observing it according to the days of the Jewish calendar. The celebration is not of the Jewish Passover, however, but of the sacrificial death of our redeemer, Jesus, the antitypical Passover Lamb. Subsequently, however, pagan influences also blended with popular Christian observances.

(a) The name “Easter” is from Ishtar—who was the Babylonian and Assyrian goddess of love and fertility. The Phoenicians called her Astarte (a sister and consort of Baal,) a god worshipped in many parts of the eastern world. Some of the ancient Hebrews also worshipped Baal.

(b) In Europe, Eostre (with variations in spelling) became the Anglo‑Saxon goddess of spring, emphasizing fertility and the rising sun. The month of April was dedicated to her, and the Old English word for Easter was “Eastre” which refers to Eostre. The festival of Eostre was celebrated at the vernal equinox, when day and night receive an equal share of light and darkness.

(c) During the early Middle Ages, Christian missionaries seeking to convert the barbaric tribes of northern Europe realized that the time of Jesus’ death and resurrection also coincided with the Teutonic springtime celebrations. The Teutonic goddess of fertility, Ostare, derives her name from the ancient word for spring. As the days of approaching spring grew longer, celebrations coinciding with the spring equinox emphasized the end of winter and a rebirth of nature, triumphing life over death. The Christian missionaries taught that this time also pointed to the resurrection of Jesus.

Easter Eggs and Bunnies

Eggs symbolize birth, fertility, and new life in many cultures. The ancient Egyptians and Persians would hand out coloured eggs as gifts during their springtime festivals.

Europeans during the Middle Ages, collected eggs of different colours from the nests of various birds, using them as charms to avert evil and bring good fortune.

The Easter egg hunt custom was gradually phased out by the more popular egg painting custom where colourful eggs were hidden and children as well as others would search for them. Eggs were painted in bright colours to resemble the sun, the arrival of spring, and fertility, while Easter baskets, holding the collected eggs, were intended to resemble bird’s nests. Polish people today still decorate their eggs with many traditional symbols for Easter, many of them with religious representations.

Rabbits have also served as fertility symbols in some ancient cultures. Legends from ancient Egypt connected the rabbit with the moon because of their nocturnal feeding habits. This association with the moon is also thought to have originated with those who watched the cycles of the moon to determine the precise date of the approaching change of season, and the accompanying celebration. This event took place on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox.

The first documented use of hares for the Easter festival was in Germany during the 1500’s. Later, edible Easter bunnies were prepared with pastry and sugar. These traditions made their way to America during the 1700’s by the Pennsylvania Dutch who had emigrated from Germany. During the years following the American Civil War, handcrafted chocolate Easter eggs and rabbits became increasingly popular.

Hot Cross Buns

Australians also celebrate Easter with hot cross buns, a spiced sweet bun made with currants or raisins and marked with a cross on the top. The first recorded use of the term “hot cross bun” was around 1733. They are traditionally eaten on “Good Friday” in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, and India. The cross on the bun represents the crucifixion of Jesus and the spices inside are meant to remind Christians “of the spices put on the body of Jesus” (See Mark 16:1, Luke 23:54‑56, Luke 24:1).

John 19:39 says that Nicodemus also brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, “about an hundred pound weight,” for the burial of Jesus. The number 100 is used for Jesus in the Tabernacle, as the square measure of the gate, door, and vail, representing that Jesus is the “way, the truth, and the life” for those who follow him (John 14:6). Also, there were 100 sockets of silver as a foundation for the Tabernacle, coming from the Ransom money of the Israelites, representing Jesus as the Ransom and foundation for God’s Plan of Atonement (Exodus 38:25-27).

Myrrh, a bitter herb, represents suffering, and aloes is used for healing. Thus these two elements represent the suffering of Jesus, from which comes the healing from sin and death from Jesus’ death. When Jesus is depicted as a king in glory, his “garments smell of myrrh, and aloes”these very two fragrances (Psalm 45:8). For Christ in his resurrection glory has achieved a death of suffering that brings healing for the world.

Lent

Does the Bible teach us to celebrate or commemorate Lent?

The following is an extract from a website by the Uniting Methodist Church explaining what “Lent” is about—a practice not observed within the Bible Student Movement:

“Lent is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. Lent comes from the Anglo Saxon word lencten, which means ‘spring.’ The forty days represents the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan and preparing to begin his ministry.

