Watchtower: January 2016
Study Article: “The Spirit Bears Witness With Our Spirit”
Study Date: March 14-20, 2016
“The spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are God’s children.”
– Romans 8:16
We conclude our commentary on the January 2016 Watchtower magazine (“WT”) in this Part 5. The Spirit Bears Witness Part 1 (paragraphs 1-4), Part 2 (paragraphs 5-7), Part 3 (paragraphs 8-10) and Part 4 (paragraphs 11-14).
Have You Been Called?
WT Paragraphs 15:
“15 Perhaps you are wondering if you have received this wonderful invitation. If you think that you might have, ponder some important questions. Do you feel that you have more than average zeal in the ministry? Are you a keen student of God’s Word who loves to delve into “the deep things of God”? (1 Cor. 2:10) Have you seen Jehovah’s special blessing on your ministry? Do you have a burning desire to do Jehovah’s will? Do you have a deep inner feeling of responsibility to help others spiritually? Have you seen proof that Jehovah has personally intervened in your life? If you answer these questions with a resounding yes, does this mean that you now have the heavenly calling? No, it does not. Why not? Because these are not unique feelings experienced only by those who have the heavenly calling. Jehovah’s spirit works with equal force in those who have the hope of living forever on earth. In fact, if you are wondering whether you have received the heavenly calling, that would in itself indicate that you have not received it. Those called by Jehovah do not wonder whether they have been invited or not! They know!
The question for paragraph 15 asks:
"15. What does not prove that a person has been anointed by holy spirit?
A person who has a zeal for the ministry, who is a keen student of the Bible, who loves to delve in to the deep things of God, who has seen Jehovah’s blessing on their ministry, who has a burning desire to do the Father’s will, who has a deep inner feeling of responsibility to help others spiritually, who has seen proof that Jehovah has personally intervened in their life certainly sounds like a person who is being led by God’s spirit! So these factors should not be discounted. Nevertheless, this Watchtower writer has found a way to do just that.
He asserts that “these are not unique feelings experienced only by those who have the heavenly calling. Jehovah’s spirit works with equal force in those who have the hope of living forever on earth.” This is not a true statement. Notice what Paul unequivocally wrote:
“For all who are led by God’s spirit are indeed God’s sons.”
– Romans 8:14
Yes, all who are following the spirit’s leading and seeing manifestations of spirit influence in their lives ARE sons of God – i.e., those who have the heavenly hope – whether they realize it and accept it, or not! (See our article Who Are Led By Spirit? which is a commentary on Romans Chapter 8.) This scripture alone should cause many Jehovah’s Witnesses to think rationally about their hope. If they find the above factors exist in their life, then the indications are that they are sons of God. God’s spirit that dwells within them is stirring them, moving them, drawing them. The next step is up to them. Will they continue to resist by accepting the indoctrination of strangers and ‘grieve the spirit’ (Galatians 4:30), or will they submit to the Spirit of Truth and allow it to complete their anointing? Our brothers and sisters who are spirit-led have a serious choice to make.
The writer then makes a complete about face and contradicts what was written in paragraph 6 of the same article. He wrote in paragraph 15:
“In fact, if you are wondering whether you have received the heavenly calling, that would in itself indicate that you have not received it. Those called by Jehovah do not wonder whether they have been invited or not! They know!”
However, in paragraph 6, he wrote:
“So not all are anointed in exactly the same manner. Some may have had a rather sudden realization of their calling, while others experienced a more gradual realization.”
A ‘gradual realization’ means that a person will gain a progressive assurance of their hope. This further means that at some point, he was less sure of his anointing and would have been one of those who was ‘wondering whether he had been invited or not.’ So, it is fair to ask: Which one is it? Can an anointed one have a gradual realization, or must he know immediately without question? Either this writer is confused or is being deceptive. We believe it is the latter.
The ‘gradual realization’ theory introduced in paragraph 6 was used to explain why some people once had the ‘earthly hope,’ but now have the heavenly hope (paragraph 13). As we mentioned in Part 3, we believe this change in teaching is designed to legitimize the ‘helpers’ who will soon be appointed to the Governing Body who once had the ‘earthly hope.’ So the ‘gradual realization’ theory serves their self-dealing purpose.
