In a series of videos on Youtube I put forward the idea of using the criteria that we as Jehovah's Witnesses use to examine whether other religions are considered to be true or false … on ourselves. So, that same criteria, those five points, six now, we're going to use to examine whether we also meet the criteria that we expect all other religions to meet. It seems like a fair test. But Whenever I bring these subjects up to friends, I get a litany of objections that is so consistent across the board that it tells me that these aren't really their own thoughts but thoughts that have been implanted through years of – and I hate to use the word – indoctrination. Because they almost come out word for word in the same order.
Let me give you some examples.
It might start off with: ‘But we are the true organization, we are Jehovah's organization, there is no other organization, where else will we go?’ It then follows with something like, ‘Shouldn't we be loyal to the organization?' 'After all, who taught us the truth?' And ‘If something is wrong, well we should just wait on Jehovah.' 'We shouldn't run ahead for sure.' 'Besides, who is blessing the organization? Is it not Jehovah? Is it not evident that his blessing is upon us?' 'And when you think about it, who else is preaching the good news earth wide? There's no one else doing that.'.
It kinda comes out in this form, just in a stream of consciousness. And I realize that no one has really sat down and thought this through. So let's do that. Are these valid objections? Let's consider them one at a time.
Now, one of the first ones that comes up besides, ‘This is the true organization' – which is really just a statement – is the question, 'Where else would we go?'. Usually in line with that, people will then quote Peter's words to Jesus. They'll say, ‘Remember when Jesus told the crowd that they had to eat his flesh and drink his blood and they all left him, and he turned to his own disciples and he asked them, Do you want to go too? and what did Peter say?’ And almost without exception – and I've had this discussion over the years with different ones – they will say the same words Peter said, 'Where else will we go?'. Isn't that what you think he said? Well, let's look at what he actually said. You'll find it in the book of John chapter 6 verses 67 & 68: So Jesus said to the Twelve: “You do not want to go also, do you?” Simon Peter answered him: “Lord, whom shall we go away to? You have sayings of everlasting life.”
Whom, he uses the word "whom." Who will we go to? Not, where will we go?.
Now, there's a big difference there. You see, no matter where we are we can go to Jesus. We can be all by ourselves, we can be stuck in the middle of a a prison, the only true worshiper there and turn to Jesus. He is our guide, he is our lord, he is our king, he is our master, he is everything to us. Not "where." "Where" indicates a place. We have to go to a group of people, we have to be in a place, we have to be in an organization. If we're going to be saved we have to be in the organization. Otherwise we we won't be saved. No, salvation comes by turning to Jesus, not by membership or affiliation with any group. There is nothing in the Bible to indicate that you have to belong to a particular group of people to be saved. You have to belong to Jesus, and indeed that's what the Bible says. Jesus belongs to Jehovah, we belong to Jesus and all things belong to us.
Reasoning that we shouldn't put our trust in men, Paul told the Corinthians, who were doing that very thing, the following in 1st Corinthians 3:21 to 23: So let no one boast in men; for all things belong to you, whether Paul or A·polʹlos or Ceʹphas or the world or life or death or things now here or things to come, all things belong to you; in turn you belong to Christ; Christ, in turn, belongs to God.
So that's point 1.
But still You have to be organized right? You have to have an organized work. That's the way we always think about it and that follows with another objection that comes up all the time ‘Jehovah has always had an organization.’ Well that's not exactly true because up until the formation of the nation of Israel, 3500 years ago, he didn't have a nation or a people or an organization. He had individuals like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Noah, Enoch going back to Abel. But he formed an organization in 1513 B.C.E. under Moses. Now, I know there's going to be people that say 'Oh, wait a minute, wait a minute. The word "organization" doesn't appear in the Bible so you can't say he had an organization.' Well, it's true, the word doesn't appear and we can quibble about that but I don't want to get into an argument over words. So, let's just take it as a given that we can say organization is synonymous with nation, is synonymous with people. Jehovah has a people, he has a nation, he has an organization, he has a congregation. Let's just assume those are synonymous because it really doesn't change the argument we're making.