“Lent is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of self‑examination and reflection. In the early church, Lent was a time to prepare new converts for baptism. Today, Christians focus on their relationship with God, often choosing to give up something or to volunteer and give of themselves for others.

“Sundays in Lent are not counted in the forty days because each Sunday represents a ‘mini‑Easter’ and the reverent spirit of Lent is tempered with joyful anticipation of the Resurrection.”

There is no direct reference of this practice, of Lent, in the Scriptures. However, this pleasant custom probably has benefited various ones who applied themselves to it through the centuries, if it focused their minds and hearts on proper spiritual values. However, if afterward its observers supposed they were free at other times to practice worldly principles, then they would have missed the true value. A consecrated believer should remember that their life of service here first of all involves purity of heart and mind, always (James 3:17).

The Catholic Church believes that “Lent” is a time of repentance, fasting, and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of self‑examination and reflection. This may have useful benefits. However, for the true Christian, their entire consecrated life should be one of devotion.

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23 ESV).

Fasting can be a good practice at any time of the year, both for our physical benefit, and for mortifying the things of the flesh, to focus on things of the Spirit. Sometimes eating less can cause the mind to sharpen. We are to be continuously humble and lowly of heart, as was Jesus (Matthew 11:29, Luke 2:37). Weaning away from earthly attractions, it can help us also to be satisfied with whatever God permits us to have in other temporal commodities also—food, housing, car, or job. God gives us what we need. If we experience some discomfort for the flesh, it can augment our hope for and appreciation of the spiritual values, and spiritual promises, that exceed anything Earth can provide.

Regarding the practice of baptism at Lent season—perhaps this custom also had some beneficial results. However, it is not something mentioned in the New Testament, and baptism is appropriate at any time of year, when the believer determines to proceed in full commitment to God, with a personal consecration of themselves and their life to Him. Thus it is not reserved for a particular month of the year. See the post titled: What Does It Mean To Be Baptized Into Christ? and What Does Being Consecrated To The Lord Mean?

Pastor Charles Russell’s Comments about Lent

The following is an extract from Reprint 3170.

“Our best wish for all the people of New York and of the whole world would be that all or at least some of them, may observe Lent and join in such petitions heartily: if but one in a hundred of those who will observe the Lenten season will do so, it will surely mean a great revival in their own hearts.

“To us who observe the Memorial Supper on its anniversary only, the occasion is one of the greater solemnity, and may well be approached with the greater reverence. We commend to all of ‘this way’ (Acts 9:2) that the interim between now and the Memorial (April 10th) be specially a season of prayer and fasting—drawing near to the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:5). True, the Lord’s consecrated people are continually to live as separate from sin and from the mind of the flesh as possible, and are to “pray without ceasing”; but, as the Apostle intimates, there may profitably be special seasons of this kind; and surely none more appropriate than this Memorial season. The fasting which we urge may or may not affect the food and drink, according to the judgment of each, respecting what diet will best enable him to glorify God and to keep his “body under.” We refer specially to abstention from all “fleshly lusts which war against the soul”; these appetites always under restraint with the saints, may well be specially mortified at this time.”

However as the Apostle Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 7:29‑31, our “fasting” or “mortification” should be a daily act moment by moment to those who have fully enlisted in the Priesthood of complete consecration in the “School of Christ” as far as it be reasonably possible and all depends on one’s level of maturity in Christ:

” (29) This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, (30) and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, (31) and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away” (1 Corinthians 7:29‑31).

Hebrew Customs

Concerning our opening text (Acts 12:4), let us consider the relationship between the Easter festival and the Hebrew Passover.

Passover is the oldest and most revered festival in Judaism. It is observed in the spring, in the month Nisan, the first month of the Jewish religious new year (Exodus 12:2). As Jewish months began with a new moon, the timing of Passover about halfway through the month puts it about the time of full moon. The afternoon that Jesus died was the time a full moon, and this represented that Israel’s favor was full—but because of their rejection of Christ, their favor would wane and diminish.

The Jewish Passover, under the administration of Moses, commemorated Israel’s deliverance from centuries of Egyptian bondage. The firstborn among the Israelites where passed over by the angel of death during the final plague suffered by Egypt. That tenth plague forced Pharaoh to release the Israelites from a life of compulsory servitude.

