[Watchtower study for the week of March 17, 2014 – w14 1/15 p.17]
Par. 1 – “WE LIVE in momentous times. As never before in history, millions from all nations are turning to true worship.” This paints our work as of historic importance; as something which has never before happened. The article is referring to the millions who converted to become Jehovah’s Witnesses. Yet, where did these millions come from? The great majority of this number are to be found in Europe and the Americas. These are countries who were all Christian before C.T. Russell was even born. So what we are talking about is the conversion of millions from one form of Christianity to another, not from Paganism to Christianity. This would still be an achievement of truly historical significance if they had all converted from Christian religions teaching falsehoods and suffering under the yoke of a tyrannical ecclesiastical hierarchy to the one true Christian religion teaching only Bible truth and utterly free from human rule, subject only to the Christ. If only this were the case.
The fact is that two thousand years ago there were no Christians, but now a third of humanity calls itself Christian. Two thousand years ago, with the exception of the Jews, the world worshipped pagan gods. How many pagan religions are still around? The conversion of the world to Christianity could not have happened without the aid of the holy spirit. What began in Pentecost and continued for centuries was truly a momentous time with millions from all the nations turning to true worship. Yes, much of it went apostate. Yes, weeds were sown among the wheat. But that process continues down to this day and within our particular brand of Christianity. It takes a special kind of hubris to discount all that and place our work as the greatest event of Christian history.
Par. 3 – The thrust of this article is to encourage young people to enter the pioneer service, bethel, or some other aspect of “full time” service as Jehovah’s Witnesses. I wouldn’t want to discourage anyone from following his/her dreams and spiritual goals. However, let those dreams or goals be soundly based on Scripture and not the product of men’s reasoning.
The subtlety with which the reasoning of men can masquerade as God’s is evident in our use of Eccl. 12:1 which encourages young ones to “remember your Grand Creator in the days of your youth.” That exhortation was given in the days of Israel when there was no Bethel home and no worldwide construction program and no pioneer service and certainly no worldwide preaching work. We use it to encourage the preaching work, but if we are going to take counsel given to Jews in the days of King Solomon and apply it to our day, shouldn’t we look at how it applied then? How was a young Jew to ‘remember his Grand Creator in the days of his youth?’ That is the question we should be looking to answer. The peril of the oversimplification of that answer is evident from the following paragraphs.
Par. 5,6 – The account of Yuichiro is encouraging, is it not? Now would it be as encouraging if he were a Mormon missionary? Obviously not, but why? Well, because the Mormon’s don’t have the truth. Isn’t that the way any Jehovah’s Witness would reason? Yuichiro, for all his good intentions, would be teaching the Mongolians falsehoods, thus negating all the good he is doing. As a Jehovah’s Witness, on the other hand, Yuichiro would be teaching the Mongolians Bible truths. So we view this as an example of remembering our Grand Creator in the days of our youth. However, if Yurchiro is obedient to the Governing Body—and we’ve no reason to doubt otherwise—he will have been teaching the Mongolians that they have very little hope of joining Jesus in heaven to rule over the restored earth in the New World. That isn’t the good news that the apostles taught. He will also have taught them that Jesus has been reigning for 100 years already. As they progress they will learn that the 1914-1919 era is the basis upon which the Governing Body claims divine appointment. Like his Mormon counterparts, he will have also taught them to put unconditional faith in the teachings of a group of men at headquarters. While the Mormons hold that their leader speaks directly to God, we say that the Governing Body receives direction from God as his sole channel for talking to his people. Based on the latest information, Yuichiro will loyally be teaching his Mongolian Bible students to obey the Governing Body unconditionally. It is unlikely however that he will alert them to the fact that once baptised in dedication to Jehovah God and his earthly organization, any attempt to leave could result in their suffering the loss of all their friends and family.
I am not trying to lump us in with the Mormons, or any other Christian religion for that matter. This isn’t about “he who has the fewest false teachings wins”. Our salvation doesn’t depend on picking the religion with the fewest falsehoods. Admittedly, no religion can know all the truth, because Jehovah hasn’t revealed all the truth yet. We see a hazy outline in a metal mirror. But God has revealed the truths that we need to know to be saved. What is important—no, what is critical—is that we teach the truth we do know and can know. To teach falsehood in ignorance is no excuse in this day and age, and will not save one from punishment. To teach falsehood knowingly is utterly reprehensible.
(Luke 12:47,48 NET) That servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or do what his master asked will receive a severe beating. 48 But the one who did not know his master’s will and did things worthy of punishment will receive a light beating.
