Section 3
Selections from

Pastor Russell's

Newspaper Sermons


Unpublished Books


Old Theology Quarterly-Number 24, April, 1893


Our Redeemer prayed for his disciples- "Sanctify them through thy truth;" and then added, "Thy Word is truth." (John 17:17.) He thus showed us a general principle, and one which experience demonstrates-that God's truth is his agency for developing his children. Not general truths, however good and beautiful, such as botany, astronomy, etc., but truths which God reveals in his Word, are those which tend to produce in us, if we heartily receive them, the graces of God's spirit-the spirit of the truth.

But the questions arise- "What is God's truth?" "What is God's Word?" For it will be remembered that at the time our Lord said, "Thy Word is truth," the New Testament had not been written. It does not follow, however, that our Lord meant that the Law and the Prophets (the Old Testament) alone were to be considered the Word of God adapted and intended to sanctify us; but, rather, that all that God had caused to be written by the prophets, together with all the explanations of those Old Testament writings which God would supply through Christ's teachings, and afterward through the writings of the apostles, were to be esteemed as God's Word-revelations of truth which would sanctify those who believe them and who act accordingly. This he clearly showed when he declared, "My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me;" "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life;" "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now; howbeit, when he, the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth, and he will show you things to come." John 7:16; 6:63; 16:12, 13.

It will be seen, therefore, at once, that the opinion of many, that the prophecies of the Old Testament are all fulfilled and not now worthy of reverent study, is a great mistake-a serious mistake, because it blinds many to the great and beautiful promises therein revealed which are still future and vitally associated with the true Christian faith and hope, and therefore essential to complete sanctification. Of these, first in prominence are the promises of Christ's Millennial Kingdom and of the great blessings which shall accrue to the world of mankind, and to the earth as man's future home, of pleasing prospect and bountifully teeming with luxuries and comforts for the willingly obedient. Second are the promises to Israel of a restoration to divine favor and to a share in the Millennial work of blessing (educating, ruling and lifting up) mankind-promises which state as well as imply that the old patriarches are to be restored to life as perfect men, to be examples of what perfect manhood is and of what all the fallen race may attain unto by obeying the Lord Jesus, then, with his Church, the Ruler of earth. -Acts 3:19-22; 7:37; 1 Cor. 6:2.

Indeed, it is largely because of a failure to appreciate the Old Testament prophecies, that so many of God's children have gotten so sadly mixed on all the teachings of the New Testament-shown by the conflicting creeds of Christendom. The apostles were continually referring to the statements of the prophets and interpreting them, and reasoning from THAT BASIS (See, for instances, Acts 2:24-32; 3:19-22; Rom. 11:2, 8, 9; Gal. 3)

From the prophecies they deduced and stated conclusions regarding the Lord's will in the present age and declared his future purposes. (See Rom. 11:25-32; Acts 15:14-16.) No wonder, then, that those who ignore the Old Testament should but dimly understand the arguments of the New Testament which are based upon those previous revelations.


If you are intellectually bright, and have large perceptive and reflective powers and a good education, you can take the Bible and by years of patient, critical study, you may prove to your satisfaction its divine inspiration and greatness from its internal as well as its external evidence, and acquire much of its wisdom and truth. But have you all these advantages? And if so, have you at your command the years of time needful to their use? Most of the earnest truth-seekers have not; and even if they all had, would it not be an evident waste of time for each to study out this subject independently of each other one? We do not do so in other sciences, but make use of each other's assistance-not, however, without proving what we accept, with our best reasoning faculties. And so we should do in Bible Study. And evidently it is the Lord's will that we should do so, since through the Apostle Paul he shows the mutual dependence, one upon another, of the various members of the Church, though some may be specially useful to the body, as eye or as right hand members. -1 Cor. 12:14-21.


Many able and valuable works upon this subject are obtainable through any bookseller, or in any public library; but the most of these are written in a style for the scholarly only, and, filling several volumes, require more time than many are able to give for such information; and hence few of the masses of the people know, as they ought, the firm foundation which God's Word really affords for their faith. As a result, many have but little faith in the Bible and are often ashamed of it.

