God’s Kingdom Society: A Watchtower Surrogate

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My friend, Dexter, sent me an audio clip of a monthly radio program sponsored by the friends of God’s Kingdom Society.

The station minister, Emmanuel Oriaku, was on air to disseminate their teachings and the line was opened for listeners to call in at the end of the program.

Before I proceed to respond to some of the things he said, I need to give a brief history of this religious group.

The God’s Kingdom Society (GKS) is a sect that broke away from the Jehovah’s Witness religion. It was founded in 1934 in Nigeria by Gideon M. Urhobo (1903-1952) a former Jehovah’s Witness (JW).

GKS has become one of the larger offshoots from JWs with followers in Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Benin, North America and England.

Urhobo claimed to receive a vision from Jesus in 1933 “to proclaim the good news of God’s Kingdom to all nations as the only remedy for all human sufferings and woes…and to expose all the false doctrines which Satan had used to deceive the people.”

Thereafter, he became a Jehovah’s Witness and a Watchtower Society representative in Nigeria.

He soon disagreed with their teachings regarding marriage, the Memorial celebration, the 144,000 heavenly class, their failed predictions and their name “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” and broke away in 1934 to form his own sect.

When we have surrogate sects that have splintered from a pre-existing curious sect, they usually contain a derivative and successive theological, Christological, soteriological and eschatological views.

Therefore, once you have understood the falsehoods inherent in Jehovah’s Witnesses doctrines and their method of eisegesis (flawed Bible interpretation), you won’t be swayed by the teachings espoused by the God’s Kingdom Society.

Now, back to the audio clip, the words of Emmanuel Oriaku will be in blue:

[Quotes from John 14:1-3]

“This promise is not meant for a Christians. There are two classes of Christians. This is where all the churches get it wrong when they interpret the Scriptures. We have the apostles and the disciples class. Christ himself gave that distinction.”

First of all, nowhere does the New Testament teaches that Christians are in two classes. There is no elitism in the Body of Christ.

It’s quite difficult for a brainwashed mind to admit that his interpretative grid is cut out of the badly smoked, deluded lenses of Mr. Urhobo – a man in the 20th century who supposedly had a better grasp of the Scriptures than all other Christians in the last 2000 years!

One of the first things a cult leader tells his followers is that all others are lying.

To infer that the Bible classifies all believers into “apostles” and “disciples” is ludicrous, because the word “apostle” is used in two senses: as an office and as a gift (implying “one who is sent from”).

In Matthew 10:1-2, the “twelve disciples” were also called “twelve apostles.” The terms were used interchangeably, even though they were quite different.

Jesus originally called disciples. The meaning of the word disciple is “a follower.” These were the people who followed Jesus and learned from Him.

It was out of all His disciples that Jesus chose certain ones who were to be apostles. The word apostle means “sent one.”

In Acts 1:16-26, Peter said the criteria for being in the office of an apostle is that he must have followed Jesus Christ in His earthly ministry and been a witness of the Resurrection.

Mr Oriaku quoted Luke 6:12-13 but it fails to support his preconceived beliefs. The text fails to uphold the idea of a two-tier Christianity.

Christ told the apostles to make disciples through preaching the gospel. He added that each person who believed the gospel was to be taught to obey everything that He had taught the original twelve:

“Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:20).

This statement can’t be applied exclusively to a special class of “elite” Christians or leadership hierarchy.

Whatever commands, promises and empowerment the apostles received from Christ were passed on to all who believed the gospel (e.g., their own disciples), who in turn passed on the same to their own converts, and down on to the present time.

All believers are recipients of the blessings of the New Covenant – forgiveness of sin, regeneration of the Holy Spirit, baptism of the Holy Spirit and eternal life.

No one has the right to restrict these blessings to a “special class.”

“Is it only 12 that make up the apostles? No. The 12 apostles were the foundation members of the class of Christians known as 144,000 chosen and anointed Christians according to Revelation 14:1-5 and 7:1-7. They are known as the “little flock” Luke 12:32.”

