Eternity with Jesus as an adopted Child of God

Eternity with Jesus as an adopted Child of God!

It was a warm Louisiana day as most days are and I was going from door to door distributing Watchtower Literature.  I met a man at his home who was very cordial to me.

The man was busy doing yard work but to his credit he stopped to engage me in a conversation.  I had a picture of the promised paradise that we, as Jehovah’s Witnesses, showed to people.  It depicted a garden with a beautiful house, picturesque landscaping, delightful animals, great food and attractive men and women enjoying the good life.  I asked the gentleman if he would like to live forever in paradise on earth as depicted in the picture in my Watchtower publication.  To my shock and amazement, the man said emphatically, “NO!”

When I asked him why, the answer was unlike any answer that I had heard.  He said that his hope was to live for all eternity with Jesus and that there was no better place to spend eternity than there and that eternity with Jesus was even better than living forever in paradise on earth.

I had no response.  I believed, as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, that only a few select individuals, 144,000 to be exact, were going to spend eternity with Christ.  I knew that it was going to be a glorious experience for them but somehow I guess I had never had any Christian ever say it like this man had said it to us.  I knew deep down in my heart that eternity with Jesus was infinitely better than living forever in a paradise earth but the rest of me was not yet ready to accept it.  This encounter was, in a certain sense, the first serious knock on heaven’s door that I had encountered.   The Holy Spirit had used this man’s short response to plant a seed of truth in my heart that would take root a few years later.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Two Class System of Salvation

The Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that there are two destinies for humans with regard to where they will spend everlasting life. They teach that 144,000 humans have the hope of living forever in heaven with Jesus Christ. These persons are considered to be members of spiritual Israel.  This is taken from an unusual interpretation of the 7th and 14th chapters of the book of Revelation.  Their book You Can Live Forever In Paradise on Earth says the following on page 124:

“So rather than all good people going to heaven, the Bible reveals that only 144,000 tried and faithful persons will be taken to rule with Christ.”

The Watchtower also teaches that the vast majority of JWs will live forever in paradise on earth after surviving the destruction of the world and the final battle between good and evil known as the “Great Tribulation” and “The Battle of Armageddon”. The book You Can Live Forever In Paradise on Earth on page 126 says:

“But there will be many more who make up the “new earth” including persons who survive the end of the wicked system of things.”

The December 1st, 1985 issue of The Watchtower magazine explains on pages 11, 17, and 18 that Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the merits of Jesus’ death are applied differently to the 144,000, those Jehovah’s Witnesses with the heavenly calling, than it does to the “other sheep”, those Jehovah’s Witnesses who have the hope of living forever in paradise on earth.  It says the following:

“There are two aspects to justification, or the declaration of righteousness: (1) God’s accounting that person guiltless (2) God’s declaring that person perfect and worthy of everlasting life on earth. The 144,000 anointed Christians are declared righteous in both respects. They sacrifice their human life rights and are begotten as spiritual “sons” called to become kings and priests with Christ in the “new heavens.”

“That the “other sheep” are God’s friends and even now have a relatively righteous standing before him is also made clear in Jesus’ prophecy on the ‘sign of his presence’, which includes the illustration of the sheep and the goats. Because the “sheep” do good to the remnant of Christ’s 144,000 “brothers” still on earth, they are blessed by Jesus’ Father and are called “righteous ones”. Like Abraham, they are accounted, or declared righteous as friends of God.”

“By faith in “the blood of the Lamb”, the “other sheep”, are given an approved standing before Jehovah and are thus declared righteous for friendship with him and for survival during the “great tribulation”. They will attain perfection by the end of the Millennium. After the final test they will be declared righteous for life.”

So let’s compare the different ways Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus’ ransom applies to these two groups of people. If a JW is a member of the heavenly class, the JWs believe that Jesus’ ransom declares that person righteous for everlasting life NOW and that this person is adopted as a “SPIRITUAL SON” of God. If a JW is  a member of the earthly class, Jesus’ ransom declares that person righteous as a “FRIEND OF GOD” (not a spiritual son) and that person receives only a relatively righteous standing before God.  This relatively righteous standing before God will, according to the JWs, only save this individual through the “Great Tribulation” and “The Battle of Armageddon”.  Then this individual must spend 1000 years working himself back to human perfection prior to undergoing one more test at the end of the Millennium which will determine if this person can be declared righteous for everlasting life in paradise on earth.

In addition, those JWs of the heavenly class are considered by the JWs to be the primary recipients of the New Testament and as such the writings in the New Testament apply primarily to them.  The book United In Worship of the Only True God on page 111 says the following:

“…and nearly all the inspired letters in the Christian Greek Scriptures are primarily directed to this group of Kingdom heirs – “the holy ones,” “partakers of the heavenly calling.””

The May 1st, 1970 issue of The Watchtower adds on page 284:

“However, unlike those with the heavenly hope, the “great crowd” do not have human perfection imputed to them and are not reckoned in the Scriptures as “holy ones.”

So it is clear that the Watchtower teaches that the Christian Greek Scriptures of the Bible were written by God primarily to be used by his “holy ones”, those with the heavenly calling.

