Sunday, September 26, 2010
Friday, September 24, 2010
When they go to a promise of salvation in the bible, you've got them there too. In their mind, the New Testament was not written for the Great Crowd, the second class Christians, but it was written for and to the 144000. They believe that everyone in the first century was part of the 144000. All of Paul's letters are written to the saints, which they interpret as the 144000. So you can easily say, “But wait, that is written to the 144000, the anointed. That's not applicable to you.”
There's also that old saying, “be careful what you wish for”. If they desire to receive salvation upon the basis of living a moral life in obedience to God's law, if they want to be justified by the law, well then let's show bring them to the law. So if they say or imply that one has to obey the law to be saved, simply go through some of the ten commandments with them. “Have you ever stolen? What do you call someone who steals? A thief, right? Have you ever lied? What do you call someone who lies? A liar right? Have you ever used God's name as a swear word? That makes you a blasphemer.” Then you can say, “If you have actually never been able to keep the Ten Commandments, upon what basis will God save you at all? If God is going to save you upon the basis of your obedience, you're in trouble because you have never been obedient.” If they say that God can forgive them, quote to them Proverbs 17:15 ESV “He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the Lord.” A good judge can't just forgive you. You've broken the law and justice must be satisfied. Imagine a murderer and rapist before a judge being let go because the judge forgave him. You'd be angry because justice wasn't done.
There is also another method you could use. Start off by asking them to define the Gospel, the Good News, for you. They will respond with the typical future kingdom, paradise earth, millennium talk. Once he is finished, ask him to repeat it. After that, repeat it back to him, just to make sure you got it right. You'll notice as he explains the Gospel, he will not mention the death, burial, or resurrection of Christ at all. In fact, rarely will he mention Jesus. So after he has repeated it once and you've repeated it back to him, ask him to go to 1 Corinthians 15. This is a chapter where Paul clearly lays out the Gospel.
"Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles," (1 Corinthians 15:1-7 NIV)
Ask him now, "Why didn't you mention any of that?" As he stumbles along and says, "Oh yeah we believe in that." Take him next to Galatians chapter 1.
"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse! " (Galatians 1:6-9 NIV)
Ask, "Why should I accept anything you say? I gave you three chances, and you have not given me the Biblical Gospel, and thus Paul says you are under God's curse."
"Bearing shame and scoffing rude, in my place condemned he stood; sealed my pardon with his blood. Hallelujah! What a Savior!"
That preaches better then anything the Watchtower preaches. The Witnesses need to know they need to be reconciled with God. Reconciliation implies that God is angry at us because of our Sin. We can't know our sin without the Law. They need to know that if they believe in Christ all their sins, past, present, and future, are paid for and forgiven. Christ lived the good righteous life for us and God looks at us as if we had lived his life.
Their immediate reaction, if they've understood the Gospel right should be, "Then are you saying we can live how we want because we are forgiven?" NO! This is exactly the natural objection to the Gospel and Paul deals with this in Chapter 6 of Romans, "Shall we continue to sin so grace may abound? God forbid!" (6:1)
Obviously we need to live authentic Christian lives. But that is not the Gospel. The Gospel changes our lives us. When you catch a sight of the Glory of Christ you see it's infinite value. There is nothing else in the universe that can compare to the beauty, worth, and majesty of , the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. When the sovereign power of God's grace opens your eyes to Behold the glory of Christ by faith, there is a complete transformation of your person. You are changed from the inside out."And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another." (2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV) Good works are fruit, not root.
If you understand the thrust of those verses, you recognize that we are not saved by keeping the law, but by grace through faith in Christ. I finish this series off with two lines from two hymns that do a great job in this regard:
“Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the cross I cling; naked, come to thee for dress; helpless, look to thee for grace; foul, I to thy fountain fly; wash me, Savior, or I die."
"My faith is built on nothing less, then Jesus blood and righteousness. I will not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus name.”
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Defending the biblical gospel is every Christian’s responsibility and privilege. The Witnesses have corrupted the gospel of grace in two ways: (1) they limit the benefits of the New Covenant and the Gospel to a measly 144,000 and (2) they have created a gospel that teaches a works based salvation.
The Witnesses are taught that there are two distinct classes of Christians in their organization. These two classes of Christians do not share a common relationship with God through Christ, nor do they share a common hope. Yet, according to their view, each group is fully Christian and fully acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. At the outset, it must be pointed out that this contradicts a basic Christian tenet, namely, that Christians are “called to the one hope that belongs to your call.” (Ephesians 4:4 ESV) All Christians share a common hope of future spiritual life.
Witnesses teach that from the days of Jesus to the end of the world there will only be 144,000 born-again Christians. These are said to have a heavenly hope and will reign with Christ as kings and priests in his kingdom. The second class, called the Great Crowd, is an unlimited number who are given an earthly hope of life. These millions believe that the world will soon end and they will pass alive into an earthly paradise created by Christ’s reign. There are only a few thousand Witnesses who claim to be one of the 144,000.
The Great Crowd, are said to have an earthly hope of life. They can't take communion and can't claim to be sons of God. They are not part of the seed of Abraham. They are not in the new covenant. They are not born again. Jesus is not their mediator. They are not the elect and cannot claim to be saints. No adoption, no justification, no union with Christ, no assurance. The Witness who is at your door will be in this group.
Once again a quote form Organization is apt. From "The Desire for Peace and Security Worldwide," 1986, p. 10
"Likewise, the Greater Moses, Jesus Christ, is not the Mediator between Jehovah God and all mankind. He is the Mediator between his heavenly Father, Jehovah God, and the nation of spiritual Israel, which is limited to only 144,000 members."
