Tag Archives: Covenant

Anointed Class Sighting at the Jehovah’s Witness Memorial!

Crikey

Pic Sourced From Someone’s Instagram

We interrupt my list of Top 10 Topics to Discuss With Jehovah’s Witnesses to bring you a special report from Steve Irwin, the crocodile hunter (imagine his voice narrating): “We’ve got a rare one here! It’s the very rare member of the anointed class! As you know, there are only 144,000 of these beauties in existence, and most of them have already died! That makes them an endangered species, and here’s one right in front of us! Just look at that one eating the bread and drinking the wine! Crikey!”

That’s right, I attended the recent Memorial at a Jehovah’s Witnesses kingdom hall not far from me, and for the first time observed someone actually eating the bread and drinking the wine! For those who are unaware of what takes place at the JW memorial, read the next paragraph. If you already know, then skip ahead.

Jehovah’s Witness only observe what Christian churches call communion, eucharist, or the Lord’s Supper once a year, and they call it the Memorial or the Lord’s Evening Meal. They also believe and teach that only the 144,000 anointed believers are part of the New Covenant, and so they are the only ones expected to eat and drink. The rest of the “great crowd” believers are expected to respectfully observe the ceremony. Weird, right? It gets weirder. The practical result is a room full of people passing the plates and the cups up and down the rows, with almost no one eating or drinking! It is truly bizarre. Occasionally you hear about one, usually an elderly member, who believes they are of the anointed heaven-bound class, and they alone eat and drink.

So, I have attended perhaps 6 memorial services over the years that I have been interacting with JW’s, and I wondered if I would ever see one of the “anointed” eat and drink the elements. Well, this last Friday, I saw one! An older lady nibbled and sipped, just across the aisle and a couple seats over. After the service, I recognized her as one with whom I had talked with in the past; she seems (then and now) most interested in talking about her medical conditions.

What’s so sad is that one of my favorite passages of scripture, Romans 8:16, which says “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children,” was quoted by the speaker, who then explained how that verse applies ONLY to the anointed 144,000. It makes me seethe inside! The great majority of Jehovah’s Witnesses are being denied all the blessings of being in the New Covenant:  Being born again, being adopted as Jehovah’s sons and daughters, being kings and priests, having Jesus as their mediator, the heavenly hope, and more.

One of the songs sung at that night’s memorial was their song #25, A Special Possession:

  1. God has a new creation,

His spirit-anointed sons.

He has bought them from mankind;

His approval they’ve won.

(CHORUS)

A special possession,

They’re a people for your name.

They love you. They praise you.

As one they declare abroad your fame.

  1. They are a holy nation,

Who handle the truth aright.

God has called them from darkness

To his wonderful light.

  1. Faithful to their commission,

They gather the other sheep.

To the Lamb they are loyal.

His commandments they keep.

 

This is the only JW song that I sing with them. But I change one thing. Every place the song says “they,” I sing “we.” This changes the application of the song’s words from the anointed class only, to all believers. Those standing around me hear me do that. I hope they think about the significance of what I’m singing. I can’t bring myself to do anything disruptive in the service; that’s just not me. But I imagine my little word-changing to be my subtle protest. Ooh, I’m such a rebel. Watch out! But I have to be subtle. Making a scene would shut them down, and they wouldn’t hear anything I had to say. I’m trying to make an impact, softly. It’s like beating on a concrete dam with one of those inflatable squeaky hammers. God, put your miraculous power in my stupid little hammer.

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Thank you, Jesus, for Jehovah’s Witnesses

Over the weekend I was thinking about my involvement with Jehovah’s Witnesses the last few years, and I found myself talking with God about it. Have you ever prayed something, then realized the import of what you just prayed, after praying it? That’s what happened to me. What I prayed was, “Thank you, Jesus, for Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

By the way, yes, I talk to Jesus, praying directly to him, because along with Thomas I can say to Jesus “My Lord and my God” (literally, “The Lord of me and The God of me”). The practice of addressing Jesus in prayer is second nature to me, and has been from the early days of my Christian journey.

So as I prayed that simple prayer to Jesus, I realized something. I realized that my attitude toward JW’s had changed over the years.

It used to be that I would reluctantly talk with my friend Mark. At times I even avoided him, if I didn’t feel like talking. At that time, I was not thankful for Jehovah’s Witnesses. More like, I just tolerated them, reluctantly. Now, I’m eager to meet with Mark and others, even going out of my way to connect with them. So what changed? The answer is: I did. Over the last few years, The Lord changed me. And He used at least two things to accomplish that change.

