However, counterfeit-Christian groups cannot allow such assurance without making their own existence unnecessary. They may refer to Christ as a Mediator, and to His atonement as indispensable. But they always falsify His role as Mediator, and deny the real power of His atonement, by maintaining a system of doctrine that makes the group itself as indispensable as Christ. The “all-sufficient” aspect of the power of the atonement is thus destroyed. The result is that these groups provide a clear example of what the Bible refers to as “having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof” (2 Tim. 3:5).
What power is left in the atonement must be supplemented by the member’s own works, which are necessary to obtain the benefit of the atonement. The organization and its leaders are necessary to provide the member with the direction he needs to make the atonement effective for himself.
The leaders may not apply the specific terms “savior” or “mediator” to themselves. Yet the place and function given them in the group’s doctrine actually constitutes them as much mediators as Christ. They stand between God and the rest of mankind, administering “authority” and “truth” essential to salvation. Apart from them no one can be saved.
An example of the falsification of Christ’s role as the Mediator, with the exaltation of the organization and its leaders to the function and role of mediator, is found in the teaching of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The case also demonstrates how religious leaders deliberately obfuscate doctrines to maintain the appearance of Christianity. It is likewise a case where very few of the group’s members actually understand important teachings of the organization.
The Biblical View of Christ as Mediator
To really understand this issue one must first have a clear understanding of the biblical view of Christ’s role as Mediator, and of the covenant that He mediates. First, as mentioned above, Christ is the onlymediator between God and men (1 Tim. 2:5) .The covenant that He mediates is through His blood, i.e., through His death (Mat. 20:28; Mark 10:45; Col. 1:20; Heb. 9:25–28) .
Second, this new covenant is for the forgiveness of sins (Rom. 3:24–25; Mat. 26:28; Eph. 1:7; Jer. 31:34; Heb. 8:12; 10:17) . Forgiveness is required because man has sinned against God and is “at variance” with Him. Forgiveness that upholds God’s law cannot exist without atonement for sin.
A mediator is necessary because nothing a man can do can atone for his own sin. Atonement requires a perfect sacrifice. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice. As High Priest, His offering up of Himself in sacrifice made Him our Mediator—mediating forgiveness of sins and eternal life. It cannot be stated too clearly or too often: forgiveness of sins cannot exist, nor eternal life be given, apart from a Mediator.
Third, God covenants that He Himself will write His laws into our hearts (Jer. 31:33; Heb. 8:10; 10:16) . That is, He is at work for all those brought into the new covenant to change their innermost being. Believers can be assured that He is going to cause them to become conformed to the image of His Son (Rom. 8:28, 29) .
Fourth, it is sin that brought about death (Rom. 5:12) and put a barrier between Man and God (Isa. 59:2) . In the New Covenant God has promised (as shown above) to both forgive and remove sin from our lives. Therefore death is abolished for all those in the new covenant. They can now enter the presence of God and live there forever (Rom. 6:23; 2 Tim. 1:10; 2:10; Jn. 14:2–3; Jer. 31:33–34; Heb. 8:10–11; 10:19–22) .
Last, it must be pointed out that the roles of Christ as Mediator and as High Priest cannot be arbitrarily separated. They are virtually one and the same thing. The function of the High Priest—his job—was to mediate. Christ is our Mediator because He is our High Priest. As High Priest, He mediates. Mediation for Man—fully and inexorably effective for bringing in all the blessings of the covenant for all those who are in the covenant—that is what Jesus does as High Priest (Heb. 8:1; 9:11–15, 24–28) .
The scripture speaks of no work of Christ or blessings provided by Him, as High Priest, other than those provided by His work as Mediator, and belonging to the covenant He mediates. Likewise, the scripture speaks of no one receiving covenant blessings without being adopted into the covenant.
The Watchtower’s View of Christ As Mediator
What does the Watchtower teach about the Mediatorial role of Christ? First, the Watchtower teaches that Jesus Christ is the Mediator of the new covenant (Insight on the Scriptures, vol. 2, p. 360) . Out of all human history, those who are in the covenant, “spiritual Israel,” are supposed to number only 144,000 (Ibid., p. 362) . And Watchtower material says expressly, “...Jesus’ mediatorship operates solely toward those in the new covenant...” (Ibid, p. 362; emphasis added) .
