It would be hard to find a more “hot button” topic for Jehovah’s Witnesses then the discussion of who goes to heaven. Understanding what the Bible really has to say on the subject is vital—in the fullest sense of the word. However, there is something standing in our way, so let’s deal with that first.
Dealing with Apostates
Most Jehovah’s Witnesses who stumble on a site like this will turn away immediately. The reason is conditioning. Men and women who boldly go from house to house not knowing whom they will encounter on the other side of the door; men and women who believe themselves to be thoroughly prepared to discuss and overturn whatever strongly entrenched belief is thrown at them on the spur of the moment; these same men and women will go mute, hold up a dismissive palm, and turn away from an honest scriptural discussion if it comes from someone they have labeled as an apostate.
Now there are real apostates to be sure. There are also sincere Christians who simply disagree with some teachings of men. However, if those men are the Governing Body, the latter get dumped into the same bucket as real apostates in the minds of most Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Does such an attitude reflect the spirit of the Christ, or is it the attitude of a physical man?
“But a physical man does not accept the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot get to know them, because they are examined spiritually. 15 However, the spiritual man examines all things, but he himself is not examined by any man. 16 For “who has come to know the mind of Jehovah, so that he may instruct him?” But we do have the mind of Christ.” (1Co 2:14-16)
We can all agree that Jesus was the epitome of a “spiritual man”. He ‘examined all things’. When confronted by the ultimate apostate, what example did Jesus set? He did not refuse to listen. Instead he refuted each of the devil’s specious scriptural allegations, using the opportunity to rebuke Satan. He did this by using the power of Holy Scripture and in the end, he was not the one who turned away. It was the devil who fled in defeat.[i]
If one of my Jehovah’s Witnesses brethren truly holds himself to be a spiritual man, then he will have the mind of Christ and will “examine all things” which includes the scriptural arguments that follow. If these are sound, he will accept them; but if flawed, then he will correct me and those who read this article by using solid Scriptural reasoning.
If, on the other hand, he holds to a teaching of the organization but will refuse to examine it spiritually—that is, guided by the spirit that leads us into the deep things of God—then he is fooling himself by thinking he is a spiritual man. He fits the very definition of a physical man. (1Co 2:10; John 16:13)
The Question Before Us
Are We Children of God?
According to the Governing Body there are more than 8 million Jehovah’s Witnesses who should consider themselves privileged to be called God’s friends. Being his children is not on the table. These ones are warned that it would be a sin for them to partake of the emblems at the upcoming memorial of Christ’s death on April 3rd, 2015. As we discussed in the preceding article, this belief originates with Judge Rutherford and is based on supposed prophetic antitypes which are not found in Scripture. The use of such types and anti-types has been disavowed by the Governing Body. Yet they continue to teach a doctrine even after removing its foundation.
Despite the complete lack of scriptural support for this doctrine, there is one Bible text that is always raised in our publications as proof and which is used to keep Jehovah’s Witnesses from reaching out to grasp hold of this hope.
The Litmus Test Text
You may recall from your high school chemistry that a litmus test involves exposing a piece of treated paper to a liquid to determine whether it is acid or alkaline. Blue litmus paper turns red when dipped in an acid.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have a spiritual version of this litmus test. We propose to use Romans 8:16 to measure whether we are God’s children or not.
“The spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (Ro 8:16)
The idea is that at baptism we all start out as other sheep, God’s friends with an earthly hope. We are like the blue litmus paper. However at some point in their spiritual development, certain individuals are miraculously made aware through some undisclosed means that they are God’s children. The litmus paper has turned red.
Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in modern-day miracles, nor inspired dreams and visions. Our application of Romans 8:16 is the only exception to this rule. We believe that by some unexplained miraculous means, God reveals those he has called. Of course, God is entirely capable of doing this. If there is solid Scriptural evidence for this interpretation, then we must accept it. Failing that however, we must dismiss it as modern-day mysticism.
Let us therefore follow the counsel of the Governing Body itself and look at the context of verse 16 so that we can learn what Paul had in mind. We’ll start at the beginning of the chapter.
“Therefore, those in union with Christ Jesus have no condemnation. For the law of the spirit that gives life in union with Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. What the Law was incapable of doing because it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and concerning sin, condemned sin in the flesh, so that the righteous requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us who walk, not according to the flesh, but according to the spirit.” (Romans 8:1-4)
Paul is contrasting the effect of the Mosaic law which condemns all men to death, for none can fully keep it due to our sinful flesh. It was Jesus who set us free from that law by introducing a different law, one based on the spirit. (See Romans 3:19-26) As we continue our reading, we’ll see how Paul frames these laws into two opposing forces, the flesh and the spirit.
