QUESTIONS & RESPONSES
03/17/12 But the "Slave" says there are two hopes
03/14/12 Follow up reply to 3/13/12 (Should we ask questions?)
03/13/12 Does the Governing Body approve of this website?
03/11/12 Visitor is concerned that the teachings on this website may be apostate.
03/09/12 What about Revelation 7 and 21, does it tell of an earthly hope?
03/08/12 Parable of the Sheep and Goat (Matthew 25:31-46)
03/05/12 Can you explain Mark 8:38? (when the Son of Man arrives)
On March 17, 2012, we received the following comment:
“I don’t see anything alarming but as you well know the Slave teaches that there are 2 hopes. But I’ve got to hand it to you, the information is well thought out that’s for sure.”
To the author, we thank you for your kind comments and for taking the time to post them. We wonder if you have read the entire site. If you do, you will see the sound scriptural basis for our understanding that there is only one hope for Christians – the heavenly hope. Specifically, we direct you to “The Royal Priesthood and the Holy Nation” and “Observing the Oneness of the Faith.”
As to your comment that the “Slave teaches that there are 2 hopes,” we would like to expound on this thought because it leads us to probably the most important issue for Jehovah’s Witnesses at this time in our history. Instead of providing a response here, we have chosen to prepare an article entitled “Standing for the Kingdom and the Brotherhood of Christ.” We encourage you to click on the link and prepare yourself for a bold and courageous invitation.
Your brothers and fellow workers in the faith.
On March 14, 2012, we received the following comment which we believe is a reply to our response on March 13, 2012:
“The normal is that perhaps we are talking about something that appeared in the literature. We do not discuss spiritual issues. If we have questions, we must keep it to ourselves and wait for answers in the literature. But with interested we can discuss spiritual things.”
To the author, we want to express our sincere thanks to you for your inquiry and forthright comments. As a result of your courage and openness, we are able to discuss this very important issue with the entire body.
We must say that your comments touched us very deeply for it appears to us that you believe yourself to be a sheep without a shepherd, or at the very least, with a shepherd who has gone on a long journey. The idea that you must keep questions about spiritual things to yourself until the matter is randomly addressed in a future Watchtower publication is extremely distressing. And it highlights the importance of a website such as this one.
We are troubled to hear that when you get together with other like-minded brothers and sisters, you “do not discuss spiritual issues.” How will you apply the counsel of Paul?
“[T]hat there may be an interchange of encouragement among you, by each one through the other’s faith?”
– Romans 1:12
“If, then, there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any sharing of spirit, if any tender affections and compassions, make my joy full in that you are of the same mind and have the same love, being joined together in soul, holding the one thought in mind.”
– Philippians 2:1-2
“Therefore keep comforting one another and building one another up, just as you are in fact doing.”
– 1 Thessalonians 5:11
“And let us consider one another to incite to love and fine works, not forsaking the gathering of ourselves together, as some have the custom, but encouraging one another, and all the more so as you behold the day drawing near.”
– Hebrews 10:24-25
These scriptures are discussing, not formal public meetings (although they may apply to meetings), but personal brotherly interactions. You are counseled to discuss spiritual things among yourselves.
And how is it that you can discuss “spiritual things” with interested persons whom you meet in your ministry, but not with your brothers and sisters in the faith? All we can conclude is that you feel some fear in asking questions. But fear not! Jesus requires that we ask questions:
“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 every seeking finds, and to everyone knocking it will be opened.”
– Matthew 7:7-8
In fact, asking questions is the first action we must take in achieving the full grown stature of mature Christians. See our article entitled “Expanding Your Spiritual Vision.”
You remind us of the Samaritan woman who spoke with Jesus at Jacob’s well:
“‘Our forefathers worshiped in this mountain; but you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where persons ought to worship.’ Jesus said to her: ‘Believe me, woman, The hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you people worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, because salvation originates with the Jews. Nevertheless, the hour is coming, and it is now, when the true worshipers will worship the Father with spirit and truth, for, indeed, the Father is looking for suchlike ones to worship him. God is a Spirit, and those worshiping him must worship with spirit and truth.’ The woman said to him: ‘I know that Messiah is coming, who is called Christ. Whenever that one arrives, he will declare all things to us openly.’ Jesus said to her: ‘I who am speaking to you am he.’”