Please consider the impact of this. We know that in the epistle to the Romans, Paul clearly teaches that the only hope for fallen humanity to be at peace with God is through Justification by Faith. However, Romans is written, "to all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints" (Romans 1:7 ESV). From the Witness standpoint this means that Paul is speaking only to those who make up the Church—the 144,000—they are the only saints. The letter of Romans (along with his other letters) were all written to those making up a part of the 144000. Forgiveness of sins through faith in Christ is only given to those who are part of the Israel of God which the WT Society says is limited to 144,000. To apply the promise of the Justification by faith to a group Paul is not addressing is to go beyond the biblical good news. The Watchtower Society tells the Witnesses that they are excluded from being "holy ones" because they are not part of the 144,000. The Society is telling literally 99.9 % of their membership that the gifts and promises of the Gospel do not apply to them!
An illustration may help here. You receive a beautiful, personal letter from your father confirming his love for you and explaining in great detail what he has done and will yet do to guarantee a rich inheritance for you as his beloved child. The letter is so delightful that you share its contents with a close friend. Your friend reads this letter and shares in your joy but understands the letter is not addressed to him. All the love and good things promised are addressed only to you. Your friend will not benefit. He is not your father’s son. That, in essence, is the situation with millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses. On one hand they are told that they are excluded from being a part of the New Covenant—one the other hand they are some how, convoluted, man-made way, promised eternal life.
So how are you saved according to the Watchtower? According to the Watchtower (Watchtower, Feb. 15, 1983, pages 12-13 & Watchtower, Jan. 15, 1997, pages 18-22), there are four requirements for salvation. First, you must take in Knowledge. This means learning the Watchtower system of theology. The second requirement is to conform one's life to the moral requirements set out in the Bible. You must obey all of God's laws for the rest of your life in order to be worthy of salvation. Unless you measure up to God's moral standards, you can't be saved. Third, you must be part of, serve in, and submit to, the Watchtower Organization. Outside of the Organization there is no salvation. Fourthly, you must proselytize regularly.
Notice a quote from the Watchtower, March 1, 1960, p. 134,
"When a person, on the basis of the Scriptural knowledge he has gained, has belief in Christ as the Savior whom God provided and shows that faith by his works, he can consider himself as being on the way to salvation. It would be a mistake for him to think that he is now saved and cannot fall. He must show by his endurance in the Christian faith that he is worthy of salvation. 'Let him that thinks he has a firm position beware that he does not fall.'1 Cor. 10:12... Salvation from death is a gift from God to those that obey him, not to those that disobey."
If you accomplish these four things during your life, you will be rewarded with salvation. If you are one of the chosen few, the 144000, at death you will be immediately rewarded by resurrection into heaven. If you are part of the vast number who get life on earth, you will be resurrected after Armageddon, and only then will Christ's death be applied to you to take away original sin. This is the uncertain result of following Watchtower's way to salvation.
It's like the Witnesses expect that God works like an employer. On the day of judgment they will get to stand before God and share with him their resume. They say in effect, “God, here's my life. I did a good job. I think I deserve to be justified and allowed into heaven.” It's like they're applying for a job. God has 144 000 management positions, and a multitude of employee positions available in his company and there are six billion applicants so you'd better make sure your resume is top notch. You'd better look better, be better, have more experience, make a better impression, if you expect to get the job. That's salvation according to the Watchtower.
Notice again, Watchtower, March 1, 1960, p. 134-135,
"For the select few that have been chosen to rule with Christ in the heavens salvation comes by resurrection from the condition of death. But for the great multitude of people of all kinds that anticipate eternal life on earth salvation will come during Christ's thousand-year reign. Christ will at that time apply toward them the benefits of his ransom sacrifice, that they may be released from Adamic sin, made free from death and lifted to human perfection in an earthly paradise. This is the certain result of following God's way to salvation."
It has been said often, but it deserves repetition: there are only two types of belief systems in the world, those that trust in their own works, and those that trust in the work of another, which is the Gospel. In fact, the bedrock and foundation of all false religion is the claim that the only way to be justified in God's eyes is to earn it by doing your best and obeying the rules. This is exactly the way the Watchtower expects it's members to be saved.
If that's not the Gospel, what is and how can we share it with the Witnesses.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Here's a bit of an inside scoop on the Witness at your door. The Witnesses call proselytizing, "the field service", "the field ministry", "the ministry", or "service". So if I was to say, "I'm going out in service", that means I am going to go preaching. Every Witness is required to spend time each month proselytizing. The most well known way they proselytize is by going door to door. Every congregation is allotted a certain territory. This territory is then divided into neighborhoods. The goal is to go every house in the territory in a year.
Not answering the door when they come is also not the best thing. This is because they write down a list of all the houses that are not home. They then return up to three times to try to get someone home. These are called "not at homes'.
When literature is given to a person, the Witness is obligated to record any information about you he can. Address, what you talked about, topics for future discussions. These are called "return visits". Most of the time spent proselytizing is spent between doing "territory", "not at homes", and "return visits".
Saturdays are the days when most Witnesses go out. Most times before they go out, they meet up at the local congregation and discuss what the latest magazine is and how to offer it. They also spend two hours a week at their mid-week meeting dealing with how to present their literature to you, how to overcome your objections, and how to be better Watchtower peddlers. The goal of giving you magazines is to come back and give you more. The goal of coming back to give you more is to start a Bible study in their literature at your home, and eventually conversion. When they come to your door, try to keep them as long as possible. Most Witnesses are only spending two or three hours out. If you can keep them for an hour, that's an hour they are not talking to other people.
Remember, the Witness at your door is the one who thinks he has “the Truth” and he has all the answers. They think that you by virtue of the fact that your are a Christian are an apostate, and devoid of any insight into the Scriptures because insight only comes through the Organization. They already have a “I'm better then you” attitude. They are not looking to debate Christians. They are looking for people who are open and questioning their beliefs. So the primary method I would recommend is play the role of the student. Instead of arguing, make your arguments by way of questions. Be like the old Lt. Colombo, "I've got just one more question for you", "I'm just trying to understand this here." Also, avoid the areas they are expecting and ready for. Unless you know the Trinity well, and could defend it from Scripture, avoid it until you've read up and are prepared for it.
