Wed, Mar 31st - 12:43PM
Reaching Public Officials
We should be praying for, influencing, and witnessing to public officials in all levels and branches of government (Local, State, Federal, Executive, Legislative, and Judicial). One believer cannot reach everyone, but together we can influence all men for good. (I Timothy 2:1-4; Matthew 5:13-16; Mark 16:15; Psalm 119:53,136,158; etc.)
Sending Gospel tracts and Christian books (as gifts) is a good way to share the salvation message and the Christian perspective. Gift subscriptions to Christian magazines is also a good way to share the Christian perspective and the Gospel message.
It is also a good idea to write to public officials to express concern about issues and events and to praise and support them when they do well. Remember these guidelines:
-A personally written (or typed) letter sent through the mail is more effective than an email, a petition, or a form letter.
-Limit each letter to one subject to give each subject a better chance of getting attention.
-Be courteous and do not use sarcasm or say anything that may sound threatening.
-Include a Gospel tract with each letter you write. (The origin of your perspective should not be secret.)
There is a great need for personal and united prayer for public officials, mentioning them by name and asking God to save them as well as guide them in their decisions and choices.
Wed, Mar 31st - 11:18AM
The wickedness of the unsaved is not what is hindering Christian dominion and effective soulwinning, or keeping the Christian worldview from being predominant in the society in which we live. The genuine repentance of God's people has always been the key to real revival. A revival is a believer's new beginning of obedience to God, and a genuine revival always includes a conviction of sin and genuine repentance on the part of the Church. A revival can be expected when the wickedness of the wicked and the spiritual apathy in the Church grieves and distresses Christians and Christians repent and seek the Lord, and repent of their sins and surrender to God as though they are preparing for the Judgement. When the Churches are thus revived the salvation of sinners follows and there is a strong impact or influence on the community for righteousness. (consider II Chronicles 7:14; Psalm 51:9-13; Isaiah 55:7; 64:1-9; Hosea 10:12; Habakkuk 3:2; James 4:8-10; etc.)
Too many assume that there is no need to repent and renew their relationship with God unless they are guilty of gross sin, such as sexual immorality, but a Christian should do this regularly, especially when he sees or senses that he is drawing away from God.
Are you dedicated to God? (Psalm 40:8; 143:10; Romans 12:1-3; James 1:8; 4:8)
What is your attitude toward church attendance? Do you find yourself missing church for slight reasons, reasons for which you would not miss work, recreation, or entertainment? (Psalm 122:1; Hebrews 10:24,25)
What is your attitude toward Bible standards? (Psalm 119:35,47,72; I John 2:3-5)
How is your spiritual appetite? (Psalm 42:1,2; 63:1; 143:6)
Are you worldly-minded or of modern mentality, or are you Biblical minded? (Psalm 19:7-11; 33:4,10,11; 119:105,160; Proverbs 2:6; 13:13; Romans 12:2; Colossians 2:8)
Are you a Bible student? (Job 23:12; Psalm 119:130; Proverbs 2:3-9; Jeremiah 15:16; Matthew 4:4; II Timothy 2:15; I Peter 2:2)
Do you find it difficult to make time for personal or family devotions while having plenty of time for secular entertainment and recreation? (Psalm 63:1; 119:140)
Is your viewpoint governed by the Word of God, or is your Biblical/theological knowledge merely an accumulation of theories, traditions, assumptions, and second-hand information? (Psalm 119:105; Proverbs 2:3-6; 3:5-7; Isaiah 5:20,21; 29:13; 55:8,9; II Timothy 3:16)
Are you against so much that you are not really for anything? Have you become overly concerned or preoccupied with pet theories and minor points while tending to minimize or overlook essential truths and principles? (consider I Timothy 1:5-7)
Are you concerned about lost or wayward souls? Do you have a burden for the lost and the society in which we live? (Psalm 119:53,136,158; I Timothy 2:1-4)
Are you materialistic? (Proverbs 15:27; Ecclesiastes 5:10; Matthew 6:21,24; Luke 12:15; I Timothy 6:6-10; I John 2:15)
Are you selfish or generous in giving to the kingdom of God (tithes & offerings)?(Proverbs 3:9,10; Malachi 3:8-11; Luke 12:31,34)
Do you find yourself becoming extremely critical or resentful toward Bible-loving, truth-teaching ministers? (Romans 10:15)
Do you enjoy the fellowship of dedicated believers or do you prefer the company of worldly or ungodly associations? (Psalm 119:63,115; Proverbs 13:20; I John 1:7)
Do you love the brethren? While the Bible does not command us to like each others ways, we are obliged to get along with each other. (John 15:12) It is ironic that many who take pride in obedience to Bible standards are mean as a rattlesnake and constantly at odds with fellow believers.
Are you characterized by selfishness or unselfishness? (Matthew 16:24; 22:37-40)
Do you respect your elders? (Leviticus 19:32; I Timothy 5:1-2)
Do you recognize your own humanness? (Isaiah 42:19; Galations 6:1)
We should be honest and admit that we all need to continually seek a close walk with God.(Colossians 2:6,7)
Wed, Mar 31st - 11:09AM
Is Romans 14:19-21 A Prohibition Against Alcohol As A Beverage?
Why limit the restriction to alcoholic beverages?
I find it ironic that over the years I have had opportunities to observe Christians verbally condemning alcohol as a beverage because it might offend someone while eating a ham sandwich, decorating a Christmas tree, smoking a cigarette, or otherwise doing things that are offensive in some religious circles.
While we're at it let's require uncircumcised brethren to undergo circumcision so that converts from Jewish and Muslim backgrounds can feel more at home, let's forbid blood transfusions and religious holidays so the Jehovah's Witnesses won't be offended, let's require vegetarianism so the vegetarians wont be offended, etc..
Or we could just interpret Romans 14:19-21 in relation to immediate context, setting, and the whole Bible.
Let us suppose that George (hypothetical character) has good morals and believes the Bible is the inspired Word of God. He is not a drunkard, and agrees with the Biblical condemnation of drunkenness, but he does keep beer in his refrigerator and likes to have a beer after work. Once or twice a week George takes his wife to a fancy restaurant to enjoy a good dinner, good wine, and dancing with his wife.
George and his wife are seeking God and visiting different churches in search of a Bible-believing church. George and his wife
have been attending your church for awhile, and George asks to speak to you about the teachings of your church.
Now let us suppose that your church requires total abstinence from alcoholic beverages. How do you explain this without making your church appear superstitious or pharisaical?
Note that this is not a matter of what you personally do or do not do, it is a matter of tolerating personal differences. While it is important to stand for holiness and Bible standards, we should also be careful against offending others with pet theories and preferences.
The real issue is whether one controls this or is controlled by it.
Wed, Mar 31st - 10:49AM
It is ironic that many insist that money and sex are two subjects a Christian must always avoid or ignore, and then insist that Christians should just stick to the Bible. Yet the Bible says a lot about both money and sex.
Money and sex are two things that everybody wants, but nobody likes to admit to problems and desires in these areas. But, because of human nature, problems and wrong or misguided desires in these areas are inevitable. (Matthew 15:19; Luke 12:15)
Money and sex are blessings from God and are not evil in their proper places, but they can become snares to lead you away from God and ruin your life. (Nehemiah 13:26; Ecclesiastes 5:10,18,19; I Timothy 6:6-10; Mark 4:19; Did tremendous wealth and a thousand sex partners satisfy King Solomon and make him happy? No.-Ecclesiastes 2:4-11; 7:26-28)
All too often Christians allow materialism to lead them to compromise values. For example, the ease with which so many ignore important policies and values of political candidates on moral issues because someone appeals to their wishful thinking and their selfish and materialistic interests is shameful. (Job 31:24,25,28; Proverbs 11:28; 28:20; I Timothy 6:9,17; consider Psalm 19:9,10; 119:72; Proverbs 3:13-18) While we should be concerned about the economy and financial issues, we must remember that God ultimately controls the economy. (I Chronicles 29:11,12; Haggai 2:8)
Many teach repeat-after-me prayers for breaking the curse of poverty. This is wrong.
You break the curse of poverty by being generous in your tithes and offerings and trusting God. (Proverbs 3:9,10; 11:24,28; Malachi 3:10,11; Matthew 23:23; Luke 12:31,34; etc.) Think of it this way: All of your money already belongs to the Lord, and He lets you keep most of it.
