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QUESTION (1912)--2--Is it WORTH taking out a five years' insurance policy to be paid at death? [Q345]
ANSWER.--I feel so sure that I myself will come to a calamity; that my own experience will probably end in some kind of a calamity, that I have taken out small policies in the accident companies in order to leave something for my wife and my sister. Of course, this is private information. Don't tell anybody.
I.B.S.A.--Styled Truth People.
QUESTION (1913)--1--When the International Bible Students speak of themselves as truth people, do they mean that they alone understand God's truth?
ANSWER.--I should not put the matter in that form. My thought is that we are those who put the truth before anything else, we love the truth and would sacrifice anything we have for the truth. We are not putting creeds and traditions before the truth. We are not sacrificing the truth for any sect or party, but rather sacrifice sect and party, and even self, for the truth, because we understand God has put the truth as His own representative. Jesus so presents it in the word, saying, "I am the truth." In standing for the truth we are standing for the Lord.
Besides, I might add, this word truth is sometimes used as in contrast with error. As we look at our past experiences we have held a great deal of error, and as we now find ourselves growing in knowledge and growing in truth, we have come to speak of the matter from that standpoint; it was not given a sectarian sense. The term was not given by myself, but sprung up amongst the truth people as those who love the truth. We are willing to welcome all people in the same general compliment.
I.B.S.A.--Re Denominational Affiliations.
QUESTION (1913)--2--Why do all of the International Bible Students' Association speakers publicly advise people to abandon all denominational affiliations?
ANSWER.--I did not know that they do. We do, however, dear friends, hold that it would he proper to break down the denominational barriers. That is to say, these different creed fences, some of which have existed for centuries and some for but one century, are keeping Christian people more or less apart. Some have high fences and others low ones, hut they are separating in their tendencies, and we advise God's people to get over these barriers and get together. Get together in Bible study. These creeds are like so many stakes driven down and we have been chaining ourselves to them. Why not get free from these? We sing, "Send out Thy light and truth, O Lord, let them our leaders be," but are unable to follow because chained to the creed stake. Let us leave the stake and follow the light. We believe that is God's way. We are not saying anything unkind regarding Christian people in these denominations. What we say is against the creeds, for they have done us a great deal of harm, and are doing others harm still. If all creeds were smashed there would be a good opportunity for the people to come together to study God's Word and make more progress as the days go by.
I.B.S.A.--Re Special Bible.
QUESTION (1913)--3--Is it true that the International Bible Students' Association has its own Bible, which is different from others? [Q346]
ANSWER.--Some dear people think we have a different Bible because when we quote some text of Scripture it proves to be one they did not know was in the Bible. We think of a lady who said to me, "My pastor called to see me after the death of my husband." Her husband, who was a brother of International Bible Students' Association, had died, and her pastor, a Methodist, said to her, "Your husband had a strange religion, did he not?" She said, "He believed differently from others in some respects." "What were some of the things he believed?" She said, "One of the things was that a future time, during Christ's millennial reign, there will be an opportunity for restitution for the whole world of mankind. They will then be coming up out of sin and death, the opposite of what they are now doing. The Bible calls this restitution, and my husband believed that." He said, "There is nothing of that kind in the Bible." She said, "I think there is." He said, "You are mistaken." She replied quietly, "I think I can find it in the Bible. I think he has it marked." She looked and handed him the book, opened at Acts 3:19-21, which was marked, and he read it. He said, "What kind of Bible is this?" and looked into the front of it. There he found American Bible Society, and said, "Well, I never noticed that passage of Scripture before."
So with many other passages. We did not know some of the things which are there, and many things which we supposed were there are not there at all. We have not a different Bible. I might say, however, that we have a special edition of the Bible, which is the common King James version, but we have added in the back some special comments, gathered from selections from the Watch Towers and Scripture Studies, dealing with various passages of Scripture and explaining them somewhat. Some might call this a Watch Tower Bible, but we call it the Bible Students' Edition, because it is helpful in looking up what the Bible teaches on different subjects.
QUESTION (1913)--l--Why does your Bible Students' Association claim to be international?
