[From ws7/16 p. 21 for September 12-18]
“We all received . . . undeserved kindness upon undeserved kindness.”—John 1:16
This particular Watchtower study resulted in a bit of a revelation for me—not something I’m accustomed to when reading The Watchtower. It begins with the parable of the 11th hour workers taken from Matthew 20:1-15. In this parable, all the workers get the same wage, whether they’ve worked all day, or just the last hour of the day. The parable closes with the words:
“In this way, the last ones will be first, and the first ones last.” (Mt 20:16)
Jesus doesn’t say what the wage is, and neither does the article, though it implies it is God’s undeserved kindness. The point of the parable is that it is the Master who decides what the wage is, and he pays the same wage to all regardless of how much work each has done. In fact, the last get paid first, so those who worked the least get an advantage over those who worked the longest.
Here’s the point: how can we justify a dual-hope system of salvation if all the workers get the same wage? If the wage is the reward, then there is no basis for two rewards?
“Ah”, you say, “but what if the Watchtower is right and the wage is undeserved kindness? Then don’t both the anointed and the other sheep get the same reward?”
NO! Undeserved kindness results in the Christian being declared righteous. According to the Organization, “Jehovah has declared his anointed ones righteous as sons and the other sheep righteous as friends.” (See w12 7/15 p. 28 par. 7)
So one group becomes sons and one group becomes friends. Not the same wage.
But some will counter, “The underserved kindness results in the same outcome for both groups: everlasting life! So they do both get the same wage.”
Again, NO! Even if we allow for this application of the wage, it still doesn’t track, because the anointed get life upon their resurrection. God’s undeserved kindness results in them being declared righteous for life. The Bible says of them that “they came to life and ruled as kings with the Christ for 1,000 years.” (Re 20:4) So they immediately receive life upon their resurrection.
Not so the other sheep according to Watchtower doctrine. The other sheep return to life on earth still in their sinful state. Since they are still under sin, they are still subject to death. So they are not declared righteous, because being declared righteous means a resurrection to life, not to sin with death as a possibility. According to JW theology, the other sheep will only be declared righteous at the end of the thousand years, if—if—they remain faithful.
So if undeserved kindness is the wage, then the other sheep don’t get the same wage.
“Sure they do,” some may still argue. They just get it a thousand years after the anointed. Ah, but then we’re forgetting that last verse of the parable. The first are last and the last, first. According to JW theology, the anointed were the first to be gathered. The other sheep only came on the scene since the mid-1930s. The other sheep are last. So they should be first to get the wage, but no so. They have to wait an additional thousand years.
This parable of Jesus—like the rest of his kingdom parables—makes no provision for a secondary class of Christian receiving a secondary reward.
At this point and in light of the article’s main theme, we should also bear in mind that nowhere does the Bible speak of Christians being declared righteous as God’s friends.
If we are to learn from the parable, we have to accept that all Christians get the same wage and even if that wage is undeserved kindness that grants life, it must be the same life. Otherwise, it’s not the same wage.
The Bible speaks of one faith, one baptism, one hope, one reward. In short, one wage.
“. . .Consequently the Law has become our tutor leading to Christ, that we might be declared righteous due to faith. 25 But now that the faith has arrived, we are no longer under a tutor. 26 YOU are all, in fact, sons of God through YOUR faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For all of YOU who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor freeman, there is neither male nor female; for YOU are all one [person] in union with Christ Jesus. 29 Moreover, if YOU belong to Christ, YOU are really Abraham’s seed, heirs with reference to a promise.” (Ga 3:24-29)
According to official Watchtower doctrine, there is no difference between the other sheep who survive Armageddon, the other sheep who die before Armageddon and are resurrected, and the unrighteous who will be resurrected along side them in the new world.
“Under Jesus’ loving attention, the entire human family—Armageddon survivors, their offspring, and the thousands of millions of resurrected dead who obey him—will grow toward human perfection.” (w91 6/1 p. 8 Jesus Finishes All God Asks)
They all go into the same big melting pot. Therefore, upon their resurrection, or following their survival through Armageddon, the other sheep will continue to be sinners right alongside the “thousands of millions of resurrected” unrighteous ones.
