Unless I am reading what you mean,
incorrectly, are you saying that Jehovah has chosen JW's and only JW's to extend
the growth of the original foundation that was laid? No other group claiming to
be Christian, can lay claim to being a part, or claim any connection to being
'His Temple' due to their failure to 'render acceptable sacred service to Him'?
You must be confident that the arrangement for such sacred service to God is
being faithfully represented by only Jehovah's Witnesses?
I'm working this point, because its a major point in the cementing and making more firm my own realisations. I was never really given the freedom to question these long held questions for many years, whilst I was associating within the congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses; . . . Please do not see my questions as being more than genuine and sincere pleadings for help in understanding things I have loved for many many years; all with a view of fortifying my own faith in order to make my foundation in the Christ much more solid, in order to be able to make an effective and more discerning defense of Gods Truth.
totally understand your dilemma of trying to make sense of the "mystery" of
God's household within the context of what we have been taught by the Watchtower Society;
and by the reality of present conditions within the organization.
(1John 3:1; Eph. 5:32)
Due to the ever changing interpretation of Scriptures by the Watchtower Society; and their failed expectations in connection with the fulfillment of certain life-impacting prophecies, many former zealous Witnesses have now become disillusioned with the leadership of the governing body which still emphatically insist that they are the "faithful and discreet salve" of Matthew 24:45. This has resulted in a credibility crisis within the organization, causing many to not only wonder whether they are God's people, but also question if God actually has a people, a household of true worshipers. (1 Tim. 3:14-15) Therefore, like yourself, many are asking: Do only Jehovah's witnesses render sacred service to God? Would God be using an organization that teaches lies in order to extent the growth of the original foundation that was laid at Pentecost? Or, perhaps, are Jehovah's Witnesses God's people because they are the closest to the truth, rejecting such doctrines as the pagan Trinity; the immortality of the human soul; hell fire; etc.? These questions are being debated on the many forums on the internet, where we find former Witnesses now suggesting that God's people are scattered among the many religions of this world; and therefore it does not really matter how we worship God, or that we use his name Jehovah. Of course, it must also be acknowledged that the majority of the Witnesses are continuing to put their trust in the leadership of the governing body, viewing any dissenters as apostate. This really does present a confusing picture, doesn't it?
The "World Christian Encyclopedia: A comparative survey of churches and religions - AD 30 to 2200," states that there are 19 major world religions, which in turn are subdivided into a total of 270 large religious groups. In addition, it is estimated that there are as many as 4,200 smaller "faiths" or "belief systems" in the world. Why such a profusion of confusion when it comes to religion and worship? Does it matter how, or where, or whom we worship? Should we expect God's people to be scattered among these many different religions?
Our Creator, to whom all mankind owes their existence, tells us that he acknowledges only two religions: the worship and obedience that belongs to Him as the One and only true God, whose name is Jehovah; and the false and deceptive worship set up by Satan in opposition to God, upon his rebellion in the Garden of Eden when he succeeded in turning the first human couple against their Creator and thereby gaining the authority and control over them and their as yet unborn future offspring. The Bible tells us that "the whole world is under the control of the evil one," namely, Satan the Devil, "who leads the whole world astray." (1John 5:19; Rev. 12:9, NIV) This includes even those who profess to have no religion nor believe in the existence of the Creator.
