Then it will be face-to-face

//Then it will be face-to-face

Commentary on the Daily Text of Jehovah’s Witnesses

Thursday, November 30

I rejoiced before him all the time.Prov. 8:30.

Jesus joyfully worked alongside his Father, rejoicing both in what he accomplished and in the knowledge that Jehovah was fond of him. What, though, about us? Jesus said that there is happiness both in giving and in receiving. It brought us joy to receive the truth, and it brings us joy to share the truth with others. As we share Bible truths with others, we see spiritually hungry ones filled with delight as they begin to understand and appreciate our God and the precious truths contained in his Word. It touches our heart to see them make changes not just in their thinking but also in their way of life. We realize that the work of sharing the good news is vitally important. It opens the way to everlasting life for those who become reconciled to God. What more joyful, satisfying work could we engage in than that of helping people chart a course that will result in their living forever?

There is no doubt in my mind that Jehovah’s Witnesses have the truth —in a relative sense anyway. When we consider the colossal falsity of what is taught by the mainline church systems and how over the centuries the Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican churches persecuted truth seekers and Bible translators and publishers, it is nothing short of miraculous that a tiny group of Bible Students emerged in the late 19th century and began a truth publishing campaign that continues to the present.

While there is no substitute for knowing the basic truth —call it the core Bible doctrine —such knowledge, while essential, is not complete. Paul spoke of the gifts of the spirit, the gift of speaking in tongues, the gift of prophecy and so-on, but even with those miraculous powers the inspired prophet said of anointed Christians: “For we have partial knowledge and we prophesy partially, but when what is complete comes, what is partial will be done away with. When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, to think as a child, to reason as a child; but now that I have become a man, I have done away with the traits of a child. For now we see in hazy outline by means of a metal mirror, but then it will be face-to-face. At present I know partially, but then I will know accurately, just as I am accurately known.” — 1 Corinthians 13:9-12

What was Paul referring to when he said “when what is complete comes”? Some —including the Watchtower —have suggested that Paul was referring to the complete collection of little books that make up the Bible. (See Feb 15, 2005, WT under subheading Why Certain Miracles No Longer Occur)

Admittedly, Paul himself did not survive to that day —having been executed in Rome before his fellow apostle, the aged John, wrote his gospel account, three epistles and the Apocalypse, thus concluding the writings that make up the complete word of God.

But if that were true, if the completed Bible is that which was prophesied to come, in what sense do we now see it face-to-face? And how is it that we are accurately known by it? That is nonsensical. We cannot be known by a book. It should be obvious Paul was speaking about the coming of Christ —not the coming of the complete Bible.

Even though we can consider the Bible to be perfect —in the sense of being complete —so that the man of God may be completely equipped for every good work, still, even a thorough knowledge of its contents only equips us with partial knowledge. That is why, for example, the angel commanded Daniel to seal up the book bearing his name until the time of the end, when the true knowledge will become abundant. (Daniel 12:4) It is not that the prophecy is literally sealed, only that it will not be completely understood until the time of the end.

In line with Paul’s illustration, even peering into the Bible we are still seeing only a hazy outline, as if gazing in a polished metal mirror and seeing our somewhat blurry reflection. The arrival of that which is complete has to do with the coming of Jesus Christ. Is he not the A to Z —the beginning and the end of Jehovah’s grand purpose? He surely is.

The book of Revelation foretells the consummation of Christianity this way: “Now when the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write, but I heard a voice out of heaven say: ‘Seal up the things the seven thunders spoke, and do not write them down.’ The angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the earth raised his right hand to heaven, and he swore by the One who lives forever and ever, who created the heaven and the things in it and the earth and the things in it and the sea and the things in it: ‘There will be no delay any longer. But in the days when the seventh angel is about to blow his trumpet, the sacred secret that God declared as good news to his own slaves the prophets is indeed brought to a finish.’”

According to John’s revelation, the sacred secret is brought to a finish immediately prior to the blowing of the seventh trumpet. Surely, contrary to the Watchtower’s Grand Climax commentary, the good news has not been brought to a finish yet. Certainly not in 1914, 1918 or any time since then.

To be sure, the future coming of Christ will bring about the completion of the work Jesus assigned to his followers; namely, preaching the good news of the coming Kingdom. But once the Kingdom comes there is no longer any need to preach and teach and make disciples. Paul intimated this very thing when he explained to the Corinthians that their partaking of the Evening Meal was a proclamation of “the death of the Lord, until he comes” —meaning, that, when the Lord comes the annual observance of the death of the Lord is concluded.

It is paradoxical, that the modern truth-bearers are also laboring under a deluding influence. At some point in the future, when that which is complete arrives, Jehovah’s Witnesses, with their blinded eyes fully opened then, will look back to now and marvel at how the Watchtower was the source of the biggest hoax that has ever been perpetrated. The paradox is, of course, that Jehovah’s Witnesses could have the truth and yet believe the lie. But it is God’s will that Satan be allowed to perform his operation of error —using all his deceptive powers —in order that those who continue to believe the lie after that which is complete arrives may be judged because they did not accept the love of the truth.

As regards seeing face-to-face, Paul was speaking of seeing Jesus. And obviously, Jesus knows us as we are. Then, though, the chosen ones will know Jesus as he is —meaning, they will know him completely. Not only that, they will be like him. The apostle John explained it this way: “Beloved ones, we are now children of God, but it has not yet been made manifest what we will be. We do know that when he is made manifest we will be like him, because we will see him just as he is.” —1 John 3:2

The apostle John was confirming what Paul wrote concerning partial knowledge. When Jesus is manifest to them, only then will anointed Christians “see him just as he is” —that is to say: “face-to-face.”

2017-11-30T17:14:30+00:00November 30th, 2017|Commentary|83 Comments