I have sinned: I read the Bible.

Discussion in 'General Discussions' started by Baruq, Jul 16, 2017.

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    Earthbound

    Earthbound Guest

    The most recent "official" statement regarding the organization being a "spiritual paradise" which I can find on short notice (lunch break, sorry) was in a July 15, 2015 Watchtower study article on the organization's website, where the following can be read:

    The expression “spiritual paradise” has become a part of our theocratic vocabulary. It describes our unique, spiritually rich environment, or condition, which allows us to enjoy peace with God and with our brothers.
    Has the Watchtower organization's leaders published something more recent that can be shared here for the discussion? And should this discussion take place under its own topic, as it detracts from the original poster's experience and the responses to their situation?

    While I won't go into "What they're really saying/meaning," I will say that this is, in my opinion, an essential part in our gathering together with brothers and sisters for worship. Our congregations are a protection against the elements that blast us incessantly from the influences and forces outside of our congregation. Describing this as a "spiritual paradise" does not necessarily mean a perfect "spiritual paradise," and I wonder if this is how it's taken, since I suppose one associates a paradise with perfection, and a spiritual paradise all-the-more so!

    And yet in the garden of Eden, admittedly a paradise, sin was present as Satan approached Eve, and then Adam made the decision to disobey Jehovah rather than re-adjust Eve's grasp of the situation. This was a location where the Bible writer was inspired to describe Jehovah as walking through this spiritual paradise "in the cool of the day," sometime after the magnificent conditions of Eden had become tainted with sin.

    There doesn't seem to be any indication that because sin was present in the spiritual paradise of the garden's environs, that the garden had ceased to be a spiritual paradise— rather, it was certain individuals within that spiritual paradise who needed to be removed, and so Adam and Eve were evicted from the premises and Satan was sentenced for his own sin before Jehovah.

    For several thousands of years, was not the nation of Israel Jehovah's "spiritual paradise," as they enjoyed blessings no other nation on earth could claim? Yet apostasy among the inhabitants reared its ugly head from time to time, bringing condemnation and judgment on those who were disregarding the sanctity of the paradise Jehovah was providing through His Deuteronomical Law, for example.

    In time, all the nations were invited to become a part of this spiritual paradise as the followers of Jesus repented and turned their lives around, inspired by the gracious and undeserved kindness of our Creator and recognizing Jesus as the Messiah through which Jehovah would bring a final end to any disrupters of the spiritual paradise Christians now enjoy.

    {Whew! Just had a power outage here from a pop-up tstorm, and thankfully the board's auto-save kept my place, or I don't think I'd have had the will to write all this again.}

    It is, after all, a spiritual paradise, is it not, when we gather together with brothers and sisters to worship our Father's wondrous outworking of Purpose and Will, even as we build up and edify one another, because Jehovah's spirit yearns to be allowed to work through us. This shouldn't be taken to mean that every person fellowshipping with us has their heart inclined toward Jehovah, just as Satan surely didn't when he met with the first man and woman. The epistles clearly lay out that there will be dangerous ones among us, until the weeds are removed once and for all.

    ~~Earthbound
     
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    Earthbound

    Earthbound Guest

    I had another thought come to mind on the drive back to work, post-lunch...

    The apostle Paul, in his letter to the believers in Rome, said the following:

    ...this is the principle I have discovered: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s Law. But I see another law at work in my body, warring against the law of my mind and holding me captive to the law of sin that dwells within me. —Romans 7:21-23, Berean Study Bible

    It is the understanding of most Christians, I think, that our bodies are a living temple. (Cf 1 Corinthians 3:16)

    On an individual level, one could describe this as a spiritual paradise because we are, like Adam once enjoyed himself, able to walk and talk with our Creator and Father, Jehovah. Each of us is invited back "to the garden" from which Adam and Eve were cast., to enjoy all the bountiful blessings, and be satisfied in a wholesome fashion.

    Even so, as Paul related, there is a war taking place within us as the carnal gives way to the spiritual. Imperfections remain, mistakes continue to be made. But should we see this presence of badness within our living temple, within our spiritual paradise, as proof that we aren't living in a spiritual paradise? And shouldn't we view the existence of problems among congregating believers as evidence on a larger scale as to the war Paul was describing? :rolleyes:

    Alright, I better shut up now.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 2, 2017
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    Joshuastone7

    Joshuastone7 Administrator Staff Member

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    It is a difficult world we live in, while wishing to serve Jehovah. Although for some it seems easier then others, I don't know if this is just outward impressions, or if in fact it can be said to be true...

