QUESTIONS & RESPONSES
12/28/12 Do we approve of the Society’s disfellowshipping policy?
12/23/12 Follow up to accusation of being murmurers.
12/18/12 Visitor accuses us of being murmurers like the sons of Korah.
12/17/12 Visitor explains why he believes the 144,000 of Revelation is not literal number.
12/04/12 Why is our identity obscure?
On December 28, 2012, we received the following comment:
“I [was] wondering if you have written an article about the wicked Disfellowshipping policy as practiced by the Society? If so, what’s the article’s name? Maybe it would be good to write an open letter to the [Governing Body] in this matter. It́s a pure evil practice, a disgrace to the Christ and the Father. If you dońt acknowledge a person as a human being, how could one expect to be forgiven their own sins? Well, they can’t.”
To the author, thank you for your email. No, we have not written an article on the matter of disfellowshipping. But we will make a few comments here to let you know our view of the matter.
Our ministry focuses on the actual, authentic, plain and open teachings of Jesus. We notice that Jesus did not discuss administrative issues in any of his discourses. He left that to the individual groups who choose to take up his ministry. He said, as recorded by Matthew:
“Truly I say to you men, Whatever things you may bind on earth will be things bound in heaven, and whatever things you may loose on earth will be things loosed in heaven. Again I truly say to you, If two of you on earth agree concerning anything of importance that they should request, it will take place for them due to my Father in heaven. For where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there I am in their midst.”
– Matthew 18:18-20
Thus, Jesus allows each group to establish their own administrative rules. As for us, we do not consider a disfellowshipping policy in itself to be evil, wicked or a disgrace to the Father or the Christ. The Bible clearly establishes a precedent for such a procedure. We note that the apostle Paul, who formed many congregations, did establish certain administrative rules, including a rule of expelling unrepentant sinners. He wrote:
“But now I am writing you to quit mixing in company with anyone called a brother that is a fornicator or a greedy person or an idolater or a reviler or a drunkard or an extortioner, not even eating with such a man. For what do I have to do with judging those outside? Do you not judge those inside, while God judges those outside? ‘Remove the wicked [man] from among yourselves.’”
– 1 Corinthians 5:11-13
However, what we do consider disgraceful is how that policy is carried out. The apostle John spoke of one brother who misused the disfellowshipping policy:
“I wrote something to the congregation, but Diotrephes, who likes to have the first place among them, does not receive anything from us with respect. That is why, if I come, I will call to remembrance his works which he goes on doing, chattering about us with wicked words. Also, not being content with these things, neither does he himself receive the brothers with respect, and those who are wanting to receive them he tries to hinder and to throw out of the congregation.”
– 3 John 9-10
The problem with Diotrephes was that he was arrogant, prideful and intolerant of other views. Rather than engaging in a healthful interchange, as did Paul and Barnabas when they were faced with a difference of opinion with the brothers in Jerusalem (Acts 15:2), Diotrephes sought to expel those who disagreed with him. When a religious association engages in Diotrephes-type behavior, they have gone too far.
As we see it, the solution is not the removal of a disfellowshipping policy, but the proper administration of one. That can only occur when those making the decisions are truly spirit-led individuals who understand the purpose of such a policy, and who understand the Father’s love and the Christ’s mercy. ‘Physical men’ are hardly capable of exercising judgment fairly or wisely:
“But a physical man does not receive the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot get to know [them], because they are examined spiritually. However, the spiritual man examines indeed all things, but he himself is not examined by any man.”
– 1 Corinthians 2:14-15
We believe that if those in appointed positions understood their true relationship to God, as his children, and grasped the significance of the spirit of the Father dwelling in them, they would handle matters in a much more loving manner. As Paul stated:
“Do you not know that you people are God’s temple, and that the spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him; for the temple of God is holy, which [temple] you people are.”
