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The first time I partook of the emblems at the memorial in my local Kingdom hall, the elderly sister sitting next to me remarked in all sincerity: “I had no idea we were so privileged!” There you have it in a single phrase—the problem behind the JW two-class system of redemption. The sad irony is that the Governing Body, while claiming to have done away with the clergy/laity distinctions of Christendom[i], has joined its fellow denominations in creating one of their very own, and a particularly pronounced distinction it is.
You might think I’m overstating the problem. You might say that this is a difference without a distinction—this sister’s comment notwithstanding. Yet, in a way, the JW class distinction is greater than is currently practiced in Catholicism. Consider the fact that, potentially, anyone can become Pope, as this video demonstrates.
This is not the case with Jehovah’s Witnesses. According to JW theology, one must be specifically selected by God as one of an elite group of anointed before he can have any hope of rising to the top of the JW ladder. Only those so chosen can claim to be adopted children of God. (The rest can only call themselves “God’s friends.”[ii]) Additionally, within the Catholic Church, the clergy/laity distinction does not affect the reward each Catholic is said to receive. Whether priest, bishop, or lay person, all good people are believed to go to heaven. However, among Witnesses this is not the case. The clergy/laity distinction persists after death, with the elite going to heaven to rule, while the remainder—about 99.9% of all those considered to be true and faithful Christians—having another 1,000 years of imperfection and sin to look forward to, followed by a final test, only after which they can be granted everlasting life in the fullest sense of the term.
In this, the non-anointed Jehovah’s Witness who is allegedly declared righteous by God gets the same prospect as an unrighteous resurrected one, even one who has never known the Christ. At best, he can look forward to a “head start” in the race toward perfection over his non-Christian or false-Christian counterpart. Apparently, this is all God’s declaration of righteousness amounts to in the case of a member of the Other Sheep.
Now it becomes clear why that dear elderly sister was moved to make her heartfelt expression about my newly acquired exalted status.
If you feel that something doesn’t feel quite right about all this, you are not alone. Thousands of still-practicing Jehovah’s Witnesses are struggling with the question of whether they should partake of the bread and the wine at this year’s memorial. A member of almost any of Christendom’s churches would find this struggle perplexing. They would reason, “But didn’t our Lord Jesus command us to partake of the symbols representing his flesh and blood? Didn’t he give us a clear, unequivocal command: “Keep doing this in remembrance of me”? (1 Co 11:24, 25)
The reason that many JWs are hesitating, afraid to obey what seems to be a simple, straightforward command, is that their minds have become confused by “artfully contrived false stories.” (2 Pe 1:16) By a misapplication of 1 Corinthians 11:27-29, Witnesses have been led to believe that they are actually committing a sin if they partake of the emblems without having received the special notification from God that they are members of this elite group.[iii] Is such reasoning valid? More important, is it scriptural?
God Didn’t Call Me
Our Lord Jesus is a remarkable Commander-in-Chief. He does not give us conflicting instructions nor vague directives. If he only wanted some Christians, a tiny minority, to partake of the emblems, then he would have said so. If partaking in error would amount to a sin, Jesus would have spelled out the criteria by which we would know whether or not to participate.
Given that, we see that he unambiguously told us to partake of the emblems signifying his flesh and blood, making no exceptions. He did this, because he knew no follower of his could be saved without eating of his flesh and drinking of his blood.
“So Jesus said to them: “Most truly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in yourselves. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has everlasting life, and I will resurrect him on the last day; 55 for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood remains in union with me, and I in union with him. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will live because of me.” (John 6:53-57)
Are we to believe that the Other Sheep “have no life” in themselves? On what basis are Witnesses compelled to ignore this requirement and deny themselves this life-saving provision?
On the basis of the Governing Body’s misinterpretation of a single Scripture: Romans 8:16.
Taken out of context in true JW eisegetical[iv] fashion, the publications have this to say:
w16 January p. 19 pars. 9-10 The Spirit Bears Witness With Our Spirit
9 But how does a person know that he has the heavenly calling, that he has, in fact, received this special token? The answer is clearly seen in Paul’s words to the anointed brothers in Rome, who were “called to be holy ones.” He told them: “You did not receive a spirit of slavery causing fear again, but you received a spirit of adoption as sons, by which spirit we cry out: ‘Abba, Father!’ The spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (Rom. 1:7; 8:15, 16) Simply put, by means of his holy spirit, God makes it clear to that person that he is invited to become a future heir in the Kingdom arrangement.—1 Thess. 2:12.
10 Those who have received this special invitation from God do not need another witness from any other source. They do not need someone else to verify what has happened to them. Jehovah leaves no doubt whatsoever in their minds and hearts. The apostle John tells such anointed Christians: “You have an anointing from the holy one, and all of you have knowledge.” He further states: “As for you, the anointing that you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to be teaching you; but the anointing from him is teaching you about all things and is true and is no lie. Just as it has taught you, remain in union with him.” (1 John 2:20, 27) These ones need spiritual instruction just like everyone else. But they do not need anyone to validate their anointing. The most powerful force in the universe has given them this conviction!
What irony that they quote 1 John 2:20, 27 to show that these ones “do not need anyone to validate their anointing”, while going out of their way to invalidate it! At every memorial commemoration I have ever attended, the speaker has spent a major part of the discourse telling everyone why they shouldn’t partake, thus invalidating the anointing of the Holy Spirit in their minds.
