Jehovah Brings Many Sons to Glory
“It was fitting for [God], in bringing many sons to glory, to make the Chief Agent of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”—HEBREWS 2:10.
1. Why can we be sure that Jehovah’s purpose for mankind will be fulfilled?
JEHOVAH created the earth to be the eternal home of a perfect human family enjoying endless life. (Ecclesiastes 1:4; Isaiah 45:12, 18) True, our forefather Adam sinned and thus passed sin and death on to his offspring. But God’s purpose for humankind will be fulfilled through his Promised Seed, Jesus Christ. (Genesis 3:15; 22:18; Romans 5:12-21; Galatians 3:16) Love for the world of mankind moved Jehovah to give “his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) And love motivated Jesus “to give his soul a ransom in exchange for many.” (Matthew 20:28) This “corresponding ransom” buys back the rights and prospects forfeited by Adam and makes everlasting life possible.—1 Timothy 2:5, 6; John 17:3.
2. How was the application of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice typified on Israel’s annual Atonement Day?
2 The application of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice was typified on the annual Day of Atonement. On that day, Israel’s high priest first sacrificed a bull as a sin offering and presented its blood at the sacred Ark in the Most Holy of the tabernacle, and later in the temple. This was done in behalf of himself, his household, and the tribe of Levi. Similarly, Jesus Christ presented to God the value of his blood first to cover the sins of his spiritual “brothers.” (Hebrews 2:12; 10:19-22; Leviticus 16:6, 11-14) On Atonement Day, the high priest also sacrificed a goat as a sin offering and presented its blood in the Most Holy, thus making atonement for the sins of the 12 nonpriestly tribes of Israel. Likewise, the High Priest Jesus Christ will apply his lifeblood in behalf of those of mankind exercising faith, canceling out their sins.—Leviticus 16:15.
Brought to Glory
3. According to Hebrews 2:9, 10, what has God been doing for 1,900 years?
3 For 1,900 years, God has been doing something remarkable in connection with Jesus’ “brothers.” Regarding this, the apostle Paul wrote: “We behold Jesus, who has been made a little lower than angels, crowned with glory and honor for having suffered death, that he by God’s undeserved kindness might taste death for every man. For it was fitting for the one [Jehovah God] for whose sake all things are and through whom all things are, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the Chief Agent of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” (Hebrews 2:9, 10) The Chief Agent of salvation is Jesus Christ, who learned perfect obedience through the things he suffered while living as a man on the earth. (Hebrews 5:7-10) Jesus was the first to be begotten as a spiritual son of God.
4. When and how was Jesus begotten as God’s spiritual Son?
4 Jehovah used his holy spirit, or active force, to beget Jesus as his spiritual Son, in order to bring him to heavenly glory. While alone with John the Baptizer, Jesus underwent total water immersion to symbolize the presentation of himself to God. Says Luke’s Gospel account: “When all the people were baptized, Jesus also was baptized and, as he was praying, the heaven was opened up and the holy spirit in bodily shape like a dove came down upon him, and a voice came out of heaven: ‘You are my Son, the beloved; I have approved you.’” (Luke 3:21, 22) John saw the holy spirit come upon Jesus and heard Jehovah speak in open approval of him as His beloved Son. At that time and by holy spirit, Jehovah begot Jesus as the first of the ‘many sons to be brought to glory.’
5. Who have been the first to benefit from Jesus’ sacrifice, and what is their number?
5 Jesus’ “brothers” have been the first to benefit from his sacrifice. (Hebrews 2:12-18) In vision, the apostle John saw them already in glory on heavenly Mount Zion with the Lamb, the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. John also disclosed their number, saying: “I saw, and, look! the Lamb standing upon the Mount Zion, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand having his name and the name of his Father written on their foreheads. . . . These were bought from among mankind as firstfruits to God and to the Lamb, and no falsehood was found in their mouths; they are without blemish.” (Revelation 14:1-5) So the ‘many sons brought to glory’ in heaven total only 144,001—Jesus and his spiritual brothers.
“Born From God”
6, 7. Who are “born from God,” and what does this mean for them?
6 Those begotten by Jehovah are “born from God.” Addressing such individuals, the apostle John wrote: “Everyone who has been born from God does not carry on sin, because His [Jehovah’s] reproductive seed remains in such one, and he cannot practice sin, because he has been born from God.” (1 John 3:9) This “reproductive seed” is God’s holy spirit. Working in conjunction with his word, it has given each of the 144,000 “a new birth” to a heavenly hope.—1 Peter 1:3-5, 23.
