[From ws7/16 p. 26 for September 19-25]
“Bear thorough witness to the good news of the undeserved kindness of God.”—Acts 20:24
If you’ve been a Jehovah’s Witness all your life, as I have, you have likely built up a significant list of friends and acquaintances. If you’ve also been an active evangelizer, a pioneer and/or have served where the need is greater, you’ve also built up a cache of respectability within the JW community. If, on top of all that, you have striven to manifest mercy to those going through hard times, particularly if they’ve suffered under the oppression of authority figures more interested in control than in providing aid to the weak, you will have a place in their heart and in their life. (This is to be expected given the counsel with a promise given at Luke 6:37, 38.) We all need someone we can depend on, and when we have doubts about our religion or even our God, the presence of rock-like individuals can provide us with needed stability to stay the course.
The Bible speaks of such ones as “streams of water in a waterless country” and “like the shadow of a heavy crag in an exhausted land.” (Isaiah 31:9) While the Organization likes to use this verse to describe the elders, experience has shown that more often than not, it is the little ones in the congregation who help most; those who are “weak” and “ignoble”. (1Co 1:26-29) Upon such ones, the spirit of God rests, and through them, it performs its work.
If the Lord has called you and if his spirit is now revealing truth to you, your natural inclination will be to share this with friends and family. Unfortunately, you might discover to your dismay that they will not share your joy at finding revealed truth. They trust you, so your words carry great weight. However the weight of decades of steady indoctrination is heavier still and cannot be easily thrown aside. So instead of ready acceptance, you will often find perplexity, concern and worry. They have been conditioned to label any dissenter as an apostate and close their ears before the venomous words can poison them. But this is no apostate speaking. This is a trusted friend. They do not want to lose that friend, yet they know—”know” because of years of careful conditioning— that you must be wrong. Things get worse for them when you use the Bible to prove your point, and they find they cannot do the same. Their frustration level deepens. They fear that if you talk like this to others, you will be disfellowshipped. They appreciate you and need you in their lives, so they don’t want that to happen. They will often use a list of go-to responses to win you back. These have nothing to do with Bible truth, of course, but often carry more weight in their minds than truth does.
They will speak of the unity of the loving worldwide brotherhood. They will reassure you that only Jehovah’s Witnesses are fulfilling Matthew 24:14 by preaching the good news. They are convinced that no other Christian religion has love like Jehovah’s Witnesses. They are also convinced that no other religion’s members understand that the Good News speaks of a real government under Jesus Christ.
So what, if we have one or two things wrong? So what, if some of our teachings are a little askew? What’s important is to keep our unity in this wicked system of things and keep active in the preaching work. Jehovah will put everything right in his own good. This is the canned reasoning you will be up against.
When the police interview suspects in a crime and find they all come up with the same wording, it is evidence that they have been carefully coached. This is the case with Jehovah’s Witnesses and their consistent justifications to explain away any evidence that casts their faith in a bad light. it is not the result of careful reasoning based on Bible research. As this article demonstrates, these “proofs” comes from a steady diet of carefully crafted words that twist and misapply Scripture just subtly enough to masquerade as truth.
“In this time of the end, Jehovah’s people have been commissioned to preach “this good news of the Kingdom . . . in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations.” (Matt. 24:14) The message we spread is also “the good news of the undeserved kindness of God” because all the blessings we hope to receive under Kingdom rule come to us through Jehovah’s kindness expressed by means of Christ. (Eph. 1:3) Do we individually imitate Paul in showing gratitude for Jehovah’s undeserved kindness by zealously sharing in the ministry?—Read Romans 1:14-16” – par. 4
Let us break this down so that nothing passed off as fact goes untested.
“In this time of the end”
By “time of the end”, Jehovah’s Witnesses mean that Armageddon is very close. The overlapping generation calculation puts it at no more than twenty years out, with general sentiment putting it much closer. (See They’re Doing It Again.) However, there is no Bible evidence that we are in a special, down-to-the-wire time of the end. Granted, the end could come this year, but it could also come 100 years or more into the future without a single letter of God’s word failing to come true. So this opening phrase is misleading at best.
