Monday, September 17, 2007

The Subtle Forms Of Idolatry and Gods People

An astonishing situation, even a horrible thing, has been brought to be in the land: The prophets themselves actually prophesy in falsehood; and as for the priests, they go subduing according to their powers. And my own people have loved [it] that way; and what will YOU men do in the finale of it?"
―Jeremiah 5:30,31

"Before it could come in, I caused you to hear it, that you might not say, 'My own idol has done them." —Isaiah 48:5

God's Household

Since the days of Israel God has had a chosen nation, a household. God’s word the Bible indicates that in Christian times, God has also had a household. (1 Peter 4:17) And Paul wrote the Ephesians that they were members of God's household. (Ephesians 2:19) Since Jesus promised his disciples that he would be with them until "the end of the age" we can see that his household would survive until then, when he would come to inspect them. (Matthew 28:20; 24:46-51)(See the WT July 15 1960 and also Jan 15 1975)

As a whole, a very many of us are truly a part of that household. This being the case, we must ask ourselves some very important questions. Firstly does belonging to God's household guarantee that one has God's approval? Is it possible for God's people ever to be wrong? To whom is our loyalty directed? Are we are to accept everything posed by those in direction of it, even if we do not understand it or if it goes against what we can clearly see in scripture? Are we to suppress our consciences even if they may be nagging at us about accepting a certain thing as a truth? Is our not immediately accepting things posed to us by those in the lead an indication of lack of faith in God? What if in scripture we see a seeming contradiction between what the bible says and what our teachers say, is our lack of faith in them, a lack of faith in God?

These questions have risen very serious issues in times pass, and these issues have pressed upon honest men and women’s consciences since human leadership and direction came into existence.

We today have a plethora of examples and answers to the very issues raised by these questions, found in God’s word the bible. This has been catalogued and written for our instruction today and for all time, and since these issues, as we will see, are so ingrained in our nature, we do well to consider them.

Considering history

Is it possible for God's people ever to be wrong? A better question might be, is it possible for them ever to be right? History tells us that, although Jehovah has always had those who loyally loved and obeyed him, time and again his people as a whole deflected from the pure worship and followed the way of the nations around them.

Let’s start at the beginning, let us consider the first human worshippers of Jehovah, his first chosen people. See, the issue of worship dates back to the Garden of Eden; when Adam and Eve were originally presented with a convenient alternative to the exclusive worship of Jehovah God. Since that time Satan the Devil has continually tempted Jehovah's people with countless diversions in an effort to subvert or pervert pure worship.

Idolatry is one of the many things which have always been a snare for God's people. That is why early in Bible history we read about Aaron making a golden calf to represent Jehovah before the idolaters. In spite of Jehovah's clear command, not long after the Jews entered into the Promised Land they began to worship Baal images and sacred poles. The wisest man of his day, Solomon, toward the end of his life foolishly built temples for his foreign wives who were way from their homelands, to worship their deities. After Israel became divided into two nations, idolatry became institutionalized in the Northern Kingdom when Jeroboam set up calf worship at two locations for the convenience of his subjects so that they wouldn't feel the need to travel to Jerusalem to worship. In time, however, even Jehovah's temple in Jerusalem became defiled with all sorts of idolatrous images.

In the knowledge that Satan is ever on the alert to insinuate himself into our midst through deception we might consider a more subtle form related to this, recall the occasion in the Bible when, after many years of humble leadership, Moses carelessly declared himself to be the miraculous provider of water for the Israelites. This angry and conceited boast, from the man that Jehovah himself described as the meekest of all men, tragically cost him the privilege of entering the Promised Land.

No doubt, this is a very serious issue.

If you look up Idolatry in the Insight book you will find.

*** it-1 p. 1167 Idol, Idolatry ***

An idol is an image, a representation of anything, or a symbol that is an object of passionate devotion, whether material or imagined. Generally speaking, idolatry is the veneration, love, worship, or adoration of an idol. It is usually practiced toward a real or supposed higher power, whether such power is believed to have animate existence (as a human, an animal, or an organization) or is inanimate (as a force or lifeless object of nature).

Jehovah’s People and Idolatry

The early Christians were all commanded to abstain from idolatry.

Idolatry can take on very subtle forms. Paul wrote to the Colossians and exhorted them to deaden their body members in order to abstain from immoral sexual appetites and covetousness, which as Paul said, was idolatry. The bible has enlightened us to the fact that idolatry is not necessarily groveling before an image of some sort, but instead it can be merely putting human desires ahead of God's will.

The most insidious efforts by The Devil to exploit Gods people down through the ages by far, seems to be the natural inclination of humans to need a visible representation to give reverence or credit to, the subtle exaltation and self-glorification of God's very own spokesmen.

At times, the apostles and other prominent ministers became the object of reverence. Because of the miraculous powers the apostles at time employed, they were, on occasion, hailed as gods. Following men can be a form of idolatry. Paul had to counsel the Corinthian congregation because they were placing too much emphasis upon men. Some claimed to belong to Paul; others to Apollos; still others claimed to belong to Peter.

Even to this day the worship of the saints is prominent in Christendom. Christians have failed to give heed to the closing verse in the letter of First John. It reads: "Little children, guard yourselves from idols." Ironically, even the writer of that inspired warning, John himself, attempted to bow down and worship an angel after receiving the Revelation. The angel, as Gods spokesman strongly cautioned him not to do so.

For a Christian, anything that comes between them and their absolute devotion to God is idolatry.

By just this brief overview of a few Bible accounts, it should already be apparent that because of our sinful condition, we are naturally inclined towards idolatry. Idolatry is a snare that Christians can very easily fall into. Let us now consider a brief overview of history, the history of the Apostasy, and how it began.

Idolatry and The Apostasy

First we see its beginnings even in Paul's day, there were "superfine Apostles" infiltrating the Corinthian congregation "boasting with their flesh" that they as human’s had the God given right and authority over others in the congregations, diminishing the sole authoritative role of the Christ. Paul on the other hand did not "use fleshly weapons" of human authority but had his authority remain as the Christ. with the power of God's Holy Spirit. He recognized Christ as our only head, and only the Spirit of God that had the power to teach, and enter a man's heart, transforming him into a new creation, walking in obedience to Christ. Paul questioned those who used their human flesh as an authoritative role, acting as spokesmen for Christ, saying,

"Who makes you, my friend, so important? What do you possess that was not given you? If then you really received it all as a gift, why take the credit to yourself (as God's spokesmen)" 1 Corinthians 10:4-5

What had started out as a brotherhood of Christians, over the first couple of centuries, eroded into a hierarchical structure. Their efforts in forming this structure originally were noble, but they lacked faith in God.

This began with the persecution of outsiders, the stress and pressure caused many to move in the direction of unity of a organized visible human ruling structure, replacing the invisible unity of faith and agape love as "royal priests" in a universal brotherhood.

As this happened, the doors of opportunity were opened for many organizational spots of prominence to be filled and for those who "were to take the lead," the Bishops (Overseers), bringing them more authority and control for the unity of the Brotherhood, eventually putting them on an equal divine authority as the Christ.

For them, unity at all costs seemed like the best route to take, slowly replacing the sole authority of Christ and the true meaning of Christ, faith and agape love. (1 Corinthians 10:4-5)

To combat the persecution they began to strive for a human visible organizational unity. I am immediately reminded of First Samuel Chapter 8 where the people wanted to be as the nations and have an earthly king. They, instead of the theocratic form of government with God as their ruler and king, desired a visible earthy representation.

The early Christians in many ways reverted back to the Hebrew Scriptures, with a priesthood of authority. The early Christian congregation went from an original simple brotherhood into an institutionalized religion with a highly centralized authority structure. Rather remaining in an internal and spiritual state of reliance on "love as the perfect bond of union," a change was made to an external and fleshly organization of unification.(1 Cor 4:7)

(That Church, which we now know as Christendom began with very noble and well meaning ideas, and Jehovah did use it at one time even while they, as a whole had strayed from pure worship, this is seen in the fact that the biblical canon was compiled by them, the preservation of the scriptures, and also the ordering of the canon and verse number was all done by the that church.)

Respected nineteenth-century church historian Augustus Neander in his work General History of the Christian Religion and Church pages 194 to 204, points out the way in which the Christian church, in many respects did revert to Old Testament ranks and positions. In place of a universal priesthood of all believers, a separate priesthood gradually appeared, distinct from the main body of Christians and acting in a mediatorial way for it in its relation to God.

