Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Witnessing to Jehovah's Witnesses

Last Thursday was a bit curious — I actually had a scheduled visit from the Jehovah’s Witnesses.


Typically, this had started with the ringing of the doorbell (at an inconvenient moment, but then what moments are convenient for such a visit?) by a young woman with child in tow.


It is usually easy to spot JWs , and tempting simply to tell them to go away, but I think being a Jehovah’s Witness must be like working for a call centre. It must be awful knowing everyone hates you and wants you to go away. So I usually try to be pleasant, both on the phone and at the front door.


Anyway, this time one thing led to another, and I said I’d be quite happy for her to call again, which she duly did, with her ‘supervisor’, as arranged, last Thursday.


Personally, I’ve long since given up wondering whether JWs might just be right. My first encounter with them was in 1972, when they were still forecasting the end of the world in 1975, and might reasonably have claimed to have still been in with a chance.


However, I think any organization predicting the date of Christ’s return (unwise in itself) ought to operate on a ‘three strikes and you’re out basis’, and so having been wrong in 1914, 1925 and 1975, the JWs really ought to call it a day.


Nevertheless, my encounters with them in ‘72 resulted in the purchase of my first theological book: A A Hoekema’s The Four Major Cults, which I read avidly. As a result, I reckon I’m pretty well informed about what the Witnesses believe and teach — sometimes more so than a novice Witness. But the important question is surely not so much, “How can I prove the Witnesses wrong?” (especially since they are approaching the conversation exactly with the intention of proving you wrong) as, “How can I get through to this person with the gospel?”


Sometimes this may indeed be by proving them wrong. Back in the ‘70s I had a ‘result’ with two Witnesses over the issue of the 144,000 in the Book of Revelation. ((I basically objected that if the number itself was 'literal', then so, too, ought to be their description as being male Jewish virgins.) One of them later told a friend of mine they’d given up being Witnesses after their conversation with me. But I’ve also had unfruitful and unproductive conversations which have gone nowhere, on whether Jesus was God, on whether the doctrine of the Trinity is true, and so on.


More recently, therefore, I’ve tended to concentrate on another question, namely, “How are we saved?” This has, I think two advantages. First, it isn’t part of the JW training and, secondly, it gets really to the heart of the matter.


I did actually bone up a bit before our Thursday meeting, from the book the woman had left with me previously, so I did know the ‘right’ answer was that Jesus had paid a ransom for us. (Of course, JWs have a very different understanding of ‘Jesus’ from orthodox Christianity.) What our discussions revealed, however, was that this ransom provides no assurance of salvation. Thus the younger Witness said to me at one stage, “I don’t sin at all.”  And the reason was because if she did, Jehovah would condemn her.


This naturally led to a discussion about God’s answer to sin — in fact I kept trying to press the point, “What does God do about our sins?”, though without getting a clear answer.


Then came the wonderful moment when the older Witness asked me, “So do you think you could just go to the confessional and say you were sorry and then go out and sin again, and keep on being forgiven?”, to which I said, “It’s funny you should say that, because if you turn to Romans 6, you’ll find exactly that question. And,” I went on, “It’s a question you’ll only ask if you’ve really understood the gospel, because only the gospel will ever allow you to think that is possible — no other religion will ever make you think that way.”


After that, we talked on for a bit, but I felt we’d reached the most useful point, and I think they felt they weren’t getting anywhere. Certainly they left without trying to book another appointment.


But it left me wondering, “Can you be a Witness and be saved?” I think my answer would be, “Yes, but accidentally, and without really knowing it, or being in a position effectively to bring others to salvation.”


Today on the train back from the Reform conference in London, I was reading John Stott’s classic Your Confirmation. In it, he talks about salvation in these terms:


We must believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died on the cross to be the Saviour of the world. This is about all you need to believe in order to become a Christian. Of course, there is much more to believe later. Once you are committed to Jesus Christ, you will be in a better position to think through the rest of the Christian creed, than if you remain uncommitted. You do not have to believe the whole Bible to become a Christian; nor to be well versed in the Christian philosophy of religion; nor to know the Catechism by heart! These things can wait. What you do have to believe is first that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God, uniquely divine, who came down from heaven and became man; and secondly that He deliberately went to the cross to die for the sins of the world.


