Tag Archives: Jehovah’s Witness

A Shot of Truth for a Potential JW

Saturday. Though we only talked to the man for about 5 minutes, it was a timely conversation. We approached him at the bus stop. He was open to chatting. He made it clear that he is not really following God. However, he mentioned that all his family are Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Instantly, I asked him if he was familiar with Colossians. He was. By God’s grace, I have been working on memorizing Colossians 1. Thus, it was fresh to quote: “in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Col 1:19). I told him that Jesus is fully God and warned him about “another Jesus” (2 Cor 11:4). He didn’t say much but seemed to be listening.

Well, that was it, the bus came, we handed him The Essential Jesus (which includes the Gospel of Luke) with our contact info and off he went. Just before leaving he told us that a JW leader is meeting with him regularly. May God protect him from error and guide him into truth. Your never know how the Lord will use that exchange. Though it was just a shot of truth, the word is “sharper than any two edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit” (Heb 4:12). May the Spirit attend the Word and may the Father draw him to the Gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24).

There are many great texts to use with JW’s to show that Jesus is God. The purpose of this post is not to give an exhaustive list, but here are a couple of texts that teach the doctrine of the deity of Christ:  

(1) “To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.” (Romans 9:5)

(2) But of the Son he says,
  “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever,
  the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.” (Hebrews 1:8)

Also, Pastor Julian’s recent post is helpful.

Talking to a JW at Coffee Time (2 of 3): Translation and Trust

On October 19, I wrote my first of three posts on a conversation I had with a Jehovah’s Witness at a Coffee Time in Guelph, Ontario. I promised to write two more posts. Originally, I planned to continue writing about that first meeting I had, but I met with that same man last week. Thus, though I shall keep my promise of writing two more posts on my dialogue with the JW at Coffee Time, this post (and the third one) will recap my most recent talk with him, which again, was at a Coffee Time in Guelph.

Again we met for about two and a half hours. Thus, we talked about many things, but one very important observation we keep coming to was that of our differing translations. Different translation means different meaning which means different truth and therefore, a different faith. Accordingly, we talked about translations.

Though I have only studied three years of Greek and two years of Hebrew, I know for certain that when Jesus says, “Before Abraham was, ego eimi” (John 8:58), ego eimi is in the Present Indicative Active. For those of you who do not know what Present Indicative Active means, simply know this, it means ego eimi should be translated “I am.” Accordingly, “Before Abraham was, I am” is the correct translation of John 8:58. I spent quite bit of time explaining this to my JW friend, but he would not accept it. His translation says something like, “Before Abraham was, I have been.” I showed him that Jesus is alluding to Jehovah’s self-description in Exodus (3:14). Jesus is saying that He is Jehovah. Jesus is saying He is God. He would not believe it. I explained that Jesus’ pronouncement of being God is the very reason that “the Jews picked up stones to throw at him” (John 8:59). 

In response, he took me to Proverbs 8:22, where wisdom personified seems to be a description of Christ. However, the JW translation says something like, “Jehovah produced me at the beginning of his work.” However, the ESV says, “The LORD possessed me at the beginning of his work.” Produced and possessed contain very different meanings. Did the Lord produce Jesus OR did He possess Jesus? The Lord did not produce Jesus. Jesus is eternal. We looked at various texts and I continued to see that the JW translation was different at many points.

Sadly, this man trusts the JW translation and he believes that all the other translations are wrong. He does not know any Greek or Hebrew. He has not questioned the JW translation. He has not fixed his hands to the task of studying these things. He simply accepts the JW translation, trusts it and prizes it.

In my first meeting with him, I had my Greek NT with me and I explained how John 8:58 is not translated correctly. However, he would not accept what I said. He only believes what the Watchtower society tells him. I asked him what he reads. He only read three things: the JW Bible and two magazines produced by the Watchtower society (Watchtower and Awake) – that is it. I also noticed that he uses a book called something like Reasoning from the Scripture, which tells him the meaning of various passages of the Bible that may be controversial. He used this book a few times when I asked him questions on texts that he could not answer and that contradicted JW theology. Therefore, other JW authors interpret the Bible for him. Some of their reasoning is certainly NOT reasonable.

I challenged him, “What if they are wrong? These other sources are simply the word of man. They can be wrong.” He replied, “If they are wrong then I am wrong, but they teach the truth – everything is right from the Bible. I am not learned like you . . . I don’t know the Bible like you, so I trust them.” I responded, “So what if I approached you before the JW’s did, you would believe me?” He said, “Maybe I would.” I said, “So you are banking all your trust in what they say?” He said, “Yes, I trust them. They show me the truth from the Bible.”

This was a very interesting talk that went on for some time. I told him that they are wrong about Jesus and I tried to show him why, but he would not really listen to me – he will only think about the Bible in ways that the JW’s have told him to think. I kept reminding him that he is trusting in the word of man.  I really challenged him to read more widely but as far as he is concerned, as he said, “If I have the truth, why look elsewhere?” I assured him that he doesn’t.

I also told him that his view of the Bible has been dictated by two magazines for twenty-three years. I assured him that I was telling him the truth but that he will not accept it simply because it is not in agreement with the teaching of two other magazines that have shaped his theology. He openly admits that these two magazines have largely shaped the way he sees and understands the Bible. However, he sees this as a good thing.

We both agreed that we are not worshipping the same God, nor the same Jesus. I am sobered and saddened by his blindness. I cannot help but think of 2 Corinthians 4:4 (“the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers”). But, I believe that the gospel is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom 1:16) . . . and how will JW’s believe? By hearing the Gospel (Rom 10:17). I believe there is hope. May the Lord have mercy on whom He will have mercy.

Talking to a JW at Coffee Time (1 of 3): The Resurrection and Eternal Punishment

A few weeks ago, when I was reading my Bible at Coffee Time, a man came up to me expressing his joy to see me reading the Scriptures. I instantly asked him, “What church are you from?” He told me that he was a former Catholic who converted to become a Jehovah’s Witness. He gave me a tract and used my open Bible to point me to some passages in the Psalms. I invited him to sit down and he proceeded to share more.

He told me about the wicked and the righteous and asked, “But who are the righteous?” I quickly interjected, “That is a very good question. One of the clearest descriptions of what it means to be righteous is found in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew.” I showed him Matthew 5:48, in which Jesus says, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

How to become righteous became our topic of conversation. He kept wanting to talk about the end times and the evil of this world, but, by the grace if God, I kept bringing us back to this topic: “how can a sinner become righteous?” We must be careful not to jump from trail to trail without ever making progress on any one of them. Sometimes this calls for a boldness to say something like, “Actually, I don’t mind talking about Y, but before we move on, can we spend some more time talking about X? I think we left that issue unresolved.”  

I opened up Ephesians 2:8-9 and we studied these verses. We spent quite a bit of time on how to be made acceptable to God. He insisted that we are not only saved by our faith in the work of Christ, but that our works contribute to gaining a right standing with God. I argued from the Scriptures that justification is by faith alone in Christ alone. Though agreeing with me at first, he soon learned that he does NOT really believe that.

Before he left, I took him to the place Jesus claims to be Jehovah when he says, “before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). He did not agree that this was a claim to Diety, but our time had run out. We exchanged numbers to meet again. Accordingly. we met this morning for about two and a half hours. Much was said so I will limit this post to a summary of the first main topic we discussed: the resurrection and eternal punishment. I plan to do part two and three of this talk in two separate posts (on Watch Tower literature and the Divinity of Jesus).

The Resurrection and Punishment: Would a Loving God Punish People Forever?

Upon arriving he started talking about God’s plan to be with man. I agreed with him (furthermore, I endorse his approach as a great starting point for sharing the Gospel). He explained much of Genesis 3 with precision. He taught accurately about death, that is, until I heard him say, “death is like sleep.” Before our meeting, I had just read a Watch Tower tract that said “the dead are not conscious” so I was curious to know his stance on the resurrection of the dead and the eternal condition of those who are NOT righteous.

He took me to Ecclesiastes 9:5, which says, “For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no knowledge, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten.” The dead have no knowledge – point taken. The OT description of Sheol is the place of the dead.

Be that as it may, the Scriptures also teach that there is a point at which dead are raised. I took him to John 5:28-29, where Jesus teaches that, “an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.” I argued that all people will be resurrected – some to life, others to judgment. He eventually agreed, but what does the “resurrection of judgment” mean?

We went to Daniel 12:2. It is written, “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” I argued that at the resurrection the dead awake, and are not put to death, but to everlasting shame (they do not arise from sleep to go back to sleep). Whatever else can be said, it is an eternal condition of conscious shame. He would not agree, but argued that dying is “punishment enough.” He then stepped away from the text and asked me pointedly, “When disciplining your child, would you take you child’s hand and put it on the burner of an oven to be burned?” I responded, “No.” He replied, “Would a loving God make someone burn forever? I said, “A Holy God would punish people eternally for sin. For they are sinning against God and He is Holy. In fact, He is infinitely Holy, so the punishment of those who sin against Him will be infinite.” I qualified this and talked about fire as a metaphor for real punishment. I also talked about the infinite nature of God’s holiness and our need to perceive God not only as a parent, but as a Judge.

He continued to tell me that it is impossible for a loving God to punish people forever. I told him, “I don’t want to believe in the doctrine of eternal punishment . . . it is a sad doctrine. It does not tickle me. I do not find pleasure in it. It is hard; but it is true, therefore I must believe it. Jesus taught it. I must subject myself to the Scriptures.”

I took him to Matthew 25:41-46. Verse 46 says, “And [the unrighteous] will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” The New World Translation says, “eternal cutting off.” This is a terrible translation that should be cut off itself (and replaced with “punishment”). Whatever the case, unless you play hermeneutical gymnastics you cannot escape the doctrine of eternal punishment in this passage. Even if you did call it “cutting off,” it keeps happening and it is an unpleasant experience to say the least. The punishment is as eternal as the life. The life is as eternal as the punishment. Both are unending. If the punishment is not conscious, why would the life be? interpreters need to be consistent here.

I asked him about the devil and his angels that enter into the eternal fire in Matthew 25:41. He responded, “That means they are consumed by the fire – destroyed. They are no more.” He continued to argue that fire completely destroys things. I responded by reminding him that this is not always the case. I referred him to the burning bush (Ex. 4) which, though it kept burning, was not consumed. My example did not satisfy him. I tried telling him that literal fire is not necessarily Jesus’ main point – his main point is that hell is a bad unending condition (to say the least).

He would not agree. I showed him Revelation 14:10-11 which teaches that “the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshippers of the beast and its image.” He wanted to talk about the beast, but I would not let the conversation go that way for long. I asked him, “how can they have NO REST if they are destroyed?” He was silent. I said, “they have no rest day or night because they are awake and being tormented continually.” Again, he could not believe this because of his twisted concept concerning how it is that “God is love.”

Ironically, he took me to Revelation 20:10 which actually says that the devil, the beast and the false prophet will be “tormented day and night forever and ever.” When he read it, he stopped in his tracks and said, “Oh, yes, you will see this one the same way.” I said, “Tim (fake name), it says ‘forever and ever,’ how else can you interpret that? It is clear. I don’t know what else to say to you? I just don’t know what to say?” He said, “I don’t know what to say either.”

We simply could not agree on this doctrine. I realized that his view of God and Scripture is totally dominated by the systemic theology and teachings of the Watch Tower society rather than a natural reading of Scriptures. (The Watch Tower organization became our next topic of conversation.) Even when confronted with the truth that the punishment of the devil, the beast and the false prophet “will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Rev 20:10), he refused to believe that “forever and ever” really meant forever and ever.

One explanation for his unbelief is the very passage he read aloud to me in our conversation: “the god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor 4:4). Oh that he would see the light and live! 

May the Lord remove his blindfold. And may the Lord forever remind us that salvation is all of grace.