Tertullian (c. 145-220 A.D.) even referred to the congregational overseer or bishop as the chief priest, as he also refers to those not among the overseers, elders or deacons as laymen. "On Baptism," Chapter XVII." On the effects of this, Neander comments,

"This title presupposes that men had begun already to compare the elders with the priests, the deacons (ministerial servants) or the spiritual class generally with the Levites . . . When the idea of the universal Christian priesthood retired to the background, that of the priestly dedication which all Christians should make of their entire life, went along with it . . Christ had raised the entire earthly life to the dignity of a spiritual life . . the new notions respecting the dignity of the clerus (or appointed ones), led men to believe that what had been regarded as the free gift of the Spirit to all or to individual Christians must be confused in a particular office in the service of the Church . . . Now, the free working of the Spirit was to be confined to a formal , mechanical process." In response to the a centralization of each individual Christian congregation, with overseers exercising authority over each congregation, both individual freedom was lost and the door was opened for eventually an international centralization. In time these authoritative overseers would meet with one another forming what was called "synods." After time, these synods eventually formed a international centralization of the Christian congregations, all submitting to a central administrative governing body, a clear deviation."(6)

In response, a centralization of each individual Christian congregation, with overseers exercising authority over each congregation, individual freedom was lost and the door was opened for the eventual externalization of an international centralized visible church organization. In time these authoritative overseers would meet with one another forming what was called "synods." After time, these synods eventually formed a international centralization of the Christian congregations, all submitting to a central administrative body of the Vatican, a clear deviation from the universal "royal priesthood" of believers.

Speaking of the centralization process in order to bring a visible human unity over the invisible brotherhood with Christ as sole high priest, including the removal of individual Christian conscience, or freedom, early writings of Ignatius show him as urging the overseers,

"Have a regard to preserve unity than which nothing is better."

The appeal unfortunately took the focus away from agape love and truth as the means to unity, directing it rather to submission to religious leaders, shackling individual Christians to the obedience of men, with the subsequent suppression of personal judgment.

Others Calls for loyalty and submission to a visible human organization, deviating from the true meaning of the Christ were also voiced by various early Christian writers. In the Clementine Homilies, from no later than the third century A.D., the following is said to an overseer:

"And your work is to order what things are proper, and that of the brethren is to submit, and not to disobey. Therefore submitting They shall be saved but disobeying they shall be punished by the Lord, because the president (the presiding overseer) is entrusted with the place of Christ. Wherefore, indeed, honor or contempt shown to the president is handed on to Christ, and from Christ to God. And this I have said, that these brethren may not be ignorant of the danger they incur by disobedience to you, because whoever disobeys your orders disobeys Christ, and he who disobeys Christ offends God." (7)

Ignatius, In his Epistle to the Ephesians, chapter VI, further goes on to state:,

"For we ought to receive every on whom the Master of the house sent to be over his household, as we would Him that sent him. It is manifest, therefore, that we should look upon the bishop (the sole overseer) even as we would up the Lord himself." (8)

This Idolatry of man and subversion of the role of Christ left much place for the Devil to take advantage and sink his teeth into this type of situation.

The word freedom and responsibility are interchangeable when you have freedom you have responsibility, when you don’t, you can sit back and go along with the church, this lead to the situation where most of the people eventually accepted many things which were, simply against scripture, the Church eventually taught that they were appointed as Gods mouthpiece on earth and that only they could interpret scripture, that they had the authority as his representatives on earth, and the bible was not written for the laypeople the benefits did not apply to them, only the burdens, and they continued on in explaining away of what clearly is written in scripture eventually leading to a mass apostatizing from the truth.

In time, anyone and everyone who disagreed with the Church were called heretics, those who denied the Trinity Hellfire or or other teachings of men were all persecuted many were violently murdered.

Now these are extreme examples, but if we become guilty of this even in subtle ways, this can leave place for exploitation by the Devil and perpetuation of falsehoods, we do well to consider this.

Gods Household Today

Well, what about us today? Surely we have learned the lessons of history both in the example of the scriptures and in that of the Apostasy.

Since we believe that we are living deep in the time of the end, Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 10:11 have special meaning for us, "Now these things went on befalling them as examples, and they were written for a warning to us upon whom the ends of the systems of things have arrived."-

Have we heeded the warning? Has the practice of idolatry been eradicated among Gods people?

While the Bible Students rejected the open adoration of Christendom's familiar saints and images (except for the use of the crucifix early on as part of Bible Students' worship), the charismatic founder of the Watchtower became a prophet-like idol figure to many. Although he never personally made the claim, it was the opinion of many of the early Bible Students that Charles Russell was "the faithful and discreet slave." Consequently, upon Russell's sudden death in 1916, approximately half of those associated with the Watchtower refused to recognize the leadership of J.F. Rutherford. To this day, there are those who claim to belong to Charles Russell.

No one ever again has cast such a shadow over us since the death of Charles Russell---not even "Judge" Rutherford. We are to be commended in recognizing that form of Idolatry.

Later we proceeded to have president Nathan Knorr, and vice president Fred Franz who later became President.

Since the death of the Brother Fred Franz in 1992, the Society has been distinguished by the absence of any dominating figure. We have separated the presidency of the organization, from the organization’s governing body, and no one man now stands as our leader.

In view of the inclination that we all have towards idolatry, have we honestly once and for all conquered such tendencies?

A few questions once again come to mind.

Firstly why in the first place is it wrong to have a man as our head?

Secondly If that is the reason why, is shifting those same honors which make our reverence of one man Idolatry, to something else which in essence does the same thing in regards to what is due only Jehovah and that of his appointed king Christ Jesus and no man, is it alright for us to give the same if not more of the same type of stuff which was bad if given to one man who was believed to be talking for God, because such things only belong to God. To a group of men which believe to be talking for God? Is this any different?

Well once again let us consider another early account on the subject of Idolatry more closely.

The Bible record relates that when Moses was in the mountain for 40 days receiving

the Law from Jehovah, the people felt like Moses had abandoned them and so they demanded that Aaron fabricate a golden calf and lead them in worshipping it.

The parallel exists in the fact that Moses represents Christ, in that instance. Consider that Moses was the mediator of the Law covenant, just as Jesus is the mediator of a new covenant. Moses came down from the mountain glowing like the sun, just as Jesus is going to come down from heaven in glory to finalize God's covenant.

Jehovah appointed Aaron as the nation's high priest and spokesman under Moses. Jesus appointed his brothers to serve as his under priests and ambassadorial spokesmen.

The 32nd chapter of Exodus relates that the Israelites reasoned that Moses had been gone a long time and they didn't know if he was ever coming back down from the mountain, so they demanded to have a new god to lead them through the Wilderness.

As the God-appointed high priest, Aaron acquiesced to the demands of the people and made them a golden god and presented it to them as their God that led them out of Egypt and he declared that a festival be held in Jehovah's honor.

In our day it seems that Jesus has been a long time in coming. Evidently some assume that Christ is going to be a no-show in taking action to lead his people.

In the interim our faithful and discreet slave/priest has been called upon by us to step into the perceived void and provide leadership, and in so doing it seems that the organization ITSELF has gradually been transformed into our very own organizational golden calf.

Just as with the ancient Israelites, the golden calf was seemingly not intended to replace God; it was merely used as a visible representation of him.

In the same manner the Watchtower articles constantly refer to the organization as "Jehovah's visible organization." Subtly, the Organization has become the visible representation of Jehovah in the eyes and hearts of many of Jehovah's people worldwide.

Contrary to Paul's revelation that Christians are walking by faith not by sight, we ought to be on guard against attaching such high honors to any earthly organization.

While there is no one leading figure, as in the past, it seems as if the tendency to admire men has merely been transformed into a more insidious and subtler form of idolatry. Instead of a recognizable human face, it appears now as if the earthly organization itself has gradually come to occupy a more prominent place in the hearts and minds of Jehovah's Witnesses than Jehovah himself does. That constitutes idolatry.

It is undeniable that the organization determines all aspects of our faith. Equally undeniable, is that over the years, conforming to a growing body of organizational policies and procedures have become the measure of our worship. And while the Bible's teachings are the foundation of our faith, the organization has the sole prerogative to determine how God's Word is to be understood by all of Jehovah's Witnesses. Individual matters of conscience seem to be a little-understood concept.

This has all proved to be extremely harmful to us as Gods people; we have become spiritually immature and have delegated all our personal responsibility before God to the organization, but in the end. We all must stand before Jehovah individually we cannot say I was told to do this or that, we each have a responsibility before him and must grow and press on to maturity and “through use” train our perceptive powers to distinguish both right and wrong.

While the slave is responsible for feeding God's household with spiritual food at the proper time, it appears we have gone far beyond the simple mandate that Christ gave his slaves.

When Pastor Russell started the Watchtower back in 1879, it was merely a publication that tried to give thinking Christians some food for thought. The congregations that sprung up in the United States, and elsewhere, were only loosely associated with each other, being tied together spiritually, as were the first century congregations.

Now, the organization has become a huge, multi-billion dollar institution with vast property holdings and a small army of lawyers deployed to protect the Society's interests around the globe. In recent years, the Brooklyn Bethel headquarters and other branches around the world have become like Mecca’s, where the faithful make their pilgrimage.

Consider this, for example, as to how faith in the organization is considered to be paramount above faith in God: If one of us were to confess to an elder that he had lost faith in God and the Bible, likely every effort would be made to restore that person's faith. If, however, that same person were to admit that they no longer believed that the Watchtower is Jehovah's organization, or that they do not believe some teaching of the organization, even though they may still believe the Bible, such a person would likely be accused of apostasy and perhaps expelled from the congregation.

