[From ws9/16 p. 3 November 21-27]
The point of this study is to help parents to build their children’s faith. To that end, paragraph two provides four things to assist parents in this task:
(1) Get to know them well.
(2) Put your heart into your teaching.
(3) Use good illustrations.
(4) Be patient and prayerful.
Think carefully on these four techniques. Would these not serve a person of any religion, even a pagan one, to build faith in their teachings? Indeed, for centuries, parents and teachers have used these techniques to build up faith in false gods; faith in men; faith in religious myths.
Any Christian parent wants to build faith in God and His Christ. However, to do that, the faith has to be based on something. It needs a firm foundation. Otherwise, like a house built on sand, it will be washed away at the first passing storm. (Mt 7:24-27)
We can all agree that for the Christian, there can be no other foundation than God’s Word, the Bible. This might seem to be the view of the writer of this article.
A 15-year-old brother in Australia wrote: “Dad often talks with me about my faith and helps me to reason. He asks: ‘What does the Bible say?’ ‘Do you believe what it says?’ ‘Why do you believe it?’ He wants me to answer in my own words and not simply repeat his or Mum’s words. As I got older, I had to expand on my answers.” – par. 3
My parents studied the Bible with me. They taught me about Jehovah and Jesus and the hope of the resurrection. I learned how to prove there is no Trinity, no immortal soul, and no Hell, all using only the Scriptures. My confidence in them and in the source of their learning—the Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses—was high. Given that I could disprove these and other false doctrines taught in Christendom’s churches, I came to believe that what I heard week after week at the Kingdom hall must be true: We were the only religion that had the truth.
As a consequence, when I also learned that Jesus was enthroned in heaven in 1914, and that I had an earthly hope as part of the other sheep of John 10:16, I accepted the basis for what I thought were Scriptural teachings. For instance, belief in the 1914 invisible presence of Christ requires one to accept the interpretation of men that the gentile times began in 607 B.C.E. (Luke 21:24) Yet, I later came to learn that there is no Scriptural basis for that conclusion. Moreover, there is no secular basis to accept that the Jews were exiled to Babylon in 607 B.C.E.
My problem was misplaced trust. I didn’t dig deep in those days. I put faith in the teachings of men. I believed my salvation was assured. (Ps 146:3)
So using the Bible, as paragraph 3 says, is not enough. One must use only the Bible. Therefore, if you are to really build your children’s faith in God and Christ, disregard the instruction given in paragraph 6.
So parents, be good students of the Bible and of our study aids. – par. 6
I thought I was a good Bible Student, but as it turned out, I was a better Bible Aids Student. I was a student of the publications of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Just as a Catholic is trained to be a student of the Catechism and a Mormon is trained to be a student of the Book of Mormon, Jehovah’s Witnesses are trained on a weekly basis to be good students of all the publications and videos of the Organization.
This is not to say that we cannot use Bible aids to help us understand things, but we should never—never!—use them to interpret the Bible. The Bible should always interpret itself.
As an example of this, take John 10:16.
“And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; those too I must bring in, and they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock, one shepherd.” (Joh 10:16)
Ask your child who “the other sheep” are and what “this fold” represents. If he or she answers that “this fold” represents anointed Christians with a heavenly hope, and that the other sheep are non-anointed Christians with an earthly hope, ask him (or her) to prove it using only the Bible. If your children are a good students of the publications, they will be able to find ample proof for both statements in the magazines and books published by the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society. However, these will turn out to be categorical statements made by men who provide no Scriptural backing for their interpretation.
On the other hand, if your children are a good students of the Bible, they hit a wall trying to find proof.
This may surprise you to read, if you are a first-time visitor to this site. You may disagree. If so, I urge you to please be a champion of truth as Gerrit Losch instructed you to do in this month’s broadcast. (See Point 1 – Witnesses are required to defend the truth.) Use the commenting feature of this article so share your findings. There are thousands of visitors to the Beroean Pickets sites every month and a third are first-timers. If you believe what we say is false, think of the thousands you will save from trickery and artfully contrived stories by providing Bible proof for the JW “other sheep” doctrine.
It is not fair to ask someone to defend their belief is one is not willing to do the same. Therefore, by way of example, here is how we feel the Bible should be studied.
First, read the context.