“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the spirit, on the things of the spirit. For setting the mind on the flesh means death, but setting the mind on the spirit means life and peace; because setting the mind on the flesh means enmity with God, for it is not in subjection to the law of God, nor, in fact, can it be. So those who are in harmony with the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:5-8)
If you who are reading this believe yourself to be one of the other sheep class with an earthly hope; if you believe yourself to be God’s friend but not his son; then ask yourself which of these two elements are you pursuing? Do you pursue the flesh with death in view? Or do you believe that you have the spirit of God with life in view? Either way, you must acknowledge that Paul presents you with only two options.
“However, you are in harmony, not with the flesh, but with the spirit, if God’s spirit truly dwells in you. But if anyone does not have Christ’s spirit, this person does not belong to him.” (Romans 8:9)
Do you wish to belong to Christ or not? If the former, then you want God’s spirit to dwell in you. The alternative, as we’ve just read, is to mind the flesh, but that leads to death. Again, we are faced with a binary choice. There are only two options.
“But if Christ is in union with you, the body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is life because of righteousness. If, now, the spirit of him who raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised up Christ Jesus from the dead will also make your mortal bodies alive through his spirit that resides in you.” (Romans 8:10, 11)
I cannot redeem myself through works for my sinful flesh condemns me. It is only God’s spirit within me that makes me alive in his eyes. To keep the spirit, I must strive to live not according to the flesh, but according to the spirit. This is Paul’s main point.
“So, then, brothers, we are under obligation, not to the flesh to live according to the flesh; for if you live according to the flesh, you are sure to die; but if you put the practices of the body to death by the spirit, you will live.” (Romans 8:12, 13)
So far, Paul has only spoken of two options, one good and one bad. We can be led by the flesh which results in death; or we can be led by the spirit which results in life. Do you feel God’s spirit leading you to life? Has it guided you throughout your life? Or have you been following the flesh all these years?
You will notice that Paul makes no provision for a third option, a middle ground between the flesh and the spirit.
What happens if a Christian follows the spirit?
“For all who are led by God’s spirit are indeed God’s sons.” (Romans 8:14)
This is simple and straightforward. It needs no interpretation. Paul is simply saying what he means. If we follow the spirit we are God’s children. If we don’t follow the spirit, we are not. He speaks of no group of Christians who follow the spirit, but are not God’s sons.
If you believe yourself to be a member of the other sheep class as defined by Jehovah’s Witnesses, then you must ask yourself this: Am I led by God’s spirit? If no, then you are minding the flesh with death in view. If yes, then you are a child of God based on Romans 8:14.
Those who are still unwilling to give up the litmus test approach to Romans 8:16 will suggest that both the anointed and other sheep have God’s spirit, but that spirit only bears witness to some that they are God’s sons while rejecting others as only friends.
However, this reasoning forces a limitation which is not found in Romans 8:14. As further proof of this, consider the next verse:
“For you did not receive a spirit of slavery causing fear again, but you received a spirit of adoption as sons, by which spirit we cry out: “Abba, Father!” – Romans 8:15
It was the Mosaic law which caused fear by showing we are enslaved to sin and thus condemned to die. The spirit that Christians receive is one of “adoption as sons” by which spirit we all can cry out: “Abba, Father!” This makes absolutely no sense if we believe that all Jehovah’s Witnesses have God’s spirit but only some of them are his sons.
A test of the validity of any scriptural understanding is that it harmonizes with the rest of God’s inspired word. What Paul is presenting here is a single hope for Christians based on all receiving the one true spirit of God. He makes this reasoning abundantly clear in his letter to the Ephesians.
“One body there is, and one spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Eph. 4:4-6)
One Hope or Two?
When I first came to the realization that the heavenly hope was extended to all Christians I was greatly conflicted. I’ve learned that this is a common reaction among Jehovah’s Witnesses. The idea that everybody goes to heaven makes no sense to us. Accepting such a thought would be like going backwards into false religion from our point of view. The next words out of our mouth will be something like, “If everybody goes to heaven, then who stays on earth?” Finally, we’re bound to ask, “Who has the earthly hope?”
Let address these doubts and questions in point form.
- Some people go to heaven.
- Most people—in fact the vast, vast majority—will live on earth.
- There is only one hope.
- There is no earthly hope.
If points two and four seem to be in conflict, let me assure you that they are not.
