Is Leaving Really the Only Option?


Part Three: How Can This Happen If It’s Really Jehovah’s Organization?

 

When the nation of Israel gathered before Mount Sinai to receive Jehovah’s laws and they heard the thunders and saw the blinding lightning bursting from the mountain, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that they were gathered before a great and powerful God. So awestruck and overcome were they that they feared if Jehovah continued to speak to them, they would perish! (Exodus 19:20-25; 20:18-21) According to the account, they didn’t even need to be standing next to where Jehovah God was to be convinced that He was there. And after giving the nation of Israel His law, there was no doubt in the minds and hearts of anyone there on that day that Jehovah was acting in a wonderful way toward them.

            With one voice, they assented to abide by Jehovah’s ways. (Exodus 24:7)

And with that, they had become Jehovah’s people. The covenant was in place.

Sadly, in spite of such overwhelming evidence that they themselves had witnessed, it was just after they had become Jehovah’s people—his organization—that they turned to making idols, enraging Jehovah God, who had called Moses up into the mountain to formally receive His laws.

What a tragic act of faithlessness on the part of those who had the privilege of actually coming near to the manifested presence of Jehovah God!

Later generations would not be so privileged, instead learning through the passing on of oral recollections how it was that after Israel’s being led up out of Egypt, Jehovah had made Israel His own special property out of all the nations on the face of the earth. While there would be occasions when Israel understood that Jehovah was either blessing them as a nation, or disciplining them as the need arose, never again would there be such a convincing display of Jehovah’s awe-inspiring presence. The generations to follow would need to take it on the word of the older ones who were there, accept it on faith that Israel was Jehovah’s covenanted nation.

With each successive generation, the number of those who personally witnessed the events at Mount Sinai grew fewer. While there came to be a written account, nothing could truly replace the great-grandfather who sat with the younger children around the fire at night, relating the events as he had personally seen them. Indeed, all who had personal recollection of that time eventually passed from the earthly scene. Left behind were the historical writings.

While the idea that they were Jehovah’s special property remained a part of Israel’s culture, the full depth of that significance was relegated to views of entitlement on the part of successive generations. Jehovah dealt with Israel’s waywardness by allowing His people to be conquered by enemy nations, so that they might be helped to understand and appreciate that He would not turn a “blind eye” to badness, even when it was on the part of His own chosen people. Still, neither did He leave them without hope: He had promised a Messiah, who arrived on the earthly scene as Jesus. In his due time, Jesus would first be rejected by his own people, cast off as a would-be Messiah, and finally executed alongside thieves.

But before he was put to death, Jesus would establish the foundation for a new nation in what would prove to be the final step in Jehovah’s undeservedly kind plan to redeem humankind from Sin. This new nation would be one made of followers of Jesus, humans who would set aside their selfish desires and aspirations and live their lives towards God, following the steps of Christ loyally, and exercising faith in the ransom sacrifice that our Grand Creator set before humankind.

But, like before, with the passing of time the day would come when all those who had personally lived when Jesus walked the earth—had actually heard him preaching about Jehovah’s love for humankind, had witnessed the miracles Jesus performed, and had even stood near as he underwent the inglorious death by impalement—would themselves die, once again leaving behind only a written record.

Those who would become Christians after those days would need to place faith in the accuracy of the written record, and trust that it all happened as recorded.

But the world would not end within the century following Jesus’ death, or even two centuries beyond the death of the last of the eyewitnesses of the events in the early establishment of Christianity.

Indeed, we now find ourselves nearly two thousand years after the events we read about in the pages of the Bible, in the quiet comfort of our home, at a time when even persecution against Christians is, for the most part, a thing of the past. And yet isn’t it amazing that we place our entire faith towards those events, and endeavor to shape our very lives, thinking and habits in relation to that faith.

