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Jehovah’s Witnesses

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THE WATCHTOWER (SIMPLIFIED EDITION) JANUARY 2016

The Spirit Bears Witness With Our Spirit

The Spirit Bears Witness With Our Spirit

“The spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are God’s children.”ROMANS 8:16.

SONGS: 109, 108

1-3. What events made Pentecost a special day, and how did those events fulfill what the Scriptures had foretold? (See opening picture.)

IT WAS Sunday morning in Jerusalem. This was a special and exciting day. People were celebrating Pentecost, which was a sacred festival at the beginning of the wheat harvest. That morning at the temple, the high priest offered the regular sacrifices. Then, at about nine o’clock, he offered two leavened loaves made from the first wheat, or the firstfruits, of the harvest. The high priest waved the loaves from side to side to present them to Jehovah. This was Pentecost of the year 33.Leviticus 23:15-20.

2 Every year, for hundreds of years, the high priest made this wave offering. The offering was closely related to something very important that happened on Pentecost of the year 33. And it happened to 120 disciples of Jesus who were praying together in an upper room in Jerusalem. (Acts 1:13-15) Eight hundred years earlier,  the prophet Joel had written about this event. (Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:16-21) What happened that was so important?

3 Read Acts 2:2-4. On Pentecost of the year 33, God gave those Christians his holy spirit, and they were anointed. (Acts 1:8) Then, a crowd began to gather around them, and the disciples started to speak about the wonderful things they had just seen and heard. The apostle Peter explained what had just happened and why it was so important. Then, he told the crowd: “Repent, and let each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the free gift of the holy spirit.” That day, about 3,000 people were baptized, and they too received holy spirit.Acts 2:37, 38, 41.

4. (a) Why should we be interested in what happened at Pentecost? (b) What other important event may have happened on the same day many years earlier? (See endnote.)

4 What did the high priest and the offering he made every Pentecost represent? The high priest represented Jesus. The loaves represented the anointed disciples of Jesus. Those disciples have been chosen from among sinful humans and are called “firstfruits.” (James 1:18) God has accepted these ones as his sons and has chosen them to rule as kings with Jesus in heaven as part of God’s Kingdom. (1 Peter 2:9) Jehovah will use his Kingdom to bless all obedient humans. So whether our home will be in heaven with Jesus or on a paradise earth, Pentecost of the year 33 is very important to us. [1]—See endnote.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN SOMEONE IS ANOINTED?

5. How do we know that not all those who are anointed receive their anointing in exactly the same way?

5 The disciples in the upper room would never forget that day. Each of them had what looked like a flame on his head. Jehovah gave them the ability to speak in a foreign language. They had no doubt that they were anointed by holy spirit. (Acts 2:6-12) But these spectacular things do not happen to all Christians when they are anointed. For example, the Bible does not say that something that looked like a flame appeared on the heads of the thousands in Jerusalem who were anointed later that day. They were anointed when they were baptized. (Acts 2:38) Also, not all Christians are anointed at the time they are baptized. The Samaritans were anointed sometime after their baptism. (Acts 8:14-17) And in an unusual case, Cornelius and those in his house were anointed before they were baptized.Acts 10:44-48.

6. What do all anointed ones receive, and how does this affect them?

6 Clearly, Christians realize in different ways that they are anointed. Some may have realized right away that Jehovah anointed them. Others realized this over a period of time. But the apostle Paul explained what happens to each one of them. He said: “After you  believed, you were sealed by means of him with the promised holy spirit, which is a token in advance of our inheritance.” (Ephesians 1:13, 14) So Jehovah uses his holy spirit to make it absolutely clear to these Christians that he has chosen them to go to heaven. In this way, the holy spirit is “a token in advance,” or proof to them that in the future they will live forever in heaven and not on earth.Read 2 Corinthians 1:21, 22; 5:5.

