Hi, my name is Eric Wilson aka Meleti Vivlon. At the time of this video, I’m in British Colombia on a dock on Lake Okanagan, enjoying the sunshine. The temperature is cool but pleasant.
I thought the lake was a fitting backdrop for this next video because it has to do with water. You might wonder why. Well, when we’re waking up, one of the first things we ask ourselves is, “Where do I go?”
You see, all our lives we’ve been taught that the Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses is like this great ark, like the ark of Noah. We were told that it was the vehicle we had to remain in if we were going to be saved when Armageddon came. This attitude is so pervasive that it’s educational to ask a Witness, “What did Peter say when Jesus asked him if they wanted to go? This was on the occasion of the discourse when Jesus told his listeners that they would have to eat of his flesh and drink of his blood if they wanted to have everlasting life. Many found this offensive and left, and he turned to Peter and the disciples and asked, “You don’t want to go as well, do you?”
If you were to ask any Jehovah’s Witness what Peter answered—and I’ve asked this of many a JW—I would lay money that almost 10 out of 10 will say, “Where else will I go, Lord?” But, he didn’t say that. They always get this wrong. Look it up. (John 6:68) He said, “To whom will we go?”
To whom will we go?
His answer demonstrates that Jesus recognized that salvation doesn’t depend on geography nor membership. It’s not about being inside some Organization. Your salvation depends on turning toward Jesus.
How does that apply to Jehovah’s Witnesses? Well, with the mindset that we must belong to and remain inside an ark-like organization, we might think of ourselves as being in a boat. All the other religions are boats as well. There is a Catholic boat, a Protestant boat, an Evangelical boat, a Mormon boat, etc. And they’re all sailing in the same direction. Imagine they’re all on a lake, and there’s a waterfall at one end. They’re all sailing toward the waterfall which represents Armageddon. However, the Jehovah’s Witnesses boat is saiing in the opposite direction, away from the waterfall, toward Paradise.
When we wake up, we realize this cannot be so. We see that Jehovah’s Witnesses have false doctrines just like the other religions—different false doctrines to be sure, but still false doctrines. We also realize that the Organization has been guilty of criminal negligence in it’s mishandling of child abuse cases—repeatedly convicted by various courts in a number of countries.. Additionally, we come to see that Jehovah’s Witnesses have acted hypocritically in telling the members of the flock to remain neutral—even disfellowshipping or disassociating those who fail to do so—while at the same time, affiliating themselves with the United Nations organization repeatedly (for 10 years, no less). When we realize all these things, we are forced to acknowledge that our boat is just like the others. It is sailing with them in the same direction, and we realized that we have to get off before we reach the waterfall, but…Where do we go?”
We don’t think like Peter. We think like trained Jehovah’s Witnesses. We look around for some other religion or organization and, finding none, become very disturbed, because we feel we need to go somewhere.
With that in mind, think about the water behind me. There’s an illustration given by Jesus to tell us exactly where to go. It’s an interesting account, because Jesus is not a showy man, yet he appears to be putting on a show for some reason. Admittedly, Jesus was not given to great displays of showmanship. When he cured people; when he healed people; when he resurrected the dead—often, he told those who were present not to spread the word about it. So, for him to make a showy display of power seems unusual, uncharacteristic, and yet in Matthew 14:23, what we find is this:
(Matthew 14:23-31) 23 After sending the crowds away, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone. 24 By now the boat was many hundreds of yards away from land, struggling against the waves because the wind was against them. 25 But in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 When they caught sight of him walking on the sea, the disciples were troubled, saying: “It is an apparition!” And they cried out in their fear. 27 But at once Jesus spoke to them, saying: “Take courage! It is I; do not be afraid.” 28 Peter answered him: “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you over the waters.” 29 He said: “Come!” So Peter got out of the boat and walked over the waters and went toward Jesus. 30 But looking at the windstorm, he became afraid. And when he started to sink, he cried out: “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately stretching out his hand, Jesus caught hold of him and said to him: “You with little faith, why did you give way to doubt?”
Why did he do this? Why walk on water when he could simply have accompanied them on the boat? He was making an important point! He was telling them that by faith, they could accomplish anything.
Do we get the point? Our boat may be sailing in the wrong direction, but we can walk on water! We don’t need the boat. For many of us, it’s hard to understand how we can worship God outside of an arrangement that is highly structured. We feel we need that structure. Otherwise, we will fail. However, that thinking is only there because that’s how we’ve been trained to think.
