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John's Gospel is written so that the reader may believe that Jesus is the Son of God and may have life in that name"

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. - John 20:30-31

The purpose statement of John's 1st epistle is that the believer (that Jesus is the Son of God) may know that they have eternal life:

Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. - 1 John 5:10-13

I have read some material indicating that JW may be certain that they have been "anointed" but that this anointing amounts to the equivalent of an invitation. In order to make use of the invitation faithful living must be undertaken:

Does the Christian who receives this token have a guaranteed future in heaven? No. That person is sure of his invitation. But whether he finally receives his reward in heaven or not depends on his proving faithful to his calling. - Watchtower Study Edition Jan. 2016 (section 7)

The article goes on to explain that the "anointing" is, in fact, the gift of the holy spirit and that it is a deposit:

This special operation of holy spirit becomes like a down payment, a guarantee (or, a pledge) of what is to come. An anointed Christian gains an inner conviction because of this token that he or she has received.​ - Ephesians 1:13-14

It appears though that this inner conviction, gained by the reception of this down payment, is still not enough to be assured of a place in heaven. In other words, a Jehovah's Witness can know that they have been anointed by the holy spirit and still not know that they have secured a spot in heaven. Does this mean that an "anointed" can at least know that they have secured a place of eternal life on earth?

How do Jehovah's Witnesses understand the complimentary purpose statements of John's Gospel and his first letter regarding belief in the name of God's Son and knowing eternal life is possessed?

Can a Jehovah's Witness ever know that they have eternal life as John intended?

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    Perhaps it is worth clarifying that the "anointed" are not all Jehovah's Witnesses. They are a smaller flock of 144,000 individuals who have been chosen by God, starting from Pentecost 33 C.E., who will be co-rulers with Jesus Christ in heaven as kings and priests for God's people who are living on the paradise earth. Both those resurrected to life in heaven and those resurrected to the paradise earth can enjoy eternal life. JWs do not aspire to be anointed. It is entirely God's choice. – 4castle Sep 21 '20 at 17:51
  • @4castle That is worth clarifying. I did not know that the "anointed" could be non-JW. Are God's people living on paradise earth all JW? – Mike Borden Sep 22 '20 at 11:27
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    @Mike Borden JW's believe the first century Christians were "anointed" BUT "From the first century until the beginning of the last days, the vast majority of those who claimed to follow Christ were false Christians; Jesus likened them to “weeds.” after the death of the apostles, genuine anointed Christian “wheat” came to “grow together” with counterfeit Christians, “weeds.” "Then, starting in the late 1800’s, anointed Christians were again prominently active. In 1919 “the harvest of the earth,” including the gathering of the final ones of the anointed, began to be reaped." – Lesley Sep 22 '20 at 12:44
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  • @MikeBorden Those living on the paradise earth are also not all JW. It includes people from throughout human history who served God faithfully, as well as people who died without getting a chance to learn about Jehovah and what he wants people to do. (Acts 24:15) After being resurrected, these unrighteous ones will have a chance to learn about Jehovah and Jesus and to obtain eternal life. – 4castle Sep 22 '20 at 22:39
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Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe ‘Once Saved Always Saved’ is taught in the Bible.

Instead powerful promises like the words in John assure us that God will surely reward those who endure to the end. He will never fickly renege on his promise when a faithful anointed one endures to their death.

So John’s words that those who believe can know they have eternal life should be juxtaposed with those who do not believe. It is only those who believe that will be saved but belief is the first step in our walk with God. The Christian must continue that walk until the end to gain the reward.

Most of your question focuses on an anointed Christian brother or sister. As your question makes clear the individual who is spirit anointed has been given a token as it were, a special operation of the Holy Spirit, that serves as a pledge or guarantee of what is to come.

After you believed, you were sealed by means of him with the promised holy spirit, which is a token in advance of our inheritance.” (Eph. 1:13, 14)

Paragraph 7 of the Watchtower you cite asks:

Does the individual who is thus anointed have a guaranteed future in heaven?

The answer is no. While sure of their invitation, whether they finally receive their reward in heaven will depend on their proving faithful to this calling.

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 Pet. 1:10, 11)

An anointed Christian must continue to remain faithful. Otherwise his heavenly calling, or invitation, will be of no value to him. — Heb. 3:1; Rev. 2:10.

As with all promises from Jehovah we don’t have to worry about Him holding up His end of the deal. We do have to concern ourselves with maintaining our standing with Him in such a way that we don’t void the guarantee.

If an anointed person turns aside from a faithful course they don’t then qualify for a “runner up”reward of earthly eternal life.

It’s not as if a Christian with a heavenly calling has to hit a longer tee shot than a fellow Christian with an earthly hope.
Both are called upon to maintain a course of integrity during their lives.

None of us can claim that eternal life is ours, only that we believe it is promised to us if we are faithful to the end.

Consider the words found in Philippians 3:12-16. (ESV)

12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

Additional info is found in this article.

