An Appeal to Stuart to believe the Gospel

Copyright 1997 by Natalie Pappas

This article grew out of a discussion with a loyal JW from my Guestbook. I post it here with the firm expectation that it will benefit many.

Hi again Nat. I have just finished reading your comments on what I wrote. I must say you seem to hold to a mistaken impression about what the brothers think about themselves, nowhere have they said that you cannot get salvation without first going through them - they are under no such delusion (something that was pioneered by the Catholic church) but they like all of the rest of Jehovah's Witness believe that we have the "Truth".

It is best if I let the Organization speak for itself. If you read your 1981, August 1st edition of the Watchtower, around pages 16-17 you will find how important the organization is for your salvation. The Watchtower (11/15/81, pages 21) goes as far to state that you have to "come to Jehovah's organization for salvation". We are not to ever place our faith in a person other than Jesus Christ. Putting our faith in an organization, no matter how victorious they paint themselves is dangerous. Jesus is the one who is victorious!

Now this idea is far from unique after all you must believe the church that you attend has the Bible's truth or you wouldn't be there, correct?

This is a fair question and one I'm happy to answer. The church I attend teaches the Bible--at least up to this point. It is up to me to measure what they say against what the Bible teaches. This is the point made by Luke when he wrote Acts chapter 17. If my church goes apostate and teaches contrary to what the Bible teaches, I will find a church that does teach the Bible. I can read the Bible for myself, know what it is teaches (it only teaches one truth), and measure whether a church is good for fellowship or not. My salvation does not depend on my church being Biblical or not. My salvation rests in Christ alone, in grace alone, by faith alone.

The brothers don't teach a Gospel of works, as you errantly term it, they - again like the rest of us, teach a gospel of faith. That is to be acceptable to God and to his Christ you must first come to a deep personal relationship with them both by carefully studying God's word the Bible (John 3:17) this will then generate faith within you which God will strengthen when you pray earnestly to him in turn this faith will spur you on to emulate Jesus (whose Hebrew name is Yehoshua by the way meaning "Jehovah is Salvation" (just a little aside there)) by spreading the Gospel or "Good News" of the Kingdom of God's salvation to all that we meet just as he did when he was alive and just as his Apostles did when they were alive.

I can understand why you would ask this question. You confuse salvation with sanctification. Salvation is when your relationship with God is mended, by Christ who is our mediator, who died for our sins (note the plural), who rose bodily from the grave (if not bodily then there is no resurrection of the dead and we are still in our sins (note the plural). Santification happens after you have (presently) eternal life. 1st John 5:13 says we can KNOW we have eternal life. We do not have to wonder if we're being good enough to earn His love...we, after salvation, will continually always have His grace. Even if we are faithless, He is faithful, (2nd Timothy 2:11-13 says: "Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.".)

The whole of Scripture is profitable--part of it is not reserved for one class of people and the other part of it reserved for a second class of people. You, Stuart, are under just as much obligation as myself to "...present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth." (2nd Timothy 2:15). That means we have to be intellectually honest about what the Bible is teaching, even if it goes against our traditions. Even if it means that others will turn against us, or even kill us for the Faith that was once for all delivered to all the saints (Jude). Note this: once for all delivered to all the saints. The word "saint" means "set apart" or "different". A saved individual is set apart from the world exactly like the nation of Israel has always been set apart from the Nations. To be a saint does not mean you are in a perfected state, it refers specifically to those who no longer have a wall of separation between them and God. We are all under God's wrath, as Roman's says, and as John chapter 1 says, Jesus is the ladder which the angels of God ascend and decend upon. We are the voice: but Jesus is the Word, and which we proclaim His death for our sins, His burial, and His resurrection from the dead: bodily.

Now one of the gross errors you commit here is that you say we believe that these works will save us - this is false and it is unfair because although we believe that they are necessary this doesn't mean that we believe they mean our salvation, they don't at least not without our FIRST having a firmly fixed faith in Jehovah and in Jesus, the one he provided as a means of our finding forgiveness.

The WTB&TS specifically teaches that when you trust in Jesus' death for Adam's sin, (and also recieve a pardon for the sins you have commit up until then) that what you get is 1000 years in Paradise Earth to prove to Jehovah that you will not make the same mistake Adam made: you will be obedient to His will, and that you will also help others to do this as well. All this you do in the resurrection body. This is a works salvation. There is something you do to either save yourself or in this case, KEEP yourself saved.

