Q: You say we need to be preaching the Good News now before the GT (Matt 24:14)
I'd like to ask if a JW has the full realization that 1914 and all the
paraphernalia that surround it is incorrect what does he preach?
If one was to preach and attain a bible study, how are you meant to teach the recommended publications for baptism when those books contain all the 1914 stuff? Can a Christian in good conscience teach a wrong for a bible student to get baptized it requires the individual accept the presence of Christ started in 1914. You would be the one responsible for teaching it in the full knowledge it was a falsehood.
I appreciate one can speak of Jehovah and his qualities but to become a JW you have to accept and teach to whole package. So I ask you what do you preach to make a disciple?
A: You are raising some valid concerns that I am sure many other Witnesses are asking themselves also. I agree that the preaching and disciple making work is not as simply as it used to be, but I keep reminding myself that Jehovah still has a household, that he is well aware of what is happening within the many congregations, and to what extent the Governing Body has been responsible for our present troubles. All this was foretold in prophecy. We are living in momentous times where we are seeing more of Bible prophecy regarding God's household being fulfilled then perhaps we ever expected.
The evidence indicates that "the man of lawlessness" is now in the process of being revealed, as Paul foretold must happen before Jehovah's day arrives. To our shock and dismay we are discovering him to be sitting within God's own household, his temple, which the Society teaches applies solely to "the faithful and discreet slave" class. The Governing Body has boldly served its own selfish interests and taught their own brand of "truth" in order to justify their self-assumed power and authority, not hesitating to disfellowship anyone questioning their teachings or their position. (They do not care that someone cannot be disfellowshipped if there is no sin against God.) They are "set in opposition," and have lifted themselves up over everyone, including other anointed ones whom they deceivingly claim to represent. They have even gone so far as making themselves equal to God by insisting that listening to and obeying them is the same as listening to and obeying Jehovah. That is why Jehovah has allowed an "operation of error" to go to them because they did not "accept the love of the truth...but took pleasure in unrighteousness." (2 Thess. 2:3-11; see W07 4/1 1:12-15; 1:4,5)
They have viewed the preaching and disciple making work as belonging to them, for it is in this way that they legitimize their existence. Paul foretold that at Jehovah's appointed time the man of lawlessness would be revealed. Why has he not been revealed before now? Because the revealing of this "son of destruction" would obviously affect the preaching work. Jesus said that the good news of the kingdom "has to be preached first," and this all-important work served as a "restraint" for the man of lawlessness not being revealed before now. (Mark 13:10; 2 Thess. 2:6) Therefore, we can expect this work to decline in the days to come as more and more of God's people become aware of the identity of this man of lawlessness. This will cause certain confusion as to how we should carry on with the work we previously kept busy at. These developments can be a test to our faith and obedience. Will we continue to trust in Jehovah and preach even in troublesome season or will we give up, perhaps even be stumbled by the things being revealed?
What will help us to keep our balance and to endure is to remember that the commission to preach, teach and make disciples, including baptizing such ones, does not originate with any Governing Body, but comes from Jehovah and his Son Christ Jesus. As Paul wrote: "Work at everything you do with all your heart. Work as if you were working for the Lord, not for human masters. Work because you know that you will finally receive as a reward what the Lord wants you to have. You are serving the Lord Christ." (Col. 3:23-25, NIRV; Acts 10:42; compare 1 Cor. 3:5-9)
It was Jesus who said that "this good news of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world. It will be a witness to all nations. Then the end will come." (Matt. 24:14; NIRV) He describes "the end" as being the greatest of all tribulations: "For then there will be great tribulation (affliction, distress, and oppression) such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now--no, and never will be [again]. And if those days had not been shortened, no human being would endure and survive, but for the sake of the elect (God's chosen ones) those days will be shortened." (Matt. 24:21,22; Amplified Bible)
The "good news of the kingdom" that is to be preached before the end comes, and that "the whole world" needs to hear as "a witness," is the same kingdom that Jesus himself preached, having made it the focus of his ministry. "From that time on Jesus commenced preaching and saying: 'Repent, you people, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.' . . . He went around throughout the whole of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the good news of the kingdom and curing every sort of disease and every sort of infirmity." (Matt. 4:17) Jesus taught by word and demonstrated by his miracles the blessings that will be enjoyed under God's kingdom. Therefore, he also sent forth his disciples to preach, telling them, "As you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of the heavens has drawn near." (Matt. 10:7) It is the same kingdom that he taught us to pray for, for it is the means by which Jehovah will bring about all the wonderful conditions on a cleansed earth that he has promised to those who love him by faithfully enduring in their deeds and ministry. (Psalms 37:11, 29, 37; Dan. 7:13,14; Matt. 6:10; 25:34, 46; 2 Thess. 1:5; Rev. 2:19)
I think you'll agree that in the past most of us were zealous because we actually enjoyed the work, having Jehovah's spirit helping us. I devoted my entire life to that. Our assignment from Jehovah has not changed. If we could direct people to God's household previously, with God's blessing, before we personally became aware of the errors of the Society and their teachings, then we can still do the same work, still with his blessing. Jehovah has known from the beginning what was developing, long before we became aware of it, yet he did not mind us teaching what we did, because we drew attention to Jesus Christ and his kingdom, giving hope to those who listened.
