Saturday, January 11, 2014

A Relationship with God or an Organization?

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that their organization is the only religious organization on earth that teaches “the truth.” They believe they have the “truth and nothing but the truth.” Truth as they see it can only be found in the pages of the Watchtower publications. In their eyes, no other religious organization has truth.

The reason why Jehovah’s Witnesses believe this is because Watchtower has done a very good job at drilling that concept into the mind of every one of their followers. Everything in life is about “the truth.” When two Jehovah’s Witnesses meet for the first time, one will ask the other, “So how long have you been ‘in the truth?’” While in the non-JW culture that would be an unusual thing to say to a person one is meeting for the first time. Among Jehovah’s Witnesses, it is a getting to know you question, very much like saying, “How are you?” or “What do you do for a living?” The question means to ask how long a person has been a member of the Watchtower organization. Being a baptized member of Jehovah’s Witnesses makes one to be said “in the truth.” Being “in the truth” is akin to being right with God.

When dealing with Jehovah’s Witnesses at the door, many times they will ask the householder what organization he or she belongs to. What they really want to know is which organized religious organization the householder belongs to. The householder may say that he or she believes in Jesus Christ as their Savior and that all their sins are forgiven through His death on the cross and resurrection to life. But that doesn’t matter to the Jehovah’s Witness. They are more interested in telling you that you are in the wrong organization than they are about talking about Jesus Christ. They are truly not God’s (or Jehovah’s) Witnesses. They are witnesses for their organization. Some people at our support group refer to them as Watchtower Witnesses.

Their perception is all about organizations and how God (Jehovah) views religious organizations. In the Jehovah’s Witnesses worldview, God (Jehovah) loves their organization and works exclusively through their organization. The only way to have an approved relationship with God (Jehovah) is through the confines of this Watchtower organization and what they call the faithful and discreet slave (mentioned at Matt. 24:45) that turns out to be the Watchtower governing body.

The July 15, 2013 Watchtower states:

“That faithful slave is the channel through which Jesus is feeding his true followers in this time of the end. It is vital that we recognize the faithful slave. Our spiritual health and our relationship with God depend on this channel,” (Watchtower, July 15, 2013 p. 20).

"To receive everlasting life in the earthly Paradise we must identify that organization and serve God as part of it." (Watchtower 1983 Feb 15 p.12) (bolding mine)

The Watchtower Magazine instructs their followers that their relationship with God depends on this “channel” that they think is God’s organization. Jehovah’s Witnesses live and breathe the organizational concept that theirs is the only God approved organization. Leaving or getting kicked out of this organization is either certain death in the future at Armageddon or a life consisting of losing one’s family and every friend one ever made in the Watchtower organization. The Watchtower insists that that God requires an organization, using 1 Corinthians 14:33 as their proof text: “For God is a God not of disorder but of peace.” However the fact that they are organized is not the problem. The problem lies with the unquestioning authority their members must give their leaders.

"The Bible shows that Jehovah has always guided his servants in an organized way. The nation of Israel was called "Jehovah's congregation." (Numbers 20:4; 1 Chronicles 28:8) If you were a true worshiper of Jehovah back then, you had to be part of that congregation of worshipers, not separate from it. Did Jehovah ever use more than one organization during any period of time? In Noah's day only Noah and those with him inside the ark had God's protection and survived the floodwaters. (1 Peter 3:20) Also, in the first century there were not two or more Christian organizations. God dealt with just the one. There was just the "one Lord, one faith, one baptism." (Ephesians 4:5) Likewise in our day Jesus Christ foretold that there would be only one source of spiritual instruction for God's people." You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth p.192 (bolding mine)

The Watchtower manipulates the fact that Israel was a nation into being an organization that God (Jehovah) set up for his purpose. Granted, Israel was to bring the promised messiah through the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and served as the genetic line for Jesus Christ coming into the world. However, they were not an organization. They were not set up as a highly organized group that manipulated the Israelites’ lives with orders to follow it. Yes, they had the Law as given to Moses, but this Law was set up as a means of forgiving or atoning for sins. They were a nation, an ethnic group of Israelite monotheistic believers that God chose to use to help bring about His purpose for salvation; one who would finally atone completely for the sins of the world, not just Israel.

One does not have a relationship with anyone when there is an organization between yourself and another person. Jesus Christ said that he alone was the way, the truth and the life. He plainly said that no one could come to the Father except through him. (John 14:6) A relationship with an organization is not a real relationship. Think about the organizations that you know of, perhaps that you like to purchase items from. One example I can think of is Amazon has my credit card information, my address, my phone number, and my e-mail address. And although I frequently go online and purchase from them, I have never talked to one individual from that organization. It is highly impersonal organization that I use to buy books, videos, music, toiletries, and many other items. I receive a very impersonal e-mail thanking me for my purchases. They seem to know me, but I don’t know any of them personally. The business relationship I enjoy with is at best, a superficial one. If at any time I would decide to not use, they would not care. They would not even know. They would not threaten me and tell me that I could not leave their website without penalties. They would not be like the mafia who would threaten my livelihood and take away all my friends and family. The organization is only an “it.” So too, the Watchtower organization is only an “it.” It is much better to have a relationship with a real person. This is the difference between an “it” and a “who.”

In a conversation with my Jehovah’s Witness mother concerning whether the Watchtower organization was right or wrong, she tearfully said one time, “But where would I go?” The Watchtower teaches that every Christian denomination is wrong and part of Babylon the Great. In my mother’s mind there is no place to go and be right with God, only the Watchtower offers her such truth. She just does not quite get the fact that to be right with God, it involves believing and accepting Jesus Christ as her savior. There is no organization that can give salvation or forgiveness of sins. The Watchtower just misuses the concept that becoming part of their organization is required for salvation, just as God used Israel. A study of the book of Hebrews would certainly put away this notion. Hebrews 8:13 says: In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. (ESV)

After the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, there was no need for God to have an organization such as Israel with its system of animal sacrifices. All believers would make up the church or the bride of Christ. Believers have a relationship with their Savior, Jesus Christ. As each person comes to Jesus Christ and realizes his or her need for forgiveness as we have all sinned and fall short of God’s glory, we then have a privileged relationship with Him and He loves us because He died for us. My husband has always told me that he would die for me. If someone were trying to shoot me, he would gladly step in front and take the bullet for me to make sure that I lived. Someone who is willing to die for you truly does love you. Jesus Christ as the divine Son of God took on death but was victorious in His resurrection from the dead and His ascension to Heaven. If He loves us that much to die for us a painful death we should be willing to thank Him and praise Him for the greatest love that anyone has ever shown humankind. No organization can offer what Jesus has to offer. No organization will die for you. Only Jesus died to atone for our sins. That is the concept that Jehovah’s Witnesses do not understand. No one can stand between ourselves and Jesus. Jesus has given us love, mercy, forgiveness and grace. The Watchtower organization cannot even come close to offering that. All they do is stand between their followers knowing Jesus Christ. If an object is standing between you and Jesus, how will one ever have a relationship with Jesus Christ?

If you are someone who has been thinking about leaving the Watchtower organization, please remember your relationship with God is not through a “what” (organization). Your relationship with God depends on “who” (Jesus Christ). It is about WHOM we should go to NOT where or what we should belong to. 

So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:67-69, ESV)

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