We’ve all heard the story about the man that refuses to listen to the Witness who comes to his door, saying, “I was born a Catholic and I’m going to die a Catholic!” We are saddened that he is that closed-minded and unwilling to listen. We would never consider ourselves to be anything like him.  I once asked a lady this question after a few minutes of speaking with her at her door:

“If I could show you something from your own Bible that was the opposite of what you had been taught at your church, would you want to change?”

She paused, looked up in the air for several seconds, and then said, “I don’t think so.” There was nothing left to say at that point in my mind, and I excused myself. Poor, poor, lady- another deluded, close-minded person. Sincere, yes; but doomed.

But do some among us do the same thing? Do some in effect say “I was born and raised as a Jehovah’s Witness and I’m going to DIE a Witness”? When reasoning with an asleep JW, the conversation can devolve into an endless loop along the lines of:

“Well the brothers are imperfect and they don’t claim to have all the answers. Picking at the faults of individuals or of the organization doesn’t prove anything.”

But does it? It certainly has been done hundreds of times in the Watchtower, when they point out the bad conduct of the churches and of its individual members.  If a man or a group of men claims to speak for and be the “sole channel” that the Creator uses to save people on the earth, then they better be able to stand up to the same scrutiny. (Two of many examples in The Watchtower where they claim to be God’s sole channel are found in wt1960 7/15 p. 439 par. 2, and wt1967 10/1 p. 590 par. 19)

But that’s not the point of this article… Now comes the interesting part- what the Watchtower Organization itself says about what comes first- loyalty to a church or loyalty to Jehovah God. The Watchtower article below asks this very question, and uses the figurative example of three different kinds of churchgoers:



With some, God comes first and their church is merely a means used to worship him. With others, their church has become an end in itself, taking priority over God and his Word, the Bible. Where do you stand? In your own heart and mind, which comes first—your church or God?

Last July, one of France’s weekly news magazines, Le Nouvel Observateur…went on to speak of three men that typify three categories of believers:

“The first man is the one who feels at ease within the traditional structures of the Church; the second would like to see some changes made in these structures; as for the ‘third man,’ he has left the Church, but quietly, without making a fuss. He still believes in the Gospel values, but he expects no more help from the Church. He has quit, and the Church’s problem has ceased to interest him, once and for all.”


The “first man” represents the believers who remain faithful to their church out of loyalty to the religion they were brought up to believe in. Their attitude is: Right or wrong, it is my religion! Is that the way you feel? If so, you are certainly a loyal person. But to whom do you owe the greater loyalty—to your church, or to God? With so much disbelief rife throughout the earth, you are to be commended for maintaining your faith, but where should your faith be placed—in a religious organization, or in God? Why do you go to church? Basically, is it not because you believe in God? Do atheists go to church? Is not the very purpose of churchgoing to worship God and gain his approval? So if it became clear that your church was not fulfilling its basic purpose, where would your first duty lie?


The “second man” mentioned in the Nouvel Observateur represents those Catholics and Protestants who stay with their church because they do not know where else to go. They have been taught that their church represents God, and they do not want to turn away from him. They disapprove of many church practices or doctrines, but they hope to reform their church from within.

Typical of these are the 744 French Catholics who, in November 1968, sent a long open letter to the pope. In it they stated: “Today the Christian needs to live in a ‘true’ Church . . . Therefore all that is false, contrary to the Gospel and scandalous within the Church today wounds the Christian.” Then followed a long list of grievances against the Catholic Church and its current teachings and practices. Yet, toward the end, these Catholics expressed their unconditional adherence to their church by alluding to John 6:68 and stating: “Who could we go to? In her [the Roman Catholic Church] we find the One who has words of eternal life.” …Consequently, if your church teaches and does things that are contrary to the Bible and displeasing to God, your duty as a Christian is clear: Imitate Paul and ‘serve the Father and your God’ within the true religion which, not surprisingly, the churches often “call a heresy.” (The Watchtower 1970 1/15 p. 37-40)



Each and every one of us must pray and honestly examine ourselves, and then ask perhaps the hardest question we have ever faced: “Where do I stand? In my heart and my mind, which comes first—my organization or my God?” We ask the Catholic and Protestant to ask themselves this. So we should be willing to ask it of ourselves.

After we face this question and answer it, then what? WHOM shall we go away to? (John 6:68) Hopefully all of us reading this know the answer to that question.

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15 Comments on Which Comes First?

  1. Mark M says:

    Excellent post JJ! This is a great article to show to our loved ones or anyone still in the organization. When I became a JW even though I had issues with a few of the doctrines like 1914, blood and the invisible parousia of Jesus, I still at first felt confident it was “the truth”. In retrospect I’ve seen that my relationship at that time was more with the organization and friends than it was with God and Jesus, probably because of the way things are presented through the org. I would often say that if I found anything closer to Bible truth than the organization, I would leave. I never thought that I would have to live up to those words.

    Leaving was the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do. What made it possible for me to leave is that in time, through prayer and study of the Bible, my love for Jehovah and Jesus became stronger than my love for the friends and the organization. As a result, I had to leave. I am now happier than I’ve ever been in my life! Thanks for the post.

    Your Brother,
    Mark M.


  2. jacqueline says:

    JJ, that is awesome. I would love to refer to this from our website at friends, may I? This is just so compelling.
    I am still in the doghouse. Meeting with my family soon.
    This will help. I am going to make copies. Jehovah sends the right thing at the right time I needed this.
    Still have to get back with you on interview and what not, have to watch it for a minute now. Thanks


  3. Simpleman says:

    Jehovah’s witnesses are about to face the greatest test of faith to date, greater than what they faced in Nazi Germany, namely the coming collapse of the Watchtower as “the day of Jehovah is near” (Joel 1:15)

    The Watchtower will be first in line for Jehovah’s judgement as they spoke in Gods name “‘The utterance of Jehovah is,’ when I myself have spoken nothing?” (Ezekiel 13:7) Christendom follows a close second.

    Hence the playing field will be levelled. The question each will need to ask in the time of the end will be “Where do I stand?”. Either one takes the mark of the beast or stands with Christ, on the prophetic plains of Dura, somehow there will be a clear distinction of the opposing camps…”No More Excuses”.

    “He that is not on my side is against me, and he that does not gather with me scatters”(Mat 12:30)


  4. JJ says:


    Your comments are very dramatic and I for one would think it in line with Christ and Heavenly Father’s will.

    A couple questions:

    1.How do you know we are about to face this test? “About” implies something that is going to happen in the very near future.

    2. Why is the WT first in line to receive his judgment? Witnesses certainly aren’t more blood guilty than many of the Churches that have fomented war, etc.


  5. JWB says:

    JJ thank you so much for pointing to the Watchtower article. The organization has written so much to try to draw people from other religions to it. I find it more than interesting to look back at the publications, as you have, and apply the organization’s own reasonings to itself. That is why I think so much can be done to awaken JWs by simply refering to the organization’s own publications. So, if the organization says its okay to question one’s religion and to leave if necessary, why can’t JWs? The article you point to is extremely fitting for the dilema that some JWs face – loyalty to God or loyalty to a religious organization?

    I don’t know if you’ve ever tried taking a paragraph or two out of a JW publication and exchanging the term “Jehovah’s Witnesses” with say The Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons), or the name of some other religious organization. Here is an example using the Watchtower article you quoted from. (Imagine you are reading a Mormon publication)

    “To help you learn what true religion is, as set out in God’s Word, The Church of Latter Day Saints will be happy to study the Bible with you, free of charge, in your own home. Ask any of them to arrange this for you, or send your request to the publishers of this magazine. Of course, you are also welcome to attend the meetings of The Church of Latter Day Saints at the nearest Meeting House. So doing, you will have the opportunity of learning how to “worship the Father in spirit and truth.” For, remember, “that is the kind of worshipper the Father wants.”—John 4:23, JB.”


  6. Alden says:

    Hi folks,
    All very interesting and important comments. Everyone should go where they find spiritual refreshment. We need spirituality and it’s seldom found watching television (unless watching nature programs, documentaries, etc.). I still go to the KH because I’m happy to contribute something to the people I find there. I know the “organisation” is rightly not appealing to people these days, but the organisation is not my responsibility, nor is it my priority. I carry out good conversations at the KH because I sincerely love the people I find there. To me, the “Organisation” is just a steward to organize stuff like assemblies, building kingdom halls, etc. They have long ceased to be my spiritual head. Some thoughts in the WT are quite good, however, whereas some are quite bad, if not downright evil. I learn to differentiate. There is a newspaper in Russia called Prawda (Truth). It was amazing how many Russians knew quite well what was going on in the world, even during the Cold War, by reading the Prawda. How did they do it? By learning to read between the lines! The WT writers are a notable “think-tank”, whose thoughts should not be ignored but examined with care. How things will turn out, history will tell its own story, as it always has in the past. I don’t think we need to get hysterical about sharing “collective guilt” by staying with the Watchtower. It is very good, however, to finally have the possibility to have open discussions about these topics without fear of reprisals. The results must always be to have more respect and love for each other. Tenants of faith are always secondary.


  7. Papabear says:

    Great article JJ. I will definitely use this watchtower when the time comes to discuss this with my extended family.


  8. John says:

    Whenever I read about some winning apostate it always the same thing. I want, I wanted, I didn’t get what I wanted. I was right but no one lessened too me. What they said was wrong so why can’t I do what I want? The whole concept of why we exist as a group is alien to these people, who want a religion. Jehovah Witnesses and the faithful and discrete slave is not a religion in the Dominic nature of the world. The history of Gods people is expressed in the Bible, and what you find is troubles, apostasy, unfaithfulness, and every vice and sin to be had. For some the idea of a bunch of people struggling together for answers and getting thing wrong at times is beyond their thinking. They have trouble accepting that demonic and evil people can and are drawn to JW’s and may even hold some power for a time. To the apostate, whenever someone dose something they don’t like it not just that person, but the society fault. If you can’t accept that the ride is bumpy, imperfect, and filled with imposters, backbiters and deceivers, who want to destroy your faith even when they think they are righteous, then the narrow difficult path is not for you. Think of it as a way to weed out the weak in the herd. Never truly believers, never fully submitting to God’s direction, they last for a time and go back to the world, or run to it thinking they will be happy. And they are happy because there they can wallow in their own feces and no one cares. So many say I can’t approach the elders with when I don’t believe a point. Maybe your right, and if so in time that point will come out. But apostates and the unfaithful want it now, their way right or wrong. In the end it come down to why Adam sinned, it was selfishness, lack of love and greed, these men and women who once stood with us or still ooze their way at the Kingdom Halls are mentally greedy, and never possessed a love for Jehovah, but only for themselves. Jesus said “Let the dead buary the dead you keep following me.” When a person is dissfellowshiped they were dead spiritually for a long time beforehand. Why then do these apostates blame parents or others from not wanting to touch the disgusting thing? I stumbled upon this winners site filled with non Jehovah Witnesses and crying in their beer. Why can’t God do what I want, why do I have to follow his directions? Soon you will be dead physically as dead as you are mentally and spiritually today. Be glad your winning days are coming to an end.


  9. JJ says:

    Wow, John tell us how you REALLY feel lol. I agree with much of your comment. I do feel that some of what you are saying though is not spoken from experience but from the theories and ideas in your head…And the “map” in our heads is not always the same as the “map” in the real world. I saw a bumper sticker once that said “Don’t believe everything you THINK!”

    If you are happy within the KH and feel your service is approved of Jehovah God then we are not going to interfere with that. Jah be with you. Some see things differently on certain points and that’s their Christian conscience at work. Keep studying brother- keep praying. That’s what we all should keep doing. NOT “whining” like you mentioned.


  10. Dennis says:

    John said,

    “Soon you will be dead physically as dead as you are mentally and spiritually today. Be glad your winning days are coming to an end.”

    If this is an example of the love JW’s have for those who honestly have a scriptural disagreement on a few doctrinal points, I for one am glad I’m out. Brother John, please spend some time reading the Gospels free from the doctrinal lenses of the Watchtower. Your missing out on the love of Christ.

    Christian Love,


    PS: I know not all the JW friends spew the vitriol found in the above post nor feel the same way as John does. This poor poster probably wouldn’t feel this way either if not for the example set for him in the Societies publications. Their teachings have strayed so far from the simple gospel of the Lord. So sad.


    • Amos says:

      Dear brother John,

      It always pains me when sincere brothers are blinded by what they believe to be the truth. And when they accuse others who have found the truth as being “apostate”. The truth is that like most other religious systems, the WTS started out for all the right reasons but for almost 100 years now has been increasingly teaching substantial amounts of falsehood, declaring that it comes directly from Jehovah. Please ask yourself, would Jehovah teach a belief that is correct now, & then change it several years later because HE gave “new light” to HIS “chosen FDS”? In all honesty, you must know that this can never happen. It also shows that the FDS are self appointed & cannot have God’s Spirit, due to the fact that they need to keep changing their doctrines/ beliefs.

      Another thing is that when they continually change their teachings, they keep their subjects busily keeping up with the changes & this reduces the time for truth seekers to do their own study, thus again suppressing truth from being found by those who earnestly seek for it.

      I’m not a complaining apostate, but a joyful free bible student who has a direct relationship with my Dear Heavenly Father. Please read Jn.14:6 & 6:44, this is evidence that we don’t need ANY man-made organization to intercede on our behalf with Jehovah, but that it is an individual relationship between HIM & those who HE chooses to be drawn to HIS SON, we then approach HIM through HIS SON. Please don’t missunderstand me either, as the Holy Spirit plays a major role as the Paraclete to teach & help us until the Parousia of our Lord & Master.

      I’ve had many elders, including CO’s very clearly state that it is only the 144k who can have the HS, & that the majority of JW’s are not of the anointed. I believe that this is completely against the true meaning in the many verses dealing with those who are part of the brothers of Christ, many more than 144k.

      Peace be with you brother,


      • Alden says:

        I agree with you brother Amos that the FDS are self-appointed. Just as the Catholic Church uses Peter and The Rock to justify their existence, the WTS uses the illustration of the FDS to justify their existence. But that does not mean that those comprising the FSD cannot have anything of God’s Spirit. Some Christian principles are universal and the spirit thereof moves people to do goods things in whatever organisation they may find themselves. The idea that the FDS has a monopoly on God’s spirit is the falsehood. Perhaps they will be humbled someday to accept this, like maybe in 100 years and Armageddon hasn’t come?


  11. JWB says:

    “Soon you will be dead physically as dead as you are mentally and spiritually today. Be glad your winning days are coming to an end.”

    John, this is typical of the sort of thinking I’ve come across since I was a small child being taken to the Kingdom Hall by my mother. It was all destruction, destruction, destruction (the “Paradise Lost” book was certainly not for children in my opinion); ‘them and us’. Since you have used the word “you” in your judgement of those here, I suggest you consider these words:

    “But when Michael the archangel had a difference with the Devil and was disputing about Moses’ body, he did not dare to bring a judgment against him in abusive terms, but said: ‘May Jehovah rebuke you.'” (Jude 9)

    What a lot of JWs and former JWs have found in the pages of the Society’s literature over the many years since Rutherford took the helm, is a not a non-judgemental spirit that belongs to the Christ in the Bible, but rather a judgemental one that belongs to the Pharisees of the Bible. Do not forget that even Jesus disciples were regarded by some as ‘apostates’ from the teachings of Moses (compare Acts 21:21). With respect I suggest that you leave the judgement of individuals to our Heavenly Father. Matthew 5:43-48 indicates the type of spirit a Christian is expected to have even towards those he perceives to be his ‘enemies’.

    You might be interested in this article which simple quotes Charles Taze Russell’s view about the Christian faith. I’m sure you would not consider his words ‘apostate’.



  12. Amos says:

    I do agree with your comments brother Alden, particularly concerning the monopoly on the Holy Spirit. I also acknowledge that some of the GB will have some of God’s spirit, but I believe these ones will be outnumbered by those who are working according to the flesh. I’m sorry to put it this way, but I can no longer refer to those in leadership roles as being the FDS.

    When we consider the parable as given by our Lord in Matt.24, it becomes obvious that the FDS are not given power to rule over the Lords possessions until after His return, & there’s no evidence that He has yet returned, so this puts it in the future.


    • Alden says:

      Yes, the race for the Master’s approval still goes on! It is an illusion to think the race was won by the WTS back in 1919. The Lord’s all-pervading scrutiny is still upon all institutions and individuals. Will we be found truly faithful and descreet upon the Lord’s arrival?
      The WTS blew a great chance back in the 80’s by rejecting the faithful and descreet attitude of brother Raymond Franz and many other outstanding servants. Things really took a turn for the worse from that time on.


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