I was raised believing we are preaching a life-saving message. This isn’t in the sense of salvation from sin and death, but in the sense of salvation from eternal destruction at Armageddon. Our publications liken it to the message of Ezekiel, and we are warned that like Ezekiel, if we do not go door to door, we will incur blood guilt.
(Ezekiel 3:18) When I say to someone wicked, ‘You will surely die,’ but you do not warn him, and you fail to speak in order to warn the wicked one to turn from his wicked course so that he may stay alive, he will die for his error because he is wicked, but I will ask his blood back from you.
Now let me insert a little disclaimer here: I’m not saying that we shouldn’t preach. We are under command from our Lord Jesus to make disciples. The question is: What are we commanded to preach?
Jesus came to the earth to declare the good news. However, our message is a warning to the wicked that they are going to die eternally if they don’t listen to us. Essentially, we are taught that the blood of all those on earth who die at Armageddon would be on our hands if we do not preach. How many thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses believed this in the first 60 years of the 20th Century. Yet everyone they preached to, whether they accepted the message or not, ended up dead; not at God’s hands, but because of inherited sin. They all went to Hades; the common grave. Thus, according to our publications, all these dead ones will be raised. So no blood guilt was incurred.
This has caused me to realize that our preaching work was never about warning people about Armageddon. How could it be when the message has been on-going for 2,000 years and Armageddon still hasn’t happened. We cannot know when that day or hour will come, so we cannot alter our preaching work to provide a warning against imminent destruction. Our true message has not changed for a score of centuries. As in the days of Christ, so it is now. It is the good news about the Christ. It is about reconciliation with God. It is about the gathering of a seed by which the nations will bless themselves. Those who respond have the opportunity to be with Christ in the heavens and to serve in the restoration of a paradise earth, taking part in the healing of the nations. (Ge 26:4; Gal 3:29)
Those who do not listen do not necessarily lose out entirely. If that were the case, then there would be no one to resurrect from the time of Christ onward—at least no one from Christendom. The message we are supposed to preach isn’t about escaping destruction at Armageddon, but about becoming reconciled with God.
The artificial urgency of preaching a message aimed at saving people from imminent destruction has altered lives and disrupted families. It is presumptuous as well, for it assumes we know how close that destruction is, when the facts of history have revealed that we have no idea whatsoever. If you count from the publication of the first Watchtower, we have been preaching imminent destruction for over 135 years! However, it’s worse than that, for the doctrines that influenced Russell originate at least 50 years before he started his preaching work, meaning that the urgent message of the nearness of the end has been on the lips of Christians for two centuries. Of course, we could go back even farther if we chose, but the point is made. The eagerness of Christians to know the unknowable has led to deviation from the true message of the good news since sometime in the first century. It has shifted the focus of these ones—myself included for a time—so that we have preached an altered and corrupted good news of the Christ. What danger is there in doing that? Paul’s words spring to mind.
(Galatians 1:8, 9) . . .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.
There is still time to put things right if we have the courage to do so.
Meleti, I think it’s shocking that they have applied Ezekiel 3 v18 to the millions of brothers and sisters today . Ezekiel was a man who was directly appointed by god to express gods judgements many of whom he saw by supernatural visions he would have had no doubts at all that he had God’s spirit and his backing. To say that it applies today brings a weighty and shocking responsibility to every JW many of whom Are young and should not be under that type of pressure That can lead to terrible problems with stress and anxiety. It’s extreme… Read more »
Thanks, all, for your responses to my question.
Just wondering: Jesus said that this GOOD NEWS OF THE KINGDOM will be preached. Let’s just say for sake of argument that Jesus was referring to our time. the message He had in mind was GOOD NEWS. Nowhere do we read that the apostles had to tell people to escape to the mountains when the end comes. From that perspective, the good news was to give hope to people, a future to look forward to. If it would be a life saving work, we all would be prophets as prophets were assigned by God to tell (specific) people what Jehovah… Read more »
Great comments! I agree and have I felt the same way about “our” ministry for many years and despise the counting of FS time.(if we are going to report time, report actual time spent talking to people-that would be more accurate) If the GB really took the preaching work seriously as a life saving mission,modern communication technology would have been incorporated a long time ago to reach people. We can see printing of books and magazines is about extinct everywhere, and the door to door work is so ineffective as no one is ever home.(just look at hours worldwide to… Read more »
Using modern media is good but let’s be realistic: “selling” jw.org is not the message Jesus had in mind.