However, the ‘sudden realization’ theory introduced in paragraph 15 has a wholly different purpose. While the ‘gradual realization’ theory serves to legitimize the Governing Body, the ‘sudden realization’ theory serves to disenfranchise all other anointed ones by discounting the work of the spirit in their lives. Jehovah’s Witnesses who are experiencing a ‘gradual realization’ are now instantly eliminated from the ranks of ‘the true anointed’ in the Watchtower organization. This is insidious and deceptive. Let us reason together.
If one of Jehovah’s Witnesses once sincerely believed he or she was in line for everlasting life on a paradise earth and then later began to experience a spiritual rebirth, would not wisdom and discretion dictate that they be cautious at first. When one holds a sincere belief that one has staked their life upon, as have many Jehovah’s Witnesses, changing to the Christian hope is not a gradual progression. It is a complete reversal. It is not like non-Jehovah’s Witnesses who hear the word and gladly accept it. Jehovah’s Witnesses have a great deal of ‘unlearning’ to do first. It requires humility to admit they were wrong which is unfortunately a difficult quality to manifest in the Watchtower organization. But the Father surely understands these factors and exercises a great deal of patience for sincere individuals who have carried the burden of erroneous manmade doctrines. For those individuals, a ‘gradual realization’ is to be expected.
WT Paragraph 16:
“16 Throughout the Scriptures, we see many examples of men of faith who were deeply moved by holy spirit; yet they did not have the hope of living in heaven. John the Baptist was one such person. Jesus highly praised him but stated that John would not be included in the heavenly Kingdom. (Matt. 11:10, 11) David was likewise moved by holy spirit. (1 Sam. 16:13) He was a man of great spiritual depth and was even inspired to write sections of the Bible. (Mark 12:36) Still, at Pentecost, Peter said of David that he “did not ascend to the heavens.” (Acts 2:34) Holy spirit worked mightily in such ones, but it did not give them the special witness that they had been selected for heavenly life. That did not mean that they were in some way unworthy or deficient. It simply meant that Jehovah would resurrect them to life on a paradise earth.—John 5:28, 29; Acts 24:15.
The question for paragraph 16 asks:
"16. How do we know that not all those who have received God’s spirit have been invited to go to heaven?
This question is based on a faulty premise. The scriptures cited in the paragraph do not lead to the conclusion that some with God’s spirit “would not be included in the heavenly Kingdom.”
As for John the Baptist, we note that Jesus did not say that John would not be in the heavenly kingdom. Here is what Jesus actually said:
“This is the one about whom it is written: ‘Look! I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way ahead of you!’ Truly I say to you, among those born of women, there has not been raised up anyone greater than John the Baptist, but a lesser person in the Kingdom of the heavens is greater than he is.”
– Matthew 11:10-11
A fair reading of this scripture does not support the idea that John would be excluded from the heavens. It only means that with all of his greatness on earth, he was not as great as a lesser one who is in the heavenly kingdom. Jesus is extolling the glory of the heavenly inheritance.
We can further add that while John preached that the kingdom was near, he had no real concept of what the kingdom actually was. He was arrested before Jesus began his formal ministry where he introduced the kingdom of the heavens. John was not present at the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus informed those who listened to him that they were invited to enter the kingdom. And, of course, John was executed early in Jesus’ ministry and did not gain the benefits of his parables and later teachings about the heavenly invitation. So in this way also, John was a lesser one in terms of knowledge than one of the least ones who had the benefits of all of Jesus’ teachings. In either case, ‘lesser’ does not equate to exclusion.
As for David, the book of Acts reports Peter as saying:
“For David did not ascend to the heavens, but he himself says, ‘Jehovah said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I place your enemies as a stool for your feet.”’
– Acts 2:34-35
This does not prove that David will not be in heaven. It only proves that David did not ascend to heaven immediately after his death. The reason for this is explained by Jesus and reiterated by Paul:
“Moreover, no man has ascended into heaven but the one who descended from heaven, the Son of man.”
– John 3:13
“[T]hat the Christ was to suffer and, as the first to be resurrected from the dead, he was going to publish light both to this people and to the nations.”
