Ask Norm!

By Norman S. Edwards

From SVM – Winter/Spring 2017 – 4

January 22, 2016

Greetings to Norman Edwards and associates:

I send love, joy, peace, kindness and hope for what we do not see (Romans 8:25): The future World of Tomorrow under the rulership of Jesus Christ our King and Savior.

Norman and friends, I want to share some really wonderful news with you all. Great things in harmony with Bible Prophecy are indeed taking place.

“The Church of God” is in action to declare the Good News of God’s Kingdom to the ends of the earth in over 750+ languages at this time. This is to fulfill Matthew 24:14 and Daniel 7:14.

Currently some 8,000,000 trained ministers, missionaries and Bible educators are working in full unity to accomplish fulfilling Bible Prophecy.

Norman and friends, all of you are being invited to come participate in this global campaign! (Revelation 22:17). We welcome your assistance! As each day passes, 5 to 6 new congregations form each day and there is a need for men to be trained to take the lead in implementing theocratic order:   global   instructions that Jesus Christ directs through his very elect. And this unifies us all as one to do God’s will, for he desires that all sorts of peoples be saved by applying accurate knowledge of Bible Truth in their daily lives (1 Timothy 2:3,4 John 17:3).

Nisan 14 / Abib 14 is fast approaching and globally, some 20 million Bible lovers, Christ- like lovers of truth will assemble to observe Christ as their Passover lamb (Luke 22:19). This commanded observance will take place at tens of thousands of locations worldwide. Will you be there? We invite all to come!

Yes, Norman, do you know this Church of God? It is the one that is fulfilling Matthew 10:17-18; Mark 13:9-11; Luke 21:15-12. Yes, the one that has won over 260 High Court Victories throughout the world for religious freedom and to legally establish the Good News of God’s Kingdom (Philippians 1:7). The Church of God has a successful track record of fulfilling Matthew 24:14. Here is a glance at their success.

This is all public witnessing work and home Bible Studies that are conducted by trained Bible Educators. They are the military force that is prophesied in Psalm 110:3.

We invite you to come and be part of this global campaign that will soon be taught in over 1000 languages. Travel the world if you desire. Every Sabbath (Saturdays) the 118,000 congregations meet to engage in door to door witnessing activity to declare the Good News of God’s Kingdom in order to seek out deserving ones that want to be disciples of Jesus Christ.

Yes, we are Jehovah’s Witnesses and we call out to you to come assist us in this fine work in the sight of God as we prepare ourselves for the New Heavens and New Earth that wait us (jw.org / tv.jw.org).  Bible education is a must and so is tuning in to Jehovah’s Very Elect by means of His global organization. Apostle John wrote “one flock” at John 10:16. Micah describes it as a sheep pen (Mica 2:12).

Yes, the very elect is here in these last days and the Kingdom of God is in your midst with a mighty nation of peoples globally organized to do Jehovah’s Will (Isaiah 60:22; Ezekiel 37:22; Matthew 21:43). The New Nation, the New Nation, the New Nation is here! Come Norman and friends! We are waiting for you all! Stay Awake for Armageddon is Near! It will not be late! We send our love to you all.

 

R. Bandy #1469796

Wayne Scott Unit 6999 Retrieve Rd

Angleton, Texas 77515

J. R. Bandy

Dear J. R. Bandy,

This is quite a letter! I want to acknowledge eight good things in it.

You began by proclaiming love, joy, peace, kindness and hope to us.  I proclaim love, joy, peace, grace, kindness and hope to you as well. The New Testament writers usually did this—even though they sometimes had a corrective message with it. I was once a part of a big “Church of God” group that frequently confronted other groups about their “false doctrines” and   regarded   them as unbelievers. I have since learned that Christ determines who is and who is not a believer—not organizations of men. Fortunately, there are believers who do attempt to recognize all that God is doing.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses have done much to teach certain Christian principles to nearly every country of the world. They have done far more than most other denominations have. I see obvious errors in some of their teachings, such as Jesus Christ being the same as Michael the Archangel, a created being. However, through denominations such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses people have learned scriptures, and perhaps they too may learn of the Truth of God someday. Through God’s calling, the Holy Spirit can then lead believers to all truth, in spite of what people teach (John 16:13). The big church I worked for at one time had a magazine circulation of 8,000,000—going to virtually every country on Earth. Yes, billions of people have been reached with the gospel—with a certain amount of error—from big and small Christian groups everywhere.

The JW’s New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures is generally    a good translation. I have had one for years. Its major problems are verses mistranslated to support a false JW doctrine that Jesus Christ was a created being.  For example, it ends John 1:1 with “the Word was a god” where most translations simply say “the Word was God”. There is no article (“a”, “an” or “the”) associated with “God” in any significant ancient Greek manuscript of John 1:1. Other scriptures appear to have been forcibly   modified   to suit the belief that Jesus Christ was a created being, such as John 1:18, John 10:33, Colossians 1:15-17, Hebrews 1:6,8 to name a few.

