The Herald of Jehovah's Kingdom
The Herald of Jehovah's Kingdom
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth.
This is the official website of
The International Association Jehovah's Witnesses

Theocratic School

 
Everlasting Life
 
    Life was at stake the life of mankind in a righteous new world! By next afternoon the question must be decided in favor of their enjoying that precious privilege eternally. The feast this night in Jerusalem gave promise that it would be. This was a memorial night, the anniversary of the 14th of Nisan more than fifteen centuries previous when with one irresistible push death invaded the home of every Egyptian family. It was not by any bacteriological warfare, nor by any dreaded atomic or hydrogen bombs dropping from Egypt's clear skies that such widespread destruction of human lives was caused. No! But the destroying angel of the God of the oppressed Hebrews sped through that land of the Nile and, with unerring aim, struck every first-born one of man and beast with sudden midnight death. Miraculously the homes of the Hebrews in the district of Goshen at the Nile's delta were passed over. Heeding the warning of their God by his prophet Moses, the Hebrews had killed the passover lamb, sprinkled its blood on the two doorposts and lintels of their houses, retired indoors and eaten the lamb roasted, along with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. This meant life for all their first-born ones, and the following morning they prepared to march out of Egypt a free people.

    In celebration of this a group of men, all Hebrews, were met together in an upper room somewhere in Jerusalem this anniversary night of Nisan 14 of A.D. 33. There in obedience to God's law through Moses they ate the passover lamb with unleavened bread and wine-cups of blessing.

    As we now observe the men, there are twelve of them. One of the original number has gone out, but not to return and rejoin them. His name is Judas Iscariot, and he has hurried down from the upper room on a treacherous mission that speedily leads to the death of the leader of those men the coming afternoon — yes, and to his own suicide by hanging!

    The men remaining continue reclining on their couches about the low passover table. The leader among them is addressing them in a long talk of warning and comfort. He finishes with the words: "I have said these things to you that by means of me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but cheer up! I have conquered the world." The speaker knew he was destined to die that fourteenth day of Nisan like the unblemished passover lamb slaughtered that same day long ago in Egypt. He knew his death would be in vindication of the universal sovereignty of the God whom haughty Pharaoh of Egypt had defied to Moses' face. He knew this world was against the rightful sovereignty of God over this earth. Refusal to compromise with this world would spell death for him. Till this moment of his speaking he had never compromised with this world but had fearlessly proclaimed through all the land the kingdom of the Most High God. By dying uncompromisingly in support of God's kingdom he would conquer the world. By God's wonder-working power he would live again to celebrate his conquest. The world would bring great tribulations to his followers left behind on earth, but by virtue of him his followers could enjoy peace of heart and mind. They had reason to cheer up. As he had conquered the world on the question of God's universal sovereignty, so he would help them also to conquer it and gain an everlasting reward.

    Let us hear what he says further, for it has to do with our eternal life. He now raises his eyes to heaven. In a conversational yet prayerful way he says: "Father, the hour has come; glorify your son, that your son may glorify you, according as you have given him authority over all flesh, that, as regards the whole number which you have given him, he may give them everlasting life." By these words we know it is the Son of the heavenly Father that is speaking. God has given him authority over all humanity, "all flesh." Why? Because this Son of God from heaven has become flesh and has made an agreement with God to die for mankind, just as that passover lamb of old died for the deliverance of the Hebrews from death and from Egypt's tyranny. By dying and sacrificing his own assumed humanity he could buy life for "all flesh", that is, for the whole number of people that his heavenly Father would give to him, drawing them in belief and obedience to the Son of God.

    What a stirring theme the Son of God strikes upon when he says "everlasting life"! That is what every lover of peace, happiness and good friendship wants. What is required of us to gain it? We are of flesh, and God has given his Son authority over all flesh, including us. So we must listen to the Son of God as he prays on and tells us: "This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ." All the other knowledge in the world is nothing compared with the knowledge taken in of the two most important Persons in the universe, the only true God and the one he sent into the world, Jesus Christ. Our gaining knowledge of Them and believing it means everlasting life for us in the righteous new world now near. How could we accept the gift of everlasting life from God through Jesus Christ unless we knew about it and about how to win it? Such life-giving knowledge is most important for us to get. By these pages we are on our way to get it. We must continue taking in such knowledge.

