[this article was contributed by Alex Rover]

God's Channel of Communication

Image: Super Massive Black Hole by European Southern Observatory (ESO)

 “By what way is the light distributed, which scatters the east wind upon the earth?” (Job 38:24-25 K.J.2000)

How does God distribute light or truth over the earth? What channel does he use? How can we know?
Does the Catholic Papacy hold this unique privilege? The Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses? The First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles of the Mormons? The Bible doesn’t use the expression “channel of communication”. The closest concept we can find to such a commission is Jesus’ request to feed his sheep:

“Jesus said a third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was distressed that Jesus asked him a third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and said, ‘Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.’ Jesus replied, ‘Feed my sheep’.” – John 21:17

Observe that Jesus repeated the same message three times. According to the Aramaic Bible in Plain English his request to Peter was:

1. Shepherd my lambs for me.

2. Shepherd my sheep for me.

3. Shepherd my ewes for me.

A Sheep Herder not only feeds, but also guards and tends to the needs of his flock. A Shepherd appointed by Christ demonstrates love for Christ by being faithful in his commission. I favor the Aramaic translation because its language is consistent in style with Christ’s repetition.
Christ’s lambs, sheep and ewes are his followers, or members of his household of faith (domestics). Christ has appointed other overseers or shepherds like Peter over the flock. They themselves are also sheep.

Appointed Shepherds

Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of his household? (Mat 24:45) According to John 21:17, Peter appears to be the first one whom the master appointed to tend to his sheep.
Peter subsequently instructed the elders among the congregations:

“So as your fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings and as one who shares in the glory that will be revealed, I urge the elders among you: Give a shepherd’s care to God’s flock among you, exercising oversight not merely as a duty but willingly under God’s direction, not for shameful profit but eagerly. And do not lord it over those entrusted to you, but be examples to the flock. Then when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that never fades away.” – 1Pe 5:1-4

There is not an ounce of exclusivity in this commission: Peter freely shared the  assignment and responsibility of shepherding with all the elders among all the congregations.  Further proof these elders are part of the appointed slave is the reward in the closing verse: “then when the Chief Shepherd appears”. Likewise, in the parable of Matthew 24:46 we read: “blessed is that slave whom the master finds ‘doing his job’ when he comes.”
Consequently, I suggest that the appointed slave consists of all anointed elders worldwide. (See Appendix: Gender and Appointed Servants) These elders are appointed by Holy Spirit to do the will of the Chief Shepherd: to take care of the sheep. This includes feeding them. But where does this food come from?

The Heavenly Telephone

A channel connects two things together. For example: a channel may connect a lake to an ocean, or a channel may connect two computers via electronic signals. A channel may flow in a single direction, or in two directions. The Watchtower Society has called its leadership God’s sole prophet on earth, and described the method of God communicating with his prophets to a telephone. [2]
What are we to imagine? The Governing Body picks up the “heavenly telephone” to hear God’s revelation, then transmits this via the pages in the Watchtower. This would mean that there exists only one such “heavenly telephone” in the whole world, and nobody except the Governing Body can vouch that it exists, since it is invisible and can only be heard by them.
There are a few problems with this concept. First, if a member of the Governing Body were to admit that the “heavenly telephone” is not really how things work [3], it would raise some eyebrows.
Second, there is the matter of infallibility. That word means that it cannot fail, that it is divinely inspired.  Now the Catholic Church has handled this matter quite interestingly. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that the pope only rarely speaks infallibly, at closely defined times. At such times, the pope will speak “ex cathedra”, which means “from the chair”, and will only do so when he is in union with the body of bishops. [4] The last time the pope officially spoke “from the chair” was in 1950. Nevertheless, the papal office demands obedience at all times, as if it were infallible at all times.
The Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses cannot claim infallibility, simply because it changes understandings and Bible interpretation so often. The religion under Charles Taze Russell was different from the religion under Rutherford, and drastically different from the religion today. Even more recently, many Jehovah’s Witnesses will readily admit how much the religion has changed since the nineties.