We are talking about Christianity here. Within the Christian framework there is only one hope, one reward, which is imparted by one Spirit through the one baptism under the one Lord, Jesus, for the one father, Jehovah. Jesus never spoke to his disciples about a second hope, a kind of consolation prize for those who didn’t make the cut.
What gets us hung up is the word “hope”. Hope is based on a promise. Prior to knowing the Christ, the Ephesians had no hope because they were not in a covenant relationship with God. The covenant he made with Israel constituted his promise. The Israelites would then hope to receive the promised reward.
“At that time you were without Christ, alienated from the state of Israel, strangers to the covenants of the promise; you had no hope and were without God in the world.” (Eph 2:12)
Without a covenanted promise, the Ephesians had nothing to hope for. Some accepted the Christ and entered into the New Covenant, a new promise from God, and thus had the hope of the fulfillment of that promise if they did their part. The majority of the first century Ephesians did not accept Christ, and so had no promise to hope for. Yet, they will come back in the resurrection of the unrighteous. However, that is not a hope for there is no promise. All they had to do to be resurrected was die. Their resurrection is inevitable, but it holds no hope, only opportunity.
So when we say that billions will be resurrected and live in the New World, that is not a hope but an eventuality. Most will have died completely ignorant of all this and only learn of it upon their return to life.
So when we say that most people will live on earth, we are referring to the prospect of the resurrection of the unrighteous in which countless billions will be returned to life on earth and then be offered the promise of everlasting life if they put faith in Jesus Christ. At that point in time they will have an earthly hope, but for now there is no promise extended to Christians for life on earth.
The Four Slaves
In Luke 12:42-48, Jesus refers to four slaves.
- A faithful one who gets appointed over all his belongings.
- An evil one who is cut to pieces and banished with the unfaithful ones.
- A slave who willfully disobeyed the Master, beaten with many strokes.
- A slave who in ignorance disobeyed the master, beaten with a few strokes.
Slaves 2 thru 4 miss out on the reward offered by the Master. Nevertheless, it appears that slaves 3 and 4 survive, continuing in the Master’s household. They are punished, but not killed. Since the beating occurs after the Master has arrived, it must be a future event.
One cannot imagine the God of all justice condemning to eternal death someone who acted in ignorance. That would seem to dictate that such an individual would be given the opportunity to correct his course of action upon receiving accurate knowledge of God’s will.
The parable is addressing Jesus’ disciples. It is not intended to encompass all of earth’s inhabitants. His disciples have the one hope of everlasting life in the heavens with our Lord. The billions of Christians on earth today have that hope but they have been misled by their leaders. Some knowingly do not do the Lord’s will, but an even greater number act in ignorance.
Those who are not judged as faithful and discreet do not get the heavenly reward, but neither do they die for all eternity, save for the evil slave, it seems. Would you consider their outcome, their beating with few or many strokes, a hope to work toward? Hardly.
There is only one hope for Christians, but there are several outcomes for those missing out on the fulfillment of that promise.
For this reason, the Bible says, “Happy and holy is anyone having part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no authority, but they will be priests of God and of the Christ, and they will rule as kings with him for the 1,000 years.” (Re 20:5)
If follows then that those having a part in the second resurrection, that of the unrighteous, will still be under the authority of the second death, at least until the thousand years have ended.
What we have learned from our review of Romans chapter 8 should leave us with no doubt that all Christians are called to be God’s children. However, we must follow the spirit and not the flesh to achieve that. Either we have God’s spirit or we do not. Our mental disposition and our life course will reveal whether we are led by God’s spirit or by the flesh. The awareness of God’s spirit in us is what convinces us that we are God’s children. All of this is evident from Paul’s words to the Corinthians and the Ephesians. The idea that there are two hopes, one earthly and one heavenly, is a human invention that has no basis in Scripture. There is no earthly hope to strive for, but there is an earthly eventuality.
All of this we can say with a significant degree of certainty, but if someone should dissent, let him provide scriptural evidence to the contrary.
Beyond this, we enter the realm of speculation. Knowing the love of God as we do, it is hard to imagine a scenario that is consistent with that love wherein billions die out of ignorance of God’s purpose. Yet this is a scenario that the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses would have us accept. What does seem more likely and what is consistent with the parable of the faithful slave is that there will be many of Jesus disciples who will be resurrected as part of the resurrection of the unrighteous. Perhaps this is what the punishment represented by the strokes, whether many or few, represents. But who can really say?