– John 4:20-26
She clearly had a love for God, and was worshiping in the best way she knew how, but only according to the things seen by the eyes. She worshiped at a particular mountain, no doubt coupled with the traditions and rituals that were a part of that worship. And she expected Jesus to tell her to worship at a different mountain along with the Jews and their formalistic and ritual worship. Instead, Jesus told her that the time had come for all persons to worship with “spirit and truth.” Jesus was redirecting worship from outside of yourself, to worship within yourself – your own connection with the Father as a spirit anointed son or daughter.
This new form of worship involves your own spirit and the truth that Jesus openly declared. It is as Paul said:
“So, then, brothers, we are under obligation, not to the flesh to live in accord with the flesh; for if you live in accord with the flesh you are sure to die; but if you put the practices of the body to death by the spirit, you will live. For all who are led by God’s spirit, these are God’s sons. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery causing fear again, but you received a spirit of adoption as sons, by which spirit we cry out: “Abba, Father!” The spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are God’s children. If, then, we are children, we are also heirs: heirs indeed of God, but joint heirs with Christ, provided we suffer together that we may also be glorified together.”
– Romans 8:12-17
To help us develop this spiritual way of worship, Jesus told his followers:
“I have many things yet to say to you, but you are not able to bear them at present. However, when that one arrives, the spirit of truth, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak of his own impulse, but what things he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things coming.”
– John 16:13-14
Yes, Jesus wants all your questions answered. And while he provides “gifts in men” (Ephesians 4:8), he also provides his spirit of truth. Once you understand how the spirit of truth works (See “Expanding Your Spiritual Vision”), you will not need to be asking anyone any questions. It will be as John says:
“And as for you, the anointing that you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to be teaching you; but as the anointing from him is teaching you about all things, and is true and is no lie, and just as it has taught you, remain in union with him.”
– 1 John 2:27
That is not to say that you will not need the “gifts in men.” But your fellowship with God is different from your fellowship with your brothers. Socially, there will always be a need for a brotherhood, a fellowship, as shown above. Even the Proverbs tell us:
“By iron, iron itself is sharpened. So one man sharpens the face of another.”
— Proverbs 27:17
But not even these faithful men are lords over your faith.
“[T]here is actually to us one God the Father, out of whom all things are, and we for him; and there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things are, and we through him.”
– 1 Corinthians 8:6
“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus.”
– 1 Timothy 2:5
They are, instead, fellow workers, men working along with you, leading you, not to themselves, but to the Christ:
“What, then, is Apollos? Yes, what is Paul? Ministers through whom you became believers, even as the Lord granted each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God kept making [it] grow; so that neither is he that plants anything nor is he that waters, but God who makes [it] grow. Now he that plants and he that waters are one, but each [person] will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You people are God’s field under cultivation, God’s building.”
– 1 Corinthians 3:5-9
Yes, you are God’s building. And the men taking the lead are working for you! So, ask your questions! And keep on asking, and keep on seeking, and keep on knocking.
We are confident that the brothers in your congregation and at headquarters are likewise concerned about your spiritual growth. That is the whole purpose for them being organized. Perhaps there has been a misunderstanding that can be clarified by your asking. Again, you have nothing to fear. You are on sound and solid scriptural ground!
Notwithstanding all of the above, if you are so inclined, you may direct any of your questions to us as they relate to the Christ and our work as ambassadors substituting for Christ. We respond to ALL inquiries.
With our deepest affection and love, your brothers in the faith.
On March 13, 2012, we received the following comment:
“The Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses give spiritual food to God's people today. Do The Governing Body approve this web page?”
To the author, thank you for your inquiry. However, it would be inappropriate for us to answer the question. The Governing Body is the only party who can provide you with a satisfactory and accurate answer. We know they are aware of this website, so we suggest you direct your question to them.
In the meantime, we would direct you to an experience of the Apostle John who was faced with a similar dilemma, as recorded in Mark and Luke.
“John said to him: ‘Teacher, we saw a certain man expelling demons by the use of your name and we tried to prevent him, because he was not accompanying us.’ But Jesus said: ‘Do not try to prevent him, for there is no one that will do a powerful work on the basis of my name that will quickly be able to revile me; for he that is not against us is for us.”
