[From ws15/04 p. 15 for June 15-21]
“Draw close to God, and he will draw close to you.” – James 4:8
This week’s Watchtower study opens with the words:
“Are you a dedicated, baptized Witness of Jehovah? If so, you have a precious possession—a personal relationship with God.” – par. 1
The assumption is that the reader already has a personal relationship with God by virtue of being both a baptized and a dedicated Witness of Jehovah. However, the context of the letter of James reveals another scenario in the first century congregation. He rebukes the congregation for wars and fights, murdering and coveting, all originating from fleshly desires among the Christians. (James 4:1-3) He admonishes those who slander and judge their brothers. (James 4:11, 12) He warns against pride and materialism. (James 4:13-17)
It is in the middle of this rebuke that he tells them to draw close to God, but he adds in the very same verse, “Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you indecisive ones.” As Jehovah’s Witnesses, let us not ignore the context or think that we are free from all the maladies that afflicted our first century brethren.
What Personal Relationship?
The relationship being referred to in the article is one of friendship with God. Paragraph 3 affirms with an illustration:
“Having regular communication with Jehovah is a vital part of drawing close to him. How can you communicate with God? Well, how do you communicate with a friend who lives far away?”
We all have friends, whether many or few. If Jehovah is our friend, he becomes one more in that group. We might call him our best friend or our special friend, but he is still one of several, or even many. In short, a person can have many friends just like a father can have many sons, but a son or daughter can have only one father. So given the choice, which relationship would you prefer to have with Jehovah: beloved Friend or beloved child?
Since we are using James for this discussion on building a close relationship with God, we might ask him what type of relationship he had in mind. He opens his letter with the salutation:
“James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the 12 tribes that are scattered about: Greetings!” (James 1:1)
James was not writing to Jews, but to Christians. So his reference to the 12 tribes must be taken in that context. John wrote about the 12 tribes of Israel from which the 144,000 were to be drawn. (Re 7:4) The whole of the Christian Scriptures is directed to the Children of God. (Ro 8:19) James does speak of friendship, but it is friendship with the world. He doesn’t contrast it with friendship with God, but rather enmity with him. Therefore, a child of God can become a friend of the world, but in so doing the child becomes an enemy of the Father. (James 4:4)
If we are going to draw close to God by building a personal relationship with the Divine One, then hadn’t we better understand the nature of that relation first? Otherwise, we could sabotage our efforts before we even begin.
Paragraph 3 of the study talks of the need for regular communication with God through prayer and personal Bible study. I was raised as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and for well over half a century, I have prayed and studied, but always with the understanding that I was God’s friend. Only recently have I come to understand my true relationship with Jehovah. He is my Father; I am his son. When I came to that understanding, everything changed. After more than sixty years, I finally began to feel close to him. My prayers became far more meaningful. Jehovah became closer to me. Not just a friend, but a Father who cared about me. A loving father will do anything for his children. What a wonderful relationship to have with the creator of the universe. It is beyond words.
I began to talk to him differently, more intimately. My understanding of his word changed as well. The Christian Scriptures are in essence a father speaking to his children. I was no longer understanding them vicariously. Now they spoke to me directly.
Many who have shared this journey have expressed similar thoughts.
While exhorting us to build a closer relationship with God, the leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses are denying us the very thing needed to accomplish that. They deny us membership in God’s family, the inheritance which Jesus himself came to the earth to make possible. (John 1:14)
How dare they? I say again, “HOW DARE THEY!”
We are called to be forgiving, but some things are much harder to forgive than others.
Bible Study—Father Speaks to You
The counsel from paragraphs 4 through 10 is good if you accept it within the framework of your relationship with God as a child with a Father. However, there are some things to be wary of. Given that a picture is worth a thousand words, the idea planted in the brain by the illustration on page 22 is that one’s relationship with God goes hand in hand with one’s advancement in the Organization. Many, myself included, can attest that the two bear no relationship to each other.