 “Genuine anointed Christians do not demand special attention. They do not believe that their being of the anointed gives them special ‘insights’”. (WT May 1, 2007 QFR)

By their own definition, the individual members of the Governing body have no special insights and they cannot demand special attention. The claimed exception is when they get together as a single body:

“Note, however, that the word “slave” in Jesus’ illustration is singular, indicating that this is a composite slave. The decisions of the Governing Body are thus made collectively.” [5]

In other words, the Governing Body makes the decisions as a group. They admit their words are not the words of Jehovah, but of the imperfect body of humans making up their leadership.

“Never in these instances, however, did they presume to originate predictions ‘in the name of Jehovah.’ Never did they say, ‘These are the words of Jehovah.’” – Awake March 1993 page 4.

Never? Not quite! Never “in these instances” where they suggested dates that were incorrect, yet at other times they do claim that they receive the ‘utterances’ of Jehovah. Compare:

“Likewise in heaven (1) Jehovah God originates his utterances; (2) then his official Word, or Spokesman—now known as Jesus Christ—often transmits the message; (3) God’s holy spirit, the active force that is used as the medium of communication, carries it earthward; (4) God’s prophet on earth receives the message; and (5) he then publishes it for the benefit of God’s people. Just as on occasion today a courier may be sent to deliver an important message, so Jehovah at times chose to use spirit messengers, or angels, to carry some communications from the heavens to his servants on the earth.—Gal. 3:19; Heb. 2:2.” [2]

In other words, just like the Pope, the Governing Body’s words are to be considered as the will of God, except when it’s proven their words were wrong – in that case they did not speak for God, but were just human. How can we place any trust in such claims?

Test Every Inspired Expression

How can we know if a prophet speaks for God?

“Beloved ones, do not believe every spirit [inspired expression], but test the spirits [inspired expressions] to determine if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” – John 4:1

As we examined, neither the Pope nor the Governing Body lets us know in advance if the words they speak are the words of God, but all their words are to be followed and obeyed.

“Whenever a prophet speaks in my name and the prediction is not fulfilled, then I have not spoken it; the prophet has presumed to speak it, so you need not fear him.” – Deut 18:22

The problem with this is that we can only look to the past, when the prophecy has already proven true or false. Words of a prophet concerning the future cannot be tested as coming from God or not. I think it is fair to say that if a prophet refuses to clearly indicate which words are his own and which are God’s, then we should assume that all his words are his own.
Prophets in the Scripture follow this same pattern:

“He said to them: ‘This is what the LORD [Jehovah] has commanded’” – Ex 16:23

“But now, this is what the LORD [Jehovah] says” – Isa 43:1

“Then Solomon said, “The LORD [Jehovah] has said” – 2Chr 6:1

The pattern is so clear! If Solomon spoke, he spoke on his own behalf. If Moses spoke, he spoke on his own behalf. But if either of them said: “The LORD [Jehovah] has said”, then they made claim to an inspired expression coming from God!
If we look at the multiple failures and flip-flops in religions, especially those whose leadership claims to be God’s channel, we must conclude that ALL of their expressions are uninspired. They are the words of man. If they had a message from God, they would have the confidence to utter the words: “The LORD [Jehovah] has said”.
A word comes to mind: “pretending”. A quick dictionary lookup explains:

Speak and act so as to make it appear that something is the case when in fact it is not.

But it is in fact the wrong word to use with these religious leaders. It appears that many religious leaders are very sincere in their beliefs, and actually believe they speak for God when they do not. They are not pretending, but self-deluding, and our Father allows it:

“Consequently God sends on them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false.” – 2Thess 2:11

But since they really prophesy in their own name, they will be shocked when Christ responds: “I never knew you”. (Mat 7:23)

“On that day, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, and in your name cast out demons and do many powerful deeds?’” – Mat 7:22

If on the other hand, the person clearly states his words come from God, let his words come true without fail in order to prove he speaks for God. Yet even Satan is capable of such powerful works. A secondary test is required for such inspired expressions: Is it in harmony with God’s word?

Woe to the Angels Preaching another Gospel

“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed!” – Gal 1:8 ESV

“I MARVEL that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel!” (Gal 1:6)

The Quran teaches salvation based on Allah’s grace and man’s works, not a salvation based on God’s grace and by faith in Christ’s ransom.