7 Jesus was God’s Son from his human birth, even as the perfect man Adam was the “son of God.” (Luke 1:35; 3:38) After Jesus’ baptism, however, it was significant that Jehovah declared: “You are my Son, the beloved; I have approved you.” (Mark 1:11) By this declaration accompanying the flow of holy spirit, it was clear that God then brought Jesus forth as His spiritual Son. As it were, Jesus was then given “a new birth” with the right to receive life once more as a spirit Son of God in heaven. Like him, his 144,000 spiritual brothers are “born again.” (John 3:1-8; see The Watchtower, November 15, 1992, pages 3-6.) Also like Jesus, they are anointed by God and commissioned to proclaim good news.—Isaiah 61:1, 2; Luke 4:16-21; 1 John 2:20.
Proof of Begettal
8. What proof of spirit-begettal was there in the case of (a) Jesus (b) his early disciples?
8 There was proof that Jesus had been spirit-begotten. John the Baptist saw the spirit descend upon Jesus and heard God’s declaration of the newly anointed Messiah’s spiritual sonship. But how would Jesus’ disciples know that they had been spirit-begotten? Well, on the day of his ascension to heaven, Jesus said: “John, indeed, baptized with water, but you will be baptized in holy spirit not many days after this.” (Acts 1:5) Jesus’ disciples were “baptized in holy spirit” on the day of Pentecost 33 C.E. That outpouring of the spirit was accompanied by ‘a noise from heaven like a rushing stiff breeze’ and “tongues as if of fire” upon each of the disciples. Most remarkable was the disciples’ ability “to speak with different tongues, just as the spirit was granting them to make utterance.” So there was visible and audible evidence that the way into heavenly glory as God’s sons had been opened up for followers of Christ.—Acts 2:1-4, 14-21; Joel 2:28, 29.
9. What proof was there that the Samaritans, Cornelius, and others of the first century had been spirit-begotten?
9 Some time afterward, Philip the evangelizer preached in Samaria. Though the Samaritans accepted his message and were baptized, they lacked evidence that God had begotten them as his sons. When the apostles Peter and John prayed and laid their hands on those believers, “they began to receive holy spirit” in some way that was evident to observers. (Acts 8:4-25) This was proof that the believing Samaritans had been spirit-begotten as sons of God. Similarly, in 36 C.E., Cornelius and other Gentiles accepted God’s truth. Peter and the Jewish believers who had accompanied him “were amazed, because the free gift of the holy spirit was being poured out also upon people of the nations. For they heard them speaking with tongues and magnifying God.” (Acts 10:44-48) Many first-century Christians received “gifts of the spirit,” such as speaking in tongues. (1 Corinthians 14:12, 32) These individuals thus had clear evidence that they had been spirit-begotten. But how would later Christians know whether they had been spirit-begotten or not?
The Witness of the Spirit
10, 11. On the basis of Romans 8:15-17, how would you say that the spirit bears witness with those who are Christ’s joint heirs?
10 All 144,000 anointed Christians have had absolute evidence that they have God’s spirit. In this regard, Paul wrote: “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.” (Romans 8:15-17) Anointed Christians have a filial spirit toward their heavenly Father, a dominant sense of sonship. (Galatians 4:6, 7) They are absolutely certain that they have been begotten by God to spiritual sonship as joint heirs with Christ in the heavenly Kingdom. In this, Jehovah’s holy spirit plays a definite role.
11 Under the influence of God’s holy spirit, the spirit, or dominant attitude, of anointed ones impels them to respond in a positive way to what God’s Word says about the heavenly hope. For instance, when they read what the Scriptures say about Jehovah’s spiritual children, they spontaneously acknowledge that such words apply to them. (1 John 3:2) They know that they have been “baptized into Christ Jesus” and into his death. (Romans 6:3) Their firm conviction is that they are God’s spiritual sons, who will die and be resurrected to heavenly glory, as Jesus was.
12. What has God’s spirit engendered in anointed Christians?
12 Being begotten to spiritual sonship is not a cultivated desire. Spirit-begotten ones do not want to go to heaven because of distress over present hardships on earth. (Job 14:1) Rather, Jehovah’s spirit has engendered in truly anointed ones a hope and desire uncommon to humans in general. Such begotten ones know that everlasting life in human perfection on a paradise earth surrounded by a happy family and friends would be wonderful. However, such life is not the principal desire of their hearts. Anointed ones have such a strong heavenly hope that they willingly sacrifice all earthly prospects and attachments.—2 Peter 1:13, 14.
13. According to 2 Corinthians 5:1-5, what was Paul’s ‘earnest desire,’ and what does this indicate regarding spirit-begotten ones?
