You are currently browsing the monthly archive for July 2011.

Although the name “Jehovah’s Witnesses” is a scriptural concept, are Christians to be witnesses for Jehovah or Jesus?

 There is not a single scripture that calls Christians witnesses of Jehovah. On the other hand Christians are commissioned to be “witnesses of Jesus” (Acts 1:8; Rev. 20:4) and “ambassadors of Christ” (2 Cor. 5:20). The commission given by Jesus was to be his witnesses by preaching the Gospel – Matt. 24:14.

 The Jews witnessed for Jehovah not because they preached God’s Word, but because God revealed His glory by the miraculous manner in which he dealt with them.

 In Isaiah, God tells Israel, “Ye are my witnesses.” (43 & 44). In these two chapters, Isaiah establishes five historic facts concerning who are “Witnesses” of Jehovah.

 The “Witnesses” of Jehovah…

 Were delivered from the land of Egypt (43:3)

Offered animal sacrifices to the Lord (43:23)

Transgressed the Law Covenant (43:24,25)

Are forgiven for the Lord’s sake (43:25)

Are being regathered from all over the world to the Holy Land (43:5,6)

 These five identifications are true of only the Jews! It is clear that the Jews, the “ancient people,” “my chosen” are the real “Witnesses” of Jehovah. – 44:7; 43:20

 Some conclude that the Jews have long forfeited this title, the last scriptural assertion concerning the “Witnesses” of Jehovah was a prophecy that is only now in the process of fulfillment. The Jews are being regathered from all over the world to the Land of Israel. Their regathering has been motivated by more than just religious fervor, the Bible reveals that after the Jews are regathered in their Land, then the Lord will bring them through experiences that will gradually increase their faith and enkindle a true religious vitality that will reach their “inward parts” and fit them for their special role in God’s Kingdom on earth (Isa. 2:1-4). 

The Jews are “Witnesses” of Jehovah from two standpoints. First, God has revealed His power and glory by the miraculous manner in which He has dealt with them (Isa. 43:9-12). God delivered them from Egypt, led them through the Red Sea, sustained them in the wilderness, led them through the River Jordan, gave them the land of Canaan and made them a nation. During their chastening and dispersion, the phenomenal preservation of the people of Israel over the centuries as a distinct and homogeneous people among nations is itself a miracle of history. They have left blood-stained footprints of martyrdom in every nation they have trod. Neither persecution, nor famine, nor any other force was able to cause them to be assimilated. However, after 2,000 years—contrary to every pattern of history—they are re-established in their homeland, an independent nation. Surely the Lord’s power and glory has been witnessed through this people!

 The second way they are “Witnesses” of Jehovah is how their history proves the validity of God’s Word-the Bible. Every detail of their history has been prophesied and fulfilled, or is in the process of fulfillment. Their original establishment as a nation, their destruction as a nation and dispersion as a people, their regathering, the circumstances of their regathering, their future role—all were prophesied in the Bible. All this detailed fulfillment is an extraordinary witness to the immutability of God’s Word. Therefore, these are the reasons why the Lord has said of the Jew, “YE ARE MY WITNESSES, SAITH JEHOVAH.”

 The JWs today, like other replacement theology believing Christians do not see any special future for the Jews. However, “from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Ro. 11:28,29). Since God promised that the Seed of Abraham would inherit the Land and bless all the families of the earth (Gen. 22:18,19; Jer. 32:41; Isa. 2:2,3) what right have Christians to annul this promise? These blessings were never forfeited. These promises are forever. – Amos 9:14,15 

If we say God has cancelled his promises to the Jews, what confidence can we have in His promises to Christians?

Advertisements

THE Bible tells us of three different paths a person may take, three ways in which he may go. Each leads to a different destination.

There is a broad way leading to destruction, a narrow way leading to life, and a highway of holiness. We read of these “ways” in Matthew and Isaiah:

“Wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat. Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life; and few there be that find it.”–Matthew 7:13,14

“And a highway shall be there, and a way; and it shall be called the way of holiness.”–Isaiah 35:8

Six thousand years ago in Eden, when Adam disobeyed God and was condemned to death, he started upon this downward road. After 930 years, Adam reached its end–destruction, death. All of Adam’s race were born upon this road leading to death and share in Adam’s sentence, “Thou shalt surely die.” (Genesis 2:17) As years and centuries have rolled on, the downward path has become more and more smoothly worn, causing the race to speed more rapidly to destruction; daily the way becomes more glazed and slippery with sin. Not only does the way grow more slippery, but mankind daily loses the power of resistance. Today’s average length of human life is only a small fraction of Adam’s. Men reach the end of the road– destruction–much quicker than the first man.

