BRINGING HEAVEN DOWN - PART 8
BY IMPARTIAL AND CONSECRATED SERVICE
December 3, 2013
Partiality and favoritism in religion are as common today as they have been in the history of man. A constant wrestling persists over who is superior, who is right, and who is favored by God. This controversy should have come to an end in the first century. We read in the book of Acts that our Father is not partial – He is no respecter of persons.
“At this Peter began to speak, and he said: ‘Now I truly understand that God is not partial, but in every nation the man who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. He sent out the word to the sons of Israel to declare to them the good news of peace through Jesus Christ —this one is Lord of all.”
– Acts 10:34-36
This means that the Father does not look at one’s station in life – how successful or unsuccessful – nor what nation, race, gender, or religion one belongs to, or any other matter that can be examined by the eyes to determine to whom to give His favor and support. He gives it equally to all persons. But only the one whose heart is complete toward the Father will be able to open the door to receive it. Who opens the door is a personal matter that outsiders cannot judge.
“However, the spiritual man examines all things, but he himself is not examined by any man.”
– 1 Corinthians 2:15
This knowledge should compel each of us to imitate the spirit of our Father and accept as our brothers all who seek to please God, while at the same time not judging those who are struggling or still growing in their faith, since none are yet perfect in faith. We are reminded of the words of the psalmist:
“If errors were what you watch, O Jah, Then who, O Jehovah, could stand?”
– Psalms 130:3
As long as there is breath in the body, there is opportunity to change one’s course and follow the Christ in the way he taught and demonstrated to us. Just as the passage of time has allowed many who now confess the Christ to find their way, the passage of time will allow others who are now misled or unsure to also find their way to the Christ. This fact should move all to have and maintain patient impartiality toward all of mankind, no matter how far away they currently stand from the Father and His Christ.
The Spirit of Truth is truly roving about and doing his work as the very presence of Christ Jesus, and is causing startling and wonderful changes to take place in our day – changes that many once concluded were impossible; changes that strengthen our faith and give us hope that the plain and open teachings of Jesus can bring an end to sorrow, suffering and pangs of distress (Matthew 24:14), and ‘bring heaven down.’
A Change that Strengthens Faith and Gives Hope
In the spirit of the impartial nature of our Father, we were moved by the recent speech of Pope Francis, the governing authority over the Roman Catholic Church, wherein he expressed in bold language his sweeping call for change in the Church’s centuries-long rules and customs that he believes are no longer useful or proper in directing people to the Christ. This new Pope appears to be a man who is a lover of people, more than a lover of the Church. If his vision is realized, his proposed changes will sweep across our planet like a wild fire as the more than 1.5 billion adherents (more than 1/5 of the world’s population) move closer to a more Christ-like expression of their faith.
The importance of the Catholic Church attempting to make changes in its manner of operating, in its rituals, and the like, is reason for cheer around the world, especially for those of us who are working hard to ‘bring heaven down,’ for it demonstrates that the great as well as the small can change for the better. This bold and courageous effort by the Pope, which appears to have the support of at least his close circle of companions, should stir to action all religious leaders, no matter whether they preside over one small storefront church, or over a large international organization. When one comes to understand truth, that one is obligated to conform to that truth if he intends to serve God as a fellow worker. Otherwise, he is a rebellious voice seeking his own advantage.
As associates of the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, we hope the actions of the Pope will deeply effect our Governing Body who are faced with a need to make changes of their own in teachings and policies, especially the teaching that most Christians should not reach out for the heavenly hope. Unlike the Catholic Church, the Governing Body does not have to overturn centuries of deeply held, burdensome and unhealthful practices. The erroneous teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses have been promoted for only about 80 years and affect less that 8 million people worldwide (less than the population of New York City). As such, their task is far easier in comparison and can be accomplished in far less time. We pray they take notice of what is occurring, as well as the effect it will have on their tiny nation of worshipers.
We are not assigning special religious or spiritual status to either Jehovah's Witnesses or the Catholic Church, or claiming either to be the ‘true church.’ But we recognize that their actions affect a great number of Christians, and their willingness to change will no doubt have a domino effect in the world of religion as other religious groups open up to the possibility of change and enhancement for the betterment of their people.
The Father in heaven loves all His children and allows each one sufficient time to correct their errors and bring those errors to an end. We should see God’s patience and impartiality as a means to seek out a greater understanding of Christ’s teachings, and not fall back to old ideas about an angry God who wants to punish and inflict great pain and suffering on the lowest form of intelligent creation. That would be like a father inflicting severe punishment on his 1 year old child who is still trying to master sitting up straight! As such, we should all continually and impartially pray in behalf of each other with a view toward all of mankind turning to the reality of the brotherhood of spirit unity as Christ Jesus taught us in order to ‘bring heaven down’ – so that the will of God may be done on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:9-13)
The proposal of Pope Francis demonstrates his awareness that modern man is restless when it comes to religion and its stagnant and outmoded ideas. But he is not alone in this realization. We are confident that many religious groups, Christian and non-Christian, recognize a need for change in their doctrines, beliefs and rituals as our secular society opens doors to new understandings of matters that were once considered magic and superstition. Archeological discoveries, in particular, open doors to new understandings of the history of man and require a fresh look and a modern interpretation of our sacred writings, Biblical and non-Biblical. Failure to take note of a need for change and enhancement will result in such religions becoming useless, obsolete, and obstacles to progress, while their membership wanes and dries up.
