How to Respond to the Jehovah’s Witness’ Publication “What Does the Bible Really Teach?” — Part Seven
Real Hope for Your Loved Ones Who Have Died
by Wilbur Lingle
Much of the material in this chapter has already been discussed in the previous chapters. If you did not receive satisfactory answers before, you should now repeat some of the questions as they come up in this chapter. You will find that you often have to ask the same questions over and over. There doesn’t seem to be any short cuts.
Page 71, paragraph 13, lines 8-10. “So Jehovah God can remember our dead loved ones in every detail, and he is ready to restore them to life.”
Question: This statement is in direct conflict with the verses that this book used in the previous chapter, Ecclesiastes 9:5-6 and Psalm 146:4, to try to prove that when you are dead you are conscious of nothing. These verses read, “The remembrance of them has been forgotten…and already perished.” I find no hint in the Bible of the Watchtower teaching that since the real self is just unconscious, the memory of the person is kept in the memory bank of God! Since the Society uses the above verses to try to prove part of what it believes, then why does it ignore what is clearly stated in the rest of the verses that declare the opposite? (I believe in an eternal soul that is conscious and exists in heaven or hell after death, but I am using the Watchtower argument to show that its views are not in harmony with the Bible.)
Response: (You probably won’t receive a very clear answer if you receive one at all, but do not move on quickly until you have gotten the point across in this question.)
On page 72, paragraph 19 we read, “What about all the people who did not serve or obey Jehovah because they never knew about him? These billions of ‘unrighteous’ ones will not be forgotten. They too will be resurrected and given time to learn about the true God and to serve him.”
Question: This paragraph states that those who “never knew about him” will be resurrected and given a second chance. Could you tell me what will happen to the millions of people who, since the beginning of the church age, have heard the true gospel and refused it? We know from the Bible that many have heard and refused the message. All down through the ages there have been faithful witnesses for Christ. What is going to happen to the individuals who have heard the truth and refused to believe it?
Response: (The Society teaches that all who lived after 1914 have had an opportunity to hear the Watchtower message, so none of those people will be resurrected. But I have never heard an explanation to this question! I use it more as a thought-provoking question than expecting to receive a good answer.)
Page 73-74, paragraphs 21 & 22. “The Bible also refers to another kind of resurrection, one to life as a spirit creature in heaven. Only one example of this
type of resurrection is recorded in the Bible, that of Jesus Christ. After Jesus was put to death as human, Jehovah did not allow His faithful Son to remain in the grave. (Psalm 16:10; Acts 13:34, 35) God resurrected Jesus, but not as a human….This truly was a great miracle. Jesus was alive again as a mighty spirit
Question #1: I am apparently missing something here. Will you help me? I thought that the Society believes that Jesus was “only a perfect man,” and a man is “human.” Is this not correct? (I have a letter from the Watchtower Society concerning Jesus and this was the reply and “only a man” was underlined.)
Response: (You should receive a “Yes” answer.)
Question #2: The word “resurrection” means “that which fell down stood up again.” Thus if Jesus was “only a human man” and the man Jesus who died was
“resurrected,” it would have to be as a human, wouldn’t it?
Response: (At this point the Witness might begin to see the contradiction and begin to squirm. But keep on pressing for a “reasonable” answer.
Question #3: Did the human body of Jesus rise up from the grave?
Question #4: Then what happened to the body of Jesus?
Response: It went back into the elements.
Question #5: Didn’t we just read in this book that there is nothing spiritual in man that separates from the body and continues to exist after death?Response: Yes.
Question #6: Since Jesus was “only human,” then would I be not be correct in coming to the conclusion that there would not be anything existing when His body went back into the elements?
Response: (It should be “Yes,” but I am not sure.)
Question #7: Since the physical body of Jesus Christ died and went back into the gasses and there is nothing in man that can exist outside of the body, then how could Jesus be “alive again”?
Response: (As I stated before, the Society actually believes that Michael, who in some unexplained way willed himself out of existence when Jesus was born, was re-created three days after the death of Jesus–so it was Michael in heaven and not Jesus. The Witness you are talking to will probably not tell you this about Michael so you will have to press him or her until he or she gives you some kind of a reasonable answer.)
Question #8: Since it was really Michael who appeared after the death of Jesus and went to heaven, then why does this book say that Jesus “was alive again” when it really was Michael? This seems very deceptive to me!
On page 74, paragraph 24, beginning with line 6. “So those few remaining ones of the 144,000 who die in our day are instantly resurrected to life in heaven.”
Question: This statement that members of the 144,000 who are living today go instantly to heaven is in direct contradiction to what was written in the previous chapter on page 65, paragraph 19, lines 3-5: “For example, when you realise that people do not pass on to the spirit realm at death….” As we have talked about before, the Watchtower Society believes that those who go to heaven do not do so in physical bodies but as “spirit beings,” which would obviously be “the spirit realm.” So in one place it states that people do not go immediately to the “spirit realm” but go into a state of unconscious non-existence, and here it states that inthis present day the members of the 144,000 instantly go to heaven–the “spirit realm.” How does the Society solve this very obvious contradiction?