Another cautionary note pertains to the point made in paragraph 10. While I make no claim to divine inspiration, I would venture to “prophesy” that come the actual study, someone in the audience will answer the question to this paragraph by applying it to the Organization. The reason will be that since the Governing Body is being directed by Jehovah, and we shouldn’t question Jehovah’s actions even when we don’t understand them, we should do likewise regarding direction coming from the organization.
I shall let your comments determine whether I am a “true prophet” or a false one in this. Honestly, I would be most pleased to be proven wrong about this.
A Tangential Observation
I must say that for those claiming to be a slave that is both faithful and discreet, there is a remarkable lack of discretion in the choice of Biblical examples employed to illustrate the point of recent articles. Last week we had the overnight visit of Saul to Samuel as a Bible example of the training Elders should provide.
This week the example is even sillier. We are trying to explain in paragraph 8 that sometimes Jehovah does things that might seem wrong to us, but that we must accept out of faith that God always acts justly. We use the example of Azariah, stating:
“Azariah himself ‘continued to do what was right in Jehovah’s eyes.’ Yet, ‘Jehovah afflicted the king, and he remained a leper until the day of this death.’ Why? The account does not say. Should this disturb us or cause us to wonder whether Jehovah punished Azariah without due cause?”
This would be a great example to illustrate the point were it not for the fact that we know exactly why Azariah was struck with leprosy. What is more, we explain the reason in the very next paragraph, thereby totally undermining the illustration. This is just plain stupid, and does little to inspire confidence in the writer’s qualifications to instruct us in God’s word.
Prayer—You Speak to Father
Paragraphs 11 through 15 speaks of improving our relationship with God through prayer. I’ve read it all before, countless times in the publications over the decades. It never helped. A relationship with God through prayer is not something that can be taught. It is not an academic exercise. It is born from the heart. It is a thing of our very nature. Jehovah made us to have a relationship with him, for we were made in his image. All we have to do to achieve it is to remove the roadblocks. The first, as we’ve already discussed, is to stop thinking of Him as a friend and see him as he is, our Heavenly Father. Once that major roadblock is removed, you can begin to look at the personal obstacles we’ve put in the way. Perhaps we feel unworthy of his love. Perhaps our sins have weighed us down. Is our faith weak, causing us to doubt that he cares or even listens?
Whatever type of human father we may have had, we all know what a good, loving, caring father should be like. Jehovah is all that and more. Whatever may be impeding our way to him in prayer can be removed by listening to him and dwelling on his words. Regular Bible reading, particularly of those Scriptures written to us as God’s children, will help us to feel God’s love. The spirit he gives will guide us into the true meaning of the Scriptures, but if we don’t read, how can the spirit do its work? (John 16:13)
Let us speak to Him as a child speaks to a loving parent—the most caring, understanding Father imaginable. We must tell him all we feel and then listen to him as he speaks to us, both in his word and in our heart. The spirit will light up our mind. It will take us down paths of understanding we had never imagined before. All this is now possible, because we’ve cut the cords which have bound us to the ideologies of men and opened our minds to experience the “glorious freedom of the children of God.” (Ro 8:21)
hi everyone, just want to share this thought before i forget it. Do we as human have brains? Definitely yes, and we use it is search for God, and so we care for life. How about the viruses, do they have brains? Maybe, but do they care life? Definitely YES, all these viruses that attacked humans really care for their life, they thrive just to be alive, they multiply and even if humans create vaccines, they try to thrive and always wish to live, they have purpose in life, but the question is, DO VIRUSES SEARCH FOR GOD? DO they… Read more »
That could be an ecumenical matter. !
Yes. That would be an ecumenical matter !
Technically, from what I’ve read about biology, viruses aren’t really alive. They are more like biological code that needs to interact with DNA to reproduce copies of themselves. Therefore, they can only reproduce by entering living cells and taking over the reproduction facilities. The smallest living thing is a cell, so bacteria qualify as living things, at least based on some definitions. Of course, this in no way invalidates the point you were making, abc.