The prevailing attitude that the Society can do no wrong was expressed by many in conversation; they express disgust that someone had dare to question a particular teaching of the Watchtower. "Why, to question the Watchtower is like questioning Jehovah!" Not realizing, that seemingly innocent remark is not merely equating the Watchtower with Jehovah, but is exalting it above God. How so?

Well, Jehovah allows himself to be questioned by his worshippers. We might recall one occasion when Abraham questioned the appropriateness of God's judgment against Sodom and Gomorrah. Also, Jesus Christ allowed himself to be constantly questioned by both his disciples and the Pharisees. Is the Watchtower more exalted than Jehovah and Christ?

The opinion that has been cultivated among most is that the Watchtower will explain to us whatever Jehovah wants us to know. We have come to trust the Watchtower to such an extent that we assume that by following the program laid out by the Society we are worshipping Jehovah God with all of our whole heart, mind, and soul.

Thus, the attitude that has developed is that anything however true, which may tarnish the image of the organization, is to be avoided at all costs.

That prevailing sensibility has, for instance, led the organization to conceal and downplay the extent of child abuse in order to protect the organization's image as being a spiritual paradise. The brothers have shown themselves more than willing to resort to misleading information or legalistic loopholes in other areas in order to present the organization as an unfailing beacon of light. Consequently, private web sites as expressed in the September 2007 Kingdom ministry question box are considered inappropriate, not because of publishing some untruth, but because it may detract from the Watchtower's glory in the eyes of Jehovah's Witnesses. Instead of rejoicing that Jehovah has revealed something to one of his servants, some might find it disturbing that new truths were not channeled through the Watchtower Society.

What would seem to be an odd, if not disturbing fact, though, is that while the Watchtower has been so vigorous in exposing the idolatries of Christendom, and has informed us as to the spiritual dangers of venerating national emblems and such, we have never once been cautioned about placing too much importance upon the organization itself. Remember that definition in the Insight book.

Who Really is The Faithful Slave?

Jesus asked the question, "Who really is the faithful steward, the discreet one, whom his master will appoint over his body of attendants to keep giving them their measure of food supplies at the proper time?" If that slave proved faithful he would be rewarded with being appointed over all his master's belongings; but if he proved unfaithful, even to the point of beating those whom he was to feed and protect, then he would be punished with "the greatest severity." (Matthew 24:45-51; Luke 12:42-46) Since that slave is not one individual but made up of many members chosen and anointed by God, the possibility has always existed that, although many of that slave may prove faithful, others may prove to be wicked.

We should deeply appreciate those of the slave who have taught us to know and love Jehovah. Who have taught us the truth about the identity of God and his only-begotten Son, Jesus; about the soul, the resurrection hope, and also who the real ruler of this world is.

We have learned about God's kingdom, by means of which Jehovah will restore his rightful sovereignty over his creation. And the truth of all this has united us into a wonderful brotherhood no matter where we are in the world.

We all have come to belong to God's household. Also, the slave has provided us with help in preaching "this good news of the kingdom" in all the earth. (Matthew 24:14)

The scriptures tell us that we are all brothers, none more equal than others. Yet, Jesus' disciples continuously argued over who was the greatest among them. Are we immune from this same desire to outshine others of our brothers? Note what Jesus said in regards to this: "24 However, there also arose a heated dispute among them over which one of them seemed to be greatest. 25 But he said to them: "The kings of the nations lord it over them, and those having authority over them are called Benefactors. 26 YOU, though, are not to be that way. But let him that is the greatest among YOU become as the youngest, and the one acting as chief as the one ministering. 27 For which one is greater, the one reclining at the table or the one ministering? Is it not the one reclining at the table? But I am in YOUR midst as the one ministering." ―Luke 22:24-27.

"YOU, though, are not to be that way." That is what Jesus commanded his disciples. That is clearly enough stated.

Faithful and discreet slave is used as a title by those who have elevated themselves over their fellow brothers, just as "called Benefactors" is referring to a title. Other Bibles translate it as "call themselves friends of the people" (GodsWord) "are given names of honor" (BBE) "called benefactors and well-doers" (AMP) "called good doers" (WYC) "call themselves Protectors" (NIRV). The Living Bible paraphrases it this way, "Jesus told them, 'In this world the kings and great men order their slaves around, and the slaves have no choice but to like it!'" According to The Message Bible, Jesus told his disciples, "Kings like to throw their weight around and people in authority like to give themselves fancy titles. It's not going to be that way with you. Let the senior among you become like the junior; let the leader act the part of the servant."

Jesus set the example in humility. He was in their midst as a servant. When one man called him "good teacher," Jesus immediately replied, "Why do you call me good? Nobody is good, except one, God." He refused to be addressed as good, as if it were a title. Thus, he told his disciples, "But YOU, do not YOU be called Rabbi, for one is YOUR teacher, whereas all YOU are brothers."
Matthew 23:8-10; Mark 10:17,18.

Jesus did not allow anyone to adopt a title such as Rabbi, Teacher, Father. Those rightly applied only to him or his heavenly father, as he said. He clearly warned, "The person who thinks he is important will find out how little he is worth." (NLV) "If you put yourself above others, you will be put down." (CEV) "Anyone who lifts himself up will be brought down." (WE) (Matthew 23:12) That faithful and discreet is equivalent to a title becomes readily apparent by how Jesus' words at Luke 12:42 are translated in other Bibles. Here are some examples:

faithful and sensible steward – Nasblex
faithful and intelligent – Wey
faithful, skilled – GodsWord
faithful and prudent – Darby
wise and responsible – BBE
the dependable manager, full of common sense – MSG
faithful steward, the wise manAMP
a wise servant who can be trusted – WE
true dispenser, and prudentWYC

The definition of title, according to WEBSTER'S UNABRIDGED DICTIONARY, is "3. an appellation; a descriptive name; an epithet. 4. an appellation of dignity, distinction, or pre-eminence given to persons or families; as, titles of office, nobility, distinction, degree, etc."

What if they referred to themselves as the "dependable manager, full of common sense?" The "true dispenser, and prudent" slave? The "wise servant who can be trusted?" "Faithful and intelligent." Why not just call themselves the "good" slave (as Jesus refused to do so?)

Individuals All To Be Slaves Of One AnotherThe Love of Our Fellow Man.

"A Christian man is a free lord over everything and subject to no one. A Christian man is an obedient servant in everything and subject to everyone"

Martin Luther (1483-1546)

"You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ and have fallen away from the grace. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love" - Galatians 5:4-6

If we remember, Jesus Christ came into the earth at a time when the Romans were in power. Now the Romans had a certain kind of leadership that marked their society. They got this leadership model from the Babylonians and the Egyptians. But the Romans brought it to perfection. It was the hierarchical leadership structure. In my country, our military is patterned after this structure. The Romans were great warriors, so it worked well for them.

Here is some information posed by one who left the Catholic Church after understanding the wrongness of its system:

“To understand hierarchy, You have someone at the top, then you have someone under them, then you have someone at the very bottom.

The one at the top has more authority than the one below him. The person lower has less authority than the one above, and on it goes.

It is a descending order of authority. It’s top-down authority. It is a command-style relationship. The Romans perfected this structure. It was part of their culture.

With that in mind, listen to the words of Jesus Christ. Matthew 20:25: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them and their great men exercise authority over them.” The Greek word for “authority” is exousia. We can read the Christian Greek scriptures from beginning to end and you will never find this word exousia (authority) in a context where one believer has exousia (authority) over another believer. It will never be found in the Christian Greek scriptures. It is not there.

Let’s go on. Jesus said, “The rulers of the Gentiles [the Romans] lord it over those who are under them, exercising authority over them.” The Greek word for “exercise authority” is katexousiazo.
Kata means above or over. Exousiazo means to exercise authority over another. So kataexousiazo means top-down authority.

It refers to hierarchical leadership. And Jesus is condemning it. Jesus also uses the phrase “lord it over them” to describe this form of leadership.

The Greek word for “lord it over” is katakurieuo. According to Jesus, the Gentiles exercise authority from the top-down. They are lording it over the people. They are dominating the people. They are controlling the people. This always happens with hierarchical structures of descending authority. It creates a culture of control and oppression.

But Christ Jesus says, “It shall not be so among you!” Jesus Christ, when He came into this earth, was the most free Person to walk the planet. His main job was to set people free. He is the Great Liberator. In His day, He set women free. The women followed Him wherever He was. And when He died, it was the women who were there, staying with Him. When He rose again from the dead, it was the women who came to Him first. Jesus Christ had a very exalted view of His followers. He had a very exalted view of women in a day when they were oppressed and suppressed. He was a liberator.

Christ Jesus mission was liberating, he came to set people free. Free from not only sin and death, but freedom from the whole process of the world around us. Jesus says, “Whoever wishes to be great among you of my disciples, he shall be your servant.”

The mark of a servant of God is that he comes to set people free. Not to lord over them. Not to control them. And that was an integral part of the ministry of Jesus Christ.

