(Continued from page 68)
Jesus' Position in Heaven
Page 5 continued - Awake! April 22, 2005
THE ANSWER: SCRIPTURE SHOWS THAT THE TRINITY ALL TOOK PART IN THE RESURRECTION
WBTS statement: A few hours after this prayer, Jesus was executed. But he was not dead for long - only from Friday afternoon till Sunday morning. (Matthew 27:57 - 28:6) "This Jesus God resurrected," the apostle Peter reports, "of which fact we are all witnesses." (Acts 2:31, 32) Could Jesus have resurrected himself? No, according to the Bible, the dead "are conscious of nothing at all." (Ecclesiastes 9:5) "The only true God," Jesus' heavenly Father, resurrected his Son. - Acts 2:32; 10:40.
[Orthodox Christian Reply: The WBTS asks: 'Could Jesus have resurrected himself?'
The Father raised up the Son from the dead as testified in Acts 2:24: 'Whom God raised up.'
But, in John 2v19-21, Jesus said:
'Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up .... but He spake of the temple of His body'...
and in John 10v17-18 He said:
'I lay down my life that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from me, but I lay it down on my own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from my Father.'
So Jesus raised himself (the same temple - the same body!) from the dead (cf. John 2v19-21), 'Jehovah' the Father raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 10v9 and 1 Corinthians 15v15), and the Holy Spirit (Romans 8v11; 1 Peter 3:18) raised Jesus from the dead.
The 'Trinity' raised Jesus from the dead - so, once again, the WBTS are shown to be wrong!
How do they try and explain away this fact? - read the next section:
Page 5 continued - Awake! April 22, 2005
WBTS statement: No, according to the Bible, the dead "are conscious of nothing at all." (Ecclesiastes 9:5) "The only true God," Jesus' heavenly Father, resurrected his Son. - Acts 2:32; 10:40.
[Orthodox Christian Reply: As usual, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society mis-interpret Scripture and this leads to a false view of life after-death.
First look at Psalm 146:3-4:
Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no help. When his breath departs he returns to his earth; on that very day his plans perish. (RSV)
In the King James Version, verse 4 ends with the expression "in that very day his thoughts perish," and the Watchtower's New World Translation similarly says, "In that day his thoughts do perish." The WBTS argue that there is no conscious existence after death--man's "thoughts" have perished, they claim. However, is that the message that the writer of Psalm 146 meant to get across? Were those verses penned to instruct readers about the condition of the dead? Or does the WBTS read into these words an idea beyond what the inspired writer had in mind?
The lesson of Psalm 146 is that we should put our trust in God rather than in human leaders. Read the other verses to establish the real context. God is to be praised (v1-2). In contrast to man, God is a Helper who gives secure hope (v5), who created heaven and earth (v6), who brings justice for the oppressed (v7), who heals the sick (v8), who cares about the lowly ones (v9), and who is King forever (v10). Man, on the other hand, offers no real salvation (v3), because he himself dies and everything he intended to do dies with him (v4).
When a man dies "all his thoughts ... perish" - when he is gone, his plans and programs go with him. People who put all their trust in man are disappointed. Their primary trust should be in God, who offers real hope, justice, healing, and salvation - and who remains King forever.
When all of Psalm 146 is read in context, it becomes obvious that verse 4 does not deny conscious life after death. Jehovah's Witnesses are trained to misuse the verse and take it out of context.
Ecclesiastes 9:5 reads:
For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward; but the memory of them is lost. (RSV)
This verse is used by the WBTS to try and argue that death bring annihilation - total non-existence. To support the point even more conclusively, the NWT reads:
"For the living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all … " (NWT).
This is another case of taking a passage out of context. The Bible does not just give God's viewpoint on matters, but also relates many things said and done by others, some good and some that are not so good, or even evil. It presents human viewpoints and even the devil's viewpoint (e.g. Job 2). The inspired writer of Ecclesiastes is presenting a contrast of viewpoints: the secular, materialistic viewpoint versus the godly, spiritual view. The writer debates the human viewpoint of things done 'under the sun' - a phrase that occurs 29 times in the book and proves that this is not the viewpoint of God but is simply emphasising that earthly activities cannot be continued when this life is over! The godly viewpoint triumphs in the end as can be proven by reading Ecclesiastes 12 and the admonition to:
"Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth.… Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man" (v1, 13, KING JAMES VERSION).