13 The God-given hope of heavenly life is so strong in such ones that their sentiments are like those of Paul, who wrote: “We know that if our earthly house, this tent, should be dissolved, we are to have a building from God, a house not made with hands, everlasting in the heavens. For in this dwelling house we do indeed groan, earnestly desiring to put on the one for us from heaven, so that, having really put it on, we shall not be found naked. In fact, we who are in this tent groan, being weighed down; because we want, not to put it off, but to put on the other, that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now he that produced us for this very thing is God, who gave us the token of what is to come, that is, the spirit.” (2 Corinthians 5:1-5) Paul’s ‘earnest desire’ was to be resurrected to heaven as an immortal spirit creature. Referring to the human body, he used the metaphor of a collapsible tent, a fragile and temporary dwelling compared to a house. Though living on earth in a mortal, fleshly body, Christians who have the spirit as a token of coming heavenly life look forward to “a building from God,” an immortal, incorruptible spirit body. (1 Corinthians 15:50-53) Like Paul, they can earnestly say: “We are of good courage and are well pleased rather to become absent from the [human] body and to make our home [in heaven] with the Lord.”—2 Corinthians 5:8.
Taken Into Special Covenants
14. When instituting the Memorial observance, what covenant did Jesus first mention, and what role does it play in connection with spiritual Israelites?
14 Spirit-begotten Christians are certain that they have been taken into two special covenants. Jesus mentioned one of these when he used unleavened bread and wine to institute the Memorial of his coming death and said of the wine cup: “This cup means the new covenant by virtue of my blood, which is to be poured out in your behalf.” (Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 11:25) Who are the parties to the new covenant? Jehovah God and members of spiritual Israel—those whom Jehovah purposes to bring to heavenly glory. (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Galatians 6:15, 16; Hebrews 12:22-24) Made operative by Jesus’ shed blood, the new covenant takes out of the nations a people for Jehovah’s name and makes these spirit-begotten Christians part of Abraham’s “seed.” (Galatians 3:26-29; Acts 15:14) The new covenant provides for all spiritual Israelites to be brought to glory by being resurrected to immortal life in heaven. Being “an everlasting covenant,” its benefits will last forever. It remains to be seen whether this covenant will also play a role in other ways during the Millennium and thereafter.—Hebrews 13:20.
15. In harmony with Luke 22:28-30, Jesus’ anointed followers began to be taken into what other covenant, and when?
15 The “many sons” Jehovah purposed to ‘bring to glory’ have also been taken individually into the covenant for a heavenly Kingdom. Regarding this covenant between himself and his footstep followers, Jesus 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) The Kingdom covenant was inaugurated when Jesus’ disciples were anointed with holy spirit at Pentecost 33 C.E. That covenant remains operative between Christ and his associate kings forever. (Revelation 22:5) So, then, spirit-begotten Christians are positive that they are in the new covenant and in the covenant for the Kingdom. At observances of the Lord’s Evening Meal, therefore, only the relatively few remaining anointed ones yet on the earth partake of the bread, representing Jesus’ sinless human body, and the wine, signifying his perfect blood poured out in death and validating the new covenant.—1 Corinthians 11:23-26; see The Watchtower, February 1, 1989, pages 17-20.
Called, Chosen, and Faithful
16, 17. (a) To be brought to glory, what must be true of all the 144,000? (b) Who are the “ten kings,” and how are they treating the earthly remnant of Christ’s “brothers”?
16 The first application of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice makes it possible for 144,000 to be called to heavenly life and chosen by being spirit-begotten by God. To be brought to glory, of course, they have to ‘do their utmost to make their calling and choosing sure,’ and they must prove faithful to death. (2 Peter 1:10; Ephesians 1:3-7; Revelation 2:10) The small remnant of anointed ones yet on earth are maintaining their integrity though opposed by “ten kings” that depict all the political powers. “These will battle with the Lamb,” said an angel, “but, because he is Lord of lords and King of kings, the Lamb will conquer them. Also, those called and chosen and faithful with him will do so.”—Revelation 17:12-14.
17 Human rulers can do nothing against Jesus, the “King of kings,” for he is in heaven. But they demonstrate hostility toward the remnant of his “brothers” still on the earth. (Revelation 12:17) That will end at God’s war of Armageddon, when victory is ensured for the “King of kings” and his “brothers”—“those called and chosen and faithful.” (Revelation 16:14, 16) In the meantime, spirit-begotten Christians are very busy. What are they doing now, before they are brought to glory by Jehovah?
What Is Your Answer?
□ Whom does God ‘bring to heavenly glory’?
□ What does it mean to be “born from God”?
□ How does ‘the spirit bear witness’ with some Christians?
□ Spirit-begotten ones have been taken into what covenants?
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At Pentecost 33 C.E., evidence was given that the way into heavenly glory had been opened up