Actually the smallest is a partickle
Ah, but a particle is not alive.
Exactly Kev the whole middle of the article is about questioning God or Not to …. Which I know I sure ain’t Gonna Question God or his Son, but we all know coming in a few hours when we are at our Kingdom Hall a Elder is gonna say some About Mother Organization. I know we Are not suppose to bet, but I Bet it will happen
Paragraph 8 to 10. Seems to be an attempt to make people belıeve that whatever ıs wrıtten ın the bıble and by extensıon the publıcatıons should be accepted wıthout questıon. Even ıf we dont understand the logıc. Wow
I also began learning truth when the generation teaching came, and now i consider my self agnostic, atheist and scientist
I’m sorry that the false teachings of a bunch of men have damaged your belief if God, but please don’t hold Him responsible. In fact, he has warned us in advance through his son of these very men. They are the same ones that confronted Jesus. Their lineage goes back to the founding of the world. We focus so much on the seed that brings salvation that we can forget there is another seed, a counterpart. One is light, and one is darkness. One breathes truth, the other spews lies. Like their forefathers before them, the religious leaders that opposed… Read more »
anyway i was born in. i’m still attending the meetings, reporting monthly hours but not joining any ministry now. When i started to question JW beliefs i began to read the bible deeply and was moved to partake the memorial emblem, but it didn’t quench my thirst for truth, and so i began to read more and more and now i realized that everything could have just been by chance, religion is just part of earth history, religion is one branch of science. science is the study of life, and so is religion. Is just that life needs to belong… Read more »
thanks so much, i hope this site will continue to give these kinds of updates and will never end…
With God’s help, we will strive to do just that.
Just a little point here but since Acts 4:12 says there’s not another name under heaven by which we can be saved (other than Jesus) and being that Jesus means “Jehovah is salvation” how is it that we need to add Jehovah to the NT athe all? Are we that certain the “name” was not inspired to be left out for all of the above reasons?
Nicely written. You mentioned James’ letter wasn’t written to Jews, but to Christians. This is a bit of subject, but I’ve been studying this for the past year. Allow me, if you will, to share some things I’ve gathered… The lost tribes of Israel included the ten lost tribes of the northern kingdom.. aka Ephraim, or simply Israel. The lost tribes were scattered about and from a human standpoint, unrecognizable. These are the “lost sheep” that Jesus was sent to. (Matt. 15:24) There have been many assumptions as to who or what Israel is. Many would say it’s a small… Read more »
Hi eyeontorah, You raise many points and it is an interesting discussion, best suited for http://www.discussthetruth.com. If you want to open the topic there, I’ll gladly participate. I don’t want to open a discussion here, but only by way of rebuttal, I would suggest that the fact that Jesus preached only to the Jews and not the Samaritans (the Samaritan women and her group being notable exceptions) shows that when he spoke of “lost sheep” he meant lost in the spiritual sense and was referring to his people, the Jews. Isaiah. 56:8, Ezekiel 34:23, and Ezekiel 37:24 seem to apply… Read more »
Thanks for replying. I guess I’ll take the discussion there!
qspf, Another point on Romans 10:13. The problem in the NWT is that they have inserted “Jehovah” instead of “Lord” in the scripture. “Lord” is correct even though it refers to Jesus for reasons I have already mentioned with regard to the agency principle. As we know it would have been an easy matter for the NT writers to have preserved the Hebrew name of God and so it is a corruption of scripture to insist on inserting it into the NT documents, which the NWT has done.
That’s probably true. However, the idea that this is a quote from Joel rather than a coincidence that Paul used similar wording is just a common conclusion among Bible scholars, not a fact cast in stone. That is, there is no reference to Joel in the text, as there was in Acts 2:16. At least we must concede the possibility that in Romans the similarity in wording might be, but need not be, an intentional quotation.
