Every so often, a Watchtower study article comes along that is so egregious, so full of false teachings, that I can’t let it pass by without comment. Such is the study article for this week of November 21-27, 2022.
The title of the study article is a provocative question: Is Your Name in “the Book of Life”?
Of course, we all want our name to be written in God’s Book of Life but believing in and preaching falsehoods isn’t a good way to get it there, is it?
The article starts with a picture of smiling people from many periods of history. Supposedly, they are smiling because their names are written in “the book of life.” The caption reads “Down through history, Jehovah has added names to “the book of life” (See paragraphs 1-2).
This is where things get a little tricky. You see, a closer examination of this picture shows that some of those depicted are faithful men and women from pre-Christian times. The idea is that men like Noah, Job, Abraham, Moses, Daniel, Jeremiah, and faithful women like Ruth, Hannah, Naomi, and Rahab have their names written in God’s book of life. I quite agree. So, why do I say that is tricky? Well, as we’ll see upon further consideration of this study article, all these people who conquered the world with their faith and died in an approved state before God only achieved having their names written in God’s book of life in pencil. That’s right, Pencil! This allows God to erase them from the book of life.
If you’re asking, “Where does the Bible say that?” you obviously aren’t familiar with the publications of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. It doesn’t, but The Watchtower does, and that’s enough for most Jehovah’s Witnesses. In that, Witnesses are like Catholics whose Catechism takes precedence over the Bible.
Anyway, we are not going to allow ourselves to be credulous followers of men anymore. We’re going to look at what is said here with the critical eye of a true follower of Christ.
Oh, before going further, I should mention that in the sidebar Preview depicted here, we read: “This article presents an adjustment in our understanding of Jesus’ words recorded at John 5:28, 29 regarding “a resurrection of life” and “a resurrection of judgment.” We will learn what these two resurrections refer to and who are included in each one.”
Now, if you don’t recall off the top of your head what John 5:28, 29 says, here it is:
“Do not be amazed at this, for the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, and those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.” (John 5:28, 29)
By the way, unless otherwise stated, I am using the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures for all scriptural references.
Paragraph 1 concludes with the instruction to read Malachi 3:16, which is the article theme text. However, the paragraph also cites Revelation 3:5 and 17:8. Revelation is a book written specifically for Christians, but Malachi is written specifically for Jews. So, why use Malachi for the theme text instead of the better reference from Revelation? Revelation 3:5 reads: “The one who conquers will thus be dressed in white garments, and I will by no means blot out his name from the book of life, but I will acknowledge his name before my Father and before his angels.” (Revelation 3:5)
The answer lies in the fact that Revelation 3:5 is directed to the congregation of Sardis, and all Christians in the first century had a heavenly hope. Even the publications of the Watch Tower admit that. But this article is directed to the JW earthly-hope class of other sheep. Best not to get the JW other sheep to dwell on the real hope held out to Christians, which is the heavenly hope. Of course, they don’t mind putting the references in the article, because that makes it look like they’ve done their research and they know that very few Jehovah’s Witnesses will look up and meditate on the supporting scriptural references in the publications. Most prefer to be spoon fed by the men of the Governing Body.
Okay, let’s proceed. Paragraph 2 contains this statement: “Today we can have our name written in that book if we develop a close, personal relationship with Jehovah based on the ransom sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ. (John 3:16, 36)”. A personal relationship with Jehovah, eh? Okay, I completely agree. But before going further, is something assumed here, something not actually stated anywhere in the article? Yes. The Watchtower article is presuming that all its readers understand that the relationship being referred to is that of a friend with another friend, because 99.9% of Jehovah’s Witnesses are denied the adoption as one of God’s children and can only hope to be called his “friend.” But consider the verses the article cites in reference to this statement about a relationship with Jehovah:
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
“The one who exercises faith in the Son has everlasting life; the one who disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him.” (John 3:36)
Both of these are from the book of John. Now here’s another relevant verse also from the book of John to put things into perspective:
“However, to all who did receive him, he gave authority to become God’s children, because they were exercising faith in his name. And they were born, not from blood or from a fleshly will or from man’s will, but from God.” (John 1:12, 13)
From this we can see that the verses they cite actually point to a father/child relationship. Keep that truth in the back of your mind. Moving on, we get to the pencil thing.
