Jehovah's Witnesses believe that only 144,000 'spiritual Israelites' go to heaven. The 144000 is also referred to as the 'little flock'.
They believe that man was meant to live on earth, NOT go to heaven. Their reasoning is this. If Adam and Eve hadn't sinned before having children, the planet today would be filled with perfect people living in the 'Garden of Eden', i.e. paradise. They believe that was God's original purpose.
They believe that after armageddon, God will restore the planet to a paradise like he originally intended.
Since Jehovah's Witnesses believe their organization is God's channel of communication, they believe they have 'the truth' about the the 144,000 and the 'Great Crowd' or 'other sheep' with a 'earthly hope'.
The reason why 144000 go to heaven, is to rule the emerging paradise earth with Jesus for a 1000 years after armageddon. During that 1000 years, God will restore the earth to a paradise and people will become perfect just like Adam and Eve were. That earthly paradise will continue forever. It is believed that as long as individuals obey God and keep all his rules they can live forever on earth.
It is believed that it will be easy to be perfect on a paradise earth because Satan will not be able to tempt people to sin. Eventually Satan will be destroyed by God and sinning will be virtually impossible because Satan will no longer deceive people or tempt them to leave God. Satan is believed to be the root cause of sin because if it wasn't for Satan, Adam and Eve wouldn't have disobeyed God's one command. i.e. not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 2:17
The 144,000 are also referred to as the 'anointed' ones, 'anointed class', 'anointed remnant', and 'slave class'. They believe that only the 144000 have a direct relationship with Jesus. However everyone can benefit from the ransom sacrifice of Jesus by affiliating with and associating with the 144,000.
The organization teaches that most of the 144,000 have already passed away in death. The ones that are still living are part of the 'anointed remnant' or 'anointed class'.
In 2009 the Governing Body said they represent the anointed remnant (also known as God's 'faithful slave', Matthew 24:45-51), Jehovah's Witnesses who have a 'earthly hope' (AND those of the 144,000 anointed remnant), must be obedient and submissive to those 'taking the lead'. Failure to defend the organization and follow all it's rules can lead to disfellowshipping. If someone is part of the 144,000 anointed remnant and get's disfellowshipped, they lose their position and status within the 144,000 anointed class. They cannot go to heaven.
Helen Ortega was one of the 144,000. She got disfellowshipped in the early 1990's. She was a spirit anointed member of the 144000 who got disfellowshipped when she noticed a false teaching during a Bible study she was conducting. Look for her name along with "John Ankerberg Show" and "Jehovah's Witnesses", etc. on YouTube and Google.
All Jehovah's Witnesses, whether they are part of the 144,000 anointed remnant or the 'Great Crowd', fear leaving the organization because they will lose their family and friends inside the religion. However, if they leave and search diligently for answers, it may lead them to the realization, that they don't need the 144,000, the 'faithful and discreet slave', or the organization. The Bible says we can dedicate our life directly to Jesus and be saved by his grace. All authority has been given to Jesus. Matthew 28:18,19;
JW's are told they must obey God's spirit-directed organization because the organization is God's 'faithful and discreet slave'. What is the truth?
Watchtower Magazine, Feb 15, 1995, Article: 'Have No Fear, Little Flock';
Watchtower Magazine, Feb 15, 2006, Article: 'Gathering Things in Heaven and Things on Earth';
Watchtower Magazine, Sept 1, 2005, Questions from Readers: 'Why do Jehovah’s Witnesses take the number 144,000 mentioned in the book of Revelation literally and not symbolically?';
The organization says, 'Today, the Governing Body represents the faithful and discreet slave class. There was a similar arrangement in the first century'. Watchtower June 15, 2009. Article: 'The Faithful Steward and Its Governing Body'.
Note: the faithful and discreet slave is also referred to as a the 'slave class', 144,000, anointed remnant, and anointed class. Watchtower Magazine, Feb 15, 2009, Article: 'They “Keep Following the Lamb”'
"Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. and they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless." Revelation 14:1-5; Also see Revelation 7