Thursday, December 25, 2008

"At that time a start was made ... "

In the Bible book of Genesis, Chapter 4, verses 25-26, we read about how after Cain killed Abel (Genesis 4:8-10) his mother Eve eventually gave birth to a son whom she named "Seth," which means "appoint" or "set in place." The explanation given in the text itself, by Eve, says that "Seth" was chosen as Eve's son's name since "'God has appointed another seed in place of Abel, because Cain killed him'" (verse 25). Then Genesis says that Seth had a son whom he named "Enosh." With Enosh "a start was made of calling on the name of Jehovah."--Verse 26.

Jehovah's Witnesses have done much to bring forth the truth about the biblical God's name, both in their public and private worship of Jehovah God and also through their literature and Bible translations. Of course, it can also be said that Jewish and many Christian groups have in similar or in other ways helped preserve and make available texts and manuscripts that have served as the basis for much of the work done by Jehovah's Witnesses in the past century or more. But when it comes to Jehovah's Witnesses, those loyal to the Watchtower Society or to any man or group of men no matter what they teach, no matter how many changes they make, or no matter how little biblical or other support they give for what they say Christians 'must do,' such ones are not "calling on the name of Jehovah" in the way that a true witness of Jehovah God or Jesus Christ would.

I write this in part because of what we read from Jehovah's greatest Witness, his own Son, Jesus, who told those in ancient Ephesus, "I know your deeds and your labor and endurance, and that you cannot bear bad men, and that you put those to the test who say they are apostles" (Revelation 2:2). If you are a Christian then ask yourself, "Do those whose teachings I follow allow me to do what Jesus here in Revelation says should be done?" If not, then those whom you follow cannot possibly be who they say they are, that is, if they say they are "apostles" or anything like an apostle or 'sent-forth one' from Jesus or from God.

"Calling on the name of Jehovah" or on the name of Jesus is not simply a vocalization of either name, but involves a reliance on or trust in one or both that is then made manifest by the 'call.' "Calling on the name" of Jehovah or Jesus therefore requires faith in them, but nowhere in the Bible is such faith said to have anything to do with a dependency on or trust in men, something the Bible expressly tells us not to do (Psalm 118:5-14; 146:1, 3). That is why Paul, a real apostle of God and of Jesus (1 Timothy 1:1), wrote the following in Galatians 1:6-12 (NWT):
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. Is it, in fact, men I am now trying to persuade or God? Or am I seeking to please men? If I were yet pleasing men, I would not be Christ’s slave. For I put YOU on notice, brothers, that the good news which was declared by me as good news is not something human; for neither did I receive it from man, nor was I taught [it], except through revelation by Jesus Christ.
Paul did not simply write about such things; he practiced what he preached by "standing face to face against" other apostles like Peter and others who, though directly appointed by Jesus to "feed [Jesus'] little sheep" (John 21:15-19), were nonetheless "condemned" because they 'put on a pretense' before others and "they were not walking straight according to the truth of the good news" (Galatians 2:11-14). This is exactly what Jesus says he approves of according to Revelation 2:2, quoted above. Yet, this is precisely what the Watchtower Society and its agencies resist, even to the point where they caution their followers to not "harbor private ideas when it comes to Bible understanding."--“Make Your Advancement Manifest,” The Watchtower, August 1, 2001, page 14, par. 8.

Thus, in spite of Paul's counsel many religious leaders today who call themselves "Christian" or "Jehovah's Witnesses" are more protective of their place and position (compare John 11:48) than they are with being corrected or with working with those whom they call "brothers," as brothers, like Paul and Peter who did not become arrogant and self-righteous over their respective appointments and positions to such an extent that it kept the congregation in a state of confusion and doubt. In such a state, it is hard to believe that individual Christians or groups of "two or three" or more could "call on the name of Jehovah" in "spirit" and in "truth."--Matthew 18:20; John 4:23.

Jehovah's Witnesses associated with and loyal to the Watchtower Society today are required to accept what the Watchtower Society teaches as if it is "the voice of God" (from The Watchtower, June 15, 1957, page 370, par. 7). This is required by the Society in spite of its many false teachings and failed expectations which it has published for over 100 years, and advanced by those loyal to it simply because the Society tells them that this is what is true, even if what is true later becomes something they consider false. The basis for belief, then, is not the Bible, but the Watchtower Society.

