Digging for Spiritual Gems
The below quotes are from the Insights volume and would take up too much space to quote fully here. I would encourage you to read the full context. But here’s the highlights.
Love is held back only from those whom Jehovah shows are unworthy of it, or from those set in a course of badness. Love is extended to all persons until they show they are haters of God. Then the time comes for love’s expression toward them to end. Both Jehovah God and Jesus Christ love righteousness and hate lawlessness. (Ps 45:7; Heb 1:9) Those who intensely hate the true God are not persons toward whom love is to be expressed. Indeed, it would accomplish no good to continue exercising love toward such ones, for those who hate God will not respond to God’s love. (Ps 139:21, 22; Isa 26:10) Therefore God properly hates them and has a time to act against them.—Ps 21:8, 9; Ec 3:1, 8.it-2 279
It’s important to note where we agree with the Watchtower. God hates both sin and the sinner. But once that sinner turns from their sins and accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, they are no longer enemies of God (Rom. 5:10) and have peace with Him (Rom. 5:1). But what about how Christians are to view enemies of God? Admittedly, the passages cited are rather difficult to deal with because the Psalmist clearly hates his enemies in these instances. But can’t we agree that we aren’t under a theocracy any longer? Clearly, Christ had something different in mind for His followers:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:43-44)
“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” (Luke 6:27)
“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.” (Luke 6:35)
Please search the Insight citation for yourself. You won’t find anything regarding Jesus’ command to love one’s enemies. Why focus on the Hebrew Scriptures’ admonitions on hate when you can go to the Son of God’s teachings on the matter? Clearly, when Jesus came, things changed. Think about the apostle Paul. While He was a devoted follower of the Jewish faith, he certainly hated Jesus. Saul was both an enemy of God and of Christians. According to the Watchtower’s principles above, Saul was a lost cause and should be hated. Yet, Jesus saw this differently and saved His enemy. Since we know how Jesus feels about His enemies and provides salvation, how should we likewise feel?
APPLY YOURSELF TO THE FIELD MINISTRY
Conversation starters are certainly important. And it’s appropriate to ask just about anyone what they think about the purpose of life. You will get all sorts of polarizing answers depending on whether that person is religious, non-religious, or atheistic. You can learn a lot from a person based on how they answer.
But what is the JW answer? Rather than answering God’s purpose for life, they shift the question to, “what did God want for the earth and humans on it?” The answer: fill the earth and subdue it. But a careful reading of Genesis 1:27-28 doesn’t state this as God’s purpose. Rather, this is a command. Sure, it’s our purpose to obey God and you could say in a sense that any command of God is part of His purpose to obey. But let’s not get too caught up in semantics. God has a primary purpose for us. So what is it?
I have my thoughts on what God’s purpose is for all of us, which summarizes everything in Genesis and every other command we find in Scripture. But let’s not jump to conclusions and make premature accusations and see what the next conversation says concerning God’s purpose for our lives.
LIVING AS CHRISTIANS
Jesus responds: “Your brother will rise.” Martha concludes that he is referring to a future resurrection on earth, the hope that Abraham and others had. And she expresses her belief that this will surely occur: “I know he will rise in the resurrection on the last day.”—John 11:23, 24.jy chap. 90
Concerning the Watchtower’s complex resurrection doctrine, we have some interesting points to consider:
- What is the resurrection on the last day?
- Which resurrection will Lazarus be a part of?
Let’s see the Watchtower’s explanation of (2):
Because of having been resurrected by his friend Jesus, Lazarus was likely alive Pentecost 33 C.E., when the holy spirit was poured out and the first ones of the heavenly calling (Heb 3:1) were anointed and spirit begotten. (Ac 2:1-4, 33, 38) Lazarus’ resurrection was similar to those performed by Elijah and Elisha. But it probably opened up to Lazarus the opportunity of receiving a resurrection like Christ’s, which he otherwise would not have had. What a remarkable act of love on Jesus’ part!—Joh 11:38-44.it-2 pp. 783-793
I appreciate the Watchtower’s attempt to refrain from dogmatism concerning Lazarus’ standing as one of the anointed. But assuming he survived 33 C.E., we would have to conclude that whatever “the last day is,” it’s the period in which the anointed class are resurrected, which began in 1914 and continues to this day:
13 Paul continues: “But each one in his own rank: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who belong to the Christ during his presence.” (1 Corinthians 15:23) Christ was resurrected in 33 C.E. However, his anointed followers—“those who belong to the Christ”—would have to wait until shortly after Jesus began his royal presence, which Bible prophecy shows occurred in 1914. (1 Thessalonians 4:14-16; Revelation 11:18) What of those who would be alive during that presence? Paul says: “Look! I tell you a sacred secret: We shall not all fall asleep in death, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, during the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised up incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:51, 52) Clearly, not all anointed ones sleep in the grave awaiting a resurrection. Those who die during Christ’s presence are transformed instantaneously.—Revelation 14:13.w98 7/1 p. 17
Wait. Is “the resurrection on the last day” (John 11:24) the period beginning in 1914? Not according to the Watchtower.
9 Martha knew about that hope from her association with Jesus, for she had previously said to him regarding Lazarus: “I know he will rise in the resurrection on the last day.” (John 11:24) She knew that the resurrection would be, not on his (Lazarus’) last day, but in the future, “on the last day”—Judgment Day, when the dead would be raised under God’s Kingdom rule. The apostle Paul knew that too, for he said: “[God] has set a day in which he purposes to judge the inhabited earth in righteousness.” (Acts 17:31) Paul also said: “There is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Acts 24:15) He did not say that the resurrection was already taking place but that it was “going to be” in the future—under Kingdom rule.w90 5/1 p. 26
If Martha was mistaken in her expectation, Jesus would surely have corrected her. Clearly, she had nothing in mind concerning a “resurrection” of humans into spirit creatures. But as long as Lazarus survived 33 C.E., that’s exactly what would have happened at some point after 1914 and before Armageddon. Therefore, we have something for the Watchtower to reconcile.
- Lazarus will be raised on “the last day”
- Lazarus is probably one of the anointed class who will be resurrected after 1914 but before Armageddon (since all the anointed will have been resurrected by then)
- The “resurrection on the last day” refers to the general resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous (at least that’s what Martha was referring to)
This places the Watchtower’s timeline in a very difficult position. When you overly complicate the resurrection through an unbiblical two-class theology (i.e. earthly and heavenly resurrection hopes), doctrinal challenges like this will surely arise.