“Jehovah’s people have been commissioned to preach ‘this good news of the Kingdom’”
This is a partial truth. Christians—all Christians—are Jehovah’s people. However, by “Jehovah’s people” the article doesn’t mean all Christians, it means “Jehovah’s Witnesses.” Jehovah’s Witnesses were not specifically commissioned by Jesus at Matthew 28:18-19 to fulfill Matthew 24:14. This statement is therefore also misleading.
“Jehovah’s people have been commissioned to preach ‘this good news of the Kingdom’…because all the blessings we hope to receive under Kingdom rule…”
This is the big one!
The article quotes Paul at Acts 20:24 where he speaks of bearing “thorough witness to the good news of the undeserved kindness of God.” This is then equated to the good news of the kingdom that Jehovah’s Witnesses preach. This good news concerns “the blessings we hope to receive under Kingdom rule.”
Paul’s message wasn’t about the hope of living under Kingdom rule. It was about inheriting the Kingdom as rulers. This is evident when one reads just a few verses down from Acts 20:24. After warning about “oppressive wolves” who would speak “twisted things to draw away disciples after themselves” (vs. 30), he speaks of undeserved kindness by saying, “now I entrust you to God and to the word of his undeserved kindness, which word can build you up and give you the inheritance among all the sanctified ones.” (Ac 20:32)
What is the inheritance? Is it the hope of being ruled? Or is it the hope of ruling?
Nowhere—let’s repeat that for emphasis—NOWHERE does the Bible speak about God’s undeserved kindness resulting in Christians living under Kingdom rule. On the other hand, it does speak repeatedly about Christians doing the ruling.
“For if by the trespass of the one [man] death ruled as king through that one, much more will those who receive the abundance of the undeserved kindness and of the free gift of righteousness rule as kings in life through the one [person], Jesus Christ.” (Ro 5:17)
“. . .YOU men already have YOUR fill, do YOU? YOU are rich already, are YOU? YOU have begun ruling as kings without us, have YOU? And I wish indeed that YOU had begun ruling as kings, that we also might rule with YOU as kings.” (1Co 4:8)
“. . .Faithful is the saying: Certainly if we died together, we shall also live together; if we go on enduring, we shall also rule together as kings; if we deny, he also will deny us; if we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.” (2Ti 2:11-13)
“. . .and you made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God, and they are to rule as kings over the earth.”” (Re 5:10)
If we contrast the message of these verses against the complete absence of a message about Christians being ruled by the Kingdom of the heavens, there is firm basis for calling the good news as preached by Jehovah’s Witnesses a massive deception.
“One of the greatest earthly demonstrations of Jehovah’s marvelous kindness will be the resurrection of humans from “the Grave.” (Job 14:13-15; John 5:28, 29) Faithful men and women of old who died before Christ’s sacrificial death, as well as all those “other sheep” who die faithful during the last days, will be brought back to life to continue serving Jehovah.” – par. 15
There is no basis for these assertions in Scripture. Yes, there will be a resurrection. In fact, there will be two. John 5:28-29 speaks of a resurrection of judgment and one of life. Acts 24:15 also speaks of two resurrections. The resurrection of the unrighteous corresponds to Jesus’ resurrection to judgment. The resurrection of the righteous, to Jesus’ resurrection to life. Revelation 20:4-6 shows the righteous get life immediately, while the unrighteous must be judged first.
No mention is made in these verses, nor anywhere else in the Bible, about the other sheep coming back to an earthly resurrection. Likewise, nothing is to be found in the Scriptures supporting the idea that faithful men and women of old will come back to life on earth.
Here is what the Bible has to say about them:
“. . .and I make a covenant with YOU, just as my Father has made a covenant with me, for a kingdom, that YOU may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Lu 22:29-30)
The anointed, faithful Christians, will eat and drink at Jesus’ table in the Kingdom of the heavens. Notice now the parallel with the faithful Patriarchs.
“. . .But I tell you that many from east and west will come and recline at the table with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the Kingdom of the heavens; whereas the sons of the Kingdom will be thrown into the darkness outside. There is where their weeping and the gnashing of their teeth will be.”” (Mt 8:11, 12)
Paul compared such ancient faithful servants to the Christians of his day, showing they were all reaching out for the same reward.