Obviously, this is not the same reward that the anointed receive by any stretch of the imagination!
Undeserved Kindness “Expressed in Various Ways”
We will bear this in mind as we examine the various ways the article claims that God’s undeserved kindness is expressed to the other sheep.
“Being forgiven of our sins.” – par. 9
According to 1 John 1:8-9, Christians are cleansed of all unrighteousness. How can that be if, upon their resurrection to life on earth, God restores them to their former sinful state?
“Having a peaceful relationship with God…Paul links this privilege to Jehovah’s undeserved kindness, stating: “Now that we [Christ’s anointed brothers] have been declared righteous as a result of faith, let us enjoy peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we also have obtained access by faith into this undeserved kindness in which we now stand.” (Rom. 5:1, 2) What a blessing this is! – par. 10
Fine, but this applies to Christ’s anointed brothers as the article clearly states. There is no provision for a secondary class of friends to be at peace with God. How can they be, if they are not declared righteous for life?
Paragraph 11 claims that Daniel 12:3 foretells that anointed Christians will, in our day, bring many non-anointed Christians to righteousness. No proof of this is provided for the simple reason that there is no proof to be had. This isn’t interpretation, but baseless speculation intended to try to leverage a Bible text in support of man-made doctrine. What is far more likely, given the context of Daniel, is that this foretells the formation of the Christian congregation when the Jews with insight (Jewish Christians) brought the many—people of the nations—to righteousness as spirit-anointed Christians. Of course, I can’t prove that, but whatever the application, we can say with assurance that the article’s writer has it wrong, because his interpretation depends on the existence of a secondary class of Christian, and the Bible teaches no such thing.
“Having the prospect of everlasting life.” – par. 15.
Search as I might, I could not find anywhere in the Bible where it speaks of the prospect of everlasting life. Even the proof texts cited in this paragraph do not support the idea. Are we playing with words? Isn’t the prospect of everlasting life just another way of saying ‘the hope of everlasting life’. Not in Watchtower parlance.
“But Jehovah provides us with a wonderful hope. Jesus promised his followers: “This is the will of my Father, that everyone who recognizes the Son and exercises faith in him should have [not have the prospect, but simply have] everlasting life.” (John 6:40) Yes, the hope of eternal life is a gift, a wonderful expression of God’s undeserved kindness. Paul, who certainly appreciated that fact, said: “The undeserved kindness of God has been manifested, bringing salvation [not the prospect of salvation] to all sorts of people.”—Titus 2:11” – par 15
When an anointed Christian is declared righteous by faith, he has everlasting life. If he dies that moment, then in the next moment in time (from his point of view) he is restored to life—perfect, immortal, everlasting life. (Forgive the tautology, but I’m trying to make a point.) The idea of a prospect of life has to be sold to Witnesses who believe they are a secondary class of Christian, because they are taught that all they get after surviving Armageddon, or being resurrected, is the prospect or possibility of everlasting life some thousand years in the future.
This is like telling someone that if they pay for a house now, you will deliver it to them in ten centuries, if they continue to behave. God doesn’t work on the layaway plan. If you put faith in him and His son now, he declares you righteous now!
The article concludes by preparing us for next week’s push to do even more in the door-to-door preaching work.
As grateful recipients of God’s generous love, we should be moved to do our utmost “to bear thorough witness to the good news of the undeserved kindness of God.” (Acts 20:24) This responsibility will be examined in detail in the following article.
The witness Paul bore was that of undeserved kindness resulting in being declared righteous for life. This is not the message that Jehovah’s Witnesses preach. So the whole message of next week’s study will, as we’ll then see, be tainted by a false premise.
Hello all! I’m fairly new to your forum and don’t know how much depth I can really add to these discussions as I am really a scriptural simpleton but if you let me, I’d like to add my .02 cents every now and again. I noticed many, including myself, have a hard time commenting at our meetings for one reason or another. I decided to cease commenting altogether during the meeting knowing that not everyone would benefit nor appreciate a comment that was not in lockstep with the paragraph. Especially me! Instead, I choose to comment before and after the… Read more »
Hi, The Drifter, and welcome!