Now the Trojan horse has been fully unearthed. These are the same errors adhered to by Jehovah’s Witnesses, except that they don’t designate their two classes as “apostles” and “disciples.”

This has been addressed in two posts, The 144,000 and the Great Crowd and Who mediates for the Great Crowd?

Indeed, the title “apostle” was not limited to the Twelve, for Barnabas (Acts 14:14), Paul (Acts 9:1-31; 22:5) and James the Lord’s brother were also apostles (Gal. 1:19; 1 Cor. 15:7). But they didn’t leave behind a dynasty of apostolic succession as Romanism or Mormonism teaches.

When you open to Revelation 14:1-5 and 7:1-7 and read, you will find out that these people are literal Jews from the tribes of Israel, not anointed Christians.

Again, when you read Luke 12 from verse 22, you find that Jesus was directly saying these things to His disciples.

So, even if we assume that the term “little flock” indicates the number of those who would be in heaven, it also shows that disciples will be in heaven!

Those who subscribe to these absurd GKS teachings need to learn that the promise of believers agreeing together in prayer (Matt. 18:19) and receiving whatever they ask in the name of Jesus (Jn. 16:23) was originally given to Christ’s inner circle of twelve. So why do they follow it today?

The command given at the Last Supper for believers to do this “in remembrance of me” (Lk. 22:19) was given to the inner circle of 12 disciples, so why do they follow it?

Approaching the Bible with a two-tier lens makes the Bible quite confusing and contradictory.

Finally, Mr. Oriaku drops the bombshell:

And there is no woman among those that are going to heaven. No woman will go to heaven. Some of the women may be surprised to hear this. (The interviewer cuts in, “The women on earth?”). Yes. No woman on earth would go to heaven. We have it in the Scriptures … I am not here to patch the words, I’m just here to tell the truth as contained in the Holy Bible. (The interviewer asks, “So where will women go?”). They will be blessed, once they are faithful in God’s kingdom here on earth.”

If there’s a proof that this is a false religious group, this one extinguishes all the doubts.

If the Bible is clear that “there is neither Jew not Greek…slave nor free, … male nor female; for you are all one in Christ” then our position as recipients of Christ’s blessings is not premised on race, social class or gender. It’s based on faith in the perfect work of Christ at Calvary (Gal. 3:26).

One excited caller on the program (who has been soaking in these heresies) said he taught in his church during the youth week, that we would not go to heaven and his pastor corrected him that if he doesn’t want to go to heaven, he, his pastor wants to. I hope that guy was corrected and re-taught from the Bible.

We are living in an age where Christians need to be grounded doctrinally in the truths of Scripture otherwise we will be blown here and there by different winds of false doctrines.

The Two Aspects of Jesus’ Coming

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In this post, I will be addressing eschatology from the doctrinal context of two stages of Christ’s second coming: rapture of the saints and the return of Christ to earth.

There are three major eschatological positions adhered to by various Christian denominations which determine what details they believe about the second coming of Jesus Christ. These are:

Amillennialism

This is the prevalent eschatology among Lutherans, Anglicans, Calvinists, Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, the Amish and some Messianic Jews. It posits that there will not be a literal thousand-year reign of Christ on earth. They affirm that we are currently in the 1000 years mentioned in Revelation 20.

Amillennialists do not deny the literal return of Christ, but they believe the kingdom of God is the present church age; Satan is currently bound and there would be no future intervening millennium before the new earth.

To them, the second coming of Christ is a single event, thus it cannot be termed “imminent” (i.e. Christ can come at any moment). [1]

Postmillennialism

Postmillennialism was a dominant theological belief among American Protestants who promoted reform movements in the 19th and 20th century such as abolitionism and reconstructionism.

