“All those desiring to live with godly devotion in association with Christ Jesus will also be persecuted.” – 2 Timothy 3:12.
[From ws 7/19 p.2 Study Article 27: Sept 2 – Sept 8, 2019]
Paragraph 1 tells us: “As the end of this system of things draws closer, we expect our enemies to oppose us even more. – Matthew 24:9.”
True, the end of this system of things draws closer, one day at a time, just as it has in the nearly 2,000 years since Jesus mentioned the end of a system of things. But, the verse in Matthew referred to is describing the end of the Jewish System of things that would come in the lifetime of the majority of Jesus audiences. However, Jesus’ presence would come as a shock to all. Does not Matthew 24:42 remind us, we “do not know on what day our Lord is coming.” Therefore, there is no basis for stating that enemies would oppose the Organization now more than any other time in history. That also presupposes that the Organization practices true Christianity in the same manner as first Century Christians. This is something which regular readers will know has repeatedly been shown to be an errant conclusion.
There are also reasons why authorities and others would take it upon themselves to oppose the Organization.
- One is the stubborn refusal to come clean about the systemic failure to get to grips with child abusers within their ranks and to make changes to minimize the chances of its occurrence at least on repeated offences.
- Another is the shunning policy of weak, lapsed and disfellowshipped Witnesses which is against Christian principles and basic human rights.
Having raised the specter of persecution without scriptural basis and introduced “fear” into the readers mind, the next paragraph then tries to encourage us not to worry! Far better that they write with accuracy in the first place.
The following paragraphs go on to give these good points:
“Be convinced that Jehovah loves you and that he will never abandon you. (Read Hebrews 13:5, 6.)” (Paragraph 4) This is very good advice. We would never want to lose our faith in God and Christ, certainly not just because we were fooled by men who were telling lies for their own gain.
“Read the Bible daily with the goal of drawing closer to Jehovah. (James 4:8)” – Paragraph 5.
Again, very good advice, with a caveat, to make sure we use a number of Bible translations so we can be able to distinguish which translators have twisted the translation to support their own agenda and views. The Organization does not own the copyright on this type of corruption of God’s Word, it is widespread. For example, many translations replace the Tetragrammaton (God’s name) with “Lord”, while the NWT goes the opposite way and in many places in the Greek scriptures, replaces “Lord” where according to the context either refers to Jesus, or is likely referring to Jesus rather than Jehovah. Both groups are incorrect.
“Pray regularly. (Psalm 94:17-19)” – Paragraph 6.
Of course building up a relationship with our Heavenly Father and also our Saviour is vital. An important way we can do this apart from study of God’s Word is by prayer.
“Be convinced that the blessings of God’s Kingdom will come true. (Numbers 23:19)…Make it a study project to examine God’s promises about his Kingdom and the reasons why you can be certain that they will come true – Paragraph 7.
We would echo this fine suggestion with one caveat: A study of the Bible should surely only use Bibles and Bible Dictionaries. It should not ordinarily use any publications that contain interpretations of the Bible, including the Organization’s publications, so as not to cloud our understanding of the Bible. However, the Organization wants you to view their publications as a vital guide to the Bible. You may be surprised at what you find or cannot find. For instance, attempt to find what the chosen ones do after their resurrection (which the Organization teaches has occurred from 1914 onwards) from the Bible alone.
“Regularly attend Christian meetings. Meetings help us to draw closer to Jehovah. Our attitude toward attending meetings is a good indicator of how successful we will be at dealing with persecution in the future. (Hebrews 10:24, 25)” – Paragraph 8.
Subtext: Fear, Obligation and Guilt in large doses. If you do not attend every meeting, you will not be able to withstand persecution and will fail to gain everlasting life. A far better phrase would be the correct understanding of Hebrews which is to “Regularly associate with like-minded Christians”.
“Memorize your favorite scriptures. (Matthew 13:52)”. – Paragraph 9.
This is a good suggestion. It makes an accurate statement when it says: “Your memory may not be perfect, but Jehovah can use his powerful holy spirit to bring those scriptures back to your mind. (John 14:26)”
“Memorize and sing songs that praise Jehovah” – Paragraph 10.
This too is a good suggestion, provided those songs are solely words from God’s Word such as the Psalms. The Psalms were and still are used in Judaism.
Paragraphs 13-16 are suggesting that preaching now will give us courage in the future. As the officials persecuting a sister suggested by their comments, it would be more likely stubbornness rather than courage. Courage means to face dangers without fear, rather than stubbornly refusing to comply.
Paragraph 19 really highlights the constant contradictions contained in such articles. It says, “Yet, every day they continued to go to the temple and publicly identify themselves as disciples of Jesus. (Acts 5:42) They refused to cower in fear. We too can defeat our own fear of man by regularly and publicly identifying ourselves as Jehovah’s Witnesses—at work, at school, and in our neighborhood.—Acts 4:29; Romans 1:16”.
The question this raises is, Should we be identifying ourselves as Disciples of Christ or Witnesses of Jehovah? According to Acts 10:39-43, if we wish to imitate first century Christians we should be witnesses to Jesus, even as the prophets were. (See also Acts 13:31, Revelation 17:6)
Paragraph 21 attempts to raise the fear factor when it says, “We do not know when a wave of persecution or even an outright ban will affect our worship of Jehovah.”
The Subtext: We don’t know when persecution will come, but it definitely will come. The idea is likely that the Organization knows it is and will continue to be called on the mat for its mishandling of child sexual abuse cases as well as its human rights abuses, and so wants to reframe the impending storm as ‘persecution from Satan’s wicked world.’
The theme scripture states: “In fact, all those desiring to live with godly devotion in association with Christ Jesus will also be persecuted”. However, the Bible also says, “Therefore, whoever opposes the [governmental] authority has taken a stand against the arrangement of God; those who have taken a stand against it will bring judgment against themselves.” (Ro 13:2) It also says, “For what merit is there in it if, when YOU are sinning and being slapped, YOU endure it? But if, when YOU are doing good and YOU suffer, YOU endure it, this is a thing agreeable with God.” (1Pe 2:20)
What question is, Will their attempt to relabel their impending tribulation for past sins as ‘persecution due to godly devotion’ work? Surely, there will be some Witnesses, perhaps a majority, who will buy into the fantasy. But surely there will be a significant number who will see through the facade.
The truth is that the only way to the Father is through the son, and if someone tries another route, he will lose out on the spirit of truth and will flounder. Yet again, Christ Jesus is merely mentioned 7 times in this article, while Jehovah was named four times as often—29 times, excluding use of the name in “Jehovah’s Witnesses”.
In conclusion, an article of mixed benefit. Some good suggestions mixed with a healthy dose of FOG. (Fear mongering, Obligation, Guilt tripping)