With a major JW convention happening at Twickenham Rugby Stadium, the home of English rugby, and the place where Reachout Trust had its beginnings so many years ago – you can read about it here – I thought it would be helpful to post some useful information on the blog. Following a convention they will be fired up and motivated, and down your street. Do you know who they are, and what they believe? Can you confidently engage them in discussion and share the gospel? These articles, mostly Doug’s own work, are intended to equip you for the task and I hope you find it useful.
Who Are They?
The vast majority of Jehovah’s Witness at your door will be very genuine people. They will be zealous for the truth that has been learnt from their relationship with the ‘organisation’-the Watchtower Bible &Tract Society. The individual will be calling on you as part of their ‘mission field.’ They will feel in doing this that they are serving Jehovah.
Most will attend five weekly meetings each lasting an hour, spend 10 hours a month on the doors, prepare for four of the weekly meetings; reading the latest book and 32 page weekly magazine; personal study and family study. There is little time for activity independent of the Society.
The Organisation started in Pittsburgh USA in the early 1870′s when several young people began studying the Bible to discover the date of Christ’s return. Today, it is not as it originated with the founder Charles Taze Russell; in those days there was room for differences of opinion and expression. Their second President, Joseph Rutherford, made many changes to the Witnesses and, by the time he finished, it is doubtful if Russell would have recognised the group he started. Many did not like the changes that Rutherford made and left to start their own splinter groups. Some of these still survive today although they are very small in comparison. One change that Rutherford suggested in 1931 was to call them Jehovah’s Witnesses, whereas previously they were called International Bible Students or ‘Russellites’. The third President, Nathan Knorr was the one who worked hard to bring the unity to the organisation and the recognition of the central headquarters at Brooklyn New York. The fourth President Fred Franz died in December 1992, succeeded by Milton Henschel. Today the Governing Body is not longer the legal head of the organisation but regard themselves as the ‘spiritual’ head. This means that they do not need to get embroiled in the various court cases taking place.
Witnesses believe that the Watchtower Society is the only channel Jehovah is using on this earth today. The Governing Body, twelve men living in Brooklyn, New York, is the mouthpiece of that channel, otherwise known as the ‘Faithful and Discreet Slave.’ [Matthew 24:45]
JEHOVAH alone is God. There is some similarity here in that Christians believe that the Father is God but the difference is in the fact that the Witnesses believe that He alone is God. They also believe that all true Christians should call God by this name.
JESUS is the first created being of Jehovah. They try to prove this by a mistranslation of Revelation 3:14 among other Scriptures. They also believe that Jesus is called Michael the Archangel in Scripture. Jehovah created Jesus and then used Jesus to create all other things. Jesus is not God but a lesser god.
THE HOLY SPIRIT is an active force likened to electricity. He is therefore not even a person and certainly cannot be God.
THE TRINITY is a pagan doctrine invented in the 4th century.
1914 has always been a key date but has had different meanings. Today it is the date for the end of the Gentile Times and the invisible return of Jesus Christ to take his throne in the heavens. Until November 1995 it was also taught that the generation that was alive in 1914 would not pass away until Jehovah’s Kingdom was set up on earth.
There are only 144,000 with Jesus in heaven. The rest, the GREAT CROWD, will have eternal life on a paradise earth.
All who are worthy will be RESURRECTED [more akin to recreation] and after ARMAGEDDON will be given a second chance of salvation.
Only ACTIVE JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES, doing God’s will by serving the organisation, will survive through Armageddon – the outpouring of God’s wrath on the earth. The remainder of earth’s population will be destroyed with no hope of resurrection.
HELL does not exist, only annihilation.
There is nothing ETERNAL in man. After death he ceases to exist until God remembers and recreates.
Other secondary beliefs include the teaching that blood transfusions are forbidden by God, Jesus died on a stake not a cross and Christmas, Easter and birthdays should not be celebrated.
The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society have their own translation of the Bible called the New World Translation. They also produced an Interlinear New Testament called the Kingdom Interlinear. This shows the original Greek text with a literal English translation underneath and by the side the New World Translation. This is particularly helpful to show where the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society has mistranslated probably up to 20% of the original Scriptures. [You can read John Tancock’s very helpful review of their very latest version of the New World Translation here]
Once Saved Always Saved?
The Society say we can lose our salvation if we do not endure to the end. Let’s look at the Scriptures.
Jude 5 – Jude is not saying that some of God’s people might lose their salvation but rather beware of some who cause trouble.
Matthew 24:13 – These verses do not say that if you do not endure you will lose eternal life! Compare Luke 21:18,19 the Lord promises that not a hair of your head will perish. We may lose our physical life but not the promised spiritual life.
Philippians 2:12 – See v13 – God is at work in you, we do not have a DIY Salvation. See Phil.1:6, the God who begun, will finish – no doubts there!
The Witness is taught that the Father is greater than Jesus and therefore they cannot both be God. The same Greek word for greater is used in John 14:12. Will we do works different to the Lord? Will we do better or higher works? No, but we will do works greater in quantity although not quality. Jesus was saying, while I am on earth, my Father is greater, in quantity, in heaven.
The Jehovah’s Witness also believes that as Jesus is subjected to the Father, He must be lesser than the Father.Ephesians 5:21 & 22 use the same Greek word for subjection. Is each lesser than the other and of a different nature? This word is used in Scripture not to mean lesser than or inferior to but to denote order. There is a mutual subjection in the family, in the local church and in the Godhead. But still within the Godhead each has the same quality, the being of God.
Jesus is created by Jehovah. The word possessed in v.22 is never used as created and v.23 tells us that this one is everlasting, i.e. without beginning.
More New Light
In The Watchtower, 1 November 1996 a major change took place. Until then the generation that was alive in 1914 would not pass away until God’s Kingdom was set up on earth. No longer is this true, because it is today’s generation. No longer can a Jehovah’s Witness look forward to the end being near. The full impact of this change is documented in the Reachout Trust publication, Watch the Tower but the following two quotations show just how much has changed. Note carefully the parts underlined. It is not man’s ideas that have changed nor is it new light on Scripture. According to the Awake!, the promise of God has failed and has had to be changed. Please lovingly but firmly point this out. Either Jehovah God or the Watchtower Society has made a false statement, which one? Either a promise of Jehovah God has failed or the Watchtower Society is a false prophet, which one?
Awake! is for the enlightenment of the entire family. It shows how to cope with today’s problems. It reports the news, tells about people in many lands, examines religion and science. But it does more. It probes beneath the surface and points to the real meaning behind the current events, yet it always stays politically neutral and does not exalt one race above another. Most important, this magazine builds confidence in the Creator’s promise of a peaceful and secure new world before the generation that saw the events of 1914 passes away. – Awake!, 22 October 1995, p.4.
Awake! is for the enlightenment of the entire family. It shows how to cope with today’s problems. It reports the news, tells about people in many lands, examines religion and science. But it does more. It probes beneath the surface and points to the real meaning behind the current events, yet it always stays politically neutral and does not exalt one race above another. Most important, this magazine builds confidence in the Creator’s promise of a peaceful and secure new world that is about to replace the present wicked, lawless system of things. – Awake!, 8 November 1995, p.4. [Underlining added.]