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Hello, my name is Eric Wilson. This is the ninth video in our series: Identifying True Worship. In the introduction, I explained that I had been raised as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and had served as an elder for forty years before being removed for failing to be, as the Circuit Overseer at the time put it in a delightful bit of understatement: “Not fully committed to the Governing Body”. If you watched that first video of this series, you’ll likely recall that I proposed we turn the same spotlight that we shine on other religions onto ourselves, by applying the five criteria we use to determine whether a religion is true or false.
Today, we are examining the unique JW teaching of the Other Sheep, and this gives us the opportunity to apply two of the five criteria in a single discussion: 1) Does the doctrine conform to what the Bible teaches, and 2) By preaching it, are we preaching the Good News.
The relevance of the latter might not seem evident to you at first, so let me explain by proposing a fictitious, but all-too-likely scenario.
A man approaches a Witness on the street corner doing the cart work. He says, “I’m an atheist. I believe that when you die, that’s all she wrote. End of story. What do you believe happens when I die?
The Witness eagerly replies to this by saying, “As an atheist, you don’t believe in God. Nevertheless, God believes in you, and he wants to give you the opportunity to know him and be saved. The Bible says there are two resurrections, one of the righteous and another of the unrighteous. So, if you were to die tomorrow, you’d be resurrected under the Messianic Kingdom of Jesus Christ.”
The atheist says, “So, you’re saying that if I die, I’d come back to life and live forever?”
The Witness replies, “Not exactly. You’d still be imperfect as we all are. So you’d have to work toward perfection, but if you did, by the end of the 1,000-year reign of Christ, you’d would be perfect, without sin.”
The atheist replies, “Hmm, so what about you? I guess you believe you go to heaven when you die, right?”
The Witness smiles reassuringly, “No, not at all. Only a small number go to heaven. They get immortal life upon their resurrection. But there is also a resurrection to life on earth, and I hope to be part of that. My salvation depends on my support for Jesus’ brothers, anointed Christians, which is why I’m out here now preaching the Good News. But I do hope to live forever on earth under the Kingdom rule.”
The atheist asks, “So, when you’re resurrected, you’re perfect right? You expect to live forever?”
“Not exactly. I’ll still be imperfect; still a sinner. But I will have the opportunity to work toward perfection by the end of the thousand years.”
The atheist chuckles and says, “That doesn’t sound like much of a sales pitch.”
“What do you mean?” asks the Witness, puzzled.
“Well, if I end up with exactly the same thing as you, even though I don’t believe in God, why should I join your religion?”
The Witness nods, “Ah, I see your point. But there’s one thing you’re overlooking. The Great Tribulation is coming, followed by Armageddon. Only those who actively support Christ’s brothers, the anointed, will survive. The rest will die with no hope of a resurrection.”
“Oh well then, I’ll just wait until the last minute, when this “Great Tribulation” of yours comes, and I’ll repent. Wasn’t there a guy who died beside Jesus who repented at the last minute and was forgiven?”
The Witness shakes his head sagely, “Yes, but that was then. Different rules apply for the Great Tribulation. There will be no chance of repentance then.”[i]
What do you think of our little scenario. Everything I’ve had our Witness say in this dialogue is completely accurate and in line with the teachings found in the publications of the Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Every word he spoke is based on the belief that there are two classes of Christian. An anointed class comprising 144,000 individuals, and an Other Sheep class comprising millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses who are not spirit anointed.
We believe there will be three resurrections, two of the righteous and one of the unrighteous. We teach that the first resurrection of the righteous is of the anointed to immortal life in the heavens; then the second resurrection of the righteous is to imperfect life on earth; then after that, the third resurrection will be of the unrighteous, also to imperfect life on earth.
So, that means that the Good News we are preaching boils down to: How to survive Armageddon!
This presupposes that everyone but Witnesses will die at Armageddon and will not be resurrected.
This is the Good News of the Kingdom that we preach in fulfillment—we believe—of Matthew 24:14:
“…this good news of the Kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”
Evidence of this can be seen by examining the opening pages of the key teaching aid used in the door-to-door ministry: What Does the Bible Really Teach. These appealing images greet the reader by depicting the hope that humans will be restored to health, and youth, and live eternally in a peaceful earth, free of war and violence.