“Then those whose balance (of good deeds) is heavy, they will be successful. But those whose balance is light, will be those who have lost their souls; in hell they will abide” (23:102-103)

The Quran nullifies the grace of God, preaching righteousness through Law and good deeds. (Compare Gal 2:21) Accursed be the angel who identified himself (falsely) as the Arch-angel Gabriel to Muhammad and preached another Gospel. [6]
The book of Mormon teaches that salvation and attaining the highest level of heaven and godhood requires among other things, confessing Joseph Smith as prophet, temple marriage and genealogy research. [7] Accursed be the angel who identified himself as Moroni and who as the story goes, appeared to Joseph Smith in 1823, and revealed another Gospel.
Perhaps you are familiar with anointedjw.org, a website that caters to Jehovah’s Witnesses and encourages them to embrace our identity as sons of God. This website is a vocal advocate for the book of Urantia which promotes the same teaching. Yet it promotes a different gospel, one that teaches that Adam and Eve did not fall into sin, and people today do not suffer from the original sin, and do not need to be redeemed by the blood of Christ! Let the reader of such material beware, for this is a teaching of the Anti-Christ. We urge our readers to use extreme caution.

“Appeasing an angry God,” […] “Through sacrifices and penance and even by the shedding of blood,” is barbarous and a primitive, religion “unworthy of an enlightened age of science and truth.” […] “Jesus did not come to Urantia to placate a God of wrath, nor to offer himself as a ransom by dying on the cross. The cross was wholly man’s doing, not God’s requirement. (Urantia, Basic concepts, P. 3).

The book of Urantia is believed to be authored by celestial personalities during a 20-year process of communication. Accursed be the Angels preaching such Gospel!
The Watchtower has all together preached a different gospel of salvation, one where salvation depends on unquestioning obedience to a Governing Body, who orchestrates ‘powerful works’ of preaching a gospel where Christ is mediator for only 144,000 Christians. [8] Where did this teaching originate from?
Rutherford, the leader of Jehovah’s Witnesses wrote:

“the servant class on earth are directed by the Lord through […] angels” [9]

“Since 1918 the angels of the Lord have had to do with showing the Ezekiel class the truth.” [10]

Accursed be the Angels preaching twisted lies to Rutherford! We can now with certainty say that Jehovah God had nothing to do with these angels. Let’s take a look at a clear example of this corruption.

Jehovah’s Chosen Channel of Communication

A few years ago I was a staunch defender of the teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses. But then in my personal Bible reading, I stumbled upon 1 Thessalonians 4:17, which collapsed my world as I knew it. From this single scripture, it is crystal clear that all anointed who are still alive until Christ’s return, will “meet the Lord” together [or: at the same time] with the resurrected dead. (Compare 1Cor 15:52)
Since the Governing Body claims to be of the anointed, and accepts that there are still anointed left on earth today, there is an inevitable conclusion: the first resurrection did not take place yet. Since the anointed will be resurrected at the 7th trumpet, we can confidently say that the coming of Christ and his subsequent presence is yet a future event. (Compare Matthew 24:29-31)
And thus the house of cards collapsed. Notice the following claim from the Watchtower:

What, then, can we deduce from the fact that one of the 24 elders identifies the great crowd to John? It seems that resurrected ones of the 24-elders group may be involved in the communicating of divine truths today. Why is that important? Because the correct identity of the great crowd was revealed to God’s anointed servants on earth in 1935. If one of the 24 elders was used to convey that important truth, he would have had to be resurrected to heaven by 1935 at the latest. That would indicate that the first resurrection began sometime between 1914 and 1935. – Watchtower of January, 2007, p. 28 paragraphs 11-12

This Watchtower is crediting celestial communication from resurrected anointed ones as the source of the understanding that the heavenly hope had ceased in 1935. Since we have just shown that the anointed are still awaiting resurrection, we must ask ourselves which celestial creature (or creatures) is the real source of such a teaching.
In 1993, the Proclaimers book stated that “those who make up the one true Christian organization today do not have angelic revelations or divine inspiration” (p. 708). Then in 2007, it “seems” that the resurrected ones of the anointed are revealing truths once again. How confusing!
The false teaching that the heavenly hope ended, gave rise to the preaching of “another sort of good news”, which was expressly forbidden to Christians by Paul in his letter to the Galatians chapter 1. Testing this “inspired expression” proved that, indeed, it did not originate from Jehovah. History has vindicated the truth.
Instead of apologizing, the Governing Body used expressions such as “it was believed”, “it seemed to be confirmed”, “were believed to be”, and “it appears”. What was their conclusion?

