[From ws17/7 p. 22 – September 18-24]
“Find exquisite delight in Jehovah, and he will grant you the desires of your heart.” — Ps. 37:4
(Occurrences: Jehovah=31; Jesus=10)
This week’s study article is all about encouraging Witnesses to have more to do in the disciple-making work that results preaching the Good News. There is nothing wrong with that, right? Correct! We should all do our utmost to follow Jesus’ command to—
“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, 20 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.” (Mt 28:19, 20)
Of course, Catholics, and Protestants, and Baptists, and Pentecostals, and Methodists, and Presbyterians, and Mormons, and…well, you get the picture—all of them would claim that they have been preaching the good news and making disciples long before Rutherford named his Bible Students as “Jehovah’s Witnesses”.
As a Jehovah’s Witness, would you say that their disciple making is approved by God? Would you agree that the good news they are preaching is the real Good News?
I think it is safe to say that any Jehovah’s Witness worth his salt would tell us that being a zealous preacher in any other Christian denomination would not bring God’s approval, because every religion outside of the Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses corrupts the good news by teaching false doctrines originating with men.
Jesus did say that his true followers would worship the Father in spirit and truth, so it seems a valid argument to make that false teachings would corrupt the message of the Good News. (John 4:23, 24) Paul warned the Galatians about this saying that deviating from the pure message of the Good News would bring reproach and condemnation. (Gal 1:6-9)
So we won’t argue the point that a Witness would make in condemning the preaching of other religions as invalid due to their false doctrines. However, doesn’t the brush paint all surfaces?
Are Jehovah’s Witness making true disciples of Jesus Christ? Do Witness converts view Jesus in the proper way, as he is represented in Scripture? Are they preaching the same Good News that Jesus and the first century Christians preached?
Since this is a Watchtower study article review, we’ll confine ourselves to what is revealed in this Watchtower issue alone. We really don’t have to go beyond that.
The Goal of this Article
As you read the entire article, you’ll see that its goal is to get Jehovah’s Witnesses to reach out for more “privileges of Kingdom service”. These privileges include becoming a regular pioneer (a.k.a. “a full-time preacher”)[i], working on construction projects for the Organization, and serving as a Bethelite.
Are any of these activities endorsed by Jesus Christ? Did Jesus set us a goal of reporting 70 hours a month as a so-called full-time preacher? Did He tell us that “Kingdom service” includes building beautiful office buildings, printeries, Bethel homes, or assembly and kingdom halls? Did first century Christians do any of that? What about living a monastic lifestyle as a Bethelite?
If we cannot find Scriptural support for these aspects of what is currently called “Kingdom service”, then at the very least, we have to put them on the shelf for the time being and look for other evidence, before we can blithely claim that doing any of these things fulfills the command at Matthew 28:19, 20.
Accreditation for these Service Privileges
A Witness will claim that the foregoing are all accredited aspects of our service to Jehovah, because these are so declared by the Governing Body which has been appointed by Christ as the faithful and discreet slave.
There are several very serious problems with this understanding.
First, there’s no evidence that Jesus made such an appointment. The Governing Body claim he appointed them back in 1919. There is a major problem with that assertion however. Up until 2012, the official teaching was that the faithful and discreet slave was comprised of all anointed Jehovah’s Witnesses. So for almost a century, those appointed to be the faithful and discreet slave didn’t know they were the faithful and discreet slave. This would make Jesus Christ one of the poorest communicators in history since it took him 95 years to properly inform his appointees of their new appointment. Instead, tens of thousands thought they were appointed when they were not.
I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to believe that our Lord could mess up communications that badly. Isn’t it more likely that the blame lies elsewhere.
Second, this alleged appointment of the GB as the faithful slave leaves three other slaves unaccounted for. There’s the evil slave, the unwillingly disobedient slave, and the knowingly disobedient slave. That means that only 1/4 of the parable at Luke 12:41-48 is understood. So Jesus waited 95 years after the date to inform the Governing Body they were his pick, but still leaves us hanging as regards the other three positions yet to be filled?