– Mark 9:38-40
“In response John said: ‘Instructor, we saw a certain man expelling demons by the use of your name and we tried to prevent him, because he is not following with us.’ But Jesus said to him: ‘Do not you men try to prevent [him], for he that is not against you is for you.”
– Luke 9:49-50
We believe that a fair appraisal of this website will reveal that the information here is “for” Jehovah’s Witnesses, not “against” them. We are working to build up the congregation, not tear it down. Further, a fair appraisal will also reveal that this website in harmony with the Christ and his teachings – it is “for” Christ, not “against” him.
Everything here is supported by scripture and sound reasoning. And we solicit the input of any and all persons who believe that we have misstated some information. Under those circumstances, we will either provide a scriptural explanation for our position or we will make a swift correction.
Yes, the Governing Body has elected to be the spokesman for the ‘faithful and discrete slave who is giving the domestics their food at the proper time.’ (Matthew 24:45) But that does not preclude the individual among that body from providing spiritual food to their brothers. Look around you. Do you not see the friends giving spiritual food in their community? Do you not see elders encouraging other elders? Do you not see pioneers encouraging other pioneers? Do you not see older married sisters encouraging younger married sisters? It would be odd if they were required to get the approval of the Governing Body before they can offer spiritual assistance to their fellow believers. Why would it be any different for the body of anointed Christians? As you may know, the anointed Body of Christ are scattered abroad. So we find that the most effective way to reach them is through an international website.
We cannot imagine that the Governing Body would discourage anointed Christians from encouraging one another. We suspect they will respond to you in harmony with what is presented here. But we do not know for sure. If you make the inquiry to them and they provide a response, please let us know so that we can follow up with them if necessary.
To any member of the Governing Body who is reading this response, please feel free to contact us at your convenience. And if anyone wishes to contact us in confidence, please let us know that you want the inquiry to be confidential, and provide an email address so we can respond privately.
On March 11, 2012, we received the following comment:
“I am concerned that this web site comes with learning [what] Babylon the Great and apostates are saying.
“You say that all religious communities who say they are Christians must work together. And you say that all Christians will go to heaven.
“Is that correct?”
To the author, we thank you for taking the time to post your comments. We do understand your concern. Hopefully, by our response, we can alleviate some of it. We will respond to each aspect of your comment.
“I am concerned that this web site comes with learning [what] Babylon the Great and apostates are saying.”
Actually, this website comes with learning what the Bible says, especially the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. The Watchtower publications provide sufficient information about what “Babylon the Great” and “apostates” are saying. We are focusing on the Christ.
“You say that all religious communities who say they are Christians must work together.”
We do not say that they must work together. We are simply of the opinion that if we focus on our commonalities, we will be much more effective in the disciple-making work. It is hard to make disciples of people whom we condemn as false Christians or apostates.
Remember, Jehovah’s Witnesses used to celebrate Christmas and birthdays, and even had smoking breaks during our conventions! In fact, many of the things we now say are a part of “Babylon the Great” were practiced by Jehovah’s Witnesses! Shall we say that we were apostates or false Christians back then? No. We were serving to the best of our ability. And by our study and prayer, we came to an enlightened understanding. Can we not offer the same patience to others? Jesus told us that “the measure that you are measuring out, they will measure out to you.” (Matthew 7:2) Let us at least utilize a fair measuring rod. That is the hope of this website.
And solely for the purpose of showing you how this attitude can have a good effect, we will share with you that over half of the comments we get with respect to this website that are words of encouragement and appreciation come from non-Witnesses. In fact, we have heard from a few Christian pastors who say they have a new and favorable opinion of Jehovah’s Witnesses and are electing to use portions of this site in their church curricula. That is a fine witness! All praise to the Father!
“And you say that all Christians will go to heaven. Is that correct?”
No, that is not correct. We do not say that all Christians will go to heaven. Instead, we say that the Bible teaches that all Christians have the heavenly hope. (See “Observing the Oneness of the Faith.”) Whether we will attain to the hope is dependent upon the effort we exert in imitating the Christ and doing the work he set out for us to do.