– 1 Corinthians 3:16-17
Such spirit-led overseers would know that God’s spirit not only dwells in them, but also in the other members of the congregation. They would be far less inclined to ‘destroy the temple of God’ in their brothers by wrongly, jealousy, impatiently, and disgracefully disfellowshipping or failing to reinstate their repentant brothers and sisters.
This is why we emphasize the matter of sonship. Knowing that we are all faith sons of the Father in the heavens, and joint heirs with Christ Jesus, is the best insurance against theocratic malpractice, and religious dysfunction. It is also the best insurance against unrepentant sinful behavior because the erring one would know that he would be dragging the Father’s spirit with him into his unhealthy behavior. When we cannot find enough strength and love for ourselves to stop or avoid wrong behavior, we can often find that strength in our love for God.
Truly, sonship is the key to all matters of human behavior. And it is the ‘small rudder’ that will turn our ‘ship of faith’ toward our heavenly Father. When more of us understand and accept our sonship, fewer of us will fall into the category of unrepentance, and thus the policy of disfellowshipping will be utilized far less frequently and then only when a true danger to the spiritual health of the congregation exists.
Finally, for those among our association who find themselves in a disfellowshipped position, and are seeking to please God, we direct you to Question and Response, dated September 1, 2012, and Question and Response dated November 29, 2012. You may find some helpful suggestions in these responses.
On December 23, 2012, we received the following comment:
“Dear Friends. Your response to the individual who leveled the accusation that you are a modern day Korah, or Korahites, murmuring towards the governing body, was right on! I personally do not see any jealousy in the words or spirit you show here in this ministry. Besides, as you so truthfully stated, there are no modern day counterparts to the 'rebellion of Korah', unless we have a greater Moses in the 'Governing Body'. 1 Cor.4:8.”
To the author, thank you for your email and your words of support. Our response to the visitor who accused us of being murmurers was not the usual type of response we provide. But in this instance, we felt it was necessary to be very direct and unambiguous. Not only in defense of ourselves, but also in defense of those of our brothers and sisters who may be similarly charged with murmuring against the Governing Body or even with the elusive claim of apostasy.
Challenges such as these are meant to serve only one purpose, to intimidate into silence those who disagree or question presumed authority. It is used by accusers who have no competent or viable argument against another, and so they resort to such attacks.
The children of God give proper respect to all those in authority. As the apostle Peter wrote:
“Honor [men] of all sorts, have love for the whole association of brothers, be in fear of God, have honor for the king.”
– 1 Peter 2:17
But we do not bow down to them as though there were our masters.
“But you, do not you be called Rabbi, for one is your teacher, whereas all you are brothers. Moreover, do not call anyone your father on earth, for one is your Father, the heavenly One. Neither be called ‘leaders,’ for your Leader is one, the Christ.”
– Matthew 23:8-10
One thing the children of God must know is that they are a free people. Free to think, free to speak, free to ask questions. Jesus told us:
“Keep on asking, and it will be given you; keep on seeking, and you will find; keep on knocking, and it will be opened to you. For everyone asking receives, and everyone seeking finds, and to everyone knocking it will be opened.”
– Matthew 7:7-8
If we can ask questions of the Christ, surely we can ask questions of men! And if men cannot answer our questions, Jesus did not tell us to ‘wait on Jehovah.’ He told us to keep on asking, and seeking, and knocking until we get the answers we seek! Brothers, we have a living, growing, active, progressive faith! When we stop growing or become stagnant, it dies!
This is not rebellious talk. It is uplifting speech designed to restore dignity to our association. We are not little children who are to be seen but not heard. We are children of the most powerful personality in the universe – the Father of ALL. There is great honor in that!
Take the counsel of the apostle Paul:
“Hence straighten up the hands that hang down and the enfeebled knees, and keep making straight paths for your feet, that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather that it may be healed.”
– Hebrews 12:12-13
Yes, straighten up, brothers and sisters. Stand up! Stand tall!
“But sanctify the Christ as Lord in your hearts, always ready to make a defense before everyone that demands of you a reason for the hope in you, but doing so together with a mild temper and deep respect.”