Thus, names that are presently in that book can be wiped out, or erased, as if Jehovah had initially written the names in pencil. (Rev. 3:5, ftn.) We must make sure that our name remains in that book until it is written permanently in ink, as it were. (par. 3)
Agreed. That lines up with what Revelation 3:5 says: “The one who conquers will thus be dressed in white garments, and I will by no means blot out [erase] his name from the book of life, but I will acknowledge his name before my Father and before his angels.” (Revelation 3:5)
Who are those who are dressed in white garments? In the Christian Scriptures this always refers to the anointed. Revelation 6:10 and 11. Additionally Revelation 3:5 applies to the anointed in the Congregation of Sardis. It is talking about conquering in this life, not dying, being resurrected on earth as a righteous sinner which is not biblically based and then having to keep conquering in the new world to stay written in the Book of Life.
On to paragraph 4:
Some questions naturally arise. For example, what does the Bible say about those whose names are written in the book of life as well as those whose names are not recorded there? When will those whose names remain in that book receive everlasting life? What about those who died without ever having an opportunity to know Jehovah? Is it possible for their names to be recorded in that book? These questions will be answered in this article and in the following one.
The paragraph introduces all these questions with “What does the Bible say?” This gives the reader the impression that the answers forthcoming in the article are from the Bible. They most certainly are not as we will see.
Moving on: According to paragraph 5, there are five—count ‘em—five different groups of people who either do or do not have their names in God’s Book of Life. Paragraph 6 starts with the first group, those who make up the children of God, the body of Christ, God’s Temple—though oddly, none of these common, descriptive Bible terms are mentioned in this article. That’s no surprise. The focus of the article is on the JW other sheep class. In any case, we can agree that the children of God are written in God’s Book of Life, because that is what Scripture clearly states:
“Yes, I request you also, as a true fellow worker, to keep assisting these women who have striven side by side with me for the good news, along with Clement as well as the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.” (Philippians 4:3)
In paragraph 7, the fun really begins. It identifies the second group, a “great crowd of other sheep.” Let’s stop for a moment and try out a little experiment. Here’s the Watchtower library program. I’m entering “great crowd of other sheep” into the Search field and hitting Enter.
We find that exact phrase has occurred over 300 times in the various publications of the Watch Tower, Bible & Tract Society, but do you notice that something is missing? The Bible! The New World Translation! Not once does the phrase occur in Scripture. If you are wondering who the other sheep are, here’s a link to a video that I did on the topic. In short, there is no scriptural evidence that excludes the other sheep from being part of the children of God, the body of Christ, God’s temple. The other sheep of John 10:16 refers to the Gentiles who became Christians following the anointing with holy spirit of the Roman Centurion Cornelius and his family.
Everything else in this paragraph is false, because it is all based on a false premise, that the great crowd and the other sheep are righteous earthbound friends of God. Paragraph 7 continues:
The second group consists of the great crowd of other sheep. Are their names now written in the book of life? Yes. Will their names still be in the book of life after they survive Armageddon? Yes. (Rev. 7:14)
Now we have this so-called great crowd of other sheep surviving Armageddon. They quote Revelation 7:14 as proof. It reads:
“So right away I said to him: “My lord, you are the one who knows.” And he said to me: “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:14)
In this verse, there is no mention of Armageddon and no mention of other sheep. So now we have to jump to a conclusion not supported in Scripture that the great crowd are other sheep, that the other sheep are not anointed and not part of the first group just mentioned in paragraph 6, even though in this account in Revelation they are shown standing in the holy of holies (naos), which represents heaven. Additionally, we have to accept that the great tribulation is actually Armageddon even though the Bible never associates the two. Those are a lot of assumptions to make, don’t you think? Oh, whatever! It’s only a matter of life and death, no wait, I misspoke, it’s only a matter of eternal life and eternal death.