But we wish to call your attention to a very brief and pointed treatise on this subject-one which you can digest in a few hours, and which will strengthen your faith in God's Word for the remainder of your life. It is contained in the first three chapters of a book entitled "The Plan of the Ages." Whatever else you may or may not have read, you should read the pointed arguments there presented. And as parents and as Christians you should assist the young and the many who are skeptically inclined in this day of doubts, and help them to get settled and grounded upon the Bible as God's Word. In the case of your own children this is specially a duty that you owe them. And in the case of others, remember that, in God's sight, we are each our brother's keeper. [HGL112]


When satisfied that the Bible is really God's Word and intended to be the guide of his children, a lamp to our feet, while we walk by faith and not by sight, until the Millennial Day dawns, you will want to study it. How shall you begin ?

Begin as you would with any other study-systematically. The first requisite is a guileless heart-a simple heart-one not too wise to be instructed-a heart that realizes that the information it seeks can come from God alone, that human wisdom is insufficient-a heart that is ready "as a little child" to be taught of God. "The meek will he guide in judgment, and the meek will he teach his way." (Psa. 25:9.) Because "God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble." (Jas. 4:6) Such, then, must all be who would be "taught of God." Others, will fail to understand God's Word; for he has arranged it so that others shall not understand it. -Dan. 12:10; Matt. 13:10, 11.

Again, the Apostle says, "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman who needeth not to be ashamed" -


To rightly divide the Word of truth, you should be shown how by some one who has learned how, otherwise you will find it a tedious and laborious task, costing precious years. And, alas! we regret to have it to say that few of God's children have learned this secret of Bible study, and few, therefore, can aid you to any considerable degree. Instead of recognizing the various ages and dispensations-the Patriarchal age, the Jewish age, the Christian age and "the Ages to Come" - and seeing the work God is gradually perfecting through these ages, they think of God's dealing as almost aimless and without order. Hence, instead of rightly dividing and applying the various statements of Scripture severally to the various ages and dispensations to which they properly belong, they mix them all together and have a disorderly and seemingly contradictory mass which they cannot understand and can scarcely realize to be a revelation at all.

But, on the contrary, when the various ages are clearly in mind, and when the plan of God with reference to them is once seen, the Bible becomes an open book before the humble student-a great treasure-house of truth and grace, every statement of which can be definitely located. And when rightly applied to its proper age-past, present or future, as the case may be-the whole record from Genesis to Revelation falls into harmony.

As a help in the direction of the right dividing of God's Word, we commend the book whose first three chapters we have already referred to, whose name, "The Plan of the Ages," indicates but slightly its value as an exponent of the way in which the Word of God should be rightly divided-dispensationally-in order to be "meat in due season" to the household of faith.

The foundation here laid, in an understanding of God's dispensational dealings, will lead the mind of the earnest student into green pastures of spiritual refreshment and strength, and open the way to and into "the deep things of God," both of knowledge and experience. Begin, then, with the study ( not a reading merely) of "The Plan of the Ages," and then go on unto perfection. The foundation properly laid in a heart-felt desire to know and obey God's Word, and an outline of the ages in mind, your building up in the most holy faith, with truths which will satisfy you wholly, will be an easy task.

should be well sharpened. That is to say, you will want a Bible with marginal references. If you can afford it, you should get what is termed a "Teachers' Bible," which gives not only the text of the common version, and references, and marginal readings, but also an Index of Bible topics, a partial Concordance, a partial Dictionary of Bible names, places, etc., as well as maps and much other useful general information. Then you will want one or both of the-


The best Concordance for finding the location of a passage of Scripture quickly is the old, reliable Cruden's Concordance. Beware, however, of its theological definitions: they are very erroneous, unscriptural, and hence misleading if trusted.

But the most valuable in another way (though a passage cannot be found so quickly in it as in Cruden's) is the justly celebrated work of recent years, known as Young's Greek, Hebrew and English Analytical Concordance. The author, Professor Young, of Edinburgh, Scotland, a ripe scholar of now world-wide fame, has here given to God's children (many of whom have little or no knowledge of the Greek and Hebrew languages in which the Bible was written), a quick and ready means of ascertaining what Greek or Hebrew word was used in any particular place, and the meaning of that word as defined by Prof. Young: and the meaning may be judged still more accurately by running the eye down the column and thus comparing the various uses of the same work in other passages. All should have one of these Concordances. All who can afford it should have both' Cruden's for quick general use, and Young's for critical examination of any word or passage; but the latter is preferable, if you get only the one. Then you will need, also,


This is another of God's special blessings for our day; and with the foregoing described helps is worth more than a four years' course in the Greek and Hebrew languages. First, it gives the Greek text for the Greek scholar. Second, it gives immediately under the Greek text a literal translation of it, word for word. Third, it gives in another column a smooth English translation suitable for common reading, showing also the emphasis of the Greek, usually lost to English readers. While we cannot say that this work is perfect, we can say that we know of no other translation of the New Testament so valuable to the critical student-and this includes all to whom we write.

