Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 19:06 — 12.7MB) | Embed
Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | RSS | More
[From ws17/12 p. 8 – February 5-11]
“The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.”—1 Cor. 15:45
What a pity that after last week’s delightful review of the Bible resurrection accounts, this week’s study wastes no time in getting off on the wrong foot:
IF YOU were asked, ‘What are the key teachings of your faith?’ what would you say? Surely you would stress that Jehovah is the Creator and Life-Giver. You would likely mention your belief in Jesus Christ, who died as a ransom. And you would happily add that an earthly paradise is ahead, where God’s people will live forever. But would you mention the resurrection as one of your most cherished beliefs? – par. 1
We might stress that Jehovah is the Creator and Life-Giver, but only mention Jesus as the one who died as a ransom?! “Oh, yes, there was also this nice fellow named Jesus who died for us. Isn’t that just peachy keen? He did some other stuff too. A really fine, all around chap.”
Having critically reviewed every Watchtower study for several years now, I can attest to the fact that Jesus is viewed as our exemplar—i.e. someone to imitate—and as our ransom—i.e. our ticket into paradise. That pretty much says it all. We don’t like to focus on him, as that takes away from our focus on Jehovah. We seem to think we can gain access to God without going through the door that is Jesus.
In the last paragraph of the study, we come back to the idea that Jehovah is doing all the resurrecting with this statement:
“Proving that Jehovah is capable of resurrecting the dead…” – par. 21
Of course, Jehovah is the ultimate source of life, but given that we’re quoting from John 5:28, 29 in the paragraph, maybe we should consider what it actually says.
“Most truly I say to you, the hour is coming, and it is now, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who have paid attention will live. 26 For just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted also to the Son to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to do judging, because he is the Son of man. 28 Do not be amazed at this, for the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, and those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.” (Joh 5:25-29)
Does this sound like Jehovah is doing the resurrecting? Is it God’s voice they hear and respond to? If so, then why has He granted the Son to have life in himself and why is Jesus called “a life-giving spirit” in 1 Corinthians?
Shouldn’t food at the proper time be accurate and give honor where honor is due?
The other expression in this first paragraph that is off-putting may not be so quickly apparent: “you would happily add that an earthly paradise is ahead, where God’s people will live forever.” Not God’s children, not God’s family, but God’s people. We don’t live forever because we are God’s people. The Israelites were God’s people, for instance, but not his children. The subjects of a ruler may benefit from being governed by a benevolent king, but the children of a father inherit, which is far better. As children, we “inherit everlasting life” and much more. (Mt 19:29; 20:8; 25:34; Mark 10:17; Heb 1:14; Re 21:7) So why does the Watchtower constantly focus on friendship with God, not a family relationship? Why does it always speak of Christians as God’s people, but not his children? That is not the message of the good news. It is a foreign good news. (Gal 1:6-8)
The Organization has a long history of getting the timing of things wrong. They do this by supposing that there are exceptions and loop holes to the prohibitions God imposes. For instance, paragraph 13 states: “Jesus did tell his apostles that there were things they did not and could not know. There are details about “the times or seasons that the Father has placed in his own jurisdiction.” (Acts 1:6, 7; John 16:12) However, this does not mean that we have no information about the timing of the resurrection.”
What information are they referring to? What information has God not put within his own jurisdiction? The apostles were asking about the restoration of the Kingdom of Israel. This Davidic kingdom is restored when Christ establishes the Messianic Kingdom. The establishment of that kingdom marks the beginning of his presence. According to Acts 1:6, 7, that timing is precisely what we are not allowed to know. Yet according to paragraph 16, it is precisely what we did and do know.
That gives us a general indication of the timing of the heavenly resurrection. It would occur “during his presence.” Jehovah’s Witnesses have long established Scripturally that since 1914 we have been living during Jesus’ promised “presence.” It is still continuing, and the end of this wicked system of things is now very near. – par. 16
“Long established Scripturally”? Really? Well, aren’t we the clever ones? God said we couldn’t know such things, but we managed to steal the knowledge from the Most High. Sure pulled the wool over His eyes, didn’t we?
Or is it all made up? Which way would you bet? Did we pull one over on God, or did we just fool ourselves? There is abundant evidence that 1914 didn’t mark the beginning of Christ presence or anything else Scriptural for that matter. But we don’t even need to look at that evidence. Acts 1:7 is enough. It states unambiguously that Christians are prevented by God from knowing the times and seasons when Jesus would be appointed king. So we could not know about 1914 because that would make God a liar. Well, “let God be found true, though every man be found a liar…” (Ro 3:4)
Therefore, the presence of Christ has not yet begun and all the reasoning in the final paragraphs of this study, being based on that assumption, is a waste of time.