To clarify my position, I do believe that the Bible teaches that the earth will eventually be filled with billions of perfected humans living in eternal youth. That isn’t being disputed here. Rather, the question being considered pertains to whether that is the message of the Good News that Christ wants us to preach?
Paul told the Ephesians, “But you also hoped in him after you heard the word of truth, the Good News about your salvation.” (Ephesians 1:13)
As Christians, our hope comes after hearing “the word of truth” concerning the Good News of our salvation. Not the salvation of the World, but our salvation. Later in Ephesians, Paul said there was one hope. (Eph 4:4) He did not consider the resurrection of the unrighteous to be a hope that should be preached. He was speaking only of the hope for Christians. So, if there is only one hope, why does the Organization teach that there are two?
They do this because of deductive reasoning based on a premise they have arrived at that comes from their interpretation of John 10:16, which says:
“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. (John 10:16)
Witnesses believe that “this fold” or flock corresponds to the Israel of God, made up of only 144,000 anointed Christians, whereas the Other Sheep correspond to a group of non-anointed Christians that would only appear in the last days. However, there is nothing here in John 10:16 to indicate exactly what Jesus meant. We do not want to base our entire salvation hope on assumptions stemming from a single ambiguous verse. What if our assumptions are wrong? Then, every conclusion we base on those assumptions will be wrong. Our entire salvation hope would become futile. And if we are preaching a false salvation hope, well…what a waste to time and energy—to say the least!
Surely if the Other Sheep doctrine is critical to understanding the Good News of our salvation, we would expect to find clarification in the Bible as to the identity of this group. Let’s have a look:
Some suggest that this fold or flock refers to the Jews who would become Christians, whereas the Other Sheep refers to the Gentiles, people of the nations, who would later come into the Christian congregation and join the Jewish Christians—two flocks becoming one.
To accept either belief without any scriptural evidence is to engage in eisegesis: imposing our own view onto Scripture. On the other hand, an exegetical study will motivate us to look elsewhere in the Bible to find out the most likely explanation for Jesus’ words. So, let’s do that now. Since we couldn’t find anything using the phrase “Other Sheep”, let’s try looking for single words like “flock” and “sheep” as they relate to Jesus.
It would appear from what we’ve just reviewed that the most likely scenario is that Jesus was talking about the Jews and the Gentiles becoming one flock as Christians. There seems to be no evidence that he was speaking about a group that would appear in the last days. However, let’s not jump to any hasty conclusions. The Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses has been teaching this doctrine since the mid-1930s—over 80 years. Perhaps they have found some evidence that has eluded us. To be fair, let’s try a side-by-side comparison of what the Bible teaches is the hope for Christians versus what the Organization teaches is the hope for the Other Sheep.
It would also be good to read the context of every Scripture and Watchtower publication reference to make sure that I am not cherry-picking proof texts. As the Bible says, ‘make sure of all things, and then hold fast to what is fine.’ (1 Th 5:21) That implies rejecting what is not fine.
I should also state that I will not be using the term “anointed Christian” as a means to differentiate between an anointed Christian and a non-anointed one, since the Bible never speaks of non-anointed Christians. The word “Christian” in Greek as it appears in Acts 11:26 is derived from Christos which means “anointed one.” So, “non-anointed Christian” is a contradiction in terms, while “anointed Christian” is a tautology—like saying an “anointed anointed one”.
So, for purposes of this comparison, I’ll differentiate between the two groups by calling the first, “Christians”, and the second, “Other Sheep”, even though the Organization thinks of them both as Christians.
|Anointed with Holy Spirit.
“the one who anointed us is God.” (2 Co 1:12; John 14:16, 17, 26; 1 John 2:27)
“Jesus spoke of “other sheep,” who would not be of the same “fold” as the “little flock” of his anointed followers.” (w10 3/15 p. 26 par. 10)
|Belong to the Christ.
“in turn you belong to Christ” (1 Co 3:23)
|Belong to the anointed.
“all things belong to you [the anointed]” (1 Co 3:22) “In this time of the end, Christ has committed “all his belongings”—all the earthly interests of the Kingdom—to his “faithful and discreet slave” and its representative Governing Body, a group of anointed Christian men.” (w10 9/15 p. 23 par. 8) [Changed in 2013 to some of his belongings; specifically, all things pertaining to the Christians congregation, i.e., the Other Sheep. See w13 7/15 p. 20]
|In the new covenant.