It may be defined as “that view of the last things which holds that the Kingdom of God is now being extended in the world through the preaching of the Gospel and the saving work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of individuals, that the world would eventually be Christianized, and that the return of Christ is to occur at the close of a long period of righteousness and peace commonly called the ‘Millennium.’ ” [2]

Premillennialism

This means that Christ will return to establish His earthly reign of one thousand years. There are, however, two distinct forms of premillennialism, one known as “historic” premillennialism (or nondispensational premillennialism), while the other is known as dispensational premillennialism. [3]

It’s in premillennialism that you have pretribulationism. This is the doctrine that the church will escape the great tribulation through the rapture.

Many non-pretribulationists (amillennialists, postmillennialists and posttribulationists) totally reject the idea of the rapture of believers. This point of difference has been a bone of contention between many a Christian.

It has gotten so bad that Christians who are premillennial or pretribulationists are unfairly labelled as vile heretics and often ostracized. I have personally been blocked – not merely removed – from several Christian Facebook groups on this basis. Yet, most of these group admins would readily accept non-Christians as members.

I must also add that I’ve observed this sort of “circle the bunkers” approach to be quite prevalent among American Christians. Most groups managed by Christians from other continents seem to be more tolerable of diverging eschatological details.

But I believe what should be the unifying factor is the belief in the return of Christ. John Feinberg has demonstrated that one must first examine the basic Bible passages about the rapture and the return of Christ and then look at secondary issues in the light of the primary passages. [4]

Distinguishing Carefully

There are certain similarities between the rapture passages and the second coming passages, since they both refer to future events relating to our Lord’s return. But similarity does not mean they are referring to the same event.

There are enough substantial differences between the two aspects of Christ’s coming so as to render them as two separate and distinct events.

The distinction between these two phases of the second coming is substantiated by the contrast between those passages that refer to our Lord’s coming for His church and those referring to His coming to judge the unbelieving world.

Pretribulationists merely need to prove that the dissimilarities between rapture passages and the return passages are significant enough to indicate that they are separate events.

Thomas Ice provided the following list to identify those distinctions.

Rapture Passages:

John 14:1-3, Romans 8:19, 1 Cor. 1:7-8; 15:51-53; 16:22, Phil. 3:20-21, Col. 3:4, 1 Thess. 1:10; 2:19, 4:13-18; 5:9, 5:23; 2 Thess. 2:1, 1 Tim. 6:14; 2 Tim. 4:1, Titus 2:13, Hebrews 9:28, James 5:7-9, 1 Peter 1:7, 13, 1 John 2:28-3:2, Revelation 3:10.

Second Coming Passages:

Daniel 2:44-45, 7:9-14, 12:1-3, Zech. 14:1-15, Matt. 13:41, 24:15-31, 26:64, Mark 13:14-27; 14:62, Luke 21:25-28; Acts 1:9-11, 3:19-21, 1 Thess. 3:13, 2 Thess. 1:6-10, 2:8, 2 Peter 3:1-14, Jude 14-15, Revelation 1:7, 19:11-20:6, 22:.7, 12.

Ice comments that the rapture is characterized in the New Testament as a “translation coming,” in which Christ comes for His church, taking her to His Father’s house. Here He claims her as His bride and the marriage supper of the Lamb begins.

Whatever view one holds in regard to our Lord’s return, one thing is clear in prophetic Scripture. The marriage occurs in heaven (Rev. 19:7-9) before the triumphal return of Christ with His redeemed church at His side (Rev. 19:11-16). [5]

The return of Christ is a series of events fulfilling all end-time prophecies. These include predictions of His coming for His church and His coming with His church.

Pretribulationists divide the return of Christ in two main phases: the rapture of the church and the second coming of Christ.

In the first aspect, our Lord comes to take His own (the living and the dead) to be with Him. In the second aspect, He returns with His resurrected and raptured saints to win the battle of Armageddon and to establish His kingdom on earth (Revelation 5:10, “and we shall reign on the earth”).

Pretribulationists place the seven-year tribulation period between the rapture and the return. This allows for the proper fulfillment of Daniel’s “seventieth week,” and it clearly separates the rapture from the return.