That sounds like a very workable method. You limit your exposure and can tailor your comments to the needs of the individual. I’ll bear that in mind.
Thanks for the welcome!
My friends just call me DRIFTER or DRIFTY!
I sit here formulating my comment for today’s study – once again taking a great deal of time to word it such that it brings out what the scriptures truly say, in the context of the article, but balancing those words such that I don’t get a quick trip to the back room. It’s quite a balancing act! Two weeks ago, after bringing out that the scripture quoted forgot to mention true Christians showing “Christlike” love for all men, not just love for those in their group, I was subtly corrected by the conductor that the scripture as quoted “was… Read more »
Deo-ac-veritati, I continued to go to meetings about 10 years while being treated with suspicion, similar to how you described. It probably affected my health. I should have quit going years earlier. A lot of the other regulars on this web site also continue to attend meetings even though they know many faults of the WT. I wonder if they dread every meeting like I did, for ten years.
I dropped the midweek meetings precisely for this reason, I felt like it was affecting me so negatively that I couldn’t continue. (I only still go at all because of my husband, but I was honest with him about the reason I wouldn’t even attempt midweek any more.) By decreasing the frequency, I am able to handle it better. But yes, I still often feel dread. The brothers and sisters are kind to me, but the twisted information is like a constant thorn.
I gave up on commenting at the meetings years ago. For a while there I felt this inner urge to provide an insightful comment as to what the scriptures actually mean, but I realised that it is certainly not worth the hassle. I now enjoy the meetings for what they are, a masterclass in scriptural eisegesis and logical fallacies, used to promote loyalty and obedience to an organisation. There truly is much to be learned. You can use the Bible to support just about any view, if you try hard enough and do enough mental gymnastics. I have come to… Read more »
Thanks anonymous. Great link, have started perusing it already, lots of info in there. “For a while there I felt this inner urge to provide an insightful comment as to what the scriptures actually mean, but I realised that it is certainly not worth the hassle.” Yeah, sounds exactly like how I feel and what I’ve been doing. After this latest incident of being sandbagged by a fellow “brother” (and I use that term loosely in this situation), I am taking a temporary self-imposed moratorium on commenting – as you say, it just ain’t worth the hassle. I’m sure at… Read more »
I’m glad you liked it 🙂 Learn to be at peace with yourself and who you are, my brother. “But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Rom 2:29)
Warm Christian love to you and everyone here!
Thanks anonymous! Great scripture you cited, will have to put that one in the old memory banks!!!
Wow, that is shocking. It seems like the brothers far past all moral sense sometimes.
Meleti, it is a bit shocking, isn’t it? Let’s just put it that way, as Christian as I’d like to think I am, I got pretty PO’d about it. I mean, this guy went around me to my spouse and used the religion to try to drive a wedge between us (somewhat successfully, I may add, he/she won’t tell me who said this to him/her, so he/she’s protecting him). If there’s one thing that will tick me off, it’s getting “sandbagged” whether in the corporate environment or otherwise. I expect some of that stuff to happen in a work environment,… Read more »
I’ve had elders question me about things they heard through gossip. These things I supposedly had done were false, but when I asked them the names of those who made the report, they told me they couldn’t remember. Couldn’t remember???!!!
Please, it’s bad enough being lied to, but when they treat you like a fool, it can be too much to take.
