Review of the Watchtower – 15.9.-15.11.2003

MY FRIEND JEHOVAH

On p.16 of The Watchtower, 15 September, 2003, speaking of Abraham being called the friend of God, the writer states,

“Our incessant prayers help us have a close relationship with Jehovah.”

Thisstruck me as the line that the Society often takes; it is the outward things that bring us close to God. Is this statement they make true? Will my praying, alone, bring me close to Jehovah?

I think the Biblical teaching is very clear – Jehovah will not regard us as a friend just because we ask Him for things. Being called a friend came out of the Covenant that God made with Him. Romans 4 seeks to explain this to us. It was not the works that made Abraham God’s friend but that he understood what it meant to be, “justified by faith”. This is something that no man can do whatever group they join; how many doors they call on; or how many prayers they pray.

First, God pronounces as righteous through the finished work of Jesus Christ and then we work out our salvation from there. Seeking to work out our salvation, without knowing our justification may mean we will do many good works but it will not mean that we have a relationship with Jehovah.

Once again the works of the organisation are put forward as a means of having a relationship with God and the blood of Jesus Christ is sidelined, except for a few of the 144,000 left on earth.

HANDLING THE WORD

Pages 8-12 of The Watchtower, 15 November, 2003 carried an article entitled, “Handling God’s Word Aright”. The basis, explained in the opening paragraphs, is that we need the right tools and know how to use them. From here they make a number of points about the examples we have in Scripture and how we need to be rooted in God’s Word. We will look at each point made under their main paragraph headings.

“Paul – A Zealous Kingdom Publisher” – pp.8-9.

Some of the points made here are good. Like Paul, we need to make effective use of God’s Word.

“Like Paul, we can glorify our work as ministers by making frequent and effective use of the Word of God. In all features of our field ministry, our goal should be to share something from the Scriptures with as many people as possible. How can we do this with persuasion? Consider three important ways: (1) Direct attention to God’s Word in a way that creates respect for it. (2) Tactfully explain and apply what the Bible says. (3) Reason from the Scriptures in a way that is convincing.” – p.9.

Three excellent points which we certainly should follow; unfortunately it does not end there.

“Present-day Kingdom proclaimers have tools that were not available to Paul during his ministry. These include books, magazines, brochures, handbills, tracts, and audio and video recordings. In the past century, testimony cards, phonographs, sound cars, and radio broadcasts were also used. Of course, our best tool is the Bible, and we need to make good and proper use of this indispensable tool.” – p.9.

Well, at least we end up with the thought that the Bible is best, but the writers must remind us of the literature which we should use too.

“Our Ministry Must Be Rooted in God’s Word” – p.9.

Again, much to be commended, and buried in this paragraph a very interesting sentence,

“Timothy was not to permit his personal views to shape his teaching.” – p.10.

But isn’t this just where the Watchtower Society has fallen down? They should be commended for wanting to reach every house with the “gospel message” but if it is not the true one, but one shaped by the personal views of the Society leaders, it will not be fulfilling Jehovah’s will – they admit that themselves.

“Our Conduct Must be Good” – p.10.

Amen, our lives must show the truth of what we are preaching.

“God’s Word Has Transforming Power” – p.11.

Once again, Amen! Power to change a sinner into a justified Christian; power to make alive those who are dead in trespasses and sins; power to bring any person to the place of being born again of God’s Holy Spirit. But are these the testimonies that are shown under this heading? No, instead we read:

“For example, Kingdom proclaimers from Phnom Penh, Cambodia, preached in the province of Kompong Chain twice a month. After hearing others of the clergy speak against Jehovah’s Witnesses, a local pastor arranged to meet with the Witnesses the next time they visited the province. She barraged them with questions about the celebrating of holidays and listened closely as they reasoned with her from the Scriptures. Then she exclaimed: ‘I know now that what my fellow pastors said about you is not true! They claimed that you don’t use the Bible, but this morning that’s all you have used!’ This woman continued her Bible discussions with the Witnesses and did not allow threats of removal as pastor to stop her. She mentioned her Scriptural discussions to a friend, who then began to study the Bible with the Witnesses. The friend became so enthusiastic about what she was learning that at one of the services at the church she attends, she was moved to say, ‘Come, study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses!’ Soon thereafter, the former pastor and others also began studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses.” – p.12

Has the “transforming power” of the Scriptures changed the woman on the inside? No, she now studies the Bible with a different group – all is outward! This example is followed by another one,

“The power of God’s Word is also illustrated in the case of Paulina, a woman in Ghana. A full-time Kingdom proclaimer held a Bible study with her in the book Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life. Paulina was involved in a polygamous marriage and saw the need to make changes, but her husband and all her relatives violently opposed her. Her grandfather, a high-court judge and a church elder, tried to dissuade her by resorting to a misapplication of Matthew 19:4-6. The judge sounded authoritative, but Paulina quickly realized that this was similar to Satan’s twisting of the Scriptures when he tempted Jesus Christ. (Matthew 4:5-7) She recalled Jesus’ clear statement on marriage, to the effect that God created humans male and female, not male and females, and that the two, not the three, were to become one flesh. She stuck to her decision and was finally granted the customary divorce from the polygamous marriage. Soon, she was a happy baptized Kingdom proclaimer.” – p.12.