“. . .In faith all of these died, although they did not receive the fulfillment of the promises; but they saw them from a distance and welcomed them and publicly declared that they were strangers and temporary residents in the land. For those who speak in such a way make it evident that they are earnestly seeking a place of their own. And yet, if they had kept remembering the place from which they had departed, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they are reaching out for a better place, that is, one belonging to heaven. Therefore, God is not ashamed of them, to be called on as their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” (Heb 11:13-16)
The faithful men and women described in Hebrews 11 are awaiting a better place, one belonging to heaven and a holy city prepared for them. These correspond to promises made to those who are in the new covenant.
Of Moses, Paul says that he “considered the reproach of the Christ to be riches greater than the treasures of Egypt, for he looked intently toward the payment of the reward.” (Heb 11:26) Given that the reproach of the Christ is what determines if Christians get the reward of the Kingdom of the heavens, it is hard to dismiss the idea that Moses will be there with us. (Mt 10:37-39; Luke 9:23)
There are only two resurrections spoken of in scripture. Which one is the better, the one of the righteous to life, or the one of the unrighteous to judgment? Which one were faithful men and women of old hoping for?
“Women received their dead by resurrection, but other men were tortured because they would not accept release by some ransom, in order that they might attain a better resurrection.” (Heb 11:35)
Christians are declared righteous and as a result inherit the kingdom of the heavens.
“. . .This [spirit] he poured out richly upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior, that, after being declared righteous by virtue of the undeserved kindness of that one, we might become heirs according to a hope of everlasting life.” (Tit 3:6, 7)
Abraham was also declared righteous by faith, so it follows he too inherits the kingdom of the heavens.
“Abraham put faith in Jehovah, and it was counted to him as righteousness,” and he came to be called ‘Jehovah’s friend.’” (Jas 2:23)
He was not then called God’s son, because the adoption of sons was only made possible with the coming of Christ. However, just as the value of the ransom can be applied retroactively to all who died prior to Christ, so the adoption of sons can also be applied retroactively. We must recall that while the faithful men of old were dead by Jesus’ day, they were still alive to Jehovah God.
“As regards the resurrection of the dead, did YOU not read what was spoken to YOU by God, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob’? He is the God, not of the dead, but of the living.”” (Mt 22:31, 32)
Under the old covenant, the Israelites were to become a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.
“And YOU yourselves will become to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’. . .” (Ex 19:6)
How could Jehovah have made such a covenant with Moses and the nation if he didn’t intend to honor it by granting them the inheritance of the kingdom of the heavens should they keep their end of the contract?
Peter applies those words to the Christians who were under the new covenant.
“But YOU are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for special possession, that YOU should declare abroad the excellencies” of the one that called YOU out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1Pe 2:9)
It makes no sense nor is it consistent with God’s justice to assume that those under the old covenant would get a different reward. After all, the new covenant only came into being because the nation failed to keep the old one. So the old covenant reward didn’t change. It was merely extended to non-Jews otherwise known as “the other sheep”.
Keep Spreading the Good News
As we showed at the beginning, when a JW friend or family member is first confronted with the inconvenient truth that they are unable to prove any of their core doctrines from Scripture, their fallback position is to focus on the “unique” preaching work of Jehovah’s Witnesses. There is some truth to this, since no other religion is preaching the good news that Jehovah’s Witnesses preach. They alone carry the message that millions now living will never die, but will survive Armageddon by entering their organization and will then continue to live on earth under the Kingdom rule of Christ Jesus and his 144,000 anointed disciples.
Thus, paragraph 17 sums up the thrust of this article by saying:
“More than ever, our mission as the end nears is to preach the good news of the Kingdom! (Mark 13:10) Undeniably, the good news highlights Jehovah’s undeserved kindness. We should keep this in mind when we share in our witnessing work. Our objective when we preach is to honor Jehovah. We can do this by showing people that all the promises of new world blessings are expressions of Jehovah’s wonderful kindness.” – par. 17
This mission is from men. Jehovah would not give us a mission to preach a false version of the good news of the Kingdom. Yes, we must preach the good news, but it is the good news as Christ handed it to us without the additions and subtractions of men to distort it.