The first ten verses of Ecclesiastes 9 appear to reflect the secular side of the struggle. Not only does the writer say in verse 5 that the dead know nothing, but he also adds that "they have no more for ever any share in all that is done under the sun" (v6, RSV, italics added). Even the WBTS do not believe that the dead are gone forever for they teach a future resurrection to this earth under the sun. Verse 2 (RSV) expresses the thought that "one fate comes to all, to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the evil," an idea contradictory to all the rest of Scripture. The teachings of the WBTS do not cause Jehovah's Witnesses to believe that they will receive the same fate, whether they are righteous or wicked, do they? Verse 5 is located in the midst of a section that is clearly expressing the faithless, secular viewpoint - not God's.
As usual, with WBTS deception, all we have to do to refute their viewpoint is read all of the verses or the very book from which they cull a verse or two to try and wrest into their doctrinal stance. Read Ecclesiastes 12:1-8 (NASB-U):
[12:1] Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, "I have no delight in them";  before the sun and the light, the moon and the stars are darkened, and clouds return after the rain;  in the day that the watchmen of the house tremble, and mighty men stoop, the grinding ones stand idle because they are few, and those who look through windows grow dim;  and the doors on the street are shut as the sound of the grinding mill is low, and one will arise at the sound of the bird, and all the daughters of song will sing softly.  Furthermore, men are afraid of a high place and of terrors on the road; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags himself along, and the caperberry is ineffective. For man goes to his eternal home while mourners go about in the street.  Before the silver cord is broken and the golden bowl is crushed, the pitcher by the well is shattered and the wheel at the cistern is crushed;  then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.  "Vanity of vanities," says the Preacher, "all is vanity!"
Verse 1 warns us to remember our 'Creator in the days of [y]our youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, "I have no delight in them". The first five and a half verses deal with different facets of life on this earth continuing - but concludes that 'man goes to his eternal home' while 'mourners go about in the street.' This is a simple comparison of the destination of men when they die - and the mourning by those who are left behind. Before all the possessions that the man may have had turn to ruin ('the silver cord is broken and the golden bowl is crushed, the pitcher by the well is shattered and the wheel at the cistern is crushed') and before his body has decayed ('the dust will return to the earth as it was') we learn that 'the spirit will return to God who gave it'! Where did our spirit come from? Genesis 2:7 (NASB-U) tells us:
Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
So the overall view of the Book of Ecclesiastes does not agree with the WBTS view that we die and go into non-existence. Even this book, full of man's viewpoint 'under the sun', tells us that our bodies return to dust but our spirits return to God! And this is the fate of all of us - not a select 144,000.
Scripture reveals many more references indicating the true fate of man, e.g. (Revelation 6:9-11, NWT):
And when he opened the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those slaughtered because of the word of God and because of the witness work that they used to have. And they cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Until when, Sovereign Lord holy and true, are you refraining from judging and avenging our blood upon those who dwell on the earth?" And a white robe was given to each of them; and they were told to rest a little while longer, until the number was filled also of their fellow slaves and their brothers who were about to be killed as they also had been.
Despite the twisting of Scripture by the WBTS, these verses clearly show the faithful souls underneath the altar in heaven waiting for God to complete His work of bringing faithful believers to heaven from earth. These souls had been killed, but they are depicted as being in God's presence and engaging in conversation with him. There are more Scriptures revealing the same truth:
I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account (Philippians 1:23-24, RSV).
If believers went into 'non-existence' at death, how could Paul say it would be 'far better' to 'depart and be with Christ'? If he was to be 'annihilated' he would not be with Christ, would he? And it is pointless for the WBTS to try and argue that Paul was talking about being with Christ sometime long after he died. There is absolutely no warrant for adding this idea to these verses!
[Jesus said:] "The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried; and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes.… " (Luke 16:22-23, RSV).
The WBTS try to turn this into a parable to avoid the clear meaning that the wicked who die unrepentant go at once to a place of punishment (Greek: basanoij, basanos, translated 'torment,' is akin to basanizo, used of divine judgments in Revelation 9:5; 14:11; 18:7, 10, 15) while those represented by Lazarus (the name means 'in favour with God') go to 'Abraham's bosom', i.e. to join other faithful believers in the presence of God. This is the fate of the spirits which return to God - the righteous to Abraham's bosom and the wicked to Hades!