The above, with the various volumes of the Millennial Dawn series, of which "The Plan of the Ages" is the first, really constitute an outfit of the needful helps. But if you have the means to spare, or if you can deny yourself in some other way, you will also find the following very useful: -

Rotherham's Translation of the New Testament. This is in many respects an excellent translation, and, besides, has [HGL113] marks showing the emphasis of the Greek, not shown in the common English translations. It is valuable, as any translation is, for critical study of a text. A comparison of the different methods of expression gives the thought of the original more clearly to the studious.

(2) Leeser's Translation of the Old Testament. This, too, is valuable. It is a translation by an unconverted Hebrew, who certainly has no bias favorable toward Christianity. This is the recognized translation among the Hebrews.

(3) For general information upon religious subjects (not for doctrinal instruction, though it contains a brief history of all doctrines and religions), we commend to you a Bible Dictionary. Smith's Bible Dictionary is justly popular, and though we cannot endorse its theological definitions, the work is valuable and instructive aside from these.


Study of the Bible should never be attempted in any but a prayerful attitude of mind. It should be remembered that the nearer our hearts and lives come into sympathy and union with our God, the more receptive to truth we will be, and the more ready to understand it. Therefore while studying pray without ceasing; let your hearts continually thank the Lord for every item of truth you may see, no matter who or what has been his helping hand to lead you to it and make it plain; and ever be desirous of knowing all that God has to reveal. Be cautious, too, lest you should allow prejudice to keep you from simplicity of mind; and also lest Satan, through any man or woman or teaching, should beguile you into error after you have gotten free from prejudice and out into God's sunlight. Our constant prayer should be, -Be thou my teacher, Lord, and use thou whom or what thou wilt in giving me the lessons.

Make sure, however, if even an angel from heaven preach to you any other gospel than that founded upon Christ crucified, that you reject it as spurious. (Gal. 1:8.) All gospels which reject the blood ( death) of Christ as the basis of reconciliation and blessing come not from God, whoever may present them, or in however pleasant words they may be put to you. They are from the great adversary and deceiver, the devil, whoever may be his willing or unwitting agents, or whatever his agencies.

But avoid the mistaken idea of some, that prayer takes the place of study. Prayer may and should co-operate with study in relation to God's Word, but it cannot take its place any more than in mathematics or astronomy. Hence, if you feel prompted by spiritual laziness or habit, or what not, to pray to God to give you a knowledge of his Word and plan without patient, earnest study and the use of the various helps which he has provided, reflect that you are not justified in asking God to give you in miraculous manner, of your own choosing, what he has already put within your reach in another manner, which is his choice. Reflect, too, that before asking God to do a miracle for your instruction, you should learn obedience; and that he has said to you and to us all, "Study" (2 Tim. 2:15), "Search the Scriptures." -John 5:39.


Beware how you permit any man's thinking to take the place of your own. God does indeed make use of one and another of his children in pointing out to others the meaning of his Word. But, while humbly and thankfully making use of any helper's assistance and esteeming such very highly in the Lord for their work's sake, we want to remember not to become worshipers of men (messengers- Col. 2:18), not to swallow any man's teachings without critical examination in the light of our lamp-the Word of God. We may remember with profit that man is not our teacher, but God; and that any man used of him as an under-teacher will, to the extent that he is in God's employ, teach, expound and harmonize his Word, and not merely theorize on isolated passages of Scripture aside from their context.

When any new thought is suggested as to the meaning of a certain passage, turn to the passage and examine it critically, using the various translations of it at your command to see whether it seems to sustain the theory suggested. Next, examine the preceding and succeeding verses to see if the idea suggested be in harmony with the entire argument of the inspired writer. If it is not in harmony reject it at once: do not trifle with evident misapplications. If, however, it seems to be in harmony with the immediate context, measure it with all other Bible statements bearing on or relating to the subject. Whatever you receive after thus testing and proving will stay with you. You will know what you believe and why you believe it.