"Truth" always remains truth! It never changes. Therefore, there can be only one true religion. Satan's form of worship, which is based on lies, has fragmented over the centuries into the thousands of belief systems that exist today. Why should the many lies of Satan's religions cause us confusion when we have God's Word which explains the truth from the very beginning. These are the only two options. We either obey and worship Jehovah "with spirit and truth," as Jesus taught his followers; or otherwise our obedience belongs to Satan, who is the ruler of this world. (John 4:23-24; 12:31; 2 Cor. 4:4) It is impossible to worship Jehovah and Satan side by side. We either belong to the one or to the other; but we cannot worship both! (1 Cor. 10:20-22; James 4:4; 1 Kings 18:21)
The apostle Paul explains: "Stop forming inappropriate relationships with unbelievers. Can right and wrong be partners? Can light have anything in common with darkness? Can Christ agree with the devil? Can a believer share life with an unbeliever? Can Godís temple contain false gods? Clearly, we are the temple of the living God. As God said, 'I will live and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people.' The Lord says, 'Get away from unbelievers. Separate yourselves from them. Have nothing to do with anything unclean. Then I will welcome you.' The Lord Almighty says, 'I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters.'Ē (2 Cor. 6:14-18; GODíS WORD Translation)
We see that God requires his people to separate themselves from false worship before they can become his "sons and daughters." God pronounced this great chasm immediately after Adam and Eve's rebellion in the Garden of Eden. God decreed that He, and everyone who belong to him, would always be at enmity with Satan and his world of worshipers. There can be no harmony or compromise between the two. (Gen. 3:15; James 1:27; 4:4,7-8) This simple fact has proved true for all of God's worshipers, ever since Cain killed his brother Abel; and will continue until Satan and all that belongs to him will be destroyed forever. (Gen. 4:3-8; Matt. 23:33-35; Rev. 19:19-21; 20:1-3, 7-10) When God pronounced his sentence upon the three rebels in Eden, he at the same time also provided the hope that at his future appointed time he would "break up the works of the Devil," and redeem Adam's offspring from the curse of sin and death that they had inherited from Adam. (Rom. 5:8-10, 18-21; 1 Cor. 15:21-28; 1John 3:8)
Jehovah has always had individuals who remained loyal to him, even under the severest of suffering. The apostle Paul lists many of them by name. (Heb. 11:4-40) But it was not until God delivered Abraham's offspring out of Egypt, and made a covenant with them at Mt. Sinai, that he had an organized nation, "a people for his name." (Deut. 7:6-11; Isaiah 43:10; 44:1-2) The old covenant served as a tutor, or teacher, that would lead to Christ. The many laws under the covenant were perfect, and as such could only be kept by a perfect person, which Jesus was, having been born without sin. By his perfect obedience Jesus fulfilled the Law and set us free from its condemnation. With his death, Jesus set mankind free from the curse of Adam's disobedience, and thus reconciled us to God to become his sons and daughters. The apostle Paul explains it this way: "
"When Adam sinned, sin
entered the world. Adamís sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for
everyone sinned. 13 Yes, people sinned even before the law was given. But it was
not counted as sin because there was not yet any law to break. 14 Still,
everyone diedófrom the time of Adam to the time of Mosesóeven those who did not
disobey an explicit commandment of God, as Adam did. Now Adam is a symbol, a
representation of Christ, who was yet to come.
18 "Yes, Adamís one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christís one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone. 19 Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous.
20 "Godís law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, Godís wonderful grace became more abundant. 21 So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now Godís wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." ―Romans 5:12-14, 18-21, New Living Translation.
Under the old covenant, God's perfect Law could never make any man righteous for everlasting life, as Paul explains further:
"But now God has shown us a
way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as
was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. 22 We are made
right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for
everyone who believes, no matter who we are.
23 "For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of Godís glorious standard. 24 Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. 25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, 26 for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus." ―Romans 3:21-26, New Living Translation.
Jehovah had all along intended to make a new covenant that would
accomplish all his promises made through Moses and his prophets.include all the
nations, so it was not because the
Jews had broken their covenant with God that there is a new covenant. Paul
explains it nicely in Hebrews 8:7-13. In accordance with God's promise to
Abraham, the Messiah was born of Abraham's offspring. The promise also included
that if the Jews proved faithful to their covenant with God, then they would enjoy
the blessing and privilege of carrying the good news of God's kingdom to the
nations; and be the ones to invite people of the nations to worship Jehovah along with them, with everlasting
life in view. (Acts 13:44-49; Rom. 1:16; 3:1-4; 9:3-5) In that case, the
question you are asking, as to who God's people are, would have been a lot
easier to understand.