Hi qspf, Not in total agreement with you on this one for reasons I have already stated, but I have enjoyed the research, thank you.
Thank you so much for this, we all need clarity on the loving relationship that Jehovah offers us as a father rather than a friend. Like so many here it took me a lifetime to realize that. Great post and I appreciate all of the comments.
The political left is now speaking of a different FDS – “faith-derangement syndrome.” This is similar to the “mental disease” that apostates were supposed to suffer, except that the left is pointing to Supreme Court Justice Scalia for his Bible-based views. Likewise, our Governing Body member David Splane suggests there was not enough spiritual food or light until 1919 to warrant a faithful slave, even though James, a Bible writer, identifies himself at James 1:1 as “James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Earlier we discussed reasons why JW’s baptized after the 1985 dedication vow have… Read more »
My take on FDS is that they have failed on all three counts. They are not the first two, and no one wielding as much wealth and power as they do could possibly be called a slave, when the real slaves (to them) are the ones who bow down before the GB. To me, they are the Unfaithful, Indiscrete Masters. UIM, if you want an acronym 🙂
That’s interesting, Romans 10:9-13. Taking that in context and then in verse 13, Paul is quoting from Joel 2:32, referring to God. But in the NT it is applied to Jesus as God’s perfect agent. And therefore, if that is the case, then Romans 10:13 is referring to Jesus and not to Jehovah.
My point, exactly. If asked of rank-and-file JWs, “Which is the one name, according to Romans 10:13, that we must use…” based on rNWT not one in 10,000 would answer correctly in accord with Paul’s argument there. That is a bias and serious error that must be laid at the feet of the translators.
Then there is Romans 10:17: “So faith follows the thing heard. In turn the thing heard is through the word about Christ.” You have Christ mentioned before 10:13 and after 10:13 and the word is clearly Kyrios in the text, not YHWH, and yet they claim to say this is a quotation from Joel, based on the cross-reference, and on that basis insert “Jehovah” as they are wont to do. But suppose it is not a quote at all, and claiming it quotes Joel is simply an interpretation on their part. That would make this a pretty serious mistranslation. A… Read more »
qspf, Romans 10:13. I think we must agree that this is a verse referring to the Lord God in Hebrew scriptures. But in the NT it is applied to Jesus because he works as the perfect agent of God. And therefore it would be incorrect for a translation to change wording in any way, and it wouldn’t be necessary anyway.
I had to laugh when that verse Joh17:3 was brought up at the realease of the RNWT,Guy Pierce made it sound as if they had found some gem of translation, yet, the wording is nearly identical to the KJV, and that was done 400 yrs ago lol. I heard a preacher on TV say something interesting about a relationship with God. He said the basis for a relationship is already in place with the ransom of Christ, you have no say over that you either accept it or reject it but either way it’s already there,what he differentiated was, do… Read more »
Skye yes the GB like to highlight all these heartstring experiences. But the contradiction here of the brother finding Father not friend in Jehovah, I have found since I awoke I see so many contradictions in the WT publications, and experiences approved for a DC, then they will have a study on how Jehovah is just a friend of the GC not a father, have to wait another 1,000 yrs.
This reminds me of a talk a brother gave in the 1980’s, he asked the question why Ones were leaving the Organisation…he answered that by saying, it had to do with John 17:3… Reference Bible Joh 17:3 This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ….He highlighted how having knowledge of Jeh was not enough…eg know al the doctrines etc, etc,…he then said what the word was in the Greek kingdom interlinear was …..not knowledge but to know God… Kingdom Interlinear Joh 17:3 αὕτηThis δέbut… Read more »
It wasn’t until about fifteen years ago that our CO included John 17:3 in a talk at the circuit assembly. He said that rendering the Greek verb as “taking in knowledge” was vastly inadequate and should have been far more intensive. So I asked some of the Greek brothers between sessions and they all agreed to the point that when I began seriously checking other translations and discovered that ours was so wrong, I began investigating other passages we claimed were more accurate too. StrongsNotes says of this particular rendering: “a prolonged form of a primary verb; to ‘know’ (absolutely)”… Read more »
At a DC about 7 yrs ago they interviewed a newly baptised brother, he was Aboriginal and came from a back ground of abuse and alcoholism, he never had a father that care for him, he mentioned that the Aboriginal community have elders that overseer, but none of them took a personal interest in him, he really needed a father figure. He said since finding the truth he has now got that father he always wanted in Jehovah, he looks to Jehovah as his father, so many tears in the audience and the elder interviewing said, how wonderful brother to… Read more »
I think it’s worth remembering that these are the kind of experiences the GB love to highlight – it’s part of the great deception programme. Lonely and hurting people are usually desperate for comfort and acceptance – and so this is how it works, they are duped and deceived by those who themselves are weak and easily led.
