[From ws15/08 p. 19 for Oct. 12 -18]
“Tell them to work at good, to be rich in fine works,
to be generous, ready to share, 19 safely treasuring up
for themselves a fine foundation for the future, so that
they may get a firm hold on the real life.” (1Ti 6:18, 19)
This Watchtower study opens by linking the “real life” found at first Timothy 6:19 with the “everlasting life” that Paul refers to in verse 12 of the same chapter. However, it does not apply these words as Paul intended.
This real life/everlasting life was the hope that both Paul and Timothy shared. Neither was looking forward to living as imperfect sinners for 1,000 years on earth before reaching perfection. Paul told Timothy to get a hold on everlasting life then and there. One cannot grasp hold of something that is not present. Therefore, they were both able to get a hold on it 2,000 years ago. That life was granted to them by the declaration of God that they were righteous. (1Co 6:11) They both looked forward to everlasting life in the kingdom of the heavens with their Lord Jesus Christ.
To refer to that life as the real life implies that the life they then lived as sinners in imperfect bodies was not real. So hoping to live in the new world in the same state—imperfect and sinful and not yet declared righteous—could not be what Paul was talking about.
So why are we making this up in this week’s Watchtower study?
“And just think how much easier it will be to draw closer to Jehovah as we approach, and finally reach, perfection!— Ps. 73:28; Jas. 4:8.” – par. 2
The astute reader will look up the two verses referred to here and realize that neither says anything about finally reaching perfection after 1,000 more years of life. Do you not think that if there were a Scripture—even one, single Scripture—that supported the idea of Christians working toward perfection during the thousand year reign of Christ, that it would be quoted here? What makes a mockery of this doctrine is that it is presupposed that these still-imperfect Christians will be working alongside the millions or billions of unrighteous resurrected ones. Since they will both be in the same state of imperfection, how is it that the Christians have grasped hold of everlasting life?
How to Prepare
This entire study is based on a false premise. The assumption is that there is a group of Christians known as the other sheep who have an earthly hope. These will either survive Armageddon or be resurrected as part of the resurrection of the righteous, even though they are still imperfect and therefore still sinners.
What the Bible actually teaches is that all faithful Christians receive the reward to rule with Jesus as Kings and priests in the kingdom of the heavens. These are the ones who will shepherd, instruct, and heal the billions of unrighteous resurrected who will return to live during judgment day – the thousand year reign of our Lord Jesus Christ.
If you are new to this forum and take exception to this assertion, we invite you in the spirit of 1 Peter 3:15 to make a defense for the hope you have. Please give us the scriptural evidence to prove that the other sheep are a group of latter-day Christians who have an earthly hope, are friends—not sons—of God, are not in the new covenant, are prohibited from partaking of the emblems, and do not have Jesus as their mediator. Feel free to use the commenting section of this article to provide your proof.
Now back to the article. Paragraph six makes the statement: “Consistently, then, are we submitting to theocratic direction now?” This begs the question, how exactly does theocratic direction come to us?
The premise of the statement is laid out in the following paragraph.
“If we cooperate with those taking the lead today, perhaps finding contentment and joy in new assignments of service, we are likely to have the same attitude in the new world…Today, of course, we do not know where each one of us may be assigned to live in the new system of things.” – par. 7
This statement is based on the premise that humans will have to follow the Israelite model of apportioned land in the New World. This is pure speculation. Nevertheless, the real problem is the presumption that we can prepare for the New World by learning how to submit to the direction of men today. This is the key teaching point of the article. We prepare for submission to Jehovah’s rulership in the New World by learning how to submit to the instructions from men in the Organization. Allegedly, these men are merely following instructions they somehow receive from Jehovah God. This is in line with Anthony Morris III’s statement that this is a theocracy, an organization governed by heaven.
The article continues:
The privilege of living under Kingdom rule is well worth any effort we make to cooperate with Jehovah’s organization and care for theocratic assignments. Of course, our circumstances may change with the passing of time. For instance, some members of the Bethel family in the United States have been reassigned to the field and are now enjoying abundant blessings in other forms of the full-time ministry. Because of advancing age or other factors, others who were in the traveling work have now received special pioneer assignments. – par. 8
One of my closest friends was a circuit and then district overseer for many years. A traveling overseer’s needs are all cared for, housing, car, allowance, and generous gifts. He was also a special pioneer for many years prior to entering the traveling overseer work. That he found much more difficult. He had to live on a very small allowance, pay for his housing, food and transportation himself. It is hard to understand how advancing age is a factor for being reassigned from the traveling overseer work to become a special pioneer. This causes one to wonder about the “other factors” mentioned.
I know of many who have given their entire adult life to Bethel service. They have no pensions. They have few marketable skills and they are now senior citizens. They are not convinced they will be “enjoying abundant blessings in other forms of the full-time ministry.” They certainly didn’t ask for this.
We can also prepare for life in the new world by exercising patience regarding revealed truth. Are we studious and patient as our understanding of Bible truth is progressively clarified today? If so, we will likely have no difficulty showing patience in the new world as Jehovah makes known his requirements for mankind. – par. 10
We are not told how the truth is revealed, only that it is revealed. The assumption is that it is Jehovah who is doing the revealing, presumably to the Governing Body. However, if it is God who is revealing the truth, why does it keep changing?
The idea that Jehovah is revealing truth and that, as Anthony Morris III said, the Organization is governed from heaven, is being seriously questioned of late due to some surprising new developments.