If the student be a mechanic or a clerk or a house-keeper, with but limited time for study and using helps, he will soon come to the conclusion that the Apostle cannot have meant that each child of God should study up all the religious beliefs of the world, heathen and Christian; for life would be too short for a thorough study of each, if that were the only business. Nor can he have meant that we should study up all the creeds of "Christendom," with all the books which their various theologians have written in defense or explanation of their theories. Life would also be too short for this.

There is a simple, quick way, however, by which those who have accepted Christ as their Redeemer and King can prove all doctrines to be either true or false as fast as they are presented to them. We will lay it before you. It may save you years of doubt and uncertainty, and will surely save you much time from confusing study of theories which are only misleading, and it will quickly place your feet upon the sure foundation, and give you time to study in the right direction.

If you have received Christ and learned of him at all, you will not need to look at any system or theory which does not recognize him. You have already proved all other ways of salvation false. Now about theories which do acknowledge Christ. Though they be legion they all may be divided into two classes-those which teach a progressive development, or the gradual evolution of the human family from a lower to a higher state, and those which, on the contrary, claim that God created man perfect, in his own likeness, and that he fell from his perfection, mentally, morally and physically, by disobedience. [HGL114] The first of these acknowledges Christ as a teacher or guide only. Its advocates claim that he saves or develops men by his example, but that a sacrifice for our sins was unnecessary, except as the condescension to be an example cost him sacrifice.

The second of these views acknowledges Christ as Redeemer, as well as Teacher. It accepts the Bible statement relative to man's fall from divine favor-from perfection, from life, to disfavor and condemnation to death as a sinner. It acknowledges Christ's sacrifice finished at Calvary as the payment of man's penalty, the price of his redemption, the basis of all God's favor to sinners in the forgiveness of sins past and weaknesses present, and the hope of a future return in God's due time to a state of perfection and harmony with him.

The last named view is the Bible view, as you know; and it becomes an easy matter to judge, upon this line, any theory you may hear or read. Any theory which has no important place for the fall, and for the cross, its remedy, is not of God, for these are the fundamentals of God's revealed plan. -1 Cor. 15:3, 4, 20-22.

Whatever you come across that will stand this test is on the right foundation, and is worthy of further examination and criticism with the Bible as the only standard. But any system which does not stand this test should be rejected promptly and forever. The more you seek to examine that which you see to be on a false, unscriptural basis, the more you will entangle and confuse yourself in the snare of the great adversary who seeks to beguile the bride of Christ as he did the bride of Adam. (Col. 2:4, 18; 2 Cor. 11:3.) Beware, therefore, of every theory as soon as you prove it to be off the ransom foundation, as soon as you find it contradicting God's expressed penalty for sin, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die," and affirming Satan's lie, "Ye shall not surely die:" parley no longer with it. "Neither shall ye touch it," which should have been Eve's motto, should be yours, with reference to every doctrine proved false by the only standard-God's Word-See Gen. 3:2-4.


It is needful not only that you have the helps, and use them, as above suggested, but it will be needful that you begin to let shine upon others whatever light may reach you-not in pride, as though it were a discovery that you had made, but in humility, anxious only to lead others to the light for their profit and to honor your Father in heaven. (Matt. 5:16.) The exercise of spreading the truth will react favorably upon your own soul, and you will be brought more and more into fellowship with all the truth-hungry children of God.

Then, you will want the semi-monthly visits of ZION'S WATCH TOWER, with the information and assistance it is continually giving to God's saints. It is entirely unsectarian, thoroughly loyal to the Word of God, discards the wood, hay and stubble of human tradition, and builds with the precious promises of God upon the one sure foundation, Christ and his sacrifice for sin. The price is moderate-designed merely to meet the actual expenses of publication. To any interested but unable to pay $1. 00 per year, the Tract Society which published this tract will send the paper free upon request. We also loan to the Lord's poor, who will promise a careful reading and to return it, the book mentioned above as a special helping hand in Bible study- The Plan of the Ages.

So, then, none are so poor as to be unable to get some helps to Bible study.

Yours in the love and service of the Truth,


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