Faith should help us to overcome that. It is easy to see men, and therefore it is easy to follow men. A governing body is highly visible. They speak to us, often with great persuasion. They can convince us of many things.
Jesus, on the other hand, is invisible. His words are written down. We have to study them. We have to think about them. We have to see that which cannot be seen. That’s what faith is, for it gives us eyes to see that which is invisible.
But won’t that result in chaos. Don’t we need organizing?
Jesus called Satan the ruler of the world in John 14:30.
If Satan truly rules the world, then even though he is invisible, we have to acknowledge that he is somehow in control of this world. If the devil can do this, how much more so can our Lord govern, control, and direct the Christian congregation? From within those wheat-like Christians that are willing to follow Jesus and not men, I have seen this at work. Though it took a while for me to get rid of the indoctrination, the doubt, the fear that we would need some kind of centralized control, some form of authoritarian rule, and that without it there would be chaos in the congregation, I finally came to see that quite the opposite is true. When you get a group of individuals together who love Jesus; who look to him as their leader; who allow the Spirit to come into their lives, their minds, their hearts; who study his word—you soon learn that they control each other; they help each other; they nourish each other; they feed each other; they guard each other. This is because the Spirit does not work through one man, or even a group of men. It works through the entire Christian congregation—the body of Christ. That’s what the Bible says.
You might ask: “What of the faithful and discreet slave?”
Well, who is the faithful and discreet slave?
Jesus posed that as a question. He didn’t give us the answer. He said the slave would be proven faithful and discreet upon his return. Well, he hasn’t come back yet. So, it is the height of hubris to suggest that anyone is the faithful and discreet slave. That is for Jesus to decide.
Can we recognize who the faithful and discreet slave is? He did tell us how to recognize the wicked slave. He would be known by his abuse of his fellow slaves.
At the annual meeting a few years ago, David Splane used the example of a waiter to explain the work of the faithful and discreet slave. It’s not a bad example actually, although it was misapplied in the case of the Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
If you go to a restaurant, the waiter brings you food, but the waiter doesn’t tell you what food to eat. He doesn’t demand that you eat the food he brings you. He doesn’t punish you if you fail to eat the food he brings you, and if you criticize the food, he doesn’t go out of his way to make your life a living hell. Nevertheless, that is not the way of the Organization’s so-called faithful and discreet slave. With them, if you disagree with the food they provide; if you think that it’s wrong; if you want to pull out the Bible and prove it’s wrong—they punish you, even to the point of cutting you off from all your family and friends. Often this results in economic hardship. One’s health is also affected on many occasions.
That is not the way a faithful and discreet slave works. Jesus said the slave would feed. He did not say the slave would govern. It did not appoint anyone as a leader. He said he alone is our leader. So, do not ask, “Where will I go?” Instead, state: “I will go to Jesus!” Faith in him will open the way to the spirit and it will guide us to others of like mind so that we can associate with them. Let us always turn to Jesus for guidance.
Hi everybody. I’m coming very late to this discussion, the Spirit only introduced me to the BP back in December, and I’ve been studying very hard to clear away all the fog in my mind. Eric and his team have been very helpful. As of today, what I can say is that Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seven Day Adventist, and in almost all churches claiming to represent Jesus Christ, there are good people and not so good people. It is not a great mystery. I am a Christian Witness of Jehovah (as are all true Christians) but I do not subscribe to the… Read more »
I just want to take a few moments and speak from the heart. I was baptized in 1992 out at the Woodland Hills Assembly Hall in California. I remember feeling happy and scared at the same time. I was happy because I really believed that I was pleasing Jehovah and scared because even then I wondered if I’d done the right thing and if this religion was true. Over time I began to have more and more doubts, and questions. Timidly I asked the Sister who initially studied with me various questions about the organization and why they did what… Read more »
You’ve definitely found “the Way”, LaRhonda. Peace be with you.
Speaking of food, there’s a whole website devoted to ‘Jehovah’s recipes’ – jehovah recipes – Bing images
Hi Eric I am a bit confused, you said: Our boat may be sailing in the wrong direction, but we can walk on water! We don’t need the boat. For many of us, it’s hard to understand how we can worship God outside of an arrangement that is highly structured. We feel we need that structure. Otherwise, we will fail. However, that thinking is only there because that’s how we’ve been trained to think. km12/78 p.3 “Meetings in private homes could well be the oldest and most widely attended of Christian gatherings. In apostolic times groups of Christians met in… Read more »
Hello James. The KM says well, In apostolic times groups of Christians met in private homes to discuss God’s Word. Now, we have congregations with hundred of individuals. It is another thing than private homes. Second, are we discussing God’s word during the meetings or Watchtower’s word? Are we allow to tell what we think, is there an exchange of views? Or are we only seeing videos, and reading publications? Appointment of elders can be made by the group, we do not need someone sent by the Bethel for this. When Israelites left Egypt, it was an arrangement, but there… Read more »
Baruq has done an excellent job of answering all your questions. So I will not go over that ground again. I disagree that the first century congregation was a highly structured arrangement. There simply is no evidence of that. This isn’t to say that I am against being organized. When there is a specific task to be accomplished, organization can accomplish it more effectively. Nevertheless, much can be accomplished even without organization. We have been designed to naturally cooperate with one another, and that innate ability combined with the power of God’s Spirit to guide us really is all we… Read more »
Hi there James. It’s interesting that all so-called Christian religions (including the one we were part of) refer back to the first century as the measure regarding meeting together. But Jesus himself prophesied, in the ‘wheat and the weeds’ illustration, that the purity of Christianity would be corrupted. We know Paul prophesied the same thing and history shows that this corruption began before the first century was even ended. Throughout the centuries that followed, there were still ‘wheat like’ ones though weren’t there? No doubt Jesus made sure they had some interchange of encouragement with other like-minded ones but there… Read more »
Fellow BC-er. Sechelt, BC here.
Excellent post. Keep it up. 🙂
Wonderful connection of Jesus inviting Peter to get off the boat and walk by faith on the water and the mentality that a religious organization is like a boat and the only way to survive. There were times when I first stepped off “the boat” that I felt as though I was sinking like Peter but I feel like my faith in the unseen has grown since then. It’s sad the way the organization has tried to discourage the act of faith and trust solely in God and his son and not some rickety craft built by humans. I thought… Read more »
Good references, BernardBooks. Thanks.
I need to keep reminding myself of this because the urge to return back to the comfort of organised structure is so strong, especially as most of my family and close friends are there. It’s also hard (not impossible though) to find individuals one can trust outside of witness friends. Their selflessness is hard to find in this selfish society. I also worry a bit about how to raise my kids, but I’ve resorted to simply telling them about Jehovah as their real father who cares about them and how they should take a lot of quiet time to listen… Read more »
Hello Kennedy I am in exactly the same position as you, so l can empathise with your dilemma, I also miss the companionship of the brotherhood, but like you, do I push aside truth to satisfy that need? That is where I feel we have been led into a trap, the dependence we feel, which is natural, has been exploited by what I consider to be very sophisticated lieing, armed with this view helps me to stay the course, Jesus said that the TRUE worshippers of Jehovah would do so in truth,he made it a prerequisite, and this also stated… Read more »
Good to hear from you again WO. I agree completely with your comments about truth. Take away truth and what have you got. Nothing. When Jesus said his followers would be the light of the world, it was their conduct that would identify them, how they treated people, and how they dealt with situations. Yes, many people may show those fine qualities, but true Christians (and I mean true Christians, whatever their allegiance) do so because of their desire to imitate Christ and to please Jehovah. Surely Jesus and his father look down in pleasure when they observe our conduct… Read more »
And I love those comments too Leonardo. Thank you all, It does me so much good to read these comments when I get the chance to sit and have a good long read. Sorry I don’t comment much lately. I’ve been away from meetings for a year now and although I love to read the reviews and articles here I don’t find much to say most of the time. Mainly because I’m not seething with frustration any more but just happy and relieved to be free. It still does me good to interact with you when I can though. Love… Read more »
Love those comments WO.
Hi Kennedy, I don’t have children but …. I was a child and my father helped me build a strong relationship with Jehovah by talking a lot about creation and drawing my attention to the qualities of God shown in what he has made. He also said the most beautiful heartfelt prayers (or at least I thought they were heartfelt.) Sadly my father shuns me now as my husband and I left the organisation in July 2015 after discovering the cover up of child abuse and realising that the organisation cannot be representing my holy God, Jehovah. When I first… Read more »
Lovely comment, Judy. Thank you!
Hello Judy, How lovely to read your comments. So warm and encouraging! I feel as though I could pop over to have a cup of tea with you on your deck, but since I’m here in England looking at my garden being battered by Storm Diane and you’re in Australia…. well… its a bit of a hike… but it’s a nice thought anyway! I really enjoyed reading your comment. I agree with what you said about helping people because of love in our heart. I was brought up as a JW and spent a lifetime being told that we should… Read more »