“Whoever eats the loaf or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will be guilty respecting the body and the blood of the Lord. […] But if we would discern what we ourselves are, we would not be judged.”
~1 Corinthians 11:27,31
The night of Friday, April 19, 2019 corresponds to the start of Nisan 14 on the Jewish calendar.
Jehovah’s Witnesses and friends will be gathering at meeting places around the world to commemorate what Jehovah and Jesus did for us on that day.
The night before his death, Jesus took unleavened bread and a cup of wine to establish a covenant between himself and those he was buying from the earth to become co-rulers with him in Heaven. (Matt. 26:26-29; Rev. 14:3-5)
God’s purpose for humankind has always been that we live forever in a paradise earth. (Gen. 1:28; Ps. 37:29)
But he has lovingly provided an arrangement wherein humans will be judged by peers who have proven faithful to righteous standards. (Rev. 20:6)
Jesus officially founded that arrangement when he shared his last evening meal with his faithful apostles.
How does a Christian know if they are entitled to share in the bread and wine emblems?
God’s spirit manifests itself to loyal individuals who know they are called to rule with Christ in heaven. (Rom. 8:15,16; 1 Thess. 2:12; 1 Pet. 1:3,4)
An anointed Christian experiences great inner change which leads him or her to be certain of his or her own future rather than to wonder about it. (John 3:5-8)
Because most of us are unfamiliar with how it feels to be born in the spirit, we do not judge our brothers who partake in the bread and wine.
“[…] The hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, and those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.”
Was Jesus referring to a future judgment in heaven or on earth?
The Hebrew Scriptures describe the resurrection hope as taking place on earth:
“He will swallow up death forever, And the Sovereign Lord Jehovah will wipe away the tears from all faces. The reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth […].” (Is. 25:8)
Who are those “in the memorial tombs?”
The term used here is derived from the Greek verb meaning to remember (mimneskomai), implying that the person who has died is remembered by God, regardless of where their body winds up physically.
Jesus used the verb when he offered hope of living in paradise to the felon being executed alongside him on a stake. (Luke 23:40-43)
Jesus made a covenant for a heavenly resurrection with those who stuck out his trials with him. (Luke 22:28-30)
But for most of us, faith in being in Jehovah’s memory and the promise of an earthly resurrection is our most viable longterm hope.
In the restored paradise, we will have a clean slate to chose eternal life or destruction by the choices we make then. (Ro. 6:7; Rev. 20:12,15)
“God did not send his Son into the world for him to judge the world, but for the world to be saved through him. Whoever exercises faith in him is not to be judged. Whoever does not exercise faith has been judged already […].”
Does the Bible teach faith-based salvation?
While faith is a key component of our salvation, it is not the sole requirement.
God’s Word later explains that faith without works is useless. (Jas. 2:24,26)
What kind of works satisfy God’s standards?
To exercise true faith, we must follow in Jesus’ footsteps, sharing the message of God’s kingdom motivated by love. (Matt. 10:7,8; Jas. 2:8)
Still, we need to understand that faith and salvation are gifts from Jehovah God that are only possible through his own arrangement. (Eph. 2:8)
One Watchtower likens it to how we pray for our daily bread, and yet we understand we still have to go out and work for it.
Likewise, we have faith and work towards salvation, but left entirely on our own we could never attain it.
“In fact, neither can they die anymore, for they are like the angels, and they are God’s children by being children of the resurrection.”
While Jesus was asked about the earthly resurrection, his answer seems to apply to the heavenly resurrection, a new concept to his audience.
The earthly resurrection will be in the flesh, much like that of Lazarus or the little girl he rose from the dead. (Luke 8:53-55; John 12:9-11)
But here Jesus speaks of a spiritual resurrection, likening those resurrected to angels.
This begs the question: can angels not die?
In order to die, Jesus had to leave his angelic body and become a man.
When he was born again as a spirit, death no longer had power over him. (Rom. 6:9)
God’s Word never refers to angels as being immortal, the way faithful anointed servants hope to be. (1 Co. 15:53)
Nor does the Bible ever mention the death of an angel.
As my husband pointed out, it is only fallen angels, or rather, demons, who await God’s judgment. (2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6)
I personally would like further insight into this topic, but it is clear angels who remain faithful to God cannot die.
“[…] You will be remembered no more, for I myself, Jehovah, have spoken.”
The Bible says Jehovah God has been writing the names of faithful ones in the “Book of Life” since the beginning of mankind, so to speak. (Rev. 17:8)
Various prophets including Moses, David, Malachi, John (the Apostle), Paul and Jesus himself made reference to this symbolic book. (Ex. 32:32,33; Ps. 69:28; Mal. 3:16; Luke 10:20; Php. 4:3; Rev. 3:5)
If our choices reflect a healthy fear of God, even if we die, he will keep us alive in his memory until the time of the resurrection. (Luke 20:37,38; John 5:28,29)
On the contrary, how sad it would be to die without any hope of returning to life because we have offended God to the point that he has completely wiped us out of his memory.
“[…] Truth has stumbled in the public square,
And what is upright is unable to enter.
Truth has vanished,
And anyone who turns away from bad is plundered.
Jehovah saw this and was displeased,
For there was no justice.”
God expects those in positions of authority to do what is just.
He is not a distant, apathetic God, but is watching the earth closely, ready to intervene when it becomes apparent that no one else will (Is. 59:16,17)
God’s justice will leave no stone unturned. (Is. 59:18)
He hears the plight of those who are alone and suffering. (Is. 59:11)
He promises to bless them with eternal life in an earth rid of evil. (Ps. 37:9-11,29; Is. 60:18,20,21)
This was Christ’s primary message and the message Jehovah’s Witnesses likewise share with the public. (Is. 61:1,2)
“For Jehovah is loyal in his love,
And he has great power to redeem.
He will redeem Israel from all their errors.”
“Redeem” connotes a number of things:
You can redeem a coupon, in which case the literal meaning is to exchange.
You can redeem something you pawned, in which case you are recuperating something valuable.
You can redeem a mortgage, which basically means you’ve paid off a great debt.
You can also redeem abstract things, like when you fulfill a promise.
You can redeem people, including yourself, when you or someone else recovers your reputation.
It is possible for God to redeem us from sin because He has exchanged the perfect life of his son for each person born into sin (Rom. 5:8).
He has paid off our debt and recuperated our chance to live forever.
Because of Christ’s sacrifice, Jehovah can fulfill his promise to save those who exercise faith in His son (John 3:16).
His pardon is so great that He can even reestablish our reputation (Isa. 1:18).
How can we make use of God’s loyal love?
We must show appreciation for what He does for us (Mic. 6:8).