The New York World, February 23, 1915


Duluth, Minn., February 21, 1915 Pastor Russell spoke today from the text, "I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ." (Rom. 1:16) Prior to his sermon he made some kindly but pungent remarks on "Billy" Sunday, "the most noted preacher of our day." The Pastor would not depart from his custom and the Bible rule, "Speak evil of no man." His remarks merely appertained to "Billy's" preaching of the Gospel.

"Billy" Sunday catches the public eye and ear by the novelty of his methods. Some go to hear him lambaste the preachers on the platform behind him, and to watch their faces and see them smile as though it were a good joke when he tells them that their preaching has made the churches cold storage places with little storage, or when he likens them to the Scribes, Pharisees, hypocrites, of old, or when he tells them that they are leading their congregations straight down to Hell. These things told in the newspapers seem so astounding that people must see and hear for themselves.


Others go to hear "Billy" because it is the "fad." Business men and electric and steam railway managers realize that thousands will come to town as they would to a circus. They bring pressure to bear upon the poor preachers; for "Billy" wisely insists that he will not come and save the citizens from Hell if there is any competition in the business insists that all the churches close down. Under the pressure the preachers cannot help themselves and try to make the best of it, hoping that people will not take "Billy" seriously as respects their hypocrisy, etc., and assured that he will divide the spoils evenly amongst all the churches not the financial spoils, but the souls for "cold storage" or to be let down to Hell.

Others attend to see "Billy's" acrobatic feats, jumping onto a table or smashing a chair; others because they have been invited to be of the large choir; others to say that they have heard "Billy" Sunday. The worldly adage is, "Nothing succeeds like success;" and every time "Billy" succeeds he has more success.

Amongst Billy's virtues we should not forget they fearless way in which he attacks the social customs and sins which assail the family and the community, the fearless way in which he tells the preachers what he really thinks of them and what the masses of the public think of them, and the above-board manner in which he bargains the result of his efforts for cold cash the meeting of the expenses and the giving to himself of certain collections for himself and his troupe. If the Gospel must be sold, it is better to have it [HGL696] done in the open rather than in the name of the heathen, the collectors getting the most.

To the extent that "Billy" Sunday seeks to defend the Bible against the Higher Critics, to the extent that he really shows up the coldness, formalism, hypocrisy, of the Church of Laodicea (Rev. 3:14-17), to the extent that he encourages righteousness of life and discourages drunkenness and lewdness, we can surely wish him Godspeed, and trust that some good is accomplished by him, in awakening the people to do some thinking for themselves along religious lines.


The Pastor said that if the reports that "Billy" prayed to God most irreverently, and addressed the Redeemer as "Old Pal," were true, then "Billy's" influences on the public would lead on in the direction in which the world is now rapidly moving anyway toward irreverence. He hoped that "Billy" would become more reverent, and believes that this result would follow a better knowledge of God. He could scarcely reconcile with honesty Billy's attempt to tie up all the souls he saved, in the churches which he declared were cold storage plants leading down to Hell. He wished that "Billy" would reconcile these opposites.

He was pleased to note that "Billy" Sunday's last sermon in each place was usually on the Second Coming of Christ; and that "Billy" apparently recognizes the present and last stage of the Church, typified in Laodicea. This caused him all the more to wonder why "Billy" would help people into the Laodicean Church, which the Bible styles Babylon, and declares that God spues out of His mouth. (Rev. 3:16) Next Sunday the Pastor will discuss the Second Coming of Christ, viewing that great event and Messiah's Kingdom from a somewhat different angle from Billy's.

The Pastor declared that it makes his blood boil with righteous indignation to find Billy's preaching a practical endorsement of the God-dishonoring theory that the great mass of humanity are to suffer eternal torment because they were born in sin, misshapen in iniquity (Psa. 51:5), and then failed to live saintly lives. True, "Billy" does not explain Hell. Like most preachers he probably hides his true thought on this subject, while allowing the common people to think that he believes in a Hell of eternal tortures. The Pastor could not believe that Mr. Sunday or any other intelligent man of our day really believes this invention of the Dark Ages, which antagonizes the Bible as well as common sense.