 Cannot one resist the downward, sinful tendency and, by determined effort, escape from this way leading to destruction? Some have tried.

 During the past six thousand years a comparatively few have tried to change their course and retrace their steps. Though their efforts have been commendable, they have not been successful. It is like a man swimming against a current too swift for him; he is carried downstream in spite of his best efforts. Sin and death have reigned relentlessly over mankind, and driven them down this broad road to destruction.

 If no one can escape this way of death by his best efforts, it would seem that the situation is hopeless; all must go to destruction. But this is not so because a new way has been opened, the “narrow way” that leads to life instead of death. This way has been open for nearly two thousand years, but comparatively few have found it. It is a very exclusive path because a person does not enter it based upon his own worthiness, but by special invitation. This is why it is described as “narrow” or limited, having a “strait” or difficult “gate” which few find and enter.

 We are not to think that all except the few who walk the “narrow way” are condemned to everlasting destruction. There is another “way” called “the way of holiness.” (Isaiah 35:8)

This is the  “highway,” an easier way that all the rest of mankind will eventually take. It also leads to life and will be open to all at a time still future.

 Let us consider the very special “narrow way” to which some are now invited, called “a new and living way.” (Hebrews 10:20) Although the “narrow way” and the “highway” both lead to life, the “narrow way” leads to a stupendously higher form of life than the “highway.” The invitation to walk in this way is the most wonderful gift ever offered to anyone. It is to those who are so walking, to the true Christian, that Peter refers when he says that there “are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world.” (2 Peter 1:4) Those who walk this “way” are promised the highest form of life, a spirit life, with immortal divine bodies of the same nature as their Lord. Such are described as those who “seek for glory, and honor, and immortality.” (Romans 2:7) How high an honor this is! We are told, “No man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God.” (Hebrews 5:4)

 Is an invitation to walk the way leading to this great reward given only to the wisest, the most important and high-ranking people of the world? Not at all. On the contrary, the apostle Paul tells us:

 “Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world, to confound the wise.”–1 Corinthians 1:26,27

Consideration is not given to race or nationality. Those who attain the divine nature are selected “out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.” (Revelation 5:9)

 The basis of any approach to life is Jesus Christ and this applies to the “narrow way.” Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6) When Adam disobeyed God and caused the whole race to enter the broad, downward road to destruction, God did not abandon mankind. Although he permitted evil conditions to prevail for a time to teach valuable lessons, he still loved his human creation. He loved mankind so much that he provided a redeemer from death.

 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”–John 3:16

 By God’s arrangement, Jesus came to earth as a man and gave his life as the ransom price for Adam and his race. This guarantees “that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.” (Acts 24:15)

 Those who walk the “narrow way” receive the merit of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice beforehand so they may be justified in God’s sight. They consecrate to God and become acceptable sacrifices themselves. These are said to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. As we read, “It is a faithful saying; For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him. If we suffer, we shall also reign with him.”–2 Timothy 2:11,12

 The promise to these is, “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10) When this special church class is complete, the merit of Jesus ransom sacrifice will be applied to all others. Then that third way, the wonderful “highway of holiness,” will be opened. (See Isaiah 35:8-10)

 What will that “highway” will be like? We read that “it shall be called the way of holiness.” It is a way that leads to righteousness. It is God’s kingdom under Christ, soon to be fully established on earth, that will lead the people to righteousness and human perfection.

Then it says, “The unclean shall not pass over it, but it shall be for those.” This means that it is the purpose of God’s kingdom to cleanse the unclean, to take away their sins. When the kingdom has done its work, there will be no more sin. No person who remains unclean will pass completely through that kingdom.

 Then it says, “The wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.” Under Christ’s benevolent government, the way to righteousness will be made so plain and simple that even those who are foolish and inclined to stray will make no mistake. “No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon.” We read that now “your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) In that kingdom this will no longer be the case. Satan will be restrained. His evil influence will not be felt on that “highway.” Neither will the “ravenous beasts” of tyranny, injustice, violence and oppression be found there. Instead there will be peace and tranquility, security and love.

