Saturday, March 08, 2008

The Jehovah's Witnesses Came

The Witnesses came to my door for the fifth time today; so, I'll need to catch you up on what happened last time too. Last week, they spent most of their time trying to argue three things from the Scriptures. There were three of them this time: two men and a woman.

1. The human "soul" is identical to the human "body." The "soul" is the whole person. And, they said, our persons have no immaterial aspect.
2. Our souls die, just like our bodies. They argued that there is no consciousness, life, or existence after human beings die.
3. Naturally, it follows from this that there is no "hell" or eternal conscious torment of unbelievers. But, the converse is also true: there is no heaven awaiting believers who die. The best believers can hope for is to be resurrected to reign in paradise on earth in the future. No Jehovah's witnesses believe that they will go to heaven because only 144,000 who have already lived and died get to inherit the blessing of heaven.

This is their gospel. Our only hope of any future existence after death is to do enough good works under the authority of the Watchtower organization so that we will be raised to live in paradise on earth when God raises us from the dead.

After listening to their presentation and answering their questions, I asked them if I could ask a few questions of my own. I used the outline posted below, and they were not impressed. They said that there is a sense in which Jesus is the "Alpha and the Omega" but He's not God (Jehovah). They also said that the speaker changes from Jehovah to Jesus in Revelation 22:16. They called it a "quote within a quote." However, I responded by saying that it seems to be the same speaker because of the drumbeat refrain, "I am coming soon" in verses 7, 12, 20, which refers to the return of Christ, who identifies himself as "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end" (v. 13). I argued that they have no contextual warrant to say that the speaker changes in verse 16.

I then asked them about the cross and whether Christ fully satisfied God's justice on their behalf. I asked them whether they were saved by their works and the work of Christ or by Christ's work alone. They said that we must cooperate with God's grace with our free wills. I then said, "So, you believe that God shares the credit for your salvation with you? Doesn't the Bible teach that God will not share His glory with anyone (Isa 48:11)?" I then pressed them, saying that if salvation is on the basis of works, then it is no longer by grace (Rom 11:6). I explained that Christ purchases a whole salvation for us. He fully satisfied the justice of God to purchase the double blessing of justification and sanctification. Christ's work alone satisfies God's justice for our justification. And, Christ's work purchases the work of the Spirit in us for our sanctification, such that all who are purchased by Christ, not only believe for justification, but also produce fruit in keeping with repentance and endure in a pattern of good works to the end.

They asked me if I believe in free will. I said, "no, not like you do." I cited Romans 3:10-12, and said that God has to change our hearts and powerfully bring us to Himself if any of us are to be saved (John 6:37, 44, etc.). They didn't know how to deal with that and soon after they said they had to go.

TODAY
Today they came back. This time there were four of them. I began our conversation today with arguments that the human spirit is personal (not just a life-force), and that it continues after death. Our spirits have a will (Matt 26:41); they can rejoice (Lk 1:47); they render service to God (Rom 1:9); they have knowledge (1 Cor 2:11); they speak (1 Cor 14:2); they pray (1 Cor 14:14); they can sing (1 Cor 14:15). Therefore, our spirits are not an impersonal life force! They are the immaterial part of us, which is very personal! Paul said, "I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus" (1 Cor 5:5). Thus, this personal spirit may be saved! They had no response to this other than to say that 1 Cor 5:5 refers to one of the 144,000 and does not apply to us. They didn't deal with my argument for a personal spirit.

One of them then asked me how it could be "just" for a man who has lived 100 years as a sinner to go to hell for all eternity. They said that an eternal hell would violate God's justice. I cited Rev 14:9-11 and Rev 20:10-15 to prove that Scripture teaches that hell is eternal. They argued that the Revelation passages are simply figures of speech. I said, no, Christ is said to be present for this (14:10) - Christ's presence is not figurative. Then, I told them that God's justice positively demands eternal punishment in the form of conscious torment for unbelieving sinners because God is infinitely holy. A single sin against an infinitely holy God demands infinite punishment because to sin against God at all, even once, is to sin against God in all of His infinite holiness. I then explained that this is why Christ must be God. He must be God, a being of infinite worth and holiness, in order to satisfy the infinite offense of sinners. At this point, I tried to clearly preach the gospel to them again and explain that our whole salvation is in Jesus Christ when we come to Him by faith, which is always accompanied with repentance. They had no idea how to reply to that; so, we moved on to another subject.

The last thing we talked about was the Watchtower organization. They believe that the Watchtower organization provides an authoritative interpretation of Scripture. Those who disagree with that interpretation can be subject to discipline and shunning. I explained the doctrine of the Bible's sufficiency (2 Tim 3:17, etc.). This was interesting because they seemed to want to agree with me on this. They admitted that the organization could be and has been wrong on certain things. I asked them what would happen to them if they were to come to a correct interpretation of the Bible that disagrees with the organization's wrong interpretation at some point. They wouldn't answer me. They said we should humbly wait for the Lord's light. I asked them whether the organization would require them to believe something that we are convinced is untrue on the basis of the Bible. They were a bit unclear on that.

They could only stay for an hour today. But, today's meeting was much better than last week's. They listened more and more communication took place. I gave them a copy of the 2nd London Confession of 1689 and told them that I think it well summarizes the teaching of Scripture, though it is not authoritative above the Bible and is a fallible document.

We parted on good terms and they said they would be back next week, and we'll talk about "the kingdom." Please continue to pray! And stay tuned.

4 comments:

  1. This is awesome Tom, I'll keep praying.

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  2. Hi Tom,

    As one of Jehovah's Witnesses myself, I'm glad to hear that you have the patience to speak with us at the door. I have a few questions and comments if you don't mind.

    You said above, "A single sin against an infinitely holy God demands infinite punishment because to sin against God at all, even once, is to sin against God in all of His infinite holiness."

    Could you point out where scripture teaches that a sin against God "demands infinite punishment"? My understanding is that "the wages of sin is death", and once one has experienced death, that is the end of his punishment. "For one who has died has been set free [or, has been justified] from sin." (Romans 6:7, 23) Rather than torturing a person eternally, which seems excessively cruel, God simply takes away the gift of life for the incorrigibly wicked. Wouldn't that be a more reasonable and balanced punishment from a God of love?

    You continued, "I then explained that this is why Christ must be God. He must be God, a being of infinite worth and holiness, in order to satisfy the infinite offense of sinners."

    But isn't it true that "sin came into the world through one man" and that "many died through one man's trespass"? (Romans 5:12, 15) So if our forefather Adam was created in a sinless and perfect state with everlasting life in view, and yet he chose instead to forfeit that right by foolishly selling himself and his future offspring into a state of sin with death in view, wouldn't the price that would need to be paid in our behalf to get us out of that condition be another sinless and perfect man, like Adam, who freely surrenders his right to everlasting life by dying without committing sin?

    Seeing Jesus as a perfect man, like Adam, harmonizes with what is said about him. Jesus is described as "the last Adam". (Romans 5:14; 1 Corinthians 15:45) I don't see how he could reasonably be referred to as "the last Adam" if he was actually God.

    Thanks for your continued patience,
    TJ

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  3. The following will provide THE BEST and MOST ACCURATE info about Jehovah's Witnesses, their beliefs, and how they actually practice such day to day.

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  4. Tom, this is great stuff. I'm talking to a JW at work presently, and this gives me all sorts of stuff to bring up. Thanks for your faithfulness and thoroughness.

    -Chris

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