Modern Unwillingness to Hear God’s Message Leads to Calamity
1. (a) What advantages do people have today when it comes to hearing the truth? (b) Yet what mood are most people found to be in?
WHAT an advantage the world of mankind has today with the Word of God printed in many languages and distributed to the ends of the earth! And, in addition, Jehovah’s Christian witnesses of today are anxious and willing to come into the homes of the people of all nations and help them study and understand their own Bibles. But by far those people in Christendom are just like the people in the prophet Isaiah’s day; the more you speak to them about the goodness of God and the gift he gave to mankind in his Son, Christ Jesus, the more they prefer not to understand. Even though they see and hear Jehovah’s witnesses again and again, they refuse to get any knowledge. They do not want to! So, like Isaiah, true Christians preaching the only worthwhile message, “The kingdom of the heavens is at hand,” will “make the heart of this people unreceptive, and make their very ears unresponsive, and paste their very eyes together, that they may not see with their eyes and with their ears they may not hear, and that their own heart may not understand and that they may not actually turn back and get healing for themselves.”—Isa. 6:10.
2. Was the situation similar in Jesus’ time on earth?
2 When Jesus was on earth preaching, he said the same thing about the people of his day: “The heart of this people has grown thick.” (Matt. 13:13-15) A few, like the apostles, listened and did something about it, and “they followed him.” The twelve apostles, the seventy evangelizers, and the 120 at Pentecost, and Paul and thousands of other Jews became active Christians in those early days of Christianity. These delighted to do the will of their God Jehovah and walk in the footsteps of Christ Jesus. But how about the millions upon millions of so-called Christians today? Are their ears and eyes shut?
3. (a) Looking at Christendom today, do we find the faith in God’s Word Jesus had? (b) How do many feel about the Bible’s moral code?
3 Christendom of this twentieth century says that it is the follower of Christ Jesus, but do you believe it is? Listen to, and read, if you will, about the so-called representatives of Christ Jesus. They certainly do not show the faith in the Word of God that Jesus showed. Today many of the leaders of Christendom want to speak of their own originality and are drawing the greater number of people away from the faith in true Christianity, the faith that Jehovah God lives and faith in God’s Son, Christ Jesus. They try to make the great message that Jesus taught concerning the kingdom of the heavens as of no account. And as for the Bible’s moral code, they would make it as no guide for man today. The Pensacola Journal of Friday, December 3, 1965, reported: “The winds of change sweeping through the Roman Catholic Church are also buffeting the house of Protestantism. Frighteningly for many Protestants, the basic tenets of the Christian faith are being questioned—not by hard-core atheists but by theologians. For want of a better phrase, the new school of Christian humanism has become known as the ‘God is Dead’ movement.”
4. What does it appear that some theologians think about God?
4 We would like to ask: How can these theologians say that they are Christians, or even represent Christianity? Or, for that matter, how can there be a religion if there is no God or if God is dead? Some theologians think that by the flip of the tongue they can kill God, get rid of him, and wipe out the Bible, God’s Book, where we learn what men have said to God and what God has said to them. Christian men and women with faith in their Creator, God, will not agree with Thomas J. J. Altizer, associate professor of religion at Atlanta’s Emory University, a Methodist-owned school, who says, as also reported in the Pensacola Journal of December 3, 1965: “We must recognize that the death of God is a historical event.”
5, 6. (a) What interesting information does Webster’s New International Dictionary present for consideration by those who would do away with God? (b) What does the same source say in defining “God”?
5 Such theologians strongly encourage men and women who at one time may have had faith in God and in his beloved Son, Christ Jesus, to discard the Bible and make up their own religion, develop their own belief and do this without a God. They had better call it something other than religion, because Webster’s New International Dictionary (1927 edition) says concerning religion: “The outward act or form by which men indicate their recognition of the existence of a god, or of gods having power over their destiny, to whom obedience, service and honor are due; the feeling or expression of human love, fear, or awe of some superhuman, overruling power, whether by profession of belief, by observance of rites and ceremonies, or by the conduct of life; a system of faith and worship; a manifestation of piety.”