By using unscriptural terms like “special token” and “special invitation”, the Governing Body attempts to convey the idea that all Jehovah’s Witnesses have the holy spirit, but not all are invited to become Children of God. So, you, as a Jehovah’s Witness, have God’s holy spirit, but you are not anointed by that spirit unless you have had a “special invitation” or have received a “special token”, whatever that means.
To many this seems reasonable, because their Bible study is confined to the publications of the Organization which cherry-pick verses to support institutional reasoning. But let’s not do that. Let’s do something radical, shall we? Let’s read the Bible and let it speak for itself.
If you have the time, read all of Romans to get a feel for Paul’s overall message. Then reread chapters 7 and 8. (Remember, there were no chapter nor verse divisions in the original letter.)
As we reach the end of chapter 7 and get into chapter 8, it is clear that Paul is speaking about polar opposites. Opposing forces. In this case, the juxtaposition of two laws standing in opposition to each other.
“I find, then, this law in my case: When I wish to do what is right, what is bad is present with me. 22 I really delight in the law of God according to the man I am within, 23 but I see in my body another law warring against the law of my mind and leading me captive to sin’s law that is in my body. 24 Miserable man that I am! Who will rescue me from the body undergoing this death? 25 Thanks to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So, then, with my mind I myself am a slave to God’s law, but with my flesh to sin’s law.” (Romans 7:21-25)
Not by force of will can Paul get the mastery over his fallen flesh; nor can he, by the abundance of good works, wipe clean the slate of a life of sin. He is condemned. But there is hope. This hope comes as a free gift. So, he continues:
“Therefore, those in union with Christ Jesus have no condemnation.” (Romans 8:1)
Unfortunately, the NWT robs this verse of some of its power by adding the words “union with”. In the Greek it reads simply, “those in Christ Jesus”. If we are in Christ, we have no condemnation. How does that work? Paul goes on (reading from the ESV):
2For the law of the Spirit of life has set youb free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,c he condemned sin in the flesh, 4in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:2-8)
There is a law of the Spirit and an opposing law of sin and death, i.e. a law of the flesh. To be in Christ is to be filled with the Spirit. The Holy Spirit sets us free. However, the flesh is filled with sin and so enslaves us. While we cannot be free of the fallen flesh, nor its effects, we can counter its influence by being filled with the Holy Spirit. Thus, we are saved in Christ.
Therefore, it is not the putting aside of the flesh which brings life, since there is no way for us to do that, but rather it is our willingness to live according to the spirit, to be filled by that spirit, to live in Christ.
From Paul’s words we see only the possibility for two states of being. One state is the fleshly state in which we are given over to the desires of the flesh. The other state is the one where we freely accept the spirit, our minds firmly set on life and peace, on oneness with Jesus.
Please note that there is one state resulting in death, the fleshly state. Likewise, there is one state resulting in life. That state comes from the spirit. Each state has a single outcome, either death by the flesh or life by the Spirit. There is no third state.
Paul explains this further:
“You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:9-11 ESV)
The only two states Paul speaks of are either the fleshly state, or the spiritual state. You’re either in Christ or you are not. You either are dying or you are living. Do you see anything here that would allow Paul’s readers to conclude that there are three states of being, one in the flesh and two in the spirit? This is what The Watchtower wants us to believe.
The difficulty of this interpretation becomes evident when we consider the next verses:
“So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” 15For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:12-15 ESV)
The publications tell us that as Jehovah’s Witnesses, we are led by the spirit.
(w11 4/15 p. 23 par. 3 Are You Allowing God’s Spirit to Lead You?)
Why is it vital that we be led by holy spirit? Because another force seeks to dominate us, a force that opposes the operation of holy spirit. That other force is what the Scriptures term “the flesh,” which refers to the sinful inclinations of our fallen flesh, the legacy of imperfection we have received as descendants of Adam. (Read Galatians 5:17.)
According to Paul, “all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” Yet the Governing Body would have us believe otherwise. They would have us believe we can be led by God’s spirit, while being only his friends. As friends, we are not to avail ourselves of the life-saving provision of Christ’s body and blood. They would have us believe that more is required. We must have received some “special invitation or token” delivered in some mystical or mysterious manner to make us part of this elite group.
Is not the spirit of God that Paul speaks of in verse 14 the same spirit he speaks of in verse 15 when he calls it the spirit of adoption? Or are there two spirits—one of God and one of adoption? There is nothing in these verses to indicate such a ridiculous concept. Yet we must accept that interpretation if we are to believe the Organization’s application of the next verse:
“The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,…” (Romans 8:16)
If you do not have the Spirit of God, then according to verse 14 you not a child of God. However, if you do not have the Spirit of God, then according to all the preceding verses you have the spirit of the flesh. There is no middle ground. You can be the nicest person on the block, but we’re not talking about niceness, nor goodness, nor charitable works. We are talking about accepting the spirit of God into our hearts so that we may live in Christ. Everything that we read here in Paul’s words to the Romans speaks of a binary situation. The basic computer circuit is a binary circuit. It is either 1 or 0; either on or off. It can only exist in one of two states. This is Paul’s essential message. We are either in the flesh or in the spirit. We either mind the flesh, or we mind the spirit. We are either in Christ, or we are not. If we are in the spirit, if we are minding the spirit, if we are in Christ, then we know it. We do not doubt it. We know it. And that spirit bears witness with our spirit that we have been adopted by God as his children.
Witnesses are taught to think that they can have the Holy Spirit and live, as the NWT puts it, “in union with Christ”, while at the same time not being children of God and not having the spirit of adoption. There is nothing in Paul’s writings, nor those of any other Bible writer, to support such an outrageous idea.