It is vital to substantiate the adequate dissimilarities between the events of the rapture and events associated with the return.

1. At the rapture, Christ comes FOR His own (e.g John 14:3) while at His return, He comes WITH his own

2. At rapture, He comes in the air (1 Thess. 4:17). At His return, He comes to the earth (Zech. 14:4)

3. At rapture, there is removal of believers (1 Thess. 4:17). At His return, Christ is manifested (Mal. 4:2)

4. At the rapture, ONLY His own see Him (1 Thess. 4:13-18). At His return EVERY EYE shall see Him (Rev. 1:7)

5. After rapture, the Great Tribulation begins (2 Thess. 1:6-9). After His return, the Millennial Kingdom begins (Rev. 20:1-7)

6. At the rapture, the saved are delivered from wrath (1 Thess 1:10). At His return, the unsaved experience the wrath of God (Rev. 6:12-17).

7. No signs precede the rapture (1 Thess. 5:1-3) whereas signs precede the second coming (Luke 21:11, 15)

8. The focus of the rapture is on the Lord and church (1 Thess. 4:13-18). The focus of His return is on Israel and the Kingdom (Matt. 24:14)

9. After rapture, the world is deceived (2 Thess. 2:3-12). At His return, Satan is bound (Rev. 20:1-2)

The church’s hope is the rapture. She awaits the Savior who is coming for His bride. The church may endure persecution, trouble, and difficulty in this present time. But she is not the object of divine wrath.

The church does not await destruction as the world does. Rather, she awaits the coming of her Lord and King. Peter explains that the present world is “reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men” (2 Pet. 3:7).

The Bible pictures the church as the wife of the Lamb (Rev. 19:7-9). She is not the object of the wrath of the Lamb. Jesus will not beat her up and then marry her! Or marry her, then beat her up! He may discipline her in love. But His ultimate purpose is to present her to the Father as His perfect bride. [6]

The biblical terms used to express rapture are “caught up” (Greek: harpazō) and “gathered together” (Great: episunagōgēs). Greek scholars observe that harpazō is the same verb used of Paul (“whether it was in the body or out of the body,” 2 Cor. 12:2-4 NOV); Philip (the Spirit… suddenly took Philip away,” Acts 8:39 NIV); and the man child (“snatched up to God”). This term was also used by Christ in John 10:28-29 where He promised that no one can “snatch” His own out of His hand. [7]

Therefore, the rapture is the time when Christ will “snatch” His people out of the earth and we will be “gathered together” with the Lord (2 Thess. 2:1). The basic meaning is to “assemble together.” The rapture church is pictured as the great “assembly” in the sky. As Milligan explains it:

“The word goes back to the saying of the Lord I Mark 13:27 (“gather His elect”), and is found elsewhere in the New Testament only in Hebrews 10:25, where it is applied to the ordinary religious assembling of believers as an anticipation of tge great assembling at the Lord’s coming.” [8]

The rapture (or “translation”) of the church is often paralleled to the “raptures” of Enoch (Genesis 5:24) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:12). In each case, the individual disappeared or was caught up into heaven. At His ascension, our Lord Himself was “taken up” into heaven (Acts 1:9).

Indeed, there is a rapture and there is the second coming of Christ and a millennial reign of Christ on earth. There’s no justification for spiritualizing Revelation 20 any more than Genesis 1 or John 20.

Notes

[1] Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1941, pp. 696-703.

[2] Loraine Boettner, The Millennium, Reformed Press, 1966, p. 14.

[3] Paul Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology, Moody Press, Chicago, 2008, p. 409.

[4] John Feinberg, “Arguing for the Rapture,” in Pre-Trib Answers to Post-Trib Questions (August-September 1994, p. 2.

[5] Thomas Ice, “Why the Rapture and Second Coming are Distinct Events,” in Pre-Trib Answers to Post-Trib Questions, pp. 2-3.

[6] Earth’s Final Hour, Ed Hindson, Evangel Publication, 1999, pp. 112-116.