ANSWER.--Simply for the reason that it is international. Our Association has its headquarters, really according to its charter, in London, England, although it operates here. It is one of the auxiliaries of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, which is the parent of several subsidiaries arranged for attending to different parts of the work. As the Methodist Church have the Epworth League, the Ladies' Aid Society, and I do not know how many other societies. They are all Methodist. Our society is international because it operates in all parts of the world.
I.B.S.A.--Relation to Other Classes.
QUESTION (1913)--2--What relationship has the Springfield Class of Bible Students to the Class at Boston or Brooklyn?
ANSWER.--These classes are all independent. They have a moral relationship of sympathy and brotherhood, as Christians have in all parts of the world. "One is your Master, even Christ." We are all Bible Students and in the school of Christ.
I.B.S.A.--Re Election of Its Officers.
QUESTION (1913)--3--How does the International Bible Students' Association elect its class leaders and officers, if non-sectarian [Q347] as claimed?
ANSWER.--Sectarianism is not the only method or method by which an election can be held. For instance, the Bible Class at Springfield, meeting as Christians, would select some one competent to serve them, after the manner of the early church. The election would be in the way prescribed by the Bible, by raising the hand, and the one chosen would he the elder, or teacher, as they are termed.
I.B.S.A.--Others Studying With Us.
QUESTION (1913)--1--I am a Catholic. Do I need to renounce my affiliation with my church to take up study in one of the I.B.S.A. classes?
ANSWER.--Not at all. You are welcome to take part in any number of them. We do not claim to have a mortgage on them. Whether Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, Catholic, or of no denomination, if you come in the spirit of the Lord and desire to know the truth, you are perfectly welcome.
I.B.S.A.--Re Membership Roll.
QUESTION (1913)--2--What Profession does a person need to make before he is entitled to be called an International Bible Student? How many are on the entire roll?
As to the full number attending these different meetings I do not know. I do not know how many attend the Springfield class or classes. I do not know how many classes are held here in Springfield, but suppose there are at least a half dozen, as there are forty or fifty in New York City. I will just give as an estimate, in a general way, that there may be 100,000. Perhaps more attend these classes; perhaps 200,000. Come to think of it I heard recently from Southern India that there are now about 3,000 attending classes there. At that rate the entire attendance may run up to 250,000.
I.B.S.A.--Length of Organization.
QUESTION (1913)--3--How many years has the I.B.S.A. been conducting its public work?
ANSWER.--This public work has been going on for the past forty years. Not, of course, with the same momentum as at the present time, and not the same numbers, but for forty years these classes have been in operation. We think we might be excused for saying, nearly 1,900 years there have been some of these classes. In the days of the Apostles they had some of these classes, and we have no doubt that during the dark ages there were classes of this same kind. But you will not find them mentioned in church history because the church had been neglecting the Bible and following the creeds. If we had an accurate history we would find there have been Bible Students for eighteen centuries.
I.B.S.A.--Relation to Church Union.
QUESTION (1913)--4--How does the International Bible Students' Association stand on the question of church union?
ANSWER.--We believe the union of church to be just the right thing, because we take the Word of the Lord on the subject. All ye are brethren and one is your Master, even Christ. This is what we advocate when we [Q348] say, "Take away the creed fences and let us all unite, whether Baptist, Disciple, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, or Catholic; let us unite as Bible Students and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ." There is a difference between union of the kind we have described, and federation, of which we hear so much. The latter is quite unscriptural. The Bible tells us that it will have a measure of success, but denounces it.
I.B.S.A.--Aloof From all Denominations.
QUESTION (1913)--1--What is the reason for the I.B.S.A. holding aloof from other denominations?
ANSWER.--The I.B.S.A. do not hold aloof from any denomination. We welcome all to any class, at any time, in any denomination. We do not hold aloof from anybody. Why do we not go to a cathedral and hold meetings? They have not asked us to. Why not go to the Episcopal church? They have not asked us. Why not go to the Baptist church? They have not asked us either. We ask all in and try to have our meetings in public places, which will be free to people of all denominations. For instance, we have this beautiful hall until July 20th, and Jews and Gentiles, and people of all denominations have a full right to come here, and feel that they are invited. We do not hold aloof. Any aloofness is on the other side, I think. We say to people of all denominations, "Come with us, and you do not need to join anything."