Let me further clarify this: The old covenant that God made with the nation of Israel at Mount Sinai served the purpose of producing the promised Messiah. It protected the lineage through the centuries from Abraham until the Messiah arrived. (Gen. 22:17-18) When the Messiah, Christ Jesus, arrived at God's appointed time, he accomplished everything God had given him to do during the short three and a half years of his ministry, which included preaching the good news of God's kingdom; selecting the twelve apostles as the main members of the foundation of God's household; and sacrificing his life in behalf of all mankind, thereby opening the way for believers to be reconciled to God, and to inherit the everlasting life that Adam had lost for us―not just for the Jews, but for all mankind. (Rom. 3:29; 1 Cor. 15:22) With the promised outpouring of the holy spirit on the day of Pentecost the new covenant came into force; replacing the old covenant which had now become obsolete.
Just because the Jews are no longer God's people should not confuse us to the fact that God has a people. And neither should you allow the teaching regarding the new covenant as presented by the Watchtower Society confuse you, which is for the most part based on Rutherford's own interpretation, with his theory of types and antitypes; which, by the way, has now been discarded with the March 15, 2015 Watchtower. Just as the Jews were God's people under the old covenant, so Jehovah has a people for his name under the new covenant; with the requirement that they have "washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." That is why they are seen rendering sacred service to God, day and night, in his holy temple. (Acts 15:13-18; Rev. 7:9-10, 14-15; Matt. 26:26-28; Rev. 3:4-6) Clearly, it is not possible to worship God in his temple while at the same time being affiliated with a religion of which Satan is the god.
Had the Jews proved faithful to Jehovah, then all of the 144,000, who will rule with Jesus in God's kingdom, would have been selected exclusively from among them, starting with the twelve apostles, and as symbolized in John's vision in the revelation he received from God. (Rev. 7:1-8; Exodus 19:5-6 ; 1 Peter 2:5-6, 9; Dan. 7:27) These 144,000 are the ones Jesus calls his "brothers" in his parable of the sheep and goats. From reading it you can see that in order for someone to receive everlasting life, he has to accept Christ's brothers the same as he accepts Jesus; for they together with Jesus make up the foundation of God's temple, as the apostle Paul explains in his letter to the congregation in Ephesus, who were for the most part non-Jews. (Matt. 25:31-46; 7:21-23; Rev. 14:1-3; Eph. 2:19-22) You will not find any of Christ's brothers as belonging to the world, including that of Christendom. As already mentioned, Jehovah has nothing to do with the world that is lying in the power of the wicked one. (1John 5:19)
When Jehovah says that he will take us in upon separating from unbelievers, have you ever wondered where this "in" is; where or what it refers to? It is God's household, the members of which are individually his temple; and they are built upon the foundation that God himself laid. (Mal. 3:17-18; Matt. 24:45-47; 1 Cor. 3:16- 17; 1 Tim. 3:15) There is no provision for anyone to worship God anywhere else. Under the law of the old covenant, God instructed that anyone who would bring a sacrifice to him had to present it at the place chosen by him, at the entrance of the tent of meeting. Later, when King Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem, this became the only place where the sacrifices could be offered up. It's not just that Jehovah did not accept any sacrifices or worship that was offered anywhere else; but the person, even the alien resident, who would render up a sacrifice in any other place was to be put to death. Yes, it was that serious! (Lev. 17:8-9; see Deut. 12:13-14) Can you believe for a moment that it doesn't matter to God where we worship him today, in view of what the Scriptures say about God's temple under the new covenant?