Now if we go to Matthew 28.Jesus Christ is getting ready to ascend. These are some of His last words. Matthew 28:18: “All authority is given to me in heaven and on earth. All authority is mine.”

We need to understand that, there is no authority except the authority of Jesus Christ. Only He has authority. There is no authority except His authority.”

Who then is the "faithful and discreet slave" ? If it is a class or group of people, all tied in together, then what about Jesus other illustrations of slaves ? Must they belong to some class of people or human organization ? Is there a "ten minas class" , a "five minas class," a "many strokes class," a "few strokes class" ? If so, then who are these ? The scriptures are clear that when we stand before the judgment seat of God and Christ we stand as individuals and as individuals answer for what we have done. Could not Jesus s illustration of the "faithful and discreet slave" apply to all Christians as individuals ? Now Granted those taking the lead over many will need to be faithful slaves even more so, as many of those on our governing body are. But couldn’t Jesus be saying, Who among you disciples will prove himself to be such a faithful and discreet steward ? The answers would depend on what each individual did, not on what he belonged to or was part of. (Romans 14:12)

Rather then a class of persons appointed as a "faithful and discreet slave," feeding others with bible literature, Apostle Peter words in 1 Peter chapter 4, verses 10 and 11, show how each individual Christian has a personal

All Christians Are To Be "Faithful And Discreet Slaves"

"In proportion as each one (each individual) has received a gift, use it in ministering (feeding) to one another as fine stewards (faithful slaves) of Gods undeserved kindness expressed in various ways. If anyone (each individual) speaks, let him speak as it were the sacred pronouncements of God; of anyone ministers (feeds), let him minister (feed) as dependent on the strength that God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ."

1 Peter 4:10, 11

stewardship, and feeds each other with upbuilding and encouragement.

"In proportion as each one (an individual) has received a gift, use it in ministering (feeding) to one another as fine stewards (faithful slaves) of Gods undeserved kindness expressed in various ways. If anyone (an individual) speaks, let him speak as it were the sacred pronouncements of God; of anyone ministers (feeds), let him minister (feed) as dependent on the strength that God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ." 1 Peter 4:10-11

Peter is not talking about a conglomerate, highly structured "composite" steward or slave class, but instead is laying stress on each individual and their personal stewardship. He makes plain that each individual Christian has some gift that he or she can use to feed or minister to others, thus rendering service to fellow servants in God’s household.

As Apostle Paul stated, "I have a stewardship entrusted to me" to feed others "declaring the good news" and to "impart some spiritual gift," providing an "interchange of encouragement" to all others both believers and nonbelievers. Apostle Peter was also appointed a stewardship, being instructed by Jesus to "Feed my sheep." For all overseers were considered to be God's "stewards" and to fulfill the qualifications of being such, acting both "faithful and discreet." This of course, did not just pertain to Paul and other elders or overseers, for all Christians were supplied a personal stewardship and responsibility to spiritually feed others with upbuilding and encouragement, as Paul stated above in 1 Peter Chapter 4 Verses 10 and 11. As Jesus stated in Matthew 20:27,

"Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave" and this applies to All Christians, for we must all "slave for the master, Christ." Matthew 20:27

(Col 3:24; 1 Cor 9:16-17, Romans 1:11-12, Cor 4:1, Titus 1:7, Eph 3:2, Col 1:25, John 21:15-18)

As Christ stated, no persons should be addressed as "Rabbi," or teacher, "for all are to be brothers."

It would make sense that those who were called apostles, prophets, elders and servants did not pertain to an office or higher level of spirituality that contained a degree of authority.

Rather these terms would be directed to the service of leadership that each one performed for the brotherhood of man, providing a service as a slave or servant. These fellow "slaves" would take on a leadership role with those in the congregation being "obedient to those taking the lead," however their obedience would never infringe on both their personal freedom and moral integrity.

Those who forfeited their freedom were subsequently reprimanded by Apostle Paul, to "stop becoming slaves of men for it is for freedom that Christ has set us free." Remember, we also reviewed what Jesus also stated that,

"Those with authority of the world and nations lord over their authority over others, this is not the way among you, but whoever wants to become great among you must be your slave, just as the son of man came not to wield authority but to be a slave to all and give his soul as a ransom in exchange for many." Matthew 20:25-27

Again, those "who were to take the lead" all of them, and especially our governing body were to do so as guides and fellow slaves, not as authoritative positions as "masters over others faith" as the former Jewish system had. With this in mind it comes to show that anyone or any group that deviates from this teaching by infringing on the equal brotherhood is not in line with the spirit of true Christianity, falling under the term of "lawlessness." (Matt 23:7-10; 20:25-28; Galatians 5)

In the letter to the Hebrews we read:

"Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you." Hebrews 13:17

In 1 Peter those older ones in The Way are told to take the oversight of the flock of God, not by being forced to do so and "not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock." They younger are then told to submit themselves to this gentle oversight by the elders, and all are caught up together as a community of mutual servants in mutual submission.

"All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."1 Peter 5:5

Paul also states:

"Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." Ephesians 5:2

Dallard Willard comments:

"The order in the redemptive community here implied obviously not a matter of an iron hierarchy in which unwilling souls are crushed and driven. Instead, it functions in the power of truth and mercy inhabiting mature personalities, begin the expression of a kingdom not of this world (John 18:36)-truly a kingdom nonetheless. Otherwise the church would revert to the model of purely human government. Unfortunately, we see this actually happening in certain misguided attempts at Christian community. The Way of Jesus knows no submission outside the context of mutual submission of all to all." (5)

Richard J. Foster explains:

"Jesus never taught that everyone had equal authority. In fact, he had a great deal to say about genuine spiritual authority and taught that many did not possess it. But the authority of which Jesus spoke is not the authority of a "pecking order." We must clearly understand the radical nature of Jesus' teaching on this matter. He was not just reversing the "pecking order" as many suppose. He was abolishing it. The authority of which he spoke was not an authority to manipulate and control. It was an authority of function, not of status. (5a)

As Jesus washed the feet of His Apostles, explaining that the "greatest one is being the servant," He had shown that the Spiritual authority in us, as His followers, is an authority not found in a position or a title, but in a towel.

In a great deal of these positions we do truly well. But as earlier reviewed there are many areas where this idolatry goes far beyond these things, we may say we have no “titles” we are “servants” “brothers” but what do our actions prove. Being an elder is an official office. We are to not be won over, but put our faith in men even if we don’t understand or agree with what they tell us, even if it is not in scripture or its their opinion or interpretation.

Only when people speak in harmony with his authority they are speaking with authority, when they don’t as the apostle Paul said even in scripture,(which is for our benefit) it is their opinion.

Opinions are many times valuable but they are just that, never are we to enforce as law or rules our own interpretations or opinions of scripture. Doing such we can end up becoming as the pharasees were in that they made up a huge body of law, oh it was based on scripture but they exercised their own authority an authority of position and rank, and not true authority.

Our Tendency to Avoid Responsibility

There are many times we feel very close to God and the desire to think of him all day long, to breath the air he gives us and serve him whole heartedly. However, this is usually not the way in most cases, as Richard J. Foster brings out:

"But those who mediate know that the more frequent reaction is spiritual inertia, a coldness and lack of desire. Human beings seem to have a perpetual tendency to have somebody else talk to God for them. We are content to have the message second hand. One of Israel's fatal mistakes was their insistence upon having a human king rather than resting in the theocratic rule of God over them. We can detect a note of sadness in the word of the Lord, "They have rejected me from being king over them" (1 Samuel 8:7). the history of religion is the story of an almost desperate scramble to have a king, a mediator, a priest , a pastor, a go-between. In this way we do not need to go to God ourselves. Such an approach saves us from the need to change, for to be in the presence of God is to change. WE do not need to observe Western culture very closely to realize that is is captivated by the religion of the mediator.

That is why mediation is so threatening to us. It boldly calls us to enter into the living presence of God for our selves. It tells us that God is speaking in the continuous present and wants to address us. Jesus and the New Testament writers clearly state that this is not just for the religious professionals-the priests-but for everyone. All who acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord are the universal priesthood of God and as such can enter the Holy of Holies and converse with the living God." (5b)

This freedom of self to rely directly on God, is frightening for many. It requires both self-examination and responsibility. Responsibility to accept the outcome of our decisions with no one lean back on, no one to blame for our failure to be transformed into peaceful, compassionate persons in imitation of Christ, while we look the other way at our self-examination. Thirty year investment advisor and Libertarian Party candidate for United States Presidency, Harry Browne describes freedom as this:

"Freedom is responsibility. When you're free, you're automatically responsible for your own future. Freedom will show you why you must recognize the consequences of your own acts — why you must take responsibility for whatever situation you're in today — why you shouldn't blame others for what you don't like about your life — why you must make your own decisions so you can be responsible for your own future — and how to do that without the bad consequences you might be afraid of." (5c)

A Body of Governors

Today we have the Governing Body. By definition, a governing body is a body or group of people that governs. To govern means 1. To guide: control. 2. To direct or manage the public policy and affairs of: rule. 3. To regulate: determine. 4. To restrain. (Webster's II New Riverside Dictionary) Was there a body of governors in the Christian congregation in the first century? Concerning Governors in Bible times Insight on the Scriptures says,

it-1 p. 992 Governor "Governors in Bible times generally had military and judicial powers and were responsible to see that the tribute, tax, or revenue to the king or superior ruler was paid by the jurisdictional districts or provinces that the governors ruled. (Lu 2:1, 2) Many of them put a heavy load on the people to supply food for themselves and their large body of attendants.—Ne 5:15-18.

