[From ws4/16 p. 13 for June 6-12]
“Let endurance complete its work, so that you may be complete
and sound in all respects, not lacking in anything.”—James 1:4
The introductory paragraphs of the study use the example of Gideon and his 300 soldiers to teach Jehovah’s Witnesses something about endurance. It is fitting that the article uses an example from the Hebrew Scriptures since Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the vast majority of their flock are not anointed, and thus the Christian Greek Scriptures only apply to that majority “by extension”.
In paragraph 3 the article makes reference to an uplifting definition of the word endurance taken from “one reference work”. This is likely due to the fact that the Governing Body “does not endorse any literature, meetings, or Web sites that are not produced or organized under its oversight”, and recommends using only its own publications “for those who wish to do extra Bible study and research”. (Question Box, km 9/07.) Naming the reference work would give the reader tacit approval to study outside publications.
Of course, a true Christian, guided by the spirit and armed with the word of God, need not fear such things. In fact, he can use such works to his advantage and the particular one being referenced in this article is an excellent source for understanding the meaning and application of Greek words used in the NT. So for the benefit of our readers, here it is: New Testament Words by William Barclay, p. 144.
Paragraph 7 tells us to “nourish your faith with spiritual food”. It then instructs us to “devote time to reading, study, and our Christian meetings.” Would we instruct a Catholic that we meet in the door to door work to do this with regard to his religion? Obviously not, because he would be reading and studying the publications of the Catholic Church and attending mass. Since we consider such things to be rooted in false teachings, we would not give this counsel. But it’s different for us, isn’t it? Because we have the truth! Nevertheless, like the Catholic that we meet at the door, how can we know we have the truth if we confine our study to the publications of the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society?
Up to paragraph 9, the article makes good Scriptural points about endurance. In paragraph 9, we are encouraged to think about who is watching when we undergo tests of loyalty. Jehovah, Jesus, and the angels are watching, it seems. Also, the resurrected anointed ones. Whatever value their reasoning has is undermined by this false doctrine. This is not the first time this has happened, incidentally. In the first century, two men were promoting a similar false teaching that the resurrection had already occurred.
“Hy·me·naeʹus and Phi·leʹtus are among them. 18 These men have deviated from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already occurred, and they are subverting the faith of some.” (2Ti 2:18, 19)
We’ve already shown that the presumptive presence of Christ in 1914 is based on false assumptions. It follows that subsequent events said to occur in 1918 and 1919 would also be false, since their entire basis is founded on the so-called pivotal date of 1914. So the 1919 resurrection of anointed ones has no basis in Scripture. In fact, Scripture points to the resurrection occurring at the return of Christ. (See When Does the First Resurrection Occur?)
Counsel for the True Christian
This article is actually quite encouraging in many ways. The key is to view the scriptural counsel as it was intended in God’s Word.
For example, consider what paragraph 15 has to say:
“Under inspiration, James wrote: ‘Let endurance complete its work.’ What ‘work’ must endurance complete? It helps us to ‘be complete and sound in all respects, not lacking in anything.’ (Jas. 1:4) Trials often reveal our weaknesses, aspects of our personality that we need to refine. If we endure those trials, however, our Christian personality becomes more complete, or sound.” – Par. 15
The average Jehovah’s Witness will read this and think that James 1:4 is all about making us into better human beings. Remember that most Jehovah’s Witnesses are only trying to get through Armageddon. They don’t expect to get eternal life right away, but will have to continue working toward that goal for 1000 years before they will be able to achieve it. That doesn’t match with what James is saying. He’s talking about being able to be ‘complete and sound in all respects, lacking nothing’—now, in this life.
The question is: To what end?
The article would have us believe it is simply to mold us into better Christians:
“Because endurance completes the vital work of molding us as Christians…” – Par. 16
However, if we read the scriptures cited in that paragraph, we get a very different picture.
“Not only that, but let us rejoice while in tribulations, since we know that tribulation produces endurance; 4 endurance, in turn, an approved condition; the approved condition, in turn, hope, 5 and the hope does not lead to disappointment; because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy spirit, which was given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)
“Happy is the man who keeps on enduring trial, because on becoming approved he will receive the crown of life, which Jehovah promised to those who continue loving Him.” (James 1:12)
It is only when you understand that the anointing of the Holy Spirit is not restricted to a tiny group of Christians that the full impact of these Scriptures can reach your heart. Endurance is part of a process intended not simply to make you a better person, a better Christian. The tribulations which you will endure test you and refine you, so that you can be perfected and made complete; so that you can then fulfill the purpose for which you were sealed by holy spirit. This is the oldest prophecy. You and I have the opportunity to be part of its fulfillment. (See Genesis 3:15.)
Please read and meditate on these verses, thinking—perhaps for the first time—that they do not apply to others, but to you!
“. . .Now we know that God makes all his works cooperate together for the good of those who love God, those who are the ones called according to his purpose; 29 because those whom he gave his first recognition he also foreordained to be patterned after the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 Moreover, those whom he foreordained are the ones he also called; and those whom he called are the ones he also declared to be righteous. Finally those whom he declared righteous are the ones he also glorified.” (Ro 8:28-30)
According to Watchtower doctrine, we are not declared righteous, but that is yet another false teaching which distances us from our god, Jehovah.
Endurance does indeed work out salvation for us, because Jehovah’s purpose for his chosen ones is to make them into a kingdom of priests to work with his Son for the healing of the nations, so that eventually all humans may become reconciled back into the family of God. Now isn’t that a goal worthy of any level of endurance?
Let us never allow anyone to deprive us of it.
“. . . Let no man deprive YOU of the prize. . .” (Col 2:18)