So he's always had an organization ever since Moses was the one who introduced the old covenant to the nation of Israel – a covenant which they failed to keep. So following that logic along, what happens when the organization goes bad? Because Israel went bad many times. It started out very nicely, they occupied the promised land and then the Bible says that, for actually a period of a few hundred years, each man did what was right in his own eyes. That doesn't mean they did anything they wanted. They were under the law. They had to obey the law and they did – when they were faithful. But they did what was right in their own eyes. In other words, there was nobody on top of them telling them, 'no, no, you got to obey the law this way, you have to obey the law that way.' For example, the pharisees in Jesus day told the people exactly how to obey the law. You know, on the Sabbath, how much work could you do? Could you kill a fly on the Sabbath? They made all these rules but in the initial foundation of Israel, in those first few hundred years, the patriarchs were the head of the family and each family was basically autonomous.
What happened when there was disputes between families? Well they had judges and one of the judges was a female, Deborah. So, it shows Jehovah's view of women is not perhaps what we consider women to be. He actually had a woman judge Israel. It's an interesting thought. But let's just leave it at that. What happened after that? They got tired of deciding for themselves, applying the law for themselves. So what did they do? They wanted a king, they wanted a man to rule over them and Jehovah said, 'This is a bad idea.' He used Samuel to tell them that and they said, 'no, no, no we'll still have a king over us. We want a king.' So they got a king and things really started to go bad after that.
So, we come to one of the kings, the king of the ten tribe nation, Ahab, who married a foreigner, Jezebel. Who induced him to worship Baal. So Baal worship became rampant in Israel and here you have poor Elijah, he wants to be faithful. Now he sent him to preach to the power of the king and tell him he's doing wrong. Not surprisingly things didn't go well. People in power don't like to be told they're wrong, especially when the person telling them is speaking truth. The only way to deal with that in their mind is to silence the prophet, which is what they sought to do with Elijah. And he had to flee for his life. So he fled all the way to Mount Horeb seeking guidance from God and in 1 Kings 19:14, we read: To this he said: “I have been absolutely zealous for Jehovah the God of armies; for the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, your altars they have torn down, and your prophets they have killed with the sword, and I am the only one left. Now they are seeking to take my life away.”
Well, he seems to be a little down on things – which is understandable. After all, he was just a man with all the weaknesses of men. We can understand what it would be like to be alone. To have your life threatened. To think that everything you have is lost. Yet, Jehovah gave him words of encouragement. He said in the eighteenth verse: “And I still have left 7,000 in Israel, all whose knees have not bent down to Baʹal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”
That must have been quite a shocker for Elijah and probably quite an encouragement as well. He wasn't alone; there were thousands like him! Thousands who had not bent down to Baal, who had not worshiped the false god. What a thought! So Jehovah gave him the strength and courage to go back and he did that and it proved successful. But here's the interesting thing:
If Elijah wanted to worship and if those seven thousand faithful men wanted to worship, where did they worship? Could they go to Egypt? Could they go to Babylon? Could they go to Edom or any of the other nations? No. Those all had false worship. They had to stay in Israel. It was the only place where the law existed – the law of Moses and the regulations and true worship. Yet, Israel wasn't practicing true worship. They were practicing Baal worship. So those men had to find a way of worshiping God on their own, in their own way. And often in secret because they would be opposed and persecuted and even killed. Did Jehovah say, 'Well, since you're the only faithful ones, I'm going to make an organization out of you. I'm going to throw away this organization of Israel and start with you as an organization'? No, he didn't do that. For 1,500 years he continued with the nation of Israel as his organization – through good and bad. And what happened is, often it was bad, often it was apostate. And yet there were always faithful ones and those are the ones that Jehovah noticed and supported, as he supported Elijah.
So fast forward nine centuries to the time of Christ. Here Israel is still Jehovah's organization, he sent his Son as a chance, a last chance for them to repent. And that's what he's always done. You know, we talked about: ‘Well we should wait on Jehovah and the idea then is well he'll fix things’ but Jehovah never has fixed things because that would mean interfering with free will. He doesn't go into the minds of the leaders and make them do the right thing. What he does is he sends them people, prophets and he did that throughout those hundreds of year to try to get them to repent. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don't.
Finally, he sent his Son and instead of repenting they killed him. So that was the final straw and because of that Jehovah destroyed the nation. So that's how he deals with an organization that doesn't follow his way, his commands. He eventually, after giving them many opportunities, destroys them. He wipes out the organization. And that's what he did. He destroyed the nation of Israel. No longer was it his organization. The old covenant was no longer in force, he put in a new covenant and he put that with individuals that were Israelites. So he still took from the seed of Abraham faithful men. But now he brought from the nations more faithful men, others who weren't Israelites and they became Israelites in the spiritual sense.