I.B.S.A.--Re New Denomination.
QUESTION (1913)--2--Does the I.B.S.A. pretend that it is the only true church? Are you trying to build up a new denomination?
ANSWER.--The one true Church, dear friends, is the church of the Bible. There never has been but that one true Church. All others are false, and if I built up another church I would be building up another false one. That is not our proposition at all. The I.B.S.A. holds out the proposition which the Bible stands for, namely, that all people who are trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ, and consecrated to follow in his steps, are of the church of the living God whose names are written in heaven. The I.B.S.A. recognizes no other church. It does not say that only those in the I.B.S.A. constitute the church. It recognizes that all true Christians in the various churches should be awake, and we are trying to awaken them to the truth. The I.B.S.A. recognizes that these true Christian people are in danger of falling into infidelity, unless they get the true light of God's Word, and so is trying to bring all Christian people to study the Bible, and thus into complete union as the church of Christ.
I.B.S.A.-Why Leave Nominal Church to Join it?
QUESTION (1914)--3--If I am in harmony with Present Truth, as presented by Brother Russell, but live consistent in a church for years, what would I gain by coming out into the I.B.S. Association?
ANSWER.--Shall I say they would gain a fortune, that it would be the making of your business, or entrance into society? What shall I tell him? I think he would gain a good conscience. Why, are there no good Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists, Lutherans or Catholics? Yes, verily. I believe there is nobody in this world stands on a broader foundation than the I.B.S.A. No other class of people who recognize all that are saints of God regardless of denominational lines more thoroughly than we. [Q349]
Why should anybody leave the nominal church and join the I.B.S.A. In the first place, you cannot join the I.B.S.A. in the same way you join anything else. You simply can't keep out. They won't need to receive you in. You become a Bible student just as soon as you become free. The difficulty all along was that your mind was fettered and you did not know how to study the Bible, and you were afraid of it, and just as soon as you get free you are an I.B.S.A member.
Now you say, why could I not just as well stay where I am? It is not for me to decide for you. If you think you hear the voice of God telling you to stay where you are, then by all means follow God's voice; but to some of us the matter is this way. (You see I am leaving this broad and open to each man's conscience whether you remain in the nominal church or get out. I have not a word to say in deciding anybody's course.) All I have to say is this: As long as I would remain a Catholic, for instance, I would be understood by all of my neighbors and friends to be a supporter of and a believer in the doctrine of the Catholic church. If my mind got out of accord with any of their teachings it would be my duty to the Catholic church to withdraw from it as one who could not honestly represent it, and in honesty to myself I should withdraw. Why? Because I could no longer go to the people and say I am altogether satisfied. I would not longer believe its doctrines. For that matter I believe very few Presbyterians believe the Presbyterian creeds, and other churches the same; so, if they would all apply that same rule I am afraid all of the different churches would be depopulated at once and lose their membership, because people would say, I no longer believe that creed and can no longer stay in and be honest with myself, with God or with my fellowmen.
What then would happen? It would be splendid. How? If all would do that they would all come together and there would be nothing but Christians. Then what would they be? I.B.S.A.'s.
I.B.S.A.--Re Soliciting, Praying For, Accepting Funds.
QUESTION (1914)--1--Pastor Russell. My Dear Sir:--I am much interested in your great philanthropy, and will be pleased if I may be privileged to have some part in it also. Can you use, and are you willing to accept, the enclosed check to assist in the work? If so, I will be pleased to have you use it in whatever way may be deemed advisable to you.
I might say, my dear brethren and sisters, that although no money is ever solicited, all the money that is used is donated, and as a rule, those who give to the work are not very wealthy people. But very many people having had their own souls blessed feel as though they wanted to do something to give the blessings to others, and so they will hand in some money, in this form, and sometimes in another form, desiring that it shall be used in some way.
