QUESTION: Greetings Richard,
Did the apostles ever make mistake in what they taught. Or Did the apostles ever change any of the message that they taught or understood to be correct?
ANSWER: That's a superb question.
If we are to believe that all of the apostles were anointed by the Holy Spirit for the purpose of preaching the Good News to people of all nations, then we must believe that what they were preaching regarding salvation was correct. If we believe that all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness, then we must believe what they said as an entire collection.
Your question did make three things stick out in my mind.
First, Ephesians 3:6 - "This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus."
It was at this point that Paul reveals who the "other sheep" of John 10:16 are. Perhaps one could argue that this is "new light" for Paul. I don't have a problem with that.
Second, Galatians 2:11-21 - I won't copy the entire thing, but it is where Paul reproves Peter for separating himself from the Gentiles and leading Jews and even Barnabas astray.
This goes to show that even Peter's behavioral choices needed to be lovingly addressed by a Christian brother.
Finally, there is a large movement out there to discredit Paul. The movement subscribes to ideas that Paul taught different ideas from Jesus and James, among others. I'll allow you to research that on your own.
I go back to 2 Tim. 3:16 for my thoughts on that one.
Those are the only things that jumped out at me, but I would welcome some others that you may know to consider in a follow-up.
Looking at the "new light" of Paul, if you wish to call it that, did he really change the message he taught or understood to be correct? I can see both sides, but one thing is clear. The light may have gotten brighter, but it didn't change color. He simply confirmed what Jesus already said. It required no backtracking, hasn't changed since, and was not done due to any type of internal or external pressure.
As far as Peter, I would note that this is an admonishment of poor behavior, not of poor teaching.
Finally, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, none of the apostles EVER EVER EVER said that people had to come to them or be a part of their organization to be saved. They ALWAYS pointed to Christ and Christ alone. They professed that Christ alone is "the truth" and NEVER pointed to themselves in that position.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Hello Richard.
I asked the first question in response to an answer you gave about the way the WTBTS (JW's) have made changes in their teachings. Your comments scoffed at the changes. Most of the changes have been in relation to understanding prophecy. There is a difference between trying to understand prophetic writings and “doctrine”, especially doctrine related to "salvation".
I noticed you went straight to discussing salvation..... "If we are to believe that all of the apostles were anointed by the Holy Spirit for the purpose of preaching the Good News to people of all nations, then we must believe that what they were preaching regarding salvation was correct.".... Absolutely correct. The basics of what they preached about salvation never changed, but some ideas of theirs did. Circumcision was one idea that they once held WAS important for salvation but had to change their thoughts on that to come in line with later revealed truth
I was pleased to see that you acknowledged a couple of the places where there was a change of thinking. The case of Peter and the division he caused between the Jewish Christians and the Gentile Christians is of particular importance. Peter should have known better because he was the one given he responsibility and privilege of presenting the message of Christ’s kingdom to the Gentiles (Acts 13:46,47 ). In siding with the Jewish Christians that came from James, Peter "back flips" on what he was privileged to have had a first part of. It is true that Peter corrected his thinking after Paul rebukes him. Paul had a special place in the 1st century as the apostle to the nations (Gentiles) Romans 11:13
We concur that Paul did not teach something different to the other apostles
Can I share with some important CHANGES in the thinking of the apostles and 1st century Christians over time. They HAD to CHANGE their views on some matters. (The examples and story line below is not mine. I borrowed it from an answer by a JW on this board and added some slight adjustments)
At 32 CE Jesus spoke to his apostles about the Kingdom. They thought that the kingdom was based upon a government, the capital being Jerusalem and the king to stand where King David used to be. They expected the Messiah to set up this government. How do we know this? because in Acts 1:6 after Jesus resurrection (in 33 CE), the apostles asked""Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" (NKJV)
NOTE: I have put numbers in brackets these refer to some texts shown at the end of this example to demonstrate the Biblical Basses for the example.
The year is still 32 CE. Imagine now that you are a Jew and two of the seventy (1) come to your village and they preach about Jesus and the kingdom (2). Now you are not just a Jew you are a nationalistic Jew. You love being a Jew, you are looking for the messiah and want to be free of the Romans and you ask them.