Mr. Sunday and all other preachers who realize the fallacy of this great "doctrine of devils" (1 Tim. 4:1) owe it to the people who trust them and who make up their collections, to tell them the truth. More than this, they owe it to God that this foul stain upon the Divine character be denounced. They owe it to themselves as men to stand for and speak out the truth and to assist in opening the eyes of the poor, deluded world.

The Pastor hopes that Mr. Sunday will yet realize that no one can long maintain a moral standard higher than that which he attributes to his God. The injustice and persecution of centuries is largely attributable to the false doctrines which represent the Creator as a demon who unjustly and unlovingly created our race with the knowledge and intention that nine hundred and ninety-nine out of every thousand would endure an eternity of torture. Of this as a Gospel the Pastor has been ashamed for forty-four years. A better understanding of the Bible has led him since to preach


Beginning his discourse the Pastor said, Everybody knows that the word Gospel signifies Good Tidings, as in the angel's Message at the birth of Jesus- "Behold, I bring you Good Tidings of great Joy, which shall be unto all people!" Who is responsible for the fact that this Message of Joy to all people has been turned completely around to mean bad tidings of great misery to all people except to an elect handful? The fact is that no person deliberately plotted this turning of God's Word upside down. It is the work of the Devil, who gradually foisted it upon the Church as well as upon the heathen world, with the view to turning people away from God and the Bible.

St. Peter and St. Paul both predicted the falling away of the Church and the success of the doctrines of demons. "The god of this world [Satan] hath blinded the minds" of all unbelievers. If it were not for these delusions of Satan, the whole world might speedily be brought to know, to admire, to love, the true God. The Apostle continues, telling us why Satan blinds men- "lest the light of the knowledge of the glory of God. . . should shine into their hearts." Wherever the true knowledge of God shines into the human heart, it presents the Almighty in such glorious character as to demand the reverence of His creatures. Hence Satan's endeavor to blind men's minds through false doctrines which misrepresent the Almighty's character and Plan.

But while we Scripturally hold that Satan had chief responsibility in the matter, it is not for us to say that the clerics of the Dark Ages did not more or less connive at the error, trusting that it would make the people subservient to the clergy, through whom they might hope to escape future tortures. But leaving the past and its responsibilities, we may surely say that great and grave responsibility rests upon the preachers of today for their perpetuation of this great deception this fraud upon the people, slander upon the Almighty and opposition to the Truth. Of the degree of this wickedness only God is capable of judging correctly; but it is wicked to keep the people in darkness on the subject, and it is slanderous blasphemy against the Divine character.

There is no question that nearly all ministers privately confess that they do not believe these slanders, while publicly they continue to speak words which give the opposite thought. The time when such horrible assassination of the Divine reputation can prosper is surely short. Messiah's glorious Reign will make an end of all such lies; as it is written, "I will lay justice to the line, and righteousness to the plummet; and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies." Isa. 28:17


If belief in the real Gospel is the Divine power which works in the believer, it follows that whoever has not the Gospel has not this Divine power; and that in proportion [HGL697] as the Gospel is perverted its power is lost. So we see today millions of people professing to believe the Gospel, yet acting like devils under delusions from the Dark Ages which have been fostered by the preachers of Christendom. If they knew the real Gospel, they would act differently and not dishonor Christ by claiming to be His followers.

The Gospel Message is double. It has one portion of promise of blessing for the Church and another for the world. For the Church, who renounce earthly hopes and ambitions and cultivate the Heavenly, it promises the high reward of glory, honor and immortality with Christ in His Millennial Kingdom, to be entered into by the power of the First Resurrection. The Gospel Message tells the Church of God's gracious purposes for the world that through Christ's Kingdom the blessing of Restitution (Acts 3:21), everlasting life as perfect human beings in a world-wide Paradise, has been made possible for all mankind through the Redeemer's sacrifice, and that as soon as the Church shall have been glorified, the blessing of the world will begin to be accomplished fully during Messiah's Reign of Righteousness. We leave for next Sunday the discussion of the beautiful teachings of the Bible vs. the teachings of Mr. Sunday, the Adventists and the creeds on this subject.