For instance, when I was at Asbury Park one day an envelope was handed to me and I had not time to open it so just put it in my pocket; but I was talking to a reporter sometime afterwards, and he was asking about the work, how supported, etc., and I explained to him that it [Q350] was by voluntary donations; that I had been in this work forty years, yet we never had taken up a collection at any time, and whatever money the Lord provided was used to the best of our ability and judgment and as wisely as we knew how, the Lord being asked for wisdom to use the money of His own providing to His own praise, and that it keeps coming gradually, and that we never solicit it from the people nor ask God for it. Now that would seem very strange to some that we would not pray for money and tell the Lord how much or how little was in the treasury. But my dear friends, we have a God that knows all about the treasury, and what is the use of telling Him. He knows the account better than I do. I am not going to tell God how much He ought to put into the work. Let Him attend to that part. Whatever comes into our care is our stewardship and supervision. There our responsibility begins. Use it wisely and well and so it will gratify the Lord.
I said to the reporter: That is the rule we follow, and when God ceases to provide the money the work would decline in that proportion, for we would not ask, but would use whatever He sends. The reporter seemed somewhat doubtful, and I said, "I do not know but what I may have something in my pocket now." I pulled out some letters and found this one and said, "Here is one I have not examined," and I opened it and found five $20.00 bills in it. He looked with bulging eyes. All that it said on the envelope was, For the dear Photo Drama, from a sister. That was all. But it tells the story, dear brethren and sisters, and so we thank this dear brother and will try to use this money wisely to the Master's praise.
QUESTION (1915)--l--Is it showing the spirit of Babylon to co-operate in methods promulgated from I. B. S. A. headquarters, Brooklyn, without closely scrutinizing those methods?
ANSWER.--I would think that each one would have to use his own judgment about this matter. If anybody had been very badly "stung" he should be very much on his guard. If he had not been "stung" he would properly not be so much on his guard. It is quite right to use your own judgment about the matter. So far as the headquarters at Brooklyn is concerned, and my own identification with the work there, let me say: everything is under my supervision. Nothing emanates from there contrary to my conscience. But you must use your consciences. While there are many wise and capable brethren at the Brooklyn office, yet by present arrangement they are my assistants under my general supervision as long as I live. That was the arrangement made when I turned my property over to the Society, years ago. This applies also to the Society's work in foreign lands.
I.B.S.A.--True Definition of Babylon.
ANSWER.--I think if the I.B.S.A. can be shown to be a section of Babylon, we all ought to get out of it. If we all get out on the same side, where shall we be then? I think we shall be pretty close together if all get out on the same side.
The word "Babylon" signifies "confusion," and in Rev. 18:4, it is used in reference to mixing the things of God and of men. There was a time when, throughout Europe, the kingdoms came very much under the influence of the Roman Catholic Church. To some extent those kingdoms came under the influence of Christianity--to the extent that there was Christianity in the Roman Catholic Church.
It is well to emphasize that there was a time when the Roman Catholic Church was the only church in the world, and when the people knew no better than to be in it and of it. Where would they have been otherwise? Then there came a time when the church officials, those who were high in the church management, succeeded in coming into affiliation with the Roman Empire; and the Roman Church became its successor. Then the Church of Rome began to sway the nations and to tell the people of this or that principality, "Your king is not in harmony with us. You can select another one." Then there would be a revolution. The Pope and the Catholic Church were back of these changes. That is the way it began. There is where the illicit marriage of the nominal church and the world took place.
In many European nations this has now been gradually changed. In some the church and the state are completely separated. But this change has not been made in Austro-Hungary. The people are strictly under the control of the Roman Catholic Church. The church has to do with everything. In Great Britain, the representatives of the church of England sit in Parliament, as part of the government. The church bishops are members of the House of Lords. In Germany and Sweden, it is very much the same. Their government and God's government are linked together in the minds of the people.