So now he has a new organization. So what did he do? He continued supporting that organization and by the end of the first century Jesus inspires John to write letters to various congregations, to his organization. For example, he criticized the congregation in Ephesus for its lack of love; it left the love that they had it first. Then Pergamum, they were accepting the teaching of Balaam. Remember Balaam induced the Israelites to idolatry and sexual immorality. They were accepting that teaching. There was also a sect of Nicholas that they were tolerating. So sectarianism is entering into the congregation, into the organization. In Thyatira they were tolerating sexual immorality as well and idolatry and the teaching of a woman named Jezebel. In Sardis they were spiritually dead. In Laodicea and Philadelphia they were apathetic. All of these were sins that Jesus could not tolerate unless they were corrected. He gave them a warning. This is again the same process. Send a prophet, in this case the writings of John to warn them. If they respond, good; and if they don't, then what does he do? out the door!.
Nevertheless, there were individuals in the organization at that time that were faithful. Just as there were individuals in the time of Israel who were faithful to God. Let's read what Jesus had to say to those individuals: Nevertheless, you do have a few individuals in Sarʹdis who did not defile their garments, and they will walk with me in white ones, because they are worthy. The one who conquers will thus be dressed in white garments, and I will by no means blot out his name from the book of life, but I will acknowledge his name before my Father and before his angels. Let the one who has an ear hear what the spirit says to the congregations.’ – Revelation 3:4-6
Those words would apply to other faithful ones in the other congregations as well. Individuals are saved, not groups! He doesn't save you because you have a membership card in some organization. He saves you because you're faithful to him and to his Father.
So we acknowledge that the organization now was the Christian congregation. That was in the first century. And we acknowledge that he, Jehovah, has always had an organization. Right? Okay, so what was his organization in the fourth century? In the sixth century? In the tenth century?.
There was a Catholic Church.There was a Greek Orthodox Church. Eventually then, other churches formed and the Protestant Reformation came about. But during all that time Jehovah always had an organization. And yet, as Witnesses, we claim that was the apostate church. The apostate Christianity.
Well Israel, his organization, went apostate many times. There were always faithful individuals in Israel. And they had to stay in Israel, they couldn't go to other nations.
What about Christians? A Christian in the Catholic Church who didn't like the idea of hellfire and eternal torment, who disagreed with the immortality of the soul as a doctrine of paganism, who said that the trinity was a false teaching; what would that individual do? Leave the Christian congregation? Go off and become a Muslim? A Hindu? No, he had to remain a Christian. He had to worship Jehovah God. He had to recognize the Christ as his lord and master. So, he had to remain in the organization, which was Christianity. Just like Israel had been, this was now the organization.
So now we fast-forward to the Nineteenth century and you have many people who are beginning to challenge the churches again. They form Bible study groups. The Bible Student Association is one of them, of various Bible study groups around the world that joined together. But still maintain their individuality because they weren't under anyone except Jesus Christ. They recognized him as their Lord. Russell was one of those – who started to publish books and magazines, The Watchtower for example – that the Bible Students began to follow.
So did Jehovah look down and say, "Hmm, okay, you guys are doing the right thing so I'm going to make you my organization just like I made the 7000 men who didn't bend their knee to Baal back in Israel my organization'? No, because he didn't do it then he didn't do it now. Why would he do that? He has an organization, Christianity. Within that organization there are false worshipers and true worshipers but there is one organization
So, when we think about Jehovah's Witnesses, we like to think, ‘we're the only true organization.’ Well, what would be the basis for making that assumption? That we teach truth? Even Elijah and the 7000, they were acknowledged by God to be true worshipers and yet he didn't make them into his own organization. So even if we do teach only truth there doesn't seem to be a Bible basis for saying that we are the one true organization. But let's just say there is. Let's say that there is a basis for for that. And there's nothing to keep us from examining the Scriptures to make sure that we are the true organization, that our teachings are true because if they're not then what? Then we're not the true organization by our own definition.
So what about the other objections though, that we should be loyal?.
We're hearing that a lot these days, loyalty. The whole Convention on loyalty. You can change the wording of Micah 6:8 from "love kindness" to "love loyalty." Which was not the way it's worded in Hebrew. Why? Because we're talking about loyalty to the Governing body, loyalty to the organization.