Only a comparatively small number of humanity have opportunity of believing during this Age. Messiah's Kingdom will give the whole world an opportunity of believing in Christ not merely those living when Messiah's Kingdom will be set up, but, as the Bible says, "All that are in their graves shall hear the Voice of the Son of God and shall come forth" from the grave not from Heaven, not from Purgatory, not from our Protestant Hell of eternal torture, but from the grave.

The Church will constitute the First Resurrection class; and having passed their trial successfully, they will have the reward of life everlasting on the Heavenly plane. The world to be awakened at that time will include the heathen, and all the millions of Christendom who have never know what real Christianity is. They will all be brought to a knowledge of the Truth, that they may be tested, or judged, thereby and prove themselves either worthy or unworthy of everlasting life as human beings, in that world-wide Paradise.

So Jesus declares of them, "They that have done evil" that have not been approved of God- "shall come forth unto a Resurrection of Judgment" trial, testing with a view to seeing how they will respond to those judgments, enlightenments, etc., that the willing and obedient at the close of Christ's Reign may be received into all the liberties properly appertaining to God's children. (Rom. 8:21) The wrong thought in the mind of the translators of our Common Version Bible has misled them occasionally into giving poor translations. See John 5:29, Revised Version


All God's work is perfect. (Deu. 32:4) Man originally was perfect, in the Creator's likeness. Disobedience brought upon man not a penalty of eternal torment, but a death penalty- "Dying, thou shalt die." "The wages of sin is death." For six thousand years the World has been undergoing this sentence. Cut off by sin from fellowship with God, man has degraded himself. Satan has contributed to this reign of Sin and Death by deceiving mankind fostering errors, misrepresenting God, etc.

God has the situation fully in hand. He purposed to permit both angels and men to see one great illustration of the effect of sin, leading on to disease and death, mental, moral and physical. Meantime the Creator has gracious purposes for man. Their experiences with sin and death will not be fruitless. They will have opportunity of learning valuable lessons, profitable for eternity. The first trial as to their worthiness of eternal life or of everlasting death was through one man; and his disobedience settled the matter for the race the death sentence was the penalty.

As a basis for man's recovery, the Son of God died for man's sin not to get mankind out of eternal torment nor to keep them from going to eternal torment or to Purgatory, but to save them from extinction, "that whosoever believeth on Him might not perish." (John 3:16) Their recovery from sin and death is Scripturally styled the resurrection of the dead. Thus the Church of true believers are represented as "risen with Christ" to "walk in newness of life," and are promised an actual resurrection the First, the Chief Resurrection.

Next comes the world's resurrection. The Truth will be made known to them. Instead of being confused and hampered with superstition, lies, doctrines of devils, the true light of the knowledge of the glory of God will shine upon them. Gradually the willing and obedient of the world will rise mentally, morally, and physically to perfection; whereas the Church, which is to get a new nature, spirit nature, will be perfected by an instantaneous resurrection.

This is the Gospel which St. Paul preached that the dead sleep in Hades, Sheol, the Bible Hell, the tomb, awaiting the establishment of Messiah's Kingdom which will bring glorious blessings. St. Paul declared that if there be no resurrection of the dead, all faith is vain, all preaching is vain, all hope of forgiveness of sins is vain. We might as well eat and drink and consider that when we die we perish. But, he declares, there is to be such a resurrection; and the fact that Jesus died and rose again is God's guarantee to all believers that all who sleep in Jesus shall be brought from the dead by and through Him and His power.

"There's a wideness in God's mercyLike the wideness of the sea."

Of this Gospel I am not ashamed. Of every other gospel that I have ever heard I would be ashamed ashamed if I had been its inventor, ashamed to endorse it, ashamed of the God who would have such a gospel. But the true Gospel, shining out of the Bible and enlightening men's hearts all over the world, is a Message of Grace, Justice, Wisdom and Love. Let us lay hold upon it. Let us love and serve it and the only living and true God, the God of the Bible, not the God of the creeds; and let us show forth the praises of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.

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