    Jesus Christ does not address his heavenly Father as a mystifying "triune" God, but as "the only true God"; and he speaks of himself as the inferior one, the Son whom the Father sent forth from heaven. Stressing his own inferiority to God his Father, Jesus said just previously that same night to his faithful followers there: "A slave is not greater than his master, nor is one that is sent forth greater than the one that sent him."* The Son is the Chief Servant of the only real God and is subject to him in carrying out the divine purpose of bringing everlasting life to dying mankind. On earth the Son honored God and recommended him to mankind. That is why we hear him say: "I have glorified you on the earth, having finished the work you have given me to do. So now you, Father, glorify me alongside yourself with the glory which I had alongside you before the world was." In making this report to his heavenly Father of successfully finishing the work meant for him on earth, the Son discloses that he had had life before becoming a man. This could only have been heavenly life as a spirit Son, and he had it already before the earth was made and man was created on it. The life up there was a glorious one, and the Son prays his heavenly Father to glorify him with his prehuman glory, with heavenly glory. The Son shows his willingness to sacrifice his human life forever with such glory in view. His Father must glorify him by a resurrection from the dead to life in heaven in personal association with the only true God.

    In carrying out the work given him to do, what did the Son do? Hear his report to his Father and Head: "I have made your name manifest to the men you gave me out of the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have observed your word. They have now come to know that all the things you gave me are from you; because the sayings that you gave me I have given to them, and they have received them and have certainly come to know that I came out as your representative, and they have believed that you sent me forth." Here a remarkable fact is reported. Jesus testifies that his Father has a name and that he made that name manifest to his followers. This was comparable to the mission of Moses who made known God's name to the oppressed Hebrews down in Egypt. In his writings (Exodus 3:14 and 6:2,3) Moses tells us of this: "And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you." "And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the LORD: and I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them."

    Realizing the importance of knowing the name and what it means, Jesus manifested it to his followers. As the Son of God sent from heaven God's representative knew the divine name better than Moses did. Before setting out on his public work of proclaiming the kingdom of God he was subjected to three special tests while alone forty days in the wilderness. He met the first test with these words to the tempter: "It is written, 'Man must live, not on bread alone, but on every utterance coming forth through Jehovah's mouth.'" Meeting the second test, he said to the tempter: "Again it is written, 'You must not put Jehovah your God to the test.' " Finally he thrust back the tempter with these words: "Go away, Satan! For it is written, 'It is Jehovah your God you must wor-ship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service.' "* In each test the Son of God quoted Moses' writings where God's name is used. The Son of God, in the very name given him on earth, bore his Father's name, for his Jewish followers knew that the name "Jesus" meant "Jehovah is salvation". This name indicates how necessary to our everlasting life it is to know Jesus as well as his Father. Jehovah sent his Son Jesus to be the Messiah, the promised Anointed King, and to that end the Father anointed his Son with holy spirit, immediately after his baptism in water. For that reason he is called Jesus Christ, because "Christ" means "Messiah" or "Anointed One" or "One consecrated by an anointing".

    The loving purpose of the Christ is to give everlasting life to all those whom his Father gives him by drawing them to Jesus through the power of knowledge. Knowing that the world would now heap tribulation upon them, Jesus prays for them, not for this world: "I make request concerning them; I make request, not concerning the world, but concerning those you have given me, because they are yours, and all my things are yours and yours are mine, and I have been glorified among them. Also I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world and I am coming to you. Holy Father, watch over them out of respect for your own name which you have given me, in order that they may be one just as we are. When I was with them I used to watch over them out of respect for your own name which you have given me, and I have kept them, and not one of them is destroyed except the son of destruction, so that the scripture has been fulfilled."

    That "son of destruction" could have had life through Jesus if he had remained faithful. But though being so close to him as to take meals regularly with him like a dear friend, Judas Iscariot chose to lift up his heel against him. By this he doomed himself to destruction, cutting himself off from the Channel of life. Jesus felt no responsibility for the loss of this traitor. Psalm 41, verse 9, had foretold his treachery and, unforced, Judas had for selfish motives chosen to fulfill the prophecy. Yes, Jesus and his disciples had the Holy Scriptures back there in their day. Several centuries before Jesus' birth these sacred Hebrew writings had been completed, all together thirty-nine books, from the books of Moses to that of the prophet Malachi, and there were no apocryphal or deutero-canonical books included among them. These inspired Hebrew Scriptures were included under three heads, The Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms. Jesus here referred to the Psalms which headed the third section of the Scriptures. As a whole, those Hebrew Scriptures contained the divine name "Jehovah" 6,823 times. Out of respect for that holy name Jesus had watched over his disciples while with them. After Jesus' departure Jehovah God must watch over them for his own name's sake, because they were a people for his name.

