Watchtower Reviews – early 2008 editions

Making the Name Known

I am way behind with my review of the Watchtowers and so in this issue I will draw out some of the most glaring differences between the Watchtower and mainstream Christianity as they appeared in the editions in the first part of 2008.

“The Bible reveals that God’s name is Jehovah (Psalm 83:18) Speaking to his disciples, Jesus said in prayer to his Father: ‘I have made your name known to them.’ – John 17:26” – The Watchtower, 1 February 2008, p.16.

The acceptance that Jesus had been accepted in the Synagogue when He read the Scriptures is surely evidence that He did not pronounce the Name; He was only hounded out after He applied the words to those present. If Jesus had pronounced the name of Jehovah in the Synagogue the riot would have started much earlier.

In the New World Translation the name ‘Jehovah’ appears 26 times in Matthew’s Gospel, but only 18 of these are in the text – the rest being in footnotes. Of these, the words are put directly in Jesus’ mouth 8 times.

In Mark’s Gospel it appears 9 times in the text with 8 of them directly from Jesus’ mouth; in Luke’s Gospel, 36 times with 9 of them put in Jesus’ mouth; and in John’s Gospel, 5 times with 4 of these put in Jesus’ mouth.

In all the words that Jesus spoke the Watchtower Society has Jesus saying “Jehovah” just 29 times but it is only 16 unique occasions. Of these, 13 are Old Testament quotations that assumes Jesus would use Jehovah, although we question that above.

We are left then with three times that the Watchtower Society can put the word “Jehovah” in the mouth of the Lord – not exactly “making the name known”!

If Jehovah is not the name made known in the New Testament, what is?  Over 100 times we read ‘Father’. The Society answers this as follows:

“For an individual to know God’s name signifies more than a mere acquaintance with the word … It means actually knowing the Person … This is illustrated in the case of Moses … (he) was privileged … to ‘hear the name of Jehovah declared’. That declaration was not simply the repetition of the name ‘Jehovah’ … When Jesus Christ was on earth, he ‘made his Father’s name manifest’ to his disciples (John 17:6, 26). Although having earlier known that name and being familiar with God’s activities as recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures, these disciples came to know Jehovah in a far better and grander Way… Christ Jesus perfectly represented his Father, doing the works of his Father and speaking, not on his own originality, but the words of his Father.” – Insight, Vol. 2, pp.466-7.

It wasn’t so much what Jesus said but what He did that made the name known. Repeatedly Jesus said He did the will of His Father, spoke the words of His Father, did what He saw His Father doing. Not Jehovah but Father. This is the New Testament record. The Old Testament revelation was Jehovah; the New Testament is Jesus. The Old Testament was outward obedience to Jehovah in sacrifices; the New Testament is knowing Jesus in the heart. The Old Testament saints were to be witnesses of Jehovah; the New Testament ones are to be witnesses of Jesus.

Corresponding Sacrifice

“The Life that Jesus sacrificed was an exact equivalent of the life that Adam forfeited when he sinned. What was the result of Jesus’ death? Jehovah accepted that sacrifice as “a corresponding ransom for all.” (1 Timothy 2:6)” – The Watchtower, 1 March 2008, p.6.

First, simply checking the ‘persons’; the life of Jesus could never be just an equivalent because, according to the Watchtower, Jesus is the only created being of Jehovah, and, again, according to the Watchtower, Jesus would have created Adam. By very definition that makes Jesus greater than Adam and not equivalent to.

More than that, we need to look at the Greek for the Scripture they quote. Where in the Greek is there a word for ‘corresponding;’ answer – nowhere! The Greek word is antilutron and this is the only time it appears in the New Testament. It means that He gave His life for the life of another.  Greek scholars all appear to agree that the meaning of the Greek word for “ransom” simply involves the idea of ‘substitution’ and not a strict ‘no more/no less’ rule.

Please note the word all. This again gives the lie to the word corresponding – Adam, one man, sinned and then all those born after him inherited that sin. Jesus, one man, died and took all the sin of those who lived before Him in time and those that lived after Him in time – this work is far greater than what Adam did and it cannot just be brought down to a corresponding ransom – it had to undo not just the original sin but the power that sin has over people. Romans 5:14-15 shows this fact clearly, “much more did the grace…”

The work of Jesus on the cross was for me and I need to personally accept and experience that, not go through an organisation that teaches that Jesus was simply a man that corresponded to Adam. What that ignores is the fact that after Adam all ‘men’ were born in sin and so, if Jesus was just a man, he would have original sin. Only because Jesus was born by the Holy Spirit as God [remove comma] is He able to be the perfect sacrifice and ransom for all.

The jwinfoline.com website puts it this way:

“Romans chapter 5 clearly shows us that the idea that Jesus’ sacrifice perfectly balances Adam’s sin is not correct. There is no perfect balance. Jesus’ sacrifice far outweighs Adam’s sin. “How can that be?” one may ask, “Doesn’t the price have to equal what is purchased?” Not at all! Let’s look at an example. Let’s says that your beloved family puppy is dog-napped. The captors demand $10,000 in exchange for the puppy. The puppy is not worth $10,000 but you decide to pay the $10,000 ransom price because you really love your puppy and want him back. Your sacrifice of $10,000 is far greater than the value of the animal, yet because of your great love for your puppy, you pay the ransom. The price you paid tips the scale when measured by the value of what was bought. It doesn’t have to be equal. In the same way, God’s love for us far outweighs our value. The sacrifice of His precious Son was a price that the Father was willing to pay, not because we are worth it, or because our value equals the value of His Son’s life, but because He loves us greatly and is willing to give His best in order to redeem us back into his family.”

