About Me

It has been said often, but it deserves repetition: there are only two types of belief systems in the world, those that say “Do” and the other that says “Done”. Those that trust in their own works say “do”. “Do this and this and don't do this and this”. This is what I will call religion. But that's not the belief system the Bible holds out. The Bible says that it's not about what we “do” but about what he has done. We don't trust in our own works, but we trust in the merits and work of another done in our behalf. This is the essence of the Gospel. This is the message that changed my life. 

This describes my life up to four years ago. I was religious. I was devoutly religious. I was a fourth generation Jehovah's Witness, so I was raised as a one from my youth. I was indoctrinated like all young Witness children are. You know how it starts. I would go to bed each night listening to the audio recordings of My Book of Bible Stories. Every Witness child had those stories memorized after a week. As I grew up, I replaced the Bible Story book with the Great Teacher book and later the Greatest Man book. I remember being deeply touched when it came to the chapter on Jesus parting words to his disciples. Although there was much good gained from this, you learn the basic Bible stories, in the end, it was the Watchtower version of those stories we learned. By age a very young age I was enrolled in the theocratic school, giving the number 2 and eventually the number 4 talk.

As I entered high school, I studied the Knowledge book and some other blue book. Interestingly enough, the elder who conducted the study with me had to skip many of the chapters in the blue book because it was out of date and was replaced a few years later. I officially entered the organization by baptism on March 24, 2001. The month after my baptism I Auxiliary pioneered, and I pioneered occasionally for two years. Then, a few years after my baptism, I became a Regular Auxiliary Pioneer. 
As a result of frequent sickness, my parents both missed many meetings. This forced me to get rides to the various meetings with an older gentleman named Howard. Howard was part of what I have heard called as, “the conscious class”. In case you hadn't heard that term before, “the conscious class” are members who are aware of. Watchtower Society's lies, but sadly continue to stay in the organization out fear. At the time Howard was in his early seventies. He had been a former elder. Almost every time he’d give me a ride, we’d end up in a discussion over some doctrine that Howard had a hard time with. Here is where I learned that there were problems with things like the 1914 doctrine and with the two class salvation idea. I didn't know if I believed everything he said, but it laid the seeds of distrust.

I was halfway through high school and already some doubts were beginning to form. It was then that I came into contact with several Christian men and ministries. These were apologetics ministries, counter cult ministries, and just Christian people who knew their bible. I heard their arguments, and engaged in debate over Witness doctrine. I tried my best to defend Watchtower theology. They were firm in their insistence that my beliefs had no biblical basis. They brought me back to the bible and expected me to prove what I was claiming from the text. Once, I had a very interesting series of discussions with a gentleman who was a Bible college teacher. We discussed the 1914 chronology, the physical resurrection of Christ from the dead, torture stake or cross, and Watchtower history and false prophecies. By the end of the discussion I had no answers for his arguments and I had to admit, at least to myself, that he was right.

In my discussions with these Christians I was soundly beat. All I was doing, and all that I was trained to do, was parrot what the Watchtower had told me to say. Instead of looking to the Bible for the answers, I was looking to the Governing Body to tell me what the Bible said. I failed to give a consistent defense of my beliefs from scriptures in the face of experienced Christians. I could not bring myself to accept that a member of “Christendom” might actually understand the bible better then I did. This led to even more doubts and confusion. 
Jehovah’s Witnesses are so proud, that they are taught to believe, that the Watchtower society has a monopoly on Biblical interpretation and truth. In reality, Jehovah's Witnesses don't believe in Sola Scriptura. They have a view of scripture almost identical to that of the Catholic Church. Only the clergy, only the Governing Body, have the ability to interpret Scripture. They don't believe in the scripture alone, they believe in the Church alone. The average Witness thinks that he understands the Bible better then any Christian he may meet. They believe that no one knows the Bible better then the Governing Body in Brooklyn. 

During this period I had heard the Gospel clearly several times but I still refused it. Certain Watchtower dogmas were still deeply entrenched within me, despite my problems with other areas of theology. I was blind to the glory of the Gospel because of the bondage I was in to the Watchtower society. Martin Luther, commenting on Galatians 2:14 said, “The truth of the Gospel is the principle article of all Christian doctrine. It is most necessary that we know this article well, teach it to others, and beat it into their heads continually.” Well, that's exactly what was happening to me, I was having the gospel beat into my head.

