[From ws11/16 p. 14 January 9-15]
“When you received God’s word…you accepted it…
just as it truthfully is, as the word of God.” (1Th 2:13)
The theme text for this study is an abridged version of what Paul actually wrote which is:
“Indeed, that is why we also thank God unceasingly, because when you received God’s word, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but, just as it truthfully is, as the word of God, which is also at work in you believers.” (1Th 2:13)
You will notice that the unabridged version supplies important clarifying information. Paul is thankful for the attitude of the Thessalonians who recognized that the word Paul and his companions transmitted to them was not from Paul, but from God. They recognized that Paul was merely the carrier of those words, not the source. You may recall that Paul mentioned the attitude of the Thessalonians elsewhere.
“Now these [Beroeans] were more noble-minded than those in Thes·sa·lo·niʹca, for they accepted the word with the greatest eagerness of mind, carefully examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” (Ac 17:11)
It may be that the Thessalonians lacked the noble-minded attitude of their Beroean brothers because they did not examine what Paul was teaching them in the light of Scripture. Nevertheless, they did trust that Paul and his companions where not teaching them “the word of men” but “the word of God”. In this, their trust was well founded, but had they been more noble-minded, they would have added the conviction that comes to one who trusts but verifies. The trusting attitude of the Thessalonians would have made them vulnerable to unscrupulous individuals who pretended to be speaking God’s words, but were really just teaching their own ideas. They were fortunate that it was Paul they first learned from.
Is there a reason why these critical phrases were left out of the quotation for the theme text?
Remember How We Are Being Led
A better subtitle might be, “Remember Who is Leading Us.” But of course, that would point to Jesus Christ, and that isn’t the point the article is trying to make. In fact, loyalty to Jesus is never mentioned in the article. However, loyalty to Jehovah and loyalty to the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses are both referenced multiple times.
Jehovah leads and feeds those in the earthly part of his organization by means of “the faithful and discreet slave” under the direction of Christ, the “head of the congregation.” (Matt. 24:45-47; Eph. 5:23) Like the first century governing body, this slave accepts God’s inspired word, or message, and highly esteems it. (Read 1 Thessalonians 2:13.) – par. 7
This paragraph is rife with false assumptions.
- There is no “organization”, earthly or otherwise. The angels are not his heavenly organization, they are his heavenly family. The word “organization” is never used to refer to them, nor to Israel, nor to the Christian congregation. However, the word family is a valid reference term. (Eph 3:15)
- The faithful and discreet slave doesn’t get its food from Jehovah but from Christ.
- The faithful and discreet slave is spoken of as feeding the domestics, but never as leading.
- The identity of the faithful and discreet slave is not revealed in the Bible.
- There was no first century governing body.
Having created the illusion that there is an entity in existence today that is equivalent to the Apostle Paul who wrote part of the Bible, the writer of the article can now reveal the full text of 1 Thessalonians 2:13, confident in the knowledge that his audience will see it as applying to the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Next, we are asked: “What are some directives, or instructions, provided in the Bible for our benefit?” – par. 7
Paragraph 8 goes through these.
“The Bible directs us to attend meetings regularly. (Heb. 10:24, 25)” – par. 8
Actually, it directs us to associate regularly. It leaves the “how” up to us, as long as we use these occasions to “incite one another to love and fine works.”
Does that mean we must attend the formal meeting arrangement of Jehovah’s Witnesses, or any other religious organization for that matter? And if we choose to associate formally, are we still free to hold informal alternate meeting arrangements? For instance, if a group of Witnesses chose to attend the two weekly meetings organized by the Governing Body but then to have a third meeting in the home of a congregation member where any and all could come for Bible study, would they be allowed to do so? Or would the elders defy the counsel at Hebrews 10:24, 25 and prohibit the brothers and sisters from attending? That would certainly reveal their true heart intention.
“God’s Word tells us to give the Kingdom first place in our lives.” – par. 8
True, but what kingdom? The Kingdom Jehovah’s Witnesses erroneously claim was established in 1914?
“The Scriptures also emphasize our duty and privilege to preach from house to house, in public places, and informally.” – par. 8
Again, true, but what are we preaching? Are we preaching the true kingdom message or a perversion of it?