"Who is the king of this Kingdom?" What answer are you going to get? They will say its Jesus, the carpenter of Nazareth. (3)
"Where is this Kingdom going to operate from?" They will say on earth. (4)
"What is it going to do?" They will say it going to overthrow the Romans and lift this burden of us. (5)
Now it is at least 2 years latter. Sometime after Jesus had died. You are the same Jew and the same two disciples come to village. Now you ask them exactly the same questions. What is the response will you now get?
"Who is the king of this Kingdom?" It will still be Jesus. (3)
"Where is this Kingdom going to operate from?" Now it has changed the answer will be Heaven. (6)
"What is it going to do? is it going to overthrow the Romans?" No it is not.
For the Jews that are NOT followers of Jesus, and have heard this change in “teaching” what would they think? “Hey you followers of Jesus why do you change what you tell us?” ….. Now for the Christians back there, that was a changed view. So what were they going to do just drop it all, say, "I wish the apostles would get it right,. Who knows just where this kingdom will be and what it will do?”..... “How do we know we are following the right messiah?”...... “Perhaps we should look for a new messiah!“ …..There was a change in thought or understanding, but the UNDERLINING TEACHING was the same, Jesus is the promised Messiah sent to bring relief for mankind. The followers of Jesus did not abandon the apostles but the congregations continued to grow.
Now lets go back a couple of years it is late in 33 ce (or maybe 34 c.e.) after Jesus had died and after the Pentecost experience where many Jews from different countries had heard the message of the Christ in their own language . You are not a Jew now you are a Greek, your wife is a Jewess and had become a Christian after those events described in Acts 2. and you see that this new sect has changed her attitudes a little bit, she has become a better person and you like it. You like the her fellow believers as people and you like what they are preaching and you think you will join. Now what would your wife tell you?
"I am sorry darling you cannot, it is only for Jews." (7)
Now lets go to 36CE. I am still a Greek and my wife comes home one day and says. " Darling I have got good news, one of our head men has had this dream about the sheep, he saw a sheet come down with all sorts of animals in it, anyway the thing is you can become a Christian now." (8) Now how would the cynic Greek view this?... "I knew that they would have to change this rule because they would never get enough people from just Jews."
But did the congregations view it that way? Saying, "Oh! We changed it because we need more followers." No, they did not. It was clearing up of things in Jehovah's line of purpose of things.
Now lets move on to 46 c.e.. You are the same Greek, same Jewish wife and you are still not a Christian.
“I've decided that I want to take your religion more seriously,” and you say to your wife " hey! Look I want to join." What would she say to me now? She says, "well you have to get circumcised." I say," What ! at my age?"(9) And you decide being a Christian is not for you
49ce comes along. Your wife comes home and says, " darling I've got good news again. The older men in Jerusalem had a council meeting and have ruled against requiring circumcision, for the believers from the nations." What sort of answer might the Greek man have given? “Well! I am glad I didn't join a few years ago.”
Lets go back to just after Jesus had been resurrected. I want to look at an account where the Apostle Peter misunderstood something that Jesus has said and what some could intemperate as a “prophecy” went out to all the followers of Jesus. From Peters words it was believed that the apostle John would never die until Jesus returned. John 21:20 -25 “20 Peter turned and saw following them the disciple whom Jesus loved, who had lain close to his breast at the supper and had said, "Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?"21When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, "Lord, what about this man?" 22Jesus said to him, "If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!" 23 The saying spread abroad among the brethren that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, "If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?" 24This is the disciple who is bearing witness to these things, and who has written these things; and we know that his testimony is true. 25 But there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.