– 1 Peter 3:15
So, do not let the abusive, intimidating or careless speech of physical men and women stifle you or take away your hope. Pray incessantly (1 Thessalonians 5:17), take in knowledge of Jesus Christ and how he served the Father (John 17:3), and imitate his courage and conviction. Then you can say as did Paul:
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life nor angels nor governments nor things now here nor things to come nor powers nor height nor depth nor any other creation will be able to separate us from God’s love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
– Romans 8:38-39
On December 18, 2012, we received the following comment:
“I was told by one of my good friends that's a missionary at our World Head Quarters in New York, that the society have heard who you are and they have identified you as MODERN DAY KORAHS because of your murmuring even though you are sincere. Korah and his men TOO were also sincere for CHANGE toward Moses and Aaron. This info I got about you from one of the anointed brothers from Bethel New York. Something for you to really think about EVEN IN YOUR PERSONAL SINCERITY TOWARD THE BROTHERS!”
To the author of this email, as always, we thank you for taking the time to visit and to share your thoughts. If you believe what your ‘good friend’ told you, then you are not likely to read this response. However, we felt it would be helpful to publish our response so that our other visitors who may have heard comments like these can know our thoughts on the matter.
First, we find it odd that an anointed follower of Christ, one of his brothers, would make such a comparison. Why would one compare us to Korah unless he feels that the Governing Body is ‘sitting in the seat of Moses’ as were the Pharisees of Jesus’ day? (Matthew 23:2) Really this supposed charge against us actually condemns the Governing Body. By your friend’s own reckoning, the Governing Body is stuck in the Judaic system as modern day Judaizers. As an anointed brother, he surely should know that when the Christ arrived, the seat of Moses was permanently vacated. There is no authorized modern day equivalent to Moses or the position he held in relation to the nation of Israel, and thus there could be no modern day Korahites.
Second, if your ‘good friend’ is claiming that we are murmuring against the Christ, we wonder what evidence he could have to support that accusation. To the contrary, our website provides abundant evidence that we are wholeheartedly in support of Jesus and his original teachings. We love and honor Jesus and his teachings above all others, including those of the Governing Body.
And, finally, if he considers our message to be murmuring against men who have set themselves up above the Christ, then we would still have to disagree with him. We are not murmuring as if we are whispering in undertones. We are courageously speaking our message loud and clear for all to hear. We echo Paul’s words:
“As we have said above, I also now say again, Whoever it is that is declaring to you as good news something beyond what you accepted, let him be accursed.”
– Galatians 1:9
If your ‘good friend’ wishes to find fault with us, rather than murmuring against us, let him openly state his evidence, or else remain silent.
On December 17, 2012, we received the following comment and inquiry:
“Jehovah’s Witnesses firmly believe that the number of those who will go to heaven is limited to 144,000. Yet the promise made to Abraham was that his seed would become "like the grains of sand that are on the seashore." This is interpreted as being an unknown number (at that time), yet, wherever the expression is used in the Hebrew Scriptures it refers to a very large number. Please see Joshua 11:4; Judges 7:12; 1 Samuel 13:5; 1 Kings 4:20; Job 29:18; Psalm 139:18; Isaiah 10:22. Could it be that the number 144,000 is symbolic of a much greater number as are most of the numbers in the book of Revelation?”
To the author, thank you for your email. We find your reasoning, asserting that the 144,000 referred to at Revelation 7:4 and Revelation 14:1-5 is not literal, is very interesting and even sound, to a certain extent. As we mention on several occasions, and in the introduction to this section, we refrain from responding to emails that seek determinative interpretations of the Book of Revelation. Our view is that the matters that the Apostle John was privileged to see involve matters of an earthly nature as well as extra-terrestrial matters – matters beyond the confines of our planet, matters that are foreign to the human experience, and events that will occur beyond the human lifespan. As such, we are not at this time authorized to make definitive statements about Revelation’s fulfillment.