Having arrived at the conclusion that the Watchtower’s application of Romans 8:16 is bogus and self-serving, one might assume that there would be no further impediment to partaking of the emblems at the Memorial. However, that turns out not to be the case for several reasons:
We’re Not Worthy!
A good friend was able to convince his wife that the Organization’s interpretation of Romans 8:16 was not scriptural, and yet she still refused to partake. Her reasoning was that she did not feel worthy. Despite the humourous reference this might evoke to that scene from Wayne’s World, the fact is, none of us is worthy. Am I worthy of the gift being offered me by my heavenly Father through my Lord Jesus? Are you? Is any human? That is why it is called God’s Grace, or as Witnesses like to call it, “Jehovah’s undeserved kindness.” It cannot be earned, so no one can be worthy of it.
Nevertheless, would you refuse a gift from someone who loves you simply because you feel unworthy of the gift? If your friend deems you as worthy of his gift, are you not, in fact, insulting him and questioning his judgment to turn your nose up at it?
Saying that you are not worthy is not a valid argument. You are loved and you are being offered what the Bible calls the “free gift of life”. It’s not about being worthy; it’s about being grateful. It’s about being humble. It’s about being obedient.
We are worthy of the gift because of the grace of God, the all-encompassing love of God. Nothing we do makes us worthy. It is God’s love for us individually that makes us worthy. Our worth to him is a result of our love for him and his love for us. Given this, it would be an affront to our heavenly Father to refuse that which he offers us, by suggesting we are unworthy. It is tantamount to saying, “You’ve made a bad call here, Jehovah. I know more than you. I’m not worthy of this.” What cheek!
Location, Location, Location!
We all know the excitement one feels at opening a gift. In anticipation, our mind fills with the possibilities of what the box might contain. We also know the letdown at opening the gift and seeing that our friend has made a poor choice. Humans do their best to get the right gift to bring joy to a friend, but so often we fail to accurately anticipate our friend’s wants, desires, and needs. Do we really think that our heavenly Father is similarly limited; that any gift he gives us could be less than far and away beyond anything we could possibly want, desire, or need? Yet, that is often the reaction I’ve seen when introducing the thought that Witnesses who had always believed they had an earthly hope, can now grasp onto a heavenly one.
For decades, the magazines have contained artfully contrived illustrations depicting an idyllic life in a paradise earth. (How the earth could instantly become a paradise while being filled with billions of returning wicked ones seems naively fanciful, especially when we realize that they will all still have free will. Yes, under the rule of Christ, it will be better than it is now, but an idyllic paradise right off the bat, I don’t think so.) These articles and illustrations have built up a desire in the minds and hearts of Jehovah’s Witnesses for a far better world than they have ever known. Little to no attention has been given to any heavenly hope. (Since 2007, we admit that the heavenly hope is still open, yet do we go door-to-door offering it as a possibility?[v]) Thus, we have this imaginary reality built up in our minds, such that any thought of a different hope leaves us empty. We all want to be human. That’s a natural desire. We also want to be eternally young. Therefore, the Organization, along with every other denomination in Christendom, has painted an unappealing picture by teaching that the reward is life in heaven.
I get that.
But if the Governing Body has been wrong about who gets the heavenly calling, maybe they’ve been wrong about what the heavenly calling is? Is it a call to live in heaven with the angels?
Is there anywhere in the Bible where is says that the anointed go off to live in heaven? Matthew does speak about the kingdom of the heavens over thirty times, but it isn’t the kingdom in the heavens, but the kingdom of the heavens (plural). The word “heavens” is ouranos in Greek and can mean “the sky, the air, or atmosphere, the starry heavens (universe), and the spiritual heavens.” When Peter writes of a “new heavens and a new earth” at 2 Peter 3:13, he isn’t speaking of location, the physical earth and the literal heavens, but of a new system of things on the earth and a new government over the earth. Heavens often refers to the governing or controlling forces over the world of Mankind.
Thus, when Matthew refers to the kingdom of the heavens, he is not speaking about the location of the kingdom but about its origin, its source of authority. The kingdom is of—that is, it originates from—the heavens. The kingdom is of God and not of men.
This tallies with other expressions involving the kingdom. For example, its rulers are said to rule on or upon the earth. (See Revelation 5:10.) The preposition in this verse is epi which means “on, to, against, on the basis of, at”.
“You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.” (Revelation 5:10 NASB)
“and you made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God, and they are to rule as kings over the earth.” (Revelation 5:10 NWT)
The NWT translates epi as “over” to support its particular theology, but there is no basis for this biased rendering. It makes sense that these would rule on or upon the earth because part of their role is to act as priests in the New Jerusalem for the healing of the nations. (Re 22:2) Isaiah was inspired to speak of such ones when he wrote:
“Look! A king will reign for righteousness itself; and as respects princes, they will rule as princes for justice itself. 2 And each one must prove to be like a hiding place from the wind and a place of concealment from the rainstorm, like streams of water in a waterless country, like the shadow of a heavy crag in an exhausted land.” (Isaiah 32:1, 2)
How are they expected to do this, if they reside far away in heaven? Even Jesus left a faithful and discreet slave to feed his flock when he was absent. (Matthew 24:45-47)
Our Lord Jesus interacted with his disciples by manifesting himself in a fleshly form. He ate with them and drank with them and spoke with them. He then departed but promised to return. Why should he return, if it’s possible to govern remotely from heaven? Why is the tent of God with mankind, if the government is going to reside far off in heaven? Why does the New Jerusalem, which is populated with the anointed, descend from heaven to the earth to reside among the sons and daughters of mankind? (Re 21:1-4; 3:12)
Yes, the Bible does speak of a spiritual body which these ones will receive. It also says that Jesus was resurrected and became a life-giving spirit. Nevertheless, he was able to manifest himself in a fleshly form on numerous occasions. We often argue against those who promote the idea that all good people go to heaven with the reasoning that it makes no sense for God to have created the earth as a kind of testing ground to prepare humans to become angels. Jehovah already had millions upon millions of angels when he created the first human pair. Why create other beings of the flesh only to later convert them into angels? Humans were made to live on the earth, and the whole purpose of selecting qualified and tested ones from among humankind is so that the problems of Mankind can be fixed by humans. It stays within the family.