Anytime the Witness at your door makes an assertion, make sure you ask him for proof. When he quotes a scripture, look it up and glance at the context. Ask him to prove that the scripture says what he is claiming it says from the context.
With those guidelines, let's look at the message the Witness at your door is going to be giving.
Monday, September 20, 2010
This is the second section in my series called “Witnessing to Witnesses.”
What we've been doing is looking at how to break the two weakest links in the chain that enslave the Witness at your door. W e dealt with the Organization's claim to authority. We learned that the Watchtower Society claims based on it's history that it has been chosen by Christ to be his true Church. We learned why this is false, and why the Watchtower is a false prophet and has no basis for it's authoritarian religion. Now, I'm going to bring you into the mind of the Witness at your door. What's he thinking? What's he trying to do? How should I proceed? We are going to discuss the Watchtower's confusion over the Gospel and how to use it to share the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our discussion will focus on three main areas:
Getting in the head of a Jehovah's Witness
The Watchtower Gospel and it's Implications
Sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Now for a Witness, the doctrinal changes and prophetic failures are immediately dismissed by the thought stopping concept:
"Well, we know better now. The Bible tells us the light would get brighter".
They get this from a verse found in Proverbs.
“But the path of the righteous ones is like the bright light that is getting lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established” (Prov. 4:18).
Proverbs 4 is discussing that righteous people fare better than the wicked. The path of the righteous is the way of wisdom. The path of a person refers to the moral aspect of his or her life. Their life will keep increasing in how it displays God's light. The contrast is with the way of the wicked (4:19), which is the way of “evil” (v. 14). The person whose life is oriented toward evil will stumble through life in deep darkness.
But on this point, we will let Russell himself speak.
Zion's Watch Tower 1881 February pp.3, 188
"If we were following a man undoubtedly it would be different with us; undoubtedly one human idea would contradict another and that which was light one or two or six years ago would be regarded as darkness now; But with God there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning, and so it is with truth; any knowledge or light coming from God must be like its author. A new view of truth never can contradict a former truth. "New Light" never extinguishes older "light" but adds to it.
The concept of light becoming brighter implies that previous doctrine was correct, but incomplete. The Watchtower Society has promoted many significant doctrines that were later discarded as incorrect. Others have changed back and forth, even reverting to their original position, in each case contradicting a former truth.
So now we'll look at the second weak area for Jehovah's Witnesses, and that's the gospel. The Gospel is our greatest strength and their biggest weakness, because the Watchtower has confused their followers. So we'll look at what approach to take in sharing the gospel, and how to handle the Witness at your door.
Well what are some practical guidelines we can use in dealing with Jehovah's Witnesses? I will be going into more depth on this subject next week, but we can look at a few here this afternoon.
Identify with them – They are brothers in Adam. They are people too. They have families and jobs. They have burdens and cares.
Labor persistently - They may not come around right away but until they pull the plug we need to hang in there. The longer we work with a Witness, the more time the Holy Spirit has to work on them. Be patient. Remember how dense you were before you accepted Christ?
Be informed - Know what you believe and why you believe it. Do your best to let all things lead to Christ. Proclaim Christ. If you are unsure of an answer, don't be afraid to get back to them. Do research.
Don't beat 'em when they're down - If you've shaken them up by showing that the Organization is a false prophet, or won an argument, or stumped them, don't beat on them futher. That is the time to show them love! They are feeling vulnerable, confused, lost, and you need to show the love of Christ. You may say, "For a moment just forget you are a Jehovah's Witness and that I am a Baptist, and let's look at this as two reasonable people who value God and truth."
Be humble - Don't think you're better then they. Realize that you were in their shoes once. You also were a lost sinner in need of Christ. Remember you have nothing to offer them of yourself. The only thing you offer is Christ.
Love them - "When Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd."(Matthew 9:36 NIV) That's what the Witness at your door is like. They are trapped in a religion that has diminished and replaced Christ with an Organization. They have no concept of personal assurance of salvation. They are deceived and need Christ. Do you have compassion for them? Do you love them? Do you show it?
So we've talked about this invisible coming of Christ in 1914. How does the Watchtower come up with this invisible return in 1914?
Well they start with Jesus. In Luke 21:24, Jesus said: “Jerusalem will be trampled on by the nations, until the appointed times of the nations." Jerusalem was the capital of the the Jewish nation and this was where David and his sons ruled as kings. Jerusalem and the Jewish kingdom were God's kingdom in the Old Testament. So God's kingdom at some point in time began to be trampled on. The Society says that this happened in 607 B.C. when Jerusalem was conquered and destroyed by the Babylonians. So Jerusalem is God's kingdom. Jerusalem was destroyed in 607 B.C. and the line of kings was broken. The Gentiles would rule for a fixed period of time until God's kingdom was restored. The kingdom could only be restored when the heir to the throne, Jesus, became king. So when Jesus becomes king, the "times of the gentiles" were over.
So how long until Jesus would become king? They say that Daniel chapter 4 holds the key to knowing how long that period would last. In this account, King Nebuchadnezzar has a dream about a giant tree. This tree is cut down, and rings are put around the stump so that it won't grow for seven times. After the seven times, the rings are taken off and the tree grows again. So the Watchtower claims that trees are sometimes used to represent kingdoms. So the tree was cut down and this supposedly represents that God's kingdom which was represented in the kings in Jerusalem, would be interrupted for seven times.
Well how long is seven times? Well, there are two methods used. First is that seven times, are seven years. A biblical year was 360 days. So seven years is 2520 days. They can also get this number by going to Revelation 12:6, 14 where it says that 3.5 times is 1260 days. Then jump over to Numbers 14:34 and Ezekiel 4:6, which speak of “a day for a year,” the “seven times” would cover 2,520 years. Thus 2520 years after 607 B.C. brings you to 1914 A.D., the time when the Watchtower says that Jesus "invisible presence" began because he was now given kingdom power.