“God’s own Book directs Christian elders to keep his organization clean. (1 Cor. 5:1-5, 13; 1 Tim. 5:19-21) ” – par. 8
Not his organization, but Christ’s congregation, and the direction isn’t exclusive to elders. Matthew 18:15-18 as well as the cited Bible passages indicate the congregation members are involved in the process.
In paragraph 9, we get into outright falsehoods:
Some may feel that they can interpret the Bible on their own. However, Jesus has appointed the ‘faithful slave’ to be the only channel for dispensing spiritual food. Since 1919, the glorified Jesus Christ has been using that slave to help his followers understand God’s own Book and heed its directives.
The message is that we cannot understand the Bible on our own. We need the Governing Body to explain it to us. This is why, when we raise a point from the Bible that contradicts an official teaching of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the comeback is often, “Do you think you know more than the Governing Body?”
First of all, interpretations belong to God. (Ge 40:8) Therefore, we must allow God’s own word to interpret itself, not rely on the speculation of men. The slave appointed in Matthew 24:45-47 is charged with feeding, not interpreting. If it starts interpreting, if it starts governing, if it starts punishing those who disagree with its interpretations, then it can lay no claim to faithfulness and discretion. Instead, it is like the evil slave who lords it over his fellow slaves by beating them and satisfying its own fleshly desires. (Mt 24:48-51; Lu 12:45, 46)[i]
Moses was the channel that God was using to direct the nation of Israel. Today, we are under the leadership of the greater Moses. (Acts 3:22) Telling Christians that they are not allowed to understand the Bible themselves, but must take their instruction and direction from a man or group of men as those appointed by God to channel his words, means that such men are sitting in the seat of the Greater Moses. This has happened before with grave consequences for those too presumptuous to know their proper place. (Mt 23:2)
Such men demand loyalty for themselves. It is not enough that we are loyal to Jesus. According to such men, we can only please God by being loyal to these men who claim his divine appointment upon themselves.
Each one of us does well to ask himself, ‘Am I loyal to the channel that Jesus is using today? – par. 9
Jehovah, through Christ, used some of the apostles and older men of the first century to write the Christian Scriptures. Since those words were written under inspiration we can say for sure that they were a channel that Christ used to feed his flock. Were the first century Christians asked to be loyal to those men? Look up “loyal” and “loyalty” in the WT Library and scan every reference to see if you can find even one that calls for loyalty to men. You’ll find nothing. Loyalty is to be given to God and to his Son. Not to men. At least, not in the sense of loyal obedience. So if they were not commanded to be loyal to the apostles and other Bible writers, there can be no basis in Scripture for the foregoing statement.
The subtitle of this section asks us to remember how we are led. We are led by Jesus, through the holy spirit which guides us to understand the Bible. Our leader is one, the Christ. (Mt 23:10) We cannot have two leaders, therefore, we cannot be led by men and by Christ.
Jehovah’s Chariot is on the Move!
Please open your Bible to Ezekiel 1:4-28—the passage cited in paragraph 10. Now see if you can find the word “chariot” in this passage. Now extend your search. Using the WT library, look up every occurrence of the word “chariot” in the NWT. There are 76. Scan through all of them and see if you can find a single one depicting Jehovah God mounted on a chariot. Not a one, right? Now look carefully at the vision Ezekiel had. Does it depict an organization of any kind? Does it depict a vehicle of any kind? A careful read will indicate that the wheels go anywhere the spirit of God directs them, but there is nothing to indicate that the expanse above them and the throne of God are connected and travel with the wheels. If you were describing the movement of a car, would you describe it by where the wheels go, or by where the entire vehicle goes? Thus we must conclude that the wheels are moving on their own. Jehovah remains in place.
The idea of God on a chariot is of pagan origin. [ii] Like Russell and Rutherford whose teachings were tainted with paganism—such as placing the motif of the Egyptian Sun god, Ra, on the cover of the Finished Mystery—the modern-day Governing Body continues to promote the pagan concept of God mounted on a chariot to support its idea that we are the earthly part of a heavenly organization. There are no Scriptures to support any of this, so they have to make it up and hope we won’t notice.
Jehovah rides on this chariot, and it goes wherever his spirit impels it to go. In turn, the heavenly part of his organization influences the earthly part. The chariot certainly has been on the move! Think about the many organizational changes that have been made during the past decade—and bear in mind that Jehovah is behind such developments. – par. 10
Let us see what organizational developments Jehovah has been behind, allegedly.