The majority of Christians will be unprepared for the reality of an earthly resurrection. Some may be pleasantly surprised if they died expecting to go to hell. While others will be severely disappointed to learn that their heavenly hope was misplaced. There is a quaint irony in the fact that the Christians best prepared for this unexpected turn of events will be Jehovah’s Witnesses. If our understanding of the slave who unwittingly disobeyed Jesus is correct, these millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses may find themselves in the very state they expected to be in—resurrected as still-sinful human beings. Of course, upon learning what they actually missed out on–that they could have been children of God reigning with Christ in the heavens—they are bound to feel anger and sadness. Of course, if this scenario is an accurate representation of what will happen, it still only applies to those who die prior to the events comprising the sign of Christ’s presence. What those events will presage, no one can foretell with certainty.
Whatever the case may be, we must stick with what we know. We know that there is one hope and that we have been extended the opportunity to grasp hold of a marvelous reward, that of adoption as sons of God. This is available to us now. Let no man dissuade us from this. Let not the fear of men keep us from obeying Christ’s command to partake of the emblems that symbolize the blood and flesh that he offered to redeem you and me so as to bring us into the family of God.
Let no one block your adoption!
We will continue our consideration of this theme in the next and final article in the series.
[i] The Governing Body has misapplied John’s warning at 2 John 10 to protect itself from those who could defeat its teachings scripturally. By telling us to keep our eyes closed, they make sure that we will not see. The idea that even talking with an apostate is dangerous imbues apostates with near-superhuman powers of persuasion. Are Jehovah’s Witnesses really that mentally weak? I don’t think so. Not the ones I have known. Do they love truth? Yes, many do; and therein lies the danger from the organization’s point of view. If they listen, they just might hear the ring of truth. What John was warning against was social interaction—not receiving an apostate into our homes; not saying a greeting to him, which was much more in those days than a casual hello as one passes another on the street. Jesus didn’t chum around with the devil, sit down and have a snack with him, invite him over for a friendly chat. Doing any of that would have granted implicit approval of his course of action, causing Jesus to become a sharer in his sin. However, refuting the devil’s false reasoning is quite another thing and John never meant to imply that we should refuse to talk with an opposer under those circumstances. Otherwise, it would be impossible for us to go from door to door in our ministry.
[…] will attempt to address these issues and objections in the next part of this […]
So many comforting words and love for this dear sister, I fully understand what she is going through, all these loving posts to reach out has no doubt been a help for others to reading this site, one just does not know how many others you all have helped by your loving kindness and to the sister that has opened up her heart she to has helped others probably without knowing herself, thank you all, Jehovah’s spirit will guide others here for sure that are feeling exactly the way a lot of us do, this is truly a wonderful site… Read more »
Also, Matt 25:31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.” – Could this be after the resurrection of the elect; and therefore the survivors of Armageddon (Isa 24:6(b)) – that is if they are the sheep and goats – the sheep who treated Christ’s brothers well are to inherit the Kingdom (on the earth) for the first part of the Kingdom, that is the 1,000 years. This would fit with Isa 65 – The New Heavens and New Earth, where we see there will be… Read more »
With regards to the identification of the sheep and the goats at Matthew 25.
Isaiah 24:6(b) “Therefore earth’s inhabitants are burned up, and very few are left.” If this scripture is relating to Armageddon and there are survivors, then could these survivors be the sheep and goats? Skye
My sister Imgonaburn, a glimmer of hope! That is exactly what I needed, just a spark of hope. When I felt that little tiny ray of hope…that is the moment I knew that I would somehow find the strength and the courage to eventually be OK again. Circumstances can overwhelm anyone. It is only false pride when we say we would never do “something”! Just look at Peter denying Jesus, not once but three times, a thing he said he would never do. When Peter faced the actual test, he failed because of fear of men. Jesus forgave him for… Read more »
Thank you brothers and sisters for your kind comforting words. Please be aware that you have lifted my spirits and returned to me a glimmer of hope. Thank you so much xx
My dear sister i just wish i could do more to give you encouragement . One of the problems i think with the minset of the JWs is that they have become judgemental . We can qoute the law of moses if we want.. We can sit there and use the scriptures to beat others .because they dont seem to measure up .. The real truth is though that not one of us do measure up wether we are gay or not all of us have sinned and continue to sin in one way or another .All of us are… Read more »
Thanks Kev I agree with you about the jws being a bit judgemental. My 2 older adult kids try not to be judgemental but they can’t help themselves. They have backed right off and they know it hurts me but I believe that it hurts them too. I hope one day they will think more about the ‘golden rule’ and set aside their fear. When I said that I thought that jws are intrinsically linked to the bible I didn’t mean it as if they adhere to scripture so closely that they have the interpretation spot on etc. I have… Read more »
Without love the truth is nothing, but without truth, that is the love of truth, there is no salvation.
