Throughout the years the Watchtower Society has an evolving view of the need for an organization and its necessity in order for one to obtain salvation...
Watchtower October 1883:
"For these same reasons that Jesus did not organize congregations while present with his disciples in the Jewish harvest, we do not consider expedient or necessary organizations even simple and unsectarian as those established by the apostles." [p. 536]
The above is 100% true. Jesus did not organize congregation with his disciples. After Jesus left, the apostles took it upon themselves to form congregations. However, there is no requirement or necessity directed in the scriptures to have them as a means of salvation.
Watchtower December 12, 1894:
"A visible organization is out of harmony with God's divine plan." [p. 1743]
Watchtower September 15, 1895:
"Beware of organization ... it is wholly unnecessary." [p. 1866]
Faith does not require a visible organization [Hebrews 11:1] nor is it necessary for salvation. While at the same token belonging to an organization or congregation is not wrong in itself, the priority and need for it is not linked to salvation in any way.
Watchtower September 1, 1954:
"The Bible is organization-minded and it cannot be fully understood without our having the theocratic organization in mind." [p. 549]
Here we see the complete change and tone from the Watchtower Society in viewing organizations from its early day’s stance. Specifically, its organization is now needed to understand the Bible. If so, did God not allow people to understand the Bible prior to the existence of the Watchtower Society? The truth of the matter is the scriptures did not change, and the scriptures make it clear that God's Spirit is what helps Christians to understand. No where is an organization mentioned or even suggested. All Christians are free to interpret Scripture by the leading of God's Spirit. [John 16:13; 1 John 2:27]
Watchtower January 1, 1960:
"A Christian must always be part of Jehovah's visible organization." [p. 19]
There is no scriptural backing or support for such a notion. In the example of The Ethiopian Eunuch, once he was baptized, becoming a Christian, the scriptures state God’s spirit caught Philip away and the Ethiopian Eunuch went along his way [Acts 8:39]. If belonging to an organization is so vital would not here be a fine opportunity to emphasize such? Not only does the Bible not make mention of the Eunuch belonging to or joining some organization he was actually left alone. What it does indicate is he went away rejoicing.
Watchtower January 15, 1971:
"Can it be stated flatly that only baptized Witnesses of Jehovah will survive Armageddon? Yes, with a few exceptions." [p. 63]
This of course is gearing people for what would be the great failed prophecy of the Watchtower Society for the end to come in 1975. The Watchtower Society had already made mentioned in several articles and publications prior to 1971 (And continued to do so thereafter) that 1975 was the year in which the end would come. This was to reinforce fear in the minds and hearts of people that they must belong to the Watchtower Society by being one of Jehovah's Witnesses in order to be saved.
Interestingly, the Watchtower Society throws in "a few exceptions". It does not make any mention of what those few exception entail.
Watchtower February 15, 1979:
"Of those living at the time of Armageddon, only Jehovah's Witnesses will be saved" [p. 30]
It has been several years since the great failed prophesy of 1975. There were those Jehovah's Witnesses who saw the Watchtower Society as a false prophet and as a result was able to break themselves free from the organization. However, there were also loyal ones to the organization who remained including new recruits. The Watchtower Society knew then and it still knows now one of their strongest tools for keeping members is keeping in front of the eyes of its followers the notion that one must be a Jehovah's Witnesses to stand a chance of survival at Armageddon.
Watchtower November 15, 1981:
"Any person who wants to survive into God's righteous new order urgently needs to come into a right relationship with [Jehovah's] earthly organization now... come to Jehovah's organization for salvation .." [p. 16-7, 21]
Our Kingdom Ministry November 1990:
"…identifying themselves with Jehovah's organization is essential to their salvation." [p. 1]
Here is more reinforcement of the notion that one must be a Jehovah's Witness to be saved. According to the Watchtower Society it's urgent and essential to be a Jehovah's Witness. The Watchtower Society also comes up with new ways to instill in the minds of its followers the importance of their organization calling itself Jehovah's earthly organization. There was no mention by Jesus of any earthly organization. If one is so important, why did Jesus not explain explicitly to his disciples about the requirement and forming of an earthly organization?
Watchtower November 1, 1990:
"We cannot take part in any modern version of idolatry - be it worshipful gestures toward an image or symbol or the imputing of salvation to a person or an organization." [p. 26]
Oddly enough, the Watchtower Society appeared to be taken a 180 degree turn back to no need of an organization for salvation. Although, this could have the meaning and application that the Watchtower Society is referring to every organization but their organization. Similar to the Watchtower Society writing poorly and providing negative information about other religions, but Jehovah's Witnesses are instructed not to read anything critical or negative about them.
Watchtower September 15, 1993:
"But if we were to draw away from Jehovah's organization, there would be no place else to go for salvation and true joy" [p. 22]
Once again salvation is only obtained from "Jehovah's Organization" as referred to by the Watchtower Society in describing Jehovah's Witnesses. They take it a step further in stating there is "no place else to go"; not only for salvation but true joy as well. Joy as well as all other fruits of God’s Spirit is not organization dependent [Galatians 5:22-25]
It's a sad state but a fact of the dogma Jehovah's Witnesses are fed regarding their salvation is in some twisted interpretation interwoven with an organization. The scriptures are clear that Jesus alone and faith in Him is the only requirement for salvation. If an organization is so vital and critical for salvation why did Jesus not mention it in any scripture? [John 5:39-40; 10:28-29; 14:6; Acts 4:12].
While the Watchtower Society tries to place itself as mediator between people and God, the scriptures make it clear that it is Jesus alone who serves as Mediator [1 Timothy 2:5-6]. Whether an individual makes the choice to belong to a group of fellow believers be it formal inside some sort of building or informally outside of one or not is secondary when a person realizes that it is God who will lead them. God will assist us and lead us into relationships with others where we can learn and grow by both observing the good and bad while also providing us the opportunity to offer encouragement by means of the way in which we express our faith.
Jehovah's Witnesses are taught that they need to depend on the Watchtower Society as their channel of communication with God. The Bible indicates that Christians place their personal relationship with God ahead of anything else; this includes membership to any organization. The Watchtower Society, despite its teachings is not needed for salvation. The scriptures teach Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life [John 14:6]; not an organization.