TREASURES FROM GOD’S WORD – Keep Encouraging One Another and Building One Another Up
13 In order to preside well over the flock, the elders discuss among themselves how to address the needs of the congregation. It might be more efficient if one elder made all the decisions. Yet, following the example of the first-century governing body, modern-day bodies of elders discuss matters freely, seeking guidance from the Scriptures. Their goal is to apply Scriptural principles to the needs of the local congregation. This is most effective when each elder prepares for the elders’ meetings, considering the Scriptures and the guidelines from the faithful and discreet slave class. Of course, this takes time. When there is a difference of opinion, as occurred when the first-century governing body considered the matter of circumcision, extra time and research might be needed to reach a consensus based on the Scriptures.—Acts 15:2, 6, 7, 12-14, 28.w11 6/15 26 ¶12
It’s interesting they are having elders following the example of the “first-century governing body.” But which aspects are to be followed? Do we just get to pick and choose? Apparently so. But let’s take it a step further. If the JW governing body is following the example of the Jerusalem Counsel in Acts 15, then by implication the elders are following the example of the JW governing body.
In what way do the elders or the JW governing body “discuss matters freely?” In addition, why would there be differences of opinion amongst elders? Are we talking about doctrinal differences, policy differences, or what? We aren’t told. But apparently, this usually happens “freely” behind closed doors.
Notice what happens in Acts 15.
“When they arrived in Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and elders, and they reported all that God had done with them.” (Acts 15:4)
In other words, this was an open meeting between the apostles, elders, Pharisees, and the church. There is no indication in the text that the doors were ever closed to the church. In fact, the opposite is explicitly stated.
“All the people kept silent, and they were listening to Barnabas and Paul as they were relating what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.” (Acts 15:12)
“Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas.” (Acts 15:22)
Clearly, the church body was present. Moreover, they were involved in some of the decision-making. I have no reason to believe that such an open meeting format happens in the local Kingdom Halls nor at the Headquarters. Rather, the decisions are made by the leaders, and everyone is expected to obey.
TREASURES FROM GOD’S WORD – Digging for Spiritual Gems
14 What will happen after Gog of Magog starts the attack on God’s people? Both Matthew and Mark record the same event: “[The Son of man] will send out the angels and will gather his chosen ones together from the four winds, from earth’s extremity to heaven’s extremity.” (Mark 13:27; Matt. 24:31) This gathering work does not refer to the initial ingathering of anointed ones; nor does it refer to the final sealing of the remaining anointed ones. (Matt. 13:37, 38) That sealing happens before the outbreak of the great tribulation. (Rev. 7:1-4) So, what is this gathering work that Jesus mentions? It is the time when the remaining ones of the 144,000 will receive their heavenly reward. (1 Thess. 4:15-17; Rev. 14:1) This event will take place at some point after the beginning of the attack by Gog of Magog. (Ezek. 38:11) Then these words of Jesus will be fulfilled: “At that time the righteous ones will shine as brightly as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father.”—Matt. 13:43. *w15 7/15 18-19 ¶14
Matthew 24:29 states that “immediately after the tribulation of those days…” followed by “they will gather together his elect (24:31).” Therefore, the attack of Gog and Magog on God’s people much take place before or during the great tribulation. This gets complicated when we consider 1 Thess. 4:15-17. According to the Watchtower, the resurrection mentioned in this passage has been taking place since 1914:
When does the heavenly resurrection take place? “During [Christ’s] presence,” answers 1 Corinthians 15:23. World events since 1914 clearly show that both Christ’s presence and “the conclusion of the system of things” began in that year. (Matthew 24:3-7) So there is reason to conclude that the resurrection of faithful Christians to heaven has already begun, though, of course, unseen by humans. That would mean that the apostles and the early Christians have been raised to heavenly life. What about Christians living now who have the sure, God-given hope of ruling with Christ in heaven? They are raised “in the twinkling of an eye,” or immediately after they die. (1 Corinthians 15:52)w/06 3/15 p. 6-7
13. In what way does 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 suggest that the first resurrection began early in Christ’s presence? For example, Paul wrote: “We the living who survive to the presence of the Lord [not, to the end of his presence] shall in no way precede those who have fallen asleep in death; because the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a commanding call, with an archangel’s voice and with God’s trumpet, and those who are dead in union with Christ will rise first. Afterward we the living who are surviving will, together with them, be caught away in clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and thus we shall always be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17) Therefore, anointed Christians who died before Christ’s presence were raised to heavenly life ahead of those who were still alive during Christ’s presence. This means that the first resurrection must have begun early in Christ’s presence, and it continues “during his presence.” (1 Corinthians 15:23) Rather than occurring all at once, the first resurrection takes place over a period of time.w07 1/1 p. 28-29 par. 13
Since the tribulation hasn’t begun, which in turn means the Gog and Magog attack hasn’t begun; how can the Watchtower state that the “heavenly reward” (which supposedly began in 1914) takes place after?
Going back to the 2015 Watchtower under discussion, we read this in the following paragraph:
Does this mean that there will be a “rapture” of the anointed ones? Many in Christendom believe, according to this teaching, that Christians will be bodily caught up from the earth. Then, they expect that Jesus will visibly return to rule the earth. However, the Bible clearly shows that “the sign of the Son of man” will appear in heaven and that Jesus will come “on the clouds of heaven.” (Matt. 24:30) Both of these expressions imply invisibility. Additionally, “flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s Kingdom.” So those who will be taken to heaven will first need to be “changed, in a moment, in the blink of an eye, during the last trumpet.” * (Read 1 Corinthians 15:50-53.) Therefore, while we do not use the term “rapture” here because of its wrong connotation, the remaining faithful anointed will be gathered together in an instant of time.w15 7/15 18-19 ¶15
I actually agree that Matthew 24:30 does not indicate a physical appearance of Jesus. Notice what is said in the passage in Daniel that Jesus is drawing from:
“One like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him.” (Daniel 7:13)
The coming is not to earth, but to the Father in heaven. However, Matthew 24:30 takes place after the tribulation. And since we learned in previous Watchtower quotes that the resurrection begins in 1914 and continues, the Watchtower has a dilemma. They do try to resolve it by postulating Matthew 24:30 as the final stages of the resurrection, not the beginning. But if Matthew 24:30 is speaking of the final stages, then where earlier in Matthew 24 is the resurrection beginnings mentioned?
Next, thy argue that 1 Cor. 15:50-53 is indicating invisibility. A full exegesis of 1 Cor. 15 would say otherwise, but I want to highlight an even simpler approach. If nothing physical can inherent the Kingdom of God, then how do they address these?
“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.'” (Matthew 25:34)
“In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves being thrown out.” (Luke 13:28)
Are the sheep of Matthew 25:34 physical persons? Are those in the Kingdom of God physical? If they are, then either the Watchtower is making a bad argument or we have a contradiction in Scripture. The truth is, 1 Cor. 15:50 isn’t talking about physical vs. non-physical persons. The Watchtower should have quoted the rest of the verse, which explains what Paul means: “nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.” We are talking about sin-prone fleshly oriented bodies vs. those with a heavenly orientation. The former withers and dies away whereas the latter does not.