Who is it that sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God?

– posted by meleti

One of my former best friends, an elder of Jehovah’s Witnesses who won’t talk with me anymore, told me that he knew David Splane when they were both serving as pioneers (full-time preachers of Jehovah’s Witnesses) in the province of Quebec, Canada. Based on what he told me from his personal acquaintance with David Splane, I have no reason to believe that David Splane, who now sits on the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, was a wicked man in his youth. In fact, I don’t believe any member of the Governing Body nor any of their helpers started out as men with unrighteous intentions. Like myself, I think they truly believed they were teaching the true good news of the Kingdom.

I think that was the case with two famous members of the Governing Body, Fred Franz and his nephew, Raymond Franz. Both believed they had learned the truth about God and both had devoted their lives to teaching that truth as they understood it, but then came their “road to Damascus” moment.

We will all face our own road-to-Damasus moment. Do you know what I mean? I’m referring to what happened to Saul of Tarsus who became the Apostle Paul. Saul started out as a zealous Pharisee who was a fierce persecutor of Christians. He was a Jew from Tarsus, who was raised in Jerusalem and studied under the famous Pharisee, Gamaliel (Acts 22:3). Now, one day, when he was travelling to Damascus to arrest Jewish Christians living there, Jesus Christ appeared to him in a blinding light and said,

“Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? To keep kicking against the goads makes it hard for you.” (Acts 26:14)

What did our Lord mean by “kicking against the goads”?

In those days, a herder used a pointed stick called a goad to get his cattle to move. So, it appears that there were many things Saul had experienced, such as the murder of Stephen that he witnessed, described in Acts chapter 7, that should have goaded him to the realization that he was fighting against the Messiah. Yet, he kept resisting those prompts. He needed something more to awaken him.

As a loyal Pharisee, Saul thought he was serving Jehovah God, and like Saul, both Raymond and Fred Franz thought the same. They thought they had the truth. They were zealous for the truth. But what happened to them? In the mid 1970s, they both had their road-to-Damascus moment. They were confronted with Scriptural evidence that proved that Jehovah’s Witnesses were not teaching the truth about the Kingdom of God. This evidence is described in detail in Raymond’s book, Crisis of Conscience.

On page 316 of the 4th edition published in 2004, we can see a summary of Bible truths that both were exposed to, much like Saul was exposed to when he was blinded by the light of Jesus’ manifestation on the road to Damascus. Naturally, as nephew and uncle, they would have discussed these things together. These things are:

  • Jehovah does not have an organization on earth.
  • All Christians have a heavenly hope and should partake.
  • There is no formal arrangement of a faithful and discreet slave.
  • There is no earthly class of other sheep.
  • The number of 144,000 is symbolic.
  • We are not living in a special period called the “last days”.
  • 1914 was not Christ’s presence.
  • Faithful people who lived before Christ have a heavenly hope.

Discovering these Bible truths can be likened to what Jesus describes in his parable:

“Again the Kingdom of the heavens is like a traveling merchant seeking fine pearls. Upon finding one pearl of high value, he went away and promptly sold all the things he had and bought it. (Matthew 13:45, 46)

Sadly, only Raymond Franz sold all the things he had to buy that pearl. He lost his position, his income, and all his family and friends when he was disfellowshipped. He lost his reputation and was vilified for the rest of his life by all those people who at one time looked up to him and loved him as a brother. Fred, on the other hand, chose to throw away that pearl by rejecting the truth so that he could continue to “teach commands of men as doctrines” of God (Matthew 15:9). In that way, he kept his position, his security, his reputation, and his friends.

They each had a road-to-Damascus moment that forever changed their life direction. One for the better and one for the worse. We might think that a road-to-Damascus moment only applies when we take the right road, but that is not true. We can seal our fate with God for the better at such a time, but we can also seal our fate for the worst. It can be a time from which there is no return, no comeback.

As the Bible teaches us, either we follow Christ, or we follow men. I’m not saying that if we follow men now, there is no chance for us to change. But a road-to-Damascus moment refers to that point we will all reach at some time in our life where the choice we make will be irrevocable. Not because God makes it so, but because we do.

Of course, a courageous stand for truth comes at a cost. Jesus told us that we would be persecuted for following him, but that the blessings would far outweigh the pain of that hardship that so many of us have experienced.

How does this relate to the men of the current Governing Body and everyone who supports them?

Does the evidence we are being presented with almost daily, by means of the Internet and news media, not amount to goads? Are you kicking against them? At some point, the evidence will mount up to such a point that it will represent a personal road-to-Damascus moment for every member of the Organization who is loyal to the Governing Body instead of to Christ.