It is precisely because of the apparent, demonstrated abandonment of loyalty to Jah God and to Jesus of Nazareth in favor of their own traditions and reputation among men that so many Jehovah's Witnesses today have decided to no longer work with the Watchtower Society, or with any of the agencies which it controls. Indeed, it has become impossible for many of us to "call on the name of Jehovah" with those who refuse to reject and "repent" of their false teachings (compare Revelation 2:20-23), or at least do what is required of Christians when questioned by others, namely, to give "a defense before everyone that demands a reason" (1 Peter 3:15). But the Watchtower Society and those who bear witness to its teachings refuse to do both on matters of critical importance. True, we all sin; we all make mistakes. But those Jehovah's Witnesses who are Christians first, before accepting what is taught by any man or organization of men, know that it is impossible to put "pleasing men" before being "Christ's slave" (Galatians 1:10). Thus, those who are witnesses of Jehovah God and of Jesus Christ in a biblical sense do not put loyalty to men before loyalty to God. The moment we do that, we show that we are no longer Jehovah's Witnesses, or Christian Witnesses of Jah, or witnesses of anyone but men.

That is a terrible place to find oneself, especially if your intent in starting out with a particular group or organization is to "draw close to God" and to do his will (Hebrews 10:36; James 4:8). I know, because I was in just such a place in association with the Watchtower Society. But after going through my own struggle for faith, and after a good deal of personal evaluation and appreciation for the fact that my baptism was a symbol of my dedication to Jesus of Nazareth and to his Father, it became clear that I needed to continue on in service to them alone or with "two or three" or however many more Christians I can find (Matthew 18:20). Men and their organizations may or may not be helpful in furthering the truth about God, that is, depending on whether they teach what can be shown to be true or most likely true based on good reasons. Why? Because men fail. Organizations fail. But Jesus and Jehovah have given us life, hope, love, and they have never lied or misrepresented the truth, as so many of us have done.

As I have presented briefly elsewhere and in a more extended consideration of the use and pronunciation of the divine name, "Jehovah" is an acceptable Anglicization (= a word that is made English or made like English) of the biblical God's name, just as "Jesus" is an appropriate English representation of the biblical Greek name Iesous, given to him in texts such as Acts 4:10-12. Yet, though millions, indeed, billions today accept "Jesus," they cannot resolve their conflict with "Jehovah." While the Anglicized form "Jehovah" has many good reasons supporting it, the name "Jah" is the least controversial of all forms of the divine name and it is itself an Anglicization of the Hebrew name Yah. In view of this, and in order to help differentiate myself from those who bear witness to men in Jehovah's name, I refer to myself as a "Christian Witness of Jah," as one of Jehovah's Witnesses who does not put loyalty to the Watchtower Society or to any man or group of men over and above loyalty to God.

Though it may seem strange to have to differentiate between those who "call on the name of Jehovah" in terms of loyalty to men or loyalty to Jah God himself, it is necessary. Just as it is necessary to differentiate today between many who call themselves "Christian," so I will differentiate between those who "call on the name of Jehovah" in terms of their association with the Watchtower Society or in association with traditions from any group that are not based on the best available reasons, and those who "call on" Jah's and Jesus' names out of love and a desire for truth, not because we fear men.

In these and in other ways I intend to 'make a start of calling on Jah's name,' for Jah is my God. I accept Jesus of Nazareth as the one who best represents the will of Jah God. According to the best available reasons, I accept the Bible as the most reliable source of information about the history and teachings of Jah and Jesus, and of those who follow them and of those who oppose them. Christian Witnesses of Jah must never follow the error of the Watchtower Society by requiring others to identify themselves as anything but "Christian" (see Acts 11:26), even if further differentiation and description is needed in order to properly identify those with whom we agree, and those with whom we disagree on important issues. But it is not now nor will it ever be necessary for a person to call him- or herself a "Christian Witness of Jah" before they can be considered a "Christian."

Every Christian is a witness of Jah God and of Jesus Christ, and if all such witnesses do not call on and praise both Jah and Jesus now, in the future they will (Revelation 19:1, 3, 4, 6). So, I say, let's make a start now of 'calling on and praising the name of Jah God'!