However, we believe that your email provides us with an opportunity to make a few comments that will not overstep our commission and may even broaden our visitors’ view of the 144,000 and the ‘great crowd.’ So let’s take a look at your reasoning in detail, and then we will add our comments as food for thought, and allow all who read it to formulate their own conclusions.
We remind you that our conclusions are not definitive nor are they dogma. The reader is free to accept or reject them at will. We make no inferences that failure to agree with our statements have any bearing on the reader’s sonship or their relationship with the Father and His Christ.
The subject scriptures in Revelation state:
“And I saw, and, look! the Lamb standing upon the Mount Zion, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand having his name and the name of his Father written on their foreheads. And I heard a sound out of heaven as the sound of many waters and as the sound of loud thunder; and the sound that I heard was as of singers who accompany themselves on the harp playing on their harps. And they are singing as if a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one was able to master that song but the hundred and forty-four thousand, who have been bought from the earth. These are the ones that did not defile themselves with women; in fact, they are virgins. These are the ones that keep following the Lamb no matter where he goes. These were bought from among mankind as firstfruits to God and to the Lamb, and no falsehood was found in their mouths; they are without blemish.”
– Revelation 14:1-5
“And I heard the number of those who were sealed, a hundred and forty-four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of the sons of Israel.”
– Revelation 7:4
The author’s argument develops like this:
• The seed of Abraham will become “like the stars of the heavens” and “like the grains of sand on the seashore:”
“I shall surely bless you and I shall surely multiply your seed like the stars of the heavens and like the grains of sand that are on the seashore; and your seed will take possession of the gate of his enemies. And by means of your seed all nations of the earth will certainly bless themselves due to the fact that you have listened to my voice.’”
– Genesis 22:17-18
• Next, the author points out that when the Hebrew Scriptures use the phrase “like the grains of sand,” they are referring to a large unknown and uncountable number:
“So they went out, they and all their camps with them, a people as numerous as the grains of sand that are on the seashore for multitude, and very many horses and war chariots.”
– Joshua 11:4
“Now Midian and Amalek and all the Easterners were plumped in the low plain as numerous as locusts; and their camels were without number, as numerous as the grains of sand that are on the seashore.”
– Judges 7:12
“And the Philistines, for their part, collected themselves together to fight against Israel, thirty thousand war chariots and six thousand horsemen and people like the grains of sand that are upon the seashore for multitude; and they went their way up and began camping in Michmash to the east of Beth-aven.”
– 1 Samuel 13:5
“Judah and Israel were many, like the grains of sand that are by the sea for multitude, eating and drinking and rejoicing.”
– 1 Kings 4:20
“And I used to say, ‘Within my nest I shall expire, And like the grains of sand I shall multiply [my] days.”
– Job 29:18
“Were I to try to count them, they are more than even the grains of sand. I have awaked, and yet I am still with you.”
– Psalms 139:18
“For although your people, O Israel, would prove to be like the grains of sand of the sea, a mere remnant among them will return. An extermination decided upon will be flooding through in righteousness.”
– Isaiah 10:22
• Then, the author point out that anointed sons of the Kingdom are the seed of Abraham:
“You are all, in fact, sons of God through your faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor freeman, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one [person] in union with Christ Jesus. Moreover, if you belong to Christ, you are really Abraham’s seed, heirs with reference to a promise.”
– Galatians 3:26-29
• One would naturally deduce from these factors that the sons of the Kingdom would therefore be “like the grains of the sand of the seashore.”
Based on this reasoning, we would have to agree with the author that the number of the sons of God – the anointed sons of the Kingdom – would be a very large number, so large that one could not count them. Yet, all would agree that it is fairly easy to count 144,000. The Society regularly counts active Jehovah’s Witnesses into the millions, the observers at the Memorial celebrations in excess of 19,000,000, and hours spent in the ministry in excess of 1,000,000,000!