This state of things God calls Babylon--the professed Church of Christ being married to worldly governments. These have been called Christian governments by mistake. They are not Christian. Look at the present conditions in Europe. The governments at war are not manifesting the Spirit of Christ. There are Christians in all these governments, but the governments themselves are not Christian. The nominal church has been responsible for this state of things. The situation has so warped men's minds that they think their present course the right one. They think that Christ is now reigning. In their minds the reigning kings and the parliament represent God on earth. The Lord would have us separate from all this.
There is another way in which the spirit of Babylon manifests itself; as, for instance, in the Protestant churches-Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, etc. They pander to the worldly spirit. They take note of the rich, trying to work in with the rich and get the rich into positions in the church. Thus they recognize money above spirituality. In many cases money runs the church. That is not the basis under which the true Church operates. There is a system in connection with all of them, even in the Baptist church, the most liberal of all. [Q352]
The Baptists will say, "We are in no bondage; we have no ecclesiastical control at all." They do not realize that the spirit of Babylon has gotten into the church. Suppose we have here a congregation of Baptists. As a congregation they call their own minister and attend to their own affairs. A certain minister, then, Brother A., is called to serve them. But he must be ordained as pastor of this congregation. So they send for some other Baptist ministers--say Brother B., Brother C., and Brother D. to ordain him. But Brother A. does not stand in very well with the ministers called to do the ordaining. So they say, "We will not ordain Brother A.; he is irregular." And the congregation ask, "You cannot ordain him?" Then they reply, "We have nothing at all against Brother A., but we will not ordain him." So you see the preachers have the rule, and the people do not know it.
The Baptists will tell you the preachers have no authority at all. But the Baptists cannot do a thing without the consent of the preachers; this they do not seem to know. The preachers hold a power that God did not repose there. God never authorized any men to go and ordain another men to preach the Gospel. God does the ordaining; and it is for the church to decide, according to its best judgment, whom the Lord ordains or calls as a pastor. All this ordination by men is Babylonish, a species of machinery to manage the people. It is all worked just like politics.
Nevertheless, the Baptists are the nearest free, of all so-called "orthodox" sects. The people in the Methodist church have almost no liberty, except the privilege of giving money. That is the principal liberty they enjoy. The bishops rule in co-operation with the presiding elders. At each annual conference the presiding elder and the bishop have it fixed what minister is to go here and what one there. The minister that does not stand by the presiding elder will go to the country place which pays only $400; while the one who does stand by him, though no more capable, will be sent to a place that pays $1,000 or more. I have had several Methodist ministers tell me this. They complain about it, but do not want to get out of a job altogether. That is not the liberty wherewith Christ makes free. I realize that this is a system. Let me show you what a system it is. The bishops control the presiding elders, and under them the presiding elders control the preachers; and so it is all the way down to the class leaders They have their head or chief amongst them. They have a human head. The General Conference is the highest authority.
So the Presbyterian church has a head in the way of a General Assembly which has the deciding of matters. All this is according to the course of this world. The simplicity of Christ is not generally observed, except amongst the friends of the International Bible Students' Association. There it is very general, and the Word of God is observed. They learn to take notice when things are going wrong. The simplicity of the matter is evident to all.
On one occasion I was called upon by a minister of the Reformed church. He wanted to know how I managed my church I said to him, "Brother--, I have no church." He said, "You know what I mean." I answered, "I want you to know what I mean, too. We claim that there is only one Church. If you belong to that Church, you belong to [Q353] our Church." He looked at me in surprise. Then he said, "You have an organization; how many members are there?" I replied, "I cannot tell; we do not keep any membership rolls." "You do not keep any list of the membership?" "No. We do not keep any list; their names are written in heaven." He asked, "How do you have your election?" I said, "We announce an election; and any or all of God's people, who are consecrated and are accustomed to meet with this company, or congregation, may have the privilege of expressing their judgment of who would be the Lord's preference for elders and deacons of the congregation." "Well," he said, "that is simplicity itself." I then added, "We pay no salaries; there is nothing to make people quarrel. We never take up a collection." "How do you get the money?" he asked. I replied, "Now, Dr.-- , if I tell you what is the simplest truth you will hardy be able to believe it. When people get interested in this way, they find no basket placed under their nose. But they see there are expenses. They say to themselves, 'This hall costs something, and I see that free lunch is served between meetings, for those living at some distance. How can I get a little money into this thing, anyway?' " He looked at me as if he thought "What do you take me for--a greenhorn?" I said, "Now, Dr.--, I am telling you the plain truth. They do ask me this very question, 'How can I get a little money into this cause?' When one gets a blessing and has any means, he wants to use it for the Lord. If he has no means, why should we prod him for it?"