A Startling Turn of Events
In late September, Bethel families around the world received a shocking announcement. The size of Bethel families everywhere is going to be reduced drastically. Some by 20% and others by as much as 60%. Brothers and sisters who have spent 20, 30, even 40 years faithfully serving in Bethel homes are suddenly facing the bleak prospect of fending for themselves. Older ones know they will be the first to go. Since the organization has made no provision for pensions,[i] and since the option to become special pioneers and receive a monthly stipend is not on the table, many are very anxious and worrying how they will provide for themselves.
Not surprisingly, brothers loyal to the organization are spinning this as a positive development. They argue that the most important thing is the field service work. Therefore by freeing up thousands of workers currently caring for mundane duties such as cleaning, laundry, and food preparation, the Governing Body is focusing on what really matters. They deny that this has anything to do with cost-cutting, stating that the organization has lots of money. If that is the case, then why are these Bethelites not being reassigned as special pioneers so they can devote even more time in the field service? Why are we hearing reports that special pioneers are being demoted to regular pioneer status? Special pioneers can devote 50 hours more than regular pioneers in the field ministry every month. If the issue is not money, why reduce our preaching force in this way?
Another fact not widely known is that those most likely to be targeted for “re-assignment” (Bethel-speak for “downsized”) are the older ones. I have a number of older friends still in Bethel who are very concerned as they have no means to provide for themselves and are sure they will be gone since that has been the pattern for the past while. A younger brother is brought in, trained, then the older one is given his walking papers. Some of these already-downsized Bethelites are having a hard time getting work since who wants to hire a senior citizen with no resume to speak of? Again, if it is not about the money, but about the preaching work, why send older ones into the field in the first place? Young people are healthier and stronger. They will be able to find work more easily. Many will enjoy the support of parents. They will be more able to travel with less concern about health costs and insurance. In short, they will be more effective preachers than older, infirm ones.
Worldly companies downsize by dumping older workers who are paid more and can’t work as hard. Their concern is not the welfare of the worker, but the bottom line on their balance sheet. However, when the Organization does it, we are expected to believe it is all about the preaching work.
Yet another argument being spun to defend this decision is that there is a significant amount of waste of resources in Bethel families. It costs millions of dollars to keep thousands of workers on staff to do menial tasks that each individual could do for themselves—cleaning their own rooms, doing their own laundry, cooking their own meals. Therefore, the reasoning goes, Jehovah is directing his organization to focus on the preaching work by cutting the fat.
Would this not imply that those claiming to be the “faithful and discreet slave” are not discreet at all? If they have been wasting resources for decades, they can hardly lay claim to the discretionary use of resources.
Only five months ago, this so-called faithful and discreet slave was asking for money to build 140 regional translation offices and thousands of new kingdom halls. Now we find that everything has been put on hold with the exception of the head office in Warwick where the Governing Body will reside. This is done allegedly because the most important thing is the field service work. This is not about money. This is not about getting rid of older workers who will soon become a burden on the system because of age and infirmity. This is about the preaching work.
If this isn’t about money, but the proper discretionary use of funds, we must conclude that Warwick is a wise use of dedicated funds, but every other project on the books is suspect. If so, how were these decisions made in the first place? Through videos, we have been led to believe that committees of qualified men have carefully reviewed the statistics to determine where a kingdom hall or a regional translation office is needed. These decisions were made only after thoroughly researching and reviewing the data. Before the final decision was made, these qualified and skilled men prayed for Jehovah’s guidance. Now suddenly everything is put on hold, but it’s not because we don’t have the money? Did Jehovah fail to answer every prayer except the one involving the Warwick construction?
The most egregious aspect of all this is that it does not reflect the spirit of the Christ.
The organization has often warned us about becoming desensitized. For example, we’ve all seen study articles that show how scenes on television that would have shocked us 30 years ago are now considered completely acceptable.
There was a time in the corporate world that an employee who was loyal to the company could count on a lifelong of employment. He could look forward to retirement with a good pension and a gold watch. However, that has all changed in recent years. There is no longer a presumption that if the employee is loyal to the company, the company will be loyal to the employee. Downsizing is now common. Nevertheless, we have built-in protections in most civilized nations. Dismissing an employee because it makes good fiscal sense still requires the company to put together a reasonable severance package.
If Jehovah were truly running the organization, it would set the example. God is love. He would not dismiss a Bethel worker in his late 60s saying, “Go in peace, keep warm and well fed,” while not providing him with the necessities of life, would he? (Ja 2:16)
The evidence is that this is very much about money. If indeed the organization has lots of it, this is about making sure it doesn’t lose what it has. And if, as many suspect, the organization is really hurting for funds, then this is further evidence of an organization in decline. None of this demonstrates the loving care of our heavenly Father. Rather, what we are seeing mimics the decisions from the directors’ boardroom of worldly corporations. To say that Jehovah is behind this decision is to bring reproach on his good name.
I realize that this started out as a Watchtower review and has morphed into something else. Nevertheless, the subject matter did seem topical to the article’s main point, which is that if we are to get ready for the new world, we have to learn to obey the direction of the Governing Body now. Well, as Jesus said, “Wisdom is proved righteous by its children.” (Luke 7:35) The decisions that the Governing Body have made are its children, born of its wisdom. Are they proven righteous?
[i] When the Spanish government imposed a requirement for the WB&TS to pay into the government pension plan for all Spanish Bethel workers, the Governing Body closed the Spanish branch office down and sold the property which had been purchased with millions of dollars of donated funds.