Also, JWs do not believe that Jesus serves as the Mediator between God and all mankind.  The book Worldwide Security Under the Prince of Peace on page 10 says:

“Likewise, the Greater Moses, Jesus Christ, is not the Mediator between Jehovah God and all mankind. He is the mediator between his heavenly Father, Jehovah God, and the nation of spiritual Israel, which is limited to only 144,000 members.”

The JWs’ Two Class System of Salvation
The Heavenly Class of only 144,000 Members The Earthly Class
Jesus Sacrifice Declares them Righteous for Eternal Life Now and makes them into Sons and Daughters of God (and not merely Friends of God). Jesus Sacrifice Declares them Righteous as Friends of God (not as children of God) and marks them for possible Salvation through the “Great Tribulation” and “The Battle of Armageddon”.
Jesus serves as their Mediator Jesus does NOT serve as their Mediator
The Bible is written primarily to them and for them. The Bible is NOT written to them or for them.
When they die, they are taken directly to heaven to be with Jesus. When they die, they are asleep and will not be resurrected until the 1000 year reign of Christ begins.
They will see Jesus face to face. They will NEVER see Jesus face to face.
They do NOT have to work themselves back to human perfection during the 1000 year reign and they do NOT have go through a test at the end of the 1000 year reign to receive everlasting life in heaven with Jesus. These must work themselves back to human perfection while living on earth for 1000 years and must go through a final test at the end of the 1000 years to receive everlasting life in paradise on earth.

Becoming A Child of God

It was the two-class system of salvation that was really the first doctrine of the Jehovah’s Witnesses to be knocked down in my heart and mind.  It did not happen overnight but occurred a little at a time.  The final knock came one day after an intense prayer to God.

I had been really bothered by a variety of teachings of the JWs after leaving the World Headquarters in 1988.  It was during this time that I began reading the Bible in context and without the assistance of Watchtower Publications.  The more I did this the more contradictions I discovered between what the historic Christian faith teaches and what Jehovah’s Witnesses teach.  These contradictions became more and more troubling.

For example, after reading the JWs’ book Worldwide Security Under the Prince of Peace which states that Jesus is not the mediator for all of mankind, I read in the JWs’ New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures the following:

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus, who gave himself a corresponding ransom for all—[this is] what is to be witnessed to at its own particular times.”-1 Timothy 2:5, 6

Clearly this scripture in their own Bible contradicts what their book teaches about the role of Christ for all of mankind.  This and other discoveries like them were very disheartening.  As I will demonstrate later, as a JW I believed that the leaders of the JWs were appointed by Jesus Himself to teach us authentic Christianity but these contradictions helped to destroy this belief as well and since my whole life had been centered on being a JW and doing the things that JWs do this experience was quite disruptive for me.

One day the internal upheaval was getting hard to deal with so I asked God to just make things simple for me and to tell me somehow just exactly what it was that He wanted me to know at that very moment.  After saying this prayer, I opened up my Bible and it fell open to the first chapter of the book of Romans.  So, I read the entire book of Romans after saying that prayer.

While reading the book of Romans that day, the following scripture caught my attention:

“For all who are led by God’s spirit, these are God’s sons. For YOU did not receive a spirit of slavery causing fear again, but YOU received a spirit of adoption as sons, by which spirit we cry out: “Abba, Father!” The spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are God’s children. If, then, we are children, we are also heirs: heirs indeed of God, but joint heirs with Christ, provided we suffer together that we may also be glorified together.” Romans 8: 14-17  New World Translation

This was the scripture that indicated to me that I was being called to live for eternity with Jesus.  I realized that God was telling me that He wanted me not as a mere friend of His, which is what the JWs said God was offering me, but as a full member of His family as an adopted child of God who would receive the same inheritance as Jesus Christ.  In fact, this scripture told me that I now had the opportunity to have a relationship that was so close to God that I could actually call God “Abba!” which is the Aramaic word for “Daddy!”  The leaders of the JWs had applied this verse exclusively to those JWs with the heavenly calling, the 144,000.  However, the context indicated to me that this offer to become a full member of the family of God was being extended to all Christians who had received the spirit of God! After realizing this, I thanked God for His goodness and I had a few moments of internal peace after this.

However, I began to question over time, what does it mean to be a full member of the family of God?  Also, who is this Jesus?  Is Jesus the created being of that the JWs describe?  Or, is he almighty God as others have confessed?  These were just a few of the questions that I needed to address next and the answers to these questions eventually lead me home to the Catholic Church.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Ravyn Guiliani on August 21, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    very good CatholicXJW. I also left JWs false doctrine of 2 classes to come to know Jesus and join the Catholic Church. It was the translation of the Kingdom Interlinear by JWs at Revelation chapter 7 that made me realize the same Greek word was translated two ways to fit their doctrine. Thanks for your experience and I hope you continute this blog!

    Reply

  2. Excellent article Jeff! I had a similar experience with intense prayer and Bible reading where I felt in my whole being that the Lord really did intend for me to be with Him forever in heaven. I began to read the New Testament with the knowledge that it was addressed to ME, not just some random old people that I happened to know (which were most of the JW “annointed” at the time).

    It was really a pretty short trip from this experience of the Holy Spirit to my being able to “see” the Catholic Church and becoming a child of God. Thanks to you and others who had gone before, the road to Rome was clear.

    God bless you Jeff!!

    Reply

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