(WDGR Lesson 16: “Your Decision to Serve God”)
What is involved in “making sure of all things”? Is “doubt” a ploy that Satan uses to break our loyalty to Jehovah God? Is the Watchtower organization the “ark” of safety? Where did you learn the truth? Didn’t Jesus say a disciple is not above his teacher? If the Watchtower organization isn’t the truth, where else can we go to find accurate knowledge of truth and eternal life?1.
KAREN: Cindy, I was reading in the Watchtower brochure What Does God Require of Us? about what I must do in order to become a “friend of God,”2. and I have a question.
CINDY: Yes, Karen?
KAREN: My question is this. If I make my dedication to Jehovah God and decide to be baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, what will be expected of me?
CINDY: Well, Karen, just as this brochure notes, “After you have made a dedication, Jehovah will expect you to live up to your promises.…The Devil will try to stop you from serving Jehovah.…But draw close to God in prayer.… study his Word each day.…[and] stick close to the congregation.…By doing all of this, you will gain the strength to stay faithful to God.”3.
KAREN: Cindy, what are some of the ways the Devil will try to stop me from serving Jehovah?
CINDY: Well, Karen, the February 1, 2001 issue of The Watchtower had a good article on how to “make the truth your own.”4. In that article, the Society discussed how “having found the cramped road to life, a Christian’s next challenge is to stay on it. Why is that a challenge? It is because our dedication and baptism make us a target of Satan’s crafty acts.…One ploy that Satan uses is to plant doubts in our mind.…How does Satan use this tactic today? If we neglect our Bible reading, our personal study, our prayers, and our Christian ministry and meetings, we may leave ourselves open to doubts raised by others. For example: ‘How do we know that this is the truth as Jesus taught it?’…‘Are we on the threshold of Armageddon, or is it a long way off?’ If such doubts should arise, what can we do to remove them?…We should ‘keep on asking God’ in prayer for faith and understanding and bolster our efforts in personal study regarding any questions or doubts.”5.
KAREN: Cindy, is the Watchtower Society saying that if I become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and I come to the place where I question or doubt something the Watchtower teaches, I would be falling prey to Satan’s tactics?
CINDY: That’s right, Karen. Just as the August 1, 1980 issue of The Watchtower noted: “Among the various causes of apostasy, one of the foremost is unquestionably a lack of faith through doubt.…one who doubts…sets himself up as a judge. He thinks he knows better than his fellow Christians, better also than the ‘faithful and discreet slave,’ through whom he has learned the best part, if not all that he knows about Jehovah God and his purposes.…The apostate makes himself a decider of what is true and what is false, of what is “good and bad” in the way of spiritual food. He becomes presumptuous.”6.
KAREN: Cindy, suppose you had a wrong concept about something you believed and you were reading the Bible and Jehovah decided to give you light. What would be your initial reaction? In other words, if you had a false understanding or an improper view, and you were reading the Scriptures and Jehovah God wanted to show you the truth, what is the first thing that would enter your mind?
CINDY: I’m not sure, Karen.
KAREN: Cindy, wouldn’t it be doubt? Wouldn’t doubt be the first thing that would enter your mind if Jehovah was trying to get your attention and show you the truth?
CINDY: Well, I guess you’re right. I never thought of it that way before, Karen.
KAREN: Can you see, Cindy? Doubt is the initial penetration of truth! Doubt is not a ploy of Satan, but it’s the Holy Spirit trying to get you to perform your personal responsibility of finding out what is true. You see, to doubt God or to doubt the Word of God is sin, but to doubt whether your interpretation is perfectly accurate is not wrong. This is God’s Spirit trying to get your attention so that you find out what is true. The Bible says “Make sure of all things; hold fast to what is fine.…”7. That command was given to individuals. It was not given to an organization to “make sure of all things,” and then to tell you what they made sure of. Tell me, Cindy, what’s involved in making sure of all things?
CINDY: Well, Karen, it involves reading the Scriptures, praying, and studying the Watchtower’s Bible-based publications.
KAREN: OK, Cindy. Now suppose we were reading the Bible and we ran across a verse that contradicts a Watchtower teaching, and you took it back to the Kingdom Hall, looked it up in the library, asked your brothers about it, and you found out the Society doesn’t have anything on it. Then what would you do? Would you go against the Society and believe what you know to be true from the Bible?
CINDY: Oh, no, Karen. The Watchtower taught me everything I know about the Bible. I can’t go against the Watchtower. That’s Jehovah’s organization—His channel of communication to mankind.8. If there’s ever a question on anything, the Society will come up with an answer on it eventually.9.
KAREN: OK, Cindy So after you’ve checked the Watchtower’s publications and you find they don’t have an answer, what do you do with the verse? What does it mean to “make sure of all things”? Doesn’t it ultimately lead to you making up your own individual, private mind on what that verse means?
CINDY: Well, I guess so.
KAREN: Cindy, what about those in Berea at Acts 17:11? The apostle Paul—who was no mere presiding overseer of some congregation—came from headquarters and visited the congregation at Berea—giving them the latest truth. Do you know what they said to Paul? They whipped out their Scriptures and said, “Thank you brother, Paul. I’ll tell you what. Why don’t you take that seat way there in the back, and keep your mouth shut. And we’re going to take the Word of God and find out whether everything you told us is true or not!” And what did Paul do? Did he say “Oh that’s very un-theocratic. You might be like Christendom—division and confusion”? No, he didn’t say that. He said, “Amen! They were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so.”**
CINDY: But, Karen, where did we learn the truth? Wasn’t it from the Watchtower? Jesus said “a disciple is not above his teacher.”10. You don’t think you know better than the Watchtower, do you?11. The Bible says “do not lean on your own understanding.”12.