“This cup means the new covenant by virtue of my blood.” (1 Co 11:25)
|Not in the new covenant.
“Those of the “Other Sheep” class are not in the new covenant…” (w86 2/15 p. 14 par. 21)
|Jesus is their mediator.
“there is…one mediator between God and men…” (1 Ti 2:5, 6) “…he is a mediator of a new covenant…” (Heb 9:15)
|No mediator for the Other Sheep.
“Jesus Christ, is not the Mediator between Jehovah God and all mankind. He is the Mediator between his heavenly Father, Jehovah God, and the nation of spiritual Israel, which is limited to only 144,000 members.” (Worldwide Security Under the “Prince of Peace” p. 10, par. 16)
“…you were called to the one hope…” (Eph 4:4-6)
“Christians living at this time of the end focus their attention on one of two hopes.” (w12 3/15 p. 20 par. 2)
|Adopted children of God.
“…all who are led by God’s spirit are indeed God’s sons.” (Ro 8:14, 15) “…he foreordained us to be adopted as his own sons through Jesus Christ…” (Eph 1:5)
|Friends of God
“Jehovah has declared his anointed ones righteous as sons and the Other Sheep righteous as friends.” (w12 7/15 p. 28 par. 7)
|Saved by faith in Jesus.
“there is no salvation in anyone else, for there is no other name under heaven…by which we must get saved.” (Acts 4:12)
|Saved by supporting anointed.
“The Other Sheep should never forget that their salvation depends on their active support of Christ’s anointed “brothers” still on earth.” (w12 3/15 p. 20 par. 2)
|Rewarded as kings and priests.
“And have made us to our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” (Re 5:10 AKJV)
|Rewarded as Kingdom subjects.
“The far more numerous “great crowd” of “other sheep” share the hope of living forever on a paradise earth as subjects of the Messianic Kingdom.” (w12 3/15 p. 20 par. 2)
|Resurrected to everlasting life.
“Happy and holy is anyone having part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no authority…” (Re 20:4-6)
|Resurrected imperfect; still in sin.
“Those who physically have died and will be resurrected on earth during the Millennium will still be imperfect humans. Also, those surviving the war of God will not be made perfect and sinless immediately. As they continue faithful to God during the Millennium those who will have survived on earth evidently will gradually progress toward perfection. (w82 12/1 p. 31)
|Partake of wine and bread.
“…Drink out of it, all of you…” (Mt 26:26-28) “This means my body….Keep doing this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19)
|Refuse to partake of wine and bread.
“…the “other sheep” do not partake of the Memorial emblems.” (w06 2/15 p. 22 par. 7)
If you have been viewing this on the video, or reading the article on the Beroean Pickets website, you will likely have noticed that while every statement I have made regarding the hope for Christians was backed up by Scripture, every teaching of the Organization about the Other Sheep is only backed up by the publications. To put it another way, we are comparing the teachings of God with the doctrines of men. Don’t you think that if there were even one Bible verse declaring the Other Sheep as friends of God, or restricting them from partaking of the emblems, that the publications would have been all over it in a New York minute?
If you think back to our little illustration at the beginning, you will discern that there is no difference between what Witnesses believe is the earthly resurrection of the righteous and that of the unrighteous.
The resurrection of the unrighteous is not a hope we preach, but it is an eventuality. It will happen whether it is hoped for or not. What atheist dies hoping to be resurrected by a God he doesn’t believe in? Thus, Paul did not go preaching, “Don’t worry if you want to eat, drink and be merry, fornicate, lie, even murder, because you have the hope of the resurrection of the unrighteous.”
The teaching of the Other Sheep hope conflicts with what Jesus taught us. He sent us forth to preach a real hope for salvation—salvation in this life, not a chance for salvation in the next.
Now, I know Witnesses will come forward and say, “You are not being honest. We are preaching to save billions of people from eternal death at Armageddon.”
A noble gesture, to be sure, but alas, a futile one.
First of all, what about the hundreds of millions of people that Jehovah’s Witnesses are not preaching to in all of the Arab countries, as well as in places like India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh? Is Jehovah the kind of God who is partial? The kind of God who will not give all people the same equal opportunity for salvation? Does God say: “I’m sorry if you’re some little 13-year-old bride sold into virtual slavery with no chance of ever getting your hands on a precious issue of The Watchtower.” Or, “I regret that you’re an infant who just happened to be born at the wrong time, in the wrong place, to the wrong parents. Too bad. So sad. But it’s eternal destruction for you!