Thinking man will refuse to accept a religion which is inconsistent with known facts and out of harmony with his highest concepts of truth, beauty and goodness. He will not acquiesce to a religion based on superstitious bondage and religious fear. But truth withstands and harmonizes with all known facts so there is never a need for a religion to be fearful of change. Therefore, what is needed is a new revelation of Jesus’ life illuminated with a new understanding of his good news of eternal salvation. If religion is to be a positive force in the modern world, and fulfill its role as a moral stabilizer and spiritual uplifter, it must dust off the cobwebs of ancient ideology and step into a new century where the plain and open teachings of Jesus shine brightly, and universally, not just for Christians, but for all mankind.
We should, therefore, rejoice in the possibilities for the Catholic Church, and pray that their courageous actions positively effect the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses and other religions around the world. Imagine how quickly we could ‘bring heaven down’ and hasten the arrival of our Lord Christ Jesus and the worldwide reign of peace on earth. The ability to effect this change is illustrated in the Parable of the Unfruitful Fig Tree.
The Parable of the Unfruitful Fig Tree
To many ex-Catholics and ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Catholic Church and the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society are fruitless trees that must be cut down. They have indeed both caused, and continue to cause, a great deal of suffering and have led many away from the glories of the Christ. But there is hope as Jesus indicates:
“Then he went on to tell this illustration: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit on it but found none. Then he said to the vinedresser, ‘Here it is three years that I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, but have found none. Cut it down! Why should it keep the ground useless?’ In reply he said to him, ‘Master, leave it alone for one more year until I dig around it and put on manure. If it produces fruit in the future, well and good; but if not, then cut it down.’”
– Luke 13:6-9
In our view, one of the lessons of this illustration is that even when a religious organization, that has taken upon itself to spread the good news of Christ Jesus, fails to produce sons of God who are qualified ambassadors of the Kingdom of the Heavens, something can be done to save the organization from destruction. What it takes is for certain ones who care enough about the organization to cultivate it and fertilize it with the true teachings of Jesus, and if the organization responds, it can be saved, which will lead a greater honor and application of the plain and open teachings of Jesus and the realization of God as the loving Father of all mankind. But as long as religion and religionists continue to judge the worthiness and value of another’s faith based on ‘old wine,’ pride and misunderstood doctrine, such religions and religionists will continue to stumble over their own feet and bring about their own demise. As Jesus strongly commanded:
“Stop judging that you may not be judged; for with the judgment you are judging, you will be judged, and with the measure that you are measuring out, they will measure out to you. Why, then, do you look at the straw in your brother’s eye but do not notice the rafter in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Allow me to remove the straw from your eye,’ when look! a rafter is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the rafter from your own eye, and then you will see clearly how to remove the straw from your brother’s eye.”
– Matthew 7:1-5
Jesus was instructing us to look at our own errors first and when we have made needed correction, then turn to our brother and help him remove his error – not condemn him for it! The proposed changes in the Catholic Church demonstrate the need for all lovers of the Father and Christ Jesus to develop patience and long suffering toward all, and realize that it is folly to prematurely judge a person or entity. It demonstrates that we all must refrain from presumptuously identifying any person or institution as the fulfillment of various nefarious prophetic characters in the Bible. The Christ’s mercy, and the Father’s love demand such restraint. We must always have hope that divine and eternal love will work what is good for all creation, but according to a much higher and excelling understanding of universally coordinated justice. We must not be among those who ‘have a form of godly devotion, but who prove false to its power to effect change’ (2 Timothy 3:5) by prematurely judging as unworthy another religious sect. All judging is left to the Father. All judging!
Helping our brothers who are taking a misstep is like the vinedressers in the illustration who cultivated the ground and applied fertilizer to help it ‘produce fruit.’ This is the work we have undertaken by promoting the plain and open teachings of Jesus to the entire world of Christianity, beginning in our own backyard with the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society. Others have joined themselves to this work and are having great results in producing ‘fine fruit.’ (For example, see Emails from Our Visitors.) If we are successful in reaching the heart of the Governing Body, the organization can be saved from their own self-destruction. We suspect that many Catholics are hoping for the same thing to occur in their organization. And if so, these changes will significantly expedite our efforts to ‘bring heaven down.’