    I am reminded of the parable of the talents. It seems that the more we are given, the more is expected, and as targets from the spiritual realm, some targets may be of more value.

    Regardless, I appreciate the friends we have here on this forum, and the support we give eachother, because we endure every day, and many times in silence. I hope to one day stand shoulder to shoulder with each of you in our Fathers kingdom, or if need be during this worlds finally.
     
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    Regent Lessard

    Regent Lessard New Member

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    What a funny feeling do I have know, I had just finish reading your last post before this one, I had to get my wife down the road at her sister place after her work day and what you just wrote was almost word per word what I was thinking when I was driving to get her. The only thing different, I though of vs 24, O wretch man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? Yours in Christ, Regent. PS- I have to give you, I like
     
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    Earthbound

    Earthbound Guest

    I didn't include the last part because I'm pretty sure that only applies to me. :confused:

    ~~Earthbound
     
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    BreakTheWalls

    BreakTheWalls Guest

    I've pretty much checked out. Don't really listen to their empty speeches. Because of the high control, I almost lost faith, it wasn't until I was inactive did begin to believe again.
     
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    BreakTheWalls

    BreakTheWalls Guest

    Hey, someone I invited here is trying to sign up. If you could work your moderator magic and vet her.
     
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    Earthbound

    Earthbound Guest

    I'm sorry to hear that. I remember sitting during some of the studies, looking around silently asking "Doesn't anyone else see this or just hear that?" Timeframe-wise, this would've been after my efforts to find an elder who could bring perspective to what I believed at the time were pretty big deals— and I suppose they still are, but I've long since learned to live out here in the wilderness to which I was sent by three elders that strange evening when I was officially accused of apostasy for pleading publicly from first my own website and later a forum I set up for those brothers and sisters who were going through their own crisis of faith.

    In fact, I've read both of Raymond Franz's books, Crisis of Conscience and In Search of Christian Freedom and while anti-Witnesses wanted to throw a copy of brother Franz's Crisis book at every Witness they could to show what "a sham and a racket" the Watchtower was, I personally found his second book about Christian Freedom to be far more insightful and beneficial to me as a believer trying to walk as a follower of the same Jesus whom I recognize as Messiah and Shepherd-King under the appointment of Jehovah. I find no evidence of apostasy in the man, although others would disagree.

    It took time for me to work through the bitterness and anger as I held them responsible not just for misleading me, but beguiling me into passing their views onto others with the hope of finding someone they would be free to do the same thing to in the name of an organizational "unity."

    And it took time for me to accept my own responsibility in this matter. Being angry at the Watchtower organization was a deflection for me so I didn't have to address the so-called "elephant in the room": They may have said this that and the other, but it was still my responsibility to "make sure of all things." And since I didn't have any issues with these particular topics before I began to see things more clearly, could I truly stand before Jehovah our God and tell him that I really did make sure before, because what can I tell Him to account for my evidently agreeing with their opinion or interpretation? Never mind going out to promote them— I adopted them as true, surely!

    And why did I?

    It was easier, I suppose. Like today, if people want to know the answer to something, they simply Google it, right? In my experience, it was much like this as a Witness: if I wanted to know the answer to something, I went looking to see what the leadership had published by way of views and opinions, and made those my answers.

    But then the day comes when we children grow to an age when we realize the parent or parents we looked up to as gods, for lack of a better term at the moment, are human. Something happens and we never view our parent the same after that. Perhaps someone had an affair. Perhaps we realized our parent is an alcoholic after years of living with them and seeing them just have their alcohol in hand and never think anything else of it.

    It changes everything from that moment on as we become aware of other things, and before we know it, we're grasping for something to hang on to to bring some semblance of stability back to our life because we feel that despair over the imperfection where once everything was perfect.

    Or, in the case of life as a Witness suddenly aware that "mother" is a dysfunctional parent, it turns your faith upside and inside how. After all, how can this happen if this is Jehovah's organization, right?

    Except that some began to see the forest for the trees and offer explanations about why these things are occurring in the organization, and their views have helped some of the brothers and sisters— providing perspective in place of doubt and wavering of faith. I can't help but commend such brothers and sisters who provide that for those related to us in faith!

    Enough about me!

    You mentioned almost losing faith. What happened to reawaken your faith so you could believe again, if I may ask?