I agree that modern tools should be used to speak about the real message, not to draw people to the organisation or to JW.org.
I very much disapprove the planned campaign in AUgust to distribute sheets to promote JW.org.
Yes. Not jw.org but Jesus:
2. Cor. 4:5
For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.
I agree with you, menrov. The GB wants all the Elders to get “fired up” about this Corporate campaign and pioneer. I’ll never do it!
There is an article in April KM about using recorded message on the Jw.org and playing it to the householder in the ministry. It reminds me of the gramophones records with the Rutherford speeches back in the early 19 century , only difference is that we use iPhone or any other mobile device but the method is same. As far as August campaign is concern it’s nothing else but advertising Wt and not the Bible message and for this reason I am not going to participate in this.
“If the GB is so secure with the “Truth” why not use TV-radio-webinars to reach the masses with the urgent life saving message, it’s not like they can’t afford it and the 8 million JW’s would certainly contribute to this. cents :)”
What you have described would be effective and it is really just a modern version of the early methods that the Russelites/Bible students employed…..
And wait until you hear how the Kingdom Hall loan arrrangement is going to change in the next couple of months!
I love preaching. But I don’t love counting time. Counting time especially for those in the full time ministry can tilt the balance to quantity rather than quality.
“But no, everything is done very routinely as if they were selling vacuum cleaners”
I needed a laugh and that really made me laugh:)
1 Cor 15:1-4 (NIV) Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you have received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. 1 Tim 4:1-3,6-7 (Phi) God’s Spirit specifically tells… Read more »
“Message preached by Jw – doomsday anytime soon , 1914, paradise for Jw only, overlaping generation, 1919/18 slave appointment, obedience to the mother organization, two class christians, shun your brother ,etc. The bible message is a beatifull message that makes me fell free and grateful to the our God and his son for his ransom sacrifice. Love is the motive to do right things in my live and not fear. Watchtower message makes me depressed.”
When you list out our false doctrines like that… How in the world do we have the audacity to point the finger at christendom??
I think probably most JWs already recognize subconsciously that they are not engaged in a life saving preaching work. This fact however would be denied vigorously. For instance when I was teenager a veteran pioneer introduced me to the “pioneer shuffle” a slow leisurely stroll meant to eat up time between doors. If this brother had truly believed in his heart of hearts that he was in a life saving work he would not have been wasting time. There are many other ways that time is wasted out in field service. The GB doesn’t even truly believe it. Otherwise they… Read more »
” How else can it be explained that after preaching for many decades the people in the territory have no idea of what JWs basic message is about?”
I believe every single publisher /pioneer can attest to this…..in all my years of preaching householders consistently believe one thing…. We do not believe in Jesus. That was my biggest pet peeve until recently. I understand now why people may believe that.What other Christian religion gets accused of not believe in Jesus?? We only use Jesus as “bait” to convert people into our religion.
I blame spell check on grammatical laziness.