Have you noticed that the aboriginal presence it not very “visible?”. At least, not in the way other nationalities are. I have asked a relative of mine about this, considering this is a multi racial religion. I was told that they have their own congregations or places they feel more comfortable in.
What do you think of this? Am I understanding this the wrong way? For, I don’t want to go all controversial about this. Put me straight about this if you can.
Hi Claudelle The reason I was given 15 years ago was they are too shy and won’t go to the hall with non aboriginals. No one else seemed to care. The attitude was the elders know what they are doing. I don’t think this is the way Holy Spirit works hence the lack of visibility. They are also very superstitious and humble and can be manipulated easily into studies and meetings but when the help stops they stop. I do know some very faithful and spirituals strong aboriginal brothers and sisters so I’m not underestimating them.. In our territory most… Read more »
When I read a statement like this one in par. 1: ARE you a dedicated, baptized Witness of Jehovah? If so, you have a precious possession—a personal relationship with God. I think: how arrogant to think only a person who is baptised in the WBTS organisation as a JW has a relationship with God. In other words, excluding almost 7 billion people from this so-called precious possession. Pure, top arrogance. This statement in par 2 is most confusing: How real to you is your personal relationship with Jehovah? Would you like to strengthen it? James 4:8 tells you how you… Read more »
Just a minor point. As with so many articles of this type, the focus always seems to return to the lightning rod of the GB as the so-called faithful and discrete slave. Put aside for the moment that because of their many proposed prophetic dates that failed to materialize it makes them fit hand-in-glove with the description of the evil slave, not the faithful one. (How else could he say ‘my master is delaying’ if not for the many proposed dates when the master was supposed to return, only to experience disappointment when it didn’t happen that way?) My question… Read more »
Hi qspf, Your words remind me of Jeremiah’s complaint: You are always righteous, Lord, when I bring a case before you. Yet I would speak with you about your justice: Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the faithless live at ease? 2 You have planted them, and they have taken root; they grow and bear fruit. You are always on their lips but far from their hearts. Jer 12:1,2 Well….. “These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 18 For they mouth empty, boastful words… Read more »
Nice article Meleti, if I can add my penny’s worth. After 35 years in the truth I had to step down from position of elder due to my sons chronic epilepsy,what was so shocking for me was the realisation that in all that time I had not gone anywhere spiritually, yet I had done all the prescribed works that were meant to indicate spiritual progress,utter fallacy. This might bring a smile,while I was getting over the shock of not having progressed spiritually, I had a lot to do with Muslims through work.Something stood out with these people, they are all… Read more »
And the spirit is given to those who are obedient.
Acts 5:32 “We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
Most Humble Man who Ever Lived… My bad, ah this keyboard
paragraph 10. Let us not miss the point. Suppose clarifying details had not been included in God’s Word, as is the case with other abbreviated Bible accounts? Would you be inclined to question the righteousness of God? Or would you reason that the Bible contains enough information to assure us that Jehovah always does what is right and is, in fact, the very standard of what is right and what is wrong? Gods wod does not change, and either does he make or his Great Son makes predictions of the end times, but I guess we can chalk it up… Read more »