Response: (Since this is probably the first time the Witness has been asked this question you probably won’t received a very good answer. If he says that he will look into it be sure and question him later.)
Page 74, paragraph 24, speaks about the 144,000 going to heaven. The Society believes that only 144,000 individuals go to heaven. It now teaches that this
number began to be chosen from the day of Pentecost and was filled by 1935, and from that time on all others will have to go onto the new earth that must be built by manual labour. We know this teaching is not Biblical. The following questions and scriptures prove that it would be impossible for any of the 144,000 to be living today. This is very important because it completely undermines the very foundation of the Watchtower Society. The Society teaches that only the 144,000 are “anointed” and have “God’s spirit,” and claims that all the men on the Governing Body are “anointed” and thus able to be guided by God’s spirit. Since none of the 144,000 could be living today, there are no “anointed” here; thus the Society has no authority.
Question #1: Is the Watchtower Society based on the pattern of the New Testament?
Question #2: Am I correct in coming to the conclusion that the Society believes only 144,000 go to heaven?
Question #3: When and how were these selected?
Response: The first ones were chosen on the day of Pentecost and the number was complete in 1935.
Question #4: Has the Society always believed and taught that only the 144,000 go to heaven?
Response: No. The Society used to teach that the 144,000 were the “bride of Christ,” but all the other believers went to heaven as “guests” of the bride.
Question #5: When did this dramatic change take place?
Response: In 1935.
Question #6: At this time, how long had the Watchtower Society been in existence?
Response: About 55 years.
Question #7: So for fifty-five years the Society taught that all were going to heaven?
Question #8: Doesn’t the Society claim to be based on the Bible?
Question #9: So for fifty-five years the Society taught that the Bible reveals that all were going to heaven?
Question #10: After studying the Bible for fifty-five years, what happened that the leaders changed their minds?
Response: They got “new light” on the subject.
Question #11: You mean that Yahweh spoke to your leaders directly from heaven and told them they had misinterpreted the Bible for fifty-five years?
Response: (It will be hard for them to say that God spoke directly, and they will probably give you a very obscure answer.)
Question #12: So you are telling me that God allowed the Society to teach something false for fifty-five years before He corrected it?
Response: (I am not sure what the reply will be. But these are thought-provoking questions.)
Question #13: If the Society is based on the Bible, and the leaders had all studied the Bible in depth, they should have realised that if only 144,000 go to heaven the total would have been filled very early in the history of the church. Will you let me show you what the Bible has to say about the number who became true believers? (I am giving you the references, but go through them one by one with the person you are witnessing to.) Acts 2:41 “3,000 saved.” 2:46-47 “Saved daily.” 4:4 “5,000.” 9:42; 17:12; & 19:18 “Many.” 21:20 “Many myriads.” (Myriads is “ten of thousands,” thus “many tens of thousands.” From this verse alone the 144,000 would be filled! In the text of the NWT it reads “many thousands,” but in the footnote it has “Myriads; tens of thousands.”)
In addition, the Bible refers to the churches in Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Philippi, Ephesus, Thessalonica, Crete, Pontus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis,
Philadelphia, and Laodicea. There would be many hundreds of thousands of believers among the Gentiles. It is well known that Christianity spread rapidly all
around the Mediterranean Sea. Thus the Bible proves that if only 144,000 go to heaven, the spaces would have been filled in the early history of the church. So it is utterly impossible for any of them to be living today. So why does the Watchtower Society not take into consideration these Biblical facts?
Response: You need to realize there was a falling away.
Question #14: This is rather strange. It is stated by very reliable sources (Charles Russell being one of them—you should mention this), that from the fall of
Jerusalem in 70 A.D. until 100 A.D. (when the Watchtower Society claims the falling away began) there were at least 40,000 martyrs. We know from Revelation 20:4 (have the Witness read this verse) that all the martyrs will go to heaven and reign with Christ for 1,000 years. Only a portion of the Christians would be of the number who were killed, so this fact proves that there were far more than 144,000 believers in the early church. So if there really was a falling away, then there had to be hundreds of thousands of Christians before the falling away began! (The Society teaches that the “anointed”–members of the 144,000–have a special sealing which makes it very difficult for them to fall away, and thus only a very few would do so. This should further prove there had to be hundreds of thousands of believers in the early church.) Haven’t the leaders of the Society studied the proven facts of church history?
Response: (You probably won’t get one. I have often used this line of reasoning:”if only 144,000 go to heaven, the number would have been filled long ago.” It has been very effective.)
Question #15: There is another piece of reliable evidence (including Charles Russell) that there had to be millions in the early church. If what the Society claims is true that around 100 A.D. there began to be a falling away, then how do you explain that between the years 303 and 313 A.D. alone there were at least 860,000 martyrs, and all of these would have gone to heaven? It is obvious that not all of the Christians would have been martyrs, so even after a couple of hundred years of “falling away” there had to be well over a million true Christians! Why does the Society not recognise these proven facts when it is calculating the numbers for the 144,000?
Response: (Probably none.)
Question #16: When I asked you before if the Watchtower Society teaches what the early church taught, your reply was “Yes.” But this could not be possible,
because though the Society teaches about the 144,000 the early church itself knew nothing about this teaching! The number 144,000 does not appear until the Book of Revelation, which was written around 95 A.D., so the number would already have been filled and most of the early Christians would have been dead by this time. Thus the early church never knew that those going to heaven were limited to 144,000! Contrariwise, the Bible promises in John 3:16 that “everyone exercising faith” in Jesus Christ as his or her personal Savior will go to heaven. Why tell people that “whosoever” believes will go to heaven if this is not true and is limited to 144,000? In John 14:2 Jesus stated, “In the house of my Father there are many abodes. Otherwise I would have told you, because I am going my way to prepare a place for you.” If heaven were limited to only 144,000, then this would have been the ideal place for Jesus to express such limitations. Why leave people under the false impression that “all” who believe would go to heaven, when this was not true?
If you want to enlarge on the issue that the Watchtower Society limits heaven to only 144,000 individuals, here are some helpful things you can present. The
144,000 are mentioned in Revelation 7:4-8. Of the whole passage, the only thing that the Society takes literally is the number 144,000. The fact that they are Jews is disregarded. The Witness will take you to Romans 2:28-29 which reads, “For he is not a Jew who is one on the outside, nor is circumcision that which is on the outside upon the flesh, but he is a Jew who is one on the inside.” The only trouble is the early believers were both Jews nationally outside and believers inside. Acts 21:20 proves that there were many true Jewish believers. Furthermore, James was writing to believers and among them were members of the twelve Jewish tribes, mentioned in James 1:1. If only 144,000 go to heaven and they began to be chosen on the day of Pentecost, then there were enough believing Jews to fill up most of the places–so the 144,000 Jews in Revelation 7:4-8 can be taken literally. But while the Society takes the number 144,000 literally it never gives any explanation why God took the time to divide them up in groups of 12,000 per tribe. This is a question you should ask. Witnesses will often point out that the tribe of Dan is not mentioned and the listing is different than in other passages. The answer to the fact that the tribe of Dan is missing is obvious. If you go to Amos 8:14 you will see that the tribe of Dan was cursed because of its apostasy. So the tribe of Levi is mentioned in its place.
The other mention of the 144,000 is found in Revelation 14:1-5. Once again only the number 144,000 in heaven is taken literally. Everything else is ignored or made figurative. The verses state, “Having his name and the name of his father written on their foreheads,” but this is not said to be literal. Verse 4 states that they are “virgin men.” This is not taken literally. Verse 4 says the 144,000 are “following the Lamb,” but Witnesses do not call themselves “Christian Witnesses” but
“Jehovah’s Witnesses.” Verse 5 states that they never told a lie. This is not taken literally. Why does the Society consider only the number 144,000 to be literal and
make everything else figurative?
Then in Revelation 14:3 it mentions that the 144,000 are “before the throne.” This throne is taken literally to mean heaven, but in Revelation 7:9 where it speaks
about the “great crowd” “standing before the throne” this is not taken literally. Why is the Society so inconsistent? (In the Greek, the word “before” means “standing close enough to something so that it can be seen clearly.” But in spite of this, in the Watchtower book Reasoning from the Scriptures we are given an explanation for this verse being different and are told that the “great crowd” are really on earth. We read, “The description of them as ‘standing before the throne and before the Lamb’ indicates, not necessarily a location, but an approved condition….‘In sight of the throne’ does not require that they be in heaven. Their position is simply ‘in sight’ of God, who tells us that from heaven he beholds the sons of men.” All the others places in the Book of Revelation where “before” is found it is taken to be literal, but in this one place, to try to prove the Watchtower’s teaching, the Society makes it mean something else. You should point out the fact that the Society repeatedly takes just one part of a verse or sentence literally and all the rest figuratively. Ask them how the average person reading the Bible is supposed to decide what is literal and what is figurative.
There is yet another contradiction that I have never heard the Watchtower answer. (I looked it up in a number of their books and it is not mentioned.) Revelation 19:1 in the NWT reads, “After these things I heard what was a loud voice of a great crowd in heaven.” Why does the Watchtower Society go to so much trouble to try to twist the Greek meaning for the word “before” in Revelation 7:9 when 19:1 clearly has the “great crowd” in heaven? (According to the Watchtower Society the “great crowd” are on earth.) Ask the Witness you are dealing with who constitute this “great crowd” who are definitely in heaven. For more information on the 144,000 see my book Approaching Jehovah’s Witnesses in Love, pages 147-158.