But here is were we depart from the author’s conclusion: We suggest that the number 144,000 may be literal to some group, but it is not the literal number of all of the anointed sons of God. Let’s take another look at the scriptures in Revelation:
Revelation 7:4 refers only to those who were “sealed out of every tribe of the sons of Israel.” That limits the number to a particular race of mankind (literally or figuratively). Then Revelation 14:1-5 refers only to those standing on symbolic Mount Zion. Now, of course, these two groups could be the same group – 144,000 of the sons of Israel standing on a symbolic mount. But this does not mean that these 144,000 are the only ones bought from the earth.
Revelation 14:4 says they are “bought from among mankind as firstfruits.” One could easily assume that if there are first fruits, there must be ‘second fruits’ that are also bought from among mankind. These second fruits might not be from the tribes of Israel, and they might be situated in places other than on top of the symbolic mount.
And notice this:
“After these things I saw, and, look! a great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes; and there were palm branches in their hands. And they keep on crying with a loud voice, saying: “Salvation [we owe] to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
– Revelation 7:9-10
And notice what the ‘four living creatures’ and the ‘24 elders’ say about them:
“And they sing a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll and open its seals, because you were slaughtered and with your blood you bought persons for God out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and you made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God, and they are to rule as kings over the earth.”
– Revelation 5:9-10
These are not the 144,000 of the ‘tribes of the sons of Israel.’ This is the “great crowd” of all nations. Does this not seem to say that the ‘great crowd’ will be the ones ruling as kings and priests over the earth, not the 144,000?
Interesting thought. This is why we refrain from supporting the current interpretations of Revelation’s symbolisms. It is also why we strongly resist developing dogma based on interpretations that are so obviously limited in spiritual vision. The Revelation is a far larger and more complex revealing than man has heretofore realized.
For these reasons, we believe it is wiser to rest our hopes for salvation on Jesus’ actual, original, plain and open teachings. We will all eventually understand these matters, but until then, let us rest our hopes on what is not hidden. That is the most important undertaking for Christians of our day. If we cannot understand the things that are plain, how will we ever understand those that are hidden?
We sincerely appreciate the author’s email and inquiry, as it has certainly provided evidence that the seed of Abraham – the anointed sons of God – is not circumscribed to 144,000. So many of our brothers and sisters need to know that the Father has not limited the number of those He draws to Himself through the ministry of Christ Jesus and the outpouring of the Spirit of Truth.
This, we believe, is as much as we can say on this matter at this time. But if it is the Father’s will for us, and circumstances allow us more freedom, perhaps we will be able to go further in this discussion.
Until then, your comments, which we suspect may be many, are welcomed.
On December 4, 2012, we received the following comment:
“I find it troubling that your identity is obscure. I am not anointed and don't currently attend meetings. But I'm not afraid of people knowing who I am. I suspect we are still in the age of darkness. "True love throws fear outside."”
To the author, thank you for your email. Though you did not ask us a question, we feel it would be helpful to those who visit our site for us to respond to your comment both privately and publicly.
You mention that you are troubled that our ‘identity is obscure.’ We wonder what it is you want to know about us. If we published our names, our race, our gender, our national affiliation, even our home address, would that change the content of the articles on our site? Would that change the content of our message? No. The only purpose it would serve is to placate those who are looking to examine the messengers rather than the message. We want to avoid that folly and so we omit our personal identification from the site, though our local elders, circuit servant, and many of our friends know who we are.
Our site is not intended to be a social gathering place where we exchange personal information. It is designed as an source of uplifting spiritual information where we share ideas.
For example, you identify yourself by name. Yet, that tells us nothing. What says the most about you is your message – that you are not anointed and do not attend meetings. To Jehovah’s Witnesses, and ex-Witnesses, that means you do not believe you are a son of God. Our site was established to help all people recognize their true relationship to the Father, namely as sons and daughters with the heavenly hope. (Galatians 3:26; Romans 8:16-17; Philippians 3:14-15)
If you have not understood our message, or have trouble believing that you are indeed ‘anointed’ (though you have not realized or accepted it yet), please write us again and we will be happy to respond.