The first thing that changed my attitude was seeing God at work as I conversed with Mark and other JW’s. Seeing Mark open to what I had to share, and realizing that only God could cause that openness (see John 6:44), was highly encouraging. And seeing God protect my conversations with him and others from the intervention of JW elders and overseers was exciting, something like being a secret agent for Jesus.

Secondly, my study of scripture in preparation for my conversations with JW’s has been nothing less than transformational for me. When I researched the benefits of being a believer in Christ, which scripture says are available “to all who believe,” rather than only to the 144,000 as taught by Watchtower, the result has been a re-vitalization of my faith. Doctrines that in the past have been limited to rational understanding (head knowledge) are now felt by me emotionally, and experienced by me directly. Here are some, but not all, of those scriptural truths that have for me a new-found significance:

Adoption: When I put my trust in Jesus, Jehovah adopted me as his son. I’m his legally adopted child, and have a relationship with him where I can even call him “Dad.” (John 1:12, Romans 8:15, Galatians 3:26 and 4:6.)

Heirs: Because I am Jehovah’s legally adopted child, I’m also his heir. I inherit from him a heavenly home, as well as access to his authority now, and rewards in the life to come. (Romans 4:14 and 8:17, Galatians 3:29 and 4:7, Titus 3:7, Ephesians 3:6 and James 2:5.)

Mediator: Having Jesus as my mediator between me and Jehovah means that Jesus redeemed me by his ransom, and intercedes in prayer for me, giving weight and meaning to the concept of praying “in Jesus’ name.” (First Timothy 2:5-6, Hebrews 8:10-12.)

Kings and Priests: Jehovah makes all of his adopted children (even me) kings and priests, from the moment of faith (aka belief). (First Peter 2:7-9, Revelation 5:9-10.)

Rebirth: All who believe, that is, putting their trust in what Jesus did for them (including me) are born again, experiencing a new life in Christ. (First John 5:1. Note: this verse in the New World Translation app, published by the Watchtower, provides a cross-reference to John 3:3, about being born again.)

New Covenant: All who believe (not just 144,000), again including me, are grafted into the New Covenant, which is JEHOVAH’S ARRANGEMENT WITH HIS PEOPLE. (See what I did there with the all-caps and italics? That’s the emphasis we need to be using when we speak about it.) This New Covenant is the legal contract that Jehovah signed with Jesus’ blood, committing himself to many promises, some of which are listed here. (Hebrews 8:10-12, 9:15, and 12:24, Ephesians 2:12.)

Citizenship: We are made legalized, naturalized citizens of Jehovah’s kingdom, with all the responsibilities and benefits pertaining thereto. Just as the foreign residents in Old Testament times could become naturalized citizens of Israel, and could participate in all the festivals and feasts, including the Passover, we now are entitled to full participation in all the benefits of the New Covenant, including the Lord’s Evening Meal, among many others. (Ephesians 2:19, Philippians 3:20, Exodus 12, Numbers 15, Isaiah 56:6-8.)

This list is not exhaustive; there are others including, but not limited to, eternal security, immortality, being able to please Jehovah, being declared righteous, being Abraham’s seed, and receiving/having/being sealed with the Holy Spirit. Learning about all these benefits that are given to little ol’ me has injected my faith journey with a new-found power and joy. So I thank you, Jesus, for Jehovah’s Witnesses!

May Jehovah touch your life in the same way as you study in preparation for your conversations with JW’s and other pre-Christians.

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“Orphan Train,” a Short, Short Story

I’m attaching a short, short story that I recently wrote. You will probably quickly figure out that it’s an allegory about Jehovah’s Witnesses. But it’s a bit more than that. It summarizes my experiences as I attempt to share my faith with JW’s and non-JW’s alike. It also serves as a brief description of my strategy, which I’m hoping could be useful to other believers as they attempt to share their faith with others. Please give it a read, and let me know what you think. I hope you find it both enjoyable and helpful!

Orphan Train

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Two Very Different Circuit Overseers

Some time ago (perhaps 2 years now) I talked with a circuit overseer after the meeting, and asked him one of my favorite questions. “If the 144,000 anointed are in the New Covenant, what covenant are the “great crowd” believers in?” His answer: “I have never thought about that.” He was stumped, and even asked the local elders if they knew the answer to the question.