Firstly, the Greek word “parousia” is where we get the word “coming” from. The Society translates this as “presence”. It doesn't really matter what kind of word games they try to play, the way this word is used in other scriptures shows that a physical bodily presence is meant. In fact this word often refers to a visit of a king or other official. Take a look.
“I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you.” (1 Corinthians 16:17 NIV)
“But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him. He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever.” ( 2 Corinthians 10:10 NIV)
“Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.” (Philippians 1:25-26 NIV)
If the Greek word for presence in Matthew 24:3. (parousia) is used of physical visible coming of Stephanas, Fortunatus, Achaicus, Titus, and Paul, were they invisible?
Secondly, there is a problem here right from the begining. The following are citations verifying that the correct date for the fall of Jerusalem was not 607 B.C, but 586 B.C. I have used both secular and Christian sources.
Biblical Archaeological Review stated,
"You will recall that the Babylonians, under Nebuchadnezzar, after twice laying siege to Jerusalem, finally captured it in 586 B.C.E. Nebuchadnezzar's army then pillaged the city, destroying the Temple and sending the inhabitants off to exile in Babylonia.
Unger's Bible Dictionary, "
...Nebuchadnezzar promptly invaded his unhappy country and besieged Jerusalem for a year and a half. In 586 Jerusalem fell and numbers of its inhabitants were carried away captive to Babylonia..."
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia,
"586, Jerusalem destroyed and burned (Jer. 52:13b.); people taken captive (52:28-30).
According to Encyclopedia.com, the Babylonian captivity, is defined as
"the period from the fall of Jerusalem (586 B.C.) to the reconstruction in Palestine of a new Jewish state (after 538 B.C.)."
Worldbook Encyclopedia online says,
"Some of the most important prophets and poets lived during the Babylonian Exile, the period of captivity that followed Babylon’s conquest of Judah in 587 or 586 B.C"
If both Christian and Secular scholars agree that Jerusalem was destroyed in 586 and not 607 B.C., how could Jesus return in 1914?
Thirdly, everything hinges on their interpretation of Daniel Chapter 4. The passage in it's context has nothing to do with God's kingdom. The interpretation is given in this chapter. Nebuchadnezzar is the tree. This dream concerns Nebuchadnezzar's own need to acknowledge that the God of Israel is the one who rules the affairs of mankind. Nebuchadnezzar spent seven years acting like an animal because he didn't acknowledge God , and through humiliation he learns his lesson.
Where in the context does it say that this is referring to God's Kingdom?
What New Testament author tells you to interpret this passage as relating to God's Kingdom?
Fourthly, when did Jesus get his authority? Notice what Jesus himself says at the great commission.
“Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:18 NIV)
If all authority on heaven and on earth was given to Christ at his ascension, how could he be given more authority in 1914? Is there more authority then all authority?
Why does this matter? Do you see the implications of this? Do you see that this is the foundation for everything the Watchtower claims about itself?
If Jesus didn't return in 1914, then he didn't inspect his temple and choose the Watchtower in 1919. And if he didn't choose the Watchtower in 1919, they have no claim to authority at all and have sold their members lies and deceit. Even if Jesus returned in 1914, the Society fails it's own criteria for being the “Faithful slave”. This is vital to understand. The Witness at your door is convinced that the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society is the mouthpiece of God. Nothing you say will ever reach their ears unless the authority of this false prophet is undermined.
The Watchtower Society claims that those directing the organization are representatives of Jehovah's "faithful and discreet slave". This group is God's "channel" of communication with his people. So everything that appears in Watch Tower publications is indirectly from God. We are going to examine the basis for the claim that those directing the Society represent the so-called "faithful and discreet slave."
The text used to make this claim is found at Matthew 24:45-47 NWT). It reads: "Who really is the faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his domestics to give them their food at the proper time? Happy is that slave if his master on arriving finds him doing so. Truly I say to you, he will appoint him over all his belongings."
The Watchtower magazine of 1 March 1981 (p. 24) gives the Society's official interpretation of Jesus' statement as contained in these verses. It reads:
"Jehovah's Witnesses believe that this parable pertains to the one true congregation of Jesus Christ's anointed followers. Beginning with Pentecost, 33 C.E. and continuing through the 19 centuries since then, this slave-like congregation has been feeding its members spiritually, doing so faithfully and discreetly. Especially as the identity of this "slave" becomes clear at the time of Christ's return or presence. The "slave" is identifiable by its watchfulness and by the fact that it is faithfully and discreetly providing spiritual food as needed by all in the Christian congregation. Indeed, this "slave," or spirit anointed congregation, is the one approved channel representing God's Kingdom on earth in the "time of the end." (Dan. 12:4) Witnesses of Jehovah understand that the "slave" is comprised of all anointed Christians as a group on earth at any given time during the 19 centuries since Pentecost. Accordingly, the "domestics" are these followers of Christ as individuals.
What they are saying is that this slave class, the only true church, therefore came into existence on Pentecost, and was to have a continuous, uninterrupted history down throughout the centuries, up to and including the end of the world. What they are saying is the church, or the "slave class" is all the "anointed" or in our terms "born again" Christians on earth at a single time. The "slave class" then represents God's kingdom and organization on earth. Throughout the centuries it has been progressively feeding its members on spiritual food, becoming increasingly enlightened as time has gone by. They have done so faithfully, and wisely. They say that the true identity of this Slave class, or the true Church, becomes clear at the time of Christ's invisible return in 1914. How was it identified? It was identified because it alone was awaiting the Lord's return and faithfully teachings spiritual truth via it's literature.
