Sunday, April 29, 2007
BUY GOLD REFINED BY FIRE
The study assignment for the first two weeks of May is chapter 13 of the Grand Climax book, which discusses Christ’s counsel to the congregation in Laodicea.
Like their commentary on Christ’s messages to the other congregations, the Watchtower applies Jesus’ words to both Christendom as well as to Jehovah’s Witnesses. But how can that be? The letters to the seven congregations are addressed to those who are actually part of Christ’s congregation – not those who merely claim to be part of Christ’s congregation. Elsewhere in their writings the Watchtower unequivocally states that Christendom is not, nor was it ever Christian. So, the question naturally comes to mind as to why Jesus would address himself to them. Obviously, he doesn’t. Jesus is speaking to those who have been called by God to rule with Christ but who are in danger of missing out on the final choosing of the chosen ones.
Although it may be hard for Jehovah’s Witnesses to accept, Jesus’ rebuke directed to the Laodiceans applies more to individuals within the leadership of the Watchtower Society then they would ever admit.
Consider the particulars of Christ’s rebuke of those whom he says are merely lukewarm in their service to God: “Because you say: ‘I am rich and have acquired riches and do not need anything at all,’ but you do not know you are miserable and pitiable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from me gold refined by fire that you may become rich, and white outer garments that you may become dressed and that the shame of your nakedness may not become manifested, and eyesalve to rub in your eyes that you may see.”
In the 8th paragraph the Society applies Jesus’ words to the rank and file Jehovah’s Witness who may become materialistic. But is that really who Jesus is speaking to? Are the imagines “acquired riches” necessarily material riches? That may be one aspect of the reason for the Laodiceans self-confidence, but Paul’s writings to the Corinthians show that more than likely Jesus meant that the Christians in Laodicea felt that they had already acquired spiritual riches. At 1 Corinthians 4:8-12 Paul wrote: “You men already have your fill, do you? You are rich already, are you? You have begun ruling as kings without us, have you? And I wish indeed that you had begun ruling as kings, that we also might rule with you as kings. For it seems to me that God has put us the apostles last on exhibition as men appointed to death, because we have become a theatrical spectacle to the world, and to angels, and to men. We are fools because of Christ, but you are discreet in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are in good repute, but we are in dishonor. Down to this very hour we continue to hunger and also to thirst and to be scantily clothed and to be knocked about and to be homeless and to toil, working with our own hands.”
As should be apparent, Paul intended to say that some of the Corinthians felt spiritually fulfilled. They didn’t need any more. On the other hand, Paul and the other apostles did not share their good fortune.
However, what about the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses today? Do they not claim to have possession of spiritual riches? Are they not honored and held in high esteem by the organization, like those Corinthians? And although Bethelites are now required to take a vow of poverty certainly the Governing Body live like kings, in that their every need and expense is taken care of by the organization.
Embarrassingly, the Governing Body even boasts of their imagined spiritual riches in the very lesson under discussion. In the 11th and 12th paragraphs the Society states that C.T. Russell and the Bible Students purchased refined spiritual gold from Christ, which is evidenced by their knowing, among other things, that God is not a trinity and that the Gentile Times ended in 1914! But does our merely knowing the basic doctrinal truths mean that we are no longer spiritually blind? The Society seems to think so, stating in the concluding sentence of the 14th paragraph that the pages of the Watchtower, and not Christ, is the source of the healing eyesalve.
Also, in the 21st paragraph the Society boasts of understanding the prophecies. They write: “As a result, from 1919 onward their eyes have been opened to the meaning of Bible prophecies. They have enjoyed a period of great enlightenment.” But alas, their eyes are not as opened as they imagine. For example, consider the Society’s ridiculous interpretation of Joel or their blasphemous interpretation of Habakkuk. Virtually everyone of the Society’s prophetic interpretations are in varying degrees of error – as can be seen by a critical analysis of their teachings, which numerous essays on e-watchman have undertaken to present. (See essay Who is Blind as the Servant of Jehovah? )
In view of the falsity of the foundation teaching of 1914 and a host of other prophecies that have been built upon it, it is the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses who are unaware that it is they who are pitiable, naked and blind.
Appropriately, Jesus concludes his message to the Laodiceans and all the congregations with the very similar admonition with which he concluded the parable of the wheat and the weeds: “Let the one who has an ear hear what the spirit says to the congregations.”