After you have accepted this gift of getting the chance to prove yourselves better than Adam, you must keep yourselves safe from Armeggdon. This is a terrible burden to endure. Jesus' burden is light, yet the power to do good works comes from being regenerated by the Holy Spirit. It is He who gives us the strength to resist sin and temptation. Yet, JWs endure this while in their flesh and it is a hard, hard life to live. JWs have all my sympathy and I want them to all know that the truth sets one FREE, it does not put them under a list of organizational rules to follow, which inevitably are not able to be kept and brings condemnation and wrath from the Organizations system of Elder rule.

Secondly, there is a huge error made about the resurrection body by the WTB&TS teachings. 1st Corinthians 15: 52 teaches that the resurrection body:

  1. cannot sin (is imperishable)
  2. cannot die (is immortal)

As verse 56-57 says: The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Thus, with only a few verses, the Bible refutes this WTB&TS teaching that during Paradise Earth that people in their resurrection bodies are able to sin or be "cut off" (physically die).

I can hear your question: the question I've heard at my own door many many times: "But what about free will?" I answer this by saying, "Oh? Do you LIKE sinning? I certainly don't! I want more than anything not to ever sin again! I long for that day when this body is redeemed from the ability to sin.

The second question I have heard is, "If the resurrection body cannot sin or die, who is Satan going to mislead after the 1000 years?

The answer is: those who are not resurrected who went into the 1000 years of peace in their natural bodies (complete with the same sin nature inherited from Adam). These people who survive the tribulation marry and have children, but they will not be cut off (physically die) unless they sin willfully.

So this teaching that you get a chance to prove yourself worthy before Jehovah is nothing less than pride rearing its evil head. Pride was the first recorded sin which Satan committed, and it is the worst sin we can committ as well. It is absolutely prideful for you to think that you can do what Adam could not: resist the forbidden fruit.

In every time period, from the garden, to the flood, to the time of the Judges and Kings, through the period of Grace, man has proved himself not able, (no matter how God sets things up to our benefit) to resist sin. It will be the same way during the Millenium. Satan will be bound. The lion will lay down with the lamb. Children can play with vipers and not be bit. The curse will be lifted. In every way life will be perfect and man, even without the temptation of Satan, can and will choose sin over God. We have the knowledge of good and evil, yet we cannot do the good. We can only do the evil. Thus God sent His Son, Jesus, who was born from the Holy Spirit and did not inherit the sin nature of Adam. The Son revealed to us the Father's character in every way. Jesus is the Word, like John the Baptist, we are the voice who proclaims that Word who has no beginning or end yet is the Alpha and Omega.

Next you attack us because we don't say that Jesus was bodily resurrected, what's the big deal here?

As 1st Corinthians 15:17 says: we are still in our sins if He is not raised bodily. Secondly, it is the WTB&TS who has attacked the teaching of the bodily resurrection. The Organization created this big deal by denying Jesus was raised in the same body He died in.

I cannot find anything in the Bible that says "Thou shalt believe the Messiah was raised bodily!"

In John chapter two we have Jesus prophesing that His physical body would be raised from the dead. The context in the English shows that the same body that would die, would be the same body that would be raised from the dead. There is no allowance that a body would be manufactured, or be created from nothing, or assumed or otherwise. The English is extremely clear about this: even in your New World Translation this is clearly the fact, the more literal, or wooden, a translation is, the more clearly a bodily resurrection is taught. If you take out your Kingdom Interlinear and look, you will also see this to be the case.

I would like to talk about the word "raised" for a moment. I have, because I have had the God given opportunity to study the Greek, an in-depth lexicon (foreign language dictionary) on the Koine language. The name of this is: "A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature" by Walter Bauer, second edition revised and augmented by F. W. Gingrich and Frederick Danker. Why the second edition? Because archeology continually turns up new (old) manuscripts which shed more light on Koine Greek words and their common usage.