The Passover is celebrated on an annual basis in accordance with the instructions that were given by God to Moses:

“The Lord spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, saying, Let the children of Israel also keep the passover at his appointed season. In the fourteenth day of this month, at even, ye shall keep it in his appointed season: according to all the rites of it, and according to all the ceremonies thereof, shall ye keep it. And Moses spake unto the children of Israel, that they should keep the passover” (Numbers 9:1‑4).

Our Lord Jesus became the antitypical Passover Lamb (John 1:29) when he gave his life as a sacrifice for the sins of the world, during the time of the Jewish Passover.

Christian Traditions

Though the Easter festival became well‑established and accepted by Christians by the second century after Jesus’ death, there had been considerable debate between the Eastern and Western divisions of the Church over the exact date the event should be celebrated.

The Eastern Church preferred to not hold it as an annual Sunday event, but rather to observe it on whatever day Nisan 14 fell. These early Christians wanted to time the observance according to the timing of the Hebrew type. The Western Church, on the other hand, wanted to remember the resurrection of Jesus always on a Sunday—Easter Sunday—regardless of the day of the week indicated by the Jewish calendar (Exodus 12).

Emperor Constantine wished to resolve this issue at the Council of Nicea in A.D. 325. The question of the Easter date was one of the main issues of concern. After lengthy dispute, the council was unanimous in its decision that Easter should always fall on the Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox. After further discussion, it was decided that March 21st was to be the date for the spring equinox. This dating process has been the general guideline for most of Christendom ever since.

In Remembrance of Me

Students of the Bible stand free from many of the long‑standing traditions that have been passed down to us from the past. Their faith is based on the meaning and partaking of the symbolic emblems that represent our Lord Jesus’ sacrificial death. Jesus’ request given to his disciples that night in the upper room were, “This do in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19).

Every consecrated child of God joyfully accepts the privilege of partaking of the bread, representing Jesus’ flesh, and drinking of the cup, representing Jesus’ shed blood. This is the true meaning and purpose of observing this most important occasion each year on the 14th day of the first month Nisan.

Church of the Firstborn

In his letter to the Hebrew brethren, the Apostle Paul speaks of the “church of the firstborn” whose names are “written in heaven” (Hebrews 12:23). Elsewhere, he explains that they are walking with our Lord in “newness of life” (Romans 6:4). They also remember his death, and solemnly renew their consecration to God annually by partaking of the meaningful symbols, bread and wine.

In keeping the type of Exodus 12, the blood of each lamb that was slain in Egypt that night was sprinkled on the doorposts and lintels of the houses of Israel.

  • Each Jewish household represents the Household of faith, that is, all believers in Christ. This includes both spirit begotten and non‑spirit begotten, both fully consecrated and not yet consecrated, both the baptized into Christ and not‑yet baptized into Christ, who believe in the blood of Christ as the redemptive value that saves us from the curse of Adamic death. On that night, however, only the firstborn were under jeopardy, as only the firstborn has a spiritual life that could be lost.
  • That all believers benefit from the Passover sacrifice is reflected in the deliverance of all the Israelites through the Red Sea, subsequent to the Passover night. (1 Corinthians 15:22).

Here are some lovely words by Br. Charles Russell on the Household of Faith, from Reprint 5457. “These words “Household of Faith”—are broad enough to include not only those who are fully in the way, but also those who have made more or less of an approach unto the Lord and the Truth. The very fact that any one is drawing near to the antitypical Tabernacle is a strong reason why we should wish to encourage him to press on. He has come a part of the way, even if he has not made a consecration.

In a strict sense, the Household of Faith, of course, includes only those who are consecrated. But the words of the Apostle justify us in believing that those who are considering the matter, counting the cost, would in a broad sense be counted as of the Household of Faith. And we are to give these special assistance—all in whom we see any prospect of consecration. Our constant desire and effort should be to point men directly or indirectly to the Lord. Thus we shall be showing ‘forth the praises of Him who hath called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.’ ”

  • Each slain lamb—represents the antitypical Lamb of God: Christ Jesus.
  • The firstborn Israelites in each familyillustrate the Christ, head and body, the “church of the firstborn.”
  • The bitter herbs that were eaten with the lamb (Exodus 12:8)—illustrate the trials and afflictions that are experienced by the Lord’s people during the present Gospel Age.
  • The unleavened bread eaten with the lamb (Exodus 12:8)—represents our wish to be purged from the leaven of sin, as we feast upon the merits of our Lord’s sacrifice for us (1 Corinthians 5:7).
  • The household joining eating the Passover lambrepresents our common participation, our sharing together, of the merits of Christ (1 Corinthians 10:16,17).