It does well for all of us to heed the warning from the writer of Hebrews:

Beware, brothers, for fear there should ever develop in any one of you a wicked heart lacking faith by drawing away from the living God; but keep on encouraging one another each day, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you should become hardened by the deceptive power of sin. (Hebrews 3:12, 13)

This verse is talking about real apostasy where a person starts with faith, but then allows a wicked spirit to develop. This spirit develops because the believer draws away from the living God. How does this happen? By listening to men and obeying them instead of God.

Over time, the heart becomes hardened.  When this scripture talks about the deceptive power of sin, it is not talking about sexual immorality and things like that.  Remember that the original sin was a lie that caused the first humans to draw away from God, promising power to be like God. That was the great deception.

Faith isn’t just about believing. Faith is alive. Faith is power. Jesus said “that if you have faith the size of a mustard grain, YOU will say to this mountain, ‘Transfer from here to there,’ and it will transfer, and nothing will be impossible for YOU.”  (Matthew 17:20)

But that kind of faith comes at a cost. It will cost you everything, as it did with Raymond Franz, as it did with Saul of Tarsus, who became the renowned and beloved Apostle Paul.

There are more and more goads prodding all Jehovah’s Witnesses today, but most are kicking against them. Let me show you a recent goad. I wanted to show you the following video clip that is extracted from the latest JW.org update, “Update #2” presented by Mark Sanderson.

For those of you who are still in the Organization, please watch it to see if you can detect what should be goading you to see the reality of the true mindset of the Governing Body

Christ was mentioned once, and even that reference was only his contribution as the ransom sacrifice. It does nothing to establish to the listener the true nature of Jesus’ role as our leader and the only, I say again, only way to God. We must imitate and obey him, not men.

Based on that video you just saw, who is presuming to tell you what to do? Who is acting in the place of Jesus as the leader of Jehovah’s Witnesses? Listen to this next clip where the Governing Body even presumes to have the power to direct your God-given conscience.

This brings us to the main point of our discussion today which is the question of the title of this video: “Who is it that sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God?”

We’ll start by reading a scripture we’ve all seen many times because the Organization likes to apply it to everyone else, but never to themselves.

Let no one seduce YOU in any manner, because it will not come unless the apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness gets revealed, the son of destruction. He is set in opposition and lifts himself up over everyone who is called “god” or an object of reverence, so that he sits down in the temple of The God, publicly showing himself to be a god. Do YOU not remember that, while I was yet with YOU, I used to tell YOU these things? (2 Thessalonians 2:3-5 NWT)

We don’t want to get this wrong, so let’s start by breaking this scriptural prophecy down into its key elements. We’ll start by identifying what is the temple of God in which this apostate man of lawlessness sits? Here’s the answer from 1 Corinthians 3:16, 17:

“Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? God will destroy anyone who destroys this temple. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” (1 Corinthians 3:16, 17 NLT)

“And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God.” (1 Peter 2:5 NLT)

There you go! Anointed Christians, the children of God, are the temple of God.

Now, who claims to rule over God’s temple, his anointed children, by acting like a god, an object of reverence? Who commands them to do this or that and who punishes them for disobedience?

I shouldn’t have to answer that. Each of us is being goaded, but will we recognize that God is goading us to wake us up, or will we continue to kick against the goads, resisting the love of God to lead us to repentance?

Let me illustrate how this goading works. I’m going to read you a scripture and as we step through it,  ask yourself whether or not this fits with what you’ve been seeing happening lately.

“But there were also false prophets in Israel, just as there will be false teachers among you. [He's referring to us here.] They will cleverly teach destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them. [That Master is Jesus whom they are denying by marginalizing him in all their publications, videos, and talks, so they can substitute themselves for him.] In this way, they will bring sudden destruction on themselves. Many will follow their evil teaching [They rob their flock from the heavenly hope offered by Jesus to all of us and shamelessly shun anyone who disagrees with them, breaking up families and driving people to suicide.] and shameful immorality. [Their unwillingness to protect the victims of child sexual abusers.] And because of these teachers, the way of truth will be slandered. [Boy, is that ever the case these days!] In their greed they will make up clever lies to get hold of your money. [There’s always some new excuse why they need to sell a kingdom hall from out under you, or force each congregation to make a monthly donation pledge.] But God condemned them long ago, and their destruction will not be delayed.” (2 Peter 2:1-3)

That last part is very important because it isn’t restricted to just those taking the lead in spreading false teachings. It affects everyone who follows them. Consider how this next verse applies:

Outside are the dogs and those who practice spiritism and those who are sexually immoral and the murderers and the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices lying.’ (Revelation 22:15)

If we follow a false God, if we follow an apostate, then we promote a liar. That liar will drag us down with him. We will lose out on the reward, the kingdom of God. We’ll be left outside.