“and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.” 2 Thes 2:10
The truth is found in God’s inspired word, the Bible. Keep searching.
My dear sister Imgonaburn, How I wish I was with you right now to give you a big hug. I am so grateful that you took the time to give a comment. Otherwise, I would never know how much pain you are in so I can offer my support, encouragement and love. I remember being at the stage you are at right now. I too left off the Bible and I even stopped praying because it was more than I could handle. I felt so far away from Jehovah, and I felt so unworthy and unforgivable that I could never… Read more »
I’ve shed a few tears since my last post! I’m shocked at the sudden outburst of emotion I felt. I haven’t really mourned what I’ve lost but I think I need to do that next and move on. I do have a stressful month ahead as my son and his partner are being evicted from their home and I’m anxious about that. I really appreciate the kind words and prayers (country girl) I think it’s starting to dawn on me that I don’t need to be angry or feel like I’ve failed to live up to what jws and the… Read more »
Dear SIster, happy to see all the comforting replies for you. I always feel sad if I read stories like yours. A true Christian organisation should cherish its sheep. Jesus did cherish all those who came to Him. Even if one was a convicted criminal or a prostitute. Jesus said that loving your neighbour meant the fulfillment of the law. Therefore indeed, continue to love your family and your fellow man is what draw one close to the Son and through Him to the Father. I see this not as something to hope for but as a promise. Take care!!!
CT Russell taught that there is in hope: The High Calling. A christians are part of that race that only 144,000 will win. The rest will be part of the great crowd that will serve JEHOVAH in heaven. The earth was only a promise to the JEWS and will be for the restoration of mankind. Only During the Gospel Age are those who are following JESUS going to Heaven.
Sorry. That there is ONE hope.
Regarding the sheep and goats in my opinion jesus is just simply showing us what we needto do in order to be a faithful slave of his . The humanitarian and caring works of a christian who has the power in his hand to help those who we may feel are the least of our and christs brothers those who are suffering and those disadvantaged in some way . By doing so the faithful slave gives the domestics thier food at the proper time when they deserately need help . ..The timing is the second coming when the master returns… Read more »
Also Kev.As you say the sheep inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the begining.As flesh and blood does not inherit the kingdom, they must receive immortal bodies, so are also Christ’s Brothers!
I sincerely appreciate everyone’s input into this very interesting discussion. All of mankind has been and is being misled to some degree or other. Would we expect any less from Satan, the God of this world, this system of things? Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven belongs to ones like children. We grown ups tend to make life far too complicated for our own good. The older I become, the more simplicity appeals to me. What I say is not nearly as important as what I do. A person can claim anything they wish. It is in their actions… Read more »
iamacountrygirl2 Well stated my sister! 1 Tim. 6:3-6 . 3 If any man teaches other doctrine and does not assent to healthful words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, nor to the teaching that accords with godly devotion, 4 he is puffed up [with pride], not understanding anything, but being mentally diseased over questionings and debates about words. From these things spring envy, strife, abusive speeches, wicked suspicions, 5 violent disputes about trifles on the part of men corrupted in mind and despoiled of the truth, thinking that godly devotion is a means of gain. 6 To be sure, it is a means of… Read more »
Very nicely expressed.
Thanks country girl . What you have written there is spot on ithink . Kev
Thank you for expressing so eloquently what I’ve felt in my heart for a long time. I’ve expressed to others that I feel Witnesses are among the most judgmental people on earth. That’s not a good thing and not a good feeling for me.
Showing love and not worrying about every little doctrinal glitch is a better way, I feel. Still, it’s hard to do that in a JW environment where field service, pioneering, etc. is pushed to the forefront above all else.