6 Under the heading, God, this same dictionary says: “The Supreme Being; the eternal and infinite Spirit, Creator and Sovereign of the universe; Jehovah. ‘God is a spirit and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24).’” It also says: “A being of more than human attributes and powers; especially, a superhuman person, conceived as dominating nature . . . and to whom worship is due and acceptable.”
7, 8. (a) What should the “God is dead” theologians be honest enough to admit? (b) What might the adherents of such movement well come to worship and believe?
7 These theologians who think they have killed God by teaching their theory should admit they are no longer representing a religion and that they are trying to destroy the worship of all people toward the true God of the universe. They have nothing to worship except themselves, and they surely are no gods. So if there is nothing to worship, there is no religion.
8 If anyone is going to practice religion he must believe in God; otherwise it is not a religion. Why not close down all the churches that have ministers who believe God is dead, because they surely do not want their parishioners to believe in God? Maybe their parishioners will turn to ancestor worship or self-worship, or perhaps they are gradually turning their minds over to the Buddhist religion, where people hope eventually to gain nirvana, the great nothing which they believe is God. Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary (1961 edition) defines “nirvana”: “The dying out in the heart of passion, hatred, and delusion. This emancipation involves a beatific spiritual condition and freedom from the necessity of future transmigration. Oblivion to care, pain, or external reality.” Are we to believe we came from nothing and go back to nothing?
9-11. (a) What view does one theologian take of some Bible accounts? (b) What conclusion does one reach by carrying such arguments to their logical ends? (c) How does the apostle Paul outline the Christian view for us to follow?
9 Many of the leading religionists of Christendom are trying to destroy all faith in the Great God of the universe and in his written Word. One example of this is an Associated Press wire of February 13, 1961. It attributes this statement to the auxiliary Episcopal Bishop of California, the “Right Reverend” James A. Pike: “He spoke of the ‘myth of the Garden of Eden,’ which he said has value in explaining what he called the ‘complicated truth’ of the nature of man but added: ‘Yet I do not know a single member of the Anglican Communion—Bishop, Presbyter, Deacon or Layman—who believes this story literally.’ Continuing, in a pastoral letter which he ordered all rectors and vicars of his diocese to read today, he described the virgin birth as a myth which churchmen should be free to accept or reject.”
10 If there was no creation of man and woman in the garden of Eden and the Great God of the universe, Jehovah, had nothing to do with putting man here, then there was no sin to be taken away by the second Adam, Jesus Christ. There was no need of a redeemer and the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. However, the apostle Paul did not agree with or teach this present-day skepticism. He was a great Christian evangelizer, a man of faith who said: “For, indeed, Christ, while we were yet weak, died for ungodly men at the appointed time.” (Rom. 5:6) He knew that mankind needed a redeemer to save them from sin and death. That is why he said: “Just as through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned.” (Rom. 5:12) But he also preached: “I have hope toward God, which hope these men themselves also entertain, that there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Acts 24:15) Do you believe these things? If you do, you will not agree with clergymen who say that they know which parts of the Bible are myth and which are not. If Paul were here today he would say: “Let God be found true, though every man be found a liar.”—Rom. 3:4.
11 Paul believed there was an Adam who violated God’s law in the garden of Eden, and he knew there was a need for a ransom sacrifice in order to take away the sin of the world, and he believed Christ Jesus was that one who did redeem man. So did all the apostles and the faithful followers of Christ Jesus back there 1,900 years ago. The question is, Do you?
12, 13. How do two clergymen view the Bible, as reported by newspapers in Ottawa, Canada, and Buffalo, New York?
12 What do some of your clergymen say? “A rector told the government of the Anglican church of southern England Thursday the Old Testament contains passages of ‘spiritual junk’ and ‘poison’ for the people. Reverend J. C. Wansey of Woodford, near London, called the attention of the Convocation of Canterbury to some of the lessons set down for reading in church for daily use and on Sundays.” (Reported from London by Reuters in the Ottawa Citizen of Friday, May 10, 1963.)