We know that the information in this website is in some ways rather bold. But we try very hard to make sure that what we present is in harmony with the teachings of the Christ – who himself was a rather bold teacher. And if we are shown that the things we present are not correct, we will be swift about making the correction.
We encourage you to continue your perusal of the site and please feel free to post your future comment and concerns.
On March 9, 2012, we received the following comment:
“The great multitude will live on earth, it is their hope. So there are 2 hope, heavenly hope for 144,000 Christians, and the hope of eternal life on earth for all other Christians who survives.
“Who represents the great multitude, can be ascertained from the description in Revelation, chapter 7, and the scriptures that clearly are parallel. In Revelation 7: 15-17 says that God 'turns up his tent over them', they are led to "sources with the water of life" and that God "will wipe away every tear from their eyes." In Revelation 21: 2-4, there is a parallel expression: "God's tent is with men," "He will wipe every tear from their eyes" and "death shall be no more." This view does not apply to circumstances in heaven, 'the New Jerusalem comes down from', but the conditions on earth among men.”
To the author, we thank you for taking the time to post your comments. You could have easily clicked exit and left, and we would not have had the opportunity to respond. So, we sincerely thank you.
If you have read our site, you know that we believe that there is only one hope for Christians and that is the heavenly hope. In support of our position, we provided two series of articles, “The Royal Priesthood and the Holy Nation,” and “Observing the Oneness of the Faith.” Each series contains several scriptural references in both the Hebrew and the Greek Scriptures that show the one hope for Christians. If you have not read those articles, we encourage you to do so. You will get a fuller explanation for our position and you might find them very enlightening.
We note that in support of the “earthly hope,” you cite only to the book of Revelation. You do not address the several statements made in 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, etc., all which state that all Christians should be pursuing the heavenly hope. For example:
“One body there is, and one spirit, even as you were called in the one hope to which you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all persons, who is over all and through all and in all.”
– Ephesians 4:4-6
“For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, should be dissolved, we are to have a building from God, a house not made with hands, everlasting in the heavens. For in this dwelling house we do indeed groan, earnestly desiring to put on the one for us from heaven.”
– 2 Corinthians 5:1-5
“For there are many, I used to mention them often but now I mention them also with weeping, who are walking as the enemies of the torture stake of the Christ, and their finish is destruction, and their god is their belly, and their glory consists in their shame, and they have their minds upon things of the earth. As for us, our citizenship exists in the heavens, from which place also we are eagerly waiting for a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will refashion our humiliated body to be conformed to his glorious body according to the operation of the power that he has, even to subject all things to himself.”
– Philippians 3:18-21
“We thank God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ always when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in connection with Christ Jesus and the love you have for all the holy ones because of the hope that is being reserved for you in the heavens. This [hope] you heard of before by telling of the truth of that good news which has presented itself to you, even as it is bearing fruit and increasing in all the world just as [it is doing] also among you, from the day you heard and accurately knew the undeserved kindness of God in truth.”
– Colossians 1:3-6
“If, however, you were raised up with the Christ, go on seeking the things above, where the Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Keep your minds fixed on the things above not on the things upon the earth.”
– Colossians 3:1-2
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for according to his great mercy he gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an incorruptible and undefiled and unfading inheritance. It is reserved in the heavens for you, who are being safeguarded by God’s power through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last period of time.”
– 1 Peter 1:3-5
In addition to expressing the cherished heavenly hope held out to all Christians, the scriptures counsel against pursuing earthly things. It goes so far as to tell us that if we are mentally inclined to consider a hope other than the heavenly hope, we should pray about it and God will help to readjust our thinking:
“Brothers, I do not yet consider myself as having laid hold on [it]; but there is one thing about it: Forgetting the things behind and stretching forward to the things ahead. I am pursuing down toward the goal of the prize of the upward call of God by means of Christ Jesus. Let us, then, as many of us as are mature, be of this mental attitude; and if you are mentally inclined otherwise in any respect, God will reveal the above [attitude] to you.”
– Philippians 3:13-15
In fact, we do not believe you can point to any scripture that tells Christians to pursue everlasting life on earth. If you are aware of any such scripture, please bring that to our attention.