The word "raise" in the verses where Jesus prophesies his own death and resurrection, by comparing and contrasting the tearing down of the temple and raising it again in three days, has the initial meaning of "wake" or "rouse". It is used literally of sleeping person as in the case of Mt 8:25 and Acts 12:7. If you turn in your Kingdom Interlinear to these passages, you can find out that indeed, the Greek word "egeiro" is used here as well. In fact, if you have a full concordance, you can search out this particular word throughout the New Testament (Greek Scriptures) and see how it is used each and every time for even a broader meaning. Everytime that word is used, the context of it helps define what exactly that word "egeiro" means. This word is also used figuratively to mean "help to rise of a person sitting down, as in Acts 3:7, lying down as in Mark 1:31 and 9:27. It is especially used of the sick to mean to restore to health as in James 5:15.

This word also is used to mean to "erect or restore" as in the case of buildings and we have many instances of this in many non-Biblical manuscripts (non-Biblical meaning the ordinary writing of the Koine Greek time period). In the Septuagent (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testment Scriptures which Jesus Himself taught from) this same word is used in Judges 2:16, and means to raise up and bring into being. Not in the sense of restoring something that was lost (as in the JW teaching that Jesus re-assumed his angelic body) or created something out of nothing (as in the JW teaching that Jesus created a body for whatever purpose He needed it during the 40 days He dwelled on earth after the resurrection and before the ascension), but that God "raised up Judges who delivered them from the hands of those who plundered them" in the sense that these persons already existed and were perfected in some way in order to deal with those around themselves--in other words, to be judges.

Jesus never inherited a sin nature and was not able to sin, but His body was able to experience the same things we experience: being tired, ect....Jesus' body was perfected in the resurrection: never again would it be subject to disease and death as before (1st Corinthians 15 teaches what resurrection bodies are like), and Philippians teaches that all believers will have bodies just like Jesus'.

The Greek, itself, leaves no room in this passage to be translated in any other way but for Jesus' body, the same body, to come back to life. to be raised. But there's more, because God, in His infinite wisdom, went also beyond the call of kindness to be even more specific about this raising up again.

In these same verses, the Bible doesn't just say that Jesus would be raised again ( in other words, what will be torn down will be raised up), but the Greek word for physical, material, substance "body" is also used and linked to the word "raise up". So it is clear that what was "torn down" (the body which was put to death) would be "raised up", awaked from slumber, and agrees with 1st Corinthians 15:1-11 perfectly, as well as all the other scripture which addresses the topic of the resurrection. In Acts, it actually says that Jesus' body wouldn't undergo decay like David's underwent decay, which was a Holy Spirit led commentary on one of the Psalms which David wrote. Why even talk about a body decaying if it wasn't talking about the same body which died? Nowhere does Scripture teach in any comprehensible manner that Jesus' body was "evaporated" or "zapped" or otherwise. Just like there is no substantial teaching found in the Bible that Jesus is Michael the Archangel is there any substantial teaching found in the Bible that God the Father somehow disposed of Jesus' body (smacks of deception to my sensiblities anyway).

The word for "body" used in chapter 2 of the Gospel of John is "somotos". Whenever it is used, it always refers to a physical body, either a dead body, such as a corpse, or a living body. It can refer to either man or an animal and even plants, but it always refers to something of a material, holdable, touchable, visable, substance. It is even used collectively of the visable church.

The point Scripture makes here is that the physical body of Christ would be raised again after being killed. The Greek leaves no other interpretation.

The only thing that it stresses is that Jesus died willingly on our behalf and endured a painful death for what amounts to a planetful of worthless ingrates, who constantly spurn his fathers free gift of eternal life by adding man-made traditions such as what form his resurrection took, and exactly what he died on (Cross or Stauros (Paling)), and saying that that Jesus' commandment to have love among ourselves is incorrect and that we must worship as an idol the instrument of his death!!

We agree that man is indeed depraved. Yet, instead of focusing on the ways in which we are alike, we must also discuss calmly those things which set us apart from each other. We are to love each other as we already love you really think you can do this? I know I cannot do this without the strength and power the influence of the Holy Spirit has upon my life. You are deceived to think you can. The Ten Commandments pointed out that we cannot live a perfect sinless life. The Sermon on the Mount proved to us that even in our thought lives we fall far short of how perfect we have to be in order to gain God's acceptance. The point in that passage is so simple: none of us measure up. As Romans says, we all fall short and no one, not one, of us is good. Yet, in Christ there is no condemnation. Please read Romans chapters 1-8.