We, the authors of this site, are by nature optimistic about the power of godly devotion and the Spirit of Truth to effect positive and outstanding change, and so we fully expect the Catholic Church to make some relevant changes in its operations. At the same time, we understand that the enormous amount of changes that would be required for it to fall completely in line with the plain and open teachings of Jesus will take quite a bit of time. The larger the ship, the more slowly it turns. But we applaud their effort in advance.
Likewise, we expect changes in the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, especially in light of the potential changes in the Catholic Church. If nothing else, we believe the Governing Body has a desire to not be left behind and abandoned by the large number of Jehovah’s Witnesses who had previously been Catholics. If the Governing Body stubbornly refuses to adjust to the spiritual times, they will no doubt lose a great number of members and they will watch the small number of 8 million dwindle significantly.
But even if the ruling authorities fail to turn to the Christ in the way he commands, that should not deter us as individuals from taking a stand for the true good news – the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of man with the heavenly hope – nor from doing what we know to be the Father’s will – the right and best thing under the circumstances. We may not be able to effect change from the top down, but we certainly can effect change from the bottom up. And as our brothers awaken to the true good news, they can leave behind all stubborn, stale and stagnant organizations whose demise will be left in the hands of the Most High. (Daniel 4:17) This will require each of us to be consecrated to doing the Father’s will.
Consecration to doing the Father’s will is a question of intensity – the degree of devotion we have toward His divine ideals. And it must be voluntary, wholehearted and sophistry-proof. Our Heavenly Father refuses to coerce or compel the submission of the spiritual free wills of mankind. We must of ourselves – in our own hearts – recognize, love, and voluntarily worship Him. Our affectionate dedication to the doing of the Father’s will is our choicest gift to God and, in fact, our only possible gift of true value to the Father.
Such a choice is not a surrender of will. It is a consecration of will, an expansion of will, a glorification of will, a perfecting of will. This choosing does not so much consist in the negation of man’s will – “Not my will but yours be done” – as it consists in the positive affirmation: “It is my will that your will be done.” And if this choice is made, it will not matter what organizations do. Such consecrated people can rise up as bright lights and do that which their religions refuse to do. As Jesus said:
“Jesus said to her: “Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. ... Nevertheless, the hour is coming, and it is now, when the true worshippers will worship the Father with spirit and truth, for indeed, the Father is looking for ones like these to worship him.”
– John 4:21, 23
The religious mountain is not what is important. What is important to the Father is our individual achievement of personal survival status by way of a consecration to doing His will – worshiping with spirit and truth. The ‘bottom up’ approach to impartially spreading the plain and open teachings is a way to create a brotherhood of worshipers instead of hierarchical religious organizations. And our individual efforts can go far in assisting those taking the lead to turn away from ‘old wine’ and antiquated ways of clergy/laity distinctions and become brothers and fellow workers in the field under cultivation.
All those who are ‘putting on the mind of Christ’ (1 Corinthians 2:16) have an obligation to conduct ourselves as Jesus did and deal impartially with all mankind as part of our consecrated service to the Father. We must support the fairness in universal law to give all men the opportunity to work out their own salvation through progressive enlightenment by means of spirit-filled worship and willing adherence to the leading of divine truth. Who can challenge the Father’s wisdom of divine patience in this regard? Really, “who has come to know the mind of Jehovah, so that he may instruct him?” (1 Corinthians 2:16)
Let us, therefore, rejoice with our Catholic brothers and sisters and do what we can to help them see the plain and open teachings of Jesus. Who knows – perhaps the simple message of Christ has reached the Vatican through the many sons of God who are developing in Catholic dominated lands. We are certain that any changes that will occur in the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses will come as a result of the efforts of the developing sons of God in the Watchtower Society. But only time will tell the tale.
While we await to see what develops on the world religious scene, let us do our part in supporting, not hindering, progress. We know there will be scoffers and naysayers. We know some will be bitter and doubtful. But we can take the Father’s view of matters, the one “whose will is that all sorts of people should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4) And we can all take heed to Paul’s counsel to the Romans:
“Let your love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is wicked; cling to what is good. In brotherly love have tender affection for one another. In showing honor to one another, take the lead. Be industrious, not lazy. Be aglow with the spirit. Slave for Jehovah. Rejoice in the hope. Endure under tribulation. Persevere in prayer. Share with the holy ones according to their needs. Follow the course of hospitality. Keep on blessing those who persecute; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. Have the same attitude toward others as toward yourselves; do not set your mind on lofty things, but be led along with the lowly things. Do not become wise in your own eyes.”
– Romans 12:9-16
At this time in history, we need more than ever to exercise impartiality toward all as part of our consecrated service to the Father. The Spirit of Truth is active in ways that exceed our imagination, and he will continue without letup until the Father’s will is done. Let us, therefore, find ourselves on the favorable side of events by accepting all as brothers and sons of the one Universal Heavenly Father, as demonstrated and taught by our Lord Christ Jesus.
We welcome your comments.