On the other hand, wrong priorities are established and wrong conclusions about brethren are inevitable when material prosperity is equated with spirituality. A dedicated believer must expect conflicts with Satan which can easily involve attacks against finances, and Satan does use prosperity to reward the wicked and deceive the saints. (consider the book of Job & I Timothy 6:6-10,17,18)
The teaching (Positive Confession/Positive Thinking) that God must respond a certain way when a Christian utters certain words or says a certain prayer smacks of witchcraft; this is putting man in authority over God instead of man submitting to God. God is always sovereign, and a faith that does not involve obedience to God and trusting God to do things in His own time and way is not the kind of faith taught in the Bible.
Generosity or selfishness in giving toward the kingdom of God says something about your spiritual condition. (Matthew6:21,24) Where the Bible condemns the love of money the context is dealing with backsliding, apostasy, and church corruption. (I Timothy 6:3-12,17-19)
Here are a few principles to keep in mind: Your property (money and possessions) already belongs to God, and He lets you keep most of it. (Psalm 24:1; consider Malachi 3:7-9; Matthew 25:14-29; Luke 19:11-26) Support for the ministry also says something about your spirituality, and you should not be satisfied that your Pastor is paid enough unless his salary is at least double that of the income of the wealthiest member of the church. (I Timothy 4:17; Romans 10:15) Support for the House of God, the place of worship, is more important than your own home. (Psalm 84:1; Haggai 1:4) A Christian has an obligation to witness and his field is the world; unless it really is possible for you to personally reach the whole world yourself this implies an obligation to financially support missions. (Mark 16:15) You invite God's blessings through willing obedience and being generous in giving tithes and offerings: This is trusting God with your finances, and God can do more with the remainder of your income than you can with all of it. (I John 3:21,22; Proverbs 3:9,10; Malachi 3:8-11; Matthew 6:33; II Corinthians 9:6-8)
Is materialism choking out your spirituality? (Mark 4:19; Luke 8:14)
In your relationships and your estimations of people do you put a priority on character or on money, possessions, and social status? (Luke 12:15; James 2:1-9)
In your choice of a companion, or your child's choice of a companion or mate, do you put a priority on character or financial status? (Proverbs 15:27; 19:1; Luke 12:15) This is not implying that anyone should ignore practical considerations. But there are no sure-fire guarantees of happiness, permanence, or continual prosperity, and any choice of a mate involves sacrifices and disadvantages to weigh against advantages. For example, a man of above-average means might provide more materially, but a 70+ hour work week is normal (not the exception) for physicians, lawyers, and business executives, and it is not unusual for a man to marry a woman with an education, career, or financial security and find himself chained to someone extremely selfish, rebellious, or immoral.
What is more important to you, the kind of food you and your family eat or how well you all get along with each other? (Proverbs 15:17; 17:1)
What are your priorities? (Deuteronomy 8:11-14; Psalm 63:1-8; 119:72,127,162; Proverbs 11:4; 28:20; Matthew 6:33; Luke 12:15-21,30,31; I Timothy 6:6-10,17-19)
Wed, Mar 31st - 10:46AM
Salvation is in three parts or stages. (I Thessalonians 5:23)
Past salvation (salvation of the spirit) is deliverance from the penalty of sin. (John 3:3-5,13-18; Romans 4:6-8; 6:23;
The spirit gives man God-consciousness. The spirit is the part of man which "knows." (I Corinthians 2:11) In Scripture the spirit is often synonymous with the mind. (Job 32:8; II Corinthians 7:1; Ephesians 4:23) The regenerated spirit is the part of a born again Christian that does not sin. (Romans 7:15-17; I John 3:9)
The soul gives man self-consciousness. The soul is apparently shaped like the body and fits in it. (Luke 16:23,24; Revelation 6:9-11) The soul is the seat of the emotions, the desires, the personality, the "heart." (Matthew 26:38; John 12:27)
Present or continuous salvation or sanctification (salvation of the soul) is deliverance from the power of sin. (Psalm 19:7; II Corinthians 4:16; Hebrews 4:12; James 1:21)
The body gives man world-consciousness and sense-consciousness. The body is the seat of the carnal adamic nature and remains unsaved. (Romans 6:6,12; 7:18,23-25)
Future salvation (salvation of the body; physical resurrection) is deliverance from the presence of sin. (Romans 5:10; 8:23; II Corinthians 1:10)
Tue, Mar 30th - 6:02PM
Myths Versus Bible Truths & Lessons From The Past
We certainly should not be ignorant of the forces which threaten family and church and work to destroy young (and older) lives, but we should not exaggerate their significance either. The flesh, the world, and the Devil were just as real and powerful back in the so-called "Good Old Days" as they are now, and God is still on the throne.
Throughout Christendom most church growth is due to people moving from church to church, not conversions, a large percent of young people in church stop attending church when they leave home, and some studies indicate that the majority of teenagers in church who were raised in church are sexually immoral.
In the Twentieth Century, especially the latter half of the Twentieth Century, replacement of Bible truths and Bible-based Christian values with human theories and worldly philosophy became popular and widespread. (Romans 12:2; Colossians 2:8) Some dangerous and misleading myths and theories were widely accepted in Christian circles, such as:
-The Holy Bible is not infallible or the final authority.
-The theory of evolution is compatible with Christianity and Bible truth.
-Prayer is not essential and does not have to be a priority. (Go to a Bible Concordance and see how many Bible passages command or commend prayer and make prayer a priority.)
-Humans are naturally good. (Man can choose to do right, but sin comes natural because humans are natural-born sinners. How many parents ever had to teach a child how to be bad?)
-Satan rules the Earth. (Satan rules in the hearts of unbelievers, "the wicked world system," but God is the present ruler of the Earth and nothing in the Bible ever indicates that God abdicated His throne and turned rulership over to Satan.)
-The Bible is only for Christians. (The Bible is God's message to all mankind and provides guidance on every area of human existence. Applying Bible teachings benefits both believers and unbelievers. The important difference is that for the unbeliever the Word of God is convicting and for the believer the Word of God is cleansing.)
-Bible truths and standards only apply to the religious (church-related) part of our lives and do not apply to our secular lives.
-Studying Bible doctrine is not important. (I Timothy 4:13,16)
-Only preachers need to read and study the Bible. (Matthew 4:4; I Peter 2:2)
-The main purpose of Bible prophecy is the provide Christians with a schedule of future events, so we can plan and act accordingly. (Luke 19:11-13; Acts 1:6,7; Bible prophecy teaches us about God and reveals His truths, standards, and Providence.)
-We should not bother children with religion and morality, but wait until they are older or grown before giving them religious training and moral guidance. (In other words, wait until their personality and attitudes are already developed under the guidance of the flesh, the world, and the Devil.)
-It is wrong to use corporal punishment to discipline children. (Proverbs 22:15; 29:15)
-Young people must be segregated (to make sure they know that they do not need to respect the ministry, and can avoid the influence of people who are older and wiser). (consider Deuteronomy 31:11-13; Proverbs 13:20; I Corinthians 1:10; etc.)
-Sex education is the job of secular government-run public schools and has no place in the home or church because sex is dirty and Christians must never talk about it. (Deuteronomy 6:6,7; Joshua 8:34,35; Psalm 19:7-11; II Timothy 3:16. The Mosaic Law included laws that prohibited sexual immorality and taught the importance and sacredness of sexual intimacy in marriage, and those laws are based on principles that are reaffirmed in the New Testament. The Hebrew text of the Old Testament sex laws is very explicit, and the Bible is never prudish about sex. Also consider Ruth 4:13; Proverbs 5:18-20; Song Of Solomon 1:13; 5:4; 7:6-8; I Corinthians 7:2-5; etc..)
-Feminism is compatible with Christianity. (Isaiah 3:12; Jeremiah 31:22)
-We are called to self-esteem. (Matthew 16:24,25; Romans 12:3; I Peter 5:5. Incidentally, the Bible never commands self-love, but merely assumes the fact of self-love. -Mark 12:31; Ephesians 5:29)
-Material prosperity, appearance, and social status are more important than character.
-Psychology is a good substitute for the Bible and Biblical counsel. (Colossians 2:8; II Timothy 3:16)
-It is wrong for a Christian (especially a preacher) to hold a public office or otherwise try to influence society for righteousness. (Daniel 2:48,49; Matthew 5:13-16; I Timothy 2:1,2; etc..) In other words, the world should influence believers instead of the other way around. (Incidentally, Biblical separation is godly distinctions, conduct, and relationships within society and not isolation from society or neutrality. Also, the Devil-May-Care attitude toward the society in which we live is contrary to Scripture.)
-Church programs are good substitutes for patriarchy.
The list of examples could continue but these should suffice for now.