Teaching Another Resurrection
The title for this week’s study comes from Acts 24:15 which is part of the Apostle Paul’s defence before the judgment seat of Roman Governor Felix. Addressing the Governor, but referencing his Jewish accusers, Paul says: “And I have hope toward God, which hope these men also look forward to, that there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Ac 24:15)
How many resurrections do you count there? Two or three? According to Jehovah’s Witnesses, there are three. Two of the righteous and one of the unrighteous. Well, it’s clear you can’t get that from this verse, so let’s see if this Watchtower article provides us with the missing links. Let’s keep an eye out for them as we continue, shall we?
First, the Watchtower has to establish a “resurrection to heaven”, because it then wants us to believe in two more to the earth.
The resurrection of Jesus was the first of that sort, and it undoubtedly is first in importance. (Acts 26:23) He is not, though, the only one promised to be resurrected to heaven as a spirit creature. Jesus assured his faithful apostles that they would rule with him in heaven. (Luke 22:28-30) – par. 15
Do you see any proof offered here that the apostles would rule with Jesus in heaven? Luke 22:28-30 doesn’t provide it. True, Jesus went to heaven, but he went there to secure kingly power and wait for God’s time for him to return. (Luke 19:12) To where does he return? The earth! He doesn’t remain in heaven to govern from there. If he could govern from there, then why appoint a faithful and discreet slave in his absence? (Mt 24:45-47)
Paul went on to indicate that there would be others raised to heavenly life, adding: “Each one in his own proper order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who belong to the Christ during his presence.”—1 Cor. 15:20, 23. – par. 14
Since Christ’s presence has not begun, it follows that the first resurrection has not yet begun. With this in view, we can abandon the silly idea of a century-long ongoing first resurrection.
“For this is what we tell you by Jehovah’s word, that we the living who survive to the presence of the Lord will in no way precede those who have fallen asleep in death; 16 because the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a commanding call, with an archangel’s voice and with God’s trumpet, and those who are dead in union with Christ will rise first. 17 Afterward we the living who are surviving will, together with them, be caught away in clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and thus we will always be with the Lord.” (1 Th 4:15-17)
Notice that they are not resurrected to heaven, but meet Jesus in the clouds, in the air. In other words, in the vicinity of the planet over which they are called to rule. Notice also that there is one commanding call, not a century-long trumpet blast. Finally, the survivors are caught away (transfigured) at the same time, and ascend “together with” the dead who are raised. This occurs at the presence of Christ. Matthew 24:30 also speaks of the Christ coming in the clouds at his presence, and the next verse speaks of the chosen ones being gathered to him. None of this has occurred yet, but to keep their theology alive, the Governing Body must preach that it began shortly after 1914.
Where’s the Proof?
From this point on, many assertions are made in the article, but no proof is provided.
“Today, most faithful Christians are not anointed and called to serve in heaven with Christ.” – par. 19
Where is this taught in Scripture?
“Thereafter, a different type of resurrection will take place, a resurrection to life in an earthly paradise.” – par. 19
They are not speaking of the second resurrection hope Paul spoke of, the resurrection of the unrighteous. No, they are referring to an earthly resurrection of righteous JWs, “other sheep” to life. Yet, they also say that these ones are raised still sinners. That’s a contradiction in terms.
“Those raised will have the prospect of growing to human perfection and never having to die again.” – par. 19
How exactly does a person “grow to human perfection”? Do they sin once a day, then later, once a week, then as they grow, once a month, then once a year, until they’ve finally reach the goal of perfection? As they grow, will they say, “I’m only a little bit imperfect”, sort of like being a little bit pregnant? And where is this process explained in Scripture?
And how does this differ from the unrighteous who will be likewise raised in imperfection. Since both righteous Jehovah’s Witnesses and unrighteous “worldly” people are both raised imperfect—still sinners—then what’s the advantage of being counted by God as righteous?
That certainly will be “a better resurrection” than that of those in the past when “women received their dead by resurrection” only for them to die again sometime later.—Heb. 11:35. – par. 19
Since there is no qualitative difference between the JW earthly resurrection of the righteous vs. the unrighteous, is the resurrection of the unrighteous also “a better resurrection”?
What nonsense! It would seem that the writer has not even carefully read Hebrews 11:35. He’s picking the phrase “women received their dead by resurrection” and saying that Paul is contrasting the better resurrection with those. Read the context—something the writer apparently failed to do. Judge for yourself.