Don't forget the internal organizational strife that was happening in the Society against the backdrop of the First World War. It was an extremely difficult time for the Bible Students. Not only was Russell dead, but his prophecies regarding the end of the world in 1914 had gone unfulfilled. Both the Watch Tower Society and the Bible Student community were split into divisions over the Society's management, as Rutherford enacted his hostile take over. In addition, Bible Students were ridiculed as false prophets. The leadership-including Rutherford-were to be imprisoned under the terms of the U.S. Espionage Act for opposing American's military effort during the war. It was at this time, however, that something remarkable supposedly happened to those Bible Students faithful to the Society.
According to present-day Watch Tower teachings, Jesus Christ was supposed to have "come" invisibly in 1914. After his coming to have entered into the the judgment of his earthly servants, essentially to cleanse the temple. The Society interprets Jesus' words at Matthew 24:46, 47-"Happy is that slave if his master on arriving finds him doing so. Truly I say to you, he will appoint him over all his belongings." - as having been fulfilled at that time by the loyal Bible Student community. According to Watch Tower calculation, this appointment went into effect in the spring of 1919. Christ returned (invisibly) in October 1914 and 3½ years later in 1918; they say, Jesus made a temple judgment which resulted in the rejection of all Christian religions except their own. According to their own judgment they, too, were spiritually unclean at this time:
The Watchtower, July 15, 1960, p. 435, 6
“The scriptures describe them as having unclean garments because of their long association with Christian apostasy. They had many practices, characteristics and beliefs similar to the weed-like sects of Christendom.”
WT tradition has it that their organization survived this period of judgment despite their unclean condition. The proof that Christ had chosen them was when the leadership of the Organization was released from prison in 1919. According to the Society today, it was at the instigation of the Catholic Church that Rutherford and the leadership were arrested. This is what they call the fall of Babylon the Great, because the Catholic Church failed to stop their organization. At that time the Bible Students were entrusted with all the earthly interests of God's newly established heavenly kingdom.
If this is the case, we should look at how the Witnesses describe their own spiritual condition during the period of 1914-1918, the period when, according to them, they were being evaluated for enlarged privileges of services on earth by the glorified Lord Jesus Christ.
The question to be answered, then, is how does this teaching or doctrine, square with the history of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society?
If the Society was faithful and discreet why were they spiritually unclean, and why were they being punished for it?
Also, notice what the Watchtower publication, "Jehovah's Witnesses in the Divine Purpose" says,
"Russell was not the founder of a new religion and never made such a claim. He revived the great truths taught by Jesus and the apostles, and turned the light of the twentieth century upon these teachings. He made no claim of a special revelation from God, but held that is was God's due time for the Bible to be understood; and that, being fully consecrated to the Lord and to his service, he was permitted to understand it."
So apparently this “slave” congregation, this slave “organization” had existed for 1800 years when the young Charles Russell began his independent study of the Bible. However, Russell didn't join or seek out this slave, he just did his own thing and started his own group. Is that really what is being taught by this “faithful slave” doctrine?
If the “faithful slave”, the true congregation and organization, had a continuous existence since Pentecost, where was this “slave” when Russell got his start?
How could Russell revive the great teachings of Christ and the apostles independently of the "channel" of communication, Jehovah's earthly organization? How could he come to a knowledge of truth apart from this “slave?”
If there had been a 1900-year-old “slave” faithfully serving up progressive spiritual truths, why was it necessary for Russell to “revive” these truths?
In order to justify their authoritarian, hierarchical system, the Society must argue that Jehovah is using an organization-an earthly "channel"-to which all must submit and which all must accept. But to insist upon it today, they must also argue consistently that this has been the case since the beginning of the Christian church in 33 C.E. But Russell did not turn to any earthly organization. He acted independently, on his own.
But further, the Society claims that one of the identifying marks of the "faithful slave" would be that it was awaiting Jesus invisible coming in 1914. Notice these three quotes to this effect:
The 1986 publication Jehovah's Witnesses Unitedly Doing God's Will Worldwide said on page 8:
"Russell and his associates also saw that Christ's presence was to be invisible, in spirit. The Gentile Times, during which period God's sovereignty was not being expressed through any government on the earth, were to end in 1914. Then God's Kingdom would be established in heaven. These teachings are identified with Jehovah's Witnesses today. Russell and his companions announced these truths far and wide by talks and printed page."
The greatest Man who ever lived. 1991 chap. 132
A careful study of Bible prophecies, including Jesus’ own prophecy regarding the last days, reveals that “the Lord’s day” began in the history-making year 1914, yes, within this generation! So it was in 1914 that Jesus returned invisibly, without public fanfare and with only his faithful servants being aware of his return. In that year Jehovah gave Jesus the command to go subduing in the midst of his enemies
Watchtower 1998 9/15 p. 15
A prophecy providentially caused sincere 19th-century Bible students to be in expectation. By linking the “seven times” of Daniel 4:25 with “the times of the Gentiles,” they anticipated that Christ would receive Kingdom power in 1914.
Is that really what was taught? The Watchtower has doctored their history. They have intentionally misled and lied to their followers. We've already been through the Watchtower's history. They did not believe that Jesus was returning in 1914. Russell taught that Jesus returned invisibly in 1874 and that teaching wasn't changed until something like 25 years after his death.
Here are three Watchtower quotes from the time period that show that this is not what they had in mind.
...the 'battle of the great day of God Almighty' (Revelation 16:14), which will end in A.D. 1914 with the complete overthrow of earth's present rulership, is already commenced," (The Time Is at Hand, 1908 edition, p. 101)
"Our Lord, the appointed King, is now present, since October 1874," (Studies in the Scriptures, vol. 4, p. 621, 1897).
Even after 1914 came and went they were still teaching that Jesus returned in 1874 for almost 30 years.
"The Bible chronology herein presented shows that the six great 1000 year days beginning with Adam are ended, and that the great 7th Day, the 1000 years of Christ's Reign, began in 1873," (1916, The Time Is at Hand, forward, p. ii).
If one of the marks of the “faithful slave” was being awake and in expectation of the Christ's return, how come the Watchtower taught that he had already returned in 1874 before and after 1914?