But we’re not done yet. There is more in paragraph 7: “Jesus said that these sheeplike ones will depart “into everlasting life.”” (Matt. 25:46)
Suddenly they’re transitioning from a metaphor, “other sheep”, to a simile, “sheeplike ones”. Hmm, well, at least they provide some proof. Let’s read Matthew 25:46, shall we?
These will depart into everlasting cutting-off, but the righteous ones into everlasting life.” (Matthew 25:46)
I don’t see the proof there, do you? How does the Governing Body get off quoting a scripture that applies to the anointed children of God and make it about their pet group, the other sheep who are just God’s good friends? They do it by playing with one of Jesus’ parables about the sheep and the goats and applying it to fit their theology. I’ve covered this extensively in another video and here’s a link to that one as well.
But just to show that this verse from Matthew is hardly proof, consider that earlier in this parable we read: “Then the King will say to those on his right: ‘Come, you who have been blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world.” (Matthew 25:34)
The JW other sheep don’t inherit the Kingdom! They’re not God’s children. They are just his friends. They don’t inherit anything. The children inherit. According to JW theology, all this is supposed to happen at Armageddon. By that, the so-called “sheeplike ones” go off into everlasting life immediately after Armageddon, but that’s not what the rest of the paragraph 7 says. Instead, JW theology claims that “those Armageddon survivors will not immediately receive everlasting life. Their names will remain written in the book of life in pencil, as it were. During the Thousand Year Reign, Jesus “will shepherd them and will guide them to springs of waters of life.” Those who respond positively to Christ’s guidance and are finally judged faithful to Jehovah will have their names recorded permanently in the book of life.—Read Revelation 7:16, 17.”
Well, that sure takes the wind out of the sails of Jesus’ grand parable. The goats go off into everlasting destruction. That much Jesus can figure out. They don’t deserve any chance at life. But the sheep, he’s not so sure about. He needs to give them another thousand years to prove themselves. Does that make any sense to you? Does it seem consistent with the tone of that parable? Is he talking about two outcomes, black and white, eternal death or eternal life? Or is he talking about three: eternal death and maybe eternal life or maybe more eternal death?
I won’t waste time reading Revelation 7:16, 17, because, if you haven’t already guessed, it makes no connection to Armageddon, the other sheep, or Jesus’ parable.
Paragraph 8 starts off claiming, “the third group comprises the goats, who will be destroyed at Armageddon.”
When I was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I used to buy into this idea that everybody dies at Armageddon except for a small group of faithful Jehovah’s Witnesses. I never thought to question the fact that the Bible doesn’t actually say that everyone will die at Armageddon. The word is only mentioned once in the Bible. Just once, at Revelation 16:16. It does speak of a war between the kings of the earth and God, but it says nothing about a worldwide genocide, nor does it ever call Armageddon, Judgment Day. According to Witnesses, Judgment Day is the thousand-year reign of Christ, so are there now two judgment days, one before Armageddon lasting only a short time and another lasting a thousand years? Two judgment days? Maybe we could call it a judgment weekend instead. That would be more consistent, wouldn’t it?
Paragraph 9 introduces the final two groups according to Watch Tower theology: “The Bible speaks of two groups of people who will be resurrected with the prospect of living forever on earth, “the righteous” and “the unrighteous.” (Read Acts 24:15.)”
No, it doesn’t! It doesn’t!! Acts 24:15 speaks of two resurrections, yes, but it says nothing about to where they will be resurrected.
“And I have hope toward God, which hope these men also look forward to, that there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Acts 24:15)
Think about this for a moment. Paul had the hope of ruling with Christ in the kingdom of God. All Christians in his day shared that hope. There is no other hope for the righteous expressed in the Christian Scriptures. There is only the one hope. Paul himself wrote: “. . .the oneness of the spirit in the uniting bond of peace. One body there is, and one spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:3-6)
So when Paul spoke of two resurrections, one of which was of the righteous, do you really think he wasn’t talking about his own resurrection hope? The hope he preached far and wide? Do you think he was ignoring the resurrection hope of every Christian alive at that time, and was instead thinking of another resurrection of the righteous? A lesser resurrection of the righteous? A group of righteous that wouldn’t appear for 2,000 years? A group of righteous that wouldn’t be quite as righteous as the first group, because the first group doesn’t have to go through an additional thousand-year probation period.