“Thus it appears that we cannot set a specific date for when the calling of Christians to the heavenly hope ends.” [11]

One has to wonder, if we had never stopped preaching the Christian hope, what a different religion Jehovah’s Witnesses would be today! Even after this realization and acceptance of past error, the damage is not being undone.  Jehovah’s Witnesses continue to boast in their ‘powerful works’ of preaching “another good news”.

Woe to the False Shepherds

Woe to you Scribes And Pharisees!

WOE TO YOU, SCRIBES AND PHARISEES! HYPOCRITES! Click image to watch video. [12]

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary writes on Matthew 23: “The Scribes and Pharisees were enemies to the Gospel of Christ, and therefore to the salvation of the souls of men. It is bad to keep away from Christ ourselves, but worse also to keep others from him.”
Thus we can add the Scribes and Pharisees of the Jews to the list of hypocrites that pretend to speak for Christ but in reality lead the sheep after themselves as “God’s Channel”.

“On the outside you look righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matt 23:28)

The Watchtower Study Edition of July 2014 contains an article named: “Jehovah’s people ‘Renounce Unrighteousness‘”. (2 Tim 2:19) Paragraph 10 states this:

“when exposed to unscriptural teachings, regardless of the source, we must decisively reject them.”

Can we recognize the hypocrisy in this statement? If they themselves are the source of unscriptural teachings, and we decisively reject them, we would be removed from the congregation and shunned by our friends and even our own family.

“If that evil slave […] begins to beat his fellow slaves.” – (Matthew 24:48-49)

Is shunning of your fellow slaves of Christ tantamount to ‘beating’? The book “It’s So much Work to Be Your Friend” on pages 358 and 359 state that a life without friendship is “devastating”, a “lonely and barren existence”. Shunning is deemed a worse punishment to a criminal than banishing. The book concludes:

“The elders felt that shunning was among the most severe and devastating reprisals that a community could exact. Archives from these cultures [Ancient Romans, Lakota Sioux, Australian Aborigines, Pennsylvania Amish] indicate that many people who were shunned developed severe mental health problems and self-destructive behaviors. A Pennsylvania prosecutor once filed a suit against an Amish community for its use of shunning, and a court in that commonwealth determined that shunning met the criteria for “cruel and unusual punishment” under the guidelines of the United States Constitution”. Source

Is that how Christ wants his sheep to be treated? Christ will not be mild to pastors who do not take care of their sheep in the way he commanded. The Greek word used to describe their punishment is dichotomeo, a hyperbole which literally means “to cut an object in two parts”. Their lot will be with the hypocrites! (Matt 24:51)
Ezekiel chapter 34 is a mighty Chapter in the Scriptures, condemning false Shepherds:

“Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: This is what the sovereign Lord says: Look, I am against the shepherds, and I will demand my sheep from their hand. I will no longer let them be shepherds” (Ezekiel 34: 9-10)

As for us, scattered sheep of Christ that are beaten and deceived by false Shepherds, no matter our religious background, we can find comfort in the following words:

“For this is what the sovereign Lord says: ‘Look, I myself will search for my sheep and seek them out. […] I will rescue them. […] In a good pasture I will feed them. […] I myself will feed my sheep and I myself will make them lie down, declares the sovereign Lord. I will seek the lost and bring back the strays; I will bandage the injured and strengthen the sick.” (Ezekiel 34:11-16)

These are not the words of man, they are the words of our sovereign Lord Jehovah. Fear the Lord! (Psalm 118:6)

“I, Yahweh, have spoken.” (Ezekiel 34:24 Holman CSB)

[1] See re chap. 3 p. 16 Things that Must Shortly Take Place
[2] si p. 9 “All Scripture Is Inspired of God and Beneficial”