Third, we have the job description. Essentially, the role of the faithful slave is that of a waiter. He feeds his fellow slaves. Nothing there to authorize him to make up new rules, or to create new categories for what is to be considered sacred service to God. Nothing there about him being a channel of communication, the voice of God. True, it does speak of a slave the acts in a domineering way, like a governor or ruler or leader of his fellow slaves, but that one is called “wicked”. (Luke 12:45)
Fourth, the most serious problem with this understanding is that the slave is both faithful and discreet (or wise). Let’s set aside the “discreet” aspect and concentrate on the “faithful” instead. “Faithful” to whom? Well, according to the parable, to the Master. And who is the master depicted in the parable? Without question, it is the Christ?
Is the Governing Body faithful to the Christ. In last week’s study we saw that they emphasized Jehovah 53 times but failed to give praise to Jesus even once! Is this week any better? Well, Jehovah is emphasized 31 times with phrases like:
- Jehovah urges you to plan wisely for your future – par. 2
- To those who reject his advice, Jehovah says – par. 2
- Jehovah is glorified when his people make wise choices in life – par. 2
- What plans does Jehovah recommend for you? – par. 3
- “I like serving Jehovah full-time because it’s the way I express my love for him…” – par. 7
- “I wanted to tell them about Jehovah, so after a while I made plans to learn their language. ” – par. 8
- You also learn how to work closely with Jehovah. – par. 9
- “I like preaching the good news because it is what Jehovah asks us to do. – par. 10
- There are many opportunities to serve Jehovah. – par. 11
- “Ever since I was a little boy, I have wanted to serve Jehovah full-time someday…” – par. 12
- Some who acted on their plans to serve Jehovah full-time are now at Bethel. Bethel service is a happy way of life because everything you do there is for Jehovah. – par. 13
- “…I love serving here because what we do helps people to draw close to Jehovah.” – par. 13
- How can you plan to be a full-time Christian minister? More than anything, spiritual qualities will help you to be successful in serving Jehovah fully. – par. 14
- Jehovah is pleased to use those who have a humble, willing spirit. – par. 14
- You can be sure that Jehovah wants you to “get a firm hold” on a happy future. – par. 16
- Consider what Jehovah is doing in our time and how you can have a share in his service. – par. 17
Jesus is mentioned 10 times in this study, but never in the same context as Jehovah. We are not told that we are ‘serving Jesus’ (Ro 15:16) or that we need to ‘learn how to work closely with Jesus’ (Ro 8:1; 1Co 1:2, 30) or ‘that preaching the good news is what Jesus asks us to do’ (Mt 28:19, 20) or that we should ‘draw close to Jesus.’ (Mt 18:20; Eph 2:10) or that we should love Jesus (Phm 1:5; Eph 3:17; Phil 1:16) or that Jesus is glorified in us (2Th 1:12) or that we should tell people about Jesus. (Re 12:17)
No, it is all about Jehovah and nothing about his beloved Son whom he appointed over everything and everyone. Instead, Jehovah’s Witnesses treat the Great King as a mere exemplar, a model for us to follow. This is usually how Jesus is used in the publications of late.
- Jesus Christ set the perfect example for you young ones – par. 4
- Jesus also drew close to Jehovah by studying the Scriptures. – par. 4
- Jesus grew up to be a happy adult. – par. 5
- Doing what God asked him to do made Jesus happy. – par. 5
- Jesus enjoyed teaching people about his heavenly Father. – par. 5
- Showing love for God and for others made Jesus happy. – par. 5
- Jesus continued to learn during his earthly ministry. – par. 7
One has only to use the WT Library program, to see how wrong this is. Enter (sans quotes) “Jesus | Christ” to get every occurrence for either or both words in a sentence to see the glory, praise, honor, love and importance heaped on God’s Son in the Holy Word. This is all the more remarkable when one realizes that the name “Jehovah” does not appear in any of the 5000+ extant manuscripts. The NWT has inserted it arbitrarily.
Now contrast that with the past two Watchtower studies (not to mention countless ones before this) to see that the writers are not being faithful at all. Faith in Jesus means humble recognition of his exalted status. Giving praise and honor to Jehovah without “kissing the Son” actually dishonors God and results in His and the Son’s wrath.