“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” — James 1:27
imacountrygirl2 I read your comment with interest thank you. I feel similarly to you in that rather than our first impulse be to judge another person we should rather try to work what is good toward all. Sadly, after 30 years spent as a jw I cannot continue with the expression by saying …especially towards those related to us in the faith. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I’m an apostate but I have definitely lost faith. I have fallen away from religion. I’m no longer confident in the truth of the written word. I question everything.… Read more »
Dear sister notgonnaburn .thanks for your comments . I do sympathise .. keep your chin up . . I found it difficult as well .after 20 years . When i picked up my bible for a long time it just seemed to open up old wounds . It just reminded me of the pain i suffered while in the religion. I do not believe though that the JWs are intrinsicly linked to scripture though ..i think they are only partially linked ..in actual fact the will of god is simple its all about expressing faith through love . Your brother… Read more »
Imgonaburn, we have been led to believe that people will be judged and assigned to eternal death or the prospect of everlasting life based on how they respond to our preaching work. By doing this, our leadership has made us feel special while infusing in us an artificial sense of urgency and a tremendous burden of guilt. We feel we must preach at every waking moment, keep very accurate records and make sure we get back to every return visit because who knows if by our failure to follow through someone might actually be condemned to die forever that could… Read more »
What you’ve provided above does not interact with my point. I will, respond to yours, however. Christians come out of all nations (Revelation 5:10), so we would expect that the judgment of the nations would include both Christians and nonChristians.
With regard to the hope discussion, I like to share this verse (Acts 26:17,18):
KJV(i) 17 Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
In other words, the Gentiles who would listen would inherit the same as the ones who were sanctified by faith in Jesus.
I believe the whole HOPE doctrine by WBTS is wrong as it is focusing on the wrong things. I do not see that the bible teaches a hope on a life in heaven or on earth. In my view, it teaches a hope to be saved and receive eternal life in the kingdom. The WBTS teaches that one, who they call anointed, is already sure of receiving eternal life and therefore their focus is completely on a life in heaven. The rank and file can only hope to be granted a life on earth. But this doctrine lacks the fact… Read more »
Yes, there is no such a thing as “heavenly hope” or “earthly hope” in the Bible, those are Watchtower terms like are “heavenly resurrection” and “earthly resurrection”. Hope is simply about having eternal, immortal life instead of this one we have now.
Jesus’ Parting Words to His Disciples
“Do not let your hearts be distressed. You believe in God; believe also in me. THERE ARE MANY DWELLING PLACES IN MY FATHER’S HOUSE. Otherwise, I would have told you, because I am going away to make ready a place for you. And if I go and make ready a place for you, I will come again and take you to be with me, so that where I am you may be too. And you know the way where I am going.”
(John 14:1-4 NET Bible)
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” How do these promises figure into all this? The Watchtower makes a fairly convincing case, based on Psalm 2, that those who receive the promised kingdom – Jesus and his ‘brothers’ – also ‘inherit the earth’ as the dominion of the kingdom. So, if the earthly-but-not-heavenly hope is not really a bible-based hope, perhaps we can say that neither is a heavenly-but-not-earthly one. If those who serve as kings and priests ‘reign on the earth’, as some… Read more »
I have said this before but I will say it again: Nowhere in the Bible we find the term “Kingdom in heaven”. Kingdom of heaven = Kingdom of God (Matthew 19:23,24), it belongs to God, it originates from God, it is his arrangement. Heaven does not need a kingdom which would fix things there but this Earth does. Even if Revelation 5:9,10 is rendered “over the earth” instead of “on the earth” – why would the new rulers be somewhere else than in their Kingdom? If a new president is elected in Iceland, will he rule from Australia?
Spot on ! What was the promise to Abraham’s seed? What did the Anointed One inherit? The earth! And should He not recogncile it with the heavens? Isn’t the Kingdom BOTH heavens and earth? It’s not a question of place, but of being rescued; and that’s all about LOVE. Why worry about placement: ‘Whatever God wants for me..!’ I’m the Road, the Truth and the Life: Love your neighbor! We can’t get it wrong when we love our fellow man ..and I think that’s the lack of love that condemns the goats .. and that goes for everybody – christians… Read more »
Just reading your note about 2 john 10 totally agree again with the reasoning . A greeting according to the oxford and cambridge dictionary is a welcome .recieving one into our homes is an act of hospitality . The one who pushes ahead not remaining in the teaching of the christ describes a false teacher who has gone beyond the things written about christ in scripture .including his commands . . To welcome and provide hospitality for such a person shows support and acceptance of his message . Hence we would be a sharer in his sins but as you… Read more »
Thank you doesn’t make sense what the GB teach in regards to a literal number of 14400, it is elitist and not in the teaching of Christ that all are brothers all share the reward as Sons of God and again as the scriptures in Rom 8 say all those led by the spirit are sons of God, no mention of another hope. Thought this was an excellent point on hope. “However, that is not a hope for there is no promise. All they had to do to be resurrected was die. Their resurrection is inevitable, but it holds no… Read more »
I found the article very thought provoking with much of what I have of lately come to believe. Thank you.