In conclusion, many are still kicking against the goads, but it is not too late to stop. This is our own moment on the road to Damascus. Will we allow a wicked heart to develop in us lacking faith? Or will we be willing to sell everything for the pearl of great value, the kingdom of Christ?

We don’t have a lifetime to decide.  Things are moving quickly now. They are not static. Consider how Paul’s prophetic words apply to us.

Indeed, all who desire to live godly lives in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and imposters go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. (2 Timothy 3:12, 13)

We are seeing how the evil impostors, those impersonating the one leader over us, Jesus the anointed one, are going from bad to worse, deceiving both others and themselves. They will persecute all who desire to live godly lives in Christ Jesus.

But you might be thinking, that’s all well and good, but where do we go? Don’t we need an organization to go to? That is yet another lie the Governing Body tries to sell to keep people loyal to them. We’ll have a look at that in our next video.

In the meantime, if you want to see what a bible study among free Christians is like, check us out at beroeanmeetings.info. I’ll leave that link in the description of this video.

Thank you for continuing to support us financially.


Archived Comments

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  • Comment by Ifionlyhadabrain on 2024-04-10 06:09:24

    Meleti ,are you identifying them as the man of lawlessness spoken of at 2 Thessalonians 2 or they are just acting like such , ? A possible manifestation among many .

  • Comment by arnon on 2024-04-11 09:07:45

    Some questions:
    If all Christians have a heavenly hope, who will live on Earth?
    According to what I understood from Revelation chapter 7 there are 2 groups of righteous people: 144000 (which could be a symbolic number) and a large crowd. Who are these 2 groups?
    Is there any hint whether the "last days" period will occur soon?

    • Reply by Ifionlyhadabrain on 2024-04-11 11:49:52

      Personally ,when I read the bible , the first question I ask is , what is the most obvious answer , put aside all commentaries ,and let the scriptures speak for themselves , what does it say about the identity of the 144,000 and what does it say about the identity of the great crowd ? How do you read ?

      • Reply by Psalmbee on 2024-04-11 21:39:40

        I read left to right. Same way you do my friend! Good to see you around.

        Psalmbee, (Ec 10:2-4)

  • Comment by arnon on 2024-04-11 08:51:40

    Can I give the website address and Zoom address to the people I will be talking to?

  • Comment by Leonardo Josephus on 2024-04-06 06:59:28

    To summarise it all for me, the Organisation re-established my faith in God, basically changed it to faith in men, and then, once I worked out what was going on, left me with not much more faith than I had at the start. They have also left me where I trust very few people, and doubt anything that anyone tells me, at least until I have checked it out, if I can. Mind you, that is not a bad thing.

    I also find myself being guided, more and more, by Bible principles and Christ's example.

    I guess that is a lot better than no faith at all. And at least I now have knowledge of what the Bible really says, and a lot of the credit for that is down to Eric's site here.

    Do others feel like that ?

    • Reply by Northernexposure on 2024-04-07 08:41:41

      An interesting perspective L J.

      Tho I attended the JW meetings for decades, I never completely trusted them from the very beginning, yet I hung around because they had some interesting Bible teachings that I thought may have merit?...(1914 generation). When they began changing that in the mid 90s, I began to suspect fraud, yet stayed with them another 15 or so years.

      Because I was unsure of many of their teachings, it caused me to study the Bible, so my faith in God grew, but so did my distrust in the JW Society, as well as mankind in general...as you mentioned.

      Eric's has an excellent perspective on the JW or, and the Bible. I also recommend the Beroean Zoom meetings if you haven't yet discovered them.

  • Comment by Northernexposure on 2024-04-07 10:15:25

    Another Excellent exposition! The Pope, the Mormons, JWs, and many other denominational leaders can be used as examples of those who stand in the place of God. The JWs are who we are most familiar because they've played such a large part in our lives. All of these men are power hungry control freaks who adore attention, and will have to answer for their deeds. The Gov Bod can be likened to modern day Pharisees. Mt.18.6... "Whoever stumbles a little one"... ...
    Thanks and support!

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