– Acts 26:23
“Also, he is before all [other] things and by means of him all [other] things were made to exist, and he is the head of the body, the congregation. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that he might become the one who is first in all things.”
– Colossians 1:17-18
First, Jesus would be resurrected and then he would prepare the way for others to follow (John 14:2), including his pre-Christian children as is shown in the commentary to paragraph 17 below.
Finally, the paragraph contains another erroneous assumption when it states: “It simply meant that Jehovah would resurrect them to life on a paradise earth.—John 5:28, 29; Acts 24:15.” The scriptures cited do not support a resurrection to life on a paradise earth. Here is what the scriptures actually say:
“Do not be amazed at this, for the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, and those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.”
– John 5:28 -29
“And I have hope toward God, which hope these men also look forward to, that there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.”
– Acts 24:15
Both of these scriptures assure us that there will be a resurrection, but neither states where the resurrected individuals will be. We will have to consider other scriptures to determine where the resurrected ones will live, scriptures that the Watchtower does not provide. For a detailed discussion of the scriptures that show the resurrection is NOT to live forever on earth, see The Promised Resurrection. But the relevant point is that these two scriptures do not support the Watchtower writer’s assertion that Jehovah would resurrect people to life on a paradise earth.
WT Paragraphs 17 and 18:
“17 The vast majority of God’s servants today do not have this heavenly calling. They entertain the same hope as did David, John the Baptist, and other faithful men and women of old. Like Abraham, they look forward to living as subjects under the Kingdom arrangement. (Heb. 11:10) Only a remnant of those selected for heavenly life remains here on earth in this time of the end. (Rev. 12:17) This means that the majority of the 144,000 chosen ones have already died faithfully.
“18 So, then, how should those with an earthly hope view anyone who claims to have the heavenly hope? If someone in your congregation starts to partake of the emblems at the Lord’s Evening Meal, how should you react? Should you be concerned with any increase in the number of those who claim to have the heavenly calling? These questions will be answered in the next article.
The question for paragraphs 17 and 18 asks:
“17, 18. (a) What reward do most of God’s servants look forward to today? (b) What questions will we consider in the next article?
If the vast majority of “God’s servants today” have the same hope as David, John the Baptist and other faithful men and women of old, then “God’s servants today” can look forward to being in the heavenly kingdom! Notice what is recorded in the book of Hebrews:
“By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place he was to receive as an inheritance; he went out, although not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as a foreigner in the land of the promise as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the very same promise. For he was awaiting the city having real foundations, whose designer and builder is God.”
– Hebrews 11:8-10
Abraham was awaiting ‘the city having real foundations’ that God built. It is not a city that man would have to clear and cultivate. But not only Abraham, others had the same hope:
“By faith also Sarah received power to conceive offspring, even when she was past the age, since she considered Him faithful who made the promise. For this reason, from one man who was as good as dead, there were born children, as many as the stars of heaven in number and as innumerable as the sands by the seaside. In faith all of these died, although they did not receive the fulfillment of the promises; but they saw them from a distance and welcomed them and publicly declared that they were strangers and temporary residents in the land.”
– Hebrews 11:11-13
Was this referring to the promised land of Jerusalem and surrounding territories? Not according to Paul, as he continues:
“For those who speak in such a way make it evident that they are earnestly seeking a place of their own. And yet, if they had kept remembering the place from which they had departed, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they are reaching out for a better place, that is, one belonging to heaven. Therefore, God is not ashamed of them, to be called on as their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”
– Hebrews 11:14-16
Yes, the city God built and prepared for those men and women of old is in heaven! And notice what Jesus himself said:
“But I tell you that many from eastern parts and western parts will come and recline at the table with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of the heavens.”
– Matthew 8:11
So not only will faithful pre-Christian Jews be in the kingdom of heaven, but even men ‘from the east and the west,’ who were not associated with the Jewish religion. Yes, all mankind is invited! For a further discussion of the future hopes held by faithful pre-Christian Jews, please refer to our article, Faith Sons and the Heavenly Hope.
The (b) question to paragraphs 17 and 18 asks: "What questions will we consider in the next article?" The questions are: (1) So, then, how should those with an earthly hope view anyone who claims to have the heavenly hope? (2) If someone in your congregation starts to partake of the emblems at the Lord’s Evening Meal, how should you react? (3) Should you be concerned with any increase in the number of those who claim to have the heavenly calling?