“. . .And what more will I say? For time will fail me if I go on to relate about Gidʹe·on, Baʹrak, Samson, Jephʹthah, David, as well as Samuel and the other prophets. 33 Through faith they defeated kingdoms, brought about righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the force of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from a weak state were made powerful, became mighty in war, routed invading armies. 35 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. 36 Yes, others received their trial by mockings and scourgings, indeed, more than that, by chains and prisons. 37 They were stoned, they were tried, they were sawn in two, they were slaughtered by the sword, they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, while they were in need, in tribulation, mistreated; 38 and the world was not worthy of them. They wandered about in deserts and mountains and caves and dens of the earth. 39 And yet all of these, although they received a favorable witness because of their faith, did not obtain the fulfillment of the promise, 40 because God had foreseen something better for us, so that they might not be made perfect apart from us.” (Heb 11:32-40)
Even if we restrict ourselves to verse 35, the wording shows that it is the men who did “not accept release by some ransom, in order that they might attain to a better resurrection.” However, if we consider the entire context of chapter 11, it becomes clear that the better resurrection he speaks of is that of the righteous. (There are only two resurrections. The righteous to perfection and eternal life with Christ, and the unrighteous to judgment. – Acts 24:15; John 5:28, 29) For instance, Moses endures for the payment of the reward that involved enduring the reproach of the Christ. (Heb 11:26) The reproach of the Christ is the willingness to carry one’s torture stake and follow the Christ. That reward is to be with the Christ in the kingdom of the heavens. (Mt 10:38) Moses was depicted with Jesus in the Kingdom of the heavens. (Luke 9:30) Additionally, Paul says that these ones who get “the better resurrection” do not get it apart from Christians, but are made perfect together with them. (Heb 11:40)
Will faithful men of old with leadership abilities come back early to help organize God’s people in the new world? – par. 20
I had to laugh at this statement. As we saw in last week’s review, the faithful men of old will join with us in the kingdom of the heavens.
This viewpoint of the Governing Body reveals so much about the mentality of those leading the flock of Jehovah’s Witnesses. They think the anointed will scurry off to heaven to rule from afar, presumably by dictate and decree, but the hands-on work of day-to-day governing will be handled by humans (congregation elders) with leadership abilities. Would you want an imperfect sinful human, like the elders you now have in the congregation, ruling over you with absolute power? Currently their power is limited because there are laws of the land that they must obey, but what if they were the ultimate power and authority? Would Jehovah appoint sinners to rule over us knowing that “man dominates man to his injury”? (Ec 8:9)
God has purposed to set up an administration of individuals tested to the max, and given them both the power and wisdom to serve as kings. (Eph 1:8-10) These will also serve as priests for the ministering of the nations. They will rule in love and work side-by-side with Jesus. The Bible says they will rule “on the earth”.
“You have appointed them as a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” – Re 5:10 NET Bible
The tent of God will descend to be among mankind, not far off in heaven. The New Jerusalem will descend out of heaven to be on the earth. (Re 21:3; 3:12)
The oft-quoted prophesy of Isaiah does not refer to the elders of Jehovah’s Witnesses making up some unscriptural earthly ruling class of imperfect resurrected righteous ones. It refers to Christ and his bride of anointed kings and priests.
“Look! A king will reign for righteousness, And princes will rule for justice. 2 And each one will be like a hiding place from the wind, A place of concealment from the rainstorm, Like streams of water in a waterless land, Like the shadow of a massive crag in a parched land.” (Isa 32:1, 2)
If I had to live on earth and be nursed back to perfection, those are the kind of leaders I would want watching over me. How about you?
Thanks meleti for writing about this article and I am so glad that this watchtower study is not going by unnoticed without at least someone pointing out how bizarre the teachings are. This is not the truth that I know growing up in the organisation. Actually its so confusing and disturbing to me I don’t feel like I can deal with it anymore! How can scriptures such as Acts 1:6 and John 5:26 be misapplied so badly and yet no one at the meetings notice? Sometimes I wonder if everyone turns up to the hall to fall asleep. It is… Read more »
In the latter half of your (excellent) piece you confirm something I’ve always felt had to be true of the psychology of the elders and the arrangement of elders. That they believe their position of authority – however minute compared to the authority of the 144,000 and the Angels, Christ, and Jehovah himself – will transition into a position of authority in the New World. That the very idea of being demoted back to joe-public “flock status” in the new system is an ugly proposition for them. I would have never caught this in the study had you not pointed… Read more »
Interesting what you say about the view elders have of themselves JA, and as far as them ” help organise” the new world, most elders I know can’t organise a drinking session in a brewery, they can only do as they are told. And also the almost psychotic desire to hang onto their ” privileges ” even when they are far past capable of looking after them, they are truly aware that once stepped down , getting back is a lot of real work . I was delighted with your comment on the work ethic of Jesus and Paul, since… Read more »
Was in commercial construction for nearly two decades myself Olive. Gives you excellent perspective, and builds what they used to term ‘grit.’ Thanks for your response. I can’t shake the feeling that one of the salient reasons the Org won’t cut itself loose from the disfellowshipping policy is that if they did, we’d all be able to say what we think. To any elder giving counsel we could easily disagree and point out why you think they have it all wrong. I sometimes tell friends and acquaintances that once I’m in the new system you’ll never see me at another… Read more »
Nice review Meleti, From your introduction you mentioned the WT statement which states this “Proving that Jehovah is capable of resurrecting the dead…” – par. 21- then you correctly highlight in John 5:25-29, showing Jesus will be resurrecting, ones will hear his voice. So I thought to myself, surely they (GB) know the verse in John 5-refers to Jesus. And sure enough they do as the reference below highlights this. So, why not teach accurately that this is Jesus voice but instead they by-pass him? I’m baffled by it. Wouldn’t enlightening the sheep to this truth be more beneficial to… Read more »
Another fine analysis of the many fabrications deployed by the “ruling faction” of Jehovah’s Witnesses . I can tell you that my X husband had every single one of these “perspectives” in the early 80’s .and was constantly in “trouble” at the Hall …lol he was a great teacher and I learned how to study from him .