In Elijah's case the governing body of his day was the king and the king was appointed by God because it was a succession of kings and Jehovah appointed the first king, he appointed the second king. Then through David's line came the other kings. And so you could argue, quite Scripturally, that they were appointed by God. Whether they did good or bad they were appointed by God.
Was Elijah loyal to the king? If he had been then he would have worshipped Baal. He couldn't do that because his loyalty would have been divided. Am I loyal to the king? Or am I loyal to Jehovah? So we can only be loyal to any organization if that organization is completely 100 percent in line with Jehovah. And if it is, then we might just not say that we are loyal to Jehovah and leave it that.
So we're starting to get a little carried away if we start to think, Oh, no I've got to be loyal to men.' 'But who taught us the truth?' That's the argument you know. 'I didn't learn the truth on my own. I learned it from from the organization.' So if you learned it from the organization you must now be loyal to the organization. That's basically the reasoning that we're saying.
Well a Catholic could use the same reasoning or a Methodist or a Baptist or a Mormon. ‘I learned from my church so I must be loyal to them.’ But you would say, 'No, no, that's different.' Well how is it different? 'Well it's different because they're teaching false things.' Now we're right back to square one. That's the whole point of this video series – to make sure that we're teaching true things. And if we are, fine. The argument might hold water. But if we're not, then the argument turns against us.
What about the good news?' That’s another thing that comes up all the time. It's the same story, 'Yes, we're the only ones preaching the good news worldwide.' This ignores the fact that a third of the world claims to be Christian. How did they get to be Christian? Who taught them the good news over the centuries so that a third of the world, over 2 billion people, are Christian? 'Yeah but they're false Christians,' you say. 'They were taught a false good news.' Okay, why? 'Because they were taught the good news based on false teachings." We're right back to square one. If our good news is based on true teachings we can claim to be the only ones preaching the good news but if we're teaching falsehoods, then how are we different? And this is a very serious question because the consequences of teaching the good news based on falsehood is very, very severe. Let's look at Galatians 1:6-9.
In his letter to the Galatians, Paul addresses a problem that existed back then, and which has continued to exist right down to this day. In this chapter he says: I am amazed that you are so quickly turning away from the One who called you with Christ’s undeserved kindness to another sort of good news. Not that there is another good news; but there are certain ones who are causing you trouble and wanting to distort the good news about the Christ. However, even if we or an angel out of heaven were to declare to you as good news something beyond the good news we declared to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, I now say again, whoever is declaring to you as good news something beyond what you accepted, let him be accursed. So, we come back to waiting on Jehovah.
Let's take a minute here and just do a little research about waiting on Jehovah. And by the way, I should mention that this is always tied in with my other favorite misapplication, 'We shouldn't run ahead.' Running ahead means that we're coming up with our own doctrines but if we're trying to find the true teachings of Christ, then if anything we're running backwards. We're going back to the Christ, back to the original truth, not running ahead with our own thoughts.
And waiting on Jehovah, well in the Bible … well let's just go to the Watchtower library and see how it's used in the Bible.
Now, what I've done is use the words, "wait" and "waiting" separated by the vertical bar, which will give us every occurrence where either of those two words exists in the sentence along with the name Jehovah.
There are 47 occurrences altogether and to save time I'm not going to go through all of them because some of them are relevant some of them are not. For example, the very first occurrence in Genesis is relevant. It says, "I will wait for salvation from you O Jehovah." So when we say wait on Jehovah, we can use that in the context of waiting on him to save us.
So what I've done is paste in the Scriptures that are relevant to our discussion for your review. And we've already read Genesis, ‘Waiting on Jehovah for salvation.’ The next one in Psalm. It's very much in this in the same vein, waiting on him for salvation as is Psalm 33:18, where it talks about waiting for his loyal love, while his loyal love refers to his keeping his promises, as he loves us he fulfills his promises to us. The next one also is the same idea, his loyal love, Psalm 33:22. So, again, we're talking about salvation in that same sense "Keep silent for Jehovah," says Psalm 37:7 "and wait expectantly for him and do not be upset by the man who succeeds in carrying out his schemes." So in that case if someone is deceiving us or abusing us or taking advantage of us in any way we wait on Jehovah to fix the problem.