13 The Buffalo Courier Express of August 13, 1962, had a headline that read: “Minister Cites Need to Censor the Bible.” The article reads, in part: “London (AP). Dr. Leslie Weatherhead, former president of the Methodist Conference, would like to censor the Bible. In an interview with correspondents of three London newspapers, he said he would like to go through the Bible and ‘be very free with a blue pencil. . . . His main target was the Old Testament, which he described as ‘completely outmoded.’”
14. Give the substance of a report from the Dallas Morning News about the concern of many Protestant laymen regarding the Bible.
14 The lack of faith in the Bible on the part of the clergy of Christendom is very noticeable. Mike Engleman, editorial staff writer of the Dallas Morning News, expressed himself in his column on Tuesday, May 31, 1966: “Within the United Presbyterian Church is a new organization called the Presbyterian Lay Committee—and behind it lies a fundamental worry of Protestant laymen throughout America: Is the Bible being stressed enough? Is there too much talk from the pulpit these days on social questions and politics, and not enough on the word of God? Declared one prominent Dallas Presbyterian layman recently: ‘Most ministers are so misguided, so completely off base and so full of liberal and humanistic thought that they are proving more worthless to their parishioners each day.’” He went on to say in this article: “Modern man today is taking the Bible apart, discarding what it wishes to discard in the Hebrew Scriptures, and in the Greek Scriptures and so they will adjust God’s moral code or law to please themselves.”
15-17. (a) To what extreme viewpoint have clergymen gone in their thoughts about morals and immorality? (b) What guiding principle in these matters does the apostle Paul give us?
15 This statement is so true. Prominent clergymen of Christendom are destroying the people’s belief in the Bible. Is it a myth to you and do you think the Bible’s code for moral conduct is outmoded? Are you gradually being weakened in your faith to a point where you will agree with such men as “Reverend” John W. Wood, a minister of the United Church of Christ, a body formed in the United States by a union of Congregational, Evangelical and Reformed churches, who said: “Homosexual love may reach a sacramental level and thus become as moral as heterosexual behavior. Is it proper for two of the same sex to enter the institution of marriage? This is an important question to which I must reply ‘Yes’”? (Toronto Star of June 15, 1963) Of course, the “Reverend” John W. Wood is in full agreement with the Archbishop of Canterbury in this matter of homosexuality. The Associated Press gives this report from London, with the headline: “Cleric Asks Homosexual Legalization.” “The Archbishop of Canterbury joined other members of the British House of Lords Wednesday in urging the legalization of homosexual practices between adult males.”
16 Of course, these clergymen of Christendom think that, if they can stamp the immoral acts of man in the law books as lawful, that will make it moral even though it is contrary to God’s moral law. The apostle Paul would not agree with the Archbishop, because Paul wrote: “What! Do you not know that unrighteous persons will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be misled. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men kept for unnatural purposes, nor men who lie with men . . . will inherit God’s kingdom.” (1 Cor. 6:9-11; Rom. 1:24-32; Lev. 18:22) Why do you not follow the advice in God’s Word? It says: “Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins.”—Rev. 18:4.
17 The Associated Press dispatch from Vancouver, B.C., of May 11 informs us: “A bishop of the church of England has said he believes there are circumstances when sexual intercourse outside marriage is not immoral. Such a circumstance could occur with a couple seriously contemplating marriage, the Rt. Rev. Wilfred A. Westall, Bishop of Crediton, Devon, England, told an interviewer. He said he could not condone promiscuity. ‘I don’t think that just because a boy and girl have had premarital intercourse they are unfit for marriage.’” Of course, clergymen of Christendom with this view do not agree with the apostle Paul who said: “Neither fornicators . . . nor adulterers . . . will inherit God’s kingdom.” Paul constantly admonished Christians to “flee from fornication.”—1 Cor. 6:18.
18. Whom should we look to for guidance in living upright lives?
18 There is plenty of evidence to read that shows that the clergy of Christendom are guiding the minds of the people away from the Word of God, the Bible. Here we find the teachings of Christ Jesus, which are the expressions of his Father’s will. Jehovah God the Sovereign Ruler of the universe knows what is the best course for man to follow. He created man and gave him the correct moral code to live by. By their not following God’s Word, look at the delinquent state men are in today.
19, 20. How was Isaiah’s day much like Jesus’ day and our day?
19 The situation is very similar to that existing in the prophet Isaiah’s day. Isaiah was a vigorous, faithful servant of God. He desired to prove his loyalty to his God when asked: “Whom shall I send?” Isaiah said: “Here I am! Send me.” Jehovah told Isaiah: “Go, and you must say to this people, ‘Hear again and again, O men, but do not understand; and see again and again, but do not get any knowledge.’” (Isa. 6:8, 9) Isaiah, by his preaching and continually going to the people, certainly proved to “this people” that they did not want to understand. They did not want to have ears that would listen. The people were too self-centered, too selfish to want to understand. People forced themselves not to hear. They did not want news that disturbed their way of life. So they kept their eyes shut and their ears deaf.
20 The same things were true in Jesus’ day. The Jews had become a delinquent nation. They were forgetting their God. John the Baptist tried to get them to repent. Some did, and Christ Jesus opened their hearts and minds to the truth. But it seems that the more he spoke to them about the real life the more people would close their eyes, and they would not hear. When there were loaves and fishes with which to feed them, multitudes followed Jesus; but, finally, even after Pentecost of 33 C.E. only three thousand showed faith in him. Jesus explained to his disciples what was happening due to his talking to the people:
21. What did Jesus say the attitude of people would be?
21 “This is why I speak to them by the use of illustrations, because, looking, they look in vain, and hearing, they hear in vain, neither do they get the sense of it; and toward them the prophecy of Isaiah is having fulfillment, which says, ‘By hearing, you will hear but by no means get the sense of it; and, looking, you will look but by no means see. For the heart of this people has grown thick, and with their ears they have heard with annoyance, and they have shut their eyes; that they might never see with their eyes and hear with their ears and get the sense of it with their hearts and turn back, and I heal them.’”—Matt. 13:13-15.
22. (a) Nevertheless, did Isaiah or Jesus quit preaching? Will Jehovah’s witnesses today? (b) How do the majority of people feel about Jehovah’s witnesses’ calling at their doors?
22 What an obstinate people they were with such a fine teacher! But Jesus did not stop preaching, even as Isaiah did not. This prophecy is being fulfilled today, for this same situation exists with Christian witnesses of Jehovah. They still go from house to house, city to city, country to country declaring the good news of God’s kingdom, but not too many people have an ear to hear. Even so, Jehovah’s witnesses will do what Jesus said, preach the good news of the kingdom “in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” (Matt. 24:14) A few people out of billions living are thirsting for truth and righteousness and are listening to the Word of God, and they believe. But the vast majority of mankind feel that this calling by Jehovah’s witnesses at their doors regularly is not worthy of their time, and they ‘hear with annoyance.’ The more Jehovah’s witnesses speak to them concerning the Word of God, doing this in all sincerity, the less the people want to hear.
23. How long will the people prove unresponsive to the preaching of Jehovah’s witnesses?
23 Jehovah’s witnesses have asked God in prayer: ‘How long must this unresponsive condition of the people toward the message of God’s kingdom continue on, for they do not have ears to hear and their hearts have grown thick?’ But they always get the same answer from God, namely, that the people will refuse to hear and soften their hearts till calamity comes, ‘until the cities crash in ruin and the houses have no inhabitants.’ So Jehovah’s witnesses keep right on calling despite the unresponsive ears.
24. What view do Christendom’s clergy have toward Jehovah’s witnesses?
24 Many, in fact, most, of the clergy, the priests, the bishops of Protestant, Greek Orthodox and Catholic religions, which make up Christendom, along with all the other so-called Christian organizations, have taken a definite stand against the work of Jehovah’s witnesses because they are so zealous in preaching God’s kingdom as the only hope for mankind. Listen to what Greece’s Orthodox Primate, Archbishop Chrysostomos, has to say about Jehovah’s witnesses: “The Greek Orthodox Church regard the members of this heresy as enemy No. 1. . . . We have repeatedly appealed to the authorities to intervene and prosecute or arrest those of them who engage in proselytism.” (New York Times, Monday, August 22, 1966) Talk of this kind by the leading clergymen, along with talk that God is dead and the Bible is a myth by the different divisions of Christendom, shows that they are trying to kill the preaching of true Christianity.
25, 26. (a) What personal questions are now asked of readers of this magazine? (b) What does Paul say on the matter of those preached to about the truth of God’s Word, and thus what can logically be asked of all?
25 Where do you readers stand? Will you listen to what the Christian witnesses of Jehovah have to say or will you make your ears unresponsive and paste your eyes together so you cannot see and your heart cannot understand the Bible? Just what kind of a Christian or person are you? Are most of you so self-satisfied with conditions in this world that you have no time to study God’s Word so as to hear what God has to say about present conditions and the future? Paul found an indifferent attitude like that in this day. He tried diligently to preach the good news to all sorts of people, but it seems the more that he did the more people would not listen. That is why Paul said to Jewish unbelievers: “The holy spirit aptly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your forefathers, saying, ‘Go to this people and say: “By hearing, you will hear but by no means understand; and, looking, you will look but by no means see. For the heart of this people has grown unreceptive, and with their ears they have heard without response, and they have shut their eyes; that they should never see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn back, and I should heal them.”’”—Acts 28:25-27.
26 Is that the way most of the people want to be, not healed? Or do you want to know God’s will, be healed and gain life everlasting? If so, study your Bible with Jehovah’s witnesses.
27. Who is to blame for today’s situation in Christendom, and why?
27 The terrible situation existing in Christendom today is due to the clergy. They are responsible because they have turned the hearts and minds of their parishioners away from the true teaching of Jehovah God the Creator of man. Many religionists no longer believe in the need of the Redeemer, Jesus Christ, and now they are trying to make people believe that God is dead. Furthermore, they are trying to remove the fine high standard of morality set out in the Bible and make the Bible of no account. Is it any wonder, then, as Jehovah’s witnesses go from house to house, that they are having a hard time trying to establish the peoples’ faith in the Bible again? The majority of people today do not want to see the light of God’s message; so the people are pasting their eyes shut, and with their ears they no longer hear.
28. Why is it important that Jehovah’s witnesses continue preaching the Kingdom good news?
28 What are Jehovah’s witnesses going to do about it? Quit? Slow down? Not at all! Their eyes are not pasted shut and they have heard the call, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” From 1919 C.E. till now over a million of Jehovah’s witnesses have responded, and “they followed him.” It is very important that Jehovah’s witnesses continue to declare this good news of God’s kingdom, because, when the full end of this system of things comes, “this people” who do not hear will have put themselves in such a definite position against God that “they may not hear, and that their own heart may not understand and that they may not actually turn back and get healing for themselves.” (Isa. 6:10) They do not want to be healed, even if healing were offered to them on a golden platter. Christendom has hardened its heart against God. People want this world, and they think they can preserve it by loving and showing affection for the United Nations organization.
29. What is Satan the Devil’s purpose at this time, and who help him in this work?
29 The clergy of Christendom are helping to gather the kings of the entire inhabited earth together to the “war of the great day of God the Almighty.” (Rev. 16:14) The Devil, who is “the god of this system of things,” along with his demons will see to it that mankind in the great majority will line itself up on the side of the unholy organizations of the world and that he has gathered them together “to the place that is called in Hebrew Har–Magedon.” (Rev. 16:16) Surely those who refuse to hear the message of God’s kingdom and put faith in Jehovah God and his Word now are hardening their hearts so much that they will not be able to turn back, but will be completely destroyed when “the cities actually crash in ruins, to be without an inhabitant.” (Isa. 6:11) Why not break away from Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion, and study God’s written Word?
30, 31. (a) How did one clergyman feel about certain kinds of emotional evangelistic preaching carried on in England? (b) What is it time for peoples of all nations to do?
30 The religious leaders of Christendom seldom agree among themselves as to how the wonderful message of Christ is to be presented to the people of Christendom. Even high-ranking church officials admit that evangelistic methods employed by some are not having much success. The New York Times of Wednesday, September 28, 1966, made this report: “Billy Graham Evangelism Deplored by Canterbury, Vancouver B.C., Sept. 27 (AP)—The Rev. Dr. Michael Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury, said yesterday that the Christian church needs some updating, but not the type practiced by the Rev. Billy Graham. ‘The recent Graham crusade in England won some converts, yet it made no significant changes in basic English religious habits,’ Dr. Ramsey said after stepping off a plane from Kamloops. ‘The Billy Graham type of evangelism is not the kind we need in these trying times. We need an intellectual, thoughtful approach—not bursts of emotionalism.’ Asked if the church is out of date, the Archbishop replied: ‘Not generally speaking. I have seen that in both Canada and England there are aspects that are antiquated, others that are virile and growing. In many cases, there is less conventional churchgoing yet stronger convictions among those who do go.’”
31 It is good to hear that the Archbishop admits that these are “trying times” in which we live. But he also points out that his fellow workers are not doing much to help the situation with their “bursts of emotionalism.” It is interesting to note that he says Billy Graham won ‘some converts, but made no significant change in basic English religious habits.’ The Archbishop’s observations of England and Canada are that there are ‘aspects in the church that are antiquated.’ This is undoubtedly true. Their doctrines and theories are based on creeds brought over from heathen religions that existed from even before the time of Christ. If the updating of religion is what other clergymen are doing by calling many parts of the Bible a myth and by saying that we must accommodate the present generation, then the Bible standard is no longer satisfactory to such clergymen. With such thinking, is there any wonder that most people are no longer going to church? Why should there be churchgoing when all one gets there are men’s theories, such as God is dead, the ransom sacrifice of Jesus is of no value and the Bible is not the Word of God? This is the time for peoples of all nations to wake up, tear away from false teachers and listen to the message of Christ Jesus and his true Christian witnesses of Jehovah who believe the Word of God and are happy to spend time teaching God’s Word to others.
RESPOND TO THE CALL
32. How can one who wants to love and serve God do so, and what help is offered by Jehovah’s witnesses?
32 If you still have a love for God and believe he lives and have a desire to know the truth as set out in his written Word, then study it. Remember, Jesus taught his apostles for some time before “they followed him.” But when they learned they responded. Christ Jesus then made them “fishers of men.” Jehovah’s witnesses are happy to arrange home Bible studies with anyone who is seeking the truth from God’s Word. If you are not already studying with one of Jehovah’s witnesses or attending the Kingdom Hall meetings with Jehovah’s witnesses, then for your own good get in touch with them. If you cannot find someone to teach you, write to the Watch Tower Society, 117 Adams Street, Brooklyn, New York, and we will arrange for someone to conduct a Bible study with you in your own home. Now is the time to learn about God and his will concerning you.
33, 34. How do Jehovah’s witnesses feel about the ministry, and for how long do they desire to preach about God’s Word?
33 Jehovah’s witnesses know the call was not to follow Jesus in his ministry for a short duration. Yet, they feel like Isaiah, who said: “Here I am! Send me.” He was not sent for a short period of time, but had to keep preaching for the rest of his life despite the unresponsiveness of his own people.
34 How long do Jehovah’s witnesses think they must serve Jehovah God so as to gain life everlasting? Is it for just a few years of their lives? No! They want to serve like the apostles and the early Christians who followed Christ Jesus, and that meant being faithful until death. They want to work and continue to “catch men” and gather them together into God’s congregation so they, too, can follow Christ Jesus and bring eternal praise and honor to the Creator of man, Jehovah God. No finer work than being a minister of God has ever been offered to any human creature. Seize it! Do not be like the man to whom Jesus said: “Be my follower.” The man said: “Permit me first to leave and bury my father.” But he said to him: “Let the dead bury their dead, but you go away and declare abroad the kingdom of God.” And still another said: “I will follow you, Lord; but first permit me to say good-by to those in my household.” Jesus said to him: “No man that has put his hand to a plow and looks at the things behind is well fitted for the kingdom of God.” After these things “the Lord designated seventy others and sent them forth by twos in advance of him into every city and place to which he himself was going to come. Then he began to say to them: ‘The harvest, indeed, is great, but the workers are few. Therefore beg the Master of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest. Go forth. Look! I am sending you forth as lambs in among wolves.’” (Luke 9:59-62; 10:1-3) Would you not rejoice to be like the seventy others who followed him and were sent by the Master of the harvest? You still have time to do so.