Thank you again,brother. Also right at the study’s beginning,a problem comes up”teachings of your faith”.JW’s are a BELIEF System with the specific teachings of the doctrine.Ask across the world,”what is your Faith”?answers are, Muslim,Hindu,Christian…The 3 major Faiths.Under those are the particular belief-groups, ex.Druze,Coptic,Sikh,Protestant,etc.So we as Christians see why the org.says”probably”in holding(-as Meliti again shows-)in a limited off-center way,to Christ.But the average JW..they say “we’re the only true faith”…Confused?!?
Thanks Meliti for keeping us on our toes. I must admit that I am getting a little confused with the line that the Kingdom will be on earth, and also that we are stressing the Great Crowd will be serving in heaven. What is clear is that the JW slant is definitely not provable from scripture, while there is a lot to support other positions. As regards the emphasis on Jesus, the Apostles first century slant was heavily on Jesus, and all the more so if we remove the many invalid insertions of the divine name in the NT. Excellent… Read more »
I appreciate the articles written by meleti. I agreed with the diminished role of Christ that the WTS is giving to our Lord. Obviously this happens because today is well clear that an equation is built by the Wts: Jehovah = Wts organization, so Jesus became a bulky uninvited guest. But there is still a lot to dig in the Bible to completely and thoroughly understand where we are in the timeline of human history. Many brothers and sisters are coming at common conclusions regarding the truth that is longtime concealed by the GB. Thinking outside the box implies to… Read more »
I wonder how much longer Jehovah will tolerate an organisation that says we can’t be his children now, after all the suffering and hard work and sacrifice both he and Jesus have been through to make it possible? It makes perfect sense to me that he wants us with him in his likeness, which is accomplished through the ” better ressurection”. So while it is true that not all good people go to heaven, it will be a lot more than 144000. I marvel at the faith and spiritual vision that some of our prechristian brothers had, they could see… Read more »
Yes, leave it to the Organization to insure we don’t have two “delightful” Watchtower reviews in a row. We “might mention” that we believe in the Christ as our ransomer? Might mention? Jeez, ya think? It’s precisely this kind of marginalization of our loving Lord Jesus that I finally stopped attending meetings altogether. I remember when I was first “waking up” a couple years ago that I mentioned to an elder that I was discouraged how little “mention” Jesus was getting at the newly formatted CLAM meetings. The first thing he did was look at me and ask me “Do… Read more »
Excellent rant! That made me feel a little better reading it.
And yes, I am hoping the Eagles humble the Patriots.
You gave me my Monday Morning Laugh, always needed to start out a new week. Thanks. I was imagining you at the meeting giving that pithy comment, fighting to hold on to the mic while the brother assigned to mics was leaning back with a two-fisted grip on the cord trying to tug it out of your hand. Makes for quite a picture. I wish I could draw cartoons.
PS: What a great game that was last night!
You could also add that it would be preposterous to say that we are the only true religion (ARC), that we permit our members to make their own medical decisions (Bulgaria) , and we allow disfellowshipped ones to sit where they like at the Kingdom Hall while normal family (non spiritual of course) relations can continue with no consequences (Canada supreme Court).
Mind you, you might be being dragged out of the hall by the whole body by the time you got that far.
Any more we could add ?
If it was anyone else I would call it lieing, I really wonder if the GB have any respect or concern for the sheep in their care.
It Doesn’t sound like they read Ezekiel chapter 37 before they printed this issue of the Watchtower Meleti.
Spot on Meleti!
Thanks again for an excellent review ?
D-A-V excellent comment could I suggest you go and nail it to the door at the Kingdom Hall ,in the hope of a reformation along with the inclusion of a message from Jesus found at John 5:42-44