I have to say that in my hall, whenever I do comment, I have many people coming afterward and expressing appreciation. I’ve always been a bit outsider though, and have never turned in service time and only rarely have gone out in service with the group, so I already have that reputation as an anomaly. I’m careful with my wording not to stir up too much trouble. I’m a little worried about my husband though. He is “still in” emotionally and is a bit naive, I think. He has said a few things more boldly than I would, because he… Read more »
Interesting Lonely Sheep, I too, on more than one occasion, have had other congregants tell me what a great comment I gave, even when it didn’t exactly “fit” the preconceived answer that the WT wanted us to give. I agree, I think there are a few in every congregation that are starving for good, deep Biblical knowledge; perhaps the Holy Spirit is driving those ones to seek it? Though, it can be hard to discern which compliments are sincere vs those that are simply “love-bombing”…. On the other hand, as described above in my other post reply, every now and… Read more »
Rev. 20: 5 states that the rest of the dead those who do not rule with Christ do not rise until the thousand years were ended. Who are on the earth during the thousand years
Check out this topic: http://discussthetruth.com/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=1351&hilit=rest+of+the+dead#p13983
So am I understanding your view correctly? The unrighteous dead who were resurrected are the only ones on earth during the thousand years. They come to life if they accept Christ during that time.
That is correct. There is nothing I can find in Scripture to support the view that there will also be a resurrection of the righteous to earth. This doesn’t mean that only wicked or evil people will be resurrected from the point of view of men. There are many Christians today who are trying to be good people. However, Jehovah does not declare people righteous on the basis of goodness, since none of us can measure up by that standard. The declaration as righteous is made on the basis of faith in the name of Jesus, which means in the… Read more »
Wow, what a fantastic Scripture at 1 Co2:9 you cited! I never thought about it that way before, but truly enlightening. Wonderful!
Thank you so much Anonymous for the hug and kind words. Thank you Menrov and Vinman I am grateful to you all as I am grateful for this wonderful site…. I appreciate it is not a support group but rather the sharing of new knowledge knew truths learned. However it is a comfort to know that there are others who have questioned and left taking a stand for our Creator and His Son and the lies told about His promises. I hold firm to the belief that we will be reunited with our loved ones once again, I must or… Read more »
I am struggling with some of these same issues. It’s clear to me now that there are not two hopes for Christians… but I am attached to this earth! The scriptures you mentioned about the earth being made for the sons of man always resonated with me. It all fit so neatly into boxes how everything was going to work out. But now I see it was not based on scriptural truth, and I am having a hard time adjusting to the uncertainty of how it will all play out. The scriptures in Revelation about New Jerusalem “coming down” out… Read more »
Nice article Meleti. Nice to see how you grasped the idea of “the same wage.” It’s nice to see in that same illustration that even those that are “new” to the way, with very few years of faithful service to our Lord receive the same wage. That throws out the WT idea that only old faithful ones are called. In fact, Jesus own apostles had only been following him for 3 or so years before receiving their baptism or anointing by spirit. Christ didn’t require that they have 40 years “in full time service” to anoint them. 🙂 Nice to… Read more »
Indeed, all received the same wage and the apostles did not report time. As such, a JW who reports only 2 hours of WT field service a month is just as valuable as the one who reports 70 or more hours…..well, according to the way Jesus looks a people. I guess the difference is that Jesus can read hearts, the brothers in the congregation can read time sheets….