    "But," continues Jesus, "now I am coming to you, and I am speaking these things in the world in order that they may have my joy in themselves to the full. I have given your word to them, but the world has hated them, because they are no part of the world just as I am no part of the world." In addition to the Word of God already written in the Hebrew Scriptures, Jesus had brought his disciples a message or word from God, and this must in due time be added in writing to the Hebrew Scriptures. For accepting God's Word, including that brought by Jesus, the world hated his disciples, and the worst haters were the religious leaders. Jesus' disciples adhered to the Word of God rather than to this world. Hence they were no more part of this world than Jesus was. The world would like to get rid of them, but they had a work to do in the world. So Jesus did not want them removed.

    "I request you, not to take them out of the world, but to watch over them because of the wicked one. They are no part of the world just as I am no part of the world. Sanctify them by means of the truth; your word is truth. Just as you sent me forth into the world, I also sent them forth into the world. And I am sanctifying myself in their behalf, that they also may be sanctified by means of truth." The following morning Jesus was destined to tell the judge, the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate: "For this purpose I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone that is on the side of the truth listens to my voice."* To Pilate's question, "What is truth?" the answer could have been made that it was the already written Hebrew Scriptures and the message from God which Jesus gave to his disciples. By the power of this truth God sanctifies those who accept and adhere to it. That is, he separates them from this unholy world and sets them apart to his sacred service. By adherence to divine truth Jesus sanctified himself. That was why he never became a part of this world. He was sending his disciples into the world on divine service, but they, too, would never become a part of it because their adherence to the truth would sanctify them and hold them away from it. In the world they must declare this sanctifying word of truth, that others might believe. Hence Jesus with loving foresight prays for such believers also:

    "I make request, not concerning these only, but also concerning those putting faith in me through their word, in order that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in union with me and I am in union with you, that they also may be in union with us, in order that the world may believe that you sent me forth. Also I have given them the glory which you have given me, in order that they may be one just as we are one. I in union with them and you in union with me, in order that they may be perfected into one, that the world may have the knowledge that you sent me forth and that you loved them just as you loved me." If Christ's believers were to adhere to this world, they would be divided among themselves by its religious sects, political parties, social distinctions and national pride and traditions, and racial prejudices. But by being sanctified away from worldliness by the power of God's truth they were to be welded into a perfect unity, regardless of race, color, language, or country of birth. They were to be at unity with one another, the same as Jehovah the Father and Jesus Christ the Son are at unity. No unexplainable, unscriptural "trinitarian" unity this, because all these believers in Christ were to be brought into perfect union with one another and also in union with God and Christ. Because of this unity of the believers in serving God and proclaiming his word, many in the world come to know that Jesus Christ is God's beloved Sent One.

    For the unification of his followers with him to be climaxed in heaven Jesus closes his prayer with these words: "Father, as to what you have given me, I wish that, where I am, they also may be with me, in order to behold my glory which you have given me, because you loved me before the world's foundation. Righteous Father, the world has, indeed, not come to know you, but I have come to know you, and these have come to know that you sent me forth. And I have made your name known to them and will make it known, in order that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in union with them." No, the world's hatred does not deny that God loves Jesus and his followers; it proves the contrary. Till Jesus' day there was world ignorance of the way to life. Jesus' own knowledge of the only true God meant everlasting life for him. His followers must now be given the vital knowledge of the heavenly Father and his Sent One. Jesus' mission to earth was one of bringing the knowledge necessary to the life of the people receiving and believing it. He knew God's name and disclosed it to his followers. He purposed to do so, not only down to his death, but also after his resurrection to heavenly life in glory. Those who come to know God's name and purpose and who become a people for his name have God's love rest on them and they are unified with Jesus for the sake of the divine name.

    The prayer of Jesus* points out the all-essentials for us to know. Nothing is sweeter and more precious than life with a knowledge of the great Life-giver and the beloved Son by whom He offers life to the dying. So in the following pages we continue on our absorbing quest for this knowledge. The world may focus its hate upon us for pursuing this course, but we know that this knowledge means something the world can never give, everlasting life.