“The spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are God’s children.” – Romans 8:16
[From ws 1/20 p.20 Study Article 4: March 23 – March 29, 2020]
This is the first of two articles intended to prepare the brothers and sisters for the memorial. Unfortunately, it starts from the base of its readers accepting the doctrine of the little flock being the anointed and the other sheep being the great crowd; also the doctrine that there is a resurrection to heaven and to earth, rather than only an earthly resurrection.
“Heaven” as the destination for those termed anointed by the Organization is mentioned some 18 times in this article. Of 39 scriptures cited or quoted only 5 contain “heaven(s)(ly)”. They are Kingdom Of the Heavens, David did not ascend to the heavens, holy spirit from heaven, reserved in the heavens.
Hence the inaccurate claim in paragraph 2 in the second part of the sentence that “They become the first to be anointed by holy spirit and given the hope of ruling with Jesus in heaven” [bold ours].
The footnote referenced to “anointed by Holy Spirit” states “Jehovah uses his holy spirit to select a person to rule with Jesus in heaven. By means of his spirit, God gives that person a promise for the future, or “a token in advance.” (Eph. 1:13, 14) These Christians can say that the holy spirit “bears witness,” or makes clear, to them that their reward is in heaven.—Romans 8:16.”. Both these statements are half truths and the scriptures cited support half of the statement. Ephesians 1:13-14 does state that “By means of his spirit, God gives that person a promise for the future, or “a token in advance.”. However, it mentions nothing about going to heaven.
Similarly, Romans 8:16 “bears witness that they are God’s children”, but not where their reward is. By contrast to the Organization’s unscriptural teaching that a small number go to heaven, a search for the phrase “everlasting life” in the NWT Reference Bible will bring back 93 verses from Matthew to Revelation. Even more telling is that heaven(s)(ly) is not mentioned in the context of even 1 of those 93 scriptures. Surely “heaven” would have been mentioned in regard to at least one of the scriptures containing “everlasting life” if it was a genuine hope.
Paragraph 5 similarly makes a half true statement and goes beyond the word of God. It says “In this way, the holy spirit is “a token [a pledge or promise]” given to assure them that in the future they will live forever in heaven and not on earth.—Read 2 Corinthians 1:21, 22”. Notice the scripture is to be read. Please read it for yourself and see what is different between the scripture and the paragraph. Yes, the scripture says the pledge is given, but nothing about the pledge is “given to assure them that in the future they will live forever in heaven and not on earth.“
Paragraph 6 repeats the claim of going to heaven, but only one of the many cited scriptures mentions anything to do with heaven. This is Hebrews 3:1. It says “Consequently, holy brothers, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the apostle and high priest whom we confess—Jesus.”
So, is this case proven for what the Watchtower is teaching? Let us check. What does the word “heavenly” actually mean? In heaven? No. Heavenward? No. It means the “impact of heaven’s influence on the particular situation or person.”. What this means is that the calling or being chosen is by God, evidenced by the Holy Spirit, rather than by say by the demons or by the world. It is a calling from or by heaven as an entity, it has nothing to do with being in that location. A worldly calling would be a call from the world as an entity, not as a physical location. The translation of the verse would be more accurate in conveying the proper meaning if it read “partakers of the calling by / from heaven”.
Paragraph 7 claims “So by means of his holy spirit, God makes it clear to anointed ones that they have this heavenly calling.—1 Thessalonians 2:12”. This is technically true, but as for Hebrews 3:1 in the previous paragraph, it is being misunderstood because of the poor construction of the translation. It would be clearer and convey the true translation better if it read “God makes it clear to anointed ones that they have this calling by heaven. Indeed, because the wrong interpretation of the phrase in the previous paragraph, then this statement will also be interpreted wrongly, thereby perpetuating the error.
Paragraph 8 gives yet another example of an unsubstantiated interpretation. It says “Jehovah leaves no doubt whatsoever in the minds and hearts of those who receive his invitation to go to heaven. (Read 1 John 2:20, 27.)”. If we read the context of these verses, in particular the intervening verses we will see the invitation Jehovah gives, is not to heaven, but to “this is the promised thing that he himself promised us, the life everlasting“ (1 John 2:25).
Please remember this quote from paragraph 8 for next week’s study article “But they do not need anyone to confirm that they are anointed. Jehovah has used the most powerful force in the universe, his holy spirit, to make it absolutely clear to them that they are anointed” when the Watchtower article starts casting aspersions as too whether all who partake at the memorial are really anointed or not!
Paragraph 9 accepts the normal hope of mankind is “God created humans to live forever on earth, not in heaven. (Genesis 1:28; Psalm 37:29)”. But the Study article continues with its erroneous teachings and hence makes a fallacious claim saying “But Jehovah has chosen some to live in heaven. So when he anoints them, he changes their hope and way of thinking drastically, so that they look forward to life in heaven“. Try as you will, you will not find a single scripture that supports either of these pieces of speculation.
Paragraph 11 states “What change in thinking takes place when Christians are anointed? Before Jehovah anointed these Christians, they treasured the hope of living forever on earth.” It goes on to say “But after they were anointed, they started to think differently. Why is that? They did not become dissatisfied with that earthly hope. They did not change their mind because of emotional stress or turmoil. They did not suddenly feel that they would find living forever on earth to be boring. Instead, Jehovah used his holy spirit to change the way that they think and the hope that they cherish”. The really serious question we need to ask is, that as the Bible does not clearly teach a hope of life in the spirit realm “to be like God, KNOWING good and bad” (Genesis 3:4) is it the same spirit that deceived Eve that is deceiving them? Jesus warned that “false anointed ones and false prophets will arise and will give great signs and wonders so as to mislead, if possible, even the chosen ones” (Matthew 24:24).
Paragraphs 14-17 deal with the question: Has Jehovah anointed you?
One sign many Witnesses use to judge if someone is anointed is “Do you feel that you are especially zealous in the preaching work?”
Were all 1st Century Christians especially zealous in the preaching work? Ephesians 4:11 tells us “And he gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelizers, some as shepherds and teachers”. Clearly, then, not all were especially zealous in preaching or evangelizing. All had different gifts and strengths “for the building up of the body of the Christ”.
Another sign used to judge others is “Do you feel that Jehovah has given you wonderful results in the preaching work?”
Feelings can be mistaken, facts are reliable. Is there any scriptural backup for this suggested qualification? No. Remember the parable of the slaves and the talents (amongst others) in Matthew 25:14-28? The slaves were all rewarded, but because of their efforts, not their results.
After asking a whole lot of questions that most Witnesses would expect any who claim to be anointed to be able to answer yes to all of them, the article tries to surprise us by saying “If you answer these questions with a resounding yes, does this prove that you now have the heavenly calling? No, it does not. Why not? Because all of God’s servants can feel this way, whether they are anointed or not”. The main problem with this statement is that most unawakened Witnesses will continue to judge others by those very questions, that they will remember, but conveniently for the Organization forget that the article stated that “all of God’s servants can feel this way.”
Paragraph 15 sadly repeats most of the Organization’s speculative teachings as to who cannot rule with Christ.
For example, King David, who although he was used by Jehovah in a large way, including writing many Psalms, learnt from his mistakes, showing repentance. Yet, somehow, he is not worthy of ruling over mankind using Acts 2:34 as so-called proof. It is no proof at all.
The Organization also claims John the Baptist will not rule with Christ despite Christ saying, “Among those born of women there has not been raised up a greater than John the Baptist;”.
On what basis is this claim made? The Watchtower gives no basis for the statement “Jehovah used his holy spirit to give these men the power to do amazing things, but he did not use that spirit to choose them to live in heaven”. Speculation, yet again.
What about the principle of James 1:21-23 which says “Abraham put faith in Jehovah, and it was counted to him as righteousness, and he came to be called ‘Jehovah’s friend’”. He was the only human to be called God’s friend in the scriptures.
The entire chapter 11 of Hebrews discusses men and women of faith who lived before Christ came to earth. What does Hebrews 11:39-40 tell us about them? “And yet all these, although they had witness borne to them through their faith, did not get the [fulfillment of the] promise, 40 as God foresaw something better for us, in order that they might not be made perfect apart from us”.
Yes, Hebrews states that those faithful men and women of old would not be made perfect at a separate time and place to the Apostle Paul and his fellow first century Christians. The Greek word translated “apart” conveys the meaning of “apart from, separated (“without”); (figuratively) detached, rendering something invalid or valid.”. So, just to reiterate what the Apostle Paul wrote, he said that the likes of Noah, Abraham, David etc, would not be made perfect without the Apostle Paul and his fellow Christians. It would only be a valid event if it happened this way. (See also 1 Thessalonians 4:15).
By going beyond God’s word, the Organization has created so many unnecessary problems and questions. So many problems and questions, that the following week’s Watchtower Study article is written to attempt to answer them. “Because some anointed ones are still among God’s people today, certain questions naturally arise. (Rev. 12:17) For example, how should anointed ones view themselves? If someone in your congregation starts to partake of the emblems at the Memorial, how should you treat that person? And what if the number of those who say that they are anointed keeps on growing? Should you be concerned about it?” (par.17).
When we accept the Bible’s teachings “that there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous” (Acts 24:15), “since they will inherit the earth”, (Matthew 5:5) and “He that exercises faith in the Son has everlasting life;” (John 3:36, Luke 18:20) and that we should “Keep doing this, as often as YOU drink it, in remembrance of me.” 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 11:25-26) thereby showing appreciation for Christ’s sacrifice; then all these questions and more, actually evaporate. The truth of God’s promises is simple.
Let us be resolved not to let man’s complicated teachings confuse us, but to let the simple truth shine through on our lives as Jesus taught us by showing others we are Christ’s disciples because “By this all will know that YOU are my disciples, if YOU have love among yourselves.”(John 13:35), and then “If YOU remain in my word, YOU are really my disciples, 32 and YOU will know the truth, and the truth will set YOU free.” (John 8:31-32).