(1) Luke 10 :1, 8 “1 After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.” (AV)
(2) Luke 10 “88… and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.” (AV)
(3) Luke 1:32-33 “32 He will be great and He will be called ‘Son of the Most High.’ And the Lord God will give Him the throne of His forefather David; 33 and He will be King over the House of Jacob for the Ages, and of His Kingdom there will be no end." (WEY) Matt. 2: 23 “And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, "He shall be called a Nazarene." (NKJV) Matt 4:17 17 “From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."(NKJV)
(4) Acts 1:6 “Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" - Jesus was not yet ready to enlighten them on this matter, he goes on to say to his disciples in verse 7 “"It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.” - During his ministry Jesus had to correct his disciples about some aspects of his Kingdom. Some showed that they wanted prominent positions in his kingdom. It was not the roll of Jesus to decide what position in the Kingdom each one would have. Jesus had to repeatedly correct their thinking on this matter see Matt. 18:1-5; [Mark 9:30-37 and Luke 9:43-47] [Matt 20:20-28 and Mark 10 :35-45.] Luke 22:24-48
(5) Luke 24: 18- 21 “ 18 ""Are you a stranger lodging alone in Jerusalem, that you have known nothing of the things that have lately happened in the city?"....... 21 But we were hoping he was the one who was to come and set Israel free…. "Yes, and as if that were not enough, it’s three days since all this happened;” (WEY) – NOTE Even after the resurrection of Christ the disciples thought Jesus was going to restore the kingdom in right then
(6) Acts 2:30-35 “30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; 31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. 32 This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. 33 Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. 34 For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, 35 Until I make thy foes thy footstool. 36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (AV)…….Luke is here recording for our benefit that Jesus is to sit at Gods right hand , in the heavens and be King. A clearer understanding of Gods Kingdom via his Son Jesus is being understood. That is “new light” that changed the way the followers of Jesus thought and taught.
(7) Matthew 10:5,6 5 These twelve Jesus sent out, charging them, "Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (RSV) Peter shows the attitude hat Jews had at this time - Acts 10:28,29 “28 and he said to them, "You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit any one of another nation; but God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean. 29 So when I was sent for, I came without objection. I ask then why you sent for me (RSV)
(8) Acts 10:30- 11:17 First gentile Cornelius This is a large section so I have not copied it in. Please take the time to review it. Acts 13:46,47 "It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. 7 For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, ‘I have set you to be a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the uttermost parts of the earth.’ (RSV)
(9) Acts 15:1, 5 “1 And certain having come down from Judea, were teaching the brethren—‘If ye be not circumcised after the custom of Moses, ye are not able to be saved” 5 But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up, and said, "It is necessary to circumcise them, and to charge them to keep the law of Moses." (RSV)
(10) Acts 15 :6 – 31 “6 The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. 7 And after there had been much debate,... 13 After they finished speaking, James replied, "Brethren, listen to me. 14 Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. 15 And with this the words of the prophets agree, as it is written, 16 ‘After this I will return, and I will rebuild the dwelling of David, which has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will set it up, 17 that the rest of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, 18 says the Lord, who has made these things known from of old.’ 19 Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, … 30 So when they were sent off, they went down to Antioch; and having gathered the congregation together, they delivered the letter. 31And when they read it, they rejoiced at the exhortation.” (RSV)
Finally Luke 18:31-34 shows that Jesus taught them things they did not at first understand. Luke relates that he was telling them about his death. It was not until later that they understood.
I am happy you pointed out 2 Tim. 3:16 “all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness, then we must believe what they said as an entire collection. “ (as per your words) The point of all the above is just that. ALL of the Bible teaches us. The first century Christians had to make adjustments in their thinking at time. These ones had the great advantage of having Jesus as a mentor as well as men that were born along by holy spirit to put pen to paper and record those events. Now if under such circumstances they made mistakes amd corrected wron ideas, how much more so would that be the case today.
AS FOR ME, if a “religion” did not make mistakes hen there would be something wrong with them . Paul in writing to the Corinthians in chapter 13:12 tells us that full knowledge is yet to be gained.
“For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.” NJKV
“For the present we see things as if in a mirror, and are puzzled; but then we shall see them face to face. For the present the knowledge I gain is imperfect; but then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” Weymouth
By far the major changes made by JWs is in understanding of PROPHECY. To understand prophecy is not vital for salvation. Trying to understand keeps you awake Matt 24:42 42
(NKJV) "Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.”
(Wey) Be on the alert therefore, for you do not know the day on which your Lord is coming.
NO one is inspired of God toady as the Bible writers were. We must learn by digging into Gods word with the same desire as if we were digging for hidden treasure (Matt. 13:44). If you go on a real treasure hunt you will make mistakes until you find that treasure. No one on earth has yet found ALL the treasure, so we MUST expect mistakes to be made.