Of course, JWs explicitly deny that Jesus is ‘uniquely divine’, but on the other hand, many of them do indeed believe that Jesus ‘went to the cross to die for the sins of the world’.


The fundamental problem, as far as I can see, is that identified by Stott later in the same book:


If you are hoping that you are forgiven and that you are going to heaven when you die, in what are you trusting for these things? ... If you reply (as many people do to whom I have put this question): “Well, I have tried to lead a good life; I go to church regularly; I say my prayers; I ...” I must stop you. You need go no further. The first word of your answer was “I”. Exactly! You are trusting in yourself and in your own works, your good deeds and religious observances. No wonder you have no assurance of salvation. The answer to my question in one word is “Christ” ...


Of course, it could be argued that the answer, “Because I,” means I am in a wrong relationship with God, and therefore not saved. But it also means that the first issue to address with my two Witnesses was the effectiveness of Christ’s death, and their own need for assurance.


Clearly, their own assurance came from their own works, even though they explicitly said they weren’t ‘earning’ their salvation. But the equally important point is that an argument about the nature of Christ or the precise status of ‘Hell’ would have taken us off on a diversion, rather than getting to the heart of the matter.


Naturally, I would also want to challenge their view of Christ, but I suspect it would be easier to do so when the extent of Christ’s saving work was properly understood. Arguing about whether Jesus was divine, or whether, as Witnesses teach, he was an incarnation of the Archangel Michael, is less ‘academic’ when his nature means his death is capable of dealing with all the sins of the whole world.


Meanwhile, though, I also find myself asking whether new understandings of the atonement, which see Christ’s death and our works acting ‘cooperatively’ do not undermine assurance just as much as the teachings of JWs, and therefore whether we shouldn’t be just as inclined to proclaim the fullness of salvation as the truth in opposition to error in these cases as well.


John Richardson

14 October 2008

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34 comments:

  1. One method of keeping Jehovah Witnesses away from your door is to display a "GIVE BLOOD" sign prominently in your front window..

    Chris Bishop
    Devon

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  2. Thanks John, that's helpful.

    What I do here is set them homework. I print out questions and ask them to get me some answers. That, I hope is getting others to think it through too.

    "How can I be saved?" is the right way in, otherwise we may get them to leave but only to secular humanism, at least being a JW makes them "nice".

    When I 1st discovered the internet I posted 2 ways to live on a JW discussion board. 1 JW thanked me as they'd never had the cross (or stake) clearly explained before - but how would that work unless Jesus were himself God - or something along those line. I must admit I was shocked, but it shows we can get to that point once we've worked out the salvation issues.

    Darren Moore
    Tranmere

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  3. John, thanks for this. You are also I think very well versed on Revelation so I hesitate to presume, but I have always found it a helpful tool in conversations with JW's to look at Revelation 7, and show them how after the list of the 144,000, the very next thing we get is the worship of the Lamb upon the throne. Unless JW's are able to show that the Lamb is someone other than Christ, it is hard to avoid the reality of the Divinity of Jesus from verses 9 to 15. To one couple of visitors I once said "Look, right next to your favourite passage, mine, because it shows that Jesus is God."

    I would also agree with Iconoclast that Blood Donation is a good strategy, as is that undertaken by a West country parson of my acquaintance who when he hears the JW's are coming through the village, leans on his front doorpost, cleaning his shotgun!

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  4. Dear John,

    a helpful post given that we've been having JWs knocking recently. It illustrates well how I came to an understanding of the person of Christ (and Reformed convictions). Start at what the atonement has to do and you have to have all the rest follows. Every error in Christology or soteteriology diminishes the efficacy of the atonement in some way.

    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 the fountain fly;
    wash me, Savior, or I die.

    Nothing, naked, helpless, foul. Only sovereign grace can deal with these states. I wonder what a JW would make of the whole hymn?

    In Christ,

    John Foxe.

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  5. "Of course, JWs explicitly deny that Jesus is ‘uniquely divine’, but on the other hand, many of them do indeed believe that Jesus ‘went to the cross to die for the sins of the world’."

    Oh really?

    Sure we believe he is uniquely divine. But maybe not your definition. But the problem is that your definitions are so convoluted to where one would not know you mean. I mean "uniquely divine"? Why such a phrase?