The Bible that millions of people keep on a bookshelf gathering dust isn’t just paper or parchment of ink, bound with leather: it is a living history of blood, sweat and tears, not only of Israel but also a new nation: Christianity. It is described as the Living Word of God (Hebrews 4:12), a personal letter preserved for those who would find themselves living in the last days of a system of things which is to be done away with (Revelation 1:1; 2 Timothy 3:16-17), a guide for those who would cling to it rather than seek out men who would tell them what the Bible says. (2 Timothy 4:3-5)

Where millions of self-proclaimed “Christians” today accept most of their knowledge concerning what God’s Word says from ministers, pastors, bishops, popes, elders and other religious leaders rather than by looking for themselves and requesting that our Grand Creator open one’s eyes of understanding—there once lived thousands who risked death by the most horrible of means just to possess a few pages of the Bible, to read His Words with their own eyes. Others would risk excommunication or even death in their efforts to translate the Bible so that the common man, woman or child could understand God’s letter to humankind.

Indeed, the Bible, incredible as it may sound to those of us who take God’s Word very seriously, has often been described as the least-read bestselling book of all time. And the statistics are there to back it up! (Endnote #1)

 

 

For those who have availed themselves of this precious provision from our Grand Creator, however, the last thing to be expected is to face faith-challenging issues arising from the convictions we hold or once held as having foundation in God’s Word.

            Most of us, after coming to learn a certain number of things about the Bible, have adjoined ourselves to others who share our faith and with whom we have a common set of beliefs. Those reading this article, for example, found themselves starting to attend Kingdom Halls and eventually became baptized members of the religion known worldwide as “Jehovah’s Witnesses.” (EndNote #2)

            We did this, because at some point we became convinced that it was what Jehovah wanted us to do. Similarly, at some point, we became convinced that “Jehovah’s Witnesses” are Jehovah’s “visible organization.”

And we became convinced without ear-deafening thunder and eye-blinding lightning as we stood shuddering before Mount Sinai.

Instead, it was through someone taking the time to study with us, our attending meetings at the Kingdom Hall which provided us with hands-on experience on how “Jehovah’s Witnesses” conduct themselves, and an allowing of ourselves to become convinced that of all the other religions with which we had become familiar through the years, “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” were the ones who “have the Truth.” How these various elements worked together to bring us to a single conclusion is as varied as our own private experiences; but we have to be honest with ourselves and say that at some point, we were convinced enough to get baptized into membership with “Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

Let’s, for the next few moments, use an illustration many of us are familiar with: marriage.

Marriage is a lifetime commitment. One does not, except under the most unusual of circumstances, get married without being at least reasonably certain that it will last forever?

When a person dedicates themselves to Jehovah God, they are taking a vow of commitment, one that will last them a lifetime (and, prospectively beyond). Just as there is a wedding ceremony between the betrothed man and woman, a baptism is the wedding ceremony between the worshiper and the Grand Creator

However, after the “honeymoon” is over, and the day-to-day tedium sets in, there begins to grow a familiarity with the faults and quirks of our new “family,” those of “like-faith” with whom we have taken up association with. The “cracks” begin to show, do they not?

Then, of course, there is the “mother-in-law,” which, for the sake of our illustration, is the Society—occasionally identified with the Watchtower “organization.” (“Mother,” according to some who have been in the organization for decades.) We quickly come to realize that what “Mother” says, we should be ready to do.

Still, as these cracks begin to present themselves, as “Mother” starts to seem a little too demanding, a little too controlling, a little too overbearing, we start looking at our “marriage” with different eyes. We may start asking ourselves how all of this can be happening if this really is Jehovah’s “visible” organization.

Some try to reason that we’re not perfect, and so those who make up the organization do occasionally make mistakes—but the organization itself is perfect, because it is Jehovah’s. The onus is on us to keep pace with that organization, however, as evidenced by the following statements published in our flagship publication, The Watchtower:

 

Jehovah’s visible organization can use you, but can get along without you too. But you cannot get along without it. Fruitless ones are eventually pruned off and never missed as new ones are grafted in. Pruned-off branches soon wither and die, being cut off from the circulating, life-giving sap. Likewise, if a hand or foot is cut from the human body the severed member perishes, or if it is kept inactive in a cramped position it goes to sleep, gets numb, loses its ability to move. The blood in which is the life fails to circulate to those parts, fails to bring in new food supplies and carry off waste matter. So it is with Jehovah’s visible organization. All must associate together, get the life-giving spiritual food that God circulates to his people through the organization, get the new truths that take away old ideas and the admonition that keeps down queer personal ideas, all of which keeps us fresh and strong and active, seeing eye to eye and fighting shoulder to shoulder. Don’t become a withered branch or a paralyzed foot. Don’t amputate yourself from the organization and commit spiritual suicide.—John 15:1-8. (Watchtower, January 15, 1950, p. 26)

