“Jehovah is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.”—Hab. 2:20, AS.
1. (a) How is the Christian congregation Scripturally identified as a spiritual temple? (b) For the temple to be complete, what is required as to its members?
THE Christian congregation is spoken of as being a spiritual temple, an organization of worship to God’s praise. Peter puts it this way: “You yourselves also as living stones are being built up a spiritual house for the purpose of a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. 2:5, NW) The apostle Paul likewise identifies these children of God’s household as a temple building, saying: “You . . . are members of the household of God, and you have been built up upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, while Christ Jesus himself is the foundation cornerstone. In union with him the whole building, being harmoniously joined together, is growing into a holy temple for Jehovah. In union with him you, too, are being built up together into a place for God to inhabit by spirit.” (Eph. 2:19-22, NW) It is readily seen that for this temple organization to be built up completely, the resurrection of its dead members is required. The resurrection of the body members of Christ Jesus who slept in death would be a building up of the temple by the assembling of members. The apostle Paul was one of these, and to Timothy he said, “I have fought the right fight, I have run the course to the finish, I have observed the faith. From this time on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me as a reward in that day, yet not only to me, but also to all those who have loved his manifestation.”—2 Tim. 4:7, 8, NW.
2. (a) Give Bible proof as to the form of life in which the members of the temple organization are resurrected. (b) Do all members of Christ’s body undergo a long sleep in death?
2 The resurrection of these members of Christ’s body is not as human creatures, but with spiritual bodies so that they are in position to be associated with their head in heaven. Thus we read: “It is sown a physical body, it is raised up a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual one. It is even so written: ‘The first man Adam became a living soul.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. The first man is out of the earth and made of dust; the second man is out of heaven. And just as we have borne the image of the one made of dust, we shall bear also the image of the heavenly one. However, this I say, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s kingdom, neither does corruption inherit incorruption. Look! I tell you a sacred secret: We shall not all fall asleep in death, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, during the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised up incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1 Cor. 15:44, 45, 47, 49-52, NW) Among other things, Paul here points out that some of the members of Christ’s body do sleep in literal death; however, all of them must go down into death, and those who do so following the resurrection of the sleeping ones will have an instantaneous resurrection.
3. Explain how is it that the temple can be built completely and yet some of its members be living on earth.
3 The temple is a heavenly organization, the members thereof being taken from among mankind, having heavenly hopes and realizing those hopes if faithful. (Rev. 2:10, NW) It has been observed that there is to be a remainder number of the temple body upon the earth at the time of the resurrection of the sleeping members. The building up of the temple, or the bringing forth of these children comprising the temple, taking place at the resurrection of the sleeping members, the building of the temple would be complete by the gathering to the temple condition of unity of activity of the remaining members yet on earth, often called “the remnant”. They would be upon the earth until the death and change of each individual member of the temple class. However, when we have in mind that their relationship to God and to the organization, and their association with it through this relationship, is the important thing in determining their being members of the temple organization, we can see that the building up of Zion is an actuality. It is a real thing accomplished by the assembly of all the stones, including those maintaining integrity upon earth, who are gathered or “caught away” above the things of the old world, and with their hearts and minds turned heavenward.
4. State in your own words the thrilling presentation of this matter at 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.
4 Just notice the wonderful way in which this was set out to the Thessalonians: “Moreover, brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant concerning those who are sleeping in death, that you may not sorrow just as the rest also do who have no hope. For if our faith is that Jesus died and rose again, so, too, those who have fallen asleep in death through Jesus God will bring with him. For this is what we tell you by Jehovah’s word, that we the living who survive to the presence of the Lord shall in no way precede those who have fallen asleep in death, because the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a commanding call, with an archangel’s voice and with God’s trumpet, and those who are dead in union with Christ will rise first. Afterward we the living who are surviving will together with them be caught away in clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and thus we shall always be with the Lord. Consequently, keep comforting one another with these words.”—1 Thess. 4:13-18, NW.