But there is another important point to consider in connection with your question:
Should we today expect God's temple to be free of all wicked men and imposters? (2 Tim. 3:13) In other words, if there exists within God's house false prophets who are speaking lies in God's name, and who are succeeding in misleading many of God's people, does that then prove that they cannot be God's people; or that God does not have a household? That is the conclusion many have reached because of what is happening within the organization; and not only have they left, but they are also urging others leave. But, if we are to believe that it is not possible for wicked men to exist within God's house, then that would mean that God never had a people, for that has never been the case. Who was it that Jehovah brought out of Egypt? And why did they fail to enter the promised land, but perished in the wilderness? Were they not God's people? (Deut. 29:10-13; Heb. 3:12-19)
To Jeremiah his prophet, Jehovah said: "Go roving about in the streets of Jerusalem and see, now, and know, and seek for yourselves in her public squares whether you can find a man, whether there exists anyone doing justice, anyone seeking faithfulness, and I shall forgive her. Even if they should say: 'As Jehovah is alive!' they would thereby be swearing to sheer falsehood... For among my people there have been found wicked men. They keep peering, as when birdcatchers crouch down. They have set a ruinous [trap]. It is men that they catch. As a cage is full of flying creatures, so their houses are full of deception. That is why they have become great and they gain riches. They have grown fat; they have become shiny. They have also overflowed with bad things. No legal case have they pleaded, even the legal case of the fatherless boy, that they may gain success; and the judgment of the poor ones they have not taken up.íĒ
'Should I not hold an accounting because of these very things,' is the utterance of Jehovah, 'or on a nation that is like this should not my soul avenge itself? An astonishing situation, even a horrible thing, has been brought to be in the land: The prophets themselves actually prophesy in falsehood; and as for the priests, they go subduing according to their powers. And my own people have loved [it] that way; and what will you men do in the finale of it?'Ē (Jer. 5:1-2, 26-31)
I don't think I need to go into the many Scriptures that tell us that there have always been the wicked among God's people; and that it would be no different in the last days; and that they will be removed at God's appointed time. (Mal. 3:14-16; Matt. 13:40-43; 2 Tim. 3:1-7) Of the seven letters that Jesus wrote to the Seven Congregations, five of them he reprimanded, while at the same time giving them time to repent. Not once did he say that they did not belong to him, including those who were "holding fast the teaching of the sect of Nicolaus," which Jesus said he hated; nor did he ever tell anyone to leave. (Rev. 2:14-15, 6, 24-25) Many fail to realize that Jehovah differentiates between the wicked within his house, and the wicked of this world. In fact, the wicked within God's household are more reprehensible to him, and they will be dealt with first; before God's judgment comes upon the rest of the world of which Satan is the god. (Rom. 3:5-6; 1 Peter 4:17-19; 2 Thess. 1:6-10)
Jesus said, "he that has endured to the end is the one that will be saved." (Matt. 24:10-13) He recognizes the challenge we face to keep our integrity under test in a congregation that as a whole he views as "dead," as was the case with the congregation in Sardis. (Rev. 3:1) And he also acknowledges that we need God's help in order to remain faithful. That is why he said in prayer to his Father: "I have given your word to them, but the world has hated them, because they are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world. I request you, not to take them out of the world, but to watch over them because of the wicked one. . . Sanctify them by means of the truth; your word is truth." (John 17:14-17; 15:17-21) When Jesus said that his disciples would be hated by the world, he included of course the world of the Jewish system in his day, which opposed and persecuted him and his disciples. (John 8:42-48) Yet, the Jews were still God's people at the time. (John 16:1-4; Luke 19:41-44) Would this not also apply to us who are living in the days leading up to his presence? The apostle John wrote: "Young children, it is the last hour, and, just as you have heard that antichrist is coming, even now there have come to be many antichrists; from which fact we gain the knowledge that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of our sort; for if they had been of our sort, they would have remained with us. But [they went out] that it might be shown up that not all are of our sort. (1John 2:18-19; 2 Thess. 2:3-12)
It doesn't matter under what name God's people are known. In the first century they were called Christians, "by divine providence." (Acts 11:26) After 325 C.E., and with the council of Nicaea, the name "Christian" came to be identified with the apostate religion that Emperor Constantine adopted as the religion of his empire. Seven hundred years later that religion split into the western and eastern parts; and still later it fractured into many other religions, each one adopting a different name to distinguish it from the others. What do you think: Would Jehovah be offended on account of his people identifying themselves with his name, calling themselves "Jehovah's witnesses," in order to designate themselves as being separate from the many other religions who call themselves "Christians"? (Matt. 7:21-23; Isa. 43:10-12) To be sure, identifying oneself with God's name carries with it great responsibility, for Jehovah will execute his judgment upon anyone who defiles his holy name; but he also protects and blesses anyone who takes refuge in his name. (Rom. 2:24; Isa. 48:9-11; Jer. 7:8-16; 14:7; Ezek. 36:22-23; Psalms 91:14-16)