Of course, none of this is definitive. That’s the whole point. We cannot categorically say that the anointed go off to heaven, nor can we categorically say they will not. Will they have access to heaven? The Bible does say they will see God (Mt 5:8), so it can be argued that such ones will have access to heavenly places. Still, we have these words from the apostle John:
“Beloved ones, we are now children of God, but it has not yet been made manifest what we will be. We do know that when he is made manifest we will be like him, because we will see him just as he is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as that one is pure. (1 John 3:2, 3)
“And just as we have borne the image of the one made of dust, we will bear also the image of the heavenly one.” (1 Corinthians 15:49)
If Christ did not reveal to John, the disciple he loved, the full picture of what is the reward given to the children of God, we must content ourselves with what little we know and leave the rest up to our faith in the goodness and sublime wisdom of our heavenly Father.
All we can say with certainty is that we will be like Jesus. We know he is a life-giving spirit. We also know he can take on human form at will. Will the children of God reside as humans among and interact with the billions of unrighteous resurrected? We must wait-and-see.
It really is a question of faith, is it not? If Jehovah knows that you as an individual would not be happy in an assignment, would he give it to you? Is that what a loving father does? Jehovah does not set us up to fail, nor will he reward us with things that will make us unhappy. The question is not what will God do, nor how will God reward us? The question we should be asking ourselves is, “Do I love Jehovah enough and trust him enough to stop worrying about this and just obey?”
The Restraint of Fear
The third thing that will keep us from obeying the command of Christ is fear. Fear in the form of peer pressure. Fear of being judged by friends and family. When a Jehovah’s Witness begins partaking, many will assume that he is acting out of pride or being presumptuous. In some cases, rumours will fly that the partaker is emotionally unstable. There will be some who will consider it an act of rebellion, particularly if more than one family member starts partaking.
Fear of the reproach that partaking will bring could cause us to refrain from doing so.
Nevertheless, we should let these Scriptures guide us:
“For as often as YOU eat this loaf and drink this cup, YOU keep proclaiming the death of the Lord, until he arrives.” (1 Corinthians 11:26)
Partaking is an acknowledgement that Jesus is our Lord. We are proclaiming his death, which for us is the means for salvation.
“Everyone, then, who acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father who is in the heavens. 33 But whoever disowns me before men, I will also disown him before my Father who is in the heavens.” (Matthew 10:32, 33)
How can we acknowledge Jesus before men if we publicly disobey his command?
This is not to suggest that we must attend the memorial of Christ’s death at the Kingdom hall, anymore than we should feel compelled to attend similar ceremonies at other churches. In fact, some have reasoned that the JW practice of passing the emblems while refusing to partake is an affront to the person of our Lord and so refuse even to attend. They commemorate privately with friends and/or family members, or if there is no one else, then by themselves. The important thing is to partake. This does not appear to be an option given the nature of Christ’s command to us.
My purpose in writing this article is not to provide an in-depth treatise on the significance of the wine and the bread. Rather, I merely hope to allay some of the fears and concerns that confuse the mind and stay the hand of faithful Christians who only want to do what is right and please our Lord Jesus.
In past years, I myself was befuddled and confused about the very things I have touched on in this article. This was due to, as I’ve stated, the artfully contrived stories and decades-long indoctrination under which I lived as a Jehovah’s Witness from childhood. While there are many things that fall into the category of personal opinion and private understanding, things which would not be considered as deal breakers in our course toward eternal life, the obligation to obey the express command of our Lord is not one of these.
Jesus gave his disciples a clear command to drink of the wine and eat of the bread in symbol of their acceptance of his flesh and blood for their salvation. If one wishes to be a Christian, a true follower of the Christ, there does not seem to be a way in which one can avoid obedience to this command and still expect the favour of our Lord. If there is any lingering doubt, then this is a matter for which heartfelt prayer is called. Our Lord Jesus and our Father, Jehovah, love us and will not leave us with an uncertain heart if we truly request an answer and the strength to make a wise choice. (Matthew 7:7-11)
[i] “In harmony with this, there is no clergy-laity distinction among Jehovah’s witnesses. All baptized Christians are spiritual brothers and sisters, just as Jesus indicated.” (w69 10/15 p. 634 When You First Go to a Kingdom Hall)
[ii] “They are declared righteous as friends of God, like Abraham.” (w08 1/15 p. 25 par. 3 Counted Worthy to Be Guided to Fountains of Waters of Life)
[iii] See w91 3/15 pp. 21-22 Who Really Have a Heavenly Calling?
[iv] Eisegesis (/ˌaɪsəˈdʒiːsəs/;) is the process of interpreting a text or portion of text in such a way that the process introduces one’s own presuppositions, agendas, or biases into and onto the text.
[v] See w07 5/1 pp. 30-31 “Questions From Readers”.