 

What a contrast to the example that Jesus gave:

 

“What do YOU think? If a certain man comes to have a hundred sheep and one of them gets strayed, will he not leave the ninety-nine upon the mountains and set out on a search for the one that is straying? 13 And if he happens to find it, I certainly tell YOU, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that have not strayed. 14 Likewise it is not a desirable thing with my Father who is in heaven for one of these little ones to perish.—Matthew 18:12-14 (NWT)

 

In pointing out the vitality of making sure to take in everything published by the Society in order to keep pace with “God’s visible organization,” the following was published as an admonition to Witnesses everywhere:

 

Similarly, to build and maintain a close relationship with Jehovah as his fellow workers, we must take God’s Word into our heart. (1 Corinthians 3:9) Keeping pace with God’s visible organization in this respect requires that we keep up with the flow of spiritual food as it is supplied [by the Society] at the proper time. (Matthew 24:45-47) The “pure language” is constantly expanding. (Zephaniah 3:9) Only if we are up-to-date [with the Society’s publications] will we really be able to respond obediently to the direction of the Chariot Rider.

14 To that end, we need a good routine of personal prayer, private study, and participation in the holy ministry of the good news. (Romans 15:16) Recall Ezekiel’s example in eating the roll containing God’s message. Ezekiel consumed the entire roll, not part of it. He did not pick and choose morsels that might have been more to his personal taste. Similarly, our personal study of the Bible and Christian publications [the Society’s literature] should be regulated to keep pace with the flow of spiritual food, and we should partake of all that is put on the spiritual table, including deeper truths. (Watchtower, March 15, 1991, p. 16) (Text within brackets is included for clarification for the reader, and does not appear in the original text.)

 

This, of course, brings us to the matter addressed in the previous article: that the individual Witness is not to determine for themselves what is acceptable and true according to their own Bible-trained conscience, (2 Corinthians 13:5) but instead is to rely upon what has been deemed acceptable and true according to the Society. However, prior to one being baptized as one of “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” the individual is invited to critically examine the teachings, not only those offered to them by the Witness who is studying with them—but also those that the individual may be familiar with from another church or religion with which they may be associated. It is this double-standard which creates so many problems for Witnesses later on who, through no fault of their own, suddenly become aware of certain problems within the Watchtower organization, especially in light of such remarks as “[when we] have once established…” (See Part 2 of this series for this and related statements from the Society) which leave us wondering how things have gone so wrong if this is really Jehovah’s organization.

            Overly-simplistic responses such as “you need to study more,” or “you need to get out in service more,” or even “you are just picking words apart; what you’re worrying over isn’t as big an issue as you think,” are insufficient. If we study more, we will just become more aware of problems and faults in our teachings. If we get out in service more, we will be left feeling hypocritical for preaching a message which we do not entirely agree with and feel accountable to Jehovah God for the words that come from our lips. And if we were “picking words apart,” then God’s Truth would hold up to such scrutiny, would it not? Similarly, what may seem like an “insignificant” issue to someone else can truly be stumbling to another, and to (write off) things in such a manner is harsh and uncaring, regardless of intent. It might even prove to be the final straw for the Witness who is trying to understand what is happening, and why it is happening. Sadly, in nearly every case, the individual Witness is told that the problem is with them, and not with the organization.

            Indeed, for those who cannot find inner peace from such (canned) responses, we keep hoping for something more tangible and scripturally-based in regards to the flawed policies, enforced rules of mere men under the guise of “theocracy,” the congregational politics, the sheltering of wrongdoers, such as molesters, and the imposition of views of others just for the sake of appearing unified in the outside world’s eyes. We request explanation for how these things can and are happening in an organization that proclaims itself to be directed by Jehovah’s spirit. We request an accounting for teachings that change only when the Society sees fit to change them, under the guise that Jehovah has provided “his people” with increased light in a particular understanding. (This last suggestion causes some to wonder if Jehovah has a “fax line,” if sarcasm can be overlooked, where He faxes changed understandings to the Society which they then enact.)