There would be nothing to come out of, as an organization, if one is an International Bible Student. You cannot get out of anything you have not gone into. If anyone can tell me how he got into Babylon by getting interested in the affairs of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, let him show me how he will jump out, and I will jump with him.
ISRAEL--Third With Egypt and Assyria.
QUESTION (1906)--1--Please explain Isa. 19:24: "In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land."
ANSWER.--This is a picture, we believe, in the future. Prophecies that are not yet fulfilled are not expected to be clearly and forcibly seen in all their details. In what way Israel is going to be one with these others is not very clear yet; but the Lord not only speaks of the three here but He speaks also of Egypt, Sodom and Israel in the book of Ezekiel, pointing out that a blessing shall be given to all three of these. Our Lord seems to have given prophecy more to be understood after it is fulfilled; and so you will find the prophecies relating to Christ were not understood until after they were fulfilled, and nearly all the prophecies relating to the second coming of Christ were not seen until they were fulfilled.
QUESTION (1909)--2--(Isa. 11:12.) "And He shall set up an ensign for the nations and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth." To whom is the Prophet referring when speaking of the outcasts of Israel, and the dispersed of Judah? [Q354]
ANSWER.--You remember, dear friends, there was a time in the history of the twelve tribes when they were divided, the ten tribes being known as Israel, and the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, called Judah. The ten tribes went into captivity and later the two tribes. After a long time, God arranged that Cyrus should make the proclamation that whosoever desired to return to his own country could do so, and the record is that some of all tribes went back to Palestine, but most of them were from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and from that time on they were all known as "all Israel." Our Lord, when speaking of Israel, recognized the fact that those living in Jerusalem represented the whole twelve tribes. Our Lord said in one place, Matt. 10:5,6: "Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not, for I am not sent save unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel." We are not to fall into the mistake that some do that the ten tribes are lost somewhere in the world. No, they were lost for the reason that when they were taken captives to Babylon, they mixed with the people there to such an extent that they lost their relationship as Israelites. Now we come down to the present time; those whom we know as Jews belong mostly to the house of Judah, but some to all. Furthermore, we are to remember that any Jew who neglected circumcision was no longer considered a member of that nation. The people who mingled with the Babylonians back there were not longer considered Israelites from God's standpoint. Today the people who practice circumcision and are called Israel are called Jews. Now we have the matter up to date. What shall we say of the dispersed of Judah and the outcasts of Israel? I would suppose that this was a statement to cover all Israel, not merely the two tribes, but to guard against any misunderstanding, both are included.
Just so when speaking of the New Covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. Not as though there were two houses, but so that those who were living at that day would know that the blessing would be not to the two tribes, nor to the ten tribes, but to all. That is my supposition. Cast-off and dispersed mean practically the same. He is going to count them all in as one nation.
QUESTION (1909)--1--Kindly give us some idea regarding the Jews returning to Palestine, in what numbers are they returning, and is the land more productive than it used to be?
ANSWER.--The Jews are not going back very rapidly, but they are making ready to go back, and the land is becoming more productive. The prospects are that the new Turkish government, which has a kind of control over Palestine, will be more favorable to the Jews than the former Turkish government was, and so we look for something in that line before long.
You remember when we pointed out in the Dawns about the return of the Jews to Palestine, they themselves had not found it out. It is not coming as fast as we might have been inclined to expect. The Jews are to be re-established in Palestine, not that all the Jews that are in this country are going back, for many are better satisfied here. Those likely to go there are the ones called "orthodox"; and their [Q355] hearts are turning toward Jerusalem. No doubt but that when the land shall be open to them, then Russia will thrust them out of their country, and they will then go back in large numbers.