KAREN: Cindy, are you saying I am to look to the Watchtower Society to be my spiritual teacher? At Matthew 23:8 Jesus told us not to call anyone “teacher” for there is only one teacher—God. Why can’t I just personally read the Bible and let God’s Holy Spirit be my teacher as Jesus commanded?13.
CINDY: Karen, “it is true that many people can learn a great deal by reading the Bible personally.…But, being honest with ourselves, are we truly going to grasp the full significance of it all without help?”14. At Acts 8, when Philip asked the Ethiopian eunuch if he understood what he was reading in Scripture, the eunuch replied, “How could I ever do so, unless someone guided me?”15. Even though the eunuch held a prominent position of authority, he “was humble enough to acknowledge his need for help in understanding Bible prophecy.”16. Karen, if you are going to continue to eat from Jehovah’s spiritual table, you need to have the attitude that the eunuch had at Acts 8. You need to be humble, hungry, and honest when you read the Watchtower publications, and the “gratitude for the Scriptural things” you “have learned should move” you “to serve Jehovah loyally.”17.
KAREN: Cindy, at Acts 8:39, after Philip baptized the Ethiopian eunuch, what happened to his teacher—Philip?
CINDY: Well, it says that “Jehovah’s spirit quickly led Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him anymore,”18. but that’s because the eunuch now had “the truth,” so he did not need his teacher any longer. But you are not in the truth yet, Karen, so you still need the Watchtower Society to be your teacher.
KAREN: But, Cindy, don’t you still have your teacher? Since Philip—the eunuch’s teacher—left him after he came into the truth, if Jehovah’s Witnesses are in the truth, why do they still need their “teacher”—the Watchtower Society? Again I ask, since Jesus told us not to call anyone “teacher,” why do Jehovah’s Witnesses continue to look to the Watchtower Society as their spiritual “teacher”? If Jehovah God really is a God of love and He wants everyone to be saved, why would He write the Bible in such a way that the average person could not understand it without the help of a human teacher? If Jehovah is really loving, wouldn’t He write it so that anyone could read it and be saved—regardless of whether they have help?
CINDY: That’s a good point, Karen, but where else can we go to find accurate knowledge of truth and eternal life? Christendom certainly doesn’t have the truth. Just as The Watchtower noted: “We will be impelled to serve Jehovah loyally with his organization if we remember that there is nowhere else to go for life eternal.”19. Just as Peter replied to Jesus at John 6:68: “Lord, whom shall we go away to? You have the sayings of everlasting life”20. and just as the people of Noah’s day had nowhere else to go but to the ark of God, today “there is nowhere else to go for divine favor and life eternal”21. but to the Watchtower organization.
KAREN: Cindy, at John 6:68, did Peter say to Jesus, “Lord, what shall we go away to?” or did He say “whom shall we go away to?”
CINDY: He said to “whom.”
KAREN: That’s right, Cindy. So who are we to go to for eternal life? To a person or to an organization?
CINDY: Well, I guess we’re to go to a person—to Jesus. But aren’t we following Jesus when we submit to Jehovah’s organization as the ark of safety?
KAREN: Cindy, how do you know the Watchtower is God’s organization? Doesn’t it take only “one” drop of poison to poison a whole glass of water?22. Since many of the Watchtower teachings over the years have proved false requiring “new light,” how can we have confidence that “new light” down the road won’t reveal that there is poison in some of the Society’s current teachings? Since the Bible says that Jesus is the only ark of safety we should trust in for eternal life, why not place your complete trust in Jesus alone?23.
Friends, Jehovah God is the God of Truth. Truth does not fear examination. If an organization cannot stand up under examination, then it is not the truth, but is rather a counterfeit and loyalty to a counterfeit is disloyalty to Jehovah God. We would do well to follow the admonition in the March 15, 1998 Watchtower regarding misplaced loyalty. The Society said “…in today’s world the reality is that people often let themselves be manipulated and influenced in so many subtle ways that they end up involuntarily doing what others want them to do.…religious organizations get people to support their ideas and goals, not always by means of convincing arguments, but often by appealing to a sense of solidarity or loyalty.…each of us does well to ask himself, ‘Of whom am I a slave? Who exercises the greatest influence on my decisions and my way of life?… Whom do I obey—God or men?’ ”24.
1. The portion of this discussion that deals with responding to the Jehovah’s Witness concept of “doubt” was taken from an audio message entitled, A Few Effective Methods of Witnessing to Jehovah’s Witnesses, by Arnold Hoffman.
2. What Does God Require of Us?, 1996, p. 31:1
3. What Does God Require of Us?, p. 31:3
4. The Watchtower, February 1, 2001, p. 13
5.The Watchtower, February 1, 2001, pp. 9-10
6. The Watchtower, August 1, 1980, pp. 19-20
7. 1 Thessalonians 5:21, New World Translation
8. The Watchtower, October 1, 1967, p. 590
9. See The Watchtower, May 1, 1957, p. 284
** New World Translation
10. Matthew 10:24, New World Translation
11. See The Watchtower, February 1, 1952, p. 80; The Watchtower, November 15, 1992, p. 20
12. Proverbs 3:5, New World Translation
13.See John 14:26; 1 John 2:27
14. Reasoning from the Scriptures, 1985, 1989ed, p. 328
15. Acts 8:30-31, New World Translation
16. Reasoning from the Scriptures, p. 328
17. The Watchtower, November 15, 1992, p. 19
18. New World Translation
19. emphasis in original, The Watchtower, November 15, 1992, p. 21
20. New World Translation
21.The Watchtower, November 15, 1992, p. 21
22.See Reasoning from the Scriptures, p. 323
23. See John 14:6
24. The Watchtower, March 15, 1998, pp. 15-16 compare with The Watchtower, August 1, 1997, pp. 8-14