I will be extremely surprised if you agree that the above shows that the 1st century Christians DID have to adjust their thinking, but that is the way I see it and understand it.
ANSWER: Please forgive me for taking so long to get back with you. I have been very sick and keep coming back to your question as I can find the energy. It may appear disjunct for that reason. Thank you very much for putting your time and effort into your response. It is very much appreciated. You will be surprised to know that I DO agree that everything you said shows that the 1st century Christians did have to adjust their thinking. Contrary to what DW says about me, I have absolutely no problem with "new light" in the context of better understanding of the Bible. Everyone who reads the Bible supported by prayer and guidance from the Holy Spirit will grow and develop along the way. This growth may come through personal study or even through discussions such as these. All of that is good and healthy.
I am glad you brought out the discussion on circumcision. I felt that I was missing an important one, and my conscience was nagging at me all day yesterday feeling certain I had overlooked something.
Your story line makes complete sense. You pointed out better understanding of the Kingdom, Jews/Gentiles, circumcision, and Peter's misunderstanding of John. I may be wrong for this, but I don't take much stock in the misunderstandings of apostles prior to their anointing by the Holy Spirit in Acts. They were constantly being groomed through their problems by Jesus until that point. So, to me, the Kingdom issue and Peter's misunderstanding of John aren't really an issue regarding change.
The Jews/Gentiles and circumcision issues are the most applicable parts to this discussion. From what I can tell, all of the scripture notes you provided relate to one of the four concepts of your story. I did take the time to review Acts 10:30-11:17, and it certainly applies to the Jews/Gentiles discussion. I also jumped straight into salvation, because any misunderstandings not attached to salvation are just topics for interesting discussion.
I also absolutely agree with most of the statements that you made at the end. ALL religions make mistakes and must be accountable for fixing them. Full knowledge is not yet to be gained. Understanding prophecy is not vital for salvation. No one is inspired of God today as the Bible writers were. The one comment that I find debatable is "by far the major changes made by JWs is in understanding of prophecy". There are a huge number of mistakes that are not related to prophecy. Of course, there are a lot that are too, so I see your point.
Now let me illustrate why I don't believe what the apostles went through regarding "new light" is the same thing the Watchtower goes through. Pretty much everything goes back to what we both agree on in the previous paragraph.
First, the apostles were inspired of God, the members of the faithful and discreet slave are not. The Holy Spirit anointed the apostles throughout the mission. According to Judge Rutherford, the Holy Spirit left in 1918. They apparently didn't need it.
Second, there was no irreparable harm to anyone due to the apostles' changes. The Jew/Gentile discussion confirmed that Gentiles who believed in Christ were indeed Christians. The circumcision decision just says that circumcision is not necessary. In the same place as the Greek husband in your story, I too would be thankful for knowing that, but there is no irreparable harm in circumcision. The most egregious error that I would apply to the Watchtower in this category would be blood transfusions. Too many people needlessly died for them to flip-flop from commending it to disfellowship-worthy to accepting minor fractions to accepting major fractions. The Mexico/Malawi incident is another worth listing here,
Third, full knowledge is not yet to be gained. In neither of the apostles' scenarios did a mandate on these beliefs be required for salvation. These beliefs opened the door for others, not closed it. It is exactly because the FDS is fallible that they should not hold the salvation of 8 million over their head through agreeing with everything they say. Listen, if they would preach what they believed to be the truth without threatening to wreck the lives of those who question what they say, I would have very little to complain about. But when literally EVERYTHING is a salvation issue to the Watchtower (because they will take away your salvation if you unrepentantly believe anything different than them), I have a giant problem.
Finally, nothing the apostles adjusted can be truthfully interpreted as something that was self-serving or self-preserving. There are many changes that fall into this category for the Watchtower. (i.e. Beth Sarim, creation of Governing Body, who the FDS is, "generation" teaching, NGO status, etc.)