    ~~Earthbound
     
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    BreakTheWalls

    BreakTheWalls Guest

    I don't really know if it was Jehovah guiding me to TTATT. Because I'm a sinner, Bad habits that creep up here and there. But I started asking questions to my, at the time very close friend who is an elder, and studied with me as a UP. Great friend, even though he thinks I'm an Apostate now.

    But he said something very unusual to me. I kept asking questions, about Prophecy. And I wasn't even looking for contradictions; I read a scripture that said we would have to die for Jehovah. Which was against the Watchtower's doctrine, he said we wouldn't, I don't remember the details, but I made a point that made too much sense and contradicted Watchtower doctrine, I was still believing 1914 too. I didn't realize this at the time, he then told me not to read into Prophecy, because as an elder, he knows this is how people leave the truth, when they begin to uncover all the BS. I got lectured pretty much. I made a point that I was using official WTS literature, so I don't know why he got all upset.

    Like a month later, it hit the fan.

    But, like you. We are outcasted as an Apostate for opening the Bible and contradicting the man of Lawlessness.

    No current Watchtower loyalist wants to get in a room with the people on this board. They will be stumbled, the exjws use moot points and magazines against them, we use the Bible. A few of them had to change their phone numbers because of me, lol. Because I just keep going and going, scripture after scripture, a few of them have turned to profanity and have said the nastiest remarks to me, my own family too. But I never said anything other read scriptures aloud.
     
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    Earthbound

    Earthbound Guest

    "TTATT" ??

    I don't believe it was because we "opened" our Bible, at least in my case. I was excommunicated because I was viewed as a dangerous influence to the faith of others— and in hindsight, given where I was at emotionally with my anger and frustration, they may have been right in time. I do know that I never spoke about my concerns with anyone except an elder. I fully respected the Watchtower's hierarchy by doing so. Online was a different story, and considering this was back when the world wide web was still running around in diapers, I'm surprised anyone found the website and forum I was providing to the friends out across the world to discuss with one another with "freeness of speech" those matters which were troubling us and causing us to come under tribulation within our own congregations.

    I was excommunicated for publishing opinions as one of Jehovah's Witnesses which was not in harmony with the published views, opinions, and interpretations of the leadership. I was loaded up with my "evidences" and "proofs," and I told anyone who would listen to me. I had the dirt on the Watchtower!

    So, as far as the Watchtower organization was concerned, I was a spiritual danger. How dare they! when I just wanted them to explain to me why this, that, and the other. They were well within their right to remove me from the congregation, technically and legally.

    But on a spiritual level, this was the most difficult thing for me to understand: why are there no provisions within the worldwide brotherhood for mature discussions of faith and scriptural understanding which many of the topics merit, stumbling brothers and sisters? We stand to gain far more working collectively in trying to understand the Bible because of the years of personal experience as a believer which each of us can bring to the table.

    And why was uniformity being promoted as unity when Jesus never said we would be known for all believing a single interpretation (for example) determined by someone else in much the same way the Roman Catholic Church compelled believers to its own opinion and interpretation and application of scripture for centuries. To me, the dynamics were too similar once I became aware of the persistent insistence on the part of the organization in an attempt to set itself a master over my faith. o_O

    But as I said, they were well within their organizational right to excommunicate me for publishing my own views, opinions, and interpretations. That doesn't mean I think they were right, but they did have the right, clearly. And the authority, since here I am now, cut off from the Watchtower's Jehovah's Witnesses.

    Am I an apostate to Jehovah, however? Not insofar as I can determine from the showering of blessings that have come during my walk as a believer out here in the Wilderness. I would never blaspheme by suggesting that those miracles and inexplicable situations were the work of Satan, rewarding me for being a good little apostate against Jehovah God.

    I am an apostate to the Watchtower's leadership, though— there's no getting around that. :p

    Not intentionally, and the decision was theirs, after all.

    The visits from the elders in the weeks leading up to my judicial committee were to "restore" me, but this seemed to mean restore me to accepting the leadership's position on this, that, and the other as my position, too. :(

    Would you elaborate on this point when you have a moment, BreaktheWalls?

    ~~Earthbound
     
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    BreakTheWalls

    BreakTheWalls Guest

    The truth about the truth

    The Man of Lawlessness is the god who teaches Jesus presence/day is already here, and that the resurrection began (gathering of ourselves) in 1914.

    2 Thessalonians 2.
     
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    Earthbound

    Earthbound Guest

    But is this really how you feel about the brothers and sisters? Surely there are some wonderful things to be said of our brothers and sisters in the Christ?