Here there was a change but again it is all to do with outward things. She came out of a polygamous marriage; nothing is said about a change of heart, or love for His Word or being led by the Holy Spirit into all truth.

This fact that we are dealing with – outward change, not an inward change of heart – is clearly shown by the final paragraph, which states,

“God’s written Word is indeed a powerful tool for our use in helping others to make changes in their lives in order to draw close to Jehovah.” – p.12.

Please note the order – we make the changes, so that we can draw close to Jehovah. This is putting the proverbial cart before the horse and indeed will get us nowhere. We need a changing relationship with Christ in order for God’s living word to work in our lives.

Finally, we are encourage to read the next article, entitled, “Help Others to Accept the Kingdom Message” so that we can be,

“…developing our abilities as convincing teachers.”

This article goes on to show that the Watchtower Society teaches apologetics from their point of view. They talk about the need to use “logical reasoning, sound argument, and earnest entreaty…” – p.14.

They then use an interesting illustration,

“Be sure that your statement is based squarely on God’s Word and not on personal opinion. Also, use corroborative evidence to back up your heartfelt Scriptural statements. (Proverbs 16:23) If you point out that obedient mankind will enjoy life in a paradise earth, for instance, back that statement up with a Scriptural reference, such as Luke 23:43 or Isaiah 65:21-25. How can you corroborate your Scriptural point? You may use examples from your listener’s experience. You might remind him of the simple and cost-free pleasures derived from the beauty of a sunset, the sweet smell of a flower, the savory taste of a fruit, or the joy of watching a mother bird feed her young. Help him to see that such pleasures are evidence that the Creator wants us to enjoy life on earth.-Ecclesiastes 3:11, 12.”

So here is an example of Watchtower apologetics – could you give a reasoned defence?

They are telling you that if you are part of obedient mankind you will live in paradise on earth and they first of all back this up with the Scripture, Luke 23:43, which in their New World Translation will say,

“And he said to him: ‘Truly I tell you today, You will be with me in Paradise.'”

So on the day that Jesus died He told the thief that decided to be obedient, you will be with me in paradise. This sounds convincing? To those without any Biblical knowledge it might be, but let’s look at it closely. We will not worry about the ‘movable comma’ for now; we will simply ask is the “Paradise” that Jesus referred to here the “paradise earth” that the Witness says we are going to?

For anyone that knows anything about Watchtower Theology, we can see immediately that this presentation will not prove the point; in fact it will do just the opposite. Simply, Jesus will not be in paradise earth and so when He says, “you will be with Me” it is obvious that this cannot refer to the earth paradise! This is not part of Scripture that convinces us we will have life on earth. Indeed it really shows that all those who are obedient and serve Christ will be with Him.

Next they use Isaiah 65:21-25,

“And they will certainly build houses and have occupancy; and they will certainly plant vineyards and eat [their] fruitage. They will not build and someone else have occupancy; they will not plant and someone else do the eating. For like the days of a tree will the days of my people be; and the work of their own hands my chosen ones will use to the full. They will not toil for nothing, nor will they bring to birth for disturbance; because they are the offspring made up of the blessed ones of Jehovah, and their descendants with them. And it will actually occur that before they call out I myself shall answer; while they are yet speaking, I myself shall hear. ‘The wolf and the lamb themselves will feed as one, and the lion will eat straw just like the bull; and as for the serpent, his food will be dust. They will do no harm nor cause any ruin in all my holy mountain,’ Jehovah has said.” – NWT.

The Scripture starts ‘and they’. Is this ‘they’ obedient mankind? And, more to the point, where is this ‘they’? Interestingly, the setting of these verses is found in verse 17,

“”For here I am creating new heavens and a new earth; and the former things will not be called to mind, neither will they come up into the heart.”

The context is not about just earth, but God’s whole new creation. When we look at the verses in Revelation 21 which are talking about the same event as Isaiah, we see that heaven and earth are rolled into one. There is no separation between heaven and earth; sin that divided God’s realm from man’s realm is dealt with and God is dwelling with all His people.

Once again, we do not find that this refers to a group of men and women living on earth, separate from a few others living with God in heaven. It shows us indeed that God has a glorious future for all His people.

We discover that the apologetics that the Watchtower teaches is not based upon God’s Word but upon the ‘personal teachings’ of those who run the Society.

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