Truth seeker. Well stated. What hope we have is important, but even if WT is correct about two hopes, and I agree there is little in the scriptures to support this, there are many teachings which are affecting people’s lives right now and will put people off from listening to the truth of God’s word. Shunning of family members and “not saying a greeting” to others. What else is there ? Jesus said “The truth will set you free” and “my load is light”. What other areas of interpretation are there which are seriously affecting witnesses lives and stifling the… Read more »
You sound like you think there is some chance of a turnaround Leonardo. I don’t care personally that numbers are being stifled, or care about furthering the interests of any organisation. Religion is a snare and a racket. There is falseness in all of them. People become captives of a concept. There is certain smugness associated with believing you were one of the only smart ones to have “the truth”. Mind you, I was indoctrinated as a child, which is hardly fair. Check out this article in relation to smart people who believe unorthodox things and the tension it creates… Read more »
Anonymous what an interesting article about ‘flat earth thinkers’ …. Witnesses do share that air of smug superiority. Always looking down on the ‘worldly ignorant’ who did not have the liberation or should we say power of the ‘truth’ Most of them anyway, personally the thought that after having to prove myself for a further thousand years to ‘maybe’ be proved worthy never made me feel anything but wretched and unworthy. No matter how much effort was made no matter how many hours in the ministry, it was never enough because of those words …..’maybe you will be saved’ we… Read more »
I am really sorry to hear of your loss Karen. Here is a big hug for you. Don’t give up on believing in the resurrection. It is clearly promised in the Bible, and you don’t need to sign up to a religion to gain this truth. As to the specifics of what body we shall be raised in we can only speculate. You will see your son again. Have faith in this, God has promised it. It is possible that we will have to experience the pain of dying ourselves before we can experience the power of the resurrection at… Read more »
Your words can make a grown man cry. However, the Watchtower has lied about an issue that keeps many trapped. The lie is found in this Watchtower (ws11 7/15 pp. 10-16): “We also love the organization that Jehovah uses to teach us wonderful truths. It was Jehovah’s organization that taught us about Jehovah’s name and what it means, his purpose for the earth, what happens to us when we die, and the hope of the resurrection. Do you remember how happy you were when you first learned these and other truths? Then do not allow the lies from false teachers… Read more »
Your words can make a grown man cry. However, the Watchtower lied to us. They lied about something that keeps people trapped inside. The lie is found in this Watchtower (ws11 7/15 pp. 10-16): “We also love the organization that Jehovah uses to teach us wonderful truths. It was Jehovah’s organization that taught us about Jehovah’s name and what it means, his purpose for the earth, what happens to us when we die, and the hope of the resurrection. Do you remember how happy you were when you first learned these and other truths? Then do not allow the lies… Read more »
Sorry for double post. Thought I lost the first in the cyber sea.?
Hi Karen, I feel very sorry for you as such a loss means a very large wound for the rest of your life. The believers / followers of Christ are promised everlasting life in His Kingdom. I have no idea what the circumstances will be but as it is Jesus himself who gave that promise, I can only assume everyone will feel happy there. He is our shepherd. I now recommend people to look forward to that promise and to put their future life in His hands. Whatever the outcome, it will be rewarding. At least, that is how I… Read more »
Anonymous. Thank you so much for putting your points so clearly. I realise now that I may be approaching things the wrong way. Fine counsel to simply say “I never could
clearly understand this”, or similar. The only thing that is awkward is that we all feel the need to explain ourselves. But you have put me on the road to dealing with this tactfully, and I very much appreciate that.
My pleasure Leonardo. I have failed myself with the “bull in a china shop” approach. Life sure is a big learning curve. I have learnt to be at peace with people and their quirky religious beliefs. A lot of JW’s couldn’t even explain them. They basically just love God and Jesus, so who am I to judge? God reads people’s hearts. Their love for an organisation is somewhat more disturbing, but when you understand that the organisation=God to them, and the two are inseparable, the fanaticism and ability to disregard problems makes sense. To them questioning the organisation is like… Read more »
I would write a longer reply but I have a lot of broken china to clean up. Thanks for the good advice.