Each anointed Christian must not let anything stop him from serving Jehovah

7. What must each anointed Christian do to receive his reward in heaven?

7 When a Christian is anointed, does it mean that he will definitely receive his reward? No. He is sure that he has been invited to go to heaven. But he will only be rewarded if he stays faithful to Jehovah. Peter explained it this way: “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and choosing sure for yourselves, for if you keep on doing these things, you will by no means ever fail. In fact, in this way you will be richly granted entrance into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:10, 11) So each anointed Christian must not let anything stop him from serving Jehovah. Even though he has been invited, or called, to go to heaven, if he does not stay faithful, he will not get his reward.Hebrews 3:1; Revelation 2:10.

HOW DOES SOMEONE KNOW?

8, 9. (a) Why is it difficult for most people to understand what happens when someone is anointed? (b) How does a person know that he has been invited to go to heaven?

8 Most of God’s servants today may find it difficult to understand what happens to someone when God anoints him. This is normal, because they themselves have not been anointed. God created humans to live forever on earth, not in heaven. (Genesis 1:28; Psalm 37:29) But Jehovah has chosen some to be kings and priests in heaven. So when he anoints them, their hope and the way they think change, so that they look forward to life in heaven.Read Ephesians 1:18.

9 But how does a person know that he or she has been invited to go to heaven? Notice what Paul said to the anointed brothers in Rome, who were “called to be holy ones.” He told them: “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.” (Romans 1:7; 8:15, 16) By means of his holy spirit, God makes it clear to someone that he or she is invited to rule as a king in heaven with Jesus.1 Thessalonians 2:12.

10. What does 1 John 2:27 mean when it says that an anointed Christian does not need someone else to teach him?

 10 Those who receive this invitation from God do not need anyone else to tell them that they have been anointed. Jehovah makes them feel convinced. The apostle John tells anointed Christians: “You have an anointing from the holy one, and all of you have knowledge.” He also says: “As for you, the anointing that you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to be teaching you; but the anointing from him is teaching you about all things and is true and is no lie. Just as it has taught you, remain in union with him.” (1 John 2:20, 27) Anointed Christians need to be taught by Jehovah just like everyone else. But they do not need anyone to confirm that they are anointed. Jehovah has used the most powerful force, his holy spirit, to make it absolutely clear to them that they are!

THEY ARE “BORN AGAIN”

11, 12. What might an anointed Christian wonder, but what does he never doubt?

11 When Christians are anointed by holy spirit, they change very much. In fact, Jesus said that they are “born again,” or “born from above.” (John 3:3, 5; footnote) He then explained: “Do not be amazed because I told you: You people must be born again. The wind blows where it wants to, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from and where it is going. So it is with everyone who has been born from the spirit.” (John 3:7, 8) Clearly, it is impossible to explain exactly how it feels to be anointed to someone who has not been anointed. [2]—See endnote.

Someone who has been anointed does not doubt that Jehovah has chosen him

12 Someone who has been anointed may wonder, ‘Why did Jehovah choose me and not someone else?’ He may even wonder if he is good enough for this responsibility. But he does not doubt that Jehovah has chosen him. Instead, he feels extremely happy and is very grateful for such a gift. Anointed ones feel the way Peter did when he said: “Praised be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for according to his great mercy he gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an incorruptible and undefiled and unfading inheritance. It is reserved in the heavens for you.” (1 Peter 1:3, 4) When anointed ones read these words, they know without any doubt that their Father is speaking to them personally.

13. How does the way a person thinks change when he is anointed by holy spirit, and what causes this change?

13 Before Jehovah invited these  Christians to go to heaven, they had the hope of living forever on earth. They looked forward to the time when Jehovah would make the earth into a paradise and remove all wickedness. Perhaps they imagined themselves welcoming back a family member or a friend who died. And they looked forward to building a home and living in it or planting trees and eating the fruit. (Isaiah 65:21-23) Why did they start to think differently? Did they change because they felt depressed or suffered a lot? Did they suddenly decide that it would be boring to live forever on earth and that they would not be happy here? Or did they want to experience what it would be like to live in heaven? No. Instead, God is the one who decided this for them. When he invited them, he used his holy spirit to change the way that they think and the reward that they look forward to.