"Practically all the major powers of Bible times are spoken of as having rulers of the order of governors, either as local native rulers or as governors controlling occupied territories.

"Under Roman rule, Judea was an imperial province; the governors there were directly responsible to the emperor for their actions. Pilate was the fifth of the line of governors of Judea. . . These Roman governors had the power to order capital punishment, as we see in the case of Jesus, who was judged by Pilate.—Mt 27:11-14; Joh 19:10.

"Governors of the nations in general were referred to by Jesus when he told his followers that they would be brought before such men to give a witness. Christians should not fear such rulers, though powerful, nor be worried about what to say when giving testimony before them. (Mt 10:18-20, 26) All such governors are part of the superior authorities to which Christians owe relative, not total, subjection. . . However, in contrast with the apostles, who rendered respect and honor first to Jehovah, who governs all, the nation of Israel sank to the point where they accorded earthly governors more respect than they gave Jehovah. This circumstance was used by Jehovah in strong reproof to the nation through his prophet Malachi.—Mal 1:6-8; see SUPERIOR AUTHORITIES."

There is no mention of a body of governors in the Christian congregation. Is it not apparent from the above, that governing was the way of the nations? And is this not what Jesus told his disciples not to imitate? If Jehovah "strongly reproved" the nation of Israel through his prophet Malachi because of "according earthly governors more respect" than him, will he not do likewise with us? If we put as much, or perhaps even more, emphasis on what our body of governors teaches than what the Bible teaches, are we not according our earthly governors more respect then Jehovah? But many will argue, "We don't do that!" — Don't we? "Our teachings are solidly based on the scriptures." — Are they? Have we not accepted the body of governors lording it over their fellow brothers in defiance of what Jesus commanded? Please consider, with your Bible in hand, the points I am making in my articles and see whom we really accord more respect, Jehovah or the self-proclaimed "faithful and discreet slave."

I am not speaking against the brothers as I have said they have brought much good to us, but these things need to be addressed ,because they are bringing much halter to the spiritual progression of many, taking what rightly belongs only to God and his Christ and it is unscriptural and hypocritical, we criticize the Priests for such titles as reverend and revered one but pronounce ones faithful an discreet. Contrast this with Paul’s words.

(1 Corinthians 4:1-5) . . .Let a man so appraise us as being subordinates of Christ and stewards of sacred secrets of God. 2 Besides, in this case, what is looked for in stewards is for a man to be found faithful. 3 Now to me it is a very trivial matter that I should be examined by YOU or by a human tribunal. Even I do not examine myself. 4 For I am not conscious of anything against myself. Yet by this I am not proved righteous, but he that examines me is Jehovah. 5 Hence do not judge anything before the due time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring the secret things of darkness to light and make the counsels of the hearts manifest, and then each one will have his praise come to him from God.

The word steward here is the same word translated slave in the parallel accounts of Jesus words who really is the faithful slave, the discreet one.

Paul said he would not care if he was judged this by men and he wouldn’t even judge himself faithful, but would wait for Christ to do such.

That pretty much sums that whole issue.

Was There a Governing Body in the First Century?

In the first century the apostles and older men did not exercise control over congregations outside their area. Once, when a problem arose concerning the circumcision issue, it was dealt with by the mature elders and apostles in Jerusalem where the problem arose and the decision was relayed to all affected congregations. (Acts 15:1,2) We could compare it to how things are done among Jehovah's witnesses on a local level. Each congregation has its body of elders, who are supposed to have scriptural qualifications. (Number of hours in preaching is not a scriptural qualification. Titus 1:5-9) The elders are there to feed and shepherd the members of their congregation. When a problem arises the elders in their own congregation deal with it. If the problem affects congregations in the surrounding area then mature brothers of the affected congregations will get involved, sometimes on a circuit or even district level. The elders should be qualified to handle the situation or they would not scripturally qualify to be elders in the first place. In this way they are all led by holy spirit. There should be no need to ask brothers from some head office for permission or instructions as if such ones have special qualifications. All elders are equal before Jehovah and all will be equally held accountable for the carrying out of the responsibility they willingly accepted. (1 Corinthians 2:12,13; James 3:1)

Please consider: when Jesus wrote the seven letters to the seven congregations in the book of Revelation, if there was a governing body at that time, why did he bypass them and deal directly with each elder (star, angel) in his congregation (lampstand)? (Revelation 1:20-3:22) If a governing body had been put in place by holy spirit should not that body of governors have been called to account by the Master as to the situation in the various congregations, since, as we understand it today, they would be the ones having authority over every aspect of the congregations, including the appointment of elders? Would they be given authority over God's household and yet not be acknowledged and held accountable?

The twelve apostles have the distinction of being the "twelve foundation stones" of the New Jerusalem. (Revelation 21:14) They are the ones chosen by Jehovah through whom Jesus directed the congregations. But, by way of example, they were also told by their Master not to imitate the nations in lording it over their brothers. At the end of the first century only the apostle John was still alive. By that time many had presented themselves with the claim of having apostolic authority. In his first letter to the congregation in Ephesus, Jesus addressed that problem and commended them for "[weeding] out apostolic pretenders." (Revelation 2:2) These craved the recognition and authority of the apostles, and they are likened to Satan himself. (2 Corinthians 11:5,12-14) They had no respect for their fellow believers, even wanting to disfellowship ones who disagreed with them. Why, even the aged apostle John became the target of such ones. (2 Corinthians 11:26; 12:11; Galations 2:4; 3 John 9,10)

The apostle Paul foretold that "oppressive wolves will enter in among YOU and will not treat the flock with tenderness, and from among YOU yourselves men will rise and speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves." (Acts 20:29,30) This situation would especially develop in the "last days" when this wicked slave's presence would become apparent. It would be during the time just before his master's sudden and unexpected arrival.

The apostle Peter counseled shepherds of God's flock, "Shepherd the flock of God in YOUR care, not under compulsion, but willingly; neither for love of dishonest gain, but eagerly; neither as lording it over those who are God’s inheritance, but becoming examples to the flock. And when the chief shepherd has been made manifest, YOU will receive the unfadable crown of glory." ―1 Peter 5:2-4.

Those elders, of whom it could be said that they were "appointed by holy spirit," did not "lord it over" the sheep, the ones who are God's inheritance. (Acts 20:28)

Our body of governors have justified their lording it over their fellow slaves by their unique interpretations of the scriptures and going beyond the things written. They have done this by claiming that
. Jesus inspected them in 1918-19 and found them faithful and thus appointed them over all his belongings. Therefore, they insist to have the right to govern, or rule, before actually sitting on their heavenly thrones.
. Also, they claim to have special status with God in connection with the New Covenant, which they say includes only them. In this they have also made Jesus the mediator of only themselves. Thus, they have legitimized what they were commanded not to do, claiming the words of Jesus and Peter no longer apply to them. Rather than "lording it over" their fellow slaves they ought to be "examples to the flock," because "all you are brothers." They have started ruling ahead of their time.
(compare 1 Corinthians 4:6,8)

Over the decades, since the early twenties, this was not really an issue. But when 1975 did not bring about the anticipated end of this system as they had predicted, their authority began to be seriously questioned. By that time they had in subjection over two million worshipers. (Which has grown to over six million today.) Fearful of losing authority over such a great crowd, a number of those highly placed in the organization began to flex their muscles, so to speak, to keep their flock in subjection. Many articles on apostasy began to appear in the publications and questioning the authority of "the faithful and discreet" slave became intolerable. The evil slave, the "man of lawlessness," was starting to make his presence felt. Jehovah has seen good to allow him time to become fully exposed, so that when the master arrives at an hour we "do not think to be it," we will all understand that the judgment upon him is fully deserved. Therefore, we can expect the situation in God's household to go from bad to worse, until the unexpected arrival of the master. (2 Thessalonians 2:3,8-12)

There are those who believe that since Jehovah has allowed all these things to take place such as it has, he must be in agreement with it. But our God has always been patient. He put up with the sins of his people Israel for a very long time. Like them, because of seeming lack of action on his part, so far, we are in danger of becoming fully set in our wayward course. "Because sentence against a bad work has not been executed speedily, that is why the heart of the sons of men has become fully set in them to do bad." ―Ecclesiastes 8:11.

Let us find comfort in what Ecclesiastes goes on to say,
12 But even though a person sins a hundred times and still lives a long time, I know that those who fear God will be better off. 13 The wicked will never live long, good lives, for they do not fear God. Their days will never grow long like the evening shadows.
14 And this is not all that is meaningless in our world. In this life, good people are often treated as though they were wicked, and wicked people are often treated as though they were good. This is so meaningless!
―Ecclesiastes 8:12-14, New Living Translation.

