[Quotes from Watchtower publications, including their New World Translation, are in blue.]
Jehovah's Witnesses contend that one must be associated with their organization in order to receive God’s favor. The Feb.15, 1983 Watchtower magazine lists this point as one of 4 requirements for salvation:
"A third requirement is that we be associated with God's channel, his organization. God has always used an organization. For example, only those in the ark in Noah's day survived the Flood, and only those associated with the Christian congregation in the first century had God's favor (Acts 4:12). Similarly, Jehovah is using only one organization today to accomplish his will. To receive everlasting life in the earthly Paradise we must identify that organization and serve God as a part of it."
Several points are evident in the above statement:
1) God has always used an organization to accomplish his will.
2) Only those associated with the Christian Congregation in the first century had God’s favor.
3) In order to receive everlasting life, we must identify and become a part of the organization God has chosen.
4) Today, the Watchtower Society of Jehovah's Witnesses is the only organization being used as God's channel for accomplishing his will.
Additionally, Jehovah's Witnesses believe that:
5) The early Christians in the first century were directed by the apostles and elders from Jerusalem.
Considering point 1) that "God has always used an organization to accomplish his will."
Yes, only the family of Noah was saved from the Flood and
Yes, before the Law God dealt with the patriarchal family heads and
Yes, ancient Israel was organized with a Levitical priesthood and
Yes, Mosaic Law details various sacrifices to be performed by these priests and
Yes, God set up a monarchy to rule his people.
Melchizedek (‘king of Salem’ and ‘priest of the Most High God’) appears and blesses Abraham as he returned from battle. Abraham gives Melchizedek a tithe in recognition of his service, even though God had indicated His special choosing of Abraham (Genesis 14:14-20; 12:1-3). Apparently, God was dealing with Melchizedek even though he was not associated with Abraham's family. Evidently there were more worshipers of Yahweh than just the patriarchs and their families.
God didn't always reveal His will through the Levitical priesthood. During the period of the Judges He raised up different individuals to lead the Israelites. Some, like Gideon and Deborah, were insignificant people in Israel (Judges chapters 4 through 7). Later, David was anointed as King in Israel and a special covenant was set up with David and his posterity. David's son, Solomon, was said to sit ‘on Yahweh's throne’ (I Chronicles 29:23). Yet God divided this ‘one organization’ into two after Solomon's death and gave the 10 northern tribes of Israel to Jeroboam, making him King (I Kings 11). Yahweh then dealt with the 2 nations of Israel and Judah for centuries, raising up prophets to set both kings and priests straight. Faithfulness to God was never dependent on blindly following the instructions from the organized priesthood and monarchy. After the Babylonian exile the Jews were to be found in several places outside of Israel. Esther became queen of Persia. Quite a colony of Jews settled in Egypt, even translating the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek. This was the version that came to be called the Septuagint. Did the Jews who took up residence far away from Israel have to keep in regular contact with Jerusalem? Not at all. They appreciated that temple in Jerusalem, but all that was necessary was for them to keep the Law and heed the Scriptures.
Considering points 2 and 5: “only those associated with the Christian Congregation in the first century had God’s favor” and "the early Christians in the first century were directed by the apostles and elders from Jerusalem.”
Yes, Jesus appointed the 12 apostles and
Yes, at Pentecost the Church was established in Jerusalem and
Yes, Paul and Barnabas went up to Jerusalem to deal with the circumcision question (Acts 15)
The reason Paul and Barnabas went to Jerusalem was that some in Jerusalem had caused a dispute (Acts 15:1,2,5). The subsequent letter from the apostles and elders in Jerusalem was both an apology and a request for consideration of Jewish believers’ consciences (Acts 15:20,21,29), along with a call to moral purity. Paul had taken the dispute back to its source and, with the help of the Holy Spirit, a peaceful settlement was accomplished.
Paul did not seek authority for his ministry from Jerusalem. In fact, his letter to the Galatians emphasized that his apostleship did not come from men - it came as a direct appointment from the Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father! He takes great pains to show that he did not seek man’s approval for this appointment, and that the only apostles he saw were Peter and James, three years after his conversion (Galatians 1:1,10-12,15-20). At Galatians 2:1 he further points out that he didn't go up to Jerusalem again for 14 years! Speaking of the apostles James, Peter and John as "pillars" of the congregation in Jerusalem (Galatians 2:9), Paul wrote: “But on the part of those who seemed to be something . . . to me, in fact, those outstanding men imparted nothing new" (Galatians 2:6). Those "pillars" were content to concentrate on their ministry with the circumcised Jews, leaving the work with the uncircumcised Gentiles to Paul and Barnabas (Galatians 2:7-10). Where is the supposed pattern claimed by the Watchtower Society of a governing body in Jerusalem directing the first-century Christians worldwide? Paul and Barnabas' first missionary tour was commissioned by the Holy Spirit's direction to the Antioch congregation, not Jerusalem! (Acts 13:1-4,26,27)
Considering point 3 "in order to receive everlasting life, we must identify and become a part of the organization God has chosen.”
Remember that Jesus told his disciples: “If anyone loves me, he will observe my word, and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him and make our abode with him” (John 14:23). Christianity is not seeking membership in the right organization or denomination! Christianity is loving Christ - being made right with God - and being indwelt by Christ and the Father by the Holy Spirit, and then channeling that love to others. (See John 14:16; Galatians 4:6,7; Ephesians 3:17; 1 John 4:7-10; 5:11,12.) Yes, Christians are told to fellowship with fellow believers (Hebrews 10:24,25; Matthew 18:20), but what counts is being enrolled in the heavenly congregation (Hebrews 12:23).
Considering point 4: "today, the Watchtower Society of Jehovah's Witnesses is the only organization being used as God's channel for accomplishing his will."
The early Christians had no impressive centralized organization in Jerusalem as Jehovah's Witnesses have today in Brooklyn, New York. Paul, who wrote more of the New Testament books than anyone else, had no contact with Jerusalem for 14 years! Christians have no special priesthood like Israel's Levitical priests. I Peter 2:9,10 makes clear that “God's people . . . who have been shown mercy” are all a "royal priesthood.” This is what is known as the priesthood of all believers. The names of the 12 apostles of the lamb are shown as being written on the foundation stones of the wall of the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:14), but no indication is given in Scripture that they would have successors today.
Written by Warren Bosma