Some former zealous proclaimers of God's kingdom now argue that the good news of the kingdom is peculiar to Jehovah's witnesses, and that the apostle Paul was preaching the good news about Christ Jesus, and not the kingdom, and that is what we ought to be doing. I don't know what their motive might be for teaching this, but is it true that Paul did not preach "the good news of the kingdom"? When Paul met with the older men from Ephesus and Miletus he told them, "I have gone from place to place, preaching to you about God's kingdom, but now I know that none of you will ever see me again." For two years, while in Rome, Paul "explained the matter to [the principal men of the Jews] by bearing thorough witness concerning the kingdom of God and by using persuasion with them concerning Jesus from both the law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening." Yes, he was "preaching the kingdom of God to them and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with the greatest freeness of speech, without hindrance." (Acts 20:25, CEV; 28:17, 23, 30,31; 2 Tim. 4:1,2) So, don't let anyone tell you that the good news of the kingdom is not something that we ought to be preaching.
Jesus commissioned us, not only to preach the good news of the kingdom, but also to "go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matt. 28:19,20; NLT)
Since Jesus did not hesitate to send forth his disciples to preach and to teach, even though they lacked an understanding of many of the basic facts regarding the kingdom, we need not concern ourselves about getting everything right. (Luke 10:1, 9; Acts 1:6,7) It's best to stick to the simple Bible message, and that is: the reality of God's kingdom, and what it will mean for mankind. (Dan. 2:44) Should we teach all that which we have been taught by the Society? We do not need to make an issue of some of the teachings which we now discern may be out of harmony with the Scriptures. Since the end has not yet arrived we cannot be dogmatic about what is or what is not correct understanding on some things, especially when it comes to prophecy. That still remains to be revealed. Let us keep the Scripture in mind where we are admonished, "don't get ahead of the Master and jump to conclusions with your judgments before all the evidence is in. When he comes, he will bring out in the open and place in evidence all kinds of things we never even dreamed of." (1 Cor. 4:5; The Message Bible)
In the first century the disciples were directed to associate with fellow believers for their mutual benefit and encouragement. (Heb. 10:23-25) They all belonged to "the congregation of [the] living God," being members of "the household of God." Jesus was the head of them all, and he did not entrust any headship, nor leadership of them to any man or group of men. (2 Cor. 1:1; Eph. 2:19; 5:23; 1Tim. 3:15; Matt. 23:10; compare Rev. 1:20-3:22) Jehovah has appointed shepherds to care for and feed his sheep. That is certainly not the same as being entrusted with "lording it over the flock," requiring absolute obedience of them. (Luke 22:25,26; 2 Cor. 1:24; 1 Peter 5:2,3; see 3 John 9,10)
When it comes to baptism we again need to keep in mind that this is a command from Jehovah and Christ Jesus, and not from any human. (Acts 2:38; 8:36-37; 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21) No one has the right to forbid anyone to get baptized! Anyone preventing someone from getting baptized puts himself in opposition to Jehovah. Elders especially have the obligation to help individual sheep obey Jehovah, rather than hindering, impeding or delaying them from doing so. (Acts 5:29, 39; 8:36) With their own interpretations on the matter of baptism, the Society has attached all sorts of conditions in order for a person to qualify to be baptized, such as the individual having to dedicate his life to Jehovah, preaching and reporting his time, accepting the Society's authority and all their teachings, and being able to answer a set of questions regarding such teachings in a meeting with an elder. Only after satisfying all these conditions is he approved for baptism. These of course are not scriptural requirements.
We have the tradition that a disciple gets baptized at one of our Assemblies. That is not necessary. Neither does one need to get baptized by someone designated by the Society. Any faithful servant of Jehovah, who has a clean standing before his God, has the authority from Jehovah to baptize, as was illustrated in the law of Moses in connection with the "sin-cleansing water" (click for link). None of Jesus' disciples needed, or was given, any special authority to baptize. (Num. 8:7; 19:9, 19; Heb. 9:13,14; 10:22) For these reasons some have decided for themselves to get baptized by a qualified (morally clean) worshiper of Jehovah, getting immersed in a river, lake, sea, ocean, pool or even bathtub, without seeking the approval of any elder. Others have taken their towels and appropriate bathing suits to an Assembly and simply sat among the baptismal candidates, getting baptized in this way. That is perfectly acceptable to Jehovah. That is how I, and many others in previous years, chose to get baptized.
We are still "God's fellow workers." Some of us may plant, someone else do the watering, but it is still Jehovah who makes it grow. (1 Cor. 3:5-9) The sheep belong to him. Therefore, there is the ongoing need to direct "all those who [are] rightly disposed for everlasting life" to God's household, and leave it in Jehovah's hands to make things grow. He is the one who will judge his people. (Acts 13:48; Heb. 10:30) Paul's encouragement to Timothy still holds true for us today, "I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he appears to set up his Kingdom: Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching ("Just keep it simple" The Message Bible). For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths. But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Dont be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you." (2 Timothy 4:1-5; NLT)
We do not need to worry that everything we teach is not the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Jehovah will not reject us for not understanding everything at this time, and getting some things wrong. Neither did Jesus' disciples get everything right. Jehovah is teaching us to benefit ourselves and he will continue to do so well into the thousand year reign of his kingdom by his Son. (Isa. 48:17-19; Rev. 20:6; 21:3,4, 8)
What we do need to keep in mind, though, is that we must keep ourselves in God's love, that we remain morally clean, and without spot from the world. We do not want to honor Jehovah with our lips while our heart is far removed from him, for Jehovah will judge his people and in his due time remove any wicked ones from their midst. In his second letter to Timothy Paul describes the situation that would develop within God's household "in the last days." Any with traits such as are listed there are worshiping Jehovah in vain, for they have "a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power, and from these turn away." (Matt. 13:40-42; 15:8,9; James 1:27; Peter 4:17-19; 1 Cor. 6:9-11; 2 Tim. 3:1-7)
So, to sum it all up, yes, I find it personally challenging to teach bible studies under present circumstances. I minimize the things the Society teaches that I can't agree with, keeping things simple. I like to point out one basic truth to the studies though, and that is: Jehovah does have a household and we can identify it by means of the Scriptures. Therefore, rather than be stumbled we should expect to see certain developments within this household before the end comes, for it is fulfilling Bible prophecies. I don't make a fuss over the Society's teaching that the individual must dedicate his life to Jehovah in order to qualify for baptism. Jehovah will clear up and correct all our errors at his appointed time. More important is it to help the student develop a personal relationship with his heavenly Father.
Also, I learned not to talk too much but rather to be discreet. In the beginning I got carried away a bit by explaining to my studies some of the things I was learning, and what the Scriptures foretold regarding God's people in "the last days," and how this was now happening in the congregations in fulfillment of it. (2 Tim. 3:1-7) This was with the idea that when they experience these developments personally they would not be stumbled. Well, at least one of them became very zealous and loyal to the Society, and now wants nothing to do with me, perhaps even viewing me as apostate. I have been accused of disturbing the "ideal picture" that some like to have of God's people, for they want to believe that we are now in a "spiritual paradise." Just like in Jeremiah's day, although we have "wicked men" among us (who are being protected), and "the prophets themselves actually prophesy in falsehood," and the priests (anointed governing body) "go subduing according to their powers," there are those who "love it that way." Nevertheless, I am determined to continue to direct people to God's household, praying that some among them may be "concealed in the day of Jehovah's anger." (Jer. 5:26-31; Zeph. 2:3)