“Happy are those who are hungry and thirsty for goodness, for they will be fully satisfied!” In some ways, the issue of drinking the emblems today is similar to the issue of circumcision that faced the first century Christians. Did circumcision make someone righteous by faith? What did Paul say? “Does this happiness, then, only come to circumcised people or also to uncircumcised people? For we say: “Abraham’s faith was counted to him as righteousness.” Under what circumstances, then, was it counted as righteousness? When he was circumcised or uncircumcised? He was not yet circumcised but was uncircumcised. And he received a… Read more »
Thank you for your opinion. Specifically on the different hopes, I wonder how you are going to prove them with the Bible. You tell us that Jehovah promises eternal life, but in two different places. Some may take from the symbols at the memorial meal, others may not. Where do I find this separation in the Bible? I would be very grateful for these proof texts from the Bible that prove this separation.
“At that David said: “I will show loyal love toward Haʹnun the son of Naʹhash as his father showed loyal love toward me.” So David sent his servants to offer him comfort over the loss of his father. But when David’s servants came into the land of the Amʹmon·ites, the princes of the Amʹmon·ites said to Haʹnun their lord: “Do you think that David is honoring your father by sending comforters to you? Is it not to search through the city and to spy it out and to overthrow it that David has sent his servants to you?” So Haʹnun took the… Read more »
Thank you very much for your answer. I was interested to know what you think about this. I read that you have not been able to provide any biblical evidence that Christians have different hopes. There is only one Christian hope. This is also in line with my biblical understanding, for which I am very grateful to Jehovah. The words of Colossians 1:3-5 apply to all Christians: “We give thanks always to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you. 4 For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love… Read more »
The belief in a secondary salvation hope is the brainchild (if you can call that abortion of antitypical mayhem, a child) of J.F. Rutherford. I go into detail in chapter 10 of my book: Shutting the Door to the Kingdom of God: How Watch Tower Stole Salvation from Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Shutting the Door to the Kingdom of God: How Watch Tower Stole Salvation from Jehovah’s Witnesses: Wilson, Eric Michael: 9781778143052: Amazon.com: Books
AnnaNana, it would be helpful if you were to state the premise of your argument at the start of one of your long comments. Do you believe that only some Christians are offered the reward of the first resurrection of Revelation 20:4-6 while the rest are offered an earthly hope as humans working toward perfection in a paradise earth as Witnesses teach?
The problem is that because we have been taught that all Christians in the first century were of the 144,000 (something which never even made sense to me as I could never understand how Jehovah could arbitrarily select people to rule as Kings simply based on the time period they lived in) we actually tend to believe that most of the Greek scriptures weren’t even written to us. We are in effect taught that these scriptures don’t even apply to us because we are among the great crowd. Imagine believing that parts of Gods own word are irrelevant. This really… Read more »
As for the 144,000, they are the 12 tribes of Israel that was scattered all over the Middle East descendants from Jacobs sons. Each descendants from his 12 sons, GOD has chosen 12,000 from each tribe to rule in heaven with Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So 12X12= 144,000 they are the anointed ones. All the rest of us are the great crowd which we all have the chance to have eternal life for those that believe in Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Through Mercy and Grace and keep his commandments and to come to knowledge of Our… Read more »
dc8597443, we appreciate your comment, but here we like to ask our commenters to either back up their statements with scripture or otherwise state that what they believe is just pure human speculation. One of the problems I see with your opinion is that even in Jesus time, the intermarriage among the 10-tribe kingdom was so great that tribal lines were blurred to the point the Jews just referred to their former brothers collectively as Samaritans. Since them those that considered themselves true Jews were scattered after the destruction of their city and intermarried to the point that no Jew… Read more »
For me personally Joh6:53-57 says it all, that is the beginning of any other descision that a person makes in regard to partaking , did Jesus say I should , or did he intimate that I shouldn’t? Do Jesus words have some other meaning ? If they do have some other ambiguous meaning , what is it? Did Jesus in any way hint that a person should not partake? If there is an alternative to his statements , what are they ,and where are they? If you can answer those questions then I think you have the answer to partaking.… Read more »
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Since I began partaking a number of years ago, I’ve already plowed through the fields to be expected from family members, “So do you think you’re smarter than the FDS?”
So far, I’ve managed to keep it simple with, “It was a personal decision.” But I’m thinking of adding, “I’m only following the requirements given to the ‘other sheep'”
Cheers to all
Sorry to bother you again . what is your thoughts on Romans 8 : 23-30. especially 29-30 Does it indicate a separate class ? Maybe I am getting ideas all mix up or need more clarafiaction.
I don’t believe so, though the Jews were the first to get the covenant, then the rest when the Jews failed to keep the covenant. So there are two classes or flocks, the Jews and the Gentiles, yet they get the one reward and become the one class or flock. So I think we’re talking about a distinction without a difference.
I have been a reader of this site for quite a while but this is my first post. I consider myself a wandering sheep as I am begining to look at our explainations of scriptures in a new light. I agreed that all baptised christians should partake.
This particular topic is one that I find challenging but with your help a lot of it make sense.However could carify for me how the following scriptures at Luke 12: 32 and Luke 22: 28-30 applies to our understanding of who makes up the little flock at John 10.16.
Hi Floss and welcome. You’ve raised a good question. Luke 12:32-34 reads: “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. At that time there was the flock of Israel to whom Jesus was sent. However, from within that flock, came a little flock of… Read more »
Thanks for your prompt reply.
I did reason that it could be a flock within a flock although I never heard or seen it in print. Good reasoning.