The reality, on the other hand, is starkly different from what is portrayed. For one, scriptural understandings are not arrived at by Jehovah’s inspiring the Society. The Society has, on numerous occasions, admitted as much. And as pointed out in Part 2 of this series, even though we are told that the Society is not to be viewed as inspired, the teachings are to be viewed as inspired—as having come from Jehovah himself, even if those teachings will likely change in the future because they were flatly wrong. The writer notes this because any of “Jehovah’s Witnesses” who takes issue with a given understanding and tries to present an alternative but equally supportable (scriptural) view is immediately viewed as promoting one’s own ideas—even though the Society will not outright say that their understanding is anymore inspired than that of the Witness offering another possible understanding. It is a matter of record that “Jehovah’s Witnesses” are only to promote the views of the Society when it comes to Bible teachings. Anyone that counters that will eventually be viewed as an apostate and a sectarian and removed from the organization.

And even if, one week from today, that teaching is verified as being wrong, the Witness who was removed from the congregation will still be viewed as apostate by every other Witness in the organization. Why? Because they allegedly “ran ahead” of Jehovah’s “arrangement,” as if such a thing is even possible for a mere human to do. The reasoning extended to this writer on various occasions is that it wasn’t Jehovah’s time to reveal such an understanding to the organization; as if this can account for the Witness that was removed to know something Jehovah’s “visible organization” or His “faithful and discreet slave” did not know. Since when, this writer asks, does Jehovah reveal a matter to one of His enemies or to apostates before He has done so to His own servants? (Amos 3:7)

Which brings us back to the question at hand: How can this happen if it’s really Jehovah’s organization?

 

 

In order to answer the question, we must examine a few relevant facts surround the issue. First, we can confirm from the Bible that Israel was selected to be Jehovah’s “special property” out of the nations in existence in those days. We can also confirm that Israel itself recognized that Jehovah was dealing with them in a marvelous, awe-inspiring way. Later, as Israel would apostasize repeatedly, Jehovah would send His prophets to the nation, to warn them that they needed to repent and turn around from their wayward course. If they listened, all was good; if they did not heed the warning, they were overtaken by various world powers or otherwise punished for their acts of faithlessness and apostasy.

            Today, we can read about those events and know that Israel was Jehovah’s “visible” organization. But we know and are convinced through the benefit of hindsight.

            We know, too, that Jehovah placed Israel in a period of judicial estrangement after it rejected Jesus as the Promised Messiah, and that Israel would not enjoy the privilege of being at the forefront of Jehovah’s activities during that time. (Romans 11:1-36) But after that time of discipline was finished, they will be restored by Jehovah God.

            We also know that during Israel’s punishment, the Christian congregation was born and grew from just a few into thousands, and today, into millions.

            But does that mean that we can safely conclude that the Christian congregation has become Jehovah’s “visible” organization? And, can we establish that it is possible to narrow things down even further and boldly proclaim that “Jehovah’s Witnesses” are Jehovah’s “visible” organization, as the only group of true Christians? Finally, if we can establish that, how do we answer the question: How can these things happen if it’s really Jehovah’s organization?

 

 

To begin with, would it not be fair to say that Israel was personally selected by Jehovah God to be His “special property” out of all the nations of the earth? (Exodus 19:5-6)

            If we accept that much, then we can proceed to the next stage of our investigation: when did Israel cease to be Jehovah’s “visible” organization, His “special property”?

            Some might say that it was at the founding of Christianity, and cite as their evidence Jesus’ words at Luke 13:34-35, which reads:

 

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the killer of the prophets and stoner of those sent forth to her—how often I wanted to gather your children together in the manner that a hen gathers her brood of chicks under her wings, but YOU people did not want [it]! Look! YOUR house is abandoned to YOU. I tell YOU, YOU will by no means see me until YOU say, ‘Blessed is he that comes in Jehovah’s name.’” –Luke 13:34-35 (NWT)

 

            In addition, some might point out that the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. was clear evidence that Israel no longer served as Jehovah’s “visible” organization, as His “special property,” that Christianity now took its place.