Jesus is Mediator, then, for only these 144,000. And only they will ever be together with Jesus in heaven. For it is only, “By means of this covenant [that] it became possible for them to gain heavenly lifewith Christ...” (Survival Into A New Earth, p.72; bracketed word and emphasis added) .
Out of the several million currently registered members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization, only a few thousand are considered to be among the 144,000 of the new covenant, with a “heavenly hope.” Thus it is expressly declared that for the great mass of Watchtower members, Jesus is not their Mediator and they can never expect to be with Him in heaven.
This sounds truly dismal to Christians, who may ask, “How can they attract or hold on to their members?” One answer seems to be that though they don’t regard themselves members of the 144,000, still they are somehow under the mistaken impression that Jesus is their Mediator. And though they can never expect to be in heaven, they still hope someday to have a better life than this one, here on earth.
Why this confusion about Christ’s mediatorship? And what is the basis of this “earthly hope?”
The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ confusion is probably not just ignorance. The fact is that Watchtower leaders have deliberately obfuscated the issues by arbitrarily, and without any scriptural warrant, separating Jesus Christ’s being Mediator from His being High Priest (Insight, vol. 2. p. 362–363) .
Forgiveness of sins and eternal life are blessings scripture declares integral to the New Covenant. But the Watchtower says they are also available to those outside the covenant. The possibility of forgiveness of sins and eternal life for those in the Covenant is the result of Christ’s work as Mediator. The possibility of the same blessings for those outside the covenant is said to be the result of His work as High Priest (Ibid., pp. 362–363) .
The idea that forgiveness of sins (a blessing of the Covenant) can be obtained by those outside the covenant is urged on the basis of 1 Jn. 2:2, which says that Jesus, “is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” This does not mean, however, that forgiveness is available for people outside the New Covenant. Rather, it means the value of the atonement was not limited, but was of infinite worth. People presently outside the covenant (and people from all nations, not Jews only) can still be adopted into the Covenant, and thus receive forgiveness of sins.
The Watchtower says the “other sheep” Jesus refers to in John 10, “...are persons who are not in thecovenant…who…are being gathered within Jehovah’s provision for eternal life on the basis of their faith in the sacrificial value of Jesus’ blood. They are the same as the ‘great crowd’ of Rev. 7:9, 10, 14, and so they have the prospect of surviving the coming great tribulation …they are included in the great crowd of prospective survivors of the coming day of divine wrath” (Survival,pp.73, 80; emphasis added) . They are said to be, “putting faith in the merit of his ransom sacrifice” (Insight, vol. 2. p. 363; emphasis added) . These, of course, are the Jehovah’s Witnesses not included in the 144,000.
To speak of “putting faith in the merit of his ransom sacrifice” and “the sacrificial value of Jesus’ blood” not only sounds Christian, it naturally leads many Jehovah’s Witnesses to think of Jesus as their Mediator. That so many Jehovah’s Witnesses think this way is, in fact, testimony to the real truth that forgiveness of sins cannot exist nor eternal life be given apart from a mediator. Those blessings are provisions of the Covenant, mediated by Jesus’ blood, “the blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins” (Mat. 26:28) .
To speak of Christ providing people these blessings as High Priest while denying He is their Mediator is nonsense. It ignores all the biblical facts concerning the role of the High Priest and the nature of his work—to mediate. It also contravenes the Jehovah’s Witnesses own definition of a mediator: “One who interposes between two parties who are at variance to reconcile them; an intercessor; an intermediary agent or go-between” (Insight, vol. 2, p. 360; emphasis added) .
If Jesus forgives the sins of those who are in the “great crowd,” then He certainly has “interposed between” them and God, “two parties at variance, to reconcile them.” He has become their “intercessor.” By their own definition this makes Him their Mediator. Yet they say, “...Jesus’ mediatorship operates solely toward those in the new covenant...” (Ibid., p. 362; emphasis added) .
To say Jesus is Mediator only for the 144,000 is actually to deny the possibility of forgiveness of sins for any others. To claim forgiveness of sins for the “great crowd” is to deny the claim that Christ is Mediator for only the 144,000. Forgiveness is impossible without a Mediator.
This morass of confusion is still not the worst of Watchtower doctrine on the subject.