Much has been written about youth and the increase in rebellion, crime, and immorality among youth. What is especially sad is that many of the solutions offered by Christians, even by ministers, sound spiritual but often have little or nothing to do with Scripture or are even contrary to Scripture.
Very often the Bible is neglected simply because the answers that the Bible provides often tend to contradict preconceived notions and pet theories. (Proverbs 3:5-7; Isaiah 55:8,9; Jeremiah 6:10,16)
For some reason there also appears to be a common tendency to refuse to learn lessons from the past, as though we have to be superior to our forefathers and cannot acknowledge that someone else may have actually possessed a greater wisdom in some area. I am not trying to romanticize the past or claim that our country or any human society was ever perfect or without wrongs and imperfections. I am simply asking you to consider the obvious: If certain problems with youths that are now rampant, and are even considered normal or acceptable now, were at one time the exceptions and not the rule, it must be that our forefathers (though human like us) were doing something right and that those things which they were doing right were discontinued.
This is what happened to Israel. Bible truths and principles were neglected and the result was an increase in the wickedness of succeeding generations. (Judges 2:10,11)
This has happened in America. I am certainly not indicating or implying that there was ever a time when everyone was a Christian or even claimed to be. But the Biblical worldview and many Bible truths and principles were once prevalent and
considered traditional or common knowledge, and after those truths were discarded the result was the increase in the wickedness of succeeding generations.
Tue, Mar 30th - 5:59PM
Problems With Youths
In Bible times a person was considered a young adult at the age of thirteen. There was a time In America (and Europe) when a person was legally a young adult at 13 or 14 (depending on which State). Teenage marriage did not involve a high divorce rate and juvenile crime was not considered usual behavior. Up till a few decades ago a young lad could join the armed forces at fourteen (with parental consent of course), but this is no longer considered practical.
Today we have a person called an adolescent; someone who is not physically a child but is not considered a young adult.
What happened to young adults, and what led to the generation gap and Hippie movement that characterized the 1960s, and the youth culture of rebellion and decadence that continues today?
Let's look at some of the societal and cultural trends that led to this:
For most of America's history families and society in general were patriarchal, and adults had moral, religious, social, and moral responsibilities to provide for, discipline, and train their children (and care for elderly parents), and parents raised up their children to succeed them, and not to merely succeed. Over time government expansion and the Industrial Revolution were allowed to interfere with family relationships and responsibilities.
With the Industrial Revolution came child labor laws, some of which made sense while others were absurd. The idea that children should not be taught to work and be responsible, and teenagers cannot or should not be expected to handle work and responsibility, became popular and accepted. We even have children's courts, or juvenile courts, to impress upon young minds that they are not fully accountable or completely responsible for their behavior.
In the 1940s secular humanism had already been invading public schools, colleges, the media, politics, churches, and religious institutions for decades, and the evidence and symptoms were becoming very pronounced, and this continues today.
With the prosperity following WWII came the popular notion that parents must make sure their children never do without anything and have everything their parents did not.
In the 1940s a number of "experts" began teaching that it is wrong to use corporal punishment to discipline children, and that children should not be taught religious or moral values until they reach adulthood. These teachings became very popular even though these theories were directly contrary to Scripture and credible studies. (For example, studies reveal that eighty percent of the personality is developed before a child is six years old, and all or most of the personality is developed before the teen years). (consider Proverbs 22:6,15; 29:15,17; Isaiah 28:9)
After WWII there arose a trend of giving teenagers a separate identity and segregating teenagers into a different class of people in both secular and ecclesiastical realms, thus making it common for youths to be peer-dependent instead of elder-dependent and replacing respect for elders with respect for youth and immaturity. (consider Proverbs 13:20; Isaiah 3:4,5; Malachi 4:6) Note that the Generation Gap is a modern phenomenon, and teenagers were not given a separate identity or segregated into a different class of people until after World War II.
All this led to a very large percentage of youths having firm beliefs and attitudes directly opposite of the values of the generation that survived the Great Depression and World War II.
There is a principle in Malachi 4:6 that prepares children and youths for a relationship with God.
A deceptive philosophy that destroys many Christian youths is the philosophy that we must compete with the world to keep our youths, that we must offer them good, clean fun, recreation, and entertainment or we will lose them to the world. This philosophy loses both ways.
We can never expect to win competing against the world when it comes to fun and thrills. The high of a hay ride or a roller coaster cannot compare to the high they can get from drugs. The fun of rafting or roller skating cannot compare to the fleshly satisfaction they can get from fornication.
All too often a youth ministry is ministry to youths and not ministry of youths. All the preaching and teaching of "abstain," "thou shalt not," and "self-denial" is meaningless when children and youths are not taught to serve God, and to serve God by serving others, instead of expecting to be served. Note that service marked the difference between the generations in Judges 2.
Attempting to reach carnal people with carnal things can be dangerous and is not Biblical evangelism. It is inevitable that someone who supports trying to reach carnal people with carnal things will give the odd statistic of someone who was converted this way, but it is important to follow rules and not exceptions.
Many Christian young ladies are no match for Satan's crowd that we bring in hoping they will convert, and many are being defiled because they let their guard down in an atmosphere that is supposed to be evangelistic and spiritual. Many youths are introduced to sexual immorality and substance abuse in their church youth group while their elders are hoping that youths will be converted and grow spiritually as a result of segregating youths from mature influences, replacing parental authority and respect for elders with peer dependence, and rewarding the rebels and delinquents instead of rewarding faithfulness.
While we should not condemn all secular amusements and fun, and it is not wrong to have or provide recreation and fellowship, providing recreation and entertainment should not be the church's focus.
If it is true that children and teenagers are building an identity and naturally seeking that identity from those around them, then we should be encouraging fellowship with mature influences. All humans young and old tend to seek an identity from those around them, to a greater or lesser extent depending on the individual, but inexperience tends to make one a bit more vulnerable. Older, mature Christians should be reminded to set an example and to mentor young people and new converts, and youths should be reminded of the value of fellowship with those who are older and wiser than themselves (especially of their own gender) and taught to respect their elders in general. (consider Proverbs 13:20; Titus 2:1-8; etc.)
King Solomon raised up a fool who rejected the wise counsel of older men and heeded the foolishness of his young peers because he learned to respect them and trust their insight through regular fellowship. (I Kings 12:8) Contrast this with the example of Christ, who, though He was God in the flesh, enjoyed the fellowship of older men when He was young. (Luke 2:44-46)
There is a principle in Hosea 4:6 that also contributes to losing a generation. What does it mean when God forgets something or someone?
It is the Word of God that leads the lost to salvation and believers to sanctification and service, not secular amusements; for the unbeliever God's Word is convicting and for the believer God's Word is cleansing and empowering. United and prevailing prayer, and Bible preaching, teaching, and study is the need of the hour. In many a fundamental, evangelical church there is as much unrepentant promiscuity and substance abuse, among both young and old, as there is in any bar
or nightclub while the church tries to convert the lost and edify believers with everything but the Word of God.
Neglect and indifference toward the Word of God among professed believers is deplorable. We must emphasize respect for the Bible, respect for Bible truths and standards, and the importance of personal and family reading and study of the Bible.
Tue, Mar 30th - 5:57PM
Refuting Watchtower Errors
Let’s examine a few major teachings of the Jehovah’s Witnesses:
THE ONLY TRUE CHRISTIAN RELIGION?
Us-Only pride and a We-Versus-They complex are contrary to Scripture. (Psalm 119:63; Mark 9:38-42; Philippians 1:18)
JWs believe they have the only true Christian religion and are part of God's organization and that they must be faithful to the Watchtower Organization to earn salvation. They are taught that certain identifying marks taught in Scripture verify this.
Let me quote a Watchtower publication:
"The main identifying quality by which true Christians are recognized is the outstanding love they have toward one another." (Aid To Bible Understanding, p.317)
John 13:35 is a favorite JW proof text in this. They insist that love among themselves proves they are the only true Christian religion.
JWs are taught to be friendly and hospitable toward each other, and they are encouraged to socialize with each other (which is good). Prospects and new converts are overwhelmed with attention, affection, and acceptance, so that they feel a sense of belonging and feel loved. When a person decides that the Watchtower Organization is the truth they look at the Watchtower Organization through rose-colored glasses, similar to infatuation.
When a JW sees through the facade and the hype this is normally because he observed that there are people outside the Watchtower Organization who are just as friendly and caring, and he realized that he can get along with non-JW workmates, schoolmates, friends, neighbors, or relatives better than he can get along with most other JWs.