The New World Translation does very well in translating the Greek diakonos as “service of the ministry”, and never uses the word “deacon” at all. Because churches in the 1600s had “deacons” to look after physical things and “ministers” to look after spiritual things, the KJV and most other translations variously rendered diakonos sometimes as “servant”, sometimes as “minister” and sometimes as “deacon”—not because of what the Greek means, but so their translation would match existing church doctrines. However, the true Bible teaching is that there is no difference—a person who is faithful in material things is also faithful in spiritual things (Luke 16:10-13). And indeed, the Jehovah’ Witnesses have followed the biblical model of encouraging faithful men from all walks of life to become Bible teachers—8,000,000 of them as you state—not limiting teaching to men with a 4-year college degree. Wikipedia says the JW’s have published 217 million copies of the Bible in 140 languages. This is a good work—especially when it is taken to those who would otherwise have no Bible at all!! But also realize that Wycliffe Associates have Bible translations in 550 languages, have started 2300 more languages, and hope to have a Bible in all of the World’s 7000 languages by 2050! (www.wycliffe.org). Estimates of total worldwide Bible printing are around six billion, plus untold digital copies!

The envelope you used had only 2 cents of postage and the words “Non-Domestic Mail” on it—without any “postage due”. Thank you—or somebody—for the careful research. For years, I have read about the difference between the USA’s constitutional office of Postmaster versus the United States Postal Service, a corporation which began on July 1, 1971. I have heard claims that Postmasters still have many of their constitutional responsibilities, but that many do not know them or refuse to do them. Even so, yours is one of the few letters I have seen with 2 cents of postage on it, rather than the currently “mandated” 49 cents.

Wikipedia and many legal info- sources document the numerous religious freedom cases won by the Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide. These have been a great blessing to people who want to preach the gospel, avoid certain medical procedures or avoid military service in ungodly wars. Many Christians benefit from these efforts and probably do not give enough credit to the work the JWs have done. Even so, we must ask the question, who started the constitutions and court systems that allow the JWs and other Christians to bring religious freedom cases and   receive   favorable    decisions? Other Bible-believing Christians living hundreds of years ago did this—before there were Jehovah’s Witnesses or “Church of God” groups. God has been using all these people all along.

Thank you for inviting me to observe the Passover with 20 million Jehovah’s Witnesses. Nobody has salvation without the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I have observed the Passover since 1974 with a variety of groups. Indeed, hundreds of religious groups observe these days. Let me encourage you to observe the Days of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, Feast of Tabernacles and the Eighth Day as well!

The Sabbath is a great day for teaching God’s word.  God made the Sabbath as a day of rest from our work and a time to come to Him. I have spoken with several JW teachers who came to my house on that day. We agreed on many things, but most of them stopped coming when I asked them Bible questions they were not used to hearing. We discussed the regular meeting of believers by Jesus and the apostles on the Sabbath day—I would hope that you could begin to practice and teach this yourself. Even with certain mistakes, many people have been challenged to study and begin obeying the Bible through contact with the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Both of us are looking forward to the Kingdom of God and the New Heavens and New Earth. That is what this life is all about preparing us for eternity! It is good to know that God is in charge of it.

Beyond these eight points, I would like to share two points of correction that I believe will be a great blessing to you:

For almost twenty years I thought I was a part of the one true Church organization that God was using.  As I had the same excitement that you had. We even used very similar words to those in your letter. I thought I was following the very chain of global instructions from the Father to Christ to our church leaders to me. Unfortunately, I had accepted my church group’s teaching on the “Government of God” and never studied the Bible on that subject. Let me encourage you to read the article in this issue: How God Works— from the Book of Acts. Its content was produced by reading through the book of Acts and noting how the church received direction, made decisions and took action. They never formed a Church organization with   a hierarchy of leaders, but relied on the Holy Spirit, the direct working of God, and the actions taken by many people—both believers and not.

You frequently mentioned Bible prophecy and how your church group is fulfilling it. You speak as though you know what will happen next in world events. I believed that about the big church group I attended for 20 years. The ministry frequently gave sermons explaining how they were the group that God was using—and how their prophetic interpretation had been correct. It was not until I got a digital copy of all that churches writings—and went through it myself—that I realized how many places they were in error. It is interesting that both of our groups taught 1975 would be the beginning of Christ’s return—and both quoted William and Paul Paddock’s book, Famine 1975. We were both wrong. I would encourage you to get old copies of Jehovah’s Witness publications and see how accurate they have been. For now, please look at the following six quotations from past literature.