The next one talks about "Let Israel keep waiting for Jehovah for Jehovah is loyal in his love and he has great power to redeem." So redemption, he's talking about salvation. And the next one talks about loyal love, the next one talks about salvation. So really, everything, when we were talking about waiting on Jehovah, everything relates to waiting on him for our salvation.
So, if we happen to be in a religion that teaches falsehoods the idea isn't that we're going to try to fix that religion, that's not the idea. The idea is that we remain faithful to Jehovah, loyal to him. Which means we adhere to truth just like Elijah did. And we don't deviate from the truth even though those around us do. But on the other hand we don't rush ahead and try to fix things ourselves we wait on him to save us.
Does all this scare you?
Obviously we are suggesting, but we haven't proven it yet, that some of our teachings are false. Now if that turns out to be the case we come back to the question, where else will we go? Well we've already said we don't go anywhere else, we go to someone else. But what does that mean?
You see as a Jehovah's Witness, and I'm speaking for my own experience, we've always thought that we are on the one ship. The organization's like a ship that is going toward paradise, it's sailing toward paradise. All the other ships, all the other religions – some of them are big ships, some of them are little sailboats but all the other religions – they're going in the opposite direction. They're going toward the waterfall. They don't know it, right? So, if suddenly I realize that my ship is based on false doctrine then I'm sailing with the rest. I'm going toward the waterfall. Where do I go? See the thought is I need to be on a ship because how do I get to paradise if I'm not on a ship? I can't swim the whole way. And then it suddenly struck me, we need faith in Jesus Christ. And what this faith enables us to do is it allows us, it enables us, it gives us the power to walk on water. We can walk on water.
That's what Jesus did. He literally walked on water – by faith. And he did that, not in a showy display of power, but to make a very, very important point. With faith we can move mountains, with faith. We can walk on water. We don't need anyone else or anything else because we have the Christ. He can take us there. And if we go back to the account of Elijah, we can see how wonderful this thought is and how caring our Father is. And how interested he is in us on an individual level.
At first kings 19:4, we read this:
He (that is Elijah) went a day's journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree and he asked that he might die. He said: "It is enough! Now, O Jehovah take my life away, for I am no better than my forefathers.”
Now, what's astonishing about this is that this is in response to Jezebel's threat against his life. And yet this man had already performed a number of miracles. He stopped the rain from falling, he defeated the priests of Baal in a contest between Jehovah and Baal, in which Jehovah's alter was consumed by fire from heaven. With all that behind him you might think, how could this man suddenly become so miserable? So fearful? It just shows that we are all human and no matter how well we do one day the next day we could be a totally different person. Jehovah recognizes our failings. He recognizes our shortcomings. He understands that we are just dust and he loves us nevertheless. And that's manifest by what happens next. Does Jehovah send an angel to chastise Elijah? Does he rebuke him? Does he call him a weakling? No, quite the opposite. It says in verse 5:
Then he lay down and fell asleep under the broom tree. But suddenly an angel touched him and said to him: "Get up and eat." When he looked, there at his head was a round loaf on heated stones and a jug of water. He ate and drank and lay down again. Later the angel of Jehovah came back a second time and touched him and said: "Get up and eat, for the journey will be too much for you.".
The Bible reveals that in the strength of that nourishment he carried on for forty days and forty nights. So it wasn't simple nourishment. There was something special there. But what's interesting is that the angel touched him twice. Whether in doing so he infused Elijah with special power to carry on or whether it was just simply an act of genuine compassion for a weakened man, we cannot know. But what we do learn from this account is that Jehovah cares for his faithful ones on an individual basis. He doesn't love us collectively, he loves us individually just as a father loves each and every child in his own way.
So Jehovah loves us and will sustain us even when we get down to the point of wanting to die.
If a Christian, and especially a Jehovah's Witness, is asked to provide proof of the existence of God, it is very likely that he will quote verse four of the third chapter of the letter to the Hebrews, "every house is constructed by someone, but the one who constructed all things is God".
The reasoning may be right, nothing came from nothing but everything on earth is due to the will of a designer, it is still good to note that Paul was not trying to argue about the existence of a Creator. He spoke to his Hebrew Christian companions who certainly did not question the fact that the universe was ruled by a powerful being who is behind everything. Moreover, in antiquity the problem was certainly not the non-belief in God but rather the opposite: people tended to believe in a multitude of gods. Furthermore, Paul, on one occasion, noticed that an altar dedicated to an unknown god had been made, certainly for fear of forgetting to revere a deity.