As for who was Jesus talking to ,my thoughts is doesn’t really matter if the crimmial who was put to death with Jesus will be in paradise then if we are right or wrong about some doctrine is moot once we obey all of his commandments
Hi Floss and welcome. I think Luke 22:28-30 is probably with the apostles. Interestingly, most translations do not translate the Greek word in verse 29 as covenant. It tends to be appoint, invest etc. I am not going to open that one up here. A parallel to consider is Matthew 19:27-30. Verse 28 is specific to the 12 apostles. Luke 12 needs to be read in full. Verse 41 is Peter’s question. Then the response. This could be tied back to matthew 24 and 25. It also has resonance in 1 Corinthians 4. The pattern to me is one of… Read more »
From the context, it sure sounds like he IS talking to is apostles. The question remains, does the word “only” apply? At that time, the apostles were the ones that stuck by him, even though many thousands of people followed and listened to Jesus. Then you have the day of Pentecost and the 120 in the upper room. If they were anointed as it appears they were, did they TOO “stick” with Jesus, or were they simply “other” Christians who were also faithful? To me, Jesus is in fact talking only to his apostles, but his wording does not rule… Read more »
Hi Robert. Your concluding comments are what I also believe. The whole problem starts from having a view and then trying to fit other teachings to that view. Far better to leave a degree of flexibility and allow Christians to draw a conclusion for themselves. Time will always prove what is true. Until then we simply wait. This site is all about Christian freedom, and flexibility, as long as it is not wrong, is what is required for true freedom. PS Watch out for this week’s CLAM on the generation and Matthew 24,where we see the problems caused by being… Read more »
I am tempted to partake at the JW “observance” this year just to completely freak everybody out!
This is the other side to the ‘Go/No Go’ question of attending. While some feel that attending and partaking validates the JW theology, others reason that by partaking, they are bearing witness to Christ and perhaps this will cause others to wake up and reason. Your right, though. It freaks them out. When I partook in Ecuador, they didn’t know what to think. When the wine came by I had to reach out and grab it from the brother who was holding it back in fear that I was partaking “unworthily”. What a hoot. The brother beside me told me… Read more »
You are right Meleti, they wouldn’t know what to think. Considering I gave the Memorial Talk in 2017 where I told everyone to basically not partake as per the Org’s Outline.
Most would probably conclude that I am now “mentally diseased” (which my wife has been telling me for years now).
If nothing else, it would be VERY interesting to see what happens.
What could they really do to me?
“While some feel that attending and partaking validates the JW theology…”
Partaking is in obedience to Christ who we must obey than the GB, also it may help some friends to awake or know our awakening, it may also invalidate JW theology- imagine partakers numbering 149,000, how will rank and file react? How will GB react – stop publishing number of partakers or change theology? Irrespective of the outcome, partaking is for those in Christ, aka,(in union with Christ)
I just want to reiterate how content I’ve become interacting with all of you here. I find the exchanges of free thought and different perceptions on any subject heartening and find myself hopeful that one day it will be like this everywhere. I can only imagine being able to engage and learn from fellow Christians like yourselves in public, over a good meal, and it gives me something to hold onto. I do not feel this way at the congregation- and haven’t for over a decade now. It’s nice to discover the spark again.
Great article. “Keep doing this in rememberence of me.” I’ve always been told in my congregation that this refers to the celebration of the occasion not actually partaking. Amazing isn’t it.
Thanks for the precision insight Meleti. I’ve already decided not to go this year, I have not got an invitation as of yet, maybe it’s because for a whole nother year now I have not been to one meeting of any kind. I have heard that they are telling the publishers now again to move on if you can’t “convert” the prospects. It seems like I had heard this about 4 yrs ago and am just now hearing it again. Since 1919 to 2018 they have said that Christ has been set on High invisibly in the Heavens ruling the… Read more »
So can someone explain what Paul meant in 1 Cor 11:29,30? How is one worthy, and how do we drink judgment against ourselves? Honestly curious. No agenda.
Well, the way I feel is that not all who show up at a gathering to partake of the emblems are necessarily led by spirit. Partaking is showing you have become one with Christ and led by his spirit. Paul often had strong questions for those who claimed to be anointed by spirit, yet their being led by fleshly attitudes (jealousy, pride, slander, lies) and fleshly ways raised serious questions as to whether Christ had really called them and bestowed them with his spirit (see 1 Cor 1:10-15; 3:1-4; 4:8,18,19; 6:15-18; 2 Cor 11:1-15; 12:19-21). He really scratched his head… Read more »
Yehorakam your comment here went straight to my heart.You,Meliti,Tadua,WOand so many more on here,clearly express and sum-up,exactly what I’ve felt/recognized in my longtime studies in the Scriptures–but–I’m too ‘wordy'(& talk a LOT,in person..lol)!I’m so grateful that Jah+Christ understand.(I have ‘Dabrowski’s Overexcitabilities’;born that way).Very few fellow JW’s ever’got’me..that’s ok even on here.Because we are all together on the narrow path to our Hope,in Christ.
I am impressed with these answers. And frankly grateful that you put this much thought and energy (and time) into answering my question. You’ve given me much to chew on – all of you. Thanks so much.
The key to understanding those verses comes from the preceding comments from Paul in chapter 11: But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18 For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, r I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, 19 for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. 20 When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper… Read more »
When I read that in the past, I always concluded that the eating and drinking they were doing was, not so much denying others a opportunity to do so also, but that they were treating the emblems as if they were ordinary food and drink, consuming them without thought as to their sacred significance. So, the unleavened bread didn’t signify the body of Christ, but was just a hunk of bread to be gulped down. They showed disrespect and took these things for granted.