1966: “According to this trustworthy Bible chronology six thousand years from man’s creation will end in 1975, and the seventh period of a thousand years of human history will begin in the fall of 1975 C.E Six thousand years of man’s existence on earth will soon be up, yea within this generation. The rein of Christ…to run parallel with the 7th millennium …” (Life Everlasting in Freedom of the Sons of God, 1966, p. 29-30)

1968: “The immediate future is certain to be filled with climactic events, for this old system is nearing its complete end. Within a few years at most the final parts of Bible prophecy relative to these last days will undergo fulfilment resulting in the liberation of surviving mankind into Christ’s glorious 1000-year reign!” (Watchtower, 1/5/1968)

1968: “More recently, the book entitled “Famine-1975!” [by W. & P.  Paddock, 1967, pp. 52,55,61.] said concerning today’s food shortages: “Hunger is rampant throughout country after country, continent after continent around the undeveloped belt of the tropics and subtropics. Today’s crisis can move in only one direction -toward catastrophe. Today hungry nations; tomorrow starving nations.” … “By 1975 civil disorder, anarchy, military dictatorships, runaway inflation, transportation breakdowns and chaotic unrest will be the order of the day in many of the hungry nations.” (The Truth That Leads To Eternal Life, p 88-89, 1968)

1968: “Just think, brothers, there are only about ninety months left before 6,000 years of man’s existence on earth is completed… The majority of people living today will probably be alive when Armageddon breaks out, and there are no resurrection hopes for those who are destroyed then. So, now more than ever, it is vital not to ignore that spirit of wanting to do more.” (Kingdom Ministry, March 1968, p. 4 [note: 1968 + 90 months = 1975])

1968: “True, there have been those in times past who predicted an “end” to the world, even announcing a specific date. Yet nothing happened. The ‘end’ did not come. They were guilty of false prophesying. Why? What was missing? Missing from such people were God’s truths and the evidence that He was using and guiding them.’’ (Awake, Oct. 8, 1968)

1992: “Today, a small percentage of mankind can still recall the dramatic events of 1914. Will that elderly generation pass away before God saves the earth from ruin? Not according to Bible prophecy. ‘When you see all these things,’ Jesus PROMISED, ‘know that he is near at the doors. Truly I say to you that THIS generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur.’  –  Matthew 24:33,   34.” (Watchtower May 1, 1992 page 3: The Year That Shocked The World) Has the generation alive in 1914 passed away? According to the Gerontology Research Group, the oldest now-living person is Emma Morano, age 117, in Italy. She would have been only 14 years old in 1914. For a person to be an adult—18 years old—in 1914, they would need to be born in 1896 or before. By scanning GRG’s table of longest lived people, Besse Cooper, living in the USA, died December 4, 2012, and was the last person to die who was at least18 years old in 1914. Indeed, that generation is gone. There is nothing wrong with Bible prophecy or the promises of Jesus. The problem is our interpretation—often made from what seems “sensible” to us, but not by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

 “‘However, the prophet who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded him to speak or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet must die. And in case you should say in hour heart: “How shall we know the word that Jehovah has not spoken?” when the prophet speaks in the name of Jehovah and the word does not occur or come true, that is the word that Jehovah did not speak. With presumptuousness the prophet spoke it. You must not get frightened at him’ (Deuteronomy 18:20-22, NWT).

The church groups I had attended had many similar prophecies which did not come to pass. It took me a while to recognize that God had not spoken these prophecies through them. Today, we have no civil laws mandating the execution of false prophets, but we can personally choose not to heed “dead” prophetic interpretation. If someone got it wrong in the past, we cannot trust what he claims for the future.

It took me many years to sort this out, so I expect that it will also take a while for you. I knew that I had learned much from my church group and its college. But I also realized that I had learned much from the Bible, the Holy Spirit and other believers.   I also realized that even those who are serving God in some ways can be very deficient in others. Judas was with Jesus for His entire ministry, but the other disciples never figured out that he would betray Christ. Paul mentions   those   who   served God for a while, then later departed the faith. Most of Paul’s letters contain significant correction of those whom he still considered “in the church”.  It should not be surprising that we can learn much sound Bible teaching from those who also adhere to some error.

Understanding biblical prophecy is not a matter of “figuring it out”, but of being directly inspired by God. That is how Old Testament prophecy is understood in the New Testament. Even though we can show amazing and improbable correlations between historical facts and the Bible, that does not mean we understand prophecy. I want to give you an example I think you will agree with.

In your table of numbers, above, there are 63 places where three digit numbers occur—either   separated by spaces or commas. This exercise is ignoring all of the one- and two- digit groups of numbers. Since there are 1000 possible combinations   of three-digit numbers, the chance that any specific three-digit number would occur in the table is 1 out of 1000/63—or 1 out of 16.9. The chance that a 3-digit number would occur twice in the table is 1 out of 1000/63 * 1000/62 (since one chance has already been used up to pick the first number). This is 1 out of 256. In the table above, the only three-digit number to occur twice is “666”—a rather unlikely occurrence. Might some prophetic interpreters claim there is a relationship between these two improbably 666 numbers and the 666 in Revelation 13:18? Maybe so. But did God tell them that? Probably not. An unlikely occurrence does not automatically mean inspiration of God.

I look forward to working with you some day. I have read about many Jehovah’s Witnesses who suffered great difficulties or died for their beliefs. There was a time when I think I would have suffered great difficulties or died for my church organization, but I have since learned that it was never the same thing as God. Church organizations do serve at times—a new believer may be better off there than without a congregation at all. But those who are mature, full of the Holy Spirit and full of biblical knowledge can be led directly by Christ through the spiritual gifts that He provides. Church groups claiming to be “The only Church” or exclusive in His service cut people off from all that God is doing.

May God bless you in your studies!

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