The third question is interesting. Why would anyone be concerned about an increase in the number of those who are pursuing the heavens? Recall what John the Baptist said:
“Whoever has the bride is the bridegroom. But the friend of the bridegroom, when he stands and hears him, has a great deal of joy on account of the voice of the bridegroom. So my joy has been made complete. That one must keep on increasing, but I must keep on decreasing.”
– John 3:29-30
According to John, it is expected that those who hold the Christian hope would keep on increasing while those that hold the old ‘Synagogue hope’ would keep on decreasing. The only reason why Jehovah’s Witnesses would be concerned about the increase in anointed partakers is if they believed the contradictory doctrine promoted by the Watchtower organization that the number of anointed must decrease as the ‘end draws near.’ There is no Biblical support for such a doctrine, and the actual evidence within the Watchtower organization shows a steady increase in anointed sons, further demonstrating that it is a false doctrine.
But what do these three questions have in common? They all lead to a negative view of those who ‘claim to have the heavenly hope,’ as is more fully demonstrated in the next study article. This last subheading is entitled “Have You Been Called?” And every paragraph in the section is designed to lead to reader to answer “No.” So let’s reconsider some information provided in earlier paragraphs that might lead a reader to answer “Yes.”
- The anointing can occur at any time in one’s life – prior to or after baptism in water. (Acts 2:2-4; 2:38-41; 8:16-17; Acts 10:44-48)
- An anointed one can assist another Christian to receive his anointing. (Acts 8:14-17)
- Anointing can occur with individuals that some might consider unclean. (Acts 10:1-48)
- Anointed ones can come to either a sudden or a gradual realization of their anointing. (Paragraph 6)
- Anointed ones can have previously held the ‘Synagogue hope’ of living forever on earth (Paragraph 13)
- One who recognizes God as their Father and whose spirit moves them to call God, not by name, but as “Father,” that is, by relationship is an anointed child of God. (Romans 8:15)
- One who is being led by spirit IS a spirit anointed child of God. (Romans 8:14)
Another identifying trait of an anointed child of God is shown in Jesus words about how the Spirit of Truth works:
“I still have many things to say to you, but you are not able to bear them now. However, when that one comes, the spirit of the truth, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak of his own initiative, but what he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things to come. That one will glorify me, because he will receive from what is mine and will declare it to you. All the things that the Father has are mine. That is why I said he receives from what is mine and declares it to you.”
– John 16:12-15
An anointed child of the Father will be moved to glorify Jesus because the Spirit of Truth IS the presence of Jesus. Thus, the things a child of God teaches are the things Jesus taught, not old wine and old covenant ways. He is reborn as a witness of Jesus, as Jesus requested. (Acts 1:8)
We hope the readers of this January 2016 study article recognizes how many faulty assumptions, conflicting theories, and misrepresentations of scripture are contained in it. We hope they observe how many liberties were taken in a publication that claims to be based on the Bible.We hope they notice that the Watchtower writer has gone against the organization’s often repeated warning not to go beyond the things written. And we hope they see how little the Watchtower writer, and those who approved the publication of this article, knows about the anointing, as contained in the Bible and/or as experienced by a true son of God.
This January 2016 article was designed to lead Jehovah’s Witnesses away from the heavenly hope. Instead, it serves as an effective vehicle to reveal that the real hope – the Christian hope – is held out to all our brothers and sisters among Jehovah’s Witnesses. We hope to encourage them to step out from under the servitude of “supervisors and stewards” (Galatians 4:2), to turn away from “hired men”, and to confess union with Jesus, the “fine shepherd” who cares for, protects, and knows his sheep. (John 10:12-15)
We published this series of commentaries allow consideration, conversation, revelation and personal realization of the anointing so that next year’s Memorial Supper will include millions of new voices and bring greater glory to our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus of Nazareth.
“For this very reason, God exalted him to a superior position and kindly gave him the name that is above every other name, so that in the name of Jesus every knee should bend —of those in heaven and those on earth and those under the ground— and every tongue should openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”
– Philippians 2:9-11