Seriously, I support you in your statement that growth and development occur through guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is true and infallible. The Watchtower is not. One is your Divine Helper and Advocate. The other is not. Following one is not the same as following the other. Especially when one of them consistently teaches wrong things and forces those things down the throats of their followers.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Thank you for you reply. I appreciate the mild manner you use. There is nothing to forgive in the time you took to answer, I really was not expecting a reply so quick.
I have not followed any discussion that you might have had with “DW”. When I read other posts I look for questions that interest me.
The account of Peter misunderstanding what Jesus said about John and the other pre Pentecost events I mentioned are of (should be of ) interest because, as you said they occurred before the apostles were anointed with holy spirit. You also agreed that... “No one is inspired of God today as the Bible writers were.” Now the apostle had very close and face to face fellowship with our Lord, Jesus, yet they failed to understand many things he said even though some things were repeatedly shown to them (eg the example of greatness in his kingdom)
The point I make of that is, because we are like the apostles Before they received the holy spirit, we SHOULD expect ANY human who wants to follow Jesus today to make mistakes as the apostles did. Their example still comes under the umbrella of 2 Timothy 3:16. “All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight“ (NWT) Their example is there for us to learn from. That is why I have not been stumbled by changes made by JWs.
You mention... “The Mexico/Malawi incident”... Contrary to what most people think, those incidents are quite different to each other, and there is no hypocrisy involved in the way the two incidents were handled as many anti JW opponents will argue. Yes, I have researched both, several years ago. If I can find the research I did on them I will post them, if not I will do it again and post them when I have finished.
What I want to respond to this time, is, that like so many people, you are under the impressions that the WTS “.... consistently teaches wrong things and forces those things down the throats of their followers.”
One. I will argue that what they teach is an understanding that is constantly being refined as they gain more knowledge. (Ephesians 4:15 "but, speaking the truth in love, may GROW UP IN ALL THINGS into Him who is the head —Christ—" NKJV Capitals mine)
I heard a saying once that goes something like this “Truth never changes ...... BUT mankind’s perception of it does” That goes with ALL forms of truth not just Biblical truth but scientific truth as it relates to the human body, the natural world around us, the laws of physics etc. Once it was truth (even taught by the “Church”) that the earth was flat. The sun revolved around the earth etc. Man had limited perception of his place in the cosmos. Galileo develops a telescope and discovers the earth is not the center of the universe. The Church eventually has him tried for heresy.
Not long ago we were taught in school that our solar system had nine planets. Now they teach we have only eight. When I went to school there were 105 elements on the periodic table, now there is 118.
The same goes with medicine. Man continues to learn and as he does so what is once perceived as truth must change.
Now the WTS, to the contrary of popular opinion DO NOT insist that all JWs MUST believe everything that is taught. What we are told is we should not be TEACHING something different to what is officially stated at any point in time. This is based on what Paul wrote to the Corinthians and Philippians.
1 Corinthians 1:10 “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment."”
2 Corinthians 13: 11 “Finally, brethren, …. be of one mind,”
Philippians 2:2 “fulfill my joy by being like-minded,”
Paul gave council that anyone in the congregation that was not speaking in agreement and causing divisions are to be avoided
Romans 16:17 Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.
Why did Paul give the council in 1 Corinthians 1:10? Verse 11 explains “ For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you.” (All above texts from NKJV)
Now JWs are encourages, and have been since the days of Russell to check things out for themselves
*** w05 7/15 p. 23 par. 11 “Keep Proving What You Yourselves Are” ***
“A physical man does not receive the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him,” says the Bible. “However, the spiritual man examines indeed all things.” (1 Corinthians 2:14, 15)
If we find something we can not understand or disagree with what, is expected of a JW , and what do we do? Bellow is a sample of the instructions we receive.
*** w98 8/15 p. 20 par. 19 Strengthening Our Confidence in God’s Righteousness ***
19 Jehovah’s organization does not discourage sincere, timely questions, as some opposers mistakenly claim. (1 Peter 1:10-12) However, the Bible counsels that we avoid foolish, speculative questions. (Titus 3:9) Asking reasonable questions and searching God’s Word and Christian publications to find Scriptural answers can increase our accurate knowledge and can thus strengthen our confidence in Jehovah.