Also your idea that the Gospel is restricted to 1 Cor 15:1-15 invalidates vast portions of the Bible and more importantly Jesus' command to his desciples that they should preach the "Good News of the Kingdom" in all of the inhabited earth, which Kingdom? His Messianic Kingdom of course!

That's not true. First of all, there aren't two gospels. If so, then the Bible would contradict itself. How do you think you can enter the Kingdom of God (Paradise on earth) if you are NOT born again, Stuart? If you consult your WTB&TS literature, you will find that both Paradise Earth as well as heaven are both described as the Kingdom of God. In the same way, the gospel of the Kingdom is the same exact gospel as Paul the Apostle preached. Believe in Jesus: you make straight the way of the LORD! Behold, the Kingdom of God is near! How could those people believe unless they first trusted that God would provide a lamb as He did with Abraham? How could those people believe unless that lamb pointed forward to a time when a Messiah would come and save them from their sins? Abraham believed that Isaac, even if he died, would be resurrected and his faith showed that he believed God (this is explained in Hebrews where Abraham considered that God is able to raise men even from the dead; from which he also received him (Isaac) back as a type). In the same way Isaiah 53 taught that the Messiah would be resurrected from the dead. As Habakkuk says, the righteous will live by his faith. This is all the same gospel preached in the Old Testament, carried forth in the New Testament. There are not two different gospels. Believe in the only gospel which saves and live forever, eternally--there is no 1000 year testing period to prove yourself worthy of eternal life. That's a lie from Satan. You can have eternal life and be certain of your salvation right now if you believe Jesus died for your sins, was buried, and rose again on the third day as Paul the Apostle believed and preached.

You see the message at 1 Cor 15 is called "the first things" by Paul, the first things are later described as milk for babes by him, that is spiritually immature persons who still haven't grasped that the message of the Word of God (the Bible) isn't solely about Jesus' this is a major part of a much larger purpose for mankind (that is salvation, forgivenes by God, erasure of the wicked and the Apostate and then restoration of perfect mankind to a cleansed earth).

Every person starts out believe the simple gospel. Then sanctification begins, which is our daily walk with God. This does not mean that certain teachings are withheld from a person until they are strong enough spiritually to handle knowing. If that was true, we wouldn't have the whole Bible in front of us. The Catholics taught a similar thing and took away the Bible from the common people. The WTB&TS tries to teach the same thing as the Catholics by saying you are not capable of understanding the Bible without going into apostasy from the WTB&TS. You know why they say that? Because it's the truth: and one of the few the WTB&TS actually teaches. If you read the Bible without the help of the Organizations interpretation, you will believe all those things you are conditioned to hate: immortality of the soul, hellfire, etcc....but the worst part is that you are being taught day by day to hate God, the entire being of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Think about it, we preach only one thing is required for salvation - a deep, living and active faith in God and in Jesus, your church tells you that this isn't enough you must believe in a bodily resurrection of Christ, the Cross, the Trinity, Christmas, Easter and a host of other doctrines that cannot be found in the Bible and are only supported by the writings of men such as Augustine and Athanasius and from the political support of pagans such as Constantine the Great (and yes he was pagan to the very last day of his life when he was baptised in Byzantium by an Arian Bishop).

On one hand you say beliefs aren't important. Yet you turn around and say that Constantine was FINALLY saved when he believed the Arian Bishop, that Christ was a created creature (as the WTB&TS presently) teach. Was what Constatine believed important? Or not? If one thing was required, a belief that a deep, living and active faith in God in and Jesus, then why do you consider this man saved only after believing that Christ was a created creature? This is inconsistant with your earlier statement.

The things you believe about Jesus are important. You live what you believe. We are to believe in Christ...but what exactly are we to believe about him? That's why Paul is so emphatic in 1st Corinthians 15:1-11, THIS is what we believe, THIS is what we preach, that Christ DIED for our SINS,that he WAS buried, that HE WOKE (ROUSED) on the third day....if you cling to that with all your heart, soul and mind, then you are BORN AGAIN....except JWs teach that you, Stuart, have NO NEED of being born again. Shame on the WTB&TS for teaching you to doubt Jesus words as He spoke to Nicodemus: "YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN IN ORDER TO SEE THE KINGDOM OF GOD".

Copyright 1994-2001 Natalie Pappas.
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