About these earthbound righteous ones, paragraph 10 states: “This means that when the righteous are restored to life on earth, their names will be found written in the book of life, although “in pencil” at first. (Luke 14:14)”
So, their names are not written in ink yet, but still in pencil. Then they throw in a scripture reference to give the illusion to a lazy and trusting Witness that the Bible supports this idea. But when you look up that reference you find no support for it at all.
“…and you will be happy, because they have nothing with which to repay you. For you will be repaid in the resurrection of the righteous ones.” (Luke 14:14)
That has nothing to do with having one’s name written in the book of life in pencil. When Jesus said those words, he was talking about the resurrection to life in the kingdom of God which was the only resurrection hope he spoke of. All the Bible writers confirm this by speaking of serving with him as kings and priests. There is nothing in his words that speaks of an earthly resurrection of righteous Christians.
In paragraphs 13 and 14 we get to the new JW understanding of John 5:29. It starts off with a half truth:
Jesus also spoke about those who would be resurrected here on earth. For example, he said: “The hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, and those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.” (John 5:28, 29) What did Jesus mean? (par 13)
Of course, those who practiced vile things would not get the resurrection to the kingdom of the heavens. Unrighteous people could only be resurrected to earth, not heaven (1 Corinthians 15:50 bears that out). The half truth! The other half of a half truth is a lie.
We need to stop here, because there is so much disinformation and confusion in the next two paragraphs that it’s easy to get spun around so that we can’t tell truth from falsehood.
Ask yourself this: How many resurrections does Jesus speak of? Two! Just two. One to life and one to judgment. That is what the apostle John records Jesus as saying here. The same apostle got the Revelation where he gives us more details about the first of these resurrections, the resurrection to life.
And I saw thrones, and those who sat on them were given authority to judge….And they came to life and ruled as kings with the Christ for 1,000 years….This is the first resurrection. Happy and holy is anyone having part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no authority, but they will be priests of God and of the Christ, and they will rule as kings with him for the 1,000 years. (Revelation 20:4-6)
This is the first resurrection! By speaking of a first, there must be a second. Notice these ones are “given authority to judge.” Whom will they judge? Why, those who come back in the second resurrection, the resurrection to judgment.
There you have it. John 5:29 nicely explained using Bible verses that are relevant and make sense. Where does the Governing Body get the idea that Jesus was speaking not of the resurrection to life of the anointed to rule with him in the kingdom of God, but rather of an earthly resurrection of non-anointed friends of God? They’re like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat.
Everything in this article is based on the false belief that there are not two resurrections, but three. Two of the righteous and one of the unrighteous. Of the two resurrections of the righteous, there are two types of righteous. There are those whose righteousness results in everlasting life upon their resurrection and those who are sort of righteous. They were judged as righteous by God upon their death, but the Almighty is hedging his bets, because he can’t be quite sure of these ones just yet. He needs to give them more time.
Have we got that straight now? Jesus speaks of two resurrections: One to life as kings and priests, and one to judgment on earth, to be judged by those in the first resurrection. There is no third resurrection, of provisional righteous ones to life on earth.
From here on the false doctrines come at us fast and furiously.
Let’s dissect paragraph 15:
“The righteous, who did good things before their death, will receive “a resurrection of life” because their names will already be written in the book of life. (par. 15 extract)”
If you don’t consider what they really mean, this statement is true because the children of God are resurrected to life in the Kingdom of God, but that’s not what they mean. They are ignoring the resurrection of the children of God here, and claiming there is a secondary, minor resurrection of the righteous to human life on earth. Balderdash!