One may argue that this illustration in the source text is used to describe the method whereby Jehovah inspired the Bible, and not the Governing Body today. However, the preceding paragraph 8 claims that Jehovah communicates “true knowledge” of “understanding of prophecy” in this “time of the end”, and then goes to illustrate how such communication takes place. Since there are no Bible Writers alive today, and since the Governing Body claims to be spokesperson for Jehovah today on earth, it is more than fair to say that this illustration of “Heavenly Telephone” describes the method of divine communication with the Governing Body. Additionally, the Society has gone on record multiple times describing themselves as God’s prophets on earth today. One example of this can be found in the “Revelation – Climax” book, where they liken the JW leadership to the Two Witnesses, who, as God’s prophets, have to proclaim the mournful messages of doom and grief. (Isa 3:8, 24-26; Jeremiah 48:37; 49:3) – Revelation, It’s Grand Climax At Hand! p.164

[3] Crisis of Conscience by late Governing Body member Raymond Franz.
[4] http://www.usccb.org/catechism/text/pt1sect2chpt3art9p4.shtml#891
[5] w13 7/15 pp. 21-22 paragraph 10.
[6] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhammad%27s_first_revelation
[7] McConkie, Mormon Doctrine pp. 116-117; Doctrines of Salvation 1:268; 18:213; Book of Mormon (3 Nephi 27:13-21)
[8] Insight Volume 2, p. 362 Mediator “Those for Whom Christ Is Mediator”
[9] Light Book 2, 1930, p.20
[10] Vindication 3, 1932, p.316
[11] May 1, 2007, QFR

“The 12 hours mentioned in the parable [of the penny or denarius] were thought to correspond to the 12 years from 1919 to 1931. For many years after that, it was believed that the call to the heavenly Kingdom had ended in 1931 and that those called to be joint heirs with Christ in 1930 and 1931 were ‘the last’ called. (Matthew 20:6-8) However, in 1966 an adjusted understanding of that parable was presented, (that the heavenly hope ended in 1935 not 1931) and it became clear that it had nothing to do with the end of the calling of the anointed…Hence, especially after 1966 it was believed that the heavenly call ceased in 1935. This seemed to be confirmed when almost all who were baptized after 1935 felt that they had the earthly hope. Thereafter, any called to the heavenly hope were believed to be replacements for anointed Christians who had proved unfaithful….”Thus it appears that we cannot set a specific date for when the calling of Christians to the heavenly hope ends.”

[12] From the Movie: Jesus of Nazareth

Appendix: Gender and Appointed Shepherds
One problem with my suggested interpretation in this article, is that it appears to exclude all women and also many men from being part of the slave. One may suggest that since the slave gets appointed over all Christ’s belongings, this would mean that women and men who are not part of the slave will have a lesser position of authority in the kingdom.
Such conclusion is not logically required. To illustrate, Jesus told his faithful apostles:

You are the ones that have stuck with me in my trials; and I will make a covenant with you, just as my Father has made a covenant with me, for a kingdom.” (Luke 22:28-30)

Do we conclude from this that only the apostles who stuck with Jesus on earth during his trials are included in the kingdom covenant? Does this mean that no others (including women) will be included in the kingdom covenant? Absolutely not, for the Scriptures make it clear that we are all members of the same body and part of of his kingdom, his holy nation. (Rev 1:6) Although we may have a different function, we are equally valued. (Romans 12:4-8)
Consequently, the reward for the appointed slave in Matthew 24 does not limit the reward for the other faithful sheep they serve. A fair reading of this passage shows that while the Master cares about all his domestics, he does make an appointment, so in his absence there (A) are the ones that serve, and (B) the ones that are served.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female — for you are one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28)

Hypocrites seek the fleeting treasure of public admiration and prominence. False Shepherds are no different. Lasting treasure is destined for the humble, since “your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:16-19)
Whomever those serving ones are today, bear in mind that they are not appointed by humans, but by Christ himself through Holy Spirit. Which precise assignment we receive is less important than how we will take care of our assignment. This is how we all prove to be faithful slaves. Our glory will not come from ourselves, but from our Heavenly Father.

Unless otherwise indicated, quoted Scriptures come from the NET Bible Translation

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