So it is clear, in the case of the first identifying mark, being awake and awaiting the Lord's return in 1914, the Society fails.
What about the second criteria? Was the Society giving the right spiritual food? Were they faithful and discreet? Not unless you consider false prophecy a sign of faithfulness. We've already shown that Russell taught that 1914 was supposed to be the end, Armageddon. Even after 1914, the false prophecies continued. Here are just two more....
The Finished Mystery, (1917) p.485
“Also, in the year 1918, when God destroys the churches wholesale and the church members by millions, it shall be that any that escape shall come to the works of Pastor Russell to learn the meaning of the downfall of “Christianity.”
Millions Now Living Will Never Die, p. 89., 1918
"Therefore we may confidently expect that 1925 will mark the return of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the faithful prophets of old, particularly those named by the Apostle in Hebrews 11, to the condition of human perfection," The Watchtower further explained, Sept. 1, 1922, p. 262. "
The date 1925 is even more distinctly indicated by the Scriptures than 1914,"
Notice what the criteria for a false prophet is:
"But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death. You may say to yourselves, 'How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD ?' If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him." (Deuteronomy 18:20-22 NIV)
But this also goes beyond false prophecies. The WT has since rejected the old teachings on the Cross, Birthdays, Christmas. Russell used the Great Pyramid to arrive at arrive at all sorts of weird conclusions. In fact, history records the Rutherford changed many of Russell's teachings on many different subjects. On all their own criteria, the Watchtower fails the test.
Based on Deuteronomy 18:20-22, would not the Society be a false prophet?
If serving the “spiritual food” faithfully and discreetly was the basis for Christ’s approval, how would you describe the food being served by the WBTS from 1879 to 1925?
If the Watchtower Society failed the test as the Faithful Slave, how can they be God's Organization?
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
The History and Theology of Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses originated from the nineteenth century Adventist movement in America. William Miller was a Baptist preacher who began teaching that Christ would return in 1844. But, that date passed uneventfully.
After the "Disappointment of 1844" Miller's following fell apart. Many went back the churches they attended before his death in 1849. But some other disappointed followers kept the movement alive and set a new date of 1874. Their activities eventually led to the creation of several sects under the broad heading of "Adventism" including the Advent Christian Church, the Life and Advent Union, the Seventh-Day Adventists, all these Second Adventist groups.
The founder of the organization was Charles Taze Russell. He was born on February 16, 1852, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was raised a Presbyterian. When Russell was 16 years old he lost his faith, because he could not accept certain doctrines like Hell or the Trinity. For a time he left the Church, God, and the Bible. While in this vulnerable condition, Russell almost by chance, decided to attend an Adventist meeting. At this encounter Russell heard a lecture denying that Hell was a real place, this restored his faith and interest in the Bible. He then put himself under the teaching of Second Adventist preacher Jonas Wendell.
For a few years after that Russell continued to study Scripture with and under the teaching of various Adventist leaders. He met locally on a regular basis with a small circle of friends to discuss the Bible, and this informal study group came to regard him as their leader or pastor.
At 23 years old, Russell got a copy of The Herald of the Morning, an Adventist magazine published by Nelson H. Barbour. One of the interesting things about Barbour's group was their belief that Christ returned invisibly in 1874. This idea found in The Herald caught Russell's attention. Although young Charles T. Russell liked the idea, the readers of the magazine apparently didn't. They refused to 'buy' the story of an invisible Second Coming. Barbour's magazine The Herald of the Morning was failing financially. Russell, who was wealthy, helped to dig Barbour out of his whole [hole]. Russell became the magazine's financial backer and became an Assistant Editor. He contributed articles for publication as well as monetary gifts, and Russell's small study group became affiliated with Barbour's.
Russell and Barbour believed and taught that Christ's invisible return in 1874 would be followed in 1878, by the Rapture. When this didn't happen on time in 1878, The Herald's editor, Mr. Barbour, came up with "new revelations" on this and other doctrines. Russell, however, didn't like the new ideas and got other members to oppose them. Russell, broke all ties with all other religious groups, quit the staff of the Adventist magazine and started his own magazine. He called it Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence and published its first issue with the date July, 1879. Russell believed and began to teach in his magazine, based upon the measurements of the Great Pyramid, that 1914 was the new date of the Rapture and Armageddon.
Russell traveled about speaking and gathering his own followers. Many local congregation were created who came to recognize him as "Pastor." Russell's following grew as 1914 approached.
Russell died on a train in Texas, on October 31, 1916. Russell lived to see the failure of various dates he had predicted for the Rapture. As soon as he died, Russell's secretary sent a telegram to the Brooklyn Headquarters telling them about his death. A. H. Macmillan intercepted the telegram and immediately contacted vice president Joseph Franklin Rutherford, telling him the old man has died. Rutherford immediately came to New York and began to take control.
According to instructions Russell left behind, his successor would share power with an editorial committee and with the Watch Tower corporation's board of directors. But Rutherford soon set about concentrating all organizational authority in his own hands. Rutherford was a skilled lawyer who had conveniently served as Russell's chief legal advisor. He used legal prowess together with a plotting behind closed doors and a behind-the-scenes scheming type approach to internal corporate politics. He removed the majority of the Watch Tower directors without calling a membership vote by using a loophole in their appointment. During this time period, the Society was split in two. After Rutherford had gained final control, he order a subordinate to summon the police into the Society's Brooklyn headquarters offices to break up the final board meeting with the former directors and evict them from the premises.
After securing the headquarters complex and the sect's corporate entities, Rutherford turned his attention to the rest of the organization. By gradually replacing locally elected elders with his own appointees, he managed to transform a loose collection of semi-autonomous democratically-run congregations into a tight-knit organizational machine run from his office. Rutherford renamed the organization to "Jehovah's Witnesses" in 1931, to distinguish them from these other groups. Rutherford also introduced the concept of door to door preaching.
In the decades following the death of founder Charles Taze Russell, his successor J. F. Rutherford found himself forced to re-write many of the sect's major doctrines. Like Russell, Rutherford also tried his hand at prophecy. He predicted that 1919 would see the destruction of Christendom and that biblical patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob would be resurrected in 1925 to rule as princes over the earth. Rutherford had a mansion named Beth Sarim built in San Diego,California for Abraham,Isaac, Jacob etc whom he taught were expected to be resurrected soon. However for some strange reason the patriarchs failed to show up. So the Society conveniently and quietly sold the house.
Vice President Nathan Homer Knorr inherited the presidency upon Rutherford's death in 1942 but left doctrine to Frederick W. Franz, who joined under Russell and had been serving at Brooklyn headquarters since 1920. Franz worked behind the scenes to restore faith in the sect's chronological calculations, a subject largely ignored following Rutherford's prophetic failure in 1925. The revised chronology established Christ's invisible return as having taken place in 1914 rather than 1874, and, during the 1960's, the Society's publications began pointing to the year 1975 as the likely time for Armageddon and the end of the world. The refusal of blood transfusions was introduced during the Knorr era.
In the past 60 years there have been many changes in the Watchtower Society. Training programs were initiated to transform members into effective recruiters. Lacking the personal magnetism and charisma of Russell and Rutherford, the following presidents focused followers' devotion on the 'Mother' organization rather than on themselves.
There were also changes in leadership. In the 70's it was noted that the Organization should not be under one-man rule, but rather should be governed by a body similar to the twelve apostles. After the failure of the 1975 prophecy, the late 70's and early 80's became a turbulent time for the Organization. Many were forcibly excommunicated for questioning the Organization's authority and doctrines.
The nineties were a time of extreme growth for the society. They jumped over one million members, from 5 million to 6 million. Since the advent of the Internet at the turn of the millennium, the society has been experiencing the worst turn over rate of any organized religion in the United States. According to Time magazine, 2/3 of everyone who becomes a Jehovah's Witness, eventually leave.
What do modern Jehovah's Witnesses believe?
They don't believe in the Trinity. They believe that God is only the Father, and his name is Jehovah. They believe that Jesus is Michael the Archangel. He was the first and greatest creation of Jehovah. He was the only thing that Jehovah created by himself. Jehovah then used Michael, aka Jesus, to create everything else. The Holy Spirit to them is God's power, or impersonal active force. They equate it to electricity, gravity, or magnetism, just an invisible force that is impersonal.
They do not believe in the soul. They are materialists. They don't think that death is the end of it. Hell is just non-existence. When Jesus became a man, he ceased to exist as Michael, and God recreated him as Jesus. When Jesus died he ceased to exist and God recreated him as Michael. Resurrection for them is something more like recreation. You cease to exist at death and God make a copy of you from memory and that is what they call resurrection.
They also don't believe that Jesus rose physically from the grave. They believe that he was resurrected with a spirit body, like an angel. They have a two tiered, two class salvation. They believe that only 144000 are born again and go to heaven. The rest are given perfect life in a restored Eden on Earth. Salvation for a Jehovah's Witness is a works based legalism.
Monday, September 13, 2010
What I am going to do over the while is showing you how to break the two weakest links in the chain that enslave the Witness at your door. Consider these two well placed, tactical nukes that will blow the Watchtower sky high. First we will have a few posts to deal with the Organization's claim to authority. Then we are going to discuss the Watchtower's Gospel and how to use it to share the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.
To understand, and to get into the mind of the witness who is at your door, it is necessary to know the absolute authority the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (known as the Society, or the Organization) has over their life. There is an incredibly strong loyalty to the Organization and it's leadership among Jehovah's Witnesses. Their devotion and loyalty towards this legal corporation is completely based upon the belief that the Watchtower Society is God's only channel of communication on earth – his visible earthly organization. The Witnesses believe that salvation can only be gained by a willing subjection to the Society. If you don't accept the authority of the Watchtower Society, it doesn't really matter what you believe, you can not be saved. The Society says that the bible can not be rightly interpreted outside of their guidance.
What I am going to do is show you how the Watchtower Society uses the bible and their history to establish their claim to authority, and how you can respond. Once the Organization has been taken out of the picture, a path is cleared to share the Gospel. Along the way, I will be giving you specific questions that need to be asked of the Witnesses as a result of the plain facts. Our discussion in this first section will focus on these areas:
The History and Theology of Jehovah's Witnesses
Chosen in 1919? Was Watchtower Society Really Faithful and Discreet?
1914 – The Cracked Foundation
- Practical Tips
- The Light Gets Brighter
Part 2 - The History and Theology of Jehovah's Witnesses
Part 3 - Chosen in 1919? Was Watchtower Society Really Faithful and Discreet?
Part 4 - 1914 – The Cracked Foundation
Monday, September 6, 2010
I wanted to share my testimony with everyone. I hope you'll be encouraged by it!
I was born and raised in Windsor, Ontario in a broken home. My parents divorced when I was a year old. My brother went to live with my mother and her parents. I went with my Dad and was raised by my paternal grandmother. My parents did eventually get back together, but not until I was an adult. My father was very outgoing and affiliated with biker gangs. As a child, I can recall going to their clubhouse and rallies. I would watch my Dad play guitar in bands. This is how I gained and interest in music, especially the drums, which I started playing at age ten.
By a very early age I was into drugs and would steal alcohol from home. By my high school years, I was kicked out of school and enrolled into an alternative school. While cheating my way through my first year of college I enrolled into second year mold making. I spent more time at the bar on campus and then later dropped out of college. I worked and played (in bands) downtown. During that time, I began looking for some work and I decided to go to a bar. The bar I picked turned out to be a sushi bar. The boss notified me that they were hiring. Long story short; I ended up working there as a sushi chef for four years.