*** w10 10/15 p. 7 par. 20 “Who Has Come to Know the Mind of Jehovah?” ***
20 As we read the Scriptures, what should we do if we come across a passage that is difficult to understand, especially with regard to Jehovah’s thinking? If after researching the matter we still do not have a clear answer, we can view this as a test of our trust in Jehovah. Remember, at times certain statements allow us an opportunity to express our faith in Jehovah’s qualities. Let us humbly acknowledge that we do not understand everything that he does. (Eccl. 11:5) We will thus be prompted to agree with these words of the apostle Paul: “O the depth of God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How unsearchable his judgments are and past tracing out his ways are! For ‘who has come to know Jehovah’s mind, or who has become his counselor?’ Or, ‘Who has first given to him, so that it must be repaid to him?’ Because from him and by him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.”—Rom. 11:33-36.
*** w91 2/1 p. 24 par. 19 Honor Men of All Sorts ***
19 The antidote for any such negative tendency is love and self-control. We need to have a sympathetic, loyal, positive attitude as regards our brothers, noting their fine qualities. If there is something we do not understand, let us always be willing to give our brothers the benefit of the doubt and heed Peter’s counsel: “Above all things, have intense love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8) We must have that kind of love if we are to accord our brothers the honor that is due them."
I could go into that a lot more but at this point I think the above shows shows it is expected that there will be times when something is presented that we find hard to digest. So we are NOT expected to blindly believe everything we are taught.
Another misconception is that people believe that JWs believe that the organisation is our salvation. Absolutely wrong. No organisation can save us. It is only by exercising faith in the ransom sacrifice of our Lord Jesus and obeying him can we gain salvation
Eph 2:8,9 “8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
Hebrews 5:9 “ And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation TO ALL WHO OBEY HIM,” (capitals mine)
There is nothing unusual about those texts. And yes we DO teach that no amount of works or any organisation will save us. Then why do we find the following statements in our publications
*** w02 10/15 p. 18 par. 18 By letting God’s Word guide us and by staying active with his visible organization, we can be sure that he will always be there to support us****** w01 6/15 p. 26 Let us always stay close to Jehovah and his mother like organization, not separating ourselves from their direction and loving counsel****** w98 8/15 p. 20 par. 20 Yes, we will be rewarded, provided that we exercise absolute confidence in Jehovah and in the organization he is using. Proverbs 14:26 assures us: “In the fear of Jehovah there is strong confidence, and for his sons there will come to be a refuge.”*** *** w98 9/1 p. 11 par. 14 Keep Safe as Part of God’s Organization *** Hence, to be part of God’s organization―of which “the kingdom of the heavens” is the central part―one has to be doing God’s will."
There are many citations that individuals can pull up saying that we must belong to the WT Organisation. How ever that is NOT what any of those citations are saying. They are not talking about belonging to the WT organisation, but an organised group of people that are doing their best to follow the Christ by obeying his commands and living in line with Gods laws and principles.
Even though the word “organisation” does not appear in the Bible, a close study of Gods word shows he has ALWAYS used an organisation. First we must recognise an important quality of Jehovah. In 1 Corinthians 14:33 we learn “For God is not the author of confusion but of peace,.” (NKJV) The Greek word here rendered confusion literally means “instability, i.e. disorder:” (Strongs Lexicon word number 181). The NWT renders this verse as “For God is [a God], not of disorder, but of peace” Everything Jehovah does is orderly.
Adam and Eve was an organisation of 2. Adam was to take the lead. The Patriarchs such as Abraham Isaac and Jacob were organisations under the leadership of the patriarch. During the time of the judges Israel was organised with judges, and priests to administer justice and spiritual education. Then there were the reign of the kings. They all worked well especially when they followed Gods laws. In the time of the 1st century there was organisation. Qualifications were put in place for responsible men to Sheppard and oversea the running of the congregations (1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1)
At first the followers of Christ were all Jews. Belonging to the congregation set them apart from the “everyday Jew” that honestly believed that they were Gods chosen people” We have 2 groups of people both claiming to belong to God. (one group accepted Jesus as the Christ/Messiah, the other, were/are still waiting for the Christ/Messiah to come)
The purpose of the congregations was to build up the faith of Christians to insight to love and fine works (Hebrews 10:23,24)
Jws do not join the Watchtower organisation nor do we join Jehovah's Witnesses, we become Jehovah's Witnesses just as in the first century people became Christians.
Ok what about your dedication vow? That shows you belong to the Watchtower organisation!
... Well no, it does not.... IT is not a vow of allegiance to an organisation or group of people. JWs do not belong to the Watchtower organisation. The Watchtower belongs to JWs. Baptism is a vow to God to do the best we can in our imperfect state to serve him. The question that is asked is ..... "Do you understand that your dedication and baptism IDENTIFY you as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses IN ASSOCIATION WITH God’s spirit-directed organization?
What it is saying is that when a person has decided to dedicate their lives to doing Gods will and show that by baptism, that, from then on, they will be recognised as one of Jehovah's Witnesses and, all that comes with that, the good and the bad. It is a conscientious decision they have (or should have) carefully made. They are now WORKING ALONG WITH (not a pert of) the Watchtower Society. The WTS and JWs have the same purpose, to spread the gosple (good news) of Gods Kingdom by means of his Son Jesus.
How can it be said that the Watchtower Society is spirit directed? Does not that imply that you believe the holy spirit actively direct them? Isn't that the same as saying they believe they are inspired?
NO. The view of being spirit directed, means that we take the Bible, all of the Bible as being inspired of God. As long as we follow the Bible, all of the Bible we are being led by the spirit because the Bible was spirit directed in its writing.
And as you agreed before we need to keep searching the scripture in order “to test of all things” (1 Thessalonians 5:21 NJKV)
Why do JWs follow the lead of what is printed by the WT. Because Paul wrote (Hebrews 13:17) "Be obedient to those who are taking the lead among YOU and be submissive, for they are keeping watch over YOUR souls as those who will render an account; that they may do this with joy and not with sighing, for this would be damaging to YOU." (NWT)
There is a lot more I would lie to say on all of the above and on the blood issue as well but that is enough for now
No problem, and I appreciate your manner as well. There is a lot of content in your letter. I will try my best to get to everything in as condensed a way as possible. While I prefer a narrative response, It would be easier for me to copy your points below and respond underneath.
You: "The account of Peter misunderstanding what Jesus said about John and the other pre Pentecost events I mentioned are of (should be of ) interest because, as you said they occurred before the apostles were anointed with holy spirit"
Me: I follow the truth in the teachings of Christ and the teachings of the apostles following their anointing. Other teachings or misunderstandings may be false and therefore not worth following, although they do provide great learning moments for today's believers. That's why I acknowledged that the Jews/Gentiles and circumcision issues were particularly relevant to our discussion. I whole-heartedly agree with each of the scriptures you stated, however the application of it to the WT comes with the assumption that it is God's spirit-directed organization.
Me: I would be very interested in hearing the evidence you have for that. I am a fair and balanced person and will gladly weigh both sides. Please send me a private message, and I will offer you my e-mail address. It is easier to dialogue that way.
You: "Galileo develops a telescope and discovers the earth is not the center of the universe. The Church eventually has him tried for heresy"
Me: This is precisely my issue with the WT. The Church was wrong for doing this, and the WT does the same. I have spoken with hundreds of current and former JW's who went through quite the judicial hearing when they believed (notice I didn't say taught) something different than the WT. Many of these were disfellowshipped as a result even though they had absolutely no intention of causing any kind of division. I hope as sensible as you are that you don't really believe that everyone who has been disfellowshipped was guilty of their accusation.
You: "Now the WTS, to the contrary of popular opinion DO NOT insist that all JWs MUST believe everything that is taught. What we are told is we should not be TEACHING something different to what is officially stated at any point in time"
Me: Not true.
"First, since "oneness" is to be observed, a mature Christian must be in unity and full harmony with fellow believers as far as faith and knowledge are concerned. He does not advocate or insist on personal opinions or harbor private ideas
when it comes to Bible understanding." Watchtower 2001 Aug 1 p.14
"The point is that Christians have implicit trust in their heavenly Father; they do not question what he tells them through his written Word and organization
." Watchtower 1974 Jul 15 p.441
"If we have love for Jehovah and for the organization of his people we shall not be suspicious, but shall, as the Bible says, 'Believe all things,' all the things that the Watchtower brings out " Qualified to be Ministers (1955) p.156
The scriptures you pointed out all say to be of the same MIND.