Fast forward to this last Tuesday, when I asked the same question of a different visiting circuit overseer. This time the CO was very clear on the subject. “They are not in any covenant,” he adamantly declared. He then explained that the great crowd “benefits” from the anointed being in the new covenant, and proceeded to give the party line illustration of working for a boss who enters into various contracts, and his employees benefit from those “covenants.” I then used my New World Translation app to show him (and another listening JW) Ephesians 2, which contrasts those within the New Covenant and those without. I also talked about the description of the New Covenant in Jeremiah 31, expressing my excitement about it, and my concern about the Watchtower’s teaching that some would be excluded from it. All the while the CO remained firm, giving no indication of any doubt or questioning of the Watchtower doctrine on the subject.

I have several observations about the whole interaction.

First, regarding the tone of the conversation: We were both friendly throughout, and left as friends. Really! Me, an evangelical Christian, and thus part of “Babylon the Great, the Satanic system of world religions,” and him, part of “Jehovah’s only approved organization on earth.” As far as he knew, I was merely an “interested Bible student,” that is, a seeker of truth on his way to becoming a Jehovah’s Witness, and not a “hostile opposer.” How did that happen? Two things: (1) My efforts to keep things on a friendly level rather than arguing, and (2) The Holy Spirit’s protection of His ministry through me, in spite of my efforts and/or failings.

Secondly, in the natural realm (on the surface of things), it would appear that both he and I were making our points, with neither of us having any effect on the other. However, here’s what I see happening in the spiritual realm. As a circuit overseer, he MUST maintain a stainless steel demeanor, especially in the presence of the congregants. Only Jehovah knows what was going on in his heart and mind. He may have been experiencing an inner turmoil at the Truth of God’s word, struggling with all his might to maintain his composure. Or he may have been hardening his heart further against the Truth in his loyalty to the Watchtower. But there had to be some kind of activity going on, because God’s Word does not return empty, but accomplishes its work. Always.

Thirdly, another congregant was listening in, pretty intently. I could not read him either, other than to note his piqued interest. I have to believe that God’s Word and Spirit was at work on him too.

All of this to affirm that the conversation two years ago with circuit overseer #1 was fascinating, exciting, and fun. And the same can be said of the conversation on Tuesday night with overseer #2. Even though the two conversations, and the two CO’s, were vastly different from one another. And God was at work by his Holy Spirit both times.

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Buzz-Words to Pounce Upon

In talking with JW’s recently, I have discovered some buzzwords that they occasionally use that are helpful in my conversations with them. For example, I was talking this last weekend with three JW’s at one of their literature stands. While talking about the New Covenant, the man (Michael I think) mentioned that the New Covenant gives the Annointed class (the 144,000) the “legal right” to receive from Jehovah the benefits of that covenant.

Springing on the phrase “legal right,” I said, “It’s interesting you should bring up the legal right of those in the covenant. Have you noticed that concept in John 1?” We then went to John 1:11-12, which says that “He came to his own home, but his own people did not accept him. However, to all who did receive him, he gave authority to become God’s children, because they were exercising faith in his name.” I then explained that anyone who received Christ, exercising faith in his name, has the “legal right” to become one of Jehovah’s children. Availability is there for anyone to enter into Jehovah’s arrangement, or covenant, with him.

Here are some other buzzwords or concepts that they will occasionally use that I find useful:

Jesus as Mediator

New Covenant (or any covenant)

Jehovah’s Arrangement

Foreign Residents

Citizens of the Kingdom

Many of your average JW’s do not know what the Watchtower teaches on these subjects, and they also do not know what the Bible teaches about them either. So they are good directions to take in conversations, getting the JW’s off of their usual rutted paths. See my other posts about these topics for more information on each.

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The Five Most Important Watchtower Articles to Download Now

I recommend downloading the following Watchtower articles, to use as talking points with Jehovah’s Witnesses.

July 2013 Study Edition

“Tell Us, When Will These Things Be?”

“Look, I Am with You All the Days”

“Feeding Many Through the Hands of a Few”

“Who Really Is the Faithful and Discreet Slave?”

These articles are the presentation of the “new light” of 2012 regarding the time of Jesus’ return (future rather than 1914) and the identity of the “faithful and discreet slave” (governing body rather than anointed class). Ask: In the past Matthew 24 was used to prove that Jesus’ “coming” or “arrival” had taken place in 1914, translating the word parousia as “presence.” Now it is being taught that Jesus’ arrival will be future. What scriptural support is now being given that Jesus came to earth in 1914?