My problem: I think much faster than I type 🙂 🙂
I have never liked the field ministry much, despite the fact I served as a pioneer. My best return visits and conversations happened when only the bible was used. One of my return visits refused to use publications and insisted we only use the bible, thinking back I have her to thank for helping the scales to fall off my eyes so to speak. The purpose of Jesus coming to earth is beautifully summed up in Isaiah 61:1 “The spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.… Read more »
Hi Rob! Excellent question “And what do you believe is the position of those who hear, respond, and then, thinking there is too much wrong with the WTS, leave and continue life as unbelievers?” I cannot answer for Meleti, but I believe that if one leaves the WTS for thinking their teachings are not the same that the Bible teaches, they are only unbelievers in the WTS literature or teachings. They most certainly still can be believers in God’s word the Bible. They can acknowledge that Jehovah is our Heavenly Father and Creator and that Jesus, his only-begotten son, is… Read more »
What I love most is the question asked of Jesus after, i.e., “Who is my neighbor?” and Jesus choice answer in Luke 10:29-35 . . . that little story of the most hated of all neighbors of the Jewish hierarchy? Recall Jesus final question: “Who of these three seems to you to have made himself neighbor to the man that fell among the robbers?” The man couldn’t even utter “Samaritan” but said instead, “The one that acted mercifully toward him.” Now think of our teaching that all who live outside of our religious stronghold are deserving to die. Will history… Read more »
It is quite interesting that in English Law (I love this application in caselaw when I studied the subject at college), Lord Atkin made use of this lovely commandment which Jesus shared and taught us. Lord Atkin asked, “Who then is my neighbour?” Paraphrasing his answer, he replied: Anyone who is closely or directly affected by my act (or omission to act (when I should have acted), who I should have thought could be affected. This entails not only thinking that my act is capable of affecting another person but it does actually affect them. Taking this further, particularly those… Read more »
The preaching work the Governing Body leads is broken. 1. The message is wrong. 2. The literature left in the field is a waste of time and money. 3. No One, I repeat, No One is being led to Christ. They are being led to men. 4. The hours counted are like the fringes on the garments in the first century…a way of “looking” righteous and it becomes a stumbling to the friends. 5. I could go on but my stomach will not allow it. When I go in the field I do so for only one reason: to support… Read more »
“The hours counted are like the fringes on the garments in the first century…a way of “looking” righteous and it becomes a stumbling to the friends. ”
You better keep doing that because I’m one of them that needs that encouragement brother.
Thanks for percervering for the likes of me.
Thanks Meleti, and I agree. Lately when I preach, I hardly ever use the magazines but simply my bible and use a verse that emphazise the role of Jesus. It gives me a good feeling to tell people about Jesus. If the person already believes in Jesus, I show that I am pleased to hear and supports that person to continue to learn more about Jesus. Not sure how long it will take before some will start to ask questions about my way of preaching but so be it. Regarding question from Robcrompton, I disagree with the statement that when… Read more »
Thanks, Menrov, but I meant specifically unbelievers in WT teachings – as many leaving the WT undoubtedly are.
Thanks for the clarification. And yes, I agree with that completely.
Meleti, could you clarify something for me, please? When I was a JW (I left in the mid 60s) we believed that all who heard but failed to respond to the message would either die at Armageddon or not be resurrected. I have recently heard it said by JWs that all who die before Armageddon will be resurrected and given their chance and I had assumed that this was a misunderstanding based upon wishful thinking or basic individual decency. Has there been a change? And what do you believe is the position of those who hear, respond, and then, thinking… Read more »
My understanding from back in the 60s was that those who died before Armageddon would be resurrected, but those who God killed himself at Armageddon would not. Can’t say if that was ever explicitly expressed in the publications or not, but it was what I was taught.
I don’t believe that has changed officially, but more and more witnesses are having trouble with the idea of a God who would destroy everyone on earth simply because they never had the opportunity to accept the message.
Rob, you may be referring to this from the July 15, 2013 Watchtower (p. 6-7, par. 10-13): WHEN DOES JESUS JUDGE THE SHEEP AND THE GOATS? 10 Consider now the timing of another part of Jesus’ prophecy—the parable of the judgment of the sheep and the goats. (Matt. 25:31-46) Previously, we thought that the judging of people as sheep or goats would take place during the entire period of the last days from 1914 onward. We concluded that those who rejected the Kingdom message and who died before the start of the great tribulation would die as goats—without the hope… Read more »
One problem I see with the WT quote above is in paragraph 12: “Jesus’ prophecy about the last days reveals that he will for the very first time act as Judge of all nations after the destruction of false religion.” I wonder how they arrive at such a specific conclusion. Compare with this: (2 Thessalonians 2:8 NWT) . . .Then, indeed, the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will do away with by the spirit of his mouth and bring to nothing by the manifestation of his presence. Jesus is described as an ‘acting judge’ here. This would be… Read more »
Hmm, a problem with a Watchtower quote. How odd! 🙂