            But is this an accurate conclusion for us to have? Remember, it was the apostle Paul who said that Israel was experiencing a “dulling of sensibilities.” And for how long? “…until the full number of people of the nations has come in.” (Romans 11:25, NWT) A few verses earlier, Paul relates some pertinent points we need to consider:

 

However, if some of the branches were broken off but you, although being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became a sharer of the olive’s root of fatness, 18 do not be exulting over the branches. If, though, you are exulting over them, it is not you that bear the root, but the root [bears] you. 19 You will say, then: “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.” 20 All right! For [their] lack of faith they were broken off, but you are standing by faith. Quit having lofty ideas, but be in fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. 22 See, therefore, God’s kindness and severity. Toward those who fell there is severity, but toward you there is God’s kindness, provided you remain in his kindness; otherwise, you also will be lopped off. 23 They also, if they do not remain in their lack of faith, will be grafted in; for God is able to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut out of the olive tree that is wild by nature and were grafted contrary to nature into the garden olive tree, how much rather will these who are natural be grafted into their own olive tree! –Romans 11:17-24 (NWT)

 

Paul speaks of Jews as having been “broken off,” that (others) could be grafted in. But rather than rejoicing over the branches, Christians needed to be grateful for the “root.” And, just as important to our discussion, Paul pointed out that if we, being from a wild olive tree can successfully be grafted into a well-tended garden olive tree, how much more readily those branches that were once broken off directly from that garden olive tree will be able to be grafted back in, and that they would be grafted back in, in due time and provided that they do not “remain in their lack of faith.” Really, the entire eleventh chapter of Romans has so much to say about Israel’s current state and future hope, that it would benefit each of us immensely to read it in the quiet part of our day and reflect on how our Grand Creator has a firm grasp of what is needed and how all of humankind will be able to enjoy a future of everlasting days.

            Still, the point being made here is that nowhere do we read that Israel ever ceased being Jehovah’s “special property,” or His “visible” organization. And since that is the case, then there is no scriptural evidence that “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” or any other religious group has supplanted Israel’s place. When Jesus uttered those words, he was pronouncing judgment on them which would bear itself out through a period of Israel being “cut-off,” having their senses “dulled” regarding the Messiah, until Christians were brought in.

            That brings us to our next point of discussion: If Israel remains Jehovah’s “special property,” and His “visible” organization, then what about Christians?

 

Again, we have to rely on the Bible to provide the answer, and be willing to accept that answer, whatever it turns out to be.

            At one point during his brief ministry, Jesus revealed that he had “other sheep” which would be gathered together:

 

“And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; those also I must bring, and they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock, one shepherd. –John 10:16 (NWT)

 

            This statement by Jesus has been used by the Society to support the teaching of two classes: the “heavenly” class and the “earthly” class. The expression “this fold” was, it is currently understood, initially a reference to the apostles, who would be the start of the “anointed” or “heavenly” class. The expression “other sheep” is currently understood to be a reference to, essentially, the “great crowd.” This latter group is not “anointed,” but does have the prospects of living forever on earth.

            Opponents declare that the Bible nowhere indicates that there are two hopes—one being heaven and the other being earth—to which Witnesses generally respond that our teaching doesn’t contradict the Bible, because there is one hope: life. Where one spends that life is secondary.

            But, returning to Jesus’ statement, is there evidence elsewhere in the scriptures that Jesus’ reference to “this fold” applies to a “heavenly” class of Christians, or even to the apostles? Knowing the answer to this would certainly bring us closer to finding out if the Christian organization has become Jehovah’s organization, or what role it does have.

            Before we more closely examine the context in which Jesus was speaking those words, let’s bring into the discussion something Jesus said on another occasion:

 

Leaving there, Jesus now withdrew into the parts of Tyre and Si´don. 22 And, look! a Phoe·ni´cian woman from those regions came out and cried aloud, saying: “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David. My daughter is badly demonized.” 23 But he did not say a word in answer to her. So his disciples came up and began to request him: “Send her away; because she keeps crying out after us.” 24 In answer he said: “I was not sent forth to any but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 When the woman came she began doing obeisance to him, saying: “Lord, help me!” 26 In answer he said: “It is not right to take the bread of the children and throw it to little dogs.” 27 She said: “Yes, Lord; but really the little dogs do eat of the crumbs falling from the table of their masters.” 28 Then Jesus said in reply to her: “O woman, great is your faith; let it happen to you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed from that hour on. –Matthew 15:21-28 (NWT)

 

On this touching occasion, Jesus confirmed that he had been “sent forth” specifically to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Sometime before this event, Jesus had spoken the following words to his disciples:

 

The names of the twelve apostles are these: First, Simon, the one called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the [son] of Zeb´e·dee and John his brother; 3 Philip and Bar·thol´o·mew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the [son] of Al·phae´us, and Thad·dae´us; 4 Simon the Ca·na·nae´an, and Judas Is·car´i·ot, who later betrayed him.

5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, giving them these orders: “Do not go off into the road of the nations, and do not enter into a Sa·mar´i·tan city; 6 but, instead, go continually to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 As YOU go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.’ 8 Cure sick people, raise up dead persons, make lepers clean, expel demons. YOU received free, give free. 9 Do not procure gold or silver or copper for YOUR girdle purses, 10 or a food pouch for the trip, or two undergarments, or sandals or a staff; for the worker deserves his food. –Matthew 10:2-10 (NWT)

 

Again, we find that Jesus was taking action towards Israel itself, not towards “the nations,” or non-Israelites. This would most certainly be in keeping with Jehovah making provision for the children of Abraham to have the first opportunity to know and accept the Messiah.

            Thus far, we have established with two scriptural “witnesses” (verses) that Jesus’ dealings were limited to Israel. This would verify the conclusion this writer arrives at that when Jesus said “this fold,” he was referring to Israel, and not to his disciples specifically. (EndNote #3)

            However, there is an additional piece of evidence which confirms this conclusion as being reasonably accurate. That evidence can be found a little further on in John’s account:

 

But a certain one of them, Ca´ia·phas, who was high priest that year, said to them: “YOU do not know anything at all, 50 and YOU do not reason out that it is to YOUR benefit for one man to die in behalf of the people and not for the whole nation to be destroyed.” 51 This, though, he did not say of his own originality; but because he was high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was destined to die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but in order that the children of God who are scattered about he might also gather together in one. 53 Therefore from that day on they took counsel to kill him. –John 11:49-53 (NWT)

 

            This passage is intriguing, because it offers us a parallel of what Jesus had earlier spoken to the Pharisees on the occasion where he spoke of having “other sheep, which are not of this fold.” (John 10:16) Notice the wording of the high priest’s prophecy, in comparison to Jesus’ own words to the Pharisees:

 

Caiaphas’ prophecy

Jesus’ words

…he prophesied that Jesus was destined to die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but in order that the children of God who are scattered about he might also gather together in one.

“And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; those also I must bring, and they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock, one shepherd.

 

            It is outside the scope of this paper to discuss the role Christ is that have as the “door” of the sheep, the means by which humankind will be restored to our former relationship with Jehovah God, but John 10:1-15 goes far in explaining it. This writer highly recommends that the reader take the time to reflect on what is said there. In brief, Jesus is the only means by which we will be restored in our relationship with our Grand Creator. Israel rejected Jesus as that means, and will remain “cut-off” and blinded to his identity until such time as Jehovah again extends to them the opportunity to recognize Jesus as their king, which will be after “the full number of the people of the nations has come in.” (Matthew 23:39; Romans 11:25b-26, 31)

            When Jesus said that he had “other sheep, which are not of this fold,” which he would also bring, he was making reference to those outside of Israel. This is in agreement with John 3:16 and Acts 10:34-35.

But, again, there is no scriptural evidence that these “other sheep” would replace Israel as Jehovah’s “special property.” Jesus referred to them as “not of this fold” (meaning the “fold” of Israel), but that they would become “one flock” under “one shepherd” as he gathered them in from among the nations. This is confirmed by Caiaphas’ prophecy while high priest: “…in order that the children of God who are scattered about he might also gather together into one (flock).”

Following Jesus’ resurrection, there was a heart-touching account of Jesus’ conversation with Peter, where Jesus told Peter to “feed” his sheep. (John 21:15-17) Peter evidently understood what Jesus meant by “feeding” the sheep, but it would not be until mere moments before the outpouring of Jehovah’s holy spirit upon those gathered when Peter would be inspired to offer more insight into the full extent of that commission. In the account of Pentecost 33C.E., we read:

 

At this Peter opened his mouth and said: “For a certainty I perceive that God is not partial, 35 but in every nation the man that fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him. 36 He sent out the word to the sons of Israel to declare to them the good news of peace through Jesus Christ: this One is Lord of all [others]. –Acts 10:34-36 (NWT)

 

            Here, we see the first hint that the gathering of the “other sheep” which Jesus said would be gathered in to become a flock not of the same “fold” as Israel would consist of those besides Jews. Later, when Peter went to Cornelius, it became clear that the Truth was being offered to Gentiles.

            Who is the “shepherd” of this growing flock? Jesus, of course, as confirmed by the apostle Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians:

 

Be in subjection to one another in fear of Christ. 22 Let wives be in subjection to their husbands as to the Lord, 23 because a husband is head of his wife as the Christ also is head of the congregation, he being a savior of [this] body. –Ephesians 5:21-23 (NWT)

 

            Paul again confirms this in another letter:

 

…and he is the head of the body, the congregation. –Colossians 1:18a (NWT)

 

            We have reason to conclude, then, that Jesus spoke true that there would come to be “one flock,” (Christians), “one shepherd,” (Jesus). However, where does this leave Israel?

            As earlier pointed out using scriptural evidence, Israel has nowhere been shown to cease being Jehovah’s “visible” organization. That means that Christians cannot be identified as “Jehovah’s visible organization,” and similarly, “Jehovah’s Witnesses” cannot claim to be “Jehovah’s visible organization.”

But if that is the case, then whose organization are Christians? The answer has already been given: Christians are Jesus’ organization. At some point in the future, Israel will be “grafted” into Christianity, too. (See also John 15:1)

Finally, when all enemies are destroyed under Christ’s Messianic Kingdom, Jesus will then present his Christian nation to his Father, after which we will become Jehovah’s “visible” organization. (1 Corinthians 15:24, 28) We will finally and completely be reconciled with our Grand Creator.

           

Clearly then, we can become aware of the cracks in the façade presented to the world by “Jehovah’s Witnesses” for the very reason that we really aren’t Jehovah’s organization…at least not yet. Christians belong to the Christ, Jesus. But just because we belong to Jesus, as the “head” over the congregation, does not mean that we have been restored to perfection, either. We obviously have not arrived at the time when the “causes for stumbling” have been removed, (Matthew 13:41) nor has that which is partial been replaced by full understanding. (1 Corinthians 13:9-10, 12)

While it can reasonably be said that there is a certain amount of “good” in all Christianity’s branches, some appeal to us because they seem to have more “truth” than others. Even so, no Christian religion can lay claim to having all of the Truth without being less than honest. Our understanding of the Bible will change as the outworking of prophecy continues to take place.

When it comes to fundamental teachings of the Bible, such as the condition of the dead, whether Jesus is divine, and what religious leaders tell us we must do in order to “be saved,” the lines have obviously been drawn in the world of Christianity. Only a few ever cross those lines, however, preferring to stay within the comfortable region of who has the most convincing arguments. But, as this article started out, this is the failing of the majority of those who would claim to be Christian: they allow other humans to think for them, to reason for them, to relate to them what God’s Word says. And as long as self-proclaimed Christians continue to engage in this faithless means of worship, religious organizations and individuals will dominate fellow humans to their injury. (Ecclesiastes 8:9; Matthew 20:25-27; Luke 22:25-26) Religious corporations will continue to uphold the legitimacy of “organization,” as well as promote the needs of the “organization” over the needs of the “individual.”

It is this writer’s personal observation that “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” as a body of Christians, does have a great deal of accurate fundamental understanding of the Bible. However, that is unfortunately offset by the incorporation of an equal number (some would say far more) policies, practices, and teachings which diminish the correct fundamental teachings, some of which are being discussed in this series of articles or have been discussed in other articles.

Saying that Jehovah God allows certain things to go on and to be perpetuated in our organization because we are free moral agents is a naïve excuse, because Jehovah likewise allows wickedness to continue for the present time. It also belies our claim to be led directly by Jehovah’s spirit (“We are a theocratic organization”), or that Jehovah is the one who leads us to the Bible understandings that we have embedded in our body of beliefs. When we make this claim, and outsiders point to a teaching which changed diametrically from our original position on a scripture, how could we insist that Jehovah led us to the original understanding in the first place? And when outsiders can point to a second change in our position on a scripture, which returns to the original view, how can we claim that Jehovah led us to that second understanding and then changed His mind?

These are questions which are impossible for Witnesses to answer in a way that entirely satisfies many of us who have become aware of the discrepancy. And yet we are expected to take what the Society says on faith as being accurate—not to question or critically examine it to make sure it is true? (1 Thessalonians 5:21) We are told that Jehovah will clarify matters in His own time, and that if the Society has erred in their conclusion of a scriptural understanding, Jehovah will correct them, but that it is not our “place” to correct the “faithful and discreet slave.” How many times has the reader heard this statement? The writer of this article has himself lost count how many times he has been told this. (Endnote #4)

            In any case, the conclusion which we arrive at is that “Jehovah’s Witnesses” are not Jehovah’s organization, and that this is why these things being discussed throughout this series of articles is able to take place in our organization. If it was Jehovah’s organization, these things would not be taking place… but Christians will not become Jehovah’s organization until we have been restored to perfection. In the meantime, we belong to the Christ, Jesus.

            Does the fact that “Jehovah’s Witnesses” really aren’t Jehovah’s organization mean we should leave, though? Would abandoning the organization result in our finding a better-suited one? After all, surely there are other religions which have far less organizationally-related problems than “Jehovah’s Witnesses” do, right? As a matter of fact, isn’t it true that once we have determined that the religion we are currently associated with has unscriptural policies, practices, or teachings, it would be an act of serious disloyalty to Christ if we remain with it?

            The next part in this series of articles will begin to examine those very questions.

Part 4: Is It Really About "Loyalty"? And To Whom? 

 


EndNotes:

 

1.                  http://www.baptiststandard.com/2000/12_4/pages/biblereading.html

 

also: http://www.beliefnet.com/frameset.asp?pageLoc=/story/57/story_5746_1.html&boardID=8469

 

2.                  Today, the legal name of “Jehovah’s Witnesses” is “Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses,” and we operate under the corporate name “Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.” Most people who are non-Witnesses use abbreviated terms, such as “the Jehovah’s Witnesses,” “JW’s,” “J-Dubs,” “Russellites,” “Watchtowerites,” and similar expressions.

 

3.                  At Luke 12:32, Jesus refers to his disciples using the expression “little flock.” However, while the Society may try to fit this expression with the “not of this fold,” Jesus is speaking to another matter entirely, because he talks about how the disciples will be given a kingdom. It is outside the scope of this article to elaborate further on the differences, but I would encourage the reader to spend time researching who, precisely, will reign alongside Christ, and who will reign under Christ, over the earth itself as kings and priests. There definitely appears to be a difference between them.

 

4.                  Where the Bible counsels us to “try to readjust” a brother who “takes some false step,” the Society says this is limited to those “appointed in the congregation,” by wording the verse with “who have spiritual qualifications,” (Galatians 6:1, NWT) while most Bible translations use the expression “you who are spiritual.” (Galatians 6:1, ASV, DBY, ESV, KJV, NAB, NAS, NIB, NJB, et. al.) It is outside the scope of this article to spend time in relating what the Society calls “spiritual qualifications,” but the overwhelming number of Bibles which translate the only qualification required to “readjust” someone as being “spiritual,” seems to be sufficient evidence that since we are all brothers under Christ, there is no organizational position which prevents someone from being “above” the counsel of another. (Compare 1 Corinthians 11:3) However, if a Witness who does not hold a position in the congregation attempts to “readjust” another Witness who does hold a position in the congregation, the Witness offering readjustment will be told that they are usurping authority in most instances. Similarly, if a Witness points out that the Society has erred in their understanding of a Bible teaching, perhaps to an elder or Circuit Overseer, that Witness is accused of thinking more of their own “opinion” than they ought. Or, they are accused of “thinking they know more than the ‘faithful and discreet slave.” Or “having a problem with authority.” Or they are accused of coming under the delusion that they have been appointed as “the faithful and discreet slave.” In any case, the stark impression is given that the “faithful and discreet slave” is above correction by anyone except Jehovah God, a very dangerous reasoning to have.



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