5. What, then, constitutes the building up of the temple?
5 In symbolic phrase the work of the trumpet proclamation of the truth following the birth of the Kingdom in 1914 is shown in this passage, but in this study our attention is particularly directed to the fact that the living members of his body upon the earth at the time of the building of the temple are gathered to him, because, in the language of Paul to Timothy, they “loved his manifestation”. (2 Tim. 4:8, NW) When Jesus ascended to heaven a cloud obscured him from the literal vision of his followers upon the earth, but the cloud was evidence to them of his ascension. (Acts 1:9, NW) That the clouds are representative of his presence is also borne out by Jesus’ own words at Matthew 26:64. The gathered ones are truly “with the Lord”, and, continuing faithful to him upon the earth, will be with him in heaven following their death and resurrection. It is this wonderful act by God, the resurrection of the dead members of the temple and the gathering of the earthly remnant thereof, that constitutes the building up of the temple.
6. How are the members remaining on earth “caught away in clouds to meet the Lord in the air”?
6 It is noted from the foregoing that the members of the temple class who are resurrected at the fulfillment of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 are those who are “dead in union with Christ”, showing their relationship of unity with their head. Now as to the members remaining alive on earth, those who at the time of the resurrection of their dead companions are “the living who are surviving”, how are they “caught away in clouds to meet the Lord in the air”? As afore-mentioned, it is by being gathered away from and above the things of the old system of things. That such exaltation to high, even “heavenly”, places is a proper description of the blessed relationship of faithful footstep followers of Christ Jesus living on earth, serving in the congregation of God at oneness with the organization and its head, is also shown at Ephesians 2:1-7 (NW): “Furthermore, it is you God made alive though you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you at one time walked according to the system of things of this world, according to the ruler of the authority of the air, the spirit that now operates in the sons of disobedience. Yes, among them we all at one time conducted ourselves in harmony with the desires of our flesh, doing the things the flesh and the thoughts willed, and we were naturally children of wrath even as the rest. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us, made us alive together with the Christ, even when we were dead in trespasses—by undeserved kindness you have been saved—and he raised us up together and seated us together in the heavenly places in union with Christ Jesus, that in the coming systems of things there might be demonstrated the surpassing riches of his undeserved kindness in his graciousness toward us in union with Christ Jesus.”
7. How is union with Christ Jesus attained?
7 Union with Christ Jesus is attained through the necessary proper relationship, faith, activity, association and organization, by all members of the temple class, in heaven and on earth, “in heavenly places.” Thus the temple is built up.
8. How was spiritual purging undertaken by the judgment and cleansing of Christians, and how is this illustrated and prophesied?
8 Judgment and cleansing respecting the temple members on earth follow of a necessity and are illustrated by Jesus’ purging at the literal temple three and one-half years after he was anointed as King. (Matt. 21:13, NW) So in the great fulfillment of prophecy, the Kingdom was born in the latter part of 1914, and three and one-half years thereafter ‘the Lord suddenly came to his temple’, in the spring of 1918, following the preparatory work attested to at Malachi. “Behold, I send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant, whom ye desire, behold, he cometh, saith Jehovah of hosts. But who can abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: and he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi, and refine them as gold and silver; and they shall offer unto Jehovah offerings in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto Jehovah, as in the days of old, and as in ancient years. And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against the false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the sojourner from his right, and fear not me, saith Jehovah of hosts. For I, Jehovah, change not; therefore ye, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.”—Mal. 3:1-6, AS.
9. How do we know that the signs marking the Kingdom’s operation also mark the temple judgment, confirming 1918?
9 Signs marking the birth of the Kingdom also mark the later event of the Lord’s coming to his temple, the building up of the temple of Zion, as is shown in the prophetic symbol of Revelation chapter eleven: “‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will rule as king for ever and ever.’ And the twenty-four persons of advanced age who were seated before God upon their thrones fell upon their faces and worshiped God, saying: ‘We thank you, Jehovah God, the Almighty, the one who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and begun ruling as king. But the nations became wrathful, and your own wrath came, and the appointed time for the dead to be judged, and to give their reward to your slaves the prophets and to the holy ones and to those fearing your name, the small and the great, and to bring to ruin those ruining the earth.’ And the temple sanctuary of God that is in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen in his temple sanctuary.”—Re 11 Vss. 15-19, NW.
10. Show further how persecution and purging are a temple sign.
10 Under the circumstances afforded by the wrathful nations engaged in World War I, red-hot persecution was brought to bear against those proclaiming the message of God’s kingdom. All the peoples of the earth should have obeyed the prophetic command, “Jehovah is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.” (Hab. 2:20, AS) The judgment from the heavenly temple proceeded: “Jehovah is in his holy temple; Jehovah, his throne is in heaven; his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.” (Ps. 11:4, AS) See also Mark’s account of Jesus in the temple at Mark 11:15-18.
11. What vitally important questions are raised by the fact that so few persons give evidence of being of the remaining ones on earth of the temple body?
11 The number of those on earth who even claim to recognize themselves to be spiritual children of Zion, that is, members of the remnant of the body of Christ, is very small. In fact throughout the earth during 1952 only 20,221 gave evidence of this profession by partaking of the emblems of the bread and wine at the time of the yearly celebration of the memorial of the death of Jesus. Do they constitute all of Jehovah’s worshipers on earth? Even though they are children of Zion and so are being taught by Jehovah, are they the only ones who are his disciples or learners? Do you say, “Am I personally concerned? Can I be taught by Jehovah, through his Word, his spirit and his organization?” You are personally and individually concerned!
12 Jesus spoke concerning the sheep of his temple congregation and then said, “And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; those also I must bring, and they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock, one shepherd.” (John 10:16, NW) Jesus, who is the Right Shepherd, is also described as a lamb, “the Lamb of God.” (John 10:11-16; 1:36, NW) In the seventh chapter of Revelation a great crowd is shown serving in the temple in addition to the limited number of the church or the congregation that is also spoken of in this same chapter. Where is it they serve? In the temple; on earth in the time the temple is built up! This is accompanied by God’s judgment, the gathering of the nations before Christ Jesus and the separating of them as sheep and goats, to use the parable or illustration that he himself pointed out. (Matt. 25:31-46, NW) All of these persons, numbering now in the hundreds of thousands, are, throughout the earth, worshiping Jehovah God. The remnant or “remaining ones” of the temple class and the “other sheep”, all devoted to the new world of promise, together constitute a “New World society” of Jehovah’s worshipers, feeding at God’s table of spiritual truth, making such temple teaching available to others.—2 Pet. 3:13, NW.
13. Is membership in the New World society an exclusive thing? Why?
13 Is it just a matter of making a claim or profession of being one of Jehovah’s witnesses that makes one an associate of this New World society and therefore taught of Jehovah, receiving his blessings? No, it is not such an easy thing. It is difficult from the human standpoint, but it is possible by the undeserved kindness of Jehovah, who makes ample provision through Christ Jesus. To join an organization of men, pay dues and in some way have one’s name inscribed in an enrollment record, that is an easy matter. But the only way to be one of God’s organization, to be one of the children of his “woman” and be taught by him, is to be devoted to him and to righteousness and to carry out the principles of his Word, the Bible, to the best of one’s ability. Requirements for association with the New World society can be seen from all we have been considering. It is evident that we must be teachable, not arrogant. We must be amenable to his word of instruction and have a real love for righteousness.
14. What is the choice now possible?
14 It is not a matter now of everyone’s being either a child of the Devil or a child of God. That is not it. Everyone has the opportunity now of choosing whether or not to serve the true God, Jehovah, and so to make his choice of all the gods, because this is the opportunity Jehovah affords since the birth of his kingdom in 1914.
15. (a) What principle determines our sonship? (b) What is necessary in order for us to be taught by Jehovah?
15 In discussing this with Jews and Pharisees of his day, Jesus applied to them the principle that decides as to whether we finally become children of God or children of the Devil. Read all of the eighth chapter of John in the New World Translation. It is a devastating passage! Those who were of this wicked world organization boasted, “We are Abraham’s offspring.” Jesus knew that. Such natural lineage was not the most important thing. If they were truly of Abraham’s children they would do the works of Abraham and would love and believe Christ Jesus. He said to them, not to all people, but to those leaders who claimed to be religious instructors and guides of the people: “You are from your father the Devil and you wish to do the desires of your father.” They had no faith as had Abraham; no love for Jehovah, for Jesus or for righteousness. Their claims to holiness were worthless. They were liars, murderers, haters of truth and light, certain to die in their sins. They had made the wrong choice of gods, and misled others to do likewise. “The children of God and the children of the Devil are evident by this fact: Everyone who does not practice righteousness does not originate with God, neither does he who does not love his brother.” (1 John 3:10-12, NW) So the practice of righteousness based on love is necessary to be taught by Jehovah and now receive temple instruction.
16. (a) To what should we now turn? (b) How can we do so? (c) What part is played in our miraculous deliverance from the old world by: (1) The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society; (2) Jehovah’s witnesses; (3) the religion of the worship of Jehovah; (4) the Bible?
16 Is the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society God’s woman or universal organization? We say, No. The religion we are advocating, is it the teachings of Jehovah’s witnesses? We again say, No. The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society is just an instrument that is used by the New World society, which we love and which is blessed wonderfully in the teaching of God’s people. The religion that we advocate and preach is the worship of Jehovah God, conforming to the Bible! Only thereby can you become a child of God, a follower and lover of righteousness and so can be taught by him. Men now must contend with imperfection by birth, with evil human environment and with misleading, wicked spirit creatures who are running this wicked world. Deliverance from the old world is a miraculous thing, but it can come to us individually if we study the Bible, believe it and live according to it. Associate with others who love righteousness and do not be taken in by the practices and standards of the old world. They are deadly with their deliberate violation of every principle of decency and righteousness of Jehovah God. (Rom. 1:32, NW) Turn from them. Turn to Jehovah and his people.
“FRUITAGE OF THE LIGHT”
17. (a) As children and prospective children of God, can we also bear fruitage? (b) What, and how?
17 “Let no man deceive you with empty words, for because of the aforesaid things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for you were once darkness, but you are now light in connection with the Lord. Go on walking as children of light, for the fruitage of the light consists of every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth. Keep on making sure of what is acceptable to the Lord; and quit sharing with them in the unfruitful works which belong to the darkness, but, rather, even be reproving them.” (Eph. 5:6-11, NW) So when you see an organization, a group, association or society upon the earth that is devoted to upholding God’s Word, associate with those people and study his Word. You observe that there is such a group, devoted to upholding Jehovah’s name, honoring him and not defaming or ridiculing him. Associate with such organization. Paul here states the “fruitage” to be “every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth”. Bear that fruit. Be good, righteous and truthful. Acknowledge Jehovah as the God who is alone good, righteous and true.
18. What is one evidence that Jehovah is the God of the whole earth, and to what does this persuade us?
18 Modern Pharisees tell you, ‘This “Jehovah” God is just the little, local, bloodthirsty, tribal god of the ancient Hebrews.’ Such is a misrepresentation, a falsehood stated either without knowledge or deliberately, wicked in either case. His name, as we observed in our last issue, is the name of the God of Christ Jesus. He is the true God, the universal King. In their time the Jews worshiped Jehovah in Israel; he was their God. They, and non-Israelites who associated with Israel, were the only people who did then. But if his enemies insist on labeling Jehovah God as merely the ancient tribal God of the Jews because at one time the nation of Israel worshiped him, then enforce the consequences of their assertion. By the same token, now, since the building up of the temple and the gathering of the children of Zion including the “other sheep” of the Lord, Jehovah is the God of the whole earth, because now, for the first time, his praises are sung earth-wide in 127 different lands, countries, territories and islands of the sea, by “all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues”! (Rev. 7:9, NW) That is the God whom we must worship, for in him through Christ Jesus rest all our hopes for life, and he is worthy, even of our dedication to him.
19. Please recapitulate with reference to the main points of this and the preceding issue of The Watchtower.
19 May we now recapitulate with reference to our discussion in this and our preceding issue respecting being taught by Jehovah God. He is the exclusive God, the true and supreme One. As the Most High he is likewise the Maker, the great Source of all things good, of which his creation is eloquent in testimony. Organizations of his devoted creatures are formed by him for his purpose, and toward the great universal organization of his he bears the relationship of a loving, directing Husband. Both Father and Teacher of all of his children, he is Instructor of the members developed by and made a part of his organization, along with dedicated lovers of righteousness now on earth.
20 To us his teaching through Christ Jesus is with life for us in view. We may choose it, well aware that our hopes for life in the new world of righteousness depend upon our devotion to righteousness now, which leads us to dedicate ourselves to Jehovah. Are we as individuals alone among men in this wise course of action? Not at all, because the New World society is a reality now, practicing pure religion earth-wide. Let the old world, the present system of things, pursue its wicked way to the doom for which it is marked. We need not go with it, but rather, with understanding and appreciation receive the peace, security and righteous heritage of those taught by Jehovah: “And all thy children shall be taught of Jehovah; and great shall be the peace of thy children. No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of Jehovah, and their righteousness which is of me, saith Jehovah.”—Isa. 54:13, 17, AS.