    Of course JWs believe that Jesus died for the sins of the sinners past, present and future.

    "means I am in a wrong relationship with God, and therefore not saved. But it also means that the first issue to address with my two Witnesses was the effectiveness of Christ’s death, and their own need for assurance."

    More convolutedness. Why is it that people focus on the 'saved' stuff more than on the serving God stuff?


    I would suggest you listen to JWs rather than arguing and keeping them away.

    And to Tim goodbody:"
    the reality of the Divinity of Jesus from verses 9 to 15."

    JWs believe in the divinity of Jesus. But that does not mean he is a trinity or Jehovah God.

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  6. Dear Will,

    indeed JWs do believe Jesus is 'uniquely divine' but for them Jesus' divinity is 'unique' precisely because it isn't full divinity as possessed by the Father. That is surely more convoluted than the Christian understanding of who Jesus is as co-equal with the Father in his divinity.

    And the focus on salvation before service is because Christ's death makes us sons, not slaves. We are 'saved to serve'. We do not serve in order to be saved.

    Nicenely yours,

    The Foxe.

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  7. Will,
    As I have often said on the doorstep, quite apart from anything else, there is no Jehovah; this word is a casualty of the inadequacy of early Translators - the consonants from Yahweh (whose name was not enunciated) and the vowels from adonai - the Lord, to remind people to say adonai when they came to YHWH in the scroll.
    Yahweh is God; Jehovah is a linguistic anomaly. So I agree, Jesus is not Jehovah God because there is no one of that name.

    The lamb on the Throne, being worshipped is described as God (Rev 7:11) With a Trinitarian understanding, of course we see Christ as part of the Godhead here. If you don't have that understanding, you have to wonder why he is being worshipped in the first place.
    In what sense is Christ worshipped then at the Kingdom Hall?

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  8. Good Afternoon Vicar,

    I've been off for a bit but it was good to see an insightful post. I was also encouraged by genuine Christian Charity in your dealing with the young woman.

    I've come to see the teachings of the watchtower as an odd hash of arianism and pelagianism with a toss of odd superstitions. I agree with your assertion that if an adherent is redeemed and saved, its sole intervention of the Almighty. I'd further contend that, once one comes to a saving knowledge of Christ, they would be hard-pressed to remain in the institution.

    Best Regards,

    Andy Terry
    Stafford on Potomac

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  9. Hi John
    I had three sessions with a lovely Jehovah's Witness man recently. He had retired early to give him more time to visit people.

    He wanted to go through one of their latest books with me What does the Bible really teach?, but this raised a lot of questions which he endeavoured to answer.

    Unfortunately the stock answers [such as that the story of the rich man and Lazarus is an allegory and therefore doesn't really tell us what life is like after death] didn't satisfy me, and he wasn't able to give a satisfactory explanation.

    He wanted to tell me all about souls and spirits and that when we die we cease to exist. But I told him that this conflicts with Jesus saying we have eternal life now when we believe.

    We had friendly discussions, but the last time he came, he told me he was coming to say goodbye. He told me that Matthew 11 shows that God reveals himself to those he chooses and maybe I'm not one of them.

    I did my best to show that the New Testament and Old Testament have Jesus saying and doing only things God does and says and that the NT over and over says things of Jesus that the OT had ascribed to "Jehovah."

    So now we leave Tony in God's hands.

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  10. In actual truth, there simply is no means available to Keep Jehovah's Witnesses away. Thats what they do: they presist time and time and time again, no matter your persistent pleas "to go away and never call again! They are truly as relentless, and undaunted and unstoppable, it seems, as death and user-end taxes. You simply cannot escape from them. Period!

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  11. David Mckay said:
    "Unfortunately the stock answers [such as that the story of the rich man and Lazarus is an allegory and therefore doesn't really tell us what life is like after death] didn't satisfy me, and he wasn't able to give a satisfactory explanation."

    Well, the Bible does not teach what life is like after death because there is no life after death. Jesus was not teaching a doctrine about life after death because it would make no sense as that was not a lesson. It was not taught prior so his

    He wanted to tell me all about souls and spirits and that when we die we cease to exist. But I told him that this conflicts with Jesus saying we have eternal life now when we believe.

    We had friendly discussions, but the last time he came, he told me he was coming to say goodbye. He told me that Matthew 11 shows that God reveals himself to those he chooses and maybe I'm not one of them.

    I did my best to show that the New Testament and Old Testament have Jesus saying and doing only things God does and says and that the NT over and over says things of Jesus that the OT had ascribed to "Jehovah."

    So now we leave Tony in God's hands.

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  12. David Mckay said:
    "Unfortunately the stock answers [such as that the story of the rich man and Lazarus is an allegory and therefore doesn't really tell us what life is like after death] didn't satisfy me, and he wasn't able to give a satisfactory explanation."

    Well, the Bible does not teach what life is like after death because there is no life after death. Jesus was not teaching a doctrine about life after death because it would make no sense as that was not a lesson. It was not taught prior so his parable so it would not make sense.

    "He wanted to tell me all about souls and spirits and that when we die we cease to exist. But I told him that this conflicts with Jesus saying we have eternal life now when we believe."

    If we have eternal life now, then why are there cemetaries and funerals for believers? Jesus meant that those who believed in him would get life.

    "I did my best to show that the New Testament and Old Testament have Jesus saying and doing only things God does and says and that the NT over and over says things of Jesus that the OT had ascribed to "Jehovah.""

    Except for John 3:16 where it says that Jesus is God's son. God is Jehovah. Thus Jesus is and was Jehovah's son. Sure they both can be saviors and redeemers, but in different contexts.

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  13. To the Vicar....

    Yes, we, JWs, do believe that Jesus is unique and he is divine. He is just not equal to the Father, as an examination of the Scriptures will show clearly. Phil.2:6 is a botched up translation, and I'm not just saying that because I disagree with the KJV's rendering. Many translations render that verse in the exact opposite manner, showing Christ as someone who never gave a thought to being equal to God. Check out the NIV, the New American Bible, Moffatt Translation, Complete Jewish Bible, 21st Century New Testament, and more. Jesus himself said that (1) The Father is greater [John 14:28]
    (2) He does nothing on his own but only what the Father has taught him to do and say [John 5:19; 8:28; 12:49,50].
    (3) Jesus calls the Father his God [John 20:17; Rev.3:12)
    (4) Paul corroborates all this at I Corinth.11:3.

    Care to read these Scriptures I have cited? I would also recomment an excellent book by a non-Witness called "Truth in Translation," by Jason BeDuhn. Another good one is "The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture," by Bart Ehrman.

    JWs believe that Christ is our salvation. We cannot earn it. We can, though, throw away our good standing by turning away from Christ & his Father and the truth of the Bible. It is not Scriptural to say, "Once saved always saved." We must REMAIN in our relationship with God & Christ. If we do, we will be saved. (Matt.24:13)

    Keep searching, Vicar. You haven't arrived yet.

    And, BTW, I wouldn't be discouraged by a "Give Blood" sign, and I would happily take anyone's list of questions and answer them all. I have done so before.

    Thanks.

    Pam Tolliver
    1179 Bay Street
    Springfield, MA 01109

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  14. Thanks to everyone who has contributed to the comments on this post.

    The most interesting thing to me, so far, is that none of the Witness contributors has mentioned being a Jehovah's Witness as a factor in being saved.

    Instead, the focus has been where (I would have thought) it rightly belongs - on what Jesus did for us in dying on the cross, and on our response to that in faithful trust.

    Of course, that raises the question of what it is necessary to believe about God, but that is not the same thing as saying you need to belong to a particular organization.

    (Indeed, I cannot see how belonging to an organization that began in the nineteenth century can be the way of salvation according to a gospel that has been preached since the time of Abraham.)

    We can (and sometimes should) knock texts backwards and forwards to challenge our understanding. Pam quotes Philippians 2:6 to say Christ never gave a thought to being equal with God. I could quote Philippians 2:10, that "at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord", and point out the parallel with Isaiah 45:23-24, "Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear. They will say of me, ‘In the Lord alone are righteousness and strength.’" And I could point out that the Old Testament here is speaking of Yahweh (Jehovah), in the same way the New Testament speaks of Jesus. And I could point out that this is the same Yahweh/Jehovah who says, "I am Yahweh; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another" - and we could have an interesting conversation about what the New Testament is saying about Jesus when it ascribes to him the glory given to God.

    But we would still have to ask, "Does our salvation depend on this, or on what Jesus has done for us?" And is faith about belonging to the right organization or faith in what has been done for us?

    I can accept that some of us might be wrong about the Trinity. I cannot accept that there is an organization to which one must belong to be saved.

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  15. Dear John,

    do you concede too much? Do we need to concede that we might be wrong on the Trinity? Surely if we concede that Jesus is not equally divine with the Father we no longer have a Saviour able to reconcile us with God?

    Or maybe that isn't what you meant...

    Quizzically,

    John Foxe.

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  16. Richardson said:
    "(Indeed, I cannot see how belonging to an organization that began in the nineteenth century can be the way of salvation according to a gospel that has been preached since the time of Abraham.)"

    Jehovah's Witnesses did not begin in the 19th century. The religion began when Abraham was given a promise and extended to Israel and then to when Jesus preached.
    Then after that Christianity got infused with paganisms. At the end of the 19th century there were people that wanted to get free of of those paganisms so over the past century JWs have been putting off those paganisms.

    To help separate us form them, we took the name Jehovah's Witnesses.
    The way of salvation is the narrow road which we strive to be on.

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  17. "Voice of Reason"

    We agree that the gospel goes back to the time of Abraham, and that is surely good.

    We disagree that the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society represents one 'pure' truth. On the contrary, it has sometimes had to revise even its own teachings. One example would be the meaning of Romans 13, which was once taken to apply to the organization itself, but later was taken to apply to civil government (the majority Christian view, incidentally).

    Other claimed examples can be found here. I cannot vouch that they are all valid, but I do clearly remember in the early 1970s Jehovah's Witnesses predicting the end of the world in 1975 ("probably August", as I recall). There is a testimony about it here, and I remember a professional footballer who had become a Witness being questioned about it a year or two before '75. I myself watched the year come and go with interest, given my early encounter with Witnesses soon after I became a Christian.

    Of course, having to correct misapprehensions is nothing new, nor even fatal, in religion. The Church had to deal with the whole issue of meat offered to idols in its early years, and some teachers had clearly got it wrong - though I've no doubt they were sincere.

    The point is, belonging to one organization or another is not fundamental to salvation, especially when the organization has got it wrong.

    PS I do prefer non-anonymous posts. If we have something to say, we should have the courage to attach our names to it.

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  18. "We disagree that the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society represents one 'pure' truth. On the contrary, it has sometimes had to revise even its own teachings. One example would be the meaning of Romans 13, which was once taken to apply to the organization itself, but later was taken to apply to civil government (the majority Christian view, incidentally)."

    That is not true. Romans 13 was not applied to the organization itself.

    And no the majority Christian view does not properly apply it. The majority Christian view is that they give what belongs to God to the governments. JWs have refined that to where it is proper.


    "I do clearly remember in the early 1970s Jehovah's Witnesses predicting the end of the world in 1975 ("probably August", as I recall)."

    No, there was not a prediction that the end of the world would happen in 1975. 1975 was the end of 6000 years of human history. Some thought that it could be significant to the end times. But that has no factor for today.

    "The point is, belonging to one organization or another is not fundamental to salvation, especially when the organization has got it wrong."

    It is not a matter of belonging to an organization but that being in the organization helps people to stay on the road to life.

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  19. "Aldo Nova"

    I do prefer not to have anonymous posts. However, to respond to your comments:

    You write, "there was not a prediction that the end of the world would happen in 1975."

    There was indeed an understanding, current among Witnesses at the time, that the Battle of Armageddon would take place in 1975. I remember it being public knowledge, and my own reaction, as a young Christian, to this suggestion.

    I also clearly remember the English footballer, Peter Knowles, who had become a Jehovah's Witness being asked what he would do if Armageddon did not take place. His response, as I recall, was that he might have to think again. (I do not know if he did.)

    I have looked on this website which has this quote (referenced as The Watchtower, August 15, 1968, p 499, my emphasis):

    "Are we to assume from this study that the battle of Armageddon will be all over by the autumn of 1975, and the long-looked-for thousand-year reign of Christ will begin by then? Possibly, but we wait to see how closely the seventh thousand-year period of man's existence coincides with the sabbathlike thousand-year reign of Christ. If these two periods run parallel with each other as to the calendar year, it will not be by mere chance or accident but will be according to Jehovah's loving and timely purposes."

    This website makes it clear, with extensive quotes, what was said and what was just strongly hinted. When you write, "Some thought that it could be significant to the end times," clearly that "some" included many in the leadership of the Watchtower organization.

    As to Romans 13, I have found reference to three different interpretations (strictly two, but with a change):

    “Higher Powers” refers to earthly governments. (The Time is at Hand (1915) pg. 81). (27)

    “Higher Powers” refers to Jehovah God and Jesus. (The Truth Shall Make You Free, page
    312). (28)

    “Higher Powers” refers to earthly governments. (Man’s Salvation…at Hand (page 326)

    However, I would refer you and others to the articles in my previous post - the testimony of an individual former witness about 1975 and the Wikipedia article.

    As you say, though, in the end it is not membership of an organization which counts.

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  20. Hi. Just wanted to say a thing or two about 1975 and Romans 13. You observed that the WT Society said "possibly" the year 1975 would see Armageddon. That is the way I and everyone I knew at that time was looking at it. It MIGHT happen, and it might not. The JWs in this area hardly mentioned it at all. It was really no big deal. That is my experience.

    Romans 13 doesn't bother me either. The brothers finally got it right! That is the way it has been with many things. They have one view perhaps, and then later on they have new understanding. The new understanding always is more loving, makes more sense, and is encouraging.

    You seem like a fair guy, Vicar, and have a dignified way about you. Thanks for listening.

    Pam Tolliver

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  21. To John Foxe.....

    Why does Jesus have to be equal with the Father, God, to be able to reconcile humans to the Father, mediating for us? Where in the Bible does it say that a personage equal to God must be the saviour of mankind? There is only the indication that a PERFECT MAN must do the job. A "second Adam," as Paul puts it.

    Jesus has every credential necessary for reconciling us to God. And he's not equal to God by his own words.

    Pam Tolliver

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  22. Dear Vicar....

    I appreciate your observations.

    I thought I would try to make a point about Jesus receiving glory like that of the Father, Jehovah. One thing firstly....you didn't finish the verse, or, the thought in Philippians. It says, "And every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, TO THE GLORY OF GOD THE FATHER." (verse 11, New American Bible) So, whatever Jesus accomplished, it was all for the Father's glory, and he said so himself. "I do not seek my own glory..." (John 8:50)

    Jehovah wished Jesus to be honored, however, and he rightfully deserves a measure of glory. But I do not think that the glory Jesus receives at any time equals the glory that the Father deserves and has. I just now thought of a possible way to explain this (in a child-like way)....the sun is glorous. So is the moon. But the sun outshines the moon.

    Anyway, the bottom line is, Jehovah is the Most High and deserves every ounce of glory there is. Jesus deserves a measure of glory, and actually a whole LOT, but it would never equal his Father's glory. When Jehovah said He would not share His glory with another, to me this means that He is simply emphasizing that no other god deserves to be worshipped or given glory, such as the gods worshipped by the nations. I feel that it is understood that Jesus is not a god on the level of the Father to be worshipped, so therefore Jehovah has no problem honoring him with glory. Jesus does not seek to overpower his Father's position or His glory.

    "Jesus answered, 'If I glorify myself, my glory is worth nothing; but it is my Father who glorifies me.'" (John 8:54)

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  23. Greetings!

    Excellent blog! I have a blog as well (endoftheworld-signtopia.blogspot.com)where I occasionally write about Jehovah's Witnesses. I think you will find one of my recent entries entitled "Jehovah's Witnesses Go Trick Or Treating" to be very interesting because I share with everyone the discussion I had at my door on Halloween morning. Most Witnesses have to be reminded that they are taught that Jesus is Abaddon, the fallen angel of the abyss in Revelation 9. Also, the issue of the Witnesses rejection of Christ is addressed. I have noticed that Pam Tolliver has responded to your blog here....she has offered several comments to that which I have written as well.

    Once again, I enjoy reading your blog.....keep up the good work!

    God Bless!

    Stoshu Dombrowski
    Baltimore, Maryland, USA

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  24. Dear Vicar of Ugley...

    I wanted to comment on your posting about the JW sister who you say wasn't sure of her salvation, as you feel you deduced. First of all, one must understand exactly what JWs believe. We do NOT believe that we are saved by works alone. So it is not our works that "earn" our ultimate salvation. That being said, we feel that it is possible to slide back into the evil world & lose our good standing with God, even though at one time we were on the road to life. Surely you are familiar with

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  25. Surely you are familiar with Scriptures that show that we must CONTINUE on the right road in order to attain our goal of everlasting life.

    "And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death...IF YE CONTINUE IN THE FAITH grounded and settled, and BE NOT MOVED AWAY from the hope of the gospel..." (Colossians 1:21-23, KJV)

    "For if we sin WILFULLY after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of juegment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries." (Hebrews 10:26,27)

    So apparently we can reverse ourselves and fall back into condemnation. This is why Jesus said we should "exert ourselves vigorously" to continue on that road to life. (Luke 13:24)

    This is what the sister was trying to convey to you. She knows she is in good standing NOW, and she hopes she will never turn on God and decide, as Adam did, to go her own way. If she endures to the end, she will be saved. We all know we must endure. (Matthew 24:13)

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  26. Pam, I (almost) entirely agree with you. What I was trying to make clear to the sisters who visited me was that their salvation comes about because Jesus died for their sins. Thus we can have full assurance that sin, as such, cannot separate us from God.

    The younger sister, in particular, seemed to think that Jesus' death had paid for her sins only up to the point where she had decided to become a Jehovah's Witness, but that somehow, since then, her relationship with God depended on her not sinning.

    That, it seemed to me, was a confusion on her part.

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  27. Pam, you are correct.

    JWs do not believe that they are saved by their works. It is the sacrifice of Jesus that opens the way to removal of sins.

    The activities, works that JWs do is an example of their faith and love of God.

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  28. "The younger sister, in particular, seemed to think that Jesus' death had paid for her sins only up to the point where she had decided to become a Jehovah's Witness, but that somehow, since then, her relationship with God depended on her not sinning."

    It is true that her relationship with God does depend on her not sinning. But if she does sin, then she has a helper in Jesus to intercede for her. But she should not want to take Jesus for granted. That is not what he was there for. If that were the case then why have all of those teachings after Jesus?

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  29. John....

    Oh my goodness. That's the first time I've heard that. Very interesting!

    If that is what the sister thought, I hope she adjusts her thinking very soon! I have taken it for granted that all of us know that we all sin daily, and it's part of our heritage that we received from Adam. That's precisely why Jesus died for us, as you said. We can't NOT sin. We can keep from sinning gross, wilfull sins such as fornicating or murder, etc., but "Adamic sins," as we sometimes call them, are with us until we, as we believe, attain perfection during Christ's Millennial Reign.

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  30. It is sick bigots like you who make people hate Christianity. More to the point, I actively enjoy helping to tear down the stupid, superstitious bigotry hatemongers like you promote. You have hijacked Christianity and turned it into a hate fest. May Christ rot in Hell.

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  31. Dear Jonston,

    I'm sorry that's the way you feel. This isn't much, but if you follow this link it is the best I can do for you online.

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  32. This is a common misconception of our work and our belief. It's understandable why some may feel this way, because we do feel, as Christians and as his creation, obligated to do this work. However this is not our motivation. We can’t earn anything; everything we have is a gift from God.

    Salvation is a free gift, because our current sinful state legislates death. We have descended from Adam and Eve, who sinned and lost their clean standing before God. In that sinful state, they conceived children and passed on that imperfection to us. Out of love, God gave us the Ransom, as a free gift, to redeem us out of that sinful state, basically putting us back on par with Adam and Eve before they sinned. However the ransom doesn’t guarantee our salvation, it just gives us back what Adam had lost.

    Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” KJV

    Romans 5:12: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:” KJV

    Romans 5:19: “For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” KJV

    Romans 5:18: “Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” KJV

    1 Timothy 2:5, 6 “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” KJV

    In other words, the Ransom gets us out of dept, but we then have to stay out of dept. It doesn’t give us a free pass to do what ever we want. In order to stay alive or keep that gift, we must obey God’s commandments, just like Adam and Eve were supposed to do. Obedience is the other half of the equation.

    Ecclesiastes 12:13: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” KJV

    Jesus’ half brother James wrote: “Faith, if it does not have works, is dead in itself.” He further said: “Show me your faith apart from the works, and I shall show you my faith by my works.” James pointed out that even the demons “believe and shudder,” but that belief will not save them because of their disobediance. Abraham, on the other hand, had both faith and works. “His faith worked along with his works and by his works his faith was perfected.” James repeated: “Faith without works is dead.”—James 2:17-26.

    So our faith or belief in Jesus Ransom motivates us to obey God’s commandments, especially the commandment Jesus himself gave to his followers. And by following his example, we becoming Christ-like or Christens. One of the most important commandments was to preach the good news of the Kingdom to all nations:

    Matt 28:18-20: “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” KJV

    John 21:15-17: “Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. 16He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. 17He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.”

    Matt 10:7: “7And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” KJV

    Luke 8:1: “And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him” KJV

    Act 5:28, 29: “Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us. 29Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.”

    Acts 20:20: “And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house”

    Mark 13:10: “And the gospel must first be published among all nations.” KJV

    Matt 24:14: “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” KJV

    Romans 9:16: “For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” KJV

    So as seen in the above scriptures, Jesus commanded his followers to preach the good news of the kingdom and they did so diligently from “house to house”. The Bible and History shows that all early Christens were preachers of this good news of the Kingdom. Some time after the death of the apostles and those who had been close to them, the professed Christians of that time began to become apostate (abandoned the true cause, worship, and service of God). Ecclesiastical orders were established, and preaching ceased to be the activity of all who professed the Christian faith; it became the exclusive prerogative of a clergy class. Note what the Bible encyclopedia by M’Clintock and Strong says about this: “When ritual ceremonies came to supersede not only the practice, but the very idea of evangelization, it is not surprising that preaching itself became a ceremony, and at length a rare and infrequent ceremony. Not merely laymen, but even presbyters of the Church were inhibited from preaching, except by special permission of bishops; while many of the bishops, who had arrogated to themselves the exclusive right of preaching, either through ignorance or indolence practically abandoned the custom.” The custom today for a clergy class to do the preaching and for the common people to remain silent comes from these apostates rather than from Jesus Christ.—Acts 20:29, 30

    So, we do not feel that we are “earning our salvation”, rather we preach “in every house” as did the early Christens, obeying a commandment Jesus gave. Our motivation is love of God, love of neighbor, and then obedience. What else can we possibly give back to him but our obedience? He owns everything else.

    Act 5:42: “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ” KJV

    Romans 10:9: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” KJV

    James 2:26 “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” KJV

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  33. Anonymous of 25 January

    As you know, I don't like to publish entirely anonymous comments, but you've obviously gone to some trouble with yours.

    However, it still comes back to the question I basically ask of anyone - Jehovah's Witness, Mormon, Muslim or 'Christian' - how can I (we) be saved?

    The answer is, by grace, through faith, as a result of Jesus' death for my sins. All the rest is the outliving of salvation. Praise the Lord!

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  34. The thread is so long and detailed but what I have gleaned is a debate on faith vs works. I think every Christian sect believes in the importance of works and Faith. But it is clear from the whole counsel of scripture that faith comes first because Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness. Jesus, in Matthew 25 judges the nations by their works however: and one must believe that those humble souls had the faith to do good and kind things unto the "least of these".

    For the Jehovah's Witness, the main difference in Faith is whether Jesus Christ is God (or coequal with Jehovah). Can anyone read Revelation particularly ch.7 and not understand that the Lamb is Coequal with Jehovah? How about ch 22? We know from Revelation 1 that the Lord God is the Alpha and Omega but yet it is Jesus in Ch 22 who identifies Himself as not only the the beginning and the end, first and last but also the Alpha and Omega.

    And: also compare Revelation 1:7 with Zechariah 12:10: I could go on and on. If you can't see it I don't know what to say. You have no insight and you are blind. Ask the Father (is that not what Jesus taught us to call Him?)to open your eyes. I have been praying for you.

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