“God is love,” declares John; but that is not the God Witnesses preach about. They accept that some may lose out on life through community responsibility.[ii]
But wait, does the Bible really say that everyone dies at Armageddon? Does it say that those who fight against the Christ and do die will never be resurrected? Because if it doesn’t say it, we can’t preach it—not if we don’t want to suffer the repercussions of preaching falsehoods.
Revelation 16:14 says that the “kings of the…earth are gathered…to the war of the great day of God the Almighty.” Daniel 2:44 says that the Kingdom of God will crush all other Kingdoms. When one country invades another, its purpose is not to kill all the people in that country, but rather to eliminate all opposition to its rule. It will remove the rulers, the governing institutions, the military powers, and anyone who fights against it; then, it will rule over the people. Why would we think the kingdom of God will do anything different? More importantly, where does the Bible say that Jesus is going to destroy everybody at Armageddon except for a tiny group of Other Sheep?
Where did we get the doctrine of the Other Sheep from in the first place?
It started in 1934 in the August 1 and August 15 issues of The Watchtower. The two-part article was titled, “His Kindness”. The new doctrine was (and still is) completely and exclusively based on several antitypical applications not found in Scripture. The story of Jehu and Jonadab is given an antitypical application to our day. Jehu represents the anointed and Jonadab, the Other Sheep. Jehu’s chariot is the Organization. There was also an odd application made using the crossing of the Jordan by the priests carrying the Ark. However, the key to everything was the application made using the six Israelite cities of refuge. The Other Sheep are considered as the antitypical manslayer, blood guilty for their support of the First World War. The avenger of blood is Jesus Christ. The cities of refuge represent the modern-day Organization to which the manslayer, the Other Sheep, must flee to be saved. They can only leave the city of refuge when the high priest dies, and the antitypical high priest are the anointed Christians who die when they are taken to heaven before Armageddon.
We’ve already seen, in a previous video, how Governing Body member, David Splane, tells us that we no longer accept antitypical dramas that are not applied explicitly in Scripture. But to add weight to that, there is a box on page 10 of the November 2017 Study Edition of The Watchtower that explains:
“Because the Scriptures are silent regarding any antitypical significance of the cities of refuge, this article and the next one emphasize instead the lessons Christians can learn from this arrangement.”
So, now we have is a doctrine with no foundation. It never had any foundation in the Bible, but now it has no foundation even within the framework of the publications of Jehovah’s Witnesses. We have disavowed the antitypical application upon which it is based, while replacing that with nothing other than bald-faced and baseless assertions. Essentially, were saying, “It is what it is, because we say so.”
Where did the idea come from in the first place? I have studied the aforementioned two articles which were used to introduce—or should I say, “reveal”—the Other Sheep doctrine to Jehovah’s Witnesses. We should be mindful of the year. It was 1934. Two years earlier, the editorial committee which controlled what was published, had been dissolved.
“As you know, for some years there have appeared on the title page of the Watchtower the names of an editorial committee, provisions for which was made several years ago. During the fiscal year, at a meeting of the board of directors a resolution was adopted abolishing the editorial committee.“
(1932 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses, pg. 35)
So now J. F. Rutherford had complete control over what was published.
There was also the issue of the doctrine of the 144,000 that stipulated that that number of anointed was literal. That could have been reversed easily enough. After all, that number is the sum of 12 numbers of 12,000 each, as recorded in Revelation 7:4-8. Those are viewed as symbolic numbers drawn from symbolic tribes of Israel. So it could be readily argued that 12 symbolic numbers would not produce a literal sum. However, Rutherford chose a different route. Why? We can only guess, but we do have this fact to consider:
In the book Preservation, he made a radical suggestion. Since Rutherford now taught that Jesus was enthroned in heaven in 1914, he deduced that the holy spirit was no longer needed to communicate revealed truth, but that now Angels were being used. From page 202, 203 of Perservation we have:
“If the holy spirit were still operating or performing the office of advocate and helper there would be no necessity for Christ’s employing his holy angels in the work mentioned in the foregoing text. Furthermore, since Christ Jesus is the Head or Husband to his church when he appears at the temple of Jehovah for judgment, and gathers his own to himself, there would be no necessity for a substitute for Christ Jesus, such as the holy spirit; therefore the office of the holy spirit as an advocate, comforter and helper would cease. The angels of Christ Jesus forming his retinue of servants at the temple, invisible indeed to man, are given charge over members of the temple company yet on the earth.”