Hi JA There is a lot in those few verses that truly does make one think outside the box that JW doctrine put it in. Adding a bit to Brains comment below, it’s also worth remembering that the Corinthian congregation was still “new” in the truth, they had come from a background of pagan worship that involved excessive partying and orgying,old habits die hard, it’s easy to see how they could have the wrong view of the celebration considering their background,and as Brain said, pigging out like the old ways and days. A statement Paul makes in verse 30 caught… Read more »
Thanks Eric, great article, easy reading and those objections for not partaking which plague individuals like myself well reasoned. I recently told a few in discreet that I would partake this year, well their responses were negative. One even suggested “I was a replacement for a fallen unfaithful servant” No Joke. If one reads the bible , would you conclude that Jesus is not addressing all when he said: “keep doing this in remembrance of me,” it is not because they concluded this from their own reading of the Bible, but because they have been systematically taught it by the… Read more »
Thanks for adding that insight regarding circumcision, Leonardo. That’s really interesting. That connection hadn’t occurred to me before.
Your welcome ?
I never gave much thought in the past to the fact that the organization puts pictures in every other magazine or publication of an artist representation of paradise earth but when it comes to their “144,000 class” hope the only pictures I can ever remember seeing is a mass sea of thrones with men with white hair and beards and crowns just sitting there. I think it actually shows how the org has viewed the whole idea of rulership with Christ over others even though Jesus showed that although ruling will encompass having great authority and power, the way of… Read more »
I am surprised how many times I have read comments about WT illustrations. So many people have such strong feelings about them! It is as if these pictures have reached their hearts and touched their souls (whether justifiably so or not) and then when they find out these simply represent the teachings of men they become hurt and disillusioned. We should apply clear thinking when viewing such illustrations. What do they actually represent? Not the teachings of the Bible, but the thoughts of men, and in particular, the mindset of the GB at that particular time. Why does WT persist… Read more »
You nailed that comment. To emotionally sway no matter what is real or imagined is what they do- and do it rather well….
I found myself emotional listening to this podcast this morning. And by that I mean oscillating back and forth. It’s an uncomfortable proposition for me. Not only in the manner of succumbing to peer pressure and a lifetime of indoctrination, but there must be lots of people like myself who have sworn off of alcohol. I have no idea what to do other than participate as I’ve always done – which is not at all. This pull between doing what I believe to be true and being labeled a weird apostate, and all of the suspicion that goes with that,… Read more »
Hi Joseph, I partook a couple of years back while in Europe with a family whose matriarch had suffered from alcoholism. She had a handle on it, but she and her whole family were all concerned that even a taste might set her off again. We used grape juice instead of wine for her sake. Likewise, there are some who cannot eat wheat, being allergic to it. Jesus uses the wine and the bread as symbols, nothing more. He would not want us to get sick in any way as a consequence of eating or drinking them. With symbols, what… Read more »
So a Red Bull and a Twinkie it is. 😉 Thanks man.
Wow, a sugar high combined with a Caffeine hit. You’d come out of that memorial looking like Bill the Cat! ACK!
Few people are old enough to get the ‘Bill the Cat’ reference. But not I. lol
Remember when Lot asked Jehovah to escape to a nearby city, Zoar? He was suppose to flee to the mountainous region. But he begged Jehovah to allow him to go to Zoar, and asked, “Is it not a small thing?” Interesting, is that Genesis 19:18-22 describes that Jehovah was planning on destroying the town he asked to flee to… Zoar, along with Sodom! Verse 21: He said to Lot, “Behold, I grant you this request also, not to overthrow the town of which you have spoken.” The point? Our Father understands a great deal of our capabilities, and limitations. Again,… Read more »
I should be more clear. For personal reasons mostly involving a realigning of will power and new terms on my relationship with alcohol I decided to take at least a year off from drinking, and to instead do more research into anything I’m curious about. It’s been a life altering experience – it feels like I finally am on the path that leads to the trail that leads to the start of the road of enlightenment.
Likewise, Jesus would not expect someone (though perhaps not sensitive to bread or wine) to partake if they were very sick or severely injured, when merely being present and part of an observance might be life threatening for them. One of the more important, and less-quoted of bible passages tells us, Let your reasonableness become known among men. I totally agree with Eric about the symbols. The point is not to consume alcohol, but to remember.
Goodness me! How many more of us are stuck in the same situation as you are, Joseph You have expressed my own thoughts and concerns very well.
Fortunately Jehovah can count the hairs on my head and I believe that he and Jesus will understand us better than we think.
Integrity is about being faithful to God based on the understanding we have, not what we do not have, although our searching for him involves using what he has given us.
Love to all here.
I’m reading Jordan Petrsen’s book 12 Rules for Life – tons of biblical references in there by the way – and here’s a quote I pulled from it yesterday that struck home with me: “We all contain wisdom that we cannot comprehend.” He’s talking about society’s urge to debate what is good and what isn’t and how, because of our consciences installed right from birth, we just instinctively know which things we do are good things and which we do are bad. I should point out that I normally don’t read selfhelp books, but I listened to a podcast with… Read more »
I also have been looking into some of Jordan Petersons work, most enlightening what he has to say about organisations.
In many ways he is taking a stand against moral decay in the world right now, even doing a better job than many “holy men” including the GB.
A very thoughtful article Eric. It is interesting that Nisan 14 starts on Friday evening according to the Jewish calendar this year. the information that after his resurrection our Lord Jesus used a fleshly body who ate with his apostles is an interesting thought.