The tragedy is that if Yuichiro were to start teaching the whole truth from the Bible, he would be persecuted by the very faith he has so loyally supported.
Par. 9 – This paragraph opens with sound Bible counsel: “Seek first God’s Kingdom and his righteousness.” Then it says: “Jehovah dignifies us with freedom of choice. He does not say how much of your youth you should devote to preaching about the Kingdom.” First of all, it wasn’t Jehovah who said this, but Jesus. (Isn’t it interesting how deftly we can move Jesus into the background.) Second, Jesus says to “seek first the Kingdom and his righteousness.” He says nothing about preaching. Yet, whenever this scripture is referenced, we immediately think of the preaching work—so great is the power of years of indoctrination. To us, the only way to seek the kingdom is to get out there and preach in the door-to-door work. There is nothing wrong with preaching. It is a command we have from our Lord Jesus. However, our myopic focus on it blinds us to the other ways in which we are required to “seek first the Kingdom”. For example…
Par. 10 – “Find happiness in serving others.” Again, fine counsel because it is scriptural. Certainly, preaching the good news—the real good news—is one way to serve others. However, there are other ways that are approved of by God. You only have to read James 1:27 and 2:16 as well as Matthew 25:31-46 to see this. However, if a young man or woman were to devote time to such activities, would he or she receive the same encouragement and accolades as are heaped on pioneers? The fact is were a young Christian to dedicate some time to charitable works in his neighborhood, he would likely be counseled that his time could be better spent in the preaching work. (I have personally witnessed this happen.)
We would not want to discourage any young person from striving to bring the good news of the Christ to people, particularly in foreign lands where there is a greater need. But let it be the true message of hope. Let him teach what Christ taught and let him make known the true freedom that comes from knowing and obeying God and His Christ. What we teach should not bring men into servitude to other men.
(Galatians 4:9-11 NET) But now that you have come to know God (or rather to be known by God), how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless basic forces? Do you want to be enslaved to them all over again?10 You are observing religious days and months and seasons and years. 11 I fear for you that my work for you may have been in vain.
 I am going to start quoting from the NET Bible because it is “open source”. To my knowledge we have not infringed on copyright in the way we have referenced the Society’s publications, but I do not think that will stop the legal desk from taking action if this site comes to their notice, so we have decided to proceed with greater caution. (John 15:20)
 It is noteworthy that in this article, Jehovah’s name appears 40 times, while Jesus is only mentioned 5 times. Yet the King of the kingdom we are supposed to be putting first is Jesus. It is Jehovah’s will that we honor the son, that we focus on him.
This article is less offensive than most which is great but what I find irritating is that when advising young people of who they should go to advice it qualifies parents with ” believing” as though only JW parents want what is good for their children. In p.15 it says: ” What a blessing you have if your parents love Jehovah! Also, elders in your congregation are spiritually qualified men who can guide you.” As a person raised by unbaptized parents this bothers me because it is implied that only Witnesses can give you good direction and is an attempt… Read more »
I forgot to mention vows & oaths such as the oath requirement for dedication and the vow of poverty Bethelites and others must make.
Whatever happened to the humility expressed in Luke 17:7-10 ” we are good for nothing slaves, what we have done is what we ought to have done”
“self congratulatory quotes issued by the organization” This has always niggled me. I have lost count of how many articles or convention parts seem to lay the self congratulation on with a trowel. Why do they feel the need to praise themselves? Is it because they are self appointed, so they need to reinforce this by telling us how wonderful they/we are? There are many fine humble brothers and sisters in the congregations but I have also met many arrogant, self serving individuals. I had a long (and potentially dangerous) phone conversation with the brother who initially studied with me… Read more »
It is evident that the GB are becoming very possessive of all “their” current and potential adherents. This is why they are so demeaning toward Christ and the new standards of spirituality and love that he taught to his disciples, in order for the message to continue on… To constantly ignore Jehovah’s approval of His Son will effectively keep people in the mindset of ….”a jealous God..” or rather….” a jealous and greedy Governing Body…”. They really do want all the attention disguised though their methods may be, it is becoming more blatant. I venture to say, that at times,… Read more »
umbertoecho – I thought the same thing when the upcoming branch visit/special weekend program was announced.( or “the GB on tour ” as I call it ) The GB is more visible now than ever before. ( appearing in the WT’s an in “special” meetings/visits) My congregation is still reeling about the annual mtg .The coordinator at my hall is in love with the GB and makes no bones about it he is especially excited about this event. Especially since he feels that observing the GB “gives us a glimpse to what Jehovah must be like ” ( he actually… Read more »
Perhaps my biggest hangup in considering this article is the “unity-at-all-costs,” that winning converts is all about winning the ‘us’ versus ‘them’ argument. Even the Christian couples school is all about unity at the expense of an open discussion so that each might grow to maturity at their own pace and conscience. We have definitely become a groupthink organization that double-thinks its own dogma as truth. Starting to read George Orwell’s 1984 again. I believe Jesus would have given such a parable upon his return. But I somehow doubt his return will be so kind as not to strike out… Read more »
What a great name, when will it flare up? We studied this book at university with all it’s implied connotations in our lives, from economy, politics to religion…..It is still an excellent read isn’t it?. Do you remember how betrayed the main protagonist is? The dobbing in (to use an Australian word) is exactly the same as in so many high control environments religious and non religious.
umbertoecho, You read 1984? Then for sure you are more advanced than our governing body, who, had they read it they would know how closely they characterize, even epitomize its plot line, they would know how indictable they will be upon Christ’s return. How will any Pharisaical leaders defend themselves with so much history with all its truisms of life staring at them? “Stop judging that you may not be judged; for with what judgment you are judging, you will be judged; and with the measure that you are measuring out, they will measure out to you. Why, then, do… Read more »
The preaching work is not even the most important work for Christians. What is the most important work? Showing love. This is backed up by scripture. Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.… Read more »
“As never before in history, millions from all nations are turning to true worship.”
The Mormons, Adventists and Seventh Day Adventists would say exactly the same or more so as they have increased numerically substantially more in recent decades than JW’s.
I think articles like this put a lot of pressure on young people its all based again around this thought that we are on the brink of armageddon .Wheres the balance .unfortunatly many young people have lost out on their chance to learn skills that could have made it much easier to make a living raise a family ect .Any that make these choice seem to be accused of materialism . I wish they would avoid extremes either way .kev
“but now a third of humanity calls itself Christian. ” I was also thinking about this last week. First of all, let me say that I definitely wouldn’t try to detract from the command to preach – it was clearly an important directive from Jesus to make the good news known. One of the things that never felt quite right though was this idea, that the witnesses are the only ones with the truth and in line to be saved. I suppose I have never really believed that, but the amount of time we put into the ministry is truly… Read more »
Joel, you addressed some of my personal issues. Thinking about Eph. 4:11, it shows that from Jesus perspective, there are many capacities in which someone can serve Jesus and the kingdom. It is not all about preaching but it is the total mix of qualities that are available to serve the kingdom. Also, Jesus is the one who is righteous and as such will judge. He can read the heart. During his life, He showed many times that faith in His position was far more important than to know much about the bible. In that sense, I agree with you… Read more »
“When Jesus gave the commission to his followers (admittedly when preaching to the Jews), he told them to enter into a city, give them the good news and if they were not received – to leave” That is an interesting thought. We are working our territories to death . The other night on the local needs part, the brothers and sisters were discouraged from preaching on street because it was not within the boundary of our congregation’s assigned territory . Those brothers and sisters were indirectly counseled to obey the direction of the elders / slave in what is “least”… Read more »
Regarding the use of lines / texts from the publications or RNWT, I understand your concern and often it is better to avoid issues. Nevertheless, I think that in case one is a baptized JW, he can freely use ll material. I work for a company and I ca use (non confidential) material as long as I state where it comes from. That is in my view exactly what we do, we use and state where it comes from.
But like I said, I fully understand your concern. Keep up the good work.
I agree that in principle there is nothing wrong for a young person to help others to learn to read the bible. In fact, I could even promote it as long as it is voluntary. A free choice. Therefore it is unfortunate the the WT make use of this kind of statements, as in Par. 3: The only acceptable way to “remember” Jehovah is to serve him fully. (Deut. 10:12) and then to link this to preaching or serving the organisation somehow. Also, as in Par. 4 to state that one is considered wise when: These are vital decisions, but… Read more »
Although I personally take part in the preaching work, I reiterate here what I stated in another post that there is no evidence that rank-and-file (to use the Society’s parlance) first Century Christians were urged/required/demanded to go in field service (door to door) as we do it today. This was a task that only a few took part in (missionaries, evangelizers, apostles, prophets) because they alone were qualified for this job. This is not to say that they were not required to preach, no, but their preaching was only informal (to relative, neighbours, acquaintances etc). Today, however, the preaching activity… Read more »