One Question Meleti
You said “Then the seed, once its number is filled, will proceed to carry out the mission of reconciling humanity with God. Salvation begins with the children of God”
Do you believe in that number as 144,000, as you said all Gods children have the hope of living in the heaven with Christ this is the hope of all Christians.
Hi Katrina, 144,000 may be a literal number, but personally, I doubt that. The reason is that if we take it as literal then we have to acknowledge that it is the total or sum of 12 other numbers. Each tribe contributes 12,000 to make up the 144,000. 4 And I heard the number of those who were sealed, 144,000, sealed out of every tribe of the sons of Israel: 5 Out of the tribe of Judah 12,000 sealed; out of the tribe of Reuʹben 12,000; out of the tribe of Gad 12,000; 6 out of the tribe of Ashʹer 12,000; out of… Read more »
Excellent article. And humbling to say the least. If I might add my own fallible thoughts, since I once ridiculed the simple ones who claimed salvation by Jesus with limited Bible knowledge. I, on the other hand, could not shut my brain off long enough for a simple thought. There was no down time. It just churned on to exhaustion and and a depressed state as I analyzed ad nauseam. And so I began simplifying, adapting Ockham’s Razor over and over again until theory came closest to reason. When Jesus departed, he gave no hint to the time/space continuum of… Read more »
totally agree with you. great comment!
Wow, that’s a great illustration- you guys make some great observations. Thanks
When you are in a strange city without a map (this is back before the days of universal GPS 🙂 ) and you stop and ask a policeman for directions to a particular hotel, you trust him because of his office. Now, if that policeman gives you the wrong directions and you end up in a bad neighborhood, are you to blame? Have you been misled? My answer to the first question is, “I don’t know.” It depends on factors not in evidence. My answer to the second question is an unequivocal, Yes! Being misled is one half of a… Read more »
Meleti, two questions to which I would like to hear an answer from you:
1. Are the sheep in Matt 25:32-46 CHRISTIANS or not?
2. Their reward is a HEAVENLY or an EARTHLY one?
Apollos and I have been discussing the parable of the sheep and the goats for some time now. We haven’t arrived at a conclusion yet. What we can deduce from the parable is that they are not Christ’s brothers. Therefore, it would appear that they do not rule with him as kings and priests in the heavens. That doesn’t preclude a heavenly reward, but an earthly one seems more likely. However, they do get everlasting life, so they are judged as righteous. The fact that the sheep and goats are unaware who Christ’s brother’s are seems to indicate that this… Read more »
Meleti, I don’t really share your confidence in deducing that these sheep can not be Christ’s brothers. Christ himself instructed his disciples to have love among themselves, and said this would be the chief identifier of his followers (John 12:34,65). In fact, if we draw from your article above, the only example that Jesus gave that is at risk of complete destruction is the “evil slave” who was abusive and unloving of his brothers and sisters. In structuring a simple parable, it would be impossible for Jesus to include in his response to the sheep or goat every single factor… Read more »
Thank you for sharing this with us, Aletheia. You’ve expressed sound reasoning and I see great value in this understanding of the parable. It does seem to tie up the loose ends.
That is my opinion as well actually .and its interesting to read others have a similar mindset .thanks aletheia . Kev
I must disagree that the sheep are not Christ’s brothers. In this text we have three groups: angels, sheep and goats. Twice Jesus uses the pronoun “these” to refer to one of the groups, and it is “these my brothers.” It is unlikely the angels and certainly not the goats. There is no other group in the context for the pronoun to refer to but the sheep.
The text this reflects upon how the sheep acted toward each other.
Hi Answerforjws, Matthew 25:32 says that the nations (or people) are gathered to receive judgment. This is what STRONG says about this word: ἔθνος a race (as of the same habit), i.e. a tribe; specially, a foreign (non-Jewish) one (usually, by implication, pagan) In other words, the word most likely refers not to His brothers (persons Jesus already knew and whom He considered His brother, they did not become His brothe during judgment but were already) but to the nations in general. From this group, Jesus selects those He compares with sheep. The group is surprised as they were not… Read more »
In order to get the right conclusions of the parable of the sheep and thegoats it must be remembered that this parable does not stand alone . But is connected to the parables of the faithful and the unfaithful Slave and the discreet and foolish virgins . Also in themselves are parables in response to questions raised in matthew 24 .such as who really is the faithful and discreet slave ? The whole context needs to be considered from matthew 23 onward to get the sense i think . Kev
The following two scriptures appear to indicate (correct me if I’m wrong) that the anointing by holy spirit among the first Christians was a visible event. (See also the account of Cornelius.) (Ephesians 1:13, 14) 13 But you also hoped in him after you heard the word of truth, the good news about your salvation. After you believed, you were sealed by means of him with the promised holy spirit, 14 which is a token in advance of our inheritance, for the purpose of releasing God’s own possession by a ransom, to his glorious praise. (Acts 8:14-17) 14 When the apostles in Jerusalem… Read more »
What an excellent point!