[7] C. F. Hogg and W. E. Vine, The Epistles to the Thessalonians, London: Exeter Press, 1929, p. 144.

[8] George Milligan, St. Paul’s Epistles to the Thessalonians, NY: Revell, 1908, vol. 2, p. 96.

The Watchtower Mind Tricks

In a bid to uphold their false doctrine about the afterlife, the Watchtower Society resorts to various tactics to validate its position.

1. Deliberate mistranslation

In their New World Translation, they swallowed a camel in a bid to sustain their annihilation belief.

Matthew 27:50. “Again Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and yielded up his breath (NWT).

Luke 23:46. “And Jesus called with a loud voice and said: Father, into your hands I entrust my spirit (NWT).

These are parallel passages describing the same event: the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. In Matthew’s account, ‘the Society’ had no difficulty substituting the word “breath” for the Greek “spirit” (pneuma), whereas based on the context and grammar, there’s no justification for such a replacement.

Jesus yielded up His spirit, not His “breath.” JWs forced the word “breath” into the Matthew text in order to cement their doctrine; it’s a Jedi mind to condition the Witness’ mind.

When they arrived at the passage in Luke, the JW translators too realized that their messy cat would be easily let out of the bag if they rendered it: “Father, into your hands I entrust my breath,” so they used the correct rendering “spirit” instead.

But the very fact that Christ dismissed His spirit proves the survival of the human spirit beyond the grave, or as Solomon so wisely put it: “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it” (Eccl. 12:7).

Let me give another example.

Philippians 1:21–23. “For in my case to live is Christ, and to die, gain. Now if it be to live on in the flesh, this is a fruitage of my work—and yet which thing to select I do not know. I am under pressure from these two things; but what I do desire is the releasing and the being with Christ, for this, to be sure, is far better” (NWT).

Notice how the word “departing” was replaced with “releasing.” In their appendix to the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures (pp. 780-781), they wrote:

“In no way is the apostle here saying that immediately at his death he would be changed into spirit and would be with Christ forever … It is to this return of Christ and the apostle’s releasing to be always with the Lord that Paul refers at Philippians 1:23 … It must refer to the events at the time of Christ’s return and second presence…”

First of all, no reputable lexical work defines the Greek word analousai as “releasing.” The passage grates against their cherished belief, so they twist the text to conform to it.

Second, what apostle Paul is saying in Philippians 1 centers on his possible death and subsequent presence with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8), and also his concern toward the believers in Philippi. The coming of Christ is not the subject of discussion at all.

Paul never believed he would “sleep” in the grave till the resurrection because he clearly states he could either be with Christ after death or continue in the body to minister to the people. He described death as “gain.” There would be no gain in dying if men became non-existent after death. God is not the God of the dead or the non-existent (Mark 12:27).

Now, by denying that apostle Paul “would be changed into spirit and would be with Christ forever,” the Watchtower is also indirectly implying that he is not part of the 144,000 “anointed class.”

Why God would bypass Paul the apostle who “laboured more strenuously than all the rest” for the Gospel (1 Cor. 15:10) and was “poured out as a drink offering” as a martyr (Phil. 2:17), and consign him to the “great crowd” is a fatal contradiction that Jehovah’s Witnesses will have to explain.

2. Misquoting sources

In Reasoning from the Scriptures (pp. 169-170), a quote is offered from Encyclopedia Britannica (vol XXV, 236) to disprove the soul’s immortality. The part appearing in bold was intentionally omitted:

“In the NT, the Greek word psyche is often translated as “soul” but again should not be readily understood to have the meaning the word had for the Greek philosophers. It usually means “life” or “vitality,” or at times “the self.” While most Christians believe in a life after death, the Bible does not provide a clear description of how a person survives after death. Christian theologians have had to resort to the discourse of philosophers for an adequate means of describing survival of the individual after death, and philosophers have traditionally utilised the concept of the soul as the vehicle of immortality.”