Those who are faithful to their High Calling will be privileged to share in the deliverance of the poor groaning creation during Christ’s future kingdom, as proclaimed by the Apostle Paul (Romans 8:22, 23).

Christ our Passover Lamb

The Apostle Paul directs our attention to the significance of the Passover type and our need to purge out all unrighteousness and sin (pictured by leaven). He wrote to the Corinthians brethren,

Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth (1 Corinthians 5:7,8).

The Jewish people were to slay their Passover lambs on the 14th day of the first month (Nisan) of the Jewish New Year. This was the exact time many centuries later when our Lord Jesus, as the antitypical Passover Lamb, died for the sins of the whole world of mankind.

All who recognize Jesus as the true Passover Lamb and have accepted the merit of his shed blood on their behalf, may appropriate the merit of that blood by purifying their hearts from a consciousness of evil. Because of their faith in the blood of Jesus, they are privileged to enjoy a new relationship and standing before God.

The Lamb of God

When John saw Jesus coming toward him, he proclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

Later, the Apostle Peter, when comparing earthly riches with the true value of our redemption (1 Peter 1:18), speaks of the exceeding value of Jesus’ blood of sacrifice, as “The precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot (verse 19).

God’s wonderful plan of reconciliation for the sins of the whole world will become manifest to all during the Millennial Kingdom soon to be established. The meaning of “Christ our Passover” takes on a deeper significance when we look forward to the time when the entire human family will praise God for the gift of his beloved Son, the “Lamb of God,” that takes away the sins of the world.

 

Acknowledgment:

The Dawn Bible Students’ Magazine—Article from the Highlights of Dawn, April 2006. “Easter—It’s Pagan Origins and True Meaning,” used to present this post.

Br. Charles T. Russell, The Reprints of the Original Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.

Br. David Rice—editing assistance.

The Uniting Methodist Church website—for references cited from “What Is Lent and why does it last 40 days?”

 

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The Cost of Discipleship

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Would you be my disciples? Consider again:
Can you follow my footsteps through trial and pain?
Can you throw away pleasure, and glory, and fame,
And live but to honor my cause and my name?

Can you turn from the glitter of fashion and mirth,
And dwell like a pilgrim and stranger on the earth.
Despising earth’s riches, and living to bless?
Can you follow the feet of the shelterless?

Can you ask from your heart the forgiveness of men?
Can you list to reproaches, nor answer again?
Can you pray that repentance to life may be theirs
Who have watched for your falling, who have set for you snares?

When you hear I am come, then can you arise,
The joy of your heart springing up in your eyes?
Can you come out to meet me whatever the cost be,
Though you come on the waves of a storm-crested sea?

When I call, can you turn and in gladness “come out”
From the home of your childhood, the friends of your heart?
With naught but my promise on which to rely,
Afar from their love — can ye lie down and die?

Yes! We’ll take up the cross and in faith follow you
And bear your reproach, your disciples to be.
Blest Savior, for courage to you we will fly;
Of grace you has promised abundant supply.

This poem is from “Poems of Dawn.”

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Hebrews 12:1-12 (KJV)

1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.

And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:

For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?

But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?

10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.

11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

12 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees;

 

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OUR BELIEFS – What Does The Bible Teach Us?

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To us, the Bible is the Word of GOD, the sole authority of Christian Doctrine and Practice. To us it clearly teaches that:

* JEHOVAH (Hebrew: YAHWEH) is THE ONE ALMIGHTY GOD, who is from “everlasting to everlasting” (Psalm 90:2).

* JESUS CHRIST, the Logos (Word), is GOD’S ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, the firstborn of every creature who was made flesh and by the grace of GOD gave himself a willing and voluntary RANSOM for ALL mankind, to be fully demonstrated in GOD’s due time, and His is the Light that enlightens all who come into the world. He is our Lord and Master and the Captain of our Faith, our Redeemer (John 3:16; John 5:28-29; John 14:16; Colossians 1:15-17; 1 Timothy 2:5-6; Hebrews 2:9).