The 144,000 As Mediators
Since it is denied that Jesus is the mediator for all but the 144,000, Watchtower doctrine has elevated these 144,000 to the position of being mediators themselves. Note carefully again the last phrase of the Watchtower’s definition of a mediator: “an intermediary agent or go-between.” Then read their statements about the 144,000, below:
“With Christ they make up the agency by means of which blessings will be extended to all other obedient ones among mankind” (Survival, p.65; emphasis added) . “Being made kings and priests by reason of the new covenant that he [Jesus] mediated, they will share in administering the blessings of Jesus’ sacrifice [such as forgiveness of sins] and of his Kingdom rule to all the nations of the earth. Christ’s mediatorship, having accomplished its purpose by bringing ‘the Israel of God’ into this position [go-between],thus results in benefits and blessings to all mankind” (Insight, vol. 2, p. 363; emphasis, words in brackets, added) .
In direct, blasphemous contradiction to the Word of God (1 Tim. 2:5) , these statements unequivocally class the 144,000 as mediators for the rest of humanity surviving Armageddon, according to the Watchtower’s own definition of the word, mediator, quoted above.
The Watchtower As Mediator
It might seem that 144,000 mediators would be enough. But there is still one more: the Watchtower Society itself, and its leaders. To be sure, the leaders do not dare call themselves mediators; rather, “the faithful slave class.” But their role is as “an intermediary agent or go-between,” providing “meat in due season.” Meat in due season means teaching and instruction the Witness cannot do without if he is to be “reconciled” to Jehovah God.
“All who want to be marked as having God’s approval must accept the instruction that Jehovah is providing through that ‘slave’ class and become true worshippers of Jehovah” (Survival, p. 96) . The role they have assigned themselves unmistakably qualifies as a “mediator” according to their own definitions.
The Final Irony
When Christ alone is not enough, the multiplication of those things deemed necessary to obtain salvation becomes endless. As was noted earlier, the great majority of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the other sheep, are only “prospective survivors” of Armageddon (Ibid., p. 80) . Whether or not they will be actual survivors depends upon their own attributes (virtues), attitudes (values) and achievements (works). Watchtower members can never know for certain in this life if they have been good enough or done enough to inherit life everlasting on even this earth.
Hope is dangled before them by the use of intentionally vague terms like “persons of godly devotion” (Ibid., p. 52) , and “right-hearted people” (Ibid., p. 86) . Perhaps they will qualify! But if they do everything that is required, their only hope is for life on this earth, apart from God, Christ and the 144,000 mediators. They have no heavenly hope, and to attain even their earthly hope, “No less faithfulness is required of them than of those who are spirit-anointed Christians” (Ibid., p. 67; emphasis added) , the 144,000 who do go to heaven.
Evidently, God is not an “equal opportunity employer.” The Watchtower member dies and gets no pay at all if he does not meet all the requirements. If he does meet them, then for the same work in this life as the 144,000, he receives unequal pay—for all eternity.
What must the Witness really do to receive even this unequal pay? Is there any concrete standard by which “godly devotion” and “right-heartedness” will be gauged? Actually there is. The standard is, “...full harmony with Jehovah’s requirements” (Ibid.; emphasis added) . Obviously, any sin would not be full harmony.
Important Questions to Share With Jehovah’s Witnesses
The King commands us not to sin (Isa. 1:16; Mat. 5:48) . “Are you truly submitting to his authority as King?” (Ibid., p. 64; emphasis added) . Do you give Jehovah your exclusive devotion, allowing nothing to infringe on the place that he should hold in your heart?” (Ibid., p. 92; emphasis added) . Remember, “Jesus Christ, who is Jehovah’s executioner today, cannot be tricked” (Ibid., p. 60; emphasis added) . Will he execute you?
Is There Any Hope?
Do you recognize your need of forgiveness for your sins? Do you want everlasting life? Those are blessings available only through a Mediator. If Jesus Christ is not your mediator then you have none; you will not receive forgiveness of sins or life everlasting. Would you not rather accept Jesus now as your Mediator than face Him later as your “executioner?”
Stop trusting in your own devotion and right-heartedness! Put all your trust on Jesus as your Savior, your Mediator. He will forgive your sins. He will also credit to your account His own perfect righteousness. Covered by His righteousness you will have everything you need to be able to stand in the presence of God. He will take you to the place He has prepared for you there.
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