“This means that the resurrection of “those who did good things” described at John 5:29 is the same as the resurrection of “the righteous” mentioned at Acts 24:15. (par. 15 extract)”
If you did “good things” in God’s eyes, and you died in his favor in his book of life, why does he need to put you through a further probationary period during Christ’s millennial reign? Are conditions then, with Christ reigning and the devil and demons locked away, going to provide a better test of faith than that provided by life in this wicked world? When you reason the JW theology through to its conclusion, it gets really silly, doesn’t it?
“This understanding is in harmony with the statement made at Romans 6:7, which says: “The one who has died has been acquitted from his sin.” (par. 15 extract)”
Do they never read the context? Seriously!? Or for that matter, how about picking up a dictionary guys?
The definition of “to acquit” is to “free (someone) from a criminal charge by a verdict of not guilty.” A person who dies in sin is paying the penalty for his crime. You don’t say, “On January 24, 1989, serial killer Ted Bundy was acquitted, or found not guilty, of his crimes by means of the electric chair.”
What does Romans 6:7 mean when it says that the one who has died has been acquitted or found not guilty of his sin? It is referring to spiritual death. It means that by grace, not personal merit, God has pardoned us of our sin, declared us righteous, not guilty, by means of the anointing of holy spirit. (Galatians 5:5)
This is clearly revealed by the context of Romans chapter 6 which shows that there is no excuse for the so-called scholars of Watchtower to have gotten it wrong, other than their need to support their false two-earthly-resurrection hope.
“Seeing that we died with reference to sin, how can we keep living any longer in it? Or do you not know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? So we were buried with him through our baptism into his death, in order that just as Christ was raised up from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also should walk in a newness of life….For we know that our old personality was nailed to the stake [i.e., it died] along with him in order for our sinful body to be made powerless, so that we should no longer go on being slaves to sin. For the one who has died has been acquitted from his sin. Moreover, if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him….Likewise you, consider yourselves to be dead with reference to sin but living with reference to God by Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:2-4, 6-8, 11)
We also have another witness besides Paul to confirm this. The apostle John writes:
Most truly I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes the One who sent me has everlasting life, and he does not come into judgment but has passed over from death to life. (John 5:24)
We are acquitted of our sin, found not guilty by the judge of all Mankind, by means of the grace of God, what Witnesses call “Jehovah’s undeserved kindness.” If God says you are not dead, then you are not dead, even if you die.
That isn’t my thought. That comes from the Lord Jesus.
“Jesus said to her [Martha]: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who exercises faith in me, even though he dies, will come to life; and everyone who is living and exercises faith in me will never die at all. Do you believe this?”” (John 11:25, 26)
Now let’s extract the false teachings from paragraph 16
What about those who practiced vile things before they died? Although their sins were canceled at death, they have not established a record of faithfulness. (par. 16 extract)
The sins of the wicked who are resurrected are not cancelled at death. There is no Scripture that supports that. But there is a scripture that tells us people will have to answer for all their sins.
“The good man out of his good treasure sends out good things, whereas the wicked man out of his wicked treasure sends out wicked things. I tell you that men will render an account on Judgment Day for every unprofitable saying that they speak; for by your words you will be declared righteous, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:35-37)
How can they render an account on judgment day for their “unprofitable sayings” if those sayings were cancelled at death?
Only if these unrighteous ones reject their former wicked course of life and dedicate themselves to Jehovah can they have their names written in the book of life. (par. 16 extract)
Where does the Bible say anything about dedicating yourself to God? Obeying God, yes! Loving God, certainly! But this thing about dedication, which for Witnesses is what baptism symbolizes, is another made-up requirement. If you wish to read a thorough discussion on this topic click on this link: (https://beroeans.net/2017/05/28/what-you-vow-pay/)
Remember that at the start of this video, I said that there was something tricky about the picture at the start of the Watchtower article. Now we come to why I said that.