Ha ha. Nice one 🙂 Need a broom? By the way, I love your choice of picture Andere. The best quote from that movie is where it describes Rango as “…sinking further into the guacamole of his own deception.” Love it
Connecting “wages” with “underserved kindness” is a false premise in this WT article. “Grace” which is the correct term that JWs do not like, and don’t translate in their NWT, cannot be earned through works, as payment as ones wages or works of serving God. I know they then equate the wages with showing appreciation. At Ephesians 4:7,even the RNWT refers to grace as: “was given to each of us according to how Christ measures out the free gift”. So it is freely given to us by Christ. It is not earned as any wage that some manmade group burden/compel… Read more »
Another good post Meleti. Also, I 100% agree with Menrov about the Greek word ‘charis’ being translated in the NWT as ‘undeserved kindness’. It’s a travesty that the amazing love, charity and grace of Jehovah and Jesus is rendered in such a harsh manner. That really bothered me even during the many years of service I performed in the WT org. Another thought I’d add to Meleti’s commentary (if someone else has pointed this out, please pardon me). If the ‘other sheep’ theory that we as JW’s were taught is correct then this makes Jesus a liar. In John 5:28,29,… Read more »
Thanks Meleti for another nice piece of work. One thing. I did not get your own understanding about the hope vs. prospect of vs. having everlasting life. To me the prospect seems completely allright in the light of the following verse, which was written to “God’s holy people” (Phil 1:1, NIV): Philippians 2:12 (NIV) “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,” You wrote: “When an anointed Christian is declared righteous by faith, he has everlasting life. If he… Read more »
Hi Tyhik, It’s not hard to misunderstand my point given how similar in meaning the words “prospect” and “hope” are. The point was that Jehovah’s Witnesses use prospect to refer to something which you do not yet have. Granted, we can lose everlasting life by misconduct, but in the JW theological view we don’t really have it to begin with. So if we engage in misconduct we don’t lose everlasting life but we lose the prospect of it. Perhaps an example will explain it better. As a member of the JW other sheep, if I die faithful, I’m not resurrected… Read more »
An excellent point, Mike. It is for this reason that the organization has introduced their twisted application of these words, claiming Jesus is speaking in retrospect from a future position. There is no other way to make this work for them. The official teaching is that “those who did good things” refers not to people who did good things prior to death, but those who will do good things after they are resurrected. To make a future tense into a past tense, the organization asks us to view this as if we were standing at the end of the thousand… Read more »
Mike, good point!
Meleti, there are NWT translations which put it explicitly “who do good things”. Such translation liberty would be unthinkable in the WTS unless based on doctrine. For me, the past tense in these verses was a surprise.
Meleti, thanks for explaining. I see now what you mean.
I now very much dislike the translation UNDESERVED KINDNESS. I believe the wording is ugly as it makes God look harsh, distant and without love. Most translations have GRACE with its kindness or goodness out of love. The driver is love. Others: – grace . that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech good will, loving-kindness, favour . of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues . what… Read more »
the quote in the WT is from William Barclay’s “New Testament Words”. The author you quote has simply copied from there (without giving the reference).
What I do not like with this quote in the WT is 1) no reference given, and 2) the explanation refers to “charisma” (“grace-gift” literally), whereas “undesrved kindness” is a rendering of the greek term “charis” which means “grace”. That is what we read in 2 Cor 6:1. Of course a gift out of grace (charisma) is undeserved, but grace as such is neither deserved nor undeserved.
Hi Mowani, you could be right. Although, the New Testament words was published in 1958 whereas the article in which Campbell is writing about this topic is from 1956, Question: who was first??
But regardless, I agree, the topic was about Charisma, even in relation to Apostolic succession and not about charis.
The ‘Other Sheep’ doctrine of the WTS is the very least of my worries. Theology is like astrophysics; you can say all you want about what is out there millions of light years away; no one has been there to prove or disprove your hypothesis. None of us have seen Death either. We theologize about it and that’s fine. Jesus promised ‘Paradise’ to those having faith in Him so I don’t absolutely have to know all the details. When my moment of truth comes I’ll be filled in. It’s not a knockout point for me. There are graver WT issues… Read more »
On this I would have to disagree. I would easily trade a lifetime of suffering in this present system for an eternity of bliss with my Lord and my God. The “other sheep” doctrine was an impediment to that hope. It caused me to deny that which my Lord was offering me. I could have lost out on a wonderful opportunity because of the gross deception of men. The other sheep doctrine is an abomination and in my eyes the worst thing the watchtower Bible and tract Society has ever done.
Truth-seeker, If you look at it only in terms of where you’re going to wind up, then you’re right, it’s not that important. But if you consider the implications, it looks much more serious: Being told you’re one of the other sheep means that you are not one of God’s children, you’re not in the New Covenant, Christ is not your mediator, you get resurrected and you’re still sinful, etc. I’ll be happy to spend eternity anywhere I’m sent, but if my God offers to adopt me and become my Heavenly Father, it’s a big deal if someone jumps between… Read more »
Amen to that, brother!
Meleti, you need to fix the link for 1John 1:8,9. It’s pointing at John 1:8-9.