The Problems More Closely Examined

To whom is our loyalty directed?

Once again while we appreciate the fine work of the brothers who have taken the lead and all the counsel they offer us in the form of literature, talks, and shepherding, and we trust that they will continue to do this, we are greatly disturbed that absolute power over the spiritual condition of many is invested in the hands of a few, and that the leadership of the organization claims to be God's sole channel of communication between himself and humanity, and that there is no salvation apart from and outside of this organization. The portrayal of the organization in our literature has led to idolatry of a very serious type.

Currently we teach that Jehovah's Witnesses are the only ones who will be saved in the coming great tribulation. We now must ask if our leadership can properly claim that they are the ones who speak for God. According to this, truth does not arise from within and among the ranks of the people of the one true religion, as it did in ancient Israel and the early Christian congregation, but only from a handful of men who have reached the top level of administration. It is asserted that we may only go to them for the answers to life's questions and for correct biblical understanding, and that their authority should not be questioned by the general membership. (contrary to what Jehovah himself allows of himself)

The Governing Body (“Faithful slave”) may claim that it is the only vehicle through which people may gain an approved relationship with God and attain salvation, that Jesus uses an organized system of human leadership as a mediating entity between himself and humans, and that this system is a standing body of older men, who receive divine information directly from God and Christ and decide how humans are to behave and what they are to believe in a spiritual sense.

We though, should expect any and all such proofs to come from the Bible, and since these are important points, we should expect the Bible to be very clear about them. If this is not the case, if the leadership of the organization sets itself up as a master over other people's faith, then it is violating Scripture, mistreating God's sheep and should be held accountable.

According to the organizations current understanding, "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" (Worldwide Security Under the "Prince of Peace" [1986] p.11). (This view is also stated in *** w79 4/1 p. 31 Questions From Readers ***)

Most of these 144,000 are believed to be in heaven. The remaining members of spiritual Israel as a group on earth at any given time, in turn, pass on "spiritual food" to the rest of humanity. They are the go-between. It is the responsibility of every person to submit to this group and serve God under its supervision.

They in effect become a second mediator, contrary to scripture you can explain this away all you want but the scriptures advise

“if we or an angel out of heaven were to declare to you as good news something beyond what we

declared to you as good news, let him be accursed. As we have said above, I also now say again, Whoever it

is that is declaring to you as good news something beyond what you accepted, let him be accursed.”(Galatians

1:8, 9 New World Translation.)

An integral part of that good news is this (1 Timothy 2:4-5) . . .. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus. . .

Not between God and the anointed or one mediator of the new covenant but one mediator between God and man, that is an integral part of the good news and something which should not be deviated from.

Ignoring this fact has lead to many vile things within Christendom and has lead to many blasphemies and acts of Idolatry among them. Among Gods people it is used to establish the current idolatry and lack of questioning among those over God's people. It is one of the essential teachings of the organization.

The scripture at Matthew 24:45-47 talks about a faithful and discreet slave who, because of his good service, is appointed over all of Jesus’ belongings. The Watchtower has identified Jesus’ belongings as “all the spiritual things that belong to Him here on earth” (Wt 3/1/04 p. 12). The slave is identified as the spiritual nation of anointed Jehovah’s Witnesses, the remaining ones of the Israel of God (Wt 3/1/04, p. 10), which amounts to about 8,000 persons within a religion that now numbers over 6 million.

"[Jesus] entrusted "all his belongings" on earth (earthly interests of his Kingdom) to faithful anointed Christians. These ones Jesus called a "faithful and discreet slave." (Matthew 24:45-47) Their reward is someday to share heavenly rule with Christ as "priests" and "kings" in his kingdom. (Revelation 14:1, 4; 20:6) Today, a remnant of this ‘faithful slave’ is still alive on earth. Their duties include receiving and passing on to all of Jehovah’s earthly servants spiritual food at the proper time. They occupy a position similar to that of Paul and his co-laborers when that apostle said of the wonderful truths God gives to his people: 'It is to us God has revealed them through his spirit.' (1 Corinthians 2:9, 10)" (w82 6/1 p. 17)

The question is: How do we arrive at such an understanding from Matthew 24:45-47? We are taught that the scripture was fulfilled in the early 20th century, when Jesus came to inspect his spiritual household, that is, the spiritual descendants of the original "slave class" that he commissioned in the first century. At that time, he saw that only the Bible Students were performing their duties as the Master Jesus wanted. This is how Jesus recognized them as his faithful slave. A recent discussion of the faithful and discreet slave in the Watchtower tells us:

“This group could be identified clearly because of the fine fruitage it was producing.” (Watchtower, 3/1/04, p. 11)

Although there is mention of the slave being "faithful," and this might suggest to some that the overall behavior of the slave was the criterion Jesus used to distinguish him from others, the scripture makes clear that the faithfulness and discretion are connected with the slave's dispensing of spiritual food.

It would be a mistake to focus merely on the general behavior (fruitage) of the slave in order to identify it. We can identify the slave by the food it dispenses. It would also be a mistake to assume that the mere dispensing of food, any food, is the distinguishing mark of the slave, or that the quantity of the food is of importance here. The emphasis here is on quality and timeliness.

We I looked into this I would no doubt argued that only anointed Witnesses were dispensing quality (true) spiritual food at that time through the literature put out by the brothers at that time. The rest of the Christian religions were not doing this.

Well, how do we know that the Watchtower leaders were the only ones dispensing true spiritual food at the time?

Ironically, if we really look at what we were preaching back then, we would be surprised at how many untrue messages we were actually delivering. These messages were not, as some might say, minor details or side points in the overall message.

These untrue assertions were central to our message. They were what made the Bible Students different, unique. There were other religions that talked about God's kingdom coming to earth and that didn't accept the Trinity and hellfire doctrines that were taught by other Christian faiths. The "good news" preached by the Bible Students that made them truly distinct from other religions was as follows:

1. That the "last days" or "time of the end" began in 1799.

2. That in 1874 Jesus Christ's invisible presence on earth began.

3. That Babylon the Great ("false religion") fell in 1878 and would be destroyed in 1914.

3. That Christ would destroy all human governments and bring his kingdom to earth in 1914.

In 1917, this message was slightly revised. Babylon would fall in 1918 and Christ would destroy all human governments and bring his kingdom in 1920. Most of what they were saying was not true and is no longer accepted as truth( I have copies of these articles). But in our present publication these facts are deliberately downplayed and what is picked out is what we did get right (for example, that 1914 was "a marked year"). Yet we say that the other religions of this time could not have been the faithful slave because they were preaching things that weren't true.

No matter how one looks at it, there is a fatal inconsistency here. Either truth distinguished false religion from true religion at this time, or it did not. If it did, then the Bible Students fare no better (perhaps worse) than other religious groups. If it did not, then the organization can make no claim on the "faithful and discreet slave" title.

Jesus actually identifies the sort of food a faithful slave would provide. He told his disciples, “Work not for the food that perishes, but for the food that remains for life everlasting, which the Son of man will give you” (John 6:27). The food is something that Jesus gave to his disciples. No doubt he is referring to what he taught during his earthly ministry. So the faithful and discreet slave would be responsible for passing down the teachings of Jesus. It therefore would be wrong to identify this food as something beyond what Jesus said. For clarification, his disciples asked, “What shall we do to work the works of God?” (6:28). And here was Jesus’ answer: “This is the work of God, that you exercise faith in him whom that One sent forth” (John 6:19). This is, of course, the responsibility of any true slave of God—to exercise faith in Jesus. It is interesting what Jesus does NOT include in this statement. There’s nothing here about proclaiming dates for his arrival (something we did many times). In fact, he later told them, “It does not belong to you to get knowledge of the times or seasons which the Father has placed in his jurisdiction” (Acts 1:7). Surely food that includes predictions that don't come true may be classified as "food that perishes." In fact, ANY teaching that doesn't last is food that perishes. It is only the food that REMAINS that is the proper food. So if a slave of God serves up perishable food at the table, he is neither faithful nor discreet.

Have you ever read the Watchtower literature from this early period? Do you know why it is not available for use on the Watchtower CD-Rom? Do you know why it is quoted rarely and only selectively in our current literature? It is because most of it is not in conformity with the present teachings of the organization. In other words, the information it provided was in error. The food it dispensed has perished. Indeed, if you accepted the information it contains as truth, you would be considered an apostate by the organization.

What’s interesting about the faithful and discreet slave teaching is that we are taught only Matthew 24:45-47 as a basis for responsibility (authority) over God’s people much the same way as the Catholic Church uses Matthew 16:18.

This crucial passage appears right after a prophecy about Jesus’ coming at the end of the system to judge the people of earth (24:29-44). When Jesus talks suddenly about the faithful slave, he gives no indication that he is “backing up” in prophetic time to talk about something that happens earlier.

