My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue: "O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!"

14 June 2005

Sermon Links and False Religions

Here's the link to the mp3 of Sunday night's sermon on our words and works.

If you weren't with us Sunday morning, listen to Pastor Long's sermon, too. Very helpful insights into the testimonies of Christ - made me wish I had heard this before I went a few rounds with some Jehovah's Witnesses last week. What do you do when you talk to JW's? Here are a few thoughts that generally go through my head:

1. If you are able, keep them at your place as long as you can. At least that way, they're not proselytizing your neighbors.

2. As soon as you can, turn the topic of conversation to Jesus Christ. Be specific and make them be specific.

3. In response to their claim that Jesus is not God, don't use John 1:1 (they have a pre-baked answer for that one). Use instead things like Thomas' confession, "My Lord and my God" (Jn. 20:28) or John 5:18, where the leaders themselves understood that Jesus claimed divinity. [Don't get caught up in the discussion of Bible versions; it's an argument they like to use. Theirs is translated with deceit and JW presuppositions in mind.]

4. Better yet, when they speak of our Bibles not using Jehovah's real name (that's how they translate Yahweh and they deride all who don't - generally, Protestant translations use "LORD" for Yahweh), turn to John 8:58 ("Before Abraham was, I am"). The OT word "Yahweh" is built upon the verb "to be". Yahweh literally means the one who is - remember how God told Moses to introduce Him to the people: "I am who I am" (Ex. 3:14). So, when Jesus said, "Before Abraham was, I am", He was taking to Himself the very name of God, that name which JW's claim to value above all else. The two I talked to last Saturday had no answer for this - so they kept changing the subject.

5. Force the issue. Ask them, "Do you believe that if I don't convert to Jehovah's Witnesses, I will go to hell?" They, and the Mormons, are very hesitant to say anything that mean. We, however, do believe that, outside of a belief in Christ as God and Savior, there is no salvation. This makes things uncomfortable in the conversation, but at least they ought to know where you stand.

6. Invite them back. Invite them to church. Ask them to listen to your understanding of the gospel for a few minutes. Try to balance forthrightness with grace. Rattle their cage with God's truth, which, if done apart from malice, is an inherently gracious thing.

These thoughts assume a few things. First, that we believe Jesus is God, that He must be God for salvation to work, and that we are able to show our belief true by the Scriptures. Second, that we understand Jehovah's Witnesses as a false religion, one that traps people in lies and threatens to make your neighbors twice over sons of hell. Third, that we care enough to not just shut the door in their face.

6 comments:

Rachel said...

Very good points. My husband and I have had several long discussions with Mormons, but not with JWs. Do they believe there is a hell? The Mormons don't, but they really hemmed and hawed on that question. Personally, I feel much less comfortable talking with JWs than with Mormons because I've had no experience with them.

Jared said...

No, they don't really believe in a literal hell. After doing some research on their website, I think they hold a form of annihilationism, that unbelievers are simply destroyed upon death (or at some point after suffering in hellfire for a bit). They also believe there is hope for some people in the temporal "hell", that God might remember and save them.

Another big issue to converse about is the resurrection of the body. 1 Cor. 15 makes this one of our great hopes...but here is another area where JWs consistently twist the Scriptures (just look up "death" or "resurrection" on their website).

Jeff Kessler said...

Jared:

John Gerstner wrote a small booklet on how to talk to a JW and to Mormons. I bought some to have on the church book table. We may be out now. Have you read either of them?

Jeff K

Nathan Stockwell said...

For anyone who may be interested, Answers in Genesis has an article evaluating the JW's stance on Genesis 1 http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v12/i3/jehovahswitness.asp . The article also gives some ideas about how to converse with JWs.

Jared, about the JWs and annihilation - JWs believe in the annihilation of every soul. Believer and unbeliever; it makes no difference. What will happen at the Resurrection is that Jehovah will recreate the believers from his memory.

The 144,000, along with Jesus, will be "born again" (not in the reformed sense) to exist as spirits; they will reign with Christ in heaven. The rest will live in a paradise earth with resurrected bodies.

Since the JW believe in annihilation at the point of death hell is pointless and a lie of the Devil.

As aside, one of their "reasons" for rejecting the doctrine of the Trinity is to ask, “What Christ was doing while he was dead for three days?” Was God annihilated during these three days? Of course, this is the logical fallacy of begging the question because it assumes that everyone (forget distinctions) is annihilated at the point of death!

Jared said...

Nathan - do you have references for your notes on their view of annihilationism? I only ask because that's not the sense I got from their website.

Jared

Nathan Stockwell said...

The resource I'm primarily using on death is Zondervan's Guide to Cults titled Truth and Error: Comparative Charts of Cults and Christianity. The book's author, Alan W. Gomes, states the entire view under "Summary of Beliefs", but in the charts he quotes the 1982 ed. of You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth page 77 as saying:

"At death man's spirit, his life-force, which is sustained by breathing, 'goes out.' It no longer exists.... When they dead, both humans and animals are in this same state of complete unconsciousness.... That the soul lives on after death is a lie started by the Devil."

There's one by quote from the same book (page 81, 88, 89) under the "Hell" section. The quote basically says that since all people no longer exist after death that the idea of God punishing people forever is a lie from the Devil.

Dr. Walter R. Martin - Kingdom of the Cults - cites Make Sure of All Things page 86 as defining death in the same way.

On the Resurrection bit according to page 333 of Reasoning from the Scripures and other information under the section they do not believe in a general resurrection. Only believers will come out of death, as they understand it, from God's memory in either a human or a spirit body.

I would need to see the statement on the page you are talking about, but my guess would be that they are assuming a primarily JW audience. Their use of the word "death" is quite different from our own. What I can surmise from your statement is that they are talking about post-Resurrection and not death in general.

Since the URL didn't come out correctly I'm going to just give the title of the article, "How to talk creation with a Jehovah’s Witness".