[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.[1]  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.[2]

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.)[3] 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.

[1] 1 Corinthians 13:12
[2] 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)
[3] 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.

Meleti Vivlon

Articles by Meleti Vivlon.
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