You cite to the book of Revelation. So we ask: Why would the Revelation lead us to think something different from what the Apostles taught? Could it be that we are misunderstanding the Revelation? Let’s begin by looking to the introduction to the book:
“A revelation by Jesus Christ, which God gave him, to show his slaves the things that must shortly take place. And he sent forth his angel and presented [it] in signs through him to his slave John, who bore witness to the word God gave and to the witness Jesus Christ gave, even to all the things he saw. Happy is he who reads aloud and those who hear the words of this prophesy, and who observe the things written in it, for the appointed time is near.”
– Revelation 1:1-3
So we learn that the Revelation is not to be taken literally. It is a prophesy that is presented in signs. Let’s look at the scriptures you cite to:
“That is why they are before the throne of God; and they are rendering him sacred service day and night in his temple; and the One seated on the throne will spread his tent over them. They will hunger no more nor thirst anymore, neither will the sun beat down upon them nor any scorching heat, because the Lamb, who is in the midst of the throne, will shepherd them, and will guide them to fountains of waters of life. And God will wipe out every tear from their eyes.”
– Revelation 7: 15-17
“I saw also the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God and prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. With that I heard a loud voice from the throne say: “Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his peoples. And God himself will be with them. And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.”
– Revelation 21: 2-4
Based on your comment, it appears that you believe these scriptures are to be taken literally. However, a literal interpretation flies in direct conflict with other portions of the Bible. For example:
“But will God truly dwell upon the earth? Look! The heavens, yes, the heavens of heavens, themselves cannot contain you; how much less, then, this house that I have built!”
– 1 Kings 8:27
“And he added: ‘You are not able to see my face, because no man may see me and yet live.”
– Exodus 33:20
Clearly then, neither the throne of God, nor God himself could reside on earth with man.
You also comment that because it speaks of ‘sources with the water of life,’ or ‘wiping away every tear from their eyes,’ or that ‘death shall be no more,’ that these promises ‘do not apply to circumstances in heaven,’ but instead ‘refer to the conditions on earth among men.’ We wonder what you base that conclusion on? Is it not possible that there is no crying or death in heaven? Is it not possible that the anointed sons of the kingdom would dwell in a heavenly place near the Father? Is it not possible that the ‘sources’ or ‘fountains’ of the water of life would be in heaven? Further, we note that, if we take it literally, New Jerusalem indeed comes down, but it does not say that it comes down to earth. And, finally, where in the Revelation are Christians encouraged to pursue everlasting life on earth? We haven’t seen it.
It is truly, as Jesus said, a prophesy presented in signs – not to be taken literally. For if we are inclined to apply a literal interpretation, what shall we say about the numerous scriptural references throughout the Christian writings that tell us that every Christian must pursue the heavenly hope? (Philippians 3:13-15) (See also “Observing the Oneness of the Faith.”)
The only way to address that conundrum is to create a whole new story, such as, “The writings from Matthew through Jude are written only to anointed Christians who go to heaven, whereas the Revelation prophesies that there would be other Christians who will live forever on earth – but we won’t have the support for the earthly hope until new scrolls are opened.” Is that not going beyond what is written? Would we not be guilty of the perversion spoken of by Paul:
“I marvel that you are being so quickly removed from the One who called you with Christ’s undeserved kindness over to another sort of good news. But it is not another; only there are certain ones who are causing you trouble and wanting to pervert the good news about the Christ. However, even if we or an angel out of heaven were to declare to you as good news something beyond what we declared to you as good news, let him be accursed. 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 1:6-9
Rather than create another story in order to support ‘another sort of good news,’ or assume that Jesus and the apostles left out something this important, isn’t it wiser to accept that maybe our interpretation of the Revelation may not be accurate?
We recognize that this may be difficult for some, especially if we have been holding on to, and preaching about, an earthly hope for a long time. We, too, were once of that opinion. But our universal view has expanded. We have a clearer understanding of the heavens, as well as our heavenly hope. We are preparing an article on “How to Expand Your Spiritual Vision.” We hope you get an opportunity to read the article once it is posted.
As the Society often says, ‘the light keeps getting lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established.’ (Proverbs 4:18) We welcome you into that bright light. And “if you are mentally inclined otherwise in any respect, God will reveal the above [attitude] to you.” – (Philippians 3:13-15)
Your brothers in the faith.