Last week I confessed my moment of stage fright when a couple of smiling Jehovah’s Witnesses unleashed a series of propositions that momentarily rattled me. But in the conversation I asked a question that seemed to hit a nerve: “In your faith, would I get to go to Heaven to be with Jesus?” No, they admitted. Only 144,000 go to heaven and the chances one of them would be me were on par with the chances of my shower song repertoire securing me a spot on American Idol (pretty much zero; since I am not American).
But as a consolation prize I’d get to live in the New Earth, which sounded appealing, except for one thing…no Jesus. I don’t care how idyllic their pamphlet’s pictures of the Utopian New Earth are, if I don’t get to be with Jesus, it’s got nothing to offer me. I asked them if they believed they were part of the privileged 144,000. They admitted somberly that they didn’t believe they would be included.
Wow. What a hopeless faith. According to their belief, the worst that can happen to the ungodly is an eternal rest of annihilation, and the best is an eternity on an upgraded earth, sans Jesus.
I shared the good news of the gospel that they could be saved from their sins and live forever with Jesus in Heaven and explained that they didn’t need to do anything to gain this salvation, it was already accomplished on the cross. Sadly, they suggested we simply agree to disagree, and left. As they were walking away, I called after them, “I’ll pray for you,” to which one replied “Please don’t.” Tragic. (I prayed anyway).
Once you realize that Christians and Jehovah’s Witnesses do NOT believe the same thing–any more than the Taliban and the Republican Party share ideals–you need some ammunition for your defense.
Here are some silver bullets on Christ’s deity…
Col 1: 15-19 “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.”
By the way, Εἰκών (“image”) means more than mere likeness or similarity; it includes the ideas of representation and manifestation. Like a desktop icon of MS Word. It’s more than a tiny picture of the program; it IS the program. You click it, you get MS Word. Jesus doesn’t just represent God, He doesn’t just look like God; He is God. Click on Jesus and you get the Godhead in all its glory.
Hebrews 1:3 “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.”
Matthew 16: 13-17 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, [not: 'Silly Simon, you’ve missed the point again' but...] “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.
When the JWs say “Jesus was a god, but not Jehovah God,” you can flip to…
Isaiah 9: 6 “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Philippians 2: 6 “Who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped.”
John 1: 1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Did Jesus ever claim to be God?
John 10:30-33 “I and the Father are one.” The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.”
Well, what to do with all this?
I can’t say it better that the inimitable CS Lewis who famously wrote in Mere Christianity:
“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg – or he would be the devil of hell. You must take your choice. Either this was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us.”
Since I mentioned one thing last week that I find annoying about the JWs methodology (that they pretend to agree with you), I feel constrained to say something nice about them. One can only admire their unflagging commitment to spread their message. The perpetual knocking on doors is their trademark, and it’s an admirable badge of honor. But it’s up for grabs.
If Christians would be as zealous to spread the truth about Jesus as JWs are about unintentionally propagating falsehood, the souls that lie in the balance would have a fighting chance. Let’s learn to love people enough to tell them about Jesus.
The eloquent Charles Spurgeon said in his inimitable way:
“If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and un-prayed for.”
Or in the passionate plea of the Apostle Paul…
Rom 10:13-14 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?