You: "Now JWs are encourages, and have been since the days of Russell to check things out for themselves"
Me: As long as what they look at has already been ok'ed by the WT. Anything not ok'ed by the WT is labeled apostate/opposer literature the second it disagrees with WT teaching.
You: "Another misconception is that people believe that JWs believe that the organisation is our salvation. Absolutely wrong. No organisation can save us. It is only by exercising faith in the ransom sacrifice of our Lord Jesus and obeying him can we gain salvation"
Me: I couldn't agree with you more. No organization can save you. Your belief in and following of our Lord Jesus is your salvation. Please connect this thought with the next one.
You: "There are many citations that individuals can pull up saying that we must belong to the WT Organisation. How ever that is NOT what any of those citations are saying. They are not talking about belonging to the WT organisation, but an organised group of people that are doing their best to follow the Christ by obeying his commands and living in line with Gods laws and principles"
Me: "And while now the witness yet includes the invitation to come to Jehovahs organization for salvation
, the time no doubt will come when the message takes on a harder tone, like a "great war cry."" Watchtower 1981 Nov 15 p.21
So I can come to Jehovah's organization for salvation without subscribing to beliefs of the WT? No...because
"Only Jehovah's Witnesses, those of the anointed remnant and the "great crowd," as a united organization under the protection of the Supreme Organizer, have any Scriptural hope of surviving the impending end of this doomed system dominated by Satan the Devil." Watchtower 1989 Sep 1 p.19
"We need to obey the faithful and discreet slave to have Jehovah’s approval." Watchtower 2011 Jul 15 p.24 Simplified English Edition
who is identified as
"the small, composite group of anointed brothers serving at world headquarters" of the WATCHTOWER. jw.org 10th Nov 2012
You: "In the time of the 1st century there was organisation."
This is a speech by Fred Franz, not an apostate link. Warning: You need 30 free minutes. We can correspond via e-mail about this if you wish.
You: Qualifications were put in place for responsible men to Sheppard and oversea the running of the congregations (1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1)"
Me: I can find biblical qualifications for a lot of positions within the organization (i.e. elders, overseers). Can you please point me to the biblical qualifications of the Governing Body? As the faithful and discreet slave, the Bible should be clear as to their qualifications.
You: "JWs do not belong to the Watchtower organisation. The Watchtower belongs to JWs."
Me: I agree with the concept, but it simply isn't applied that way. The FDS is the GB of the WT (sorry I am getting tired). What they say goes for all 8 million followers. This set-up of hierarchy is ironically very similar to that of the Catholic Church, another organization I am not particularly fond of.
You: "The WTS and JWs have the same purpose, to spread the gosple (good news) of Gods Kingdom by means of his Son Jesus"
Me: Then you and I share the same purpose, not to mention a lot of other people who are not considered "Jehovah's Witnesses" or are in association with the WTS.
You: "The view of being spirit directed, means that we take the Bible, all of the Bible as being inspired of God. As long as we follow the Bible, all of the Bible we are being led by the spirit because the Bible was spirit directed in its writing."
Me: I completely agree. We are both convinced that we follow all of the Bible and are being led by the spirit. I believe that this is a personal relationship between the person and Jehovah. I know many Jehovah's Witnesses who have this personal relationship as well as many who do not. I also know of many within the churches of Christendom who have this relationship as well as many who do not. Being a JW or any other label has nothing to do with this relationship.
You: "Why do JWs follow the lead of what is printed by the WT. Because Paul wrote (Hebrews 13:17) "Be obedient to those who are taking the lead among YOU and be submissive, for they are keeping watch over YOUR souls as those who will render an account; that they may do this with joy and not with sighing, for this would be damaging to YOU." (NWT)
Me: Again, I couldn't agree more. Just please also remember Matthew 7:15-23.
Okay, my illness is calling me back to sleep at this point. Thank you for the discussion. It is a pleasure to speak with you.