14. How do anointed ones feel about their life here on earth?

14 So does this mean that anointed ones want to die? Paul described how anointed ones feel. He compared their human body to a “tent” and said: “In fact, we who are in this tent groan, being weighed down, because we do not want to put this one off, but we want to put the other on, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” (2 Corinthians 5:4) These Christians do not want to die. They enjoy life and want to use each day to serve Jehovah with their family and friends. But no matter what they are doing, they remember what God has promised them for the future.1 Corinthians 15:53; 2 Peter 1:4; 1 John 3:2, 3; Revelation 20:6.

HAS JEHOVAH INVITED YOU?

15. What does not prove that a person has been anointed by holy spirit?

15 Perhaps you are wondering whether Jehovah has invited you to go to heaven. If you feel that he might have, think about these important questions: Do you feel that you are especially zealous in the preaching work? Do you really enjoy studying the Bible and learning “the deep things of God”? (1 Corinthians 2:10) Do you feel that Jehovah has given you wonderful results in the preaching work? Do you want to do what Jehovah wants more than anything else? Do you have deep love for others and feel a great responsibility to help them serve Jehovah? Have you seen proof that Jehovah has helped you in many specific ways in your life? If you answer yes to all these questions, does this mean that you have been invited to go to heaven? No, it does not. Why not? Because all of God’s servants can feel this way, whether they are anointed or not. And by means of his holy spirit, Jehovah can give the same power to any of his servants, no matter what their reward will be. In fact, if you are wondering whether you will go to heaven, it means that you have not been invited. Those chosen by Jehovah do not wonder about this! They know!

16. How do we know that not all those who have received God’s spirit have been invited to go to heaven?

 16 In the Bible, there are many examples of faithful ones who received Jehovah’s holy spirit but who did not go to heaven. One example is John the Baptist. Jesus said that there was no man greater than John, but then he said that John would not rule as a king in heaven. (Matthew 11:10, 11) David too was guided by holy spirit. (1 Samuel 16:13) Holy spirit helped him to understand deep things about Jehovah and also directed him to write parts of the Bible. (Mark 12:36) Even so, the apostle Peter said that David “did not ascend to the heavens.” (Acts 2:34) Jehovah used his holy spirit to give these ones the power to do amazing things, but he did not use it to invite them to live in heaven. Does that mean that they were not faithful enough or qualified to rule in heaven? No. It simply means that Jehovah will bring them back to life in Paradise on earth.John 5:28, 29; Acts 24:15.

17, 18. (a) What reward do most of God’s servants look forward to today? (b) What questions will we consider in the next article?

17 Most of God’s servants today will not go to heaven. Like Abraham, David, John the Baptist, and many other men and women in Bible times, they look forward to living on earth when God’s government will rule over them. (Hebrews 11:10) There will be 144,000 ruling with Jesus in heaven. But the Bible speaks of “the remaining ones” of the anointed who are still on earth in this time of the end. (Revelation 12:17) So most of the 144,000 have already died and are in heaven.

18 But if someone says that he is anointed, how should those who have the hope of living on earth react? If someone in your congregation starts to eat the bread and drink the wine at the Memorial, how should you treat him? And what if the number of those who say that they are anointed keeps growing? Should you worry about it? We will answer these questions in the next article.

^ [1] (paragraph 4) The Festival of Pentecost was possibly celebrated at the same time of the year that the Law was given to Moses at Sinai. (Exodus 19:1) So perhaps Moses brought the nation of Israel into the Law covenant on the same day of the year that Jesus brought anointed ones into the new covenant.

^ [2] (paragraph 11) For more explanation of what it means to be born again, see The Watchtower, April 1, 2009, pages 3-11.