- Replacing all anointed Christians who were formerly thought to be the faithful slave with the members of the Governing Body.
- Assuming ownership of all Kingdom Halls worldwide.
- The sell-off of Kingdom Halls to raise funds.
- The initiative of a new hall design with God’s blessing for 3600 building projects in the US alone.
- The failure of the new hall design after only 18 months.
- The cancellation of numerous building projects around the world.
- The dismissing of 25% of all Bethel staff worldwide to cut costs.
- The dismissal of the majority of Special Pioneers to cut costs.
- The dismissal of all district overseers to cut costs.
- The completion of the resort-like headquarters at Warwick.
Apparently, the Governing Body is so enamored with their magnificent new headquarters that they ignore all the above and focus on point 10 as proof that “Jehovah’s chariot is on the move!” It would seem that what Jehovah really wants is for the organization to boast of beautiful buildings.
This calls to mind a similar attitude from sincere worshippers of the past.
“As he was going out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him: “Teacher, see! what wonderful stones and buildings!” However, Jesus said to him: “Do you see these great buildings? By no means will a stone be left here upon a stone and not be thrown down.”” (Mr 13:1, 2)
The next piece of “evidence” presented that Jehovah’s chariot is on the move has to do with education. Formerly, we would get four 32-page magazines per month. A witness would view that as 128 pages of ‘divine education’ every month. Now we get one 32-page and one 16-page magazine per month; less than half the former output. Is this evidence of Jehovah’s chariot on the move?
Show Loyalty to Jehovah and Support [JW.org]
Is it possible to be loyal to Jehovah while supporting JW.org? Let’s not mince words. By “support”, the article means ‘do what the Organization tells you to do.’ However, can we obey God and men without conflict? Can we slave for two masters? (Mt 6:24)
As a practical example of the problem this presents, let us consider paragraph 15.
“When we make major decisions in life, one way to demonstrate our loyalty to God is by seeking help from his written Word and [JW.org]. To illustrate the importance of doing so, consider a sensitive subject that affects many parents. It is a practice among certain immigrants to send their newborn babies to relatives to be cared for so that the parents can continue working and making money in their new country.” – par. 15
So the decision whether or not to follow this practice among “certain immigrants” is a way of demonstrating loyalty to God by seeking help from his written word. Yet, his written word says nothing about this practice. JW.org on the other hand, does have something to say about it—a great deal in point of fact. It is not a good practice according to JW.org. That much is clear from this study. So while paragraph 15 says, “this is a personal decision,” it immediately makes it clear that it really isn’t by adding, “but we should bear in mind that God holds us responsible for the decisions we make. (Read Romans 14:12)”. Then, to drive the rule home, it gives an example showing why not to follow this practice.
So on the one hand, we have principles from God’s word that would allow someone to make up their own mind, while on the other hand we have a rule which, if not followed, would bring the reproach of the congregation down upon the offending individual.
This is a JW euphemism for “be obedient” or “Do what we tell you to do.”
“An important way that we display loyalty to God is by following the direction we receive from [JW.org].” – par. 17
Hold on just one minute. We just read in paragraph 15 that “one way to demonstrate our loyalty to God is by seeking help from his written Word”. Well, his written word says:
“Do not put your trust in princes
Nor in a son of man, who cannot bring salvation.”
Therefore, we cannot show loyalty to God if we obey men instead of God. If the men are telling us to do something which God has already told us to do, then the men are merely relaying his orders, like a radio relays the instructions from whoever is on the other end of the transmission. However, if the men are making up their own rules in the name of God, then how can we be loyal to God if we are disobeying Psalm 146:3 and putting our trust in the “direction we receive from JW.org”?
The title of this Watchtower study article is “Do You Highly Esteem Jehovah’s Own Book?” It should be obvious by now that this is a piece of misdirection. The real theme is ‘Do you esteem the direction you get from JW.org?’
That the average Witness views the instructions received from the men of the Governing Body as on par with God’s inspired word is a sad reality of the modern Organization, a far cry from the one I knew in my youth.
[i] To see Bible proof that the slave was not appointed in 1919, see The “Slave” is not 1900 Years Old. To see Bible proof that the slave cannot be a tiny cabal of men, see Identifying the Faithful Slave – Parts 1 thru 4.