Hi Meleti, Another very informative article, thank you. You said: “Is there anywhere in the Bible where is says that the anointed go off to live in heaven?” Well, perhaps not to live, but Revelation 19:14 does locate those who are clothed in white linen as being in the heavens (EN TW OURANW). Interestingly, only six verses earlier the white linen is said to stand for the righteous deeds of the saints. Of course, it’s possible that all of this might be interpreted in keeping with Paul’s description of meeting the Lord in the air (1 Th. 4:17), however such… Read more »
Right you are, Vox. Then there’s Jesus words:
“In the house of my Father there are many abodes. Otherwise, I would have told YOU, because I am going my way to prepare a place for YOU. 3 Also, if I go my way and prepare a place for YOU, I am coming again and will receive YOU home to myself, that where I am YOU also may be. 4 And where I am going YOU know the way.” (John 14:2-4)
Actually, I find the whole prospect to be very exciting.
Could you tell us what, exactly, you believe that prospect to be?
Didn’t I already do that in the article? From our comments I understand you have a specific understanding of what the hope is, and I respect that. However, as I’ve stated, I believe we can only go so far before we get into conjecture? I’m leery about sharing my conjecture publicly.
I wasn’t really trying to start a debate or anything, nor do I want you to feel leery. I just wanted to clarify what you meant when you said “I find the whole prospect to be very exciting”. I am not sure I know what you area referring back to.
No problem, Robert. I didn’t think you were trying to start a debate. I know you have certain views on the nature of our reward from past comments you’ve made, and I respect that. For me, the prospect of the reward that Jesus has promised is very exciting. I used the analogy of a wrapped gift to describe it. One may have an inkling of what the gift box contains by its weight, shape and size. Even though one can only guess at the contents, one can’t help but feel excited, especially when considering the giver. Jehovah–all wise, all powerful,… Read more »
Thank you for a heart warming and comforting article, Eric. I wonder how Jesus felt witnessing Rutherford rolling out his doctrine.
The (final and definite) location of the little flock and the great crowd is not something we should be very dogmatic about. To understand this issue better, I am interested in your (and other forum attendants’) take on 1 Thess 4:13-18.
I look forward to hearing the thoughts of others, but one thing is clear, the resurrection of the dead has not yet started, despite what the Org teaches about 1919. (Isn’t there somewhere in the Bible where Paul condemns those so-called Christians who are preaching that the resurrection has already occurred?) What I take from Thessalonians is that when Jesus returns, he will start by resurrecting the anointed. This is the first resurrection. (Re 20:4-6) Then he will transform those of God’s chosen in the twinkling of an eye. Together, these will rise to meet Jesus who has descended from… Read more »
The resurrection of dead problem goes away if we apply the technical meaning of parousia as the coming of a king or high official. Unfortunately, WTBTS only stick with the traditional meaning of presence. This goes back to 1874 and when nothing happened about the return, some one called Brother Keith, spotted the word parousia and presence in Benjamin Wilson’s Diaglott. They used this along with the invisible presence concept to show that Christ has returned but invisibly. This then got transferred to 1914 in the late 20s/ early 30s. If we have one event I.e. the coming, then the… Read more »
Indeed if Matthew’s use of parousia was God’s way of establishing a complicated explanation in relation to Christ’s coming, it would be confirmed a second time by Mark or Luke. There are always 2 or 3 “witnesses.” Plus Paul shows in 2 Thess 1:7-10 & 2:1,2 that Christ’s parousia or coming is timed with the first resurrection and the start of Armageddon. Pretty well a “triple play.” The first resurrection will start on the day that corresponds with atonement day in the Jewish calendar. We just don’t know the year yet. When the Jews start offering animal sacrifices in Jerusalem… Read more »
Hi Eric, thanks for bringing out these thoughts. Many Churches teach the Trinity and explain it away as a mystery. Similarly to JWs there is the heavenly hope mystery. Obviously as I do not have some specific witness from God of that hope, as it is explained by JWs, it is a mystery to me. The sad thing is that if I partake, at the Memorial observance, then there is a fair chance that enough questions will be asked and I will end up being disfellowshipped, knowing what else I may find myself blurting out as a result of being… Read more »
The best answer in my experience is “It’s personal.” I just kept saying it over and over, despite the provocative and probing questions the elders would ask. It drove them crazy, because they are not used to not having their authority recognized. To clarify, my wife didn’t go to that memorial, but did partake with me later at home. She knew that if she went and partook, it would lead to even worse rumours and slander. But she couldn’t go and then refuse to partake, so she chose what to her was the best course. So I’m not encouraging anyone… Read more »
Hi Leonardo, I have used a different approach when asked about partaking. I show them some of the scriptures Eric has highlighted and ask them, “how does the scripture talk to you?” Since they believe that the “anointed” see different things in the bible, they tend to accept it. I add, the scriptures, my mind and heart are all in agreement and leave it at that. Since 2007 I don’t think they get too heavy handed as the question from readers clearly highlight the calling has not ended. For those who get really aggressive, I ask why do they not… Read more »
Thank you Eric for the article.
The scripture you mentioned in 1 John 3:2,3 is a wonderful reminder that we can be happy and content to know we’ll be like Jesus and can’t know or need to know every detail about what we’ll be like.
Amen,you’ve thoroughly,beautifully covered it!
Thank you for your excellent article, if I attend and don’t partake I am rejecting Christ sacrifice for salvation, that is how I now see it.