Soon, I stopped talking with these Christians altogether. I had refused to believe the things they were telling me. Instead, I trusted in the Organization, and in turn my own piety. So I drowned myself in good works. I preached more. I never missed a meeting. Anything that the Watchtower said I should do, I did. I took the doubts, questions, and objections I had and buried them. My rational was, the rational of all in the “conscious class”, that of, “Jehovah will take care of it in his own time. He will clean his organization. I will wait on him.” Which in itself is a form of both deception and pride. Deception because I still thought that Jehovah's Witnesses were God's people and his organization even though I had no logical basis for it, since I had rejected the 1914 chronology. It was pride because I thought that I was right and they were wrong and one day God was going to prove me right and they were going to change to fit me. In the meantime, I followed the Watchtower’s prescription of various works to possibly earn a right to be resurrected into the new system. The elders rewarded my zeal with “privileges” in the congregation. I did the microphones. I was at the literature counter. I was on the mixer booth. I made up the slips for the theocratic school. I never was a ministerial servant though.

Paul saw that the “righteousness” religion offered could only be an incomplete, superficial righteousness. As I heard once, “You fail to understand the gravity of sin”. We are all sinners by nature and choice. Every part of us is effected by sin. Sin has corrupted our minds because we do not think God's thoughts. Our will is corrupt because we do not desire what God desires. Our emotions are corrupt. We all sin every day in thought, word, and deed, in omission and commission. In light of our sinful nature and resulting sinful actions, it would seem that the only thing we deserve to get on our day in God's proverbial courtroom is a guilty verdict. If God didn't judge us as anything but guilty he would cease to be a just and good God.

In light of this, it's understandable why instead of things getting better for me because I was doing all these good works, things got worse. Sure, things were good for a while, but the good works eventually became a sour taste in my mouth. They felt pointless and without meaning. The more I went door to door, the more I went to the meetings, the more I read the Watchtower publications, the more I was convinced of the holiness of God and of my own sinfulness. It was then that God’s providence brought to my attention even more Watchtower lies, and deceit. They lied about their history by trying to rewrite it to exclude and down play their various false prophecies. I found out about the United Nations NGO scandal. Soon I was dealing with all the doubts, objections, and questions that I once had. I was forced to do the one thing I didn’t want to do, and that was to deal with the holes in my shredded theology. 

One night in late September, 2006, I talked to a friend of mine about my situation. He recommended I read Philippians chapter 3. The moment I finished reading those verses, I was by God‘s grace, born again. I was regenerated. I was dead, but now began to live. I was blind but now began to see. Finally, everything started to come together. I want to show you a few things that I saw for the first time when I read Philippians 3.

Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you. Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:1-11 ESV)

In the first century, there was a group of religious people, called the Judaizers. This group insisted that to be saved, gentile Christians had to obey all the Mosaic ceremonial laws. These were the laws like the strict dietary laws, and circumcision. This was abhorrent to Paul. In his mind the law was given to convict of sin and drive us to Christ. The teachings of the Judaizer diverted Gentiles away from Christ into a covenant that was never intended to save them.

So Paul in this chapter lists his resume before becoming a Christian. Paul thought that he could show God his resume and expect God to be pleased with him and allow him into heaven. The tendency of fallen humanity is to try to justify ourselves by what Paul calls “works of the law”. “Works of the law”, is when you try to earn your salvation through obedience. It's about you. It's about trying to make God love you by what you do, and your attempt to clean your self up and getting your life together by obeying a set of rules. 
In fact, the bedrock and foundation of all 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. It's like people 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 available and a multitude of entry level 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 religion.

I was doing the same thing as Paul did. I was trying to earn my salvation. I was trying to be worthy enough to be raised in the Kingdom. Why would I try to do that? That's what the Watchtower teaches. They teach that if you learn the bible from them, join and submit to the organization, obey God's moral requirements the rest of your life, and preach all the time,
then God might possibly, maybe, if he's in a good mood, resurrect you. 

The text says that the true people of God are those who “worship by the Spirit of God”. They “glory in Christ Jesus” and “put no confidence in the flesh”. The Reformer from Geneva, John Calvin commenting on this phrase, “confidence in the flesh”, says that it, “includes everything of an external kind in which an individual is prepared to boast … or to express it in fewer words: everything that is outside of Christ” The Watchtower never sees the sufficiency of Jesus. It's believe in Jesus and be part of the Organization. Believe in Jesus and go to all the meetings. Believe in Jesus and get baptized. Believe in Jesus and use the divine name Jehovah. Believe in Jesus and go in service. Believe in Jesus and prepare for meetings. Believe in Jesus and comment at meetings. Believe in Jesus and do all these things better then you did before. 

In the Watchtower, it's all about the individual, it's all about me. The gospel is about Jesus. The Watchtower says if I obey their rules then God might love me. The gospel of Jesus says because God has loved me through Jesus I now have a new nature and a new power that can obey God. The Watchtower sees good people and bad people and God loves the good people and hates the bad people. The gospel sees everyone as bad. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” There are bad people and Jesus. The Watchtower says it's about what I do. The gospel is about what Jesus has done. Under the Watchtower I end up trusting my own works. The gospel allows me to rest in the finished work of Christ. The Watchtower give you nothing but uncertainty in your standing with God. “Will I be in the new system or destroyed at Armageddon? Am I God's friend or foe?” The Watchtower makes you say, “I don't know. I'm not sure. I'm not sure I've done enough or tried hard enough.” The gospel of Jesus provides assurance and certainty. “These things are written that you may know you have eternal life.” “He who has the son has life.” 

But when I read this passage, I read that was talking about “not having a righteousness of his own”. That blew me away. It blew me away because it was so different from what the Watchtower teaches. The Watchtower teaches that God only saves the godly. The Organization says that Jesus helps us but we also need to help him. He isn't enough to save us, we need to do something as well. Their version of salvation is Jesus giving the sinner the same chance as Adam had. Jesus needs us to participate and contribute to our own salvation. As a result it isn't humble, it's proud. It isn't joyous, but very angry, critical, and mean. It's isn't grace, it's nothing but pure law. 
The Gospel is far better. Christ lived a perfect life in my place. The imputation of Christ's righteousness is far better. That is the Gospel. “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) 

Justification has to do with our objective legal standing. The Christian, through faith in Christ, has been justified and declared righteous and godly by God, once for all. We are not righteous, or godly at all, but unrighteous and ungodly. The best we can give God, all of our righteous deeds are like dirty menstrual rags says the prophet, like a pile of crap says the apostle. That's gross. Yes! I know! But that's how I was trying to be saved. I was trying to be saved by used rags and dung. God however declares sinners as godly and righteous because he credits Christ's merits, godliness and righteousness to us by faith. This is a legal action. Christ takes away my sin, guilt, powerlessness, death, ugliness, and godlessness. In exchange he gives me his holiness, righteousness, innocence, life, as well as a relationship with his Father and the Holy Spirit. The result of this is that the Christian no longer lives under the fear of judgment and the wrath of God but has peace with God, which is not merely a subjective feeling but an objective reality. 

This is the gospel 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.

What Paul valued more then anything else in life was knowing Jesus. The value Paul placed in knowing the Lord Jesus is seen in what he was willing to give up in order to gain Christ. The value we place on known Christ Jesus is determined by the price we are willing to pay. For Paul, becoming a Christian cost him everything he held so dear. He had dedicated his life to his religion and he presumed that his religious devotion was synonymous with giving his life to God. He had worked very hard to live righteously so that God would approve of him and accept him. If anyone could ever win or earn God's favor by sheer religious devotion it was Paul.

Paul here speaks of "the surpassing worth of knowing Christ". A worth surpassing what? Notice Paul says, "I count everything as loss", I have suffered the loss of all things". Everything else in life, when compared to knowing Christ is rubbish, refuse, dung, completely worthless. Paul valued knowing Christ so much that he considered everything he had given up as rubbish. Paul said he wanted to know Christ. This knowledge isn't not only knowing intellectual facts about Jesus. This isn't what the Society calls “accurate knowledge”. “Knowing” is not “taking in knowledge” as the New World Translation says. “Adam knew Eve” and they had a child. John MacArthur says that “knowing” here “is equivalent to shared life with Christ.” This is an intimate, continuous and personal relationship. What Paul receives as a Christian is not just better, more preferable or a better alternative, but it makes his former religious works worthless, despicable, and disgusting. Paul valued a relationship with Christ so much that he was willing to sacrifice everything in order to obtain it.

When I caught a sight of the Glory of Christ I saw 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. As long as I trusted my own religious works, I could never have been saved. Once I was saved, they no longer meant anything to me because I saw the surpassing worth of Jesus, and everything else seemed like nothing in comparison. When the sovereign power of God's grace opened my eyes to behold the glory of Christ by faith, there was a complete transformation of my person. I was 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) By God's grace, that is still an ongoing process. I was outwardly religious, but inwardly full of dead men's bones. I was faced with this fact, did I value Jesus more then my sin? Did I count my life of sin as rubbish to gain Christ? Justification is a free pardon based on Christ's righteousness and merits gifted to us through faith. Regeneration is the Holy Spirit taking a corrupt heart of stone and turning it into a heart of flesh. The Holy Spirit now enables us to hate the sin we once loved. He grants us the ability to flee sin. This regeneration leads to sanctification. A new relationship with God means a new relationship with sin. 

Paul says that religion destroys everything. It's not Jesus PLUS anything; it's Jesus ONLY! Jesus is all we need. Jesus is all we have. Jesus plus anything ruins everything. “Not the labors of my hands, could fulfill thy law's demands. Could my zeal no respite know, could my tears forever flow, all for sin could not atone, thou must save and thou alone. 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."

I saw my sin. I was guilty of pride and arrogance, thinking that I knew it all and the bible better than anyone. The Watchtower Organization is a false religion and a false prophet. Jehovah’s Witnesses were never God’s people I was guilty of trying to have a righteousness of my own. I was trying to earn my salvation. I was trying to be good enough, read my bible enough, go to meetings enough, preach enough. But I realized that no matter how much I did, it would never be enough. How could any of the religious works benefit me before a perfectly holy God? It dawned on me that nothing was capable of covering my sins other than the righteousness of Christ. “My faith is built on nothing less then Jesus blood and righteousness”. I repented. I could no longer trust in my own righteousness, instead I now cling to Christ and his righteousness as my only hope!

The Monday night following my conversion, I was praying the hardest I've ever prayed. Up until this point I was living a life of hypocrisy. I was going to the meetings, but I didn't agree with any of it. I was lying to my parents. I was sneaking out of the house to go to friends houses. I was an A student in my first two years, but I was flunking third year in College because I was lazy and skipped class with friends. When I became a Christian, this ate me up inside. What I was doing was wrong. I needed to tell my parents everything and I was scared silly. All things considered, I thought for sure I was going to be kicked out of the house. That night, I went out to see a movie with my brother and a friend of mine. So on Tuesday night, my Mom came down stairs and asked me, "So why did you invite Brian to the theater and not one of your Witness friends?"

It was the answer to my prayer. The Lord had opened the door for me. At this point I see my chance to tell her that I am a Christian. I was able to tell her that for a while I have had disagreements with the Watchtower's understanding on certain matters. I told her it would be wrong of me to attend the Kingdom Hall if I no longer believed in "The Organization". I confessed all my sins to her, and I asked her if that would effect my living in the house. She told me it would not. That I was still her son and she still loved me. 

So they did not kick me out. But I didn't know what was worse, being kicked out, or living in a house where there is a silent battle going on. It was a cold war between myself and my mother and even my older siblings noticed. There was one discussion with my Mom that was very interesting. She asked, "What is it about that religion that has sucked you in?" I replied, "What religion?" "That Church where you are going," she retorted. "That isn't a religion. It isn't about religion, it's about a relationship with God and Christ," was my response. "OH! I SEE! OKAY!"

Then my parents went to the Elders. I had them to do so, and I also expected the inevitable Judicial Committee. Let me tell you, the Judicial Committee wasn't what I expected. I don't really know what I expected, but it wasn't the inquisition that I got. But, from what I hear now, it was a standard meeting. I was bombarded with questions as to my doctrine and new beliefs. 
So I told them simply that I do not believe the WT Society is God's Organization. I started to explain why by showing how to determine a false prophet, (Deuteronomy 18:20-22), and then show the various false prophecies, (viz. 1874, 1914, 1925 etc). I didn't even get to read three references when they stopped me and said that this meeting wasn't for debating issues, it was to find out where I stand on matters.

So I told them where I disagree with the Society, (viz. New Covenant, Trinity, Dates, Cross, etc.), and where the Society went wrong, (viz. secretly joining the UN). Every time I mentioned something, the elders had a response. I would put my response back and they would side step the issue by moving to another issue and saying this meeting wasn't for debating.

Then the discussion turned to the "Organization". They must have talked for the better part of an hour about how clean and holy the organization was. "God's always had an organization. We don't go to war. No one has the moral standards we do. No one else disfellowships to protect their flock. No one else does the preaching work. You can walk into any kingdom hall and be taught the same thing." And things like these.

The best part of the meeting went as follows:
Matt: So does foundation matter? Is it important?
Elder1: Yes absolutely.
Elder2: You see, any organization which is on a unstable foundation will ultimately fail. A foundation based on falsehoods is doomed from the beginning.
Matt: So was Jesus returning in 1874 a falsehood?
[awkward silence]

My second favorite part was:

Elder1: So Matt, are you going to tell others about your disagreements? If you were to go preaching, what message would you preach? Would you preach against the organization?
Matt: Would I tell others about what I know? Well I'm not going to lie to them. I'm going to tell them what I believe.
Elder2: What about the ministry? You've stated earlier that the Good News must be preached. We're the only organization that preaches the Good News. No one else does. No one goes door to door. It's a vital and scriptural command to go door to door. Even if you preach to your friends at school or work, that isn't good enough, you have to go door to door and no other organization does that.
Matt: Other organizations do it.
Elder1: But what matters Matt, is the message. These groups don't preach the message we do.
Matt: What message is that?
Elder1: The main theme of the Bible, the Kingdom of God.
Matt: The main theme of the Bible isn't the Kingdom, it's Jesus Christ. And the message we are to be preaching is Christ, and Him crucified. 
So we went on and they basically said I was arrogant and prideful by thinking that I knew better then the Organization. They told me to think about how I got into this situation. They told me that I was in this situation because I was on "apostate websites" which had "bad association" which over time "poisoned me".

So the elders asked me if I would formally reject and disavow my new beliefs and come back under the authority of the Organization. They asked me what I wanted to do.

I responded by modifying a famous quote from Martin Luther, “Unless I am convinced by scripture, and by plain reason, and not by governing bodies and watchtower articles which have so often contradicted each other, my conscience is bound to the Word of God. I can not and I will not recant. To go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand. I can no longer in good conscience be apart of this organization.”

To which the elders replied, “Then you are no longer one of Jehovah's Witnesses.” Soon, because of the “cold war” that was going on between my mother and I, I decided to move out. I attended a Pentecostal church for a time, and eventually I moved. Now I attend a Reformed Baptist church, and I love my current church family.

So the question you have to ask yourself is, are you placing “confidence in the flesh” or do you “glory in Christ Jesus”? Is your hope in “anything and everything that is outside of Christ” or have your turned to Christ by faith? If you are not a Christian, do not wait any longer. Cry out to Christ in faith and he will rush to save you. Dear Christian, have you messed up this week? Perhaps you didn't live as much of a Christian life as you should have. You didn't perform. There is good news for you today. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1) “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) “
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”. (Philippians 1:6) You didn't become a Christian because you followed a list of rules, or because of your performance. “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3) You are a Christian because Christ has sought you. He has come after you. He who would not give up on you. He made satisfaction for your sins. He is here now among us and is here to carry you one step closer towards being more like him. “The Lord will rescue [us] from every evil deed and bring [us] safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” (2 Timothy 4:18)

"When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of glory died, my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride."