By Fred Holthouser
When a Witness talks to you about “the little flock,” he always has reference to the 144,000 which they call the heavenly class or the anointed. All other Witnesses are what they refer to as “the other sheep” or the earthly class. In John 10:16 Jesus says, “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold.” They teach that this verse proves their doctrine of the two different hopes for mankind, one in heaven and the other here on this earth. What they don’t teach is that in the same verse Jesus says that there will be one flock and one shepherd. The “other sheep” are brought into the one fold to share the same blessings and to serve the one shepherd. This does away with two groups, two hopes, and the authority of the Watchtower Society. So when they talk to you about the little flock or the two hopes, make them use all of what the scriptures says in John 10:16. Then they cannot prove their doctrine from this Scripture. Later on in this article, I will show you some more points on how to combat this false doctrine of the people in heaven being limited to just 144,000.
As I have said before, it is no sin to change. The sin is that when we find out we are wrong, we do nothing to change in order that we may obey the will of God. I have changed before and am willing to do so again if you can show me from the Bible that I am wrong. But you had better be able to use the Bible, the word of God, and not some man’s book as I will not accept that as binding. I spent too many years following some man’s doctrine to ever fall into that trap again.
Jude 3 tells us to earnestly contend for the faith that was once delivered to the saints. “The Faith” was delivered one time for all time without change or addition to it. Peter tells us (1 Pet. 2:21) that Christ left us an example to follow in His footsteps, not that of some manmade organization. In 1 Peter 4:11 Peter tells us to speak as the oracles of God. In other words, if we do not want to teach what the word of God says for us to teach, then we had better keep our mouths shut. In the church of Christ, we have a saying that we speak where the Bible speaks and are silent when the Bible is silent. Let us live up to this motto or else quit saying it.
Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that there will be only one hundred and forty-four thousand in heaven along with Jehovah and His Son, Christ. That makes one hundred forty-four thousand and two. Now when you add the Holy Spirit and the host of angels you already have a number greater than that which they teach. As you can already see, the number of those that will be in heaven has become so great that I do not know of any one that can count them.
This doctrine of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is copied from the Seventh Day Adventist group. They teach about the same thing on the one hundred forty-four thousand in heaven. There are a number of Witness books that teach that there will be only one hundred forty-four thousand in heaven. Some are Make Sure of All Things, New Heavens and New Earth, Let God Be True, and many others. They cannot deny that this is what they teach as one of the main doctrines of the Witnesses’ religion.
Compare Witness Doctrine to Bible Doctrine
There are only two places in the Bible that speak of the 144,000 and both of these are in the book of Revelation, chapter seven and chapter fourteen. The next thing that we should do is find out what the Witnesses teach about the 144,000 class and what the Bible says about this group of people. First, let us take what the Witnesses teach about this class of people and then I will show you how to refute their doctrine about it. The seventh chapter of Revelation names all the tribes of the old nation of Israel and tells us that twelve thousand were sealed from each tribe. This would make a total of 144,000 of the nation of Israel. Now the Witnesses believe that Jesus talks about the 144,000 as “the little flock” in Luke 12:32. “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Now this Scripture does not teach as the Witnesses do that there is any specific number making up this little flock. The Witnesses lift it out of its context and use it to try to place a number on the little flock. God’s people, as compared to the world, have always been just a little flock and times have not changed. God’s people are still in the minority and I believe that they will always be in the minority this side of the judgment bar of God.
Now let us look at the 144,000 and see just what we come up with, doing as the Witnesses do. Let us follow the context in the light of the Witnesses’ argument on the 144,000. If we are going to take the number as being literal, then we must take all that is said about this number as literal. Revelation 7 states that these ones in heaven are made up of twelve thousand from each of the twelve tribes of the nation of Israel. So, they are natural Jews. The passage would exclude women as it says they were men. Now if we take the number as being literal, we must take these facts as being literal also in the same context. No Gentiles or women can be included.
Next, verse nine of the same chapter seven states that along with the 144,000 there was a great multitude in heaven out of all nations that no man was able to number. What about that? Would the Jehovah’s Witnesses care to try and answer that for me? And do not say that these are the ones that get life here on the earth; the Bible says that they are in heaven. By lifting the Scriptures out of their context, the Witnesses make themselves false teachers.
Are They “Witnesses?”
Revelation 20:4 tells us that this group of men (this 144,000 class) was beheaded for the cause or witness of Christ. Notice that it says here that they were witnesses of Jesus the Son, not the Father Jehovah. It is clear that the modern so-called Jehovah’s Witnesses are nowhere to be found in these passages. Those who died in Revelation 20 died to defend the testimony or the witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which had been given by the apostles. The modern so-called Witnesses are not eyewitnesses of either the Father or the Son. The so-called Witnesses are not teaching the testimony, witness, or record of truth left by the apostles. In Acts 1:8, Jesus told His Apostles that they would be witnesses of Him to the uttermost parts of the earth and I do not think that we have any Apostles alive today. So all I do is teach the people what the Apostles that saw Jesus left in the revealed word for me to teach about Jesus, because these men both saw Him and heard Him. That is one qualification of being a witness in the first place. The so-called Witnesses today have neither seen the Lord nor taught the witness of Him left by the apostles. The modern group is not in the 144,000.
Revelation 14:4 tells us that these men had not defiled themselves with women. In other words these were pure men in morals. Also they were first fruits to the Lamb, which is the Lord Jesus Christ. It is also said of these, in chapter 20, that they are of the first resurrection and live and reign with Christ for a thousand years. Just what this thousand years means would take us into the field of speculation and I am not willing to go that far as yet. But remember that to a Jew the number ten had a special meaning and some say it meant completeness. The number one thousand is a high multiple of the number ten. That is just where I am going to leave it at this time. I do know that Revelation 22:5 says that we will live and reign with Christ forever and forever.
Now let us see what you can show the Witnesses who come calling at your door and who talk about there being only 144,000 in heaven. Ask them the following questions and see what their answer will be. If the number is literal, then must all that deals with this group be literal also? Are all that claim to be of the 144,000 class natural born Jews? Are they all virgin men? I know of some women that were in the Witnesses that claimed that they were of the 144,000 class. Are women excluded from this group since it talks of men? Have they been beheaded for the witness of Christ? There is not a so-called Witness alive on the earth today who can meet any of these qualifications to be a member of the 144,000 class as they themselves teach it.
Our Plea: Forsake All False Religions
Revelation 18:4 tells us to come out from among “her my people if you do not want to be partakers of her sins, and that you receive not her plaques.” This means all false religious organizations and their doctrines no matter who practices them. If we cannot give book, chapter, and verse for the things we teach and practice in the worship of God, then we had better not teach or practice them. To do so would be a violation of the word of God and would send our souls to hell for all of eternity; surely we do not want that to happen.
Before I close this article I just want to add one more thing to this about the 144,000. To a Jew, the number 12 is supposed to mean spiritual completeness and as 144,000 is a high multiple of the number 12, then I believe that what John is teaching us in this number is that there is enough room in heaven for all the redeemed ones, the children of God. John 14:1-4 teaches and explains the same point, that in heaven there will be no lack of space for God’s people. I am writing these articles in the hope of keeping someone out of the false witness religion or helping someone to get out.
The next article that I write will be on the Witness organization, which is set up and patterned after the Roman Catholic Church from the top down. None of the offices have any Scriptural basis. Now please do not tell people that Fred Holthouser believes that there will be only 144,000 in heaven as I do not believe any such thing, although I used to believe that as a fact and also taught such when I was a Witness. Acts 17:11 tells us to search the Scriptures. That way we will know that we are keeping the doctrines of Christ. If we are not, then we had better change and do so before it is too late to do any changing since we are not told when we will die. After death there is nothing we can do about changing. As the Hebrew letter tells in 9:27, “And it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.”
It is my sincere desire that this article will help in some way in combatting the false teachings of the Witnesses about there being only 144,000 in heaven. This belief was borrowed from the Seventh Day Adventist group as they have taught the same thing long before the Witnesses did. A lot of other Witness teachings were borrowed from the Adventist group, such as the soulsleeping idea. If you learn how to combat the false teachings of the Witnesses, you also learn how to combat the false teachings of the Seventh Day Adventist group because the differences in the two groups on this doctrine are minor.
Guardian of Truth XXVI: 6, pp. 88-90
February 11, 1982