It was around this time that I was initially confronted with the gospel of Jesus Christ. There were men open air preaching downtown and I walked by them (with my fists clenched) filled with anger at the thought of one approaching me. They never approached me but on the sidewalk up ahead was a piece of literature which turned out to be a gospel tract. I picked it up and read some of it and immediately flung it into the trash.
By continuing my dependency on drugs and alcohol I began to run out of money and began stealing alcohol from work and various places and would frequently live from couch to couch. I started to get kicked out of the bars I would go to, be with prostitutes, and frequently be thrown in jail. If I wasn’t high or drunk I’d become angry. I would walk the streets and would often have no recollection of what I had done. Police would often find me passed out in alleyways, parks, and at the train station. I became very depressed and I wanted to die and so I tried to overdose on various hard drugs. My brother resuscitated me one night, as I was unconscious on the living room floor.
I got into yoga and practiced transcendental meditation which I thought would be a positive in my life. Instead, I learned positions in Yoga that would emulate false gods. Meditation would send me into a trance-like state which literally felt like some force would be lifting me up into some other level of consciousness.
There was one particular night that really had a profound impact on me. It was a riotous night which included getting staples put in my head; I came home like I was demon possessed. I recall my Dad being terrified and saying, “You’ve got fire in your eyes.” I can remember having my father backed up against the sink in the kitchen and head butting him again and again, opening up the wound in my head. My brother and my mother tried to hold me back by throwing me into another room but I had easily driven them out of the way. They proceeded to call the cops. The police finally arrived, handcuffed me behind my back, and put me in the car and sent me to jail. The police insisted that my parents press charges of assault on me; they declined. That loud echo of the cell door slamming shut yet again made me feel as if something died within me. I remember screaming and cursing at the top of my lungs until I had no more energy in me and finally, I passed out.
Young man, young woman, “honor your father and mother…” there is a promise in that command, “… that it will be well with you and you will live long on earth.” (Ephesians 6:2, 3)
Afterward, my boss had a friend who needed another sushi chef in the Virgin Islands. I left for the Caribbean, and was gone for six months. During my time in the Virgin Islands, I remember asking a coworker one day, “…what is Good Friday, Easter, and Jesus Christ all about?” A man overheard our conversation and said “Jesus came and died for our sins; that’s Good Friday, and Easter celebrates Jesus’ resurrection.” Some time later that same man gave me a camouflage Bible he had been given in the army. I started reading Romans because I liked the title of the book. I read the beginning chapters of Romans, but didn't finish. However, thinking that I could keep getting away with sin came to a drastic halt. God revealed to me the fact that one day, I would stand before Him as I am, in judgment. No matter how many times I try to get away, still, my sins were always before me. Given my lifestyle, I thought I should be dead by now. I didn’t deserve another day; I deserved to die and go to hell.
I can only describe how I felt that day how the Bible describes it: “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, patience, longsuffering, not realizing that the goodness of God is leading you toward repentance? But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God "will give to each person according to what he has done." (Romans 2:4-6)
I brushed off that visitation by the Lord, returned the Bible, left the Virgin Islands, and came back to Windsor. Back home, an old guitar player friend of mine invited me over to watch a video that gave the Bible’s message of salvation. My friend didn’t tell me what it was beforehand because he thought I‘d reject it. You see, I knew I was a sinner (no one would have to convince me of that). My struggle was that I thought that the good news was for others but not for me. I couldn’t believe that God would WANT to forgive me for my sins. Psalm 86:5a says, “For you O Lord are good and READY TO FORGIVE…”
My friend asked me what my thoughts were about the gospel and I told him that it was “good”. But inwardly it was more than good! It was the best news I have ever heard in my life!!! Inside I was crying, “I want that!!! If God would do that for me!! OHHH MY…”
And for the first time it hit me that “JESUS DIED FOR ME ON CALVARY’S CROSS!”
Jesus actually loved ME? (Galations 2:20b)
But that is exactly what the Bible says, “But God demonstrated his love toward us, in this, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
I left my friends house and a few nights later in my room the Lord brought to my attention a verse in Romans, “For whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13) I thought “I can be saved?”
God granted me repentance and I turned from my sins and self and surrendered my life by faith alone to the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus had “not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32) just like the Bible said He did. That summer night in 2004, on the flat of my back (broken in my room), is when I cried out to the Lord Jesus Christ to save me!
I desired to know more about Jesus but didn’t have a Bible. In fact, my mom had seen not only a change in my behavior but in my countenance. My mother gave me her grandmother’s Bible. I began reading it and was invited to a Bible study at Turner Road Bible Chapel. I thought, it being Friday night, that it would keep me out of trouble. I agreed to go. I stayed and was baptized and continued there for 4 years. I would see people I knew from before and the Lord would burden me to ask them for forgiveness. Some forgave me! Others would look at me like something was wrong with me.
I also came to realize that my parents were not saved. When my Mom gave me her great grandmother's Bible, little did my parents know that soon thereafter all that I would want to do is to share the gospel. Well, that day came! My father was very angry and began to shout at me and my brother thought I was trying to break up our family. They left the house and I followed them outside, still trying to persuade them of their need for salvation, but they took off in their car. I went back into the house feeling very discouraged and hurt. But the Lord Jesus strengthened me that night as I picked up my old great grandmothers Bible. There were these words, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth (Jesus says); I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For, I came to set a man against his father…. And a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:34-39)
It was such a comfort to me.
Let me ask you my dear friend… are you willing to lose your life for Christ’s sake?
He knows how we are. He knows we are half-hearted. He knows that you and I will never come to Him to be saved unless you find Him to be your highest treasure. Christ made such demands because He loves sinners. The Lord Jesus suffered and took the punishment for your sins in such away that “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” The one who will save you from your sin, hell, and God as your judge is the one calling this day. (2Corinthians 6:2)
Jesus says “come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest…” (Matthew 11:28)
Surrender your life to Jesus Christ by calling on him to save you!
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen!