The “Good News” of a World Without False Religion
“They will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. But anything not sacred and anyone that carries on a disgusting thing and a lie will in no way enter into it.”—Rev. 21:26, 27.
1. Who is the Archenemy of false religion, and how did he show his displeasure in false religion early in man’s history?
MAN started out without false religion. Man’s Creator is the Archenemy of false religion. Man never got false religion from Him. Man’s history, as far back as the records of man go, has been marked by religion. The record reveals that early in man’s history he got involved in false religion, that is, the worship of a false god. False worship in the earth was wiped out by its Archenemy by means of a global flood, the only survivors being worshipers of man’s Creator, the Archenemy of false religion. That was 1,656 years after man’s creation on the earth.
2. What happened after the flood of Noah’s day, proving what?
2 After that flood destroyed the false religionists, man got started again without false religion. Again, since then, man’s history has been dominantly marked by religion. Secular history and archaeology in all parts of the earth prove that fact, so that antireligious people cannot correctly say that man is not religious in his very makeup. However, both history and archaeology prove that man’s form of worship has been largely false religion. Thus, historical fact proves that man has had to have his religion to satisfy his natural craving, even if it was false religion.
3. What proves than man can do without false religion, and what will the Archenemy of false religion do soon?
3 Man can do without false religion. He did so at his very beginning about six thousand years ago. He did so immediately after the Flood of 2370-2369 B.C.E. He will do so again, and that shortly, in a new order of things introduced by the Archenemy of false religion, man’s Creator. The result will be a world of mankind without false religion, much to the pleasure and happiness of man’s Creator, the only living and true God. The everlasting benefits of such a new order will stand out in stark contrast with the conditions of the world of mankind in this time when false religion is coming to its grand climax. Is this not good news?
4. (a) Since there is a “false” religion, what else must there be? (b) Why is “false” religion’s prevalence over mankind soon to end?
4 When one speaks of “false” religion, it means that there is also a “true” religion, a true form of worship of man’s Creator, the Archenemy of false religion. From early after the Flood of more than four thousand three hundred years ago the true religion has been continually assaulted in order to wipe it out of existence. It is still under heavy assault, but today its assailant, false religion, is being assaulted as never before and its further prevalence over mankind will be very short. That is why the world without false religion is near and gets nearer all the time.
5. (a) What is the Communists’ view of all religion? (b) Yet what is the situation with true and false religion in the Russian Communist Republic?
5 Today false religion is being heavily attacked from many directions, and it is weakening. But attack from which direction will prove successful? That is, Which attack will not only destroy it but leave surviving mankind benefited for their lasting good? Will this be the attack by the so-called godless Communists that will thus succeed? The Communists find fault with the “good news” of a world without false religion; they want it to be a world without any religion at all. The leader of their revolution that took over Czarist Russia in the year 1917 C.E. said: “Religion is the opium of the people.” From experience with false religion, he and his fellow Bolsheviks could not conceive of a true religion, a pure religion with benefit to mankind. To them religion was religion, and it was all wrong, regardless of the existence of a correct, true religion. But after fifty years now of the Russian Communist Republic and its bitter antireligious campaign backed by the State, what is the situation there today? False religion still operates there openly in a number of denominational forms, but the Christian witnesses of Jehovah are driven underground.
6. (a) What questions are asked regarding the Communist effort to stamp out all religion, and what is the answer to all the questions? (b) To what have the people in Communist lands now turned?
6 Has this violent effort of the Communist Party in Russia to stamp out all religion brought them the “Paradise” that was promised to them not long ago by one of their now deposed leaders? Has it brought them real security against the steadily darkening future? Has it given the people a comforting hope of anything beyond the present life in this corrupt, oppressive system of things? The news out of that Communist land answers No! The majority of the people in whom it has destroyed all religious appreciation have been made the idolaters of a particular political system, the godless victims of selfish materialism and secularism.
7, 8. Define “secularism,” and tell to what kind of life it leads.
7 Secularism? Yes. It is a word that the Roman Catholic Hierarchy makes much of, rather than materialism. An exhaustive dictionary (Webster’s) defines secularism as “a view of life or of any particular matter based on the premise that religion and religious considerations should be ignored or purposely excluded”; but, more specifically, “a system of social ethics based upon a doctrine that ethical standards and conduct should be determined exclusively with reference to the present life and social well-being without reference to religion.”
8 In other words, a person should live just for the present, enjoying the good of this life as sufficient and adapting himself conveniently to the present and its standards with no regard for what religion of any kind has to say. Be concerned with this saeculum, this life, this age, and do not be concerned with the future to which religion refers. This leads to the attitude described by a first-century writer: “If the dead are not to be raised up, ‘let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we are to die.’” (1 Cor. 15:32) But what a life the secularist is now obliged to live, with no hope of the future!
9. What methods has Christendom used for centuries when sending her missionaries to the pagans or heathen?
9 Not yet has Christendom been knocked out by international communism, which considers her as a system of false religion. In her view of matters, Christendom herself has been carrying on an attack upon false religion. For centuries she has sent out her missionaries to lands that she has called heathen or pagan. To increase the membership of her church systems she has not stopped at using flame and sword in order to force the heathen to become baptized members of her organization. Take, for example, her slaughter of the native Indians of Central and South America, such as the Mayans, the Aztecs, and the Incas, because of their refusal to submit willingly to the Spanish conquistadors and get baptized into the church. Think of the military crusades against the Moslems in the Middle East, the crusades against the so-called heretics in Europe itself. But, in the end, what did this violent assault upon false religious worship accomplish?
ASSAULT BY CHRISTENDOM UNSUCCESSFUL
10. What efforts has Protestantism made to gain the heathen, but what has really been the case?
10 In more recent times Protestantism has sent out its missionaries using more peaceful means to gain the heathen, offering to them education and material benefits. But their assault on false religion has made little dent upon the heathen steeped in demon worship and rank idolatry. And what has really been the case is that one form of false religion has been trying to impose itself upon people of another form of false religion. This is true, for Christendom is really a disguised form of pagan religion, clothing itself with Christian garments but underneath holding fast to pagan religious beliefs and practices. This has really meant no actual destruction of false religion at all.
11. What false doctrines no more hold the interest of the people, and to what are people now looking instead of false religion?
11 Because Christendom has thus proved false to the Holy Bible that it has possessed so long, she herself is now under the attack by those who are pressing the assault upon false religion. More of the people around the earth are becoming too enlightened to swallow her false doctrines any longer, such as eternal torment of immortal human souls in a hell of literal fire and brimstone managed by devils, also an inexplainable trinity of three coequal persons in one God, the infallibility of the pope of Vatican City, the end of the world in a fire that destroys our earth and all the stars of the heavens, and other related doctrines that are mere traditions of uninspired men. Man is living today in what is styled the Brain Age of intellectualism, the Space Age, the Atomic Age. The men of science are making many discoveries and producing remarkable inventions, and the people are looking more to them than to the religious clergy of Christendom. Their theory of the evolution of man from the spontaneous generation of life in dead matter, a theory that denies a Creative God, is being taught everywhere as if it were the truth, a fact.
12. What is happening to Christendom, and how is she trying to strengthen her position?
12 Consequently, even Christendom is being battered by the forces and influences of this modern world with its widely accepted theories and philosophies, the change in viewpoint of the people regarding morals and conduct. Christendom, putting the traditional teachings and ceremonies of men ahead of the Bible, has no defense against these continual assaults from this Modern Age, and her religious stronghold is crumbling. As in all her past course of history, she continues to make compromises with this world. Divided into hundreds of religious sects, Christendom desperately seeks to strengthen her position and preserve herself by trying to unify all her religious denominations, believing that in unity there is strength.
13. Why is Christendom unable successfully to fight false religion, and why is her goal of world conversion unreachable?
13 Really pagan herself, Christendom has no real weapons with which to fight false religion and destroy it. Her teaching and her course of action make it plain that there is a difference between Christendom and true Christianity. Since her hundreds of millions of professed Christians are found to be “having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power,” how can Christendom successfully meet the attacks upon all false religion and prevail with the “power” of godly devotion? She cannot do so. For this reason her professed goal of wiping out all false religion by world conversion of all mankind to her religious organization is not being reached. Year after year, with the lessening rate of her conversions and with the world population steadily “exploding,” this goal of world conversion is getting farther and farther out of her reach. In the approaching world without false religion the credit will never be given to Christendom for having brought about that world of true religion. Even Christendom will not then exist. Salvation will not be by means of her.
14. Since Christendom and communism cannot successfully attack false religion, is there any organization that can, and, if so, is it received by Christendom and communism?
14 The more the results of their efforts are examined, the clearer it becomes that neither Christendom nor international godless communism is making a successful attack upon false religion, with good promise of finally extirpating it from the earth. It is true, as they may insist, that error has no right to exist. False religion has no right to exist. Yet by the permission of the divine Archenemy of false religion it does exist and poses a big problem for all lovers of truth and of pure worship. Is there, then, no one, no organization, that is conducting a successful assault on false religion for the liberation of the people? There should be, and there is! And all those who are fighting against all religion and who want to make this a world without any religion at all have been unable to destroy or even weaken this one particular religious organization. Almighty God, who is the Archenemy of all false religion, has protected and preserved it, to prove that there is a true religion and that he has a unified organization of true religion in the earth. What is it?
THE TRUE RELIGION
15. (a) Define what true religion is. (b) When did true religion get its start?
15 It was established in the first century of our Common Era centuries before Christendom got started. It was the organization to which a former resident of the town of Nazareth in Galilee wrote these words: “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”—Jas. 1:1, 26, 27, AV; AS; RS.
16, 17. (a) How do we know James was not writing to the natural, circumcised Jews as those having the pure religion? (b) How did Jesus Christ view the Jewish leaders when he walked the earth?
16 According to those opening words of greeting, was this James addressing himself to the natural circumcised Jews who were scattered about throughout the then known world and indicating that they had the pure and undefiled religion of God the heavenly Father and that they were the one organization of true religion? No! James, the “servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,” wrote his letter sometime before his death in the year 63 C.E. and hence years before the destruction of Jerusalem and her temple in the year 70 C.E. and before the carrying of the captive Jews into all known nations, in fulfillment of the prophecy of Jesus Christ, in Luke 21:20-24. True, the nation of natural circumcised Jews had once been favored with having the true religion of the day, but by the time that Jesus Christ came upon the Jewish stage of action the religious situation had changed. These Jews had been making some assault upon false idolatrous religion in foreign lands, but in early spring of the year 33 C.E. Jesus Christ at Jerusalem said to their religious leaders:
17 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you traverse sea and dry land to make one proselyte, and when he becomes one you make him a subject for Gehenna twice as much so as yourselves.”—Matt. 23:15.
18, 19. (a) According to Jesus Christ, why could not the Jews be converting people from pagan religion to the true religion? (b) How did Jesus show that as a nation Israel would be cut off as God’s channel for truth?
18 According to those words of Jesus Christ, those Jews could not have been converting people from pagan religion to the true religion, not when they make these converts twice as much subjects for destruction in Gehenna as they themselves were. Why was this so? Jesus supplied the answer when he said to the scribes and Pharisees: “Why is it you also overstep the commandment of God because of your tradition? . . . You hypocrites, Isaiah aptly prophesied about you, when he said, ‘This people honors me with their lips, yet their heart is far removed from me. It is in vain that they keep worshiping me, because they teach commands of men as doctrines.’” (Matt. 15:1-9; Isa. 29:13) Showing that this nation would be cast off from being God’s channel for truth and pure religion, Jesus Christ denounced its religious leaders just three days before the day they had him put to death at Jerusalem and he said:
19 “Serpents, offspring of vipers, how are you to flee from the judgment of Gehenna? . . . Truly I say to you, All these things will come upon this generation. Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the killer of the prophets and stoner of those sent forth to her,—how often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks together under her wings! But you people did not want it. Look! Your house is abandoned to you.”—Matt. 23:33-38.
20. (a) What positive proof have we that the nation of Israel was abandoned by God as his channel of truth? (b) To whom, then, was the disciple James writing when he mentioned “the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad?”
20 That this house or temple of theirs had really been abandoned to them was proved by its being destroyed by the Roman legions under General Titus in the year 70 C.E. (Matt. 24:1, 2) Since, now, this “house,” this temple of religion at Jerusalem, was abandoned by God, as announced by his Son Jesus Christ, it meant indeed that the nation of Israel worshiping at this house of religion was also abandoned by God from being any further his channel of truth and of correct religion. Logically, then, the disciple James, when addressing his letter to the “twelve tribes which are scattered abroad,” was not writing to the twelve tribes of the nation of natural, circumcised Israel. He was writing to spiritual Israel, Israel being the only nation made up of twelve tribes, so that the expression “the twelve tribes” stood for Israel. At God’s rejection of the ancient nation of natural, circumcised Israel, the spiritual Israel became God’s channel for religious truth and the up-to-date pure and undefiled religion. By refusing to accept the newly revealed truth and the pure, undefiled religion, the natural Israel took her stand with the Gentile pagan nations. Through the centuries she has been terribly persecuted by Christendom, but not by spiritual Israel.
21. (a) What is it hard for people today to believe? (b) How can we assure ourselves that true, revealed religion existed in the first century?
21 In the face of all the religious confusion for thousands of years, and especially today, it is hard for people to believe that there was ever a true religion or form of worship or that any organization ever had the true religion. Yet the true, revealed religion did exist in the first century of our Common Era and there was an organization that really had it. If that were not so, the disciple James could not have addressed himself to it by letter.
22. How did the apostle Paul show there was an organization of revealed truth?
22 His fellow disciple, the apostle Paul, wrote of this organization as having the truth and the true godly devotion and as thus practicing the true religion. In his first letter to Timothy, a young overseer in that organization, the apostle Paul identifies that organization of revealed truth and godly devotion. Paul said: “I am writing you these things, . . . that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in God’s household, which is the congregation of the living God, a pillar and support of the truth. Indeed, the sacred secret of this godly devotion is admittedly great: ‘He [that is, Jesus Christ] was made manifest in flesh, was declared righteous in spirit, appeared to angels, was preached about among nations, was believed upon in the world, was received up in glory.’ However, the inspired utterance says definitely that in later periods of time some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to misleading inspired utterances and teachings of demons.”—1 Tim. 3:14 to 4:1.
23. Why was there no uncertainty about the true, revealed religion in the days of the apostles, and of what can we be assured today?
23 There was no uncertainty about it: back there, nineteen centuries ago, that “congregation of the living God” had the truth, the religious truth, and it knew accurately the mystery or “sacred secret” of the true godly devotion that had not only the form but also the power of it. Hence, it could be the “pillar and support of the truth,” in the midst of a world of error and false religion. The fact that in later periods of time some who professed to be of the “congregation of the living God” fell away from the true faith and became apostates does not deny or disprove that the one and only organization of true religion did exist in the days of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ. If it existed back there amidst a world of false religion, it can exist today. It does exist. That “pillar and support of the truth” still stands in vindication of the “living God,” the Archenemy of false religion.
AN EXPANSIVE RELIGION
24. How was the congregation of spiritual Israel under a different command than natural Israel?
24 Only the one organization of religious truth and of pure, undefiled religion can successfully make an assault on false religion with benefit to the people, with promise of their everlasting salvation. This “congregation of the living God,” this spiritual Israel, was not to be like the ancient nation of natural circumcised Israel and stay isolated to itself in its God-given Promised Land, as it were. No; rather, it was under express command to get out among the nations that were riddled with false religion. Recall that in describing the admittedly great mystery of godly devotion the apostle Paul said that Jesus “was preached about among nations,” not just ancient natural Israel. Jesus Christ himself is the one of God’s sacred secret whose godly devotion was foretold and described in the inspired Hebrew Scriptures of the Bible. How and why did he come to be “preached about among nations”?
25-27. What shows that Jesus did not intend for his followers to separate themselves from people?
25 He did not instruct his apostles and early disciples to separate themselves from the people of the world and make recluses of themselves in caves in the desert or make monks and nuns of themselves by building monasteries and nunneries and retiring to themselves within such community buildings, thus holding back the revealed light of truth from shining into a darkening world. To the contrary, some days after his resurrection from the dead and before his ascension into heaven to appear to angels and be received up into glory, Jesus Christ said to his disciples:
26 “All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth. Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you. And, look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.”—Matt. 28:18-20.
27 Emphasizing again that his followers were to go to the people of all the pagan nations in order to make disciples of Christ, Jesus Christ made this final statement just before they saw him ascend heavenward: “You will receive power when the holy spirit arrives upon you, and you will be witnesses of me both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the most distant part of the earth.”—Acts 1:8.
28. (a) What meaning did Jesus’ instructions in Acts 1:8 have? (b) Could there by any doubt that the spirit-filled Christians had the true religion? Why?
28 That meant nothing less than bearing witness and making disciples of Jesus as the promised Messiah of God outside of Jewry, where the true religion had been confined till then, and in all the non-Jewish nations that were steeped in false religion. What else could this mean but an attack on all false religion by spirit-filled Christians who had the true religion? There is no room for doubt and for saying, ‘Well, maybe they had the truth and the true religion, and maybe they did not,’ inasmuch as Jesus’ promise to them debarred such a likelihood or possibility. Concerning that holy spirit that was to impart power to them and for which they were told to wait in Jerusalem, Jesus said to them on the night before his sacrificial death: “When that one arrives, the spirit of the truth, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak of his own impulse, but what things he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things coming.” (John 16:13) They did receive this “spirit of the truth” on the day of Pentecost, Sivan 6, of the year 33 C.E., ten days after Jesus’ ascension to heaven.—Acts 2:1-36.
29. When and how did the attack on pagan false religion begin?
29 About three years and four months later, in early autumn, about Tishri 1, of the year 36 C.E., the attack on the false religion of the pagans was begun by the spirit-filled members of the “congregation of the living God, a pillar and support of the truth.” This was when, under direct command from heaven, the apostle Peter went up from Joppa to Caesarea in Judea and for the first time entered into the home of an uncircumcised Gentile, a non-Jew, an Italian centurion named Cornelius. While Peter was yet preaching the message of truth to Gentile Cornelius and those whom he had gathered into his house to listen to Peter, the holy spirit fell also upon these believing Gentiles. In evidence thereof they began speaking in foreign languages not heretofore learned by them. (Acts 10:1 to 11:18) From then on the door stood wide open for the Christian truth to attack the false religion in all the Gentile nations.