Even such faithful men as Noah, Samuel, David, and Daniel will have to learn about Jesus Christ and exercise faith in his sacrifice. (par. 18)
So there you have a statement by the Governing Body of the Watch Tower Society. Now let’s look at what God has to say on the topic:
“By faith Noah, after receiving divine warning of things not yet seen, showed godly fear and constructed an ark for the saving of his household; and through this faith he condemned the world, and he became an heir of the righteousness that results from faith.” (Hebrews 11:7)
Noah inherited the righteousness that results from faith. What is that righteousness? It is righteousness not earned by a life free from sin, but righteousness granted by God because of faith that wipes sin away.
“By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place he was to receive as an inheritance; he went out, although not knowing where he was going….For he was awaiting the city having real foundations, whose designer and builder is God.” (Hebrews 11:8, 10)
The city he was waiting for turned out to be the New Jerusalem where the Children of God are to dwell. Hebrews goes on to describe the faith of many men and women of pre-Christian times, then it states:
“But now they are reaching out for a better place, that is, one belonging to heaven. Therefore, God is not ashamed of them, to be called on as their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” (Hebrews 11:16)
They were not reaching out for an earthly resurrection but for one belonging to heaven, reaching out for the New Jerusalem, the seat of heavenly government which is the reward of the resurrection of the righteous.
“And what more will I say? For time will fail me if I go on to relate about Gidʹe·on, Baʹrak, Samson, Jephʹthah, David, as well as Samuel and the other prophets. Through faith they defeated kingdoms, [that would be David among others] brought about righteousness, [that would be Samuel] obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, [that would be Daniel] quenched the force of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from a weak state were made powerful, became mighty in war, routed invading armies. Women received their dead by resurrection, but other men were tortured because they would not accept release by some ransom, in order that they might attain a better resurrection. (Hebrews 11:32-35)
Since there are only two resurrections, one to judgment on earth and one to life in the kingdom of God, which would you consider to be the better resurrection?
“Yes, others received their trial by mockings and scourgings, indeed, more than that, by chains and prisons. They were stoned, they were tried, they were sawn in two, they were slaughtered by the sword, they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, while they were in need, in tribulation, mistreated; and the world was not worthy of them.” (Hebrews 11:36-38a)
“The world was not worthy of them,” yet these men would have you believe that all those faithful men and women will come back to life in the New World still in a state of sin, with the possibility of having their penciled-in name erased from the book of Life, while the Governing Body members will go off to eternal life in heaven. I guess if the world was not worthy of those faithful men and women of old, it really is not worthy of men like Stephen Lett, David Splane, Tony Morris, and Gerrit Losch none of which ever suffered persecution for truth as did the ancient ones.
Oh, but there’s more:
“And yet all of these, although they received a favorable witness because of their faith, did not obtain the fulfillment of the promise, because God had foreseen something better for us, so that they might not be made perfect apart from us.” (Hebrews 11:39, 40)
Jesus was made perfect by the things he suffered. (Hebrews 5:8) Christians are made perfect by the things we suffer. And pre-Christian servants like Noah, Samuel, David, and Daniel were also made perfect. That’s what the Bible says here.
Notice the past tense. They don’t need to be resurrected and endure another thousand years of testing to be made perfect. In this context, being made perfect doesn’t mean just sinless, but perfect in the sense Jesus was made perfect: perfectly fit for the task of ruling with Jesus and judging the world.
The Governing Body overlooks all this evidence, because it needs to support its false doctrine of an earthly resurrection of the so-called “great crowd of other sheep.”
This article is a virtual vomit of false teachings. It is quite frankly an abomination. But it doesn’t end with this article. The last paragraph promises still more doctrines from men.
“What an exciting time the Thousand Year Reign will be! It will include the greatest educational program ever undertaken here on earth. But it will also be a time when the conduct of both the righteous and the unrighteous will be evaluated. (Isa. 26:9; Acts 17:31) How will this educational program be carried out? Our next article will help us to understand and appreciate this wonderful provision. (par. 20)”
I’m not sure I’ll have the intestinal fortitude to deal with another article like this one, but I’ll try to do so and release it next week. Until then, thank you for your support. The funds that are sent in really help all of us at Beroean Pickets to keep producing articles, books and videos.