* JESUS WAS RESURRECTED on the third day after his crucifixion (50 hours from the moment he went into the heart of the earth), Jesus was resurrected a Divine Celestial Being, Immortal, and will never come again in the flesh (Luke 24:1-7).

* ALL HAVE SINNED and come short of the Glory of GOD, and that the penalty for sin is death, extinction of life (Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23; Ecclesiastes 9:10).

* PERSONAL SALVATION is by faith in and the acceptance of Jesus Christ as a Savior and Lord, that there is no other name or way by which any can be saved (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Acts 16:30-31).

* GOD IS CALLING OUT from those saved by faith now a “people for his name,” to be followers of Jesus Christ in full obedience to the divine will and to constitute His Body, the “Church.” These are also refer to as the “saints,” the “sanctified, the “bride” of Christ, the “wife of the Lamb,” “the 144,000” and the “little flock.” (Psalm 45:14-15; Matthew 16:24; Acts 15:14; Ephesians 1:22,23; Ephesians 5: 25-27, 32; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Revelation 21:9-10; Revelation 22:17; Revelation 7:4).

* THE HOLY SPIRIT is the character of the Heavenly Father Jehovah who is Love and Justice balanced by His awesome Wisdom, and His Great Power carries out His balance through actions and magnificent influence on ALL of His creation; and this power of His character is working in and through His called out people, to guide them into understanding of and conformity to His will. It is not a third person of a Godhead (Luke 11:13; John 16:13; Acts 1:8, Romans 8:14).

* Man IS A SOUL (Sentient being), but does not HAVE a “soul.”

* The wages of sin is DEATH and NOT TORMENT or some form of living separate from the Creator (Ezekiel 18:4; Romans 6:23).

* ALL MANKIND SHALL RESURRECT out of their graves and partake in the blessings and opportunities of Christ’s one thousand year kingdom which present conditions indicate is extremely close at hand (Luke 21:25-28, John 5:28, 29, Revelation 20:6).

* THE EARTH WILL NOT LITERALLY BE BURNED UP (but the systems of the world will be destroyed), but rather will become a paradise worldwide by the end of the Messianic Age, inhabited by the obedient regenerated race of Adam, when death will be destroyed forever (Ecclesiastes 1:4; Isaiah 25:8; 1 Corinthians 15:26; Revelation 21:4).

* THE CHURCH IS GOD’S TEMPLE which has been in preparation during this present GOSPEL AGE, at which, when complete, will be the means of GOD’S blessings coming to “all people” (Genesis 22:17-18; Isaiah 25:6; Matthew 19:28; 1 Corinthians 3:16,17; Ephesians 2:20-22).

* MEANTIME THE SHAPING AND POLISHING of individual Christians—“living stones”—has been in progress, and when all have been made ready, they will share in the “first resurrection” and the completed, glorified Temple will become the meeting place between GOD and mankind (1 Peter 2:5, 2 Peter 1:5-8, Revelation 20:6).

* THE HOPE OF THE CHURCH is to be like her Lord, to see Him as He is, to be partakers of the divine nature and to share in His glory in the divine realm as His joint-heirs helping the world of mankind come up the Highway of Holiness and come into harmony with GOD, so that GOD our Creator can be ALL IN ALL—which is the ETERNAL GOSPEL (Isaiah 35:8; 1 John 3:2, 2 Peter 1:4, Romans 8:16-17; Revelation 14:6).

* THE BLESSINGS OF GOD’S KINGDOM will include the return of GOD’S favour to Israel and the restoration of all things lost in Adam for all the willing and obedient in that time; that at the end of the thousand years Satan and all the willfully wicked will be destroyed (1 Corinthians 15:12-22, Romans 11:25,26, Acts 3:20,21).

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“For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye glad and rejoice forever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed. And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them. And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in my entire holy mountain, saith the LORD” (Isaiah 65:17-25, KJV).

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We Believe the Bible

The following is taken from The Watch Tower, January 15, 1912, pages 28,29; Reprints pages 4955, 4956:

THOSE WHO OPPOSE our teaching are given to misrepresenting it. They do not wish to speak untruthfully, but desire to hinder our work, which they fail to recognize as the Lord’s work.