October 2014: “When Did God’s Kingdom Begin Ruling? (Part 1)” and

November 2014: “When Did God’s Kingdom Begin ruling? (Part 2)”

These articles attempt to explain the “greater interpretation” of Daniel 4, as well as describing the “interruption of God’s rulership” between the death of the apostles and 1914. Ask: How could Jehovah’s rule be interrupted? When did Jehovah stop ruling?

May 2015 Study Edition

“Questions From Readers”: “Who is Gog of Magog mentioned in the book of Ezekiel?”

This article reveals the teaching that Michael who stands up in Daniel 12 is Jesus in Revelation 19, neglecting the fact that both are mentioned in Revelation 19. Michael is standing, while Jesus is seated on a white horse the whole time. Politely ask your JW friend to explain that detail in Revelation 19 to you.

October 2014, Simplified Edition

“Have Unshakable Faith in the Kingdom”

This article lists 5 covenants in scripture, including Abrahamic, Davidic, Melchizedek, New, and Kingdom Covenants. All are applied to the anointed class exclusively. (Some JW’s think that the Great Crowd is in the Abrahamic covenant.) Ask: If the anointed class (the 144000) is in the New Covenant, what covenant is the Great Crowd in?

November 2014, Simplified Edition

“The People Whose God Is Jehovah,” and

“Now You Are God’s People”

In these articles the Great Crowd is likened to the “foreign residents” (non-Israelites) of the Old Testament. The scriptures referenced in the second article (from Exodus 12, Leviticus24, Numbers 15, and Deuteronomy 10), when read in context, indicate that the foreign residents would be considered “the same as” the natural-born Israelites, living under the same laws and receiving the same benefits. The Watchtower article even says “Jehovah was happy to allow them to be a part of his chosen people.” See also Numbers 9:14, where the foreigners could fully participate in the Passover, the precursor to the Lord’s Evening Meal (Memorial). Ask: If the resident aliens could eat the Passover meal, why can’t the Great Crowd eat the Lord’s Evening Meal?

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Quick Questions for Jehovah’s Witnesses

The Jehovah’s Witnesses are at your door. You don’t have time to talk for long (or you just don’t want to). What can you do? Here are some quick questions to ask them, to get them thinking “off track” from their usual rehearsed conversations.

1. If the anointed class of 144,000 are in the New Covenant, what covenant are the great crowd in? (See WT, Simplified Version, 10/2014)

2. If the foreign residents in the Old Testament were allowed to eat the Passover, why aren’t the great crowd allowed to eat and drink at the Lord’s Evening Meal (Memorial)? (See WT, Simplified, 11/2014 and Exodus 12:48-49.)

3. If, since 2012, Jesus’ presence or arrival in Matthew 24 is no longer interpreted as a present reality, but rather a prophecy about the future, what passage now supports his invisible presence since 1914? (See WT 7/15/2013)

4. If Jehovah’s kingdom began ruling in 1914, how could Jehovah’s rulership been “interrupted” before that? Has Jehovah not always ruled? (See WT 10/2014.)

5. If recent teaching says that “a bible account represents something greater only when there is a clear scriptural reason to do so,” (WT simplified 3/2015), what is the “clear scriptural reason” for a secondary interpretation of Daniel 4?

6. What part of Michael the Archangel was transferred to Jesus, if Jesus was a human and nothing more? (See “What Does the Bible Really Teach?” “Who Is Jesus Christ?” Paragraph 14.)

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Talking Points

I have several talking points that have become my standard “go-to’s” when meeting a new Jehovah’s Witness for the first time. They are:

1. Here’s one of my favorite Bible verses: 1 John 5:13, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” I’m excited because I know that I have eternal life. Do you know for sure that you have eternal life?

2. If the 144,000 are in the New Covenant, what covenant are the great crowd in? The 4 possibilities are Old Covenant, New Covenant, Some other covenant (Abrahamic, Noahic, etc.), or no covenant at all. (Some JW’s try to say Abrahamic, but Watchtower’s recent article says that Abrahamic is only for the annointed 144,000.) I love looking at Jeremiah 31:31ff with them.

3. Let’s look at Romans 8 together. Have you ever read it? Tell me, how much of this chapter is for Great Crowd Believers?

4. I think I just discovered a new one. Looking at Ephesians 2:19 and Philippians 3:20. Are Great Crowd believers citizens of Jehovah’s kingdom? If not, what status do they have? If they’re not citizens, are they “legal aliens”?

I’m looking forward to trying that new one the next time I meet a JW.

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The Little Dogs Under the Table

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