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  • I appreciate the tension between God's promises and our stewardship. There are plenty of verses indicating "whoever endures to the end shall be saved". What is to be done, though, with verses such as this; "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life"? – Mike Borden Sep 22 '20 at 11:35
  • @MikeBorden are you a OSAS believer? The numerous verses telling us we must endure to the end are there to remind us that we can lose our salvation, not because God is fickle or capricious, but because our sinful nature can turn us from our course at any time. John writes that we may know we have eternal life because we believe in the name of the Son of God to establish that those who do not believe have no chance of eternal life. – Kris Sep 22 '20 at 12:48
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    I don't like to claim OSAS because there is so much man made mumbo jumbo in that stew. I do know that Jesus definitively saved me when I was an evil, sinful wretch and that He is not leading me along with a carrot on a stick. A man cannot be un-born-again and, having begun in the spirit, I will not be made perfect in the flesh. I believe John is saying that someone who actually believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God can definitively know that they presently possess eternal life. I don't see that he is talking about having a "chance"at it. – Mike Borden Sep 22 '20 at 21:13
  • it is not a carrot/stick situation and is much more than a chance at eternal life. However to dogmatically proclaim that one has eternal life as their possession is presumptuous and premature since it is not our call but Gods. 1cor 10:12 for example. – Kris Sep 22 '20 at 21:30
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    @MikeBorden The point that Kris is stressing is that while we can currently know that we are in line for eternal life, it is possible to lose eternal life if we do not have endurance. – 4castle Sep 24 '20 at 1:00
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Not even Jehovah's Witnesses who feel assured of having the anointing (in-dwelling) of the Holy Spirit as per Romans 8:9-17 can say they know they have eternal life - not according to Watchtower Society teaching on the matter, that is. With regard to your supplementary question, "Does this mean that an "anointed" can at least know that they have secured a place of eternal life on earth?" again the answer is "No."

I will deal with the supplementary question first as this will give insight into how radically different Watchtower Society teaching is on the entire matter of anointed Christians having a place either in heaven or on earth. Until the matter of how JWs view the whole "anointing process" is grasped, confusion will remain as to the main issue you raised.

The heavenly calling is said to be given to no more than 144,000 humans, and after they have faithfully completed their earthly lives, then at the point of death, they are assured of being in heavenly glory eternally. Only at the point of death are they assured of being in heavenly glory eternally. JWs believe that it is only the heavenly group who will ever be declared righteous, which is why the earthly group can never be totally certain that God views them as righteous. Let me quote from this Watchtower magazine:

"Before his death, Jesus introduced to prospective Jewish members of that new nation [spiritual Israel] the new covenant, which would be validated by his own blood. On the basis of their faith in that validating sacrifice, those taken into that covenant would be made 'perfect perpetually.' (Hebrews 10:14-18) They could be 'declared righteous' and their sins forgiven. (1 Cor 6:11)... They give up their earthly prospects in order to have an 'inheritance reserved for them in the heavens.' ...Likely, the full number of spiritual Israel, that 'little flock' of Kingdom heirs, has been selected." [Emphasis mine] Watchtower 1 September 2000, p22 para 15

But none of that applies to 99 per cent of JWs. Bear that in mind. It is crucially important to understand.

Further, the JW “Insight on the Scriptures” Vol. II, page 362 has the heading ‘Those for Whom Christ is Mediator’. After quoting 1 Timothy 2:5-6, it says Jesus

“mediates the new covenant between God and those taken into the new covenant, the congregation of spiritual Israel. (Heb 8:10-13; 12:24; Eph 5:25-27) Christ became Mediator in order that the ones called ‘might receive the promise of the everlasting inheritance’ (Heb 9:15); he assists, not the angels, but ‘Abraham’s seed’. (Heb 2:16) He assists those who are to be brought into the new covenant to be ‘adopted’ into Jehovah’s household of spiritual sons; these eventually will be in heaven as Christ’s brothers, becoming a part with him of the seed of Abraham. (Ro 8:15-17)”

"Holding the offices of Mediator and High Priest, Jesus Christ, being immortal, is always alive to plead for those of spiritual Israel [the 144,000 alone] approaching God through him, so that he can mediate the new covenant until those persons receiving his mediatorial assistance are saved completely. He is able to conduct matters to the successful completion of the new covenant. Those in the covenant are eventually installed in the heavenly priesthood as underpriests with Christ, their great High Priest." [Emphasis mine]

This means that JWs believe the 144,000 still need Jesus to mediate for them until they are eventually saved completely. That is why none of the 13,000 or so anointed JWs today can say they KNOW they HAVE eternal life. They can only believe that they have been saved partially, and that getting saved completely depends on what they do. And, given that they believe "They give up their earthly prospects in order to have an inheritance reserved for them in the heavens", they believe that becoming unfaithful will result in annihilation, as they no longer have an earthly inheritance - they apparently "gave up that right" in order to join the elite 144,000 class. (See Watchtower 15 August 2006 p31 where Adam and Eve's deaths are said to have resulted in their annihilation.)

This means that no JW can say that they know they have eternal life, for those without the anointing of the Holy Spirit do not have Jesus as their Mediator (he mediates only for the 144,00 according to the Society quote above) and even those who do may become unfaithful before they die and then face annihilation. Much more could be said to deal with the insecurity of 99% of JWs, but you specifically ask about those with the heavenly calling, so I will stick to that.

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