The Watchtower, 15 April 2008, p.19 raises an issue that has been preached by the Society from time to time – marry or remain single. Whereas they are not dogmatic as in past years they are clearly encouraging folks by saying that, because the time is short, “some Christians choose to remain single for life or decide to remain single for some years before marrying”. Others will marry but choose to have no children. All, of course, to the end that in the short time we have left – they have quit fixing dates but not the mention of the time – they can serve the Society better if they are unhindered with children!

Study the Bible

“Regular study of the Bible, accompanied by purposeful meditation, will help us progress spiritually. (Heb.5:12-14)” – The Watchtower, 15 May 2008, p.22.

Amen to that, let’s do it. Note what they have said which, of course, is true to Scripture – study the Bible and meditate on what you read there – not on what the Society says is there. This truly will help spiritual progress.

On the same page they say that Paul knew the Scriptures and used 5 direct Hebrew quotations in Acts 13:14-44, to prove Jesus was the Messiah.

This is very interesting and I don’t think they know what they have said. This is how [remove ‘we’ add ‘they’] put it in Awake! to the Watchtower, pp.57-58

“The Society has no problem about calling Jesus the Messiah:

“’The Bible states that Andrew rushed to his brother and said: ‘We have found the Messiah [or, Christ].’ – WT, 15 September 2005, p.4.

The significance of this fact has not dawned on the Society because in the same article they conclude that: [This should be Verdona font, not Arial]

“’Jesus today is neither a man nor God Almighty. Rather, he is a mighty spirit creature…’ – Ibid., p.6.

However, there are more than 300 predictions concerning the Messiah in the Old Testament and if you accept Jesus is the Messiah, He cannot be a spirit creature with a beginning. We only need to look at one of the places in the Old Testament to show the proof of this statement:

“‘But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.’ – Micah 5:2

This prophecy indicates that as a man, Jesus would be born in Bethlehem, but He already existed “from the days of eternity”. By acknowledging Jesus as the Messiah, the Society has acknowledged that Jesus was eternal – no beginning – and so could not be a created spirit creature.”

Indeed we long that the Jehovah’s Witness would meditate on these verses, for instance:

v33 – Jesus is the ‘begotten’ one – not created by Jehovah but begotten.

Also the argument goes on to show that the Old Testament Scriptures do not refer to David but to Jesus and through Him forgiveness of sin and everyone who believes is freed. The Greek word for believe cannot just mean a head knowledge, as the Watchtower wants to “take in knowledge…” John 17:3 but there is an action to it; see 1 Thessalonians 2:4.

Paul was entrusted with the Gospel, he actively received the message of Good News in Jesus Christ, experienced what it meant in his life and then went to tell others. Having knowledge about Jesus is not enough; only when we receive Him into our lives and allow the finished and completed work of Calvary have full meaning in our lives will we be free.

Independence

Back in 1983 much was made of the sub-heading in the January 15 Watchtower, “Avoid Independent Thinking”. The Watchtower, 15 June 2008, p. 21, only slightly alters this with the sub-heading, “Guard Against an Independent Spirit.” The following paragraphs underline that spiritual food only comes from the “faithful and discreet slave class”. Are they infallible, they ask? Of course not, they reply, but we are still expected by Jehovah to be submissive to them, even through their imperfections.

To some degree we can go along with that but when it comes to wrong Bible teaching – absolutely not! Interestingly they quote John 6:66-68 in these paragraphs. To whom shall we go? The synagogue elders? The future Governing Body at Jerusalem – no! Direct to the Lord Jesus and what He is saying within the Scriptures themselves.

House-to-House

I feel like saying “and finally” with this last piece, because it seems to me to be almost laughable. In The Watchtower, 15 July 2008, p. 5 they indicate that the vision of Ezekiel 9:1-6 shows the importance of house-to-house ministry.

According to them – the man clothed in linen with the ‘secretary’s inkhorn’ represents the remnant of the spirit-anointed Christians. How do you get from this passage that they went door to door and that this represents a group within the Watchtower Society? This is not a prophecy concerning the future but something that happened in Ezekiel’s day!

Then we are told that “By means of the preaching and disciple-making work, the anointed class puts a symbolic mark on those who become part of Christ’s other sheep”. So, only the anointed can do the work – not the other sheep – they can only put the mark on those who are groaning over the abominations happening. Therefore anyone who is not on God’s side already and standing for His work cannot receive the mark.  God’s angels, represented by the other six men, will destroy all those without the mark.

So only those who already hate the things that God hates – not many in this world today – and are preached to by the anointed, can receive the mark; the rest will be destroyed very soon. Not much hope there then, even for some already in the Society.

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