It is difficult to answer the arguments of our opponents in a few words, when they misunderstand our presentations of more than three thousand pages. If they cannot understand a detailed account, we have no hope of making a brief one satisfactory to them. However, we give here a synopsis:—

I. We affirm the humanity of Jesus and the deity of Christ.

II. We acknowledge that the personality of the Holy Spirit is the Father and the Son; that the Holy Spirit proceeds from both, and in turn from all who are begotten by it.

III. We affirm the resurrection of Christ—that He was put to death in the flesh, but quickened in the Spirit. We deny that He was raised in the flesh, and challenge any statement to that effect as being unscriptural.

IV. We affirm, with the Scriptures, that God alone possessed immortality, “dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto.” We affirm that this Divine quality has already been granted to the Lord Jesus and is to be the portion of the elect Bride, the “Body of Christ.” As for mankind, we affirm the Divine provision for these [R4956 : page 29] and for angels to be everlasting life for the obedient. This, by many, is mistermed immortality. We follow the Scriptures strictly.

V. We hold that the entire race lost life with Father Adam, as a result of his failure in Eden; and that Christ died to secure a second chance for Adam and an individual chance for all of his race, who lost their first chance in Adam when he sinned. “As all in Adam die, even so all in Christ shall be made alive.” (1 Cor. 15:21,22.) A few of us, comparatively, having eyes of faith and ears of understanding, have had this second chance in the present life. Adam and the great mass of his posterity must get their second chance after being awakened from the tomb. But NOBODY IS TO GET A THIRD CHANCE!

VI. We believe that the soul was condemned to death. “The soul that sinneth it shall die.” We believe that this death would have been eternal, everlasting destruction, had it not been for God’s mercy in and through our Lord’s redemptive work. By reason of His death our souls do not die in this full sense of the word, but are Scripturally said to “fall asleep,” “asleep in Jesus.” The awakening will be in the resurrection morning; and the interim will be a period of unconsciousness, beautifully symbolized by a restful sleep.

VII. We believe in the “hell” of the Bible, sheol. This, the only word used for hell for four thousand years, is translated more than one-half the time grave in our Common Version, and should always be thus translated. “Hades,” in the New Testament, is its equivalent. “Gehenna fire,” of the New Testament, is a symbolical picture declared to signify the Second Death.

VIII. We believe that God is able to destroy “both soul and body” in Gehenna—the Second Death. We consider it much more sane to believe thus, as it is more Scriptural, than to believe that in creating man God did a work which He could not undo; much more reasonable also than to believe He prefers to have the incorrigible suffer eternally, when their sufferings could do neither themselves nor others any good.

IX. We believe that, like the Father and the holy angels, our Lord is a spirit being. We are convinced that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God.” We do not believe that our Lord has a flesh and blood body, a “little lower than the angels,” and has thus been out of harmony with His heavenly environment for nearly two thousand years. We believe the Apostle’s statement, “Now the Lord is that Spirit.” This is the Jesus who will “so come, in like manner,” quietly and unknown to the world, as He went away. We do not affirm, dogmatically, that He came in 1874, but we say that to us it is the evident teaching of the Scriptures. Our Lord warned us not to expect Him in the flesh; that men might say “Lo, here” or “Lo, there.” The Harvest work in the universal Church Nominal, the Laodicean period of the Church, well corroborates our expectations of what His work will be, as outlined in His parables, etc.

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Suggested Further Reading

Who We Are
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/category/who-we-are/

Links and Bible Resources
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/category/links/

Our Purpose and Mission
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/category/our-purpose-mission-the-story-behind-bible-students-daily-2/

The BIBLE — The World’s Best Novel. Here is Why.
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/07/26/the-bible-the-worlds-best-novel-here-is-why/

Here is the Book “The Bible Students in Australia” by David Simkin. Please click the image below for the PDF file of the book.

Pastor Russell Founded the Bible Students Not Jehovah’s Witnesses http://www.friendsofjehovahswitnesses.com/wp-content/uploads/Bible-Students-not-Jehovah-Witnesses2.pdf-final2.pdf

pastor-russell-founder-of-bible-students-not-jehovah's-witnesses

 

Did Russell Start The JWs?
http://rlctr.blogspot.com.au/2009/04/was-russell-founder-of-jws.html

Pastor Russell – Not the Founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses
http://www.dawnbible.com/1940/4008-hl.htm

 

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