There are strong indications that the prophecy at Matt. 24:45-51 belongs with the prophecy that comes immediately before it. The parallel version in Luke 12:42-48 confirms this. Here Jesus speaks of the faithful steward in answer to a question Peter asks about something Jesus has just said in connection with his coming at the final judgment (12:35-40). Look very closely at Luke 12:39-40, and then at Matthew 24:43-44. They are the same. Jesus’ words about the faithful steward come next, and the Luke version shows beyond doubt (through Peter’s question) that the appointment of the slave over Christ’s belongings comes when Luke 12:39-40 are fulfilled, that is, when the Son of Man comes at the end of the system.

Matthew 24:44-47

Luke 12:40-44

“Prove yourselves ready, because at an hour that you do not think to be it, the Son of man is coming.

“Who really is the faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his domestics to give them their food at the proper time? Happy is that slave if his master on arriving finds him doing so. Truly I say to you, He will appoint him over all his belongings.”

“Keep ready, because at an hour that you do not think likely, the Son of man is coming.”

Then Peter said: “Lord, are you saying this illustration to us or also to all?” And the Lord said: “Who really is the faithful steward, the discreet one, whom his master will appoint over his body of attendants to keep giving them their measure of food supplies at the proper time? Happy is that slave if his master on arriving finds him doing so. I tell you truthfully, He will appoint him over all his belongings.”

There is no room for interpretation when it comes to the timing of this event. The Bible speaks for itself. The slave is rewarded when Jesus comes at "the great tribulation."

A recent Watchtower article argues against this interpretation, saying, "It would not be reasonable to say, for example, that the rewarding of the faithful slave...will take place when Jesus 'comes' at the great tribulation. That would imply that many of the anointed will be found unfaithful at that time and will thus have to be replaced. However, Revelation 7:3 indicates that all of Christ's anointed slaves will have been permanently 'sealed' by that time" (Wt 3/1/04, p. 16). In other words, it is clear from Matt. 24:45-51 and Luke 12:42-48 that, when the faithful slave is appointed, there are also some slaves who prove unfaithful and are punished. Therefore, the final sealing of the anointed could not take place until after the unfaithful slaves are disciplined and the faithful slave is rewarded, and since the sealing takes place during the great tribulation, the rewarding of the faithful and discreet slave must take place before the great tribulation.

The account in Revelation does indeed say that the "winds" of destruction are held back until the sealing of the anointed is complete. However, the release of the winds is clearly the climax of the tribulation and end of it. So the sealing of the anointed does not have to take place until then, and Matthew 24:31 suggests that this is, in fact, the case (note that the tribulation has already started in v. 21). Since the sealing does not occur until the end of the tribulation, it is possible that that some of the anointed will be found unfaithful in an earlier stage of the great tribulation. Matthew 24:23-28 say there will be "false Christ’s" during the tribulation, who would mislead, if possible, "even the chosen ones," i.e., the anointed. The fact that the Bible speaks of the anointed possibly being misled during the tribulation clearly shows that they could not have been sealed yet. A sealing would guarantee their being saved, and so no warning would be necessary, and it would be impossible for them to be misled. Therefore, the judgment of the slaves would have to take place during the great tribulation, rather than before it.

The Watchtower quoted above also argues that if God found some anointed ones unfaithful during the great tribulation, he would have no one to replace them. Yet we know that, according to the organization’s own interpretation of Scripture, an innumerable great crowd will also be there, a host of people who have proved themselves faithful too. Any of these could easily fit the shoes of any anointed ones who have not remained faithful until the very end.

We as Gods people should never try to make the Scriptures fit a preconceived idea. If they say that judgment does not take place until the end, then we should believe it. Now what does this mean in the case of the faithful slave? It means that Jesus has not yet appointed anyone over all of his belongings. He’ll do that after the judgment during the tribulation.

Even if though we may indeed be identified as faithful dispensing food right now, no one has jurisdiction over all of Christ’s belongings yet. This takes place during the thousand year reign with Christ.

There are even greater issues with this. We are taught that,

“All who want to understand the Bible should appreciate that the ‘greatly diversified wisdom of God’ can become known only through Jehovah's channel of communication, the faithful and discreet slave.” (Watchtower; Oct. 1, 1994; p. 8).

“We all need help to understand the Bible, and we cannot find the scriptural guidance we need outside the ‘faithful and discreet slave’ organization.” (Watchtower, February 15, 1981, p.19).

“Thus the Bible is an organizational book and belongs to the Christian congregation as an organization, not to individuals, regardless of how sincerely they may believe that they can interpret the Bible. For this reason the Bible cannot be properly understood without Jehovah's visible organization in mind.” (Watchtower Oct. 1, 1967, p. 587).

"Jehovah God caused the Bible to be written in such a way that one needs to come in touch with His human channel before one can fully and accurately understand it. True, we need the help of God's holy spirit, but its help also comes to us primarily by association with the channel Jehovah God sees fit to use." (Watchtower 2/15/81 p.17).

(No scriptures to back this up mind you the stating of the spirit which does have endless scriptures to back is pushed to second place)

Unless we are in touch with this channel of communication that God is using, we will not progress along the road to life, no matter how much Bible reading we do." (Watchtower; December 1, 1981, p. 27)

These strong statements demand strong evidence.

An interesting fact is that, although the entire "faithful and discreet slave" is said to be responsible for "receiving and passing on" spiritual food to God's servants, nothing of the sort actually happens. The Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses has designated itself as the representative of the "slave" and claims to speak on its behalf.

They claim that "in the first century, a group of anointed Christians from among the faithful and discreet slave class were chosen as its representatives" (Organized to Do Jehovah's Will [2005] p. 17). We know of no scripture or historical record that says such a thing. When? By whom? Furthermore, although the Governing Body claims to be the "slave's" spokesperson, it does not, and has never, consulted with the rest of the "slave" (the 8,000 or so anointed ones) to get clarification or understanding about spiritual matters, nor did it consult with the "slave" when it appointed itself as its spokesperson. The "slave" itself is merely a figurehead ,A title, a Façade to hide behind, with no voice of authority. The Governing Body is its voice through a sort of spiritual ventriloquism. Indeed, individual anointed ones are expected to comply with the rules that the leadership lays out just as much as any other member of the great crowd, if an anointed brother were to as the apostle Paul did with Peter, (Galatians 2:14) openly opposing or presenting even in a kind and gentle way any of the information here presented to the governing body he would be looked down upon as a false anointed, and removed as an apostate.

In effect, therefore, all of us are under the authority of a select few men, who appoint their own members and who operate as the only channel through which God and Jesus communicate with their people.

The Bible says that there is “one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5). A mediator is somebody who acts as an ambassador, a channel of communication between two parties.

By claiming to be such a channel, the brothers are usurping some of Christ’s role. They are careful not to call themselves a mediator and are disguised behind the designation "faithful and discreet slave," but their job description is the same as that of a mediator. Instead of the spiritual direction going from God to Jesus to humans, they are claiming it goes from God to Jesus to "the faithful and discreet slave" (represented by the Governing Body) to humans.

"We should follow the instructions that the Head of the Christian congregation, Jesus Christ, gives through "the faithful and discreet slave," the appointed channel of God’s organization here on earth." (w90 10/1 p. 30)

"How vital it is for everyone in God’s family to submit loyally to the teachings and arrangements of the Great Theocrat, Jehovah, and his King-Son, Christ Jesus, as transmitted through the ‘faithful slave’ on earth! Since theocratic order begins with Jehovah himself and extends downward, never would we want to imitate Satan the Devil by becoming independent of theocratic rule." (w82 6/1 p. 17)

"Make haste to identify the visible theocratic organization of God that represents his king, Jesus Christ. It is essential for life. Doing so, be complete in accepting its every aspect. We cannot claim to love God, yet deny his Word and channel of communication." (w67 10/1 pp. 591-92)

“Obeying Jehovah’s voice means obeying Jesus’ voice, for Jehovah himself told us to do so. (Matthew 17:5) What does Jesus, the Fine Shepherd, tell us to do? He teaches us to make disciples and to trust ‘the faithful and discreet slave.’ (Matthew 24:45; 28:18-20) Obeying his voice means our eternal life.” (w04 9/1, pp. 17-18)

"By submitting to the slave class, God’s people also show their subjection to the Master, Jesus Christ." (w02 10/1 p. 19)

"This governing body is the administrative part of a 'faithful and discreet slave' or 'steward' class concerning which Jesus promised: 'His master . . . will appoint him over all his belongings.' (Matt. 24:45-47; Luke 12:42-44) So, recognition of that governing body and its place in God’s theocratic arrangement of things is necessary for submission to the headship of God’s Son." (w72 12/15 p. 755)

"The visible governing body of Jehovah’s organization has also been given authority by Him to direct the work of His worshipers on earth at this time. (Matt. 24:45-47) The congregation and its overseers show their proper view of authority by accepting willingly its counsel provided through the printed page, letters or its traveling representatives." (w72 5/1 p. 272)

Now, Jesus told us to do many things, but where does he say that we are to submit to the faithful and discreet slave? Granted, the faithful slave is portrayed by Jesus as a ‘good guy,’ but Jesus speaks about the slave as if his listeners personally have a chance to be the slave.

We could say that, all throughout history, God used human prophets as channels of communication. And they weren’t usurping Jesus’ position as mediator. And that’s true. But the difference here is that the organization insists that, in order to reach God, one must approach God through them. A person cannot reach God by going around the faithful and discreet slave. A person can’t get eternal life without connecting with God through the faithful and discreet slave.

There’s a big difference between that and what the prophets did. The prophets simply gave messages.

Somebody like Isaiah or Jeremiah never said that people were to approach God only through them and no one else. One didn’t have to be in the “prophets association” to be accepted by God. Indeed, if someone was on the ball, he could simply obey the Law, and the criticisms of the prophets wouldn’t even apply to him (because most of their messages were addressed to those breaking the Law).

God used the prophets and the early Christian apostles to get his message out. Jesus is the only one who said, and who had the right to say, "No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). By proclaiming God's messages, the prophets and the apostles functioned as God's spokespersons.

But God didn’t always use the same spokespersons, even at one time. And, like the various prophets, priests, judges, and kings of old time, the various early Christians had moments of inspiration. God picked somebody to communicate a message through. Then he picked somebody else, then somebody else.

A bit here, a bit there. And inspiration didn't need the approval of a body of men on earth. As Paul says, “When God, who separated me from my mother's womb and called me through his undeserved kindness, thought good to reveal his Son in connection with me, that I might declare the good news about him to the nations, I did not go at once into conference with flesh and blood. Neither did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles previous to me” (Gal 1:15-17). Compare also Luke 9:49-50. Since their understanding was imperfect, the early Christians didn’t always agree on everything, even Peter, Paul, James, etc., nor did they always hammer out all the doctrinal details in a group setting.

However, they did agree to work together, which is the important thing. Have you ever noticed that none of the letters that made it into the canon of the Christian Greek Scriptures comes from the “Governing Body”? They're all from individuals! And how many of those individuals were on the Governing Body? The Bible doesn't say. In fact, the Bible never speaks of a standing governing body. What does that say to us? God has channels, yes. But not one.

When Israel was God's favored nation, he used various channels within it, and now when it involves the whole world, he uses various channels too.

Instead of maintaining a humble stance before Jehovah, we exalt the organization to the level of on idol. It sees itself as a visible representation of God himself, as is seen in comments it makes:

"Would not a failure to respond to direction from God through his organization really indicate a rejection of divine rulership?" (w76 2/15)

"The slave’s will is Jehovah’s will. Rebellion against the slave is rebellion against God." (w56 6/1 p. 346)

"As Ezekiel did not raise up or appoint himself as a prophet, so God’s visible organization did not create or appoint itself. It did not spring from human will or effort. The divine Chariot Rider caused this organization to come into existence. Empowered by God’s spirit and backed by holy angels..." (w91 3/15 p. 14)

It is statements like these which lead to the apostasy and continue to perpetuate mass evil in the name of God, right now, all it does is harm our spiritual growth subvert the role of Christ as Mediator and take our worship from God to man. It leaves many disillusioned people in its wake. People who once leaving and realizing the extent to which these claims are unwarranted leave God completely and wander the earth with no hope.

When Jehovah himself says that before his glory is revealed that every lofty thing must become low, what are we to conclude as regards the future of the organization?

This would be a fitting final test as to whether our loyalty was in God, or in an earthly representation, or better phrased an idol.

What would happen to our faith if the Organization were to be exposed to public disgrace and even destroyed? How would each Witness respond if it becomes apparent that the Watchtower has misled us in some way? Will our faith in Jehovah be devastated? These are very real tests that when considering history, and bible prophecy, are very likely that they will lay ahead, for which the Watchtower has not specifically prepared us.

The tests that must inevitably confront us cannot be surmounted by our adhering to mere organizational policies, but only by an individual demonstration of each one's unbreakable faith in the saving power of Jehovah and Christ Jesus

Thankfully, there are many true Christians today who are faithfully and discreetly serving within the Master’s household. The domestics feeding from them appreciate the hard work in their behalf. As yet, those slaves have not been declared “faithful and discreet” by Christ nor appointed over “all his belongings.” Equally, the evil slaves await punishment from the Master. Meanwhile, it is important that those who feed from the slaves develop a discerning palate since both faithful and wicked slaves exist within the same household. Indeed, not all food is necessarily wholesome and nutritious. Just as one should take care to eat good physical food, a Christian must also learn the difference between good and bad spiritual food. The Bible counsels, “Make sure of all things; hold fast to what is fine.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21) Fine food is the true Christian’s staple. By making sure of what is fine, he or she can survive spiritually. At times, this may require an honest appraisal of the food to determine if there is any value in its eating. As the apostle John writes, “Beloved ones, do not believe every inspired expression, but test the inspired expressions to see whether they originate with God, because many false prophets have gone forth into the world.” (1 John 4:1)

“Keep Silent Before Jehovah and Wait Longingly for Him"
(Psalms 37:7)

We should make a distinction between questioning what men teach and what God teaches. "Do not put your trust in nobles, nor in the son of earthling man, to whom no salvation belongs." But, rather, "trust in Jehovah with all your heart and do not lean upon your own understanding. In all your ways take notice of him, and he himself will make your paths straight." ―Psalms 146:3; Proverbs 3:5,6.

Eventually we will all come face to face with the fact that not everything we have been taught was what it seemed. Many "strongly entrenched things" will then be overturned. Discarding some of our previous precious jewels of "truth" may be very difficult, especially if it means that we might be marked as apostates. Will our faith stand up under such a severe test? (2 Corinthians 10:4)

Jesus spoke of the coming "hour of test, which is to come upon the whole inhabited earth." (Revelation 3:10) This test will not be about how much physical pain we can endure, but rather our faith will be put to the extreme test. (Luke 18:8; 1 Peter 1:6,7) Because of the operation of this wicked slave among us, Jesus said, "it is unavoidable that causes for stumbling should come." (Luke 17:1) Yes, sadly, "many will be stumbled and betray one another." (Matthew 24:10) May we not stumble because things were not going according to our expectations.

Through the words of the apostle John, Jehovah is encouraging us all to "test the inspired expressions to see whether they originate with [him]." (1 John 4:1) That means that Jehovah expects us to compare what we are being taught with what his Word actually says. Doing so would be a safeguard to us. The Watchtower of March 1, 2004, on page 6, actually encourages us to do that. It reads:

"Like Timothy, true Christians today are keeping their senses by rejecting human reasoning and by accepting only Scriptural authority for their doctrinal beliefs."

That is good counsel. You would expect such fine advice to come from a "faithful" slave. Should we not listen to that? The first century congregations had loving, humble elders who genuinely cared for the sheep, shepherding God's flock with love and mildness, teaching them and being examples to them. All such shepherds were precious to Jehovah. And any such shepherds today will be blessed at the unexpected arrival of the Master.

The time is fast approaching "when the true worshipers will worship the Father with spirit and truth, for, indeed, the Father is looking for suchlike ones to worship him."
(John 4:23) If we truly are lovers of truth and are to stand firm in our faith we will have to look solely to God for salvation by sticking to his word of truth. (John 17:17) "Look! God is my salvation. I shall trust and be in no dread; for Jah Jehovah is my strength and [my] might, and he came to be the salvation of me." ―Isaiah 12:2.

(One view of that future time of testing is this

Unfortunately, idolatry is still very much prevalent among Jehovah's people up to the present time. However, Jehovah has foretold in Scripture how he intends to cure the age-old problem of idolatry once and for all.

Isaiah, the 48th chapter, explains that Jehovah has concealed a considerable body of Scriptural truth from his spiritual nation until a future time. Isaiah 48:6-7 speaks to us at a future time when God reveals, as if from a time capsule, what he has kept on reserve up until then. It reads: "You have heard. Behold it all. As for you people, will you not tell it? I have made you hear new things from the present time, even things kept in reserve, that you have not known. At the present time they must be created, and not from that time, even things that before today you have not heard, that you may not say, 'Look! I have already known them.'"

What purpose could possibly be served by Jehovah's concealing matters from his servants? The 5th verse explains that it is in order "that you might not say, 'My own idol has done them, and my own carved image and my own molten image have commanded them."'

Since it can be reasoned that the above judgments of Isaiah have not occurred yet, for they come during the time of Jehovah's anger when His servants are thrown into the smelting furnace of affliction, the idol that Jehovah makes reference to must be the Watchtower Society. Since the Watchtower presumes to reveal all of God's truth to Jehovah's household, that's why God has seen fit to withhold vital revelations. During the period of distress and affliction, Jehovah then becomes God and King in the fullest sense by repurchasing his humiliated servants and revealing the things held in reserve directly to them.

That Jehovah withholds light from his people in order to discredit our idol is evident from the 11th verse, which goes on to say: "For my own sake, for my own sake shall I act, for how could one let oneself be profaned? And to no one else shall I give my own glory.)

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