    May I ask you if it is your belief that Jehovah's issue is with Jehovah's Witnesses in general or, perhaps, that His displeasure is with the shepherds of Jehovah's Witnesses?

    And what of the system that drives it all? Surely that will receive the severest condemnation of all in regards to the Watchtower organization itself.

    I have lived long enough to have learned that every good intention will invariably take on a life of its own and enslave those who hold to the ideal it lives to protect.

    Let's take Charles Taze Russell and the brothers he congregated with to examine and discuss the Bible in light of the teachings brother Russell saw appropriate to draw from other religions he was familiar and had access to.

    Today, brother Russell would be disfellowshipped for this by the system his efforts have become.

    That irony is not lost on me.

    The problem, I suggest, is the system that constitutes the Watchtower organization. It has grown take on a life of its own. If you allow me a secular example: I have no doubt that there are well-intentioned men and women who feel moved to try to improve their community, and likewise those who seem motivated to change the direction of their state or even nation, entering the political system. As well-intentioned as they are, I believe they will get swallowed up by the political machine every time.

    Likewise with every religious organization which has grown beyond that point of no return, where the petrification sets in until the system becomes the object of adoration, just another useless, manmade idol that is going to be brushed from the table to go crashing on the floor, swept away with all the other rubbish.

    Now, here's the interesting part for me: it is impossible to really nail down when any system begins to enslave those who built it. When, in the course of the organization's history, had did the petrification set in to the point where certain opinions and interpretations became a prerequisite to proving one was a true Christian?

    In much the same way, I suspect, the early Gentile leaders who tried to bring some uniformity to views and reports about Jesus and the early Jewish church started off with good, honest-hearted intentions, and out of their sincere efforts came the behemoth religion of Catholicism that ruled over both believer and non-believer for centuries.

    While I can't do pinpointing on when's, I do have a work-in-progress theory, if you'll indulge me:

    It's the moment men say "Let us build..."

    Their efforts are doomed from that moment forward. There hasn't been an empire, nation, or religion that has been allowed to stand from the efforts of men, but especially men who decide to build a tower (religion) to ensure they won't be impacted the next time a flood of judgment comes. The Watchtower will itself be one day unremembered, and its system with it.

    Still, there are many positive aspects to being in association with Jehovah's Witnesses. Most strive toward the ideals set forth by the Watchtower organization. Moral cleanliness is valued by the majority, I believe. There clearly are bad apples, and I believe that the system of the Watchtower organization is failing miserably on this matter.

    It is the system which is persistently portrayed as perfect, not the brothers and sisters themselves. They are encouraged to become dependent on the system underlying the Watchtower organization by seeking out a published opinion on matters a mature Christian should be able to do for themselves since they will be rendering an account for every thought, action, and deed, and explain why they deserve the mercy of everlasting life over the mercy of a quick and everlasting death.

    The epistles make it very clear to me that the authority over the individual Christian rested with the congregation with which he fellowshipped, because of the community bloodguilt and shame that could be brought upon that congregation. When it came to decisions from on high, it was kept simple:

    It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not cause trouble for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead, we should write and tell them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals, and from blood. — Acts 15: 19-20, Berean Study Bible

    The rest was the responsibility of the local congregation, who knew their members personally for all or most of their lives and were far better qualified in matters of discipline and instruction of an individual, which is why the apostle Paul wrote such an angry letter to the congregation that was not taking action against a certain man among them who was carrying on shamelessly. His shame was the congregation's shame, and all the more because they were allowing it in their midst!

    They didn't need to ask Paul or any of the leaders what they should do, or for permission to take action. I see Paul as writing with the understanding that they knew it was some wicked drama. They knew and they did nothing while claiming to be true followers of Jesus.

    Yeah, Paul was angry.

    Alright, I'm babbling again.

    This is probably better discussed in its own topic and if you'd like, I can start one for our discussion to in this direction, but may I ask you how you understand this passage from Paul's letter:

    And so now YOU know the thing that acts as a restraint, with a view to his being revealed in his own due time. True, the mystery of this lawlessness is already at work; but only till he who is right now acting as a restraint gets to be out of the way. Then, indeed, the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will do away with by the spirit of his mouth and bring to nothing by the manifestation of his presence. — 2 Thessalonians 2:6-8, New World Translation

    I'd also be interested in what your thoughts are on what or who "acts as a restraint." What is this "lawlessness" Paul is identifying, and when does the apostle say the lawless one will be revealed?

    Thank you, in advance!
    ~~Earthbound
     

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