“Kiss the son, that He may not become incensed And YOU may not perish [from] the way, For his anger flares up easily. Happy are all those taking refuge in him.” (Ps 2:12)
The Good News of the Governing Body
If you are thinking of becoming a regular pioneer because you want to preach the good news of the kingdom, you do well to meditate on these words:
“I am amazed that you are so quickly turning away from the One who called you with Christ’s undeserved kindness to another sort of good news. 7 Not that there is another good news; but there are certain ones who are causing you trouble and wanting to distort the good news about the Christ. 8 However, even if we or an angel out of heaven were to declare to you as good news something beyond the good news we declared to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, I now say again, Whoever is declaring to you as good news something beyond what you accepted, let him be accursed.” (Ga 1:6-9)
This is what Witnesses accuse other religions of doing: preaching another good news; a counterfeit good news. Those who do this are cursed by God. Not a pleasant prospect!
Witnesses preach a good news whereby the hope is to live as a sinner for 1,000 years after which one can be declared righteous. In the interim, one is only God’s friend, but cannot be his Son, and cannot have Jesus as his mediator. Please try to find support for this teaching in the Bible. If you cannot, then are you wise to promote these doctrines as the good news of the Christ? Would that please God? By doing so, might you not be a proselyte or disciple of the Governing Body, instead of a disciple of Christ?
I recently tried to reason with some friends along these lines in some correspondance. I touched on only one doctrine, and avoided a confrontational approach. My thought was to see if there was room for discussion.
Their response proves that the Governing Body has been successful in removing Jesus from his role as our leader and inserting themselves in his place—in sitting on the throne of the King as it were.
They wrote in part:
“As you know [we] are completely convinced that the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses is the faithful and discreet slave and entrusted with the responsibility of helping the household of faith to understand and follow Jehovah’s Word the Bible. In short, we believe this to be Jehovah’s organization. We are trying our very best to stay close to it and the direction it is giving us. We feel this is a matter of life and death. I can well imagine that a moment will come when we will be staking our very lives upon the following of direction that Jehovah gives us through the organization. We will be willing to do that.”
“The close friends we choose have to have that same conviction. For that reason:”
“We would like to respectfully and kindly ask you where you stand on that matter of this being Jehovah’s organization under the divinely appointed direction of the faithful slave/Governing Body.” [Italics theirs]
They speak of Jehovah and they speak of the Governing Body, but where is Jesus? If you are willing to make a “life and death” decision based solely on the instructions from men, then in the most complete sense of the word, you accept them as your leaders. What then of Jesus’ commandment at Matthew 10:23, “Neither be called leaders, for your Leader is one, the Christ.” Witnesses who are willing to make a life-and-death choice based on faith in men have put themselves in the same boat as every Christian who has gone to war and killed (or died) in the name of God because his leaders told him to.
Notice how willingly my friends have surrendered their conscience and freedom to the will of men, trusting in such ones for salvation. Can we disregard the command of God and escape with impunity? He tells us:
“Do not put your trust in princes, Nor in a son of man, who cannot bring salvation.” (Ps 146:3)
We now have a community of millions who think as these do. They join the billions of the world’s religions in giving allegiance to men.
An Affirmation of Allegiance
Above, I alleged that the Governing Body has been successful in replacing Jesus as the leader of those Christians who identify themselves as Jehovah’s Witnesses. If you think this is a bold and unsubstantiated claim, consider the evidence. The response of my friends is hardly atypical. In fact, it is disturbingly common. In this case, we are talking about two intelligent individuals. They are kind, easy-going, and not prone to judgment. Yet, when I raised a single issue that concerned me (the overlapping generations doctrine) did they address my concern? Did they even mention it? No, the go-to response was to question my loyalty to men. They would only remain my friend if I affirmed my allegiance to the Governing Body.
This has now happened more times than I can keep track of, and I’ve heard the same from countless others. This is the pattern. You voice a legitimate concern and instead of addressing the issue raised, you hear a demand for a statement of fealty or loyalty toward the Governing Body.
This was not the way it was. If I challenged something in the publications from years ago, no one asked if I believed Brother Knorr was God’s appointed channel of communication? No one said, “Do you think you know more than Brother Knorr?”
When intelligent men and women surrender their power of reason and deal with a disagreement by demanding an affirmation of allegiance—what is for all intents and purposes, an oath of fealty—something very dark and unchristian is taking place.
[i] To be fair, 70 hours a month does not constitute full-time work of any kind. A worker that puts in less than 20 hours a week in an office or factory is considered a part-time employee.