As a consequence of this logic, we now have a doctrine that is the basis for the worldwide preaching of the Good News effected by Jehovah’s Witnesses that was “revealed” at a time when Witnesses were told that the holy spirit was no longer being used. This revelation therefore came via the angels.
This has some very serious consequences. Just how serious? Consider the warning Paul gives us:
“…there are certain ones who are causing you trouble and wanting to distort the Good News about the Christ. 8 However, even if we or an angel out of heaven were to declare to you as Good News something beyond the Good News we declared to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, I now say again, Whoever is declaring to you as Good News something beyond what you accepted, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:7-9)
Under inspiration, Paul tells us that there will be no change to the Good News ever. It is what it is. There will be no one who can claim inspiration such that he could change the message of the Good News. Even an angel from heaven cannot do this. Rutherford, believing that angels were now communicating with him as the Editor-in-Chief for all the Society’s publications and teachings, introduced a doctrine that has no support in Scripture, basing it completely on antitypical applications which have now been disavowed by the very Organization that continues to teach this doctrine.
What then can we conclude is the true source of this doctrine that causes millions of Christians to reject the saving power of Christ’s body and 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.” (John 6:53)
This doctrine perverts and distorts the true message of the Good News. Paul said, “…there are certain ones who are causing you trouble and wanting to distort the Good News about the Christ.” A distortion is not the same as a replacement. The Organization has not replaced the Good News, but it has distorted it. Jesus came to make way for the gathering of the chosen ones. These were called by God to inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the founding of the world. (Matthew 25:34) His message had nothing to do with how to survive Armageddon. Instead, he was setting up an administration by which the rest of the world could be saved under Kingdom rule.
“It is according to his good pleasure that he himself purposed for an administration at the full limit of the appointed times, to gather all things together in the Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth.” (Ephesians 1:9, 10)
The message that the apostles preached was an invitation to become a child of God. John 1:12 says that ‘all who put faith in the name of Jesus receive the authority to become children of God.’ Romans 8:21 says that creation—all humanity cast out of the family of God—“will be set free from enslavement to corruption and have the glorious freedom of the children of God.”
So, the Good News we should be preaching is: “Come join us to become one of the adopted children of God, to rule with Christ in the Kingdom of the heavens.”
Instead, Jehovah’s Witnesses are preaching: “It’s too late for that. The hope you have now is to become a subject of the kingdom; so do not partake of the wine and the bread; do not consider yourself a child of God; do not think Jesus mediates for you. That time has passed.”
Not only is the doctrine of the Other Sheep a false doctrine, but it has caused Jehovah’s Witnesses to preach a false Good News. And according to Paul, anyone who does that is damned by God.
When I have discussed these things with friends, I have experienced a surprising amount of resistance. They don’t want to partake of the emblems, because they have been conditioned to think of themselves as unworthy.
Further, we have been taught that the anointed go to heaven to rule from there, and that thought holds little appeal for most of us. What is heaven like? We don’t know. But we do know life on earth and the joys of being human. Fair enough. To be honest, I don’t want to live in heaven either. I like being human. However, I still partake because Jesus told me too. End of story. I have to obey my Lord.
That being said, I have some interesting news. This whole thing about going to heaven and ruling from there may not be as we suppose. Do the anointed really go to heaven, or do they rule on earth? I would like to share my research on this with you, and I think it will allay your concerns and fears. With that in view, I’ll take a brief respite from our theme of Identifying True Worship and deal with those issues in the next video. For now, just let me leave you with this assurance from the one who cannot lie:
“Eye has not seen and ear has not heard, nor have there been conceived in the heart of man the things that God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)
[i] Our Witness answers correctly in line with this excerpt from a talk outline to be delivered at this year’s regional convention: “We believe that instead of good news, Jehovah’s people will proclaim a hard-hitting message of judgment…However, unlike the Ninevites, who repented, people will ‘blaspheme God’ in response to the hailstone message. There will be no last-minute change of heart.”
(CO-tk18-E No. 46 12/17 – from talk outline for 2018 Regional Convention.)
[ii]When judgment time arrives, to what extent will Jesus consider community responsibility and family merit? (w95 10/15 p. 28 par. 23)