Read Ezekiel 18:4:
Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die. (KING JAMES VERSION)
The WBTS argue that this proves that "the soul dies' and there is no conscious life after death." But this ignores the context. The Israelites were grumbling against God, quoting a proverb that said: "The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge" (v2). They were complaining that punishment for what a father did fell upon his children. Verse 4 reveals God's reply: 'The one who sins is the one who will die'. The Living Bible's paraphrase renders it, accordingly: "For all souls are mine to judge--fathers and sons alike--and my rule is this: It is for a man's own sins that he will die." Again, the context reveals that the inspired Word was not speaking here about the condition of the dead. The WBTS are renowned for their ignorant approach to the occurrence of the word translated 'soul.' The word soul is used in many different senses throughout Scripture, sometimes referring to a person's life, sometimes to the person himself (as it does here at Ezekiel 18:4), and sometimes referring to the inner part of man that lives on after death. The WBTS deny this last use of the word soul. They say that man totally ceases to exist at death that, when the body dies, the person goes into 'non-existence' - that there is nothing left. But there are many Scripture verses that prove them wrong, e.g. Luke 12:4-5:
" … Do not fear those who kill the body and after this are not able to do anything more. But I will indicate to you whom to fear: Fear him who after killing has authority to throw into Gehenna. Yes, I tell you, fear this One." (NWT)
Obviously we all die and might fear those who would kill our body. But here Jesus warns that there is a possible fate that is far worse, for something can be done to a man after he is dead. He can then be thrown into Gehenna. Now if, as the WBTS claim, the man ceased to exist when his body was killed, what would be left afterwards to be thrown into Gehenna? Obviously nothing!
In 2 Corinthians 5, the apostle Paul wrote of the body as "the earthly tent we live in," adding that he "would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord," and warning that "we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body" (vv. 1, 8-10, RSV). Paul makes it clear that leaving the body means we would at once be with the Lord! If the WBTS were correct, what part of Paul could leave his body and go to be with the Lord?
Again, read Luke 23:43:
And he said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." (RSV)
The same verse is rendered in the Jehovah's Witnesses New World Translation as:
"And he said to him: 'Truly I tell you today, You will be with me in Paradise.' "
This very small change is very significant. The WBTS 'translators' have moved the comma from before the word "today" to after it. This moves the adverb "today" from the second half of the sentence to the first half. So, instead of "today" identifying the time when the repentant evildoer on the cross will be with the Lord "in Paradise," the text is changed so that "today" appears to identify simply the time when Jesus was speaking. This is another case in which WBTS leaders have changed the Bible to fit their doctrines. They teach that the man who turned to the Lord on the cross and said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom" (v42), did not go to be with Christ in Paradise that day. Instead, they try to claim that he was annihilated at death, has not existed anywhere at all for the past two thousand years, and will eventually be with the Lord in Paradise at some time during the future millennium - if he is faithful through Armageddon. The WBTS changed the meaning of Christ's words by changing the punctuation!
The WBTS 'defence' of the change is found in the footnote to verse 43 in the 1984 reference edition of their New World Translation:
"Although WH [the Westcott and Hort Greek text] puts a comma in the Gr. text before the word for 'today,' commas were not used in Gr. uncial mss. In keeping with the context, we omit the comma before 'today.' "
The truth is that the WBTS move the comma to try and maintain their false doctrine. How do we prove this? If we look at the rest of the Book of Luke and the other three Gospels we find that Jesus used the expression "truly I tell you," or "truly I say to you," on many different occasions, for the same Greek word is rendered both "tell" and "say." How did the New World Bible Translation Committee punctuate the same expression in every other place where it appears? Where did they put the commas? The Comprehensive Concordance that the Watchtower Society published in 1973 for the New World Translation is arranged alphabetically - simply look up the word "truly." The listing of the six verses where the Lord used this same expression in the Gospel of Luke, as well as all seventy-one passages where he used it in the four Gospels is revealing. In addition to the chapter-and-verse numbers, the concordance shows the words immediately before and after "truly" in each text. We only have to check the list: the commas all line up, except for Luke 23:43. This is the only verse that they punctuated differently, so they can include the time element in the first half of the sentence! This is obvious proof that WBTS translators altered this verse to fit the cult's doctrines.
(Continued on page 70)