 “But the redeemed shall walk there; and the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion, with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads.”

 The “ransomed” are those for whom Christ died, and Christ “tasted death for every man.” These are “the ransomed of the Lord” who shall return from the dead in a great resurrection. They will come to “Zion,” which means the heavenly kingdom that will then rule the world. What a time of singing and joy it will be! Families parted by death will be reunited; pain, sickness, sin and death will be no more; happiness will fill the earth. “They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away!”

 But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.”  – Prov. 4:18

 This text could hardly be referring to a steadily increasing light of truth all through the Gospel Age.

 In Jesus’ day it was already shining brightly: “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world, he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness.” – John 8:12

Soon after the apostles fell asleep, the truth became mixed with error in the great falling away. History shows that during the “Dark Ages” error held sway. Certainly the truth was not shining more brightly than in Jesus’ day.

“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.” –  2 Thess. 2:3

This text refers not to a continual changing of what constitutes the truth but to an increasing appreciation of the truth in our own individual lives as we study it and live by it. 

The text may also have reference to a clearer understanding of Bible prophecies as they are being fulfilled more completely before us.

 Restoration of Truth.

 Meat in due season was provided by means of a faithful and wise servant.

“And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season.” –  Luke 12:42

 The truth was restored at the Lord’s second presence.

“Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.” – Luke 12:43

 Brother Charles Taze Russell was the servant, or as pictured in Revelation, the special messenger to the seventh period of the church, just as other individuals such as Luther were used in former periods of the church’s history.

 “The seven stars are the angels (Greek AGGELOS, “messengers”) of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.” –

 The servant received all the basic doctrines of truth from the Lord, while former messengers received only certain phases of truth. Thus he would need no successors.

“He will make him ruler over all that he hath.” – Luke 12:44

 Both the faithful and wise servant and the evil servant are individuals, not organizations, since their work is in connection with fellow-servants, who also are individuals.

 “If that evil servant shall say in his heart, my lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to smite his fellowservants.” –  Matt. 24:46,49

 The “meat in due season” consisted of:

A restoration of the doctrines taught by Jesus and the apostles which had been contaminated as the church fell away. Jude 3 – Ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

An understanding of certain time features of God’s plan which were not to be revealed until then.

“Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end … None of he wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand.”  – Dan. 12:9, 10

 Doctrines are not to be continually changing.

 What was truth in 1916 is still truth; or else we would have to say that the “truth movement” was an “error movement” at one time. Once doctrine has been proved by the Word of God, it is truth and is not to be cast off a few years later.

1 Thess. 5:21 – Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

 Acts 2:42 – And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine.

 Eph. 4:14 – That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine.

Rom. 16:17 – Brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned.

 Heb. 13:9 – Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace.

Col. 1:21-23 – And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled … to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel.

Mal. 3:6 – For I am the Lord, I change not.

So-called “new light” has not clarified the truth.

It has merely resulted in going back to the old error of restricting the love and mercy of God

“The truth will set you free!” John 8:32

JESUS MADE a true statement in John 8:32 when he said, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Jesus said those words to the Jews who believed on him, but also in the hearing of the Scribes and Pharisees who wanted to kill him. The question then arises, how were those Jews who believed on him to be made free? Free from what? As they said, they were not in bondage to anyone. But we ask, were they really free?

 It seems quite clear that Jesus was referring to the traditions and teachings of the Pharisees. As he pointed out in the 23rd chapter of Matthew, though they claimed to sit in Moses’ seat, they did not follow the teachings of Moses, but bound up heavy loads on men. Claiming to sit in Moses’ seat, and that Abraham was their father, they took the position that they were the successors of Moses and Abraham by Jehovah’s arrangement. Therefore, whatever interpretation they put upon the law was to be accepted as though from God.

That position and attitude has prevailed these many years even to this day. It was shortly after the Apostles passed from the scene that the Catholic Church came into existence. They took that same position: that now they were the channel by which the great God Jehovah was dealing with his people. They claimed that Peter was the first Pope, that from that time all Popes were successors to Peter, and whatever the Catholic Church was to bind on earth was to be bound in heaven. If one were to sin against or disagree with them on spiritual matters, that one was considered sinning against God Many Protestant churches have made similar claims.

 A Channel of God?

