Who Really Have a Heavenly Calling?
JEHOVAH loves the human race. Why, this love is so great that he gave his Son, Jesus Christ, as a ransom to redeem what our forefather Adam lost! And what was that? Eternal, perfect human life with all its rights and prospects. (John 3:16) The ransom was also an expression of Jesus’ love for mankind.—Matthew 20:28.
Divine love has been displayed in opening up two God-given hopes based on the merit of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice. (1 John 2:1, 2) Before Jesus died as a man, the only hope open to those having divine approval was that of life in an earthly paradise. (Luke 23:43) After Pentecost 33 C.E., however, Jehovah gave a heavenly hope to a “little flock.” (Luke 12:32) But what has happened in recent times? Since 1931 the Kingdom message has focused more attention on the “other sheep,” and from 1935 onward God has been drawing “a great crowd” of such sheeplike ones to himself through Christ. (John 10:16; Revelation 7:9) In their heart, God has put the hope of eternal life in an earthly paradise. They want to eat perfect food, have loving dominion over animals, and enjoy association with righteous fellow humans forever.
Compassionate Priests and Kings
Since love moved Jesus to give his life as a ransom, surely he will be a compassionate heavenly King. Yet, Jesus will not be alone in uplifting mankind to perfection during his Thousand Year Reign. Jehovah has made provision for other compassionate kings in heaven. Yes, “they will be priests of God and of the Christ, and will rule as kings with him for the thousand years.”—Revelation 20:1-6.
How many corulers will Christ have, and how are they chosen for such an awesome privilege? Well, the apostle John saw 144,000 on heavenly Mount Zion with the Lamb, Jesus Christ. Having been “bought from among mankind,” they will know what it means to experience trials, endure the burdens of imperfection, suffer, and die as humans. (Revelation 14:1-5; Job 14:1) Therefore, what compassionate king-priests they will be!
The Spirit’s Witness
The 144,000 “have an anointing from the holy one,” Jehovah. (1 John 2:20) It is an anointing to a heavenly hope. God has ‘put his seal upon them and has given them the token of what is to come, that is, the spirit, in their hearts.’—2 Corinthians 1:21, 22.
Yes, those with the heavenly calling have the testimony of God’s spirit to that effect. Concerning this, Paul wrote at Romans 8:15-17: “You did not receive a spirit of slavery causing fear again, but you received a spirit of adoption as sons, by which spirit we cry out: ‘Abba, Father!’ The spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are God’s children. If, then, we are children, we are also heirs: heirs indeed of God, but joint heirs with Christ, provided we suffer together that we may also be glorified together.” It is by means of God’s spirit, or active force, that anointed ones cry out, “Abba, Father!”
The chief evidence that a person has been anointed to the heavenly calling is a spirit, or dominant sense, of sonship. (Galatians 4:6, 7) Such an individual is absolutely sure that he has been begotten by God to spiritual sonship as one of the 144,000 joint heirs of the heavenly Kingdom. He can testify that his heavenly hope is not his own cultivated desire or his imagination; rather, it is from Jehovah as a result of the action of God’s spirit toward him.—1 Peter 1:3, 4.
Under the influence of God’s holy spirit, the spirit, or dominant attitude, of anointed ones acts as an impelling force. It moves them to respond positively to what God’s Word says about the heavenly hope. They also respond in a positive way to Jehovah’s dealings with them by means of the holy spirit. Thus, they are sure that they are God’s spiritual children and heirs.
When anointed ones read what God’s Word says about his spiritual children and the heavenly hope, their spontaneous inclination is to say within themselves, ‘This means me!’ Yes, they respond joyfully when their Father’s Word promises a heavenly reward. They say, ‘That means me!’ when they read: “Beloved ones, now we are children of God.” (1 John 3:2) And when anointed ones read that God has brought people forth “to be certain firstfruits of his creatures,” their mental inclination is to respond, ‘Yes, he brought me forth for that purpose.’ (James 1:18) They know that they have been “baptized into Christ Jesus” and into his death. (Romans 6:3) So they have the firm conviction of being part of Christ’s spiritual body and entertain the hope of undergoing a death like his and being resurrected to heavenly life.