John 10:1 opens with “Most truly I say to you…” Who is the “you”? Let us allow the Bible to speak. The previous two verses (remember, the Bible was not written with chapter and verse divisions) say:
Those of the Pharisees who were with him heard these things, and they said to him: “We are not blind also, are we?” 41 Jesus said to them: “If you were blind, you would have no sin. But now you say, ‘We see.’ Your sin remains.” – John 9:40-41
So the “you” he is speaking to when he speaks of other sheep are the Pharisees and the Jews accompanying them. This is further evidenced by what John 10:19 says:
“19 A division again resulted among the Jews because of these words. 20 Many of them were saying: “He has a demon and is out of his mind. Why do you listen to him?” 21 Others said: “These are not the sayings of a demonized man. A demon cannot open blind people’s eyes, can it?”” (Joh 10:19-21)
So when he refers to “this fold” (or “this flock”) he is referring to sheep already present. He makes no clarification, so what are his Jewish listeners going to assume? What would his disciples understand “this fold” to refer to?
Again, let us allow the Bible to speak. How did Jesus use the term “sheep” in his ministry?
“. . .And Jesus set out on a tour of all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the good news of the kingdom and curing every sort of disease and every sort of infirmity. 36 On seeing the crowds he felt pity for them, because they were skinned and thrown about like sheep without a shepherd.” (Mt 9:35, 36)
“. . .Then Jesus said to them: “All of YOU will be stumbled in connection with me on this night, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered about.’” (Mt 26:31)
“These 12 Jesus sent out, giving them these instructions: “Do not go off into the road of the nations, and do not enter any Sa·marʹi·tan city; 6 but instead, go continually to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Mt 10:5, 6)
The Bible shows that sometimes the sheep referred to his disciples, such as in Matthew 26:31, and sometimes they referred to the Jews in general. The only consistent usage was that they always referred to the Jews, whether believers or not. He never used the term without a modifier to refer to any other group. This fact is clear from the context of Matthew 15:24 where Jesus is speaking to a Phoenician women (non-Jew) when he says:
“I was not sent to anyone except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”” (Mt 15:24)
So when Jesus modifies the term by saying “other sheep” at John 10:16, one could conclude he was referring to a group of non-Jews. However, it is best to find corroboration in Scripture before accepting a conclusion based solely on deductive reasoning. We find such corroboration in the letter Paul sent to the Romans.
“For I am not ashamed of the good news; it is, in fact, God’s power for salvation to everyone having faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Ro 1:16)
“There will be tribulation and distress on every person who works what is harmful, on the Jew first and also on the Greek; 10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who works what is good, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” (Ro 2:9, 10)
Jew first, then the Greek.[i] “This fold” first, then “other sheep” join in.
“For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek. There is the same Lord over all, who is rich toward all those calling on him.” (Ro 10:12)
““And I have other sheep [Greeks or gentiles], which are not of this fold [Jews]; those too I must bring in [3 1/2 years later], and they will listen to my voice [become Christians], and they will become one flock [all are Christian], one shepherd [under Jesus].” (Joh 10:16)
True, we do not have a Scripture that provides a single declarative statement linking the “other sheep” with the entry of gentiles into the congregation of God, but what we do have is a series of Scriptures that leave no reasonable option for another conclusion. Admittedly, we could say that “this fold” refers to the “little flock” referred to at Luke 12:32 and that the “other sheep” refers to a group that would not come on the scene for 2,000 years, but based on what? Speculation? Types and antitypes?[ii] Certainly nothing in the Bible supports such a conclusion.
By all means, follow the teaching techniques explained in this week’s Watchtower study, but do so in a way that builds faith in God and Christ. Use the Bible. Be a good student of the Bible. Use the publications where appropriate and do not be afraid of using non-JW sources for Bible research. However, never use the written words of any man (including yours truly) as the basis for any Bible interpretation. Let the Bible interpret itself. Remember Joseph’s words: “Do not interpretations belong to God?” (Ge 40:8)
[i] Greek is used by the apostle as a catch-all term for people of the nations, or non-Jews.
[ii] The fact is, the JW doctrine of the other sheep is based wholly on an series of antitypical interpretations made in 1934 in The Watchtower, which have since been disavowed by the Governing Body. (See “Going Beyond What Is Written”.)