Yes thats correct the bible speaks of visible manifestations of the holy spirit acts 2 v 3 and 4 hebrews 2 v4 1 corinthians 12 v7 also 1 corinthians 14 v 22 . To be fair this was one point that put doubt in my mind pondering wether any of us truly have the holy spirit or not . . If we have then what we are saying is that we have moved on from infancy to the surpassing way of love mentioned at 1 corinthians 13 .and more than anything its this quality that shows that we are anointed… Read more »
Meleti, may I refer you back to your own words? “Either we have God’s spirit or we do not. Our mental disposition and our life course will reveal whether we are led by God’s spirit or by the flesh. The awareness of God’s spirit in us is what convinces us that we are God’s children. All of this is evident from Paul’s words to the Corinthians and the Ephesians.
I completely agree with you!
And that now brings us right back to “the issue of heart motivation and the judgment of individuals.”
“We know we were misled. Perhaps not all of them have been as misled as we were once taught.” So are you asserting that Jehovah’s Witnesses are the only professed Christian denomination that has been misled? Do all other Christian religions, despite widely varying doctrines, organizational structures, and means of worship have it somehow simultaneously right? I don’t think his statement merits such offense. I wholeheartedly agree with you that there are many, many Christians throughout the world, found in all denominations, that have pure motives and are serving God to the best of their ability. You asserted that we… Read more »
No we are not ready to go there yet. We still haven’t established the means by which we measure or determine if we have been misled. To say it is only faith and holy spirit ignores the fact that the spirit guides us into all the truth, and truth is found in God’s written word. So it is the knowledge revealed in the Bible by holy spirit that allowed you and me to realized that we had been misled. We do not need to judge the heart motivation of those who misled us to know we’ve been deceived. Since you… Read more »
I very much liked the article. Regarding this specific discussion, I believe only Jesus will know who really was innocently ignorant (meaning the opposite of choosing to remain ignorant as some choose not to acquire knowledge) or to see if that person has been misled. Only Jesus can read the hearts. It is not up to us humans nor up to a GB. Hence whether there will b billions or millions or thousands among the unrighteous who will receive the chance to live another 1000 years is unknown. For example, I am sure that very few of us would have… Read more »
The same way that you know and the same way that I know. By means of our faith and the Holy Spirit.
Are you saying that the Bible has nothing to do with this? That it is by divine revelation that we know these things?
The first thing that comes to my mind is that the Governing Body is not God’s spokesman on earth. I was raised believing that whatever was written in the Watchtower came straight from Jehovah God, he was using the GB to give us the information. Now that I am out from under any influence of the Watchtower whatsoever, I find it comical and I have to laugh at some of the things I once believed….just because it was in a publication. It was quite a humbling experience to find out my perceived intelligence was as low as it is/was. It… Read more »
Ah, but how do you know that Christians “are saved by God’s grace, that Jesus died for our sins, that he was resurrected” and that Christians “are going to heaven”?
Meleti, this is a fine article and very encouraging to all of God’s adopted children. However, I do take exception to something you said: “One cannot imagine the God of all justice condemning to eternal death someone who acted in ignorance. That would seem to dictate that such an individual would be given the opportunity to correct this course of action upon receiving accurate knowledge of God’s will. The parable is addressing Jesus’ disciples. It is not intended to encompass all of earth’s inhabitants. His disciples have the one hope of everlasting life in the heavens with our Lord. The… Read more »
Thank you. I’m glad you liked the article. Addressing the point you raised, let us set to one side for the moment the issue of heart motivation and the judgment of individuals. The point I was making is that billions have been misled. Before we can determine if that statement is accurate or not, we need to lay down the criteria upon which it is based. Perhaps a good starting point is your statement: “We know we were misled.” I presume you are speaking as a former (or current) Jehovah’s Witness. I agree with your statement, by the way. My… Read more »
Thanks for a very good explaination of romans 8 We can all see that romans 8 v16 has been grossly miss applied . We are either led by the spirit or the flesh .We are either gods sons or we are not christians . Thats what paul was saying . I just wish people would read the NT properly .