Also consider the context of I Corinthians 1:10, another favorite JW proof text. This was written because true Christians, even believers belonging to the same congregation, were often divided.
Now let's look at another so-called identifying mark:
"Jehovah's Witnesses believe that the entire Bible is the inspired Word of God, and instead of adhering to a creed based on human tradition, they hold to the Bible as the standard for all their beliefs." (Reasoning From The Scriptures, p.199)
"Because Jehovah's Witnesses base all of their beliefs, their standards for conduct, and organizational procedures on the Bible, their faith in the Bible itself as God's Word gives them the conviction that what they have is indeed the truth. So their position is not egotistical but demonstrates their confidence that the Bible is the right standard against which to measure one's religion." (Reasoning From The Scriptures, p.203-204)
A JW will insist that the Holy Bible is the Word of God. The problem is that he has been trained and conditioned to automatically assume that Watchtower teachings are Bible truth and to interpret Bible passages in relation to Watchtower literature and Watchtower teachings instead of interpreting Bible passages in relation to immediate context and the whole Bible.
You don't have to be an expert in Watchtower theology to see through Watchtower "reasoning" and see the fallacies in Watchtower teachings. Personally and prayerfully reading and studying the Bible will help you to recognize errors. Watchtower errors can usually be exposed by merely examining Watchtower proof texts, considering the relation of each passage to context and the whole Bible, and considering the meaning of words and grammar. (Proverbs 2:3-9; I Timothy 1:5-7; II Timothy 2:15)
These are just a few ways in which the Watchtower Organization does not measure up to the identifying marks that JWs say characterize true Christianity.
Watchtower publications cite Bible passages such as Matthew 7:13-14,21, and Ephesians 4:5 to prove that there is only one true Christian religion. It is true that there is one way: Jesus Christ is the way, not a man-made organization. (John 14:6)
The Jehovah's Witnesses teach that only The Father is Jehovah, that Jesus Christ is a created angel, that the Holy Spirit is an impersonal force, and that the Trinity is a pagan teaching and "Not a Bible teaching." (Reasoning From The Scriptures, p.405)
Let's examine this further.
Watchtower errors on this and other subjects can often be exposed by merely examining Watchtower proof texts, considering the relation of each passage to context and the whole Bible, and considering the meaning of words and grammar. (consider I Timothy 1:5-7 &
II Timothy 2:15)
Watchtower publications point out the the Trinity is difficult to understand. Whether any of us completely understand or even accept a Bible truth does not determine if it is a Bible truth, and since God is our Creator and is so much higher we should not be surprised to find difficulties in understanding His nature. God reveals Himself to man through words, words in His Word. As the Spirit of God reveals truths to us through
the Word of God He becomes more majestic to us, not simple. (Psalm 97:2)
Watchtower publications insist that trinitarianism is a pagan doctrine. Ancient pagans did not worship any trinity, they worshipped triads. A triad is three distinct gods, while the Trinity is one God existing in three persons.
The word Trinity is a combination of the word "trine," which means threefold or three times, and the suffix "-ity," which means state, character, or condition. In other words, God is not triplex (1+1+1), God is triune (1x1x1). (I John 5:7 KJV)
Our English word person comes from the Latin word "persona," which is literally a face mask used by actors, and hence a person, character, etc..
The terms Father, Son, and Holy Ghost each refer to an aspect of God's nature and activity in relation to man. (II Corinthians 13:14; Ephesians 2:18,22; I Peter 1:2) Salvation is an example of this: As the Father, God originates salvation and made provision for salvation; as the Son, God paid the penalty for sin; as the Holy Ghost, God applies salvation.
JWs use I Corinthians 15:28 and similar passages to try to prove that Jesus Christ is inferior by virtue of His being subject. However, submission or subjection does not necessarily mean inferiority, it is often a form of love. A wife should submit to her husband because of love for God and her husband. (Ephesians 5:22-24; Colossians 3:18;
I Corinthians 11:3) Jesus was subject to Mary and Joseph even though He is their Creator. (Luke 2:51; John 1:3)
Incidentally, consider that it comes natural to love oneself (Galations 5:14; Ephesians 5:29), a Christian is obliged to bring his body into subjection (I Corinthians 9:27), and man is made in the image of God and is triune. (Genesis 1:26-27; I Thessalonians 5:23)
John 14:28 is another favorite JW proof text. Note that He did not say the Father is better, He said the Father is "greater," a reference to position and not nature. Also note that the MAN Christ Jesus is mediator. (I Timothy 2:5; also consider John 5:19; Acts 2:29-33;
Colossians 2:9; Philippians 2:5-11; Hebrews 2:8,9; 10:12)
JWs will also refer to Revelation 3:14 which says that Jesus is "the beginning of the creation of God." The word beginning here is the rendering of the Greek word Arche, which means first cause, origin or source, and is where we get the English word "architect."
Watchtower literature often points to Bible passages which say that Jesus Christ is only-begotten. The word only-begotten is the rendering of the Greek word monogenes, which simply means the only one of a class or kind.
Watchtower publications also refer to Colossians 1:15 which says Jesus Christ is "the
firstborn of every creature" to prove that He was a created angel before He was conceived in Mary's womb. The term firstborn means the legal heir and does not always mean the eldest. The nation of Israel was called firstborn even though there were many other nations already in existence before Israel was formed. Psalm 89:27 calls King David firstborn even though David was the youngest son in his family.
JWs will insist that Jesus Christ cannot be God and must be created because the Bible calls Him the Son of God. The term son is used in the Bible to denote or imply almost any kind of descent or succession, and the meaning of the word depends on the setting and context in which it is used. (consider Exodus 2:10 and Hebrews 1:8) Son of God was a messianic title which signified the function of Deliverer. (e.g. Matthew 16:16) Note that the Devil tempted Christ by bringing against Him the popular Jewish conceptions of the
Messiah. (Matthew 4:1-11) The sonship of Jesus Christ was divine fatherhood disclosed. (John 14:7-11; Isaiah 9:6)
Ask a JW to show any passage of Scripture which says that Jesus Christ was a created angel before He was an embryo in Mary's womb. His humanity originated in Mary's womb, but not His deity. (Micah 7:2; Matthew 1:18-23; Luke 1:31-35; John 8:58; Galations 4:4; Hebrews 7:3; 10:5) Christ is God veiled in human flesh. (Matthew 1:23; John 1:1-14; 10:30; 14:9,10; II Corinthians 5:19; Colossians 1:15; 2:9; I Timothy 3:16)
JWs like to compare the unity of the Father and the Son to the unity of Christians. (John 8:28,29; 10:30; 17:20-22; I Corinthians 1:10) But consider the context of I Corinthians 1:10; this was written because Christians, even believers who were members of the same congregation, were divided.
JWs also point to John 1:18 which says "No man hath seen God at any time," and people did see Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God as He is, only visions or materializations of God, but there have been those who have seen God manifest in the flesh. (John 4:24; 6:46; 14:9; Philippians 2:6,7; I Timothy 3:16)
In the New World Translation (the Watchtower Society's translation) John 1:1 says the Word was "a god." This is because the third stanza of the Greek text does not use the definite article, and it is therefore assumed that this must be translated indefinitely as "a god" or "divine." The New Testament refers to God without using the definite article (in the Greek text) 282 times, including verses 6, 12, 13, and 18 of chapter one of John. Should we change John 1:18 to say: "No man hath seen a god at any time?" If John wanted to say that Jesus was a lesser form of deity, he would have used the Greek word theios instead of theos.
If only the Father is God and Jesus is "a god," then how many "gods" do JWs have in their religion? Consider: " 'You are my witnesses,' is the utterance of Jehovah, 'even my servant whom I have chosen, in order that YOU may know and have faith in me, and that You may understand that I am the same One. Before me there was no God formed, and after me there continued to be none.'" (Isaiah 43:10 New World Translation) "Do not be in dread, YOU people, and do not become stupified. Have I not from that time on caused you individually to hear and told it out? And YOU are my witnesses. Does there exist a God besides me? No, there is no Rock. I have recognized none." (Isaiah 44:8 NWT)
(Note: Where the Tetragrammaton, the Divine Name, appears the Kings James Version renders this as Jehovah or as LORD or GOD in all-capital letters. The correct or original pronunciation is unknown.)