3. Poisoning the well

They always link the Christian doctrine of the afterlife with paganism by misquoting their sources or utilizing the biased works of other annihilationists.

They also project a very negative image of pastors or Christian Bible teachers as ‘servants of Satan.’ This is a preemptive tactic deployed to seal the minds of JWs to whatever their opponents say.

The Bible’s teaching about the condition of the dead leaves many of Christendom’s clergymen in an awkward position. The very book on which they claim to base their teachings, the Bible conflicts with their doctrines. Yet, consciously or unconsciously, they feel impelled to reach into the Bible to seize on something to prove their point, thereby blinding themselves and others to the truth” (Is this Life All There Is? 1974, 98, 99).

They continue:

The ‘burning anger of Jehovah’ is against all who have misled their fellowmen by lying about God and his purposes. And he does not hold guiltless those who support such men by attending their religious services or being members of their organizations. The time left before the execution of divine judgement is short…you need to act quickly…to break all ties with the world empire of false religion.” (Ibid p. 187)

The scare-mongering and the appeal to isolation in these quotes are obvious. The amusing thing is that, on the one hand, JWs are told to quickly cut all ties with all churches, yet the JW who wrote this claims to know what church clergymen might say or do “consciously or unconsciously.” How did he know them?

Such a screeching rhetoric is aimed at preventing JWs from reading any reputable Christian work exposing the lies of the Watchtower Society. A renowned cult expert provides some interesting insights:

“First and foremost, the belief systems of the cults are characterized by closed-mindedness. They are not interested in a rational cognitive evaluation of facts. The organizational structure interprets the facts to the cultist, generally invoking the Bible and/or its respective founder as the ultimate source of its pronouncements … Secondly, cultic beliefs are characterized by genuine antagonism on a personal level since the cultist almost always identifies his dislike of the Christian message with the messenger who holds such opposing beliefs” (Walter Martin and Hank Hanegraaff, The Kingdom of the Cults, revised edition Bethany House, 1997, p. 33).

4. Comma shifting

Luke 23:43 “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.”

Here, Jesus was promising the pernitent thief that he would be with Him in paradise that very day. This is another proof of the immortality of the inner man and an eternal destination. This would torpedo the JW annihilation doctrine, so they shifted the comma to after the word “today” in their New World Translation (NWT) bible to read as:

“Truly I tell you today, You will be with me in Paradise”

To defend this spurious translation, they argue that:

“Westcott and Hort text put a comma in the Greek text before the word today… in the original Greek, no comma is found” (Kingdom Interlinear Translation, 1969, 408).

The fact is, the punctuation in English is determined by the context of the passage. The NWT has no scholarly support for this mis-punctuation. This is why all Bible versions (with the exception of the NWT) renders the comma after “you” and not “today.”

Greek scholars are in agreement. Dr Randolph Yaeger in his work, The Renaissance New Testament translates Luke 23:43 as:

“Therefore He said to him, truly I am telling you, Today you shall be with me in paradise.”

Greek scholar, Kenneth Wuest renders it:

“And He said to him, Assuredly I to you am saying, Today you will be with me in paradise” (The New Testament- An Expanded Translation, Grand Rapids, MI, 1961, 203).

As stated elsewhere, these are the tactics employed when a religious organization is bereft of truth.

Dr. Ron Rhodes explains why the JWs had to tamper with this Bible text:

“It is helpful to observe how the phrase, ‘Truly, I say unto you’ is used elsewhere in Scripture. The phrase – which translates the Greek word amen soi lego – occurs 74 times in the Gospels and is always used as an introductory expression …

“In 73 out of 74 times the phrase occurs in the Gospels, the New World Translation places a break – such as a comma – immediately after the phrase, ‘Truly I tell you’. Luke 23:43 is the only occurrence of the phrase in which the New World Translation does not place a break after it. Why? … this would go against Watchtower theology” (Reasoning from The Scriptures with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Harvest House, 1993, 328).