To inherit the heavenly Kingdom, anointed ones must ‘do their utmost to make their calling and choosing sure.’ (2 Peter 1:5-11) They walk by faith and keep growing spiritually, as do those with earthly hopes. So, what else is there to the witness of the spirit?
Why They Partake
Anointed Christians do not want to go to heaven because of malcontent over present-day earthly life. (Compare Jude 3, 4, 16.) Rather, the holy spirit bears witness with their spirit that they are God’s children. They are also certain that they have been taken into the new covenant. The parties to this covenant are Jehovah God and spiritual Israel. (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Galatians 6:15, 16; Hebrews 12:22-24) This covenant, made operative by Jesus’ shed blood, takes out a people for Jehovah’s name and makes these anointed Christians part of Abraham’s “seed.” (Galatians 3:26-29; Acts 15:14) The new covenant remains in operation until all spiritual Israelites are resurrected to immortal life in heaven.
Furthermore, those who truly have the heavenly calling have no doubt that they are also in the covenant for the heavenly Kingdom. Jesus referred to this covenant between himself and his followers when he said: “You are the ones that have stuck with me in my trials; and I make a covenant with you, just as my Father has made a covenant with me, for a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Luke 22:28-30) This covenant was inaugurated toward Jesus’ disciples by their being anointed with holy spirit on the day of Pentecost 33 C.E. It remains operative between Christ and his associate kings forever.—Revelation 22:5.
Those having the heavenly calling are positive that they are in the new covenant and the covenant for a Kingdom. Therefore, they properly partake of the emblematic bread and wine at annual commemorations of the Lord’s Evening Meal, or Memorial of Jesus Christ’s death. The unleavened bread symbolizes Jesus’ sinless human body, and the wine his perfect blood poured out in death and validating the new covenant.—1 Corinthians 11:23-26.
If Jehovah has cultivated in you the undeniable hope of heavenly life, you are counting on that. You offer prayers in expression of that hope. It engrosses you, and you cannot get it out of your system. You have consuming spiritual aspirations. But if you are divided and uncertain, then surely you should not partake of the emblems of the Lord’s Evening Meal.
Why Wrong Assumptions?
Some may wrongly partake of the Memorial emblems because they really do not acknowledge that anointing “depends, not upon the one wishing nor upon the one running, but upon God.” (Romans 9:16) It is not up to the individual to decide that he or she would like to be taken into the new covenant and become a joint heir with Christ in the heavenly Kingdom. Jehovah’s choice is what counts. In ancient Israel, God chose those who would serve as his priests, and he executed Korah for presumptuously seeking the priesthood divinely placed in Aaron’s family. (Exodus 28:1; Numbers 16:4-11, 31-35; 2 Chronicles 26:18; Hebrews 5:4, 5) Similarly, it would displease Jehovah if a person presented himself as one called to be among the heavenly kings and priests when God had not given him such a calling.—Compare 1 Timothy 5:24, 25.
A person may mistakenly assume that he has the heavenly calling because of strong emotion arising from severe problems. Death of a mate or another tragedy might cause a person to lose interest in life on earth. Or a close associate may profess to be of the anointed, and the person may desire the same destiny. Such factors might make him feel that life in heaven is for him. But this is not God’s way of giving anyone the spirit of sonship. It would show a lack of gratitude for God’s purpose regarding the earth if one desired to go to heaven because of undesirable situations or emotional distress related to earthly life.
Former religious views might also cause a person to conclude wrongly that he has the heavenly calling. Perhaps he was once associated with a false religion that held out heavenly life as the only hope for the faithful. Hence, a Christian needs to guard against being swayed by emotion and past wrong views.
Careful Examination Vital
A very significant point was made by the apostle Paul when he wrote: “Whoever eats the loaf or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will be guilty respecting the body and the blood of the Lord. First let a man approve himself after scrutiny, and thus let him eat of the loaf and drink of the cup. For he that eats and drinks eats and drinks judgment against himself if he does not discern the body.” (1 Corinthians 11:27-29) Therefore, a baptized Christian who in recent years began to think that he received the heavenly calling should give the matter very careful and prayerful thought.
Such a person might also ask himself: ‘Have others influenced me to entertain the idea of heavenly life?’ This would be improper, for God has not assigned anyone to recruit others for such a privilege. A tendency toward fantasy would be no indication of anointing by God, and he does not anoint Kingdom heirs by causing them to hear voices with messages to that effect.
Some might ask themselves: ‘Before becoming a Christian, was I involved in drug abuse? Am I using medications that affect the emotions? Have I received treatment for mental or emotional problems?’ Some have said that they first fought against what they thought was the heavenly hope. Others have said that for a time God took away their earthly hope and finally gave them a heavenly one. But such a procedure is contrary to divine dealings. Moreover, faith is not uncertain; it is sure.—Hebrews 11:6.
A person might also ask himself: ‘Do I desire prominence? Am I ambitious for a position of authority now or as one of the kings and priests associated with Christ?’ In the first century C.E., when a general invitation was going out to seek entrance into the heavenly Kingdom, not all anointed Christians held positions of responsibility as members of the governing body or as elders or ministerial servants. Many were women, and they had no special authority; nor does spirit anointing bring extraordinary understanding of God’s Word, for Paul found it necessary to instruct and counsel certain anointed ones. (1 Corinthians 3:1-3; Hebrews 5:11-14) Those with the heavenly calling do not view themselves as prominent individuals, and they do not draw attention to their being anointed ones. Rather, they manifest the humility rightly expected of those having “the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16) They also realize that God’s righteous requirements must be met by all Christians, whether their hope is heavenly or earthly.
Professing to have a heavenly calling does not bring a person special revelations. God has a channel of communication through which he provides spiritual food for his earthly organization. (Matthew 24:45-47) So nobody should think that being an anointed Christian gives him wisdom superior to that of the “great crowd” with the earthly hope. (Revelation 7:9) Spirit anointing is not indicated by proficiency in witnessing, answering Scriptural questions, or giving Bible talks, for Christians with the earthly hope also do very well in these respects. Like anointed ones, they too are living exemplary Christian lives. For that matter, Samson and others of pre-Christian times had God’s spirit and were filled with zeal and understanding. Yet, none of that ‘great cloud of witnesses’ had the heavenly hope.—Hebrews 11:32-38; 12:1; Exodus 35:30, 31; Judges 14:6, 19; 15:14; 1 Samuel 16:13; Ezekiel 2:2.
Remember Who Makes the Choice
If a fellow believer asks about the heavenly calling, an appointed elder or other mature Christian can discuss the matter with him. But one person cannot make this decision for another, and it is Jehovah who imparts the heavenly hope. An individual who truly has the heavenly calling never needs to ask fellow Christians if he has such a hope. Anointed ones “have been given a new birth, not by corruptible, but by incorruptible reproductive seed, through the word of the living and enduring God.” (1 Peter 1:23) By his spirit and Word, God implants the “seed” that makes the individual “a new creation,” with a heavenly hope. (2 Corinthians 5:17) Yes, Jehovah makes the choice.
When studying the Bible with new ones, therefore, it is not good to suggest that they try to decide whether they have the heavenly calling. But what if an anointed Christian proved unfaithful and a replacement was needed? Then it would be reasonable to conclude that God would give the heavenly calling to someone who had been exemplary in rendering faithful service to our heavenly Father for very many years.
Today, the main thrust of God’s message is not for people to become members of Christ’s heavenly bride. Rather, “the spirit and the bride keep on saying: ‘Come!’” This is an invitation to life in an earthly paradise. (Revelation 22:1, 2, 17) As anointed ones take the lead in this activity, they display “lowliness of mind” and work ‘to make their calling and choosing sure.’—Ephesians 4:1-3; 2 Peter 1:5-11.