Jesus Christ is the true God. (I John 5:20; Jeremiah 10:10)
Jesus is called Mighty God. (Isaiah 9:6) Only Jehovah is God. (Isaiah 43:10; 44:6) Jehovah is called Mighty God. (Isaiah 10:20,21)
Jesus is Jehovah of Hosts. (Isaiah 8:13,14; I Peter 2:7,8)
Jesus is God the judge. (Ecclesiastes 12:14; I Corinthians 4:5; II Corinthians 5:10; II Timothy 4:1)
Whose manifestation and whose kingdom is referred to in II Timothy 4:1?
Whose glory did Isaiah see? (Isaiah 6:1; John 12:37-41)
Jesus is Jehovah, the first and the last. (Isaiah 44:6; Revelation 1:8; 22:13,16)
Jesus is Jehovah, the light. (Psalm 27:1; Isaiah 60:19; I Timothy 1:1; Titus 1:3; 2:10,13; 3:4,6)
Jesus is Jehovah, the Shepherd. (Psalm 23:1; John 10:11)
Jesus is Jehovah, the Creator. (Isaiah 44:24; Psalm 102:24-27; Hebrews 1:8-12; John 1:3; Colossians 1:16,17)
Jesus is Jehovah, the King. (Psalm 24:10; Acts 17:7)
Who did Stephen pray to? (Acts 7:59,60)
For Who did John the Baptist prepare the way? (Isaiah 40:3; Matthew 3:1-3; Luke 1:76; also compare Malachi 3:1 and Matthew 11:10)
Is the Holy Spirit really an impersonal force? If someone lies to the Holy Ghost he lies to God. How is it possible to lie to an impersonal force? If you lie you lie to a person. (Acts 5:3,4)
The Holy Ghost speaks (Acts 13:2-4; I Timothy 4:1), hears (John 16:13), makes intercession (Romans 8:26), has intellect (Romans 8:27), makes decisions (Acts 15:28), grieves (Ephesians 4:30), and has a will (I Corinthians 12:11). These are characteristics of a personality.
The Holy Ghost is Jehovah. (Exodus 17:7; Hebrews 3:7-9)
The Holy Ghost is Jehovah of Hosts. (Isaiah 6:3,8-10; Acts 28:25-27)
The Holy Ghost is Jehovah, Most High. (Psalm 78:17,21; Acts 7:51)
The Holy Ghost is Jehovah, Who promised the New Covenant. (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 10:15-17)
A mark of false teachers is the denial of the true God and the introduction of another Jesus. (Jude 3; II Corinthians 11:3-4)
THE BODILY RESURRECTION
The Gospel is the death, burial, and literal resurrection of Christ through which sinners can be declared righteous through faith in Jesus Christ when they repent. (John 3:13-15; Acts 4:15-19; I Corinthians 15:1-4)
Jehovah's Witnesses deny the literal physical resurrection of Jesus Christ. (Romans 10:9,10; I Corinthians 15:13-18)
Denial of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is calling Him accursed, for this would mean that He died under judgement of sin and is still under that judgement. (I Corinthians 12:3)
The Bible clearly teaches the physical resurrection of Christ and all dead. (Job 19:25-27; Isaiah 26:19; John 5:28,29; Acts 24:15; I Corinthians 15:42-49; Philippians 3:21; Revelation 20:12,13)
The resurrection was central to the preaching of the Apostles. (Acts 3:15; 4:1,2; 10:39-41; 17:18; 24:15)
Jesus said that His body would be resurrected, and after the resurrection He verified this. (John 2:19-21; Luke 24:36-43)
The redeemed will have a body like that of Christ. The body will be changed. (I Corinthians 15:51,52; II Corinthians 5:4; Philippians 3:20,21; I Thessalonians 5:23)
The Watchtower Society asserts that Christ was raised up as a spirit creature, and that He materialized a body to make Himself visible. When JWs make this assertion, challenge them to show Scriptural evidence to back up this claim.
JWs use two accounts about Christ not being recognized by those who knew Him as proof that He was resurrected in a different form. The Watchtower Society claims that the disciples on the road to Emmaus did not recognize Christ because He was in a different form than when He was crucified. But this interpretation ignores the context. The disciples did not recognize Christ because He did not will it so. (Luke 24:16) After their faith was tested He opened their eyes and they recognized Him. (Luke 24:31) The Watchtower Society claims that Christ appeared to Mary as the gardener. But the context makes it clear that it was Mary who made the mistake of thinking Christ was the gardener. (John 20:15,16)
JWs also use I Peter 3:18 to discredit the bodily resurrection. The proposition is set forth that Christ was raised from the dead as a spirit. If JWs give you this interpretation of I Peter 3:18, then show them Romans 8:8-13, Galations 5:24-25, Ephesians 6:18, Revelation 1:10, and I Peter 4:6.
A favorite Watchtower proof text is I Corinthians 15:50, which says "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God." The term "flesh and blood" occurs only five times in the New Testament, and in each case the reference is to natural man and not to literal flesh and blood. (Matthew 16:17; I Corinthians 15:50; Galations 1:16; Ephesians 6:12; Hebrews 2:14) Natural man, man in his present earthly nature, cannot inherit the kingdom of God; man needs the new birth. (John 3:3-7; I Corinthians 15:39-50)
The Jehovah's Witnesses deny the teaching of eternal punishment in Hellfire for the unsaved dead. They teach that death is a termination of existence and Hell is the common grave of mankind and a state of unconsciousness.
What does the Bible teach?
In the Bible the word soul is used to denote mere animal or physical life, as Watchtower literature points out, but it usually means the internal, immaterial aspect or ego of man. The Bible makes a distinction between the body and soul (a Bible Concordance will help you see this). Also, while the Bible does say that animals have souls, it does not say or indicate that their souls are immortal.
Ezekiel 18:4 is a favorite JW proof text. The soul does die in the same sense that Adam and Eve died the very day they ate the forbidden fruit. (Genesis 2:17; 5:3-5)
Death means separation: Physical death is the separation of the soul and body. (Genesis 35:18) Spiritual death is separation from God. (Romans 5:12,17; Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13; I Peter 4:6)
Watchtower literature also says that the spirit is merely one's breath. In Acts 7:59 was Stephen asking Jesus to take away his bad breath?
Ecclesiastes 9:5,10 is another favorite JW proof text. Hell is a place of unconsciousness and inactivity when it comes to bodily senses and the affairs of this world. (Isaiah 63:16; John 9:4; Revelation 14:13)
The word rendered destruction in II Thessalonians 1:9 is the Greek word olethros. Olethros means a ruin of one's state of being, and is used in I Timothy 6:9. Olethros does not mean a termination of existence.
The word rendered destruction in Matthew 10:28 is the Greek word apollumi, which means ruin or loss of well-being. This word is used in Luke 5:37 regarding the destruction of wineskins, and does not mean a termination of existence.
The word rendered everlasting in II Thessalonians 1:9 and Matthew 25:41 & 46 is the Greek word aioonios, which means never ceasing.
The word Hell is the rendering of the Hebrew word Sheol, and the Greek words Hades, Gehenna, and Tartaroo. The verb Tartaroo means cast down to Tartarus. Tartarus means the deepest or lowest places. (II Peter 2:4 NWT) Sheol is the unseen state or world of the dead, whether lost or saved. (Genesis 37:35; Psalm 31:17; Isaiah 38:10) Hades is the unseen world of the dead, usually of the lost, and corresponds to Sheol. (Luke 16:23;
Revelation 20:13,14) Hades is a place of disembodied souls of the dead. (Acts 2:31; Psalm 16:10) Paradise refers to a division of Hades (Sheol) reserved for the saved dead. (Job 3:13-19; Luke 23:43) At the time of the resurrection of Christ, Paradise was changed from beneath into heaven. (Isaiah 42:6,7; II Corinthians 12:2-4; Ephesians 4:8,9)
JWs claim that the account of the Rich Man and Lazarus is a parable and does not relate an actual occurrence. (Luke 16:19-31) If this account is a parable (even though the context gives no indication of this), keep in mind that a parable is an example or picture which verifies something, and a symbol is a small representation of a greater reality. Watchtower literature says the Rich Man represents false religious leaders and Lazarus
represents true Christians. If this is the case then who are the Rich Man's five brothers and why did he want Lazarus to witness to them? (Luke 16:27-31)
Gehenna (Valley of Hinnom) is a valley near Jerusalem where Solomon and others built high places and sacrificed children to Molech and Chemosh by burning them alive. (I Kings 11:7; II Chronicles 28:3; 33:6; Jeremiah 32:35) Gehenna eventually became a city dump and incinerator. (II Kings 23:10) Gehenna was considered an abomination and came to signify Hell in the modern sense of the word, and is used in the Bible to mean
Were the Scribes and Pharisees thrown into the literal Valley of Hinnom? (Matthew 23:15,33)
Who is referred to in Luke 12:4-5, and why should anyone fear someone who can do more to him after the body is killed if death is a termination of existence?
