Time to Return to Truth
THE “Jesus people” are fervently convinced that we are in the “last days,” and that Christ’s second coming is imminent. They teach Biblical principles that say you should live a morally clean life—rejecting drugs, magic, and so forth. Commendable conclusions, since so few believe or practice these Bible-based teachings in this modern age.
However, they teach a number of things that they do not realize are not in harmony with the Bibles they read and carry. Many of these ideas come from the independent Protestant clergymen who have made a particular effort to interest these youths.
These young people are Jesus-oriented, but there is a need to go farther. They need to learn also about God, the Father. Jesus came to earth to reveal the Father. He was sent by the Father to teach, to set a proper example for us, to give his life as a ransom for sinful mankind. But in all of this Jesus gave the primary attention and prominence to his Father.
Jesus’ model prayer, given to instruct his followers on proper prayer to God, begins with the words: “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.” (Matt. 6:9)a The Bible gives the Father’s name. The Hebrew characters for God’s Name, JEHOVAH, appear thousands of times in the original Hebrew-language Bible, and that name is found in the King James Version at Psalm 83:18 and Exodus 6:3, as well as other places.
Jesus, being the mediator between God and man, instructed: “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.” (John 16:23) But rather than instruct his followers to worship him, as do the “Jesus people,” Jesus said: “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.”—John 4:23.
True, the Scriptures say: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” (Acts 16:31) But ‘believing on Jesus’ means believing that he told the truth—that he was right in what he said. And that includes what he said about taking in knowledge not only of himself but also of the Father, whom he called “the only true God.”—John 17:3.
One young person correctly explained this proper viewpoint to another: “That doesn’t mean we don’t love Jesus—it is just that he is not God. The Bible shows he is the highest one in the universe next to God. We have great affection for him—the only one for whom we have greater affection is Jehovah God himself.”
An “Immortal Soul”?
The movement teaches non-Biblical doctrines that long have been taught by sects of Christendom. One is the idea that man has an “immortal soul” that will suffer in “hellfire” if man is not saved. But the Bible does not say that an “immortal soul” lives on to receive rewards or punishments. Rather, it says just the opposite. It says the soul dies.
Open your Bible to Ezekiel 18:4. There, according to the King James Version, you will not read that the sinning soul goes into “hellfire.” Instead, it says: “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” See also verse 20.
According to the Bible, the dead could not be suffering in “hellfire.” The Bible specifically says, at Ecclesiastes 9:5: “The dead know not any thing.” Ec 9 Verse 10 of the same chapter adds: “There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” Psalm 146:4 says of the day a man dies: “In that very day his thoughts perish.”
If the dead know nothing, and have no thoughts or knowledge, they obviously could not be suffering torments or pain, as the “Jesus people” believe.
“Then what about the word ‘hell’?” you may ask, adding: “It certainly appears in the Bible!”
Bible writers used the Hebrew word “sheol” and the Greek word “hades,” which some Bibles translate as “hell.” But sheol and hades did not mean a place of torture at all. Instead, they simply meant the common grave of mankind—including men like Jesus who obeyed God. Yes, the apostle Peter applied Psalm 16:10 to Jesus, saying: “David speaketh concerning him [Jesus] . . . thou wilt not leave my soul in hell [Hebrew, sheol; Greek, hades], neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” (Acts 2:25-27) Surely none of the “Jesus people” will argue that Jesus went to hellfire when he died!
In several instances Jesus used the valley of Hinnom (Greek, Gehenna), Jerusalem’s community garbage dump, to symbolize the complete destruction of those who willfully disbelieve. No resurrection hope is held out for those “pitched into Gehenna” in contrast to those in the common grave of mankind.
Many of the “Jesus people” believe that the hope for all men who have accepted Jesus is the “rapture,” when, they believe, all persons who have accepted Jesus will suddenly be taken to heaven.
However, the Bible shows that, while there will be a limited group, a “little flock,” in the heavenly kingdom, the hope for the majority of mankind is for everlasting life right here, on a renewed earth.—Luke 12:32.
David of ancient Israel did not pray to go to heaven. Such a hope was not even open to him, for the small heavenly class had not yet begun to be chosen. Instead, he confidently declared: “But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.”—Ps. 37:11.
Some of the publications used by the “Jesus people” make general reference to the “new earth,” but people who attended their meetings for some while said they had heard nothing of such a wonderful hope. Hence, the need to go further in their search for the truth and the real hope for the future.
Jehovah God used Isaiah to foretell the righteous conditions that would prevail in the “new earth.” Then, another person will not exploit you, to benefit from the house you build, or the vineyard you plant—as is often the case today. Instead, the prophecy promises that each one will enjoy the benefits of his own labors—and the people “shall long enjoy the work of their hands.” (Isa. 65:17-24) Referring back to this promise, the apostle Peter wrote: “Nevertheless, we, according to his promise, look for new heavens [God’s righteous heavenly government] and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness”—2 Pet. 3:13.
A problem for young people today is where to go when they “cut out” from this world’s vain and selfish pursuits. If a person truly loves right and just conditions, he will not need to look farther than God’s paradise earth, now very near to being a reality.
Many of the “Jesus people” frequently refer to body-jerking “Pentecostal” manifestations. They speak of “jumping around,” speaking in “tongues,” performing “healings” and other such actions. The apostle Paul identified such manifestations as speaking in “tongues” with the ‘babyhood’ of Christianity. (1 Cor. 13:8-11) After referring specifically to gifts of “tongues,” he said: “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” According to the apostle’s own prediction, these have now passed away.
Consequently, these manifestations must now come from a different source than did the “gifts of the spirit” evident in first-century Christianity. Today such hearing of voices and seizures involve spiritism. Thus the need to heed the warning by a close disciple of Jesus: “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, NW.
Interest in Doctrine
The existence of the “Jesus movement” indicates that spiritual matters really do interest many of today’s youth. A few have gone farther. They have seen that, despite its Bible reading, the “Jesus movement” has not fully returned to true Bible doctrines and has carried over some teachings from Christendom that are completely false. After going deeper into the Scriptures in their studies with Jehovah’s witnesses, they have seen the need to put aside their former beliefs that are rooted in paganism, rather than in the Bible, such as immortality of the human soul, hellfire, the Trinity, and so forth. Now they are actively teaching the Bible’s thrilling truths to others.
People who study with Jehovah’s witnesses find that this is not a matter of “instant conversion.” Study is required. They must learn Scriptural teachings, principles and prophecies. They develop a really sound basis for their faith—a deep conviction, based on knowledge, rather than enthusiasm for a passing fad.
“What really interested you about Jehovah’s witnesses?” a former participant in the “Jesus movement” was asked.
“Doctrinal things,” she said. “It made sense.”
She explained: “I stomped into the Kingdom Hall and said: ‘Answer my questions!’ The answers were based so much on the Bible that you couldn’t fight it. I was looking for loopholes, but there just weren’t any.”
An understanding of the magnificent hope the Bible holds out for earth’s immediate future removes the need for drugs, or for shouting, clapping, stomping, emotion-charged meetings. An understanding of these promises produces a calm and reasoned determination within the individual, who then finds great joy in sharing this wonderful hope with others.
a Unless otherwise identified, texts in this article are quoted from the King James Version of the Bible, which the “Jesus people” generally use.