Today we have yet another organization making the same claim, i.e., that they are the channel by which Jehovah God is now dealing with his people. That channel is what this organization likes to call “the faithful and discrete slave class” who in turn use the Watchtower Bible & Tract  Society to publish what it likes to call “the truth” or “newly revealed truth from Jehovah God.”

 That the Watchtower Society takes the position that it is used by Jehovah by and through this “faithful and discrete slave class” is well documented in its publications. It says this class is in fulfillment of Matt. 24:45-47, and that Jehovah God is now using them to disseminate Bible truths by and through the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society and by the use of the Watchtower magazine. (See The Watchtower, 1963, page 338, par. 17).

 The Watchtower, 1958, pages 485-488, under the heading “The Watchtower Society in God’s Purpose,” endeavors to relate the “Society” with Jehovah’s channel of communication, starting with Abel down through the Apostles and then to our day culminating with the “Society.” Even stronger words are used in The Watchtower, 1952, page 79, par. 10, in which it states “… God interprets and teaches, through Christ the chief servant, who in turn uses the discrete slave as the visible channel…” meaning of course the “Society.” On that same page in par. 11, it further states “. . . The truths we publish are the ones provided through the discrete slave class or organization …”

 Stronger yet, is a statement made in The Watchtower, 1965, page 351, in answer to a “Question from readers” which asks the question, “How can it be said that God’s visible organization was made strictly Theocratic in structure by 1938?…” In summary, their answer is that by 1932 The Watchtower Society began to be controlled by God or was God ruled and by 1938 was fully God ruled or fully Theocratic.

 By their own claim, all scriptural explanation comes from Jehovah God and is published in The Watchtower. Now if this be true, then there will be no contradiction or changing of explanation from one Watchtower to another. Stated another way, what was published as truth since 1938 must still be truth today. (Mal. 3:6)

 An Unchanging Organization?

With this thought in mind, let us go on to see if the facts support their contention. Is the Watchtower Society (Channel) indeed as unchanging as the God it claims to represent? In the book entitled “Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Divine Purpose,” written in dialogue fashion, on page 14, mention is made that for the first time, in 1929, the Watchtower made known to their people the true meaning of Rom. 13:1-7; namely that Paul in this scripture was not referring to the governments of this world, but was referring to Jehovah God and Christ Jesus.

And in the book “Let God Be Tine” written in 1952, published by the Watch Tower Society, we read on page 248, referring to Rom. 13:1-7: “The higher powers there mentioned are the principal ruling factors of God’s congregation, namely, the invisible governing body of God’s kingdom …”

Again, in The Watchtower, 1952, page 375, par. 6, we read: “The Superior authorities Paul is speaking of could not refer to the political powers of Caesar governments. In the scriptures at Rev. 13:2. NW, the Bible specifically states that Satan is the one who has empowered and authorized the old world Caesars. Hence the superior authorities in Rom. 13 which God commissions include only the theocratic ruling authorities and exclude Caesar’s authorities. . .”

 But now note what was written in The Watchtower, 1962, page 683, par. 7, discussing this same subject. “…Paul is telling God’s holy ones how to conduct themselves among men outside ‘the Christian congregation, ‘all men’ including even an enemy who does evil to Christians, hence an individual found outside the congregation, not inside, then, right afterwards, Paul passes on to his discussion of the ‘Superior Authorities’ and thus has his sights focused on, not what is inside the congregation, but what is outside it. So the ‘Superior Authorities’ have their setting logically in the world outside the congregation … *”

 Not Founded By Pastor C. T. Russell

Note the asterisk at the end of the quote, which refers to a footnote at the bottom of the page. That footnote refers to “The Divine Plan of the Ages” a book written in 1886 by the founder of the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, Charles Taze Russell. The reference is to page 266 which gives in effect the same explanation now given by The Watchtower of 1962 on Rom. 13:1-7.

We note here, that the claim is absolutely untrue Jehovah’s Witnesses were founded by C. T. Russell. He died in 1916. Jehovah’s Witnesses, per se, were founded in 1931 by none other than J. F. Rutherford who radically changed name and doctrine beyond recognition and substituted instead his own theology. That theology has become the very basis of the Witnesses’ teaching today. A greater detail as to the many doctrinal changes will follow in our Part Two – A Refutation of Selected Doctrines of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

 For decades Charles Taze Russell’s legacy has been associated with Jehovah’s Witnesses in published accounts that inaccurately list him as their founder. In 1997, Professor David S. Doran corrected the matter by writing the editor of The Cambridge Biographical Encyclopedia and delivering a more accurate account of Brother Charles Taze Russell’s life. Through Professor Doran’s efforts, the second edition presenting the truth was published in 1998 and reflects these changes. We quote as follows:  

“Russell, Charles Taze , known as Pastor Russell (1852-1916). Religious leader, founder of what is commonly called the “Bible Student Movement,” born in Pittsburgh, PA. As a Congregationalist, he struggled with the concept of eternal torment, his subsequent studies leading him to conclude that the Biblical hell is oblivion, that the millennium began in 1874, and that a period of social and political upheaval would lead to a peaceable kingdom on earth. After his death, many followers abandoned his Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society (1879), which under the leadership of Joseph Rutherford moved in other directions and ultimately — became known as Jehovah’s Witnesses (1931).” — Bible Students Newsletter, p. 7, Spring, 1999

 Watchtower Structure Changes

“A press release issued Tuesday (October 14, 2000) by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania Inc., as the Witnesses are officially called, talked about “revisions” in legal structure and said that they were dictated by the need to keep pace with growth.” “Some ‘revisions.’ The president resigned, the ruling Governing Body was stripped of its legal power, and three new corporations were set up to run the society’s U.S. operations. Milton Henschel, 80, the fifth president, stepped down after eight years, along with six other directors of the Watchtower Society. He remains a member of the Governing Body, which had run the 5.9- million member society with an absolutist hand.”

 “The Governing Body was not abolished, but under the new setup, it will oversee only religious affairs, among them Bible doctrine, evangelization and pastoral care. Henschel’s successor as chief legal officer is Don Adams, 75, a longtime insider who has spent 54 years at the world headquarters in Brooklyn Heights.”

 “But, even more significant than the change at the top was the corporate realignment, with three new not-for-profits formed to assume control of U.S. legal and administrative operations. One will oversee construction of houses of worship and technical assistance. Another will supervise personnel. A third will direct a wide range of congregational services. “I don’t believe Witnesses look to any one person now as their leader,” Pellechia said.”  From: News and Views | City Beat | Saturday, October 14, 2000

What would one suppose the reason for this momentous change might be? Could it be that they are being accused of having a central head and that they don’t wish to be identified in this way? After all, the accusation was made by the Society in the past that Bible Students were following after a man, Charles Taze Russell who dressed in haberdasher’s fashions and presented out-of-date teachings from the Bible, whereas they continued to progress in “New light?” They have restructured with multitudinous corporations and have continued their “Governing Body,” that makes all the rulings in matters of faith directly under Christ and by His Spirit. How Can this be? As you will see in the succeeding pages, there have been many changes backward and forward on the doctrines of the Watchtower as published in its pages.

 The above changes were not subject to the vote of the congregations. They were just told that this is the way it is now going to be. There will be no central head. There will only be the governing body who will make all decisions in religious matters. The Watchtower organization rules with absolutist power – “an absolutist hand” – and this has not changed. You knew where things were coming from with one at the top; but with this change you are left in the dark as to who made the ruling or changes. This is not God’s way. His way is clearly outlined in His Word – it is the rule of the congregation – Laodicea. (Rev. 3:14-22)  

The Elders, and not autocrats, are chosen by the Congregations after a democratic fashion according to their recognized Spirituality and submission to righteous requirements. (1Timothy 3:1-13) They are not “appointed in every place” except to begin the ecclesia arrangement which was new at that time and the Apostles were specially guided by the Holy Spirit. They were the ones upon whom the tongues of fire appeared. In our modern day, it becomes an excuse for the Society’s “flock” to render absolute control and obedience to an arranged program adopted by the leadership. You will not have any dissenters; for if they would dare to differ a trial would be called for, they would be disfelowshipped and would be looking in from the outside. This is very wrong and represents powerful control or domination. It is the same method as that adopted by the Roman Catholic Church.

 If the “Channel” became cleansed in and after 1919, and was completely cleansed by 1938, and as stated in the Watchtower 1959, page 601, the elective Elders before that time were not mature or theocratic. Why does that channel now go back to the explanation given in 1886? What happened to that “Channel,” or its “governing body” from 1919 or 1938 to 1962? Had it or they been tuned to the wrong station?