Friday, September 24, 2010

Witnessing to Witnesses Part 10

Sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ
So we've looked at how the Watchtower distorts the gospel, now let's see how we can use this to present the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. Remember, there are two primary ways the Watchtower distorts the Gospel. First is they limit it's blessings to 144000 and second is they teach that in order to be saved you have to earn it. 

You have a Witness at your door, and he finishes his presentation and is offering you literature, most likely a magazine. He has formulated his presentation based on the cover article of the magazine he is offering. So what do you do? Well, play the part of the inquisitive person. You could say, "You guys are Jehovah's Witnesses right? I actually have a serious question for you. Let's suppose that right now, I have a knife in my back. I only have three minutes to live. My blood and life are draining from me. I know I'm dying and no one can help me. How can you help me? How can I be saved? How can I enter the Kingdom? You have three minutes. GO!"

Don't be surprised if all you get a mumbled response or dead silence. There will be stuttering and stammering because you have just caught them off guard. They are prepared for many of our major objections to their religion. They carry a book called “Reasoning from the Scriptures”, which essentially gives them a prefabricated answer from headquarters to most of our main objection. Attacking their gospel is not something they are prepared for I have seen Witnesses floundering like fish out of water. This is an area of theology that the Watchtower confuses it's followers on. So as the time progresses and they flounder, say, "Come on guys. I'm dying. I have three minutes!"

Now it's time to exploit their weaknesses. They will respond by telling you one or all of their requirements of salvation, that you have to take in knowledge, and join their organization, live a moral life and obey God's law, and preach to other people. They've backed themselves into a corner and there is no way out. 

So, let's take the first. They tell you that in order to be saved you have to do a whole bunch of things. Your immediate response should be, "What about the thief on the cross? What knowledge did he get? What works could he do? How could he learn anything? He couldn't turn the pages of a book--he was nailed to a cross. Can't go to your meetings either--he was nailed to a cross. He wasn't a good person--he was nailed to a cross. But Jesus said to him, 'You will be with Me in Paradise.' Why? I ask you again, how can I be saved?"

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."
The Gospel is so important. God, in love and mercy, sent His only Son, Jesus. He lived a perfect, holy and sinless life. He lived the life we should have lived. He died a brutal death on the cross. He died in the place of sinners. It was the death we should have died. He was buried and rose again, conquering Satan, sin, and death. He never broke the Law, but he died to fulfill the law we had broken, to pay its penalty, to bring salvation to all who, by His grace, turn and trust in Him. God credits or imputes, Christ's lifelong record of perfect obedience to the person who trusts in him. Those who are born again, repent of their sins and trust in Christ, thereby entering into a new life: an eternal fellowship with God.

"Bearing shame and scoffing rude, in my place condemned he stood; sealed my pardon with his blood. Hallelujah! What a Savior!"
There are three passages we are very familiar with that are your best friends when presenting the Gospel. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV) “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:4-7 ESV) “Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.” (Romans 4:4-5 ESV)

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.”


Peter Schott said...

Just wanted to say that I appreciate your writing on this topic. I have a friend in the JWs and have met up with some as well. I appreciated the "save me in 3 minutes" approach. Would be interesting to see how they react. I also appreciate the encouragement to keep them busy to limit their reach. :) I'm saddened for my friend because she's now trapped in legalism again and can't even enjoy the life she's been given because somethings are "pagan" and they can't take part in them.

Matthew said...

Hello Peter. I'm sad to hear of your friend. I pray that she'd see the light sooner rather then later. Being trapped in a legalistic religion is not fun. You either become proud or depressed. Depressed because you have no peace because you are never sure if you've done enough to earn God's favor. Proud because you think you've done enough to earn God's favor and you think yourself better then others who haven't done as much as you. There are really only two types of religions in the world. Most say "DO", but true religion says "DONE".

I'll pray for your friend and I hope the material provided will be of benefit to you.



Anonymous said...

hi Mthew, Thank you so much for the info, realy equipped me