Is there still fire burning in the literal Valley of Hinnom? (Mark 9:47,48)
Are there worms that never die in the literal Valley of Hinnom? (Mark 9:44,46,48) The Old Testament refers to the lost in Hell as worms or maggots, so we can assume that this is what Christ was refering to.
It is obvious that Gehenna is the Lake of fire and brimstone. (Mark 9:43-48; Revelation 21:8) The Lake of fire is called the second death because it is the final judgement of the unsaved dead after they have been physically resurrected. It is the conclusive and permanent separation from God. (Matthew 7:23; Hebrews 6:2; II Peter 2:4-9; Revelation 20:11-15)
Why fire? Fire is purifying. (Numbers 31:23; I Peter 1:7; Revelation 3:18) Everything contaminated by sin must be purified, and those not washed in the blood of the Lamb must be purified by fire. But fire will not atone for sin or remove the sins of the lost, which is why the fire is eternal. (Matthew 3:12; 25:41,46; II Thessalonians 1:7-9)
Watchtower publications points out that pagan religions include a teaching about Hell, but consider this: Every ancient pagan religion includes a legend of an earthwide flood that destroyed mankind except for a man or a family that survived, and the legends usually say they survived by building a boat. Does this disprove the Bible account of the Noachian Deluge?
THE SECOND COMING
JWs deny the Second Coming of Christ in bodily human form and teach that Christ returned invisibly in 1914 AD and that the Second Coming is invisible.
JWs will inevitably refer to John 14:19. The world in which Christ lived when He said this beheld Him no more. (Acts 1:9; consider II Peter 3:6)
JWs will also refer to I Timothy 6:16. But notice this does not say that Christ is unapproachable and cannot be seen, it says this about the light He dwells in.
The Bible does say that we no longer know Christ according to the flesh, but it also says this about fellow Christians. (II Corinthians 5:16,17)
In heaven today Jesus Christ has a glorified human body. (Acts 1:9-11; 2:29-33; Colossians 2:9; I Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 10:12,13; I John 4:1-3)
JWs will also point to Acts 1:9-11 and explain that something in a cloud is unseen and so this must mean that His return is invisible. But look at this text again: Did anyone see Christ ascend with their literal human eyes, and was Christ caught up into a figurative or imaginary cloud?
How do they calculate 1914 AD to be the year of the invisible return of Christ? Watchtower publications explain it this way:
The line of Kingdom rulers was interrupted in 607 BC when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonian Army and God's kingdom of Judah fell. (Ezekiel 21:25-27) Seven times to pass until rule restored. (Daniel 4:32,16,17) Seven=2 x 3 1/2 times, or 2 x 1,260 days. (Revelation 12:6,14; 11:2,3) A day for a year, making 2,520 years. (Ezekiel 4:6; Numbers 14:34) To run until the kingdom's establishment. (Luke 21:24; Daniel 7:13,14)
Now let's look at just a few problems with this.
The prophecy about seven times to pass until the rule is restored was about Nebuchadnezzar and was fulfilled in Nebuchadnezzar's lifetime. (Daniel 4:30-36)
Most scholars give 586 BC as the year Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonian Army. Ask a JW to verify that this happened in 607 BC..
What did Jesus say to the Disciples when they asked if He was about to restore the kingdom to Israel? (Acts 1:6,7)
The Bible clearly teaches that the return of Christ will be personal and visible. (Acts 1:11; Revelation 1:7)
THE HEAVENLY HOPE-LIMITED TO 144,000?
According to Watchtower teaching only a little flock of 144,000 from among mankind will spend eternity in heaven, while the other faithful Jehovah's Witnesses will live forever on earth. (Luke 12:32) But Christ spoke the words of Luke 12:32 when the disciples were still a small group, and He did not set a number. The Watchtower Society pulls the number 144,000 from Revelation 7:4 & 14:1-3. JWs believe that each group of
12,000 in Revelation 7:5-8 is figurative. How can twelve figurative or symbolic groups of 12,000 each add up to a literal number of 144,000?
JWs believe that God stopped calling people into the body of Christ in 1935 (except to replace those of the anointed who proved unfaithful) and the new believers cannot be born again. (consider Matthew 23:13)
Where does the Bible say the call to the heavenly hope would end in 1935? It doesn't. The Watchtower Society's then-president Joseph F. Rutherford claimed to receive a special revelation.
Watchtower leadership used Biblical language to identify themselves as the anointed remnant of the little flock, and promoted the idea that this unique status qualifies them to disperse instruction and salvation to the great crowd of other sheep who are outside of the little flock. (John 10:16) JWs believe the anointed remnant are the "Faithful and discreet slave" of Matthew 24:45-47 (NWT) represented by the Watchtower Society's Governing
The context of John 10:16 indicates that the other sheep are Gentile Christians.
While the Bible discusses the Old Covenant for Jews and the New Covenant for Christians, where is there any reference to a third arrangement for gathering a great crowd of other sheep after 1935 who do not have a heavenly hope? (John 17:20,24; I Peter 1:3-4)
Watchtower publications on the subject claims that the word temple in Revelation 7:15 refers to the courtyard of the Gentiles, and then explain that Gentile proselytes were allowed in the outer courtyard of the temple in Jerusalem but not allowed in the inner sanctuary. It is then explained that only the 144,000 spiritual Israelites enter heaven while the other sheep who are not spiritual Jews are limited to the earthly courtyard of Jehovah's arrangement. The word rendered temple in Revelation 7:15 is the Greek word Naos, which refers to the inner sanctuary. If this passage were referring to the whole building or the courtyard of the Gentiles the Greek word Hieron would have been used.
In Revelation 7:9-11 you should note that the great crowd (NWT) are standing before God's throne in the company of angels.
Revelation 19:1 in the New World Translation clearly places the great crowd in heaven.
THE DESTINY OF THE EARTH
Jehovah's Witnesses deny that God will one day destroy the earth by fire. (II Peter 3:7)
Let me quote them:
"If these texts (2 Peter 3:7,10 and Revelation 21:1) mean that the literal planet Earth is to be consumed by fire, then the literal heavens (the stars and other heavenly bodies) are also to be destroyed by fire. Such a literal view, however, conflicts with the assurance contained in such texts as Matthew 6:10, Psalm 37:29 and 104:5, also Proverbs 2:21,22. Furthermore, what effect would fire have on the already intensely hot sun and stars? So
the term "earth" in the above-quoted texts must be understood in a different sense." (Reasoning From The Scriptures, p.114)
This Watchtower publication goes on to explain that the terms "heaven" and "earth" are figurative and the "fire" is also symbolic.
You should note that the cited proof texts do not conflict with the view that the earth will be destroyed by fire and then renewed. Also, the same logic they employ could be used to say that their proof texts cited refer to a figurative "earth."
If "earth" represents wicked human society, "heaven" represents the ruling powers or earthly governments, and "fire" represents annihilation in these texts, as Watchtower literature teaches, then how is it possible to renew something which no longer exists? (Revelation 21:5)
Watchtower literature says that if II Peter 3:7,10 means that the literal earth will be destroyed by fire, then this means that the sun and stars (which are already intensely hot) will be destroyed by fire. But is this what the passage says? In the Bible "Heaven" is used in several senses, and the setting and context must be considered to determine the meaning. In the New Testament "Heaven" does refer to the region in which the stars revolve. (Acts 7:42; Hebrews 11:12) Heaven also refers to the abode of God and Christ.
(II Corinthians 12:2; Hebrews 9:24; I Peter 3:22) Heaven can also mean the sky. (Acts 14:17) In these prophecies about a new heaven and a new earth, Heaven obviously refers to the atmosphere surrounding the earth. (Matthew 6:26; 8:20; 16:1-3; 24:30; Luke 21:27; Acts 1:9-11; 14:17) It is noteworthy that Watchtower publications teach that "Heaven" also refers to the sky or atmosphere surrounding the earth. (Make Sure Of All Things, p.228; Reasoning From The Scriptures, p.161; Aid To Bible Understanding, p.731)
The so-called Jehovah's Witnesses insist that Christ did not die on a cross but died on a single upright pole, a torture stake. (I Corinthians 1:18; Philippians 3:18)
The evidence is that the Romans carried out crucifixions so often that they kept upright poles or stakes in the ground permanently for this purpose and made the victims carry the crossbeam.
Why does the Bible say that the written charge was placed above His head, not above His hands? (Matthew 27:37)
Why was more than one nail used to fasten His hands? (John 20:25)
The Watchtower Organization teaches that separation from the world means that Christians must not vote or otherwise participate in politics or public affairs, or serve in the military (not even to defend their nation against aggression).
The separation taught in the Bible is godly conduct, distinctions, and relationships within society (separation from the sins of society), and is not isolation from society or neutrality concerning politics, community affairs, or even war. (Matthew 22:21; Romans 13:1-7; Ephesians 5:3-11; I Timothy 2:1-2; I Peter 2:11-12)
Man is a natural-born sinner, inherently depraved. It is not human government that is sinful or wicked but rather those who comprise human government, which is why Christian influence is essential.
Christians are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Salt cleanses, purifies, preserves, and makes people thirsty, and light dispels darkness. Christians are supposed to be a cleansing and illuminating influence, impacting society and culture for righteousness. (Matthew 5:13-16)
Should we interpret the words of Christ in Matthew 6:9-11 to mean that He was promoting laziness and idleness? No, a good job should be considered an answer to the prayer for basic necessities. The exhortation to pray for all men and for all that are in authority does not imply neutrality regarding politics and community affairs; opportunities to vote and otherwise influence and participate in public affairs should be considered answers to such prayers. (I Timothy 2:1-2)
The Watchtower Society forbids JWs from joining the armed forces for any reason, and JWs will not baptize a member of the armed forces until he leaves the armed forces. (Anyone remember Cornelius? -Acts 10)
Where in the Bible is any soldier told to resign from the armed forces?
Having the armed forces is part of God's purpose for human government and a soldier is a representative of the government. (Romans 13:1-4) Granted, sometimes human governments (being composed of humans) abuse or exceed their authority, but that is another issue.
The same God who said "Thou shalt not kill" also told His people to fight wars and execute various criminals, and a passage must be understood or interpreted in relation to its context and the whole Bible. In Exodus 20:13 the word rendered "kill" (Hebrew: Ratsach) means murder. Different Hebrew words are used for killing in self-defense, killing in the line of duty, etc..
In the Old Testament, military service was the duty of all able-bodied adult males (with the exception of Levites), and the vast majority of them were what we refer to today as Reservists or National Guardsmen. The words of Christ that are often used to promote pacifism were initially spoken to people living under the Law Covenant, and should be understood or interpreted accordingly. (Numbers 1; consider II Timothy 2:15; 3:16)
What about Matthew 5:39? This is not condemning self-defense or military service, Christ was using an idiom. Note that the Greek word here rendered "smite" is Rhapizo, which also means "slap." This does not imply anything against left-handed people, but the vast majority of people are right-handed and a right-handed person must approach someone from behind in order to slap the right cheek. This is dealing with backbiting.
What about Matthew 26:52? Again, the passage must be interpreted or understood in relation to context. (Matthew 26:47-56)
What about Isaiah 2:4 and similar passages? Bible passages dealing with the actions of nations that will be inevitable as a result of the absence of the threat of war and the universality of righteousness or godliness obviously do not relate to what we should be doing right now. Until that time we should discourage aggression by keeping the armed forces strong enough to defeat potential aggressors, which requires the service of able-bodied men, and when we are threatened able-bodied men should be encouraged to do their part to defend their nation against aggression. While we live in this sinful world it
is important that Christians participate in public affairs and otherwise act as a cleansing and illuminating influence on society, and we should not pretend to know things which we obviously do not and cannot know. (Acts 1:7; I Timothy 1:5-7; II Timothy 2:14-16)
HOLIDAYS & BIRTHDAYS
The Watchtower Organization forbids Jehovah's Witnesses from celebrating birthdays and holidays, such as Christmas and Easter, and condemns this as apostacy.
Where does the Bible condemn celebrating birthdays and being happy that someone you love was born and lives, especially the birth of our Savior (regardless of whether we have the correct date or not)? What truth or principle is violated? The death, burial, and resurrection of Christ would not have been possible without the virgin birth.
Watchtower literature points to two accounts of kings (Herod & Pharoah) celebrating their birthdays and having someone killed. It must be noted that these ancient kings (dictators) had people killed everyday, and not just on their birthdays.
According to chapter one of Job (note verse one), Job and his family celebrated birthdays and had such a good time at this that Job felt compelled to offer sacrifices just in case they might have went too far in their merrymaking.
Consider Romans 14:1,4-6. This was initially written to Christians in Rome who lived in a culture which promoted pagan holidays (such as Saturnalia). The converted Gentiles there came from a background of pagan holidays and the converted Jews came from a background of Jewish holidays.
If you happen to know someone who uses Christmas or Easter as opportunity to worship Baal or Tammuz I will agree that they are sinning and need to repent of idolatry. But it is not a sin to set aside a day unto the Lord to honor Him and enjoy fellowship.
THE AUTHORITY OF SCRIPTURE IS THE CRUCIAL ISSUE
How is it that cult members and liberal theologians sincerely believe obviously unscriptural and even anti-biblical teachings even though they often appear to study more than most? The problem lies with what they respect as the final authority or the standard of truth.
All too often attention is drawn away from God's Word and focused on theories of men, so that a religious leader, gifted teacher, or a pet theory is the authority. (I Timothy 1:5-7; II Timothy 2:15; II Peter 3:16)
When someone puts the words of men above the word of God they naturally interpret passages of Scripture in relation to publications and human theories instead of interpreting Scripture passages in relation to context and the whole Bible. This is why arguments over proof texts often prove to be an exercise in futility.
If Christ deliberately bypassed the religious elite and highly educated to reveal truths to ordinary people, and the Apostles commended and encouraged personal study and discernment, then why should we assume that God intended for people of our generation to receive (without question or doubt) the Word of God as explained and interpreted by some religious elite claiming to have some special key to understanding Scripture that ordinary people don't have? If the Bible is the Word of God and the final authority, then why should we assume that God expects people of our generation to interpret Bible passages in relation to Christian literature or a theologian instead of interpreting Bible passages in relation to context and the whole Bible?
Scripture itself is the key to the interpretation of Scripture. While we do need ministers and Christian books to help us, ministers and Christian books are not the final authority or the standard of truth. The Bible was written to be read and understood by ordinary people, and while there are difficulties in the Bible, for the most part the Bible is self-interpretive and self-explanatory when one is familiar with its contents. (Psalm 119:105; Isaiah 8:20)
Here is a simple way to test a teaching: Try applying questions like these to specific beliefs (which are considered to be truths or Bible standards) and issues:
-What does the Bible say about this? (Psalm 33:4; Proverbs 2:6; 3:5-7; Isaiah 8:20; II Timothy 3:16)
-What is the origin of this belief or teaching? (Romans 12:2; Colossians 2:8,20-22)
-How important or essential is this in relation to other matters? (Matthew 23:24; I Timothy 1:5-7) This is not meant to imply that anything in Scripture is unimportant or should be ignored, but some issues are more important than others and right priorities are essential.
-Was this true in the distant past and will this be true in the distant future? (Psalm 33:10,11; 119:89,160; Ecclesiastes 1:9,10; James 1:17) While trends and technology change continually, truth and basic human nature do not.
WITNESSING TO JWs & OTHER CULTS
I was raised in the Watchtower (Jehovah's Witnesses) religion, was baptized in that religion when I was 16 and was a dedicated member for about 5 1/2 years.
As an ex-JW I would like to make a point: JWs do not do door-to-door visitation work because of any hatred for God. They are hoping to please God through their many hours of fruitless service.
All too often an unkind word, an argument, unconcern ("I'm not interested"), or a slamming door is the reaction JWs receive.
The JW at your door is someone who has lost his way in his search for God and needs to be directed to "the way." (John 14:6)
Knowing what JWs and other cults believe is one thing, but knowing how to relate to cult members personally, and how to deal with cult members you meet in public places, social situations, and at your door step is quite another thing.
Here are a few suggestions:
-Be extremely patient and don't be expecting to convert anyone overnight. (Matthew 21:28-31)
-Remember that the object is to win hearts, not arguments.
-Look for opportunity to share your testimony. Tell him what the Lord Jesus Christ means to you and share your salvation experience. Then ask him to share his testimony, and keep insisting that he tell you about his personal experience with Jesus Christ. This will throw him off his track and force him to deal with spiritual realities. If he should try to give some sort of testimony, this is a good sign that you may be able to eventually reach him with the truth. If he should get angry or upset and leave, the Lord can use your testimony to work on his heart.
-Make sure you respect the Bible as the authority for your claims or statements. (Do not say: My pastor says..., I've always said..., etc.)
-Do not be hostile or argumentative. This will only convince him that he is right.
-Don't be afraid to say no. If you don't want him to think of you as a prospect and be that much more determined to win you over(instead of being receptive to the truth) then don't buy anything or accept anything free. You can give a polite refusal and still converse with him.
-Don't be intimidated by their attitude that they are more spiritual or knowledgeable than you are. Since they are the ones trying to sell you something, let them be the ones who have to prove themselves to you.
-Speak with conviction. (Acts 4:13) Why should someone consider your message if you don't sound convinced of it yourself?
-Avoid answering leading questions (What do you think about world conditions? Have you ever wondered...? What do you think about...[some news item]? Do you think there is a solution to the crime problem, or a way to feel secure? etc..), as they use these questions to discern how best to win you over.
-If he tries to quote a whole list of Bible passages out of context all at once, insist that you be allowed to pause and read each passage aloud in context (include perhaps about 4 or 5 verses preceding and maybe 4 or 5 verses following the passage.). This forces him to consider his proof texts in relation to immediate context, which he probably has never done before, and he just might start doing this on his own.
-Don't pretend to have all the answers. (You don't)
-Don't put on a pretense. Remember that they are quick to spot hypocrisy.
-Since you do not already know all about his beliefs and his organization, don't pretend that you do.
-Since you don't like to be patronised or demeaned, give him the same courtesy you want from others.
-Show concern for him, buy him a cup of coffee, look for opportunity to demonstrate kindness to him, etc.. Show him that you love and care about him in spite of disagreeing with him. Most cult members were lured into the cult through love-bombing and need to see that there are caring people outside of the cult.
-Express your humanness. Many cults demand such a high standard of perfection that meeting someone who is secure in his faith in spite of being less than perfect makes a good impression.
-Appeal to their insecurity. While cult members appear assured and confident, inside they are troubled by questions and doubts and often feel trapped. You should try to steer the conversation beyond minor issues and debatable points and toward matters of the heart and spirit.
-JWs tend to feel obliged to respond to sincere questions with teaching and explanations, and using questions and asking for explanations can be more effective than confrontation or arguing over proof texts as a means of gradually helping them see the fallacies of the Watchtower Organization. Here are a few examples:
Where in the Bible did Jesus Christ ever deny His deity?
If only the Father is God and Jesus is "a god," then just how many "gods" do JWs have in their religion? (John 1:1 NWT; Isaiah 43:10; 44:8 NWT)
Where does the Bible say that Jesus is Michael the Archangel?
Where does the Bible say that Jesus Christ was not bodily resurrected? (Luke 24:36-43; Acts 10:39-41)
Where does the Bible say that in heaven today Jesus Christ does not have a glorified human body? (Colossians 2:9; I Timothy 2:5)
Where does the Bible say that the return of Christ will not be in visible human form? (Acts 1:9-11) Did Christ ascend into a literal or figurative cloud? (Acts 1:9)
If Jesus was hung on a single upright pole, a torture stake, and not on a cross then why was more than one nail used to fasten His hands, and why does the Bible say that the written charge was placed over His head and not over His hands? (John 20:25; Matthew 27:37)
While the Bible teaches much about the Old Covenant for Jews and the New Covenant for Christians, where does the Bible teach a third arrangement of a great crowd of "other sheep" who do not have a heavenly hope? (John 17:20,24; I Peter 1:3,4)
Where does the Bible forbid service in the armed forces, and where in the Bible is any soldier told to resign from the military?
Where does the Bible forbid a medical blood transfusion to save a life? (Romans 4:15)
Where does the Bible forbid celebrating religious holidays? (Romans 14:5,6)
Why is a JW who confesses Christ subject to be disfellowshipped as an apostate? (Matthew 10:32,33; consider John 9:22)
Where does the Bible say to shun or ostracize a relative or friend who conscientiously decides to leave the Watchtower Organization or join another church or denomination?
JWs often do not know where to turn because the Watchtower organization has convinced them that the whole world is evil and that every religious or Christian group other than their own is satanic. JWs who no longer accept or believe Watchtower teachings and policies often stay active (even zealous) in attendance and witnessing because disagreeing with or leaving the Watchtower organization will mean being shunned and rejected by JW family and friends (It may also appear to him that friendship and fellowship will be scarce outside the Organization).
Watchtower teachings in many areas (morality, family responsibilities, etc.) are correct and have a positive effect. (Consider Proverbs 13:13. Obedience to a Bible principle is beneficial, but does not necessarily mean that someone is saved.) This, along with continual study (using Watchtower publications),fellowship, and involvement, keeps many JWs convinced that the Watchtower organization is the truth.
But Watchtower theology is much like a house of cards. When a JW realizes that the Watchtower organization is wrong on a point (even a minor point), he begins to see other errors.
Remember to pray for Jehovah's Witnesses and other cults, and pray for the potential convert who will eventually come to your door.
Tue, Mar 30th - 5:54PM
The Law & The Gospel
The Law awakened conscience and disciplined moral faculties. The Jewish people were like an heir being trained and prepared with a view toward adoption. (Galations 4:1-5) Just as the head of a household must set standards for his family, God set standards to preserve His truths and principles, protect His people from evil influences, and distinguish them from the heathen; also, the Law, God's standards of righteousness, made the sinful carnal adamic nature manifest, thus showing the need for redemption and a redeemer. (Psalm 119:142; Romans 3:20; 3:31; 5:20; 7:7; Galations 3:19,24; I Timothy 1:9)
The Law will always stand as God's standards of righteousness, but the Law itself had no saving power. (Romans 3:31; consider Psalm 19:7; 119:142; Romans 7:12; I Timothy 1:8)
The obligation to fear God and keep His commandments is universal, and everyone will be judged by their works. (Ecclesiastes 12:13,14; Revelation 20:12,13) But our own good works are insufficient to save us. (Isaiah 64:6; II Corinthians 5:17-21)
Teaching God's holy law (standards of righteousness) is needfull so that fallen men can see themselves as sinners in need of a savior. The Law served to make manifest the sinful nature, man's depravity, and to pronounce everyone guilty before God, and thus shows the need for redemption and a mediator. (Romans 3:19,20; 7:7,12-14; 8:3,4; Galations 3:24; Hebrews 7:19)
One great end of the Gospel is to deliver fallen men from the penalty of sin and restore them to a position of obedience to God's holy law (standards of righteousness). The New Birth is the beginning of a spiritual sanctification. (Romans 5:1,2; 6:11-22; Titus 2:11-14)
Tue, Mar 30th - 5:47PM
Sacred cows, that is, ideas or institutions that are unreasonably held to be above scrutiny or critical analysis, can be found in every religion or religious group. This is one way that areligious group can become cultic or even become a cult.
Three ideas or institutions in particular easily become sacred cows: A gifted teacher or minister, a particular denomination or religious group, or a pet theory or doctrine.
We certainly do need ministers and teachers, and organization, and respect for the ministry is important. However, it is essential to make sure that faith and allegiance is directed to God. Any man of God must be recognized as a man, and any denomination or religious group must be recognized as a group of fallible humans. Looking at a man or a denomination through rose-colored glasses and thinking of a man or a denomination as above scrutiny is a bad sign. (Exodus 23:2; Psalm 146:3-5; Isaiah 8:20; Jeremiah 2:8; 5:31; 8:9; Acts 17:11; 20:28-30; I Timothy 1:5-7; 4:1-7; II Timothy 2:14-16; I John 4:1)
Doctrine is important. (I Timothy 4:13,16) But doctrines and pet theories can become sacred cows, regarded as the standard of authority above God's Word. We must always bear in mind that any knowledge that any of us has is incomplete and the Holy Bible is the final authority. (I Corinthians 8:2; II Timothy 3:16; consider Matthew 15:1-3,7-9)
How can you avoid this kind of deception? Try applying questions like these to specific beliefs and issues:
What does the Bible say about this, and have I studied to learn what the Bible clearly teaches? (Proverbs 2:3-6; 3:5-7; II Timothy 2:15; 3:16)
How important is this in relation to other matters, and what Bible truths or principles are involved? (Matthew 23:24; I Timothy 1:5-7; II Timothy 2:14,15)
What is the origin of this belief or teaching? (Psalm 146:3-6; Romans 12:2; Colossians 2:8)
Was this true in the distant past and will this be true in the distant future? (Psalm 33:11; Proverbs 19:21; Ecclesiastes 1:9,10; James 1:17)
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