NIV 1 John 5:13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.
Message - for video notes, see below
Opening Video for Your World
J: Welcome to another edition of Your World – the show that talks about … Your World. Your World specifically as it relates to the religions that have sprung up all over the planet. Some fast growing. Some bizarre. But all interesting. This week we’ve sent our main correspondent, Phil, out to interview a spokesman for the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Lincoln NE. Let’s meet Tom:
J: Phil – welcome – thanks for putting together these video clips for us.
P: Well of course. And I’m excited about our guest today – I think that Tom presents Jehovah’s Witnesses and their beliefs in a very compelling way. I’ve met some of these guys at my door from time to time, but I had no idea they are really so Bible-based. Check this out:
P: So, there you have it – this guy quotes the Bible for almost every belief. He’s good.
J: Well, Phil, I have to admit – he is pretty convincing. But I can tell you from my study of Witness teaching and doctrine that what Tom is saying is not Biblical or Christian – he’s not espousing Christian beliefs, but he sure sounds like it.
P: You mean Christians don’t believe God created Adam?
J: Well, yes they do. That wasn’t what I was referring to.
P: So Christians don’t believe in the devil and that humans are conceived sinful.
J: Well, yes they do. Again that wasn’t what I was referring to.
P: So you are saying that Christians don’t believe that Jesus redeems us from sin?
J: Yes they do.
P: What are you talking about then???
J: It’s all pretty confusing, isn’t it?
P: No, ‘it’s’ not confusing – you’re confusing. Tom is convincing.
J: Let’s get back to the interview, and I’ll save my comments till later. Maybe if we keep going and hear Tom out, it will help us both understand what’s going on, and help those in the audience as well. Tom said that Jesus redeems us. Did you ask him how we get saved?
P: I did – here’s what he said:
J: I’m getting confused – oh, that’s right, you said I was already confused – I’m hearing Tom say that Jesus paid the ransom, but that we need to gain knowledge in order to be saved, and that we need to follow Jesus and obey and all that stuff – that’s how we’re saved. JW’s believe that Jesus paid the ransom price, but then they also believe that people have to do a bunch of following and obeying to get into eternal life
P: Well…. Well? Now I’m confused too. How do we get eternal life??? Tom’s pretty convincing though, isn’t he???
J: No. He’s confusing. Close to the Christian belief, but confusing. And close doesn’t work in theology – that’s only for …
P: Horseshoes and hand-grenades.
J: I’ll bet if we investigate further, we’re going to find that being close winds up to be further and further away.
P: Well, I asked him about what happens after we die – check this out:
J: Hmmm. OK.
P: OK. I’m confused. They never told me this at the door. But he’s quoting the Bible like crazy and I’m just baffled here, OK. What’s with the 144,000?
J: That’s a number from the book of Revelation, which uses numbers not as numerical values, but as symbols, sort of like we use the number 13 today. So using that number as a numerical value is just plain wrong. And we haven’t even gotten to their belief that Jesus didn’t die on a cross, but on a stake; that celebrating birthdays is idolatry; that serving in the military is a rejection of our heavenly citizenship; that receiving blood transfusions violates the Old Testament prohibition against drinking the blood of animals; that there is no Trinity; that there is no hell; that…
P: Hey! That’s great! No hell???
J: Sounds good, doesn’t it? But if there is one, and you don’t believe it … you’re in deep do do.
P: Listen, aren’t we about out of time for this segment?
J: Right. Let’s take a break, and when we come back I’ll give you My Last Word.
[NOTE that all Scripture used within the sermon is from the Jehovah’s Witnesses own New WorldTranslation]
J: Well, welcome back to Your World … the show that talks about Your World. Today we’ve been talking about the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and we’ve just heard from Tom, a witness from the heart of the US – Lincoln NE.
So, let me give you my take on this … although as I’ve noted many times, I really would encourage our viewers to be asking their own pastors about this stuff.
It could take us literally all day to sort out all of the theological differences between Jehovah’s Witnesses and historical Christianity – and by historic Christianity, I mean the beliefs that Christians have held in common from the time of Jesus until today. Right away, even with that statement, Witnesses start to get confusing, telling us that they hold to the beliefs of historic Christianity … and by that they mean that they mean the beliefs of the Bible, whereas for the past 18 Centuries the church has been messed up … until their founder, Charles Russell came to the rescue. So rather than sorting out every last piece of theology here, let me recommend a place to go to get some in depth answers – check out this website – http://yourworld.room211.org
As for me, my experience with JW’s began in my first year of college. I was a young whippersnapper college student who knew everything about everything, and some JW’s came to the door and I decided to jump in and debate them into the Christian faith. Within one hour I was rocked to the core, within one hour I was convinced that I had been deceived my whole life by the Christian church, which had taken me away from Biblical beliefs and convinced me to believe a whole set of human doctrines and inventions. I was convinced that I needed to become a JW. I asked them to come back; I wanted to get out my Greek New Testament and check things out. And so they did, and brought back someone who knew Greek. Turns out the Greek NT that I had was full of mistakes – this guy at my door really knew Greek and I was blown away. How could I have been so mixed up for so many years?
So what gives? Turns out that this JW Greek expert didn’t know a thing about the Greek that the Bible was written in 2000 years ago – he knew modern day Greek! Shakespeare didn’t live 2000 years ago – he only lived 400 years ago – check out how much English has changed in only 400 years. Here’s a random quote I picked out from Scene 1 of Macbeth: “What bloody man is that? He can report, as seemeth by his plight, of the revolt the newest state.” If you wrote that today for your English class, you’d get an F. But that’s only 400 years of language evolution – this JW at my door didn’t know Biblical Greek at all – it was all a deception. And it turns out that once I sat down and started actually looking up all the verses and topics that the JW’s threw at me, their interpretations all made no sense. Turns out I hadn’t been deceived when I was growing up; it was the JW at my door who were sadly, very sadly mistaken.
I learned a few things along the way since then. First of all, I don’t like arguing or debating with JW’s. So I don’t anymore. Argue or debate, that is. If I’m going to welcome a JW into my house and get into a conversation with him, I have a few goals.
First, I’m going to control the conversation. And to do that, I’m going to get out a timer and ask that the JW agree to a pre-condition. The pre-condition is this: he can talk for 5 minutes about whatever he wants, and then, when the timer rings, I get my five minutes. No interruptions. No changing the subject. His time is his time; my time is my time. If you don’t do this, I promise you, you’ll never get a word in and you’ll never be able to stay on topic for more than 20 seconds. As soon as the Witness interrupts your time or tries to change the subject or quote some other Scripture or whatever, you politely point to the timer and say, “I gave you your five minutes; this is my five minutes.” I’ve found JW’s to be polite – they are nice people – and they will give you your time.
Second, I’m going to talk to the JW who didn’t do the talking during their 5 minutes. They always come in twos, and most often the one who does the talking is the more experienced Witness. I’m going to try to talk to the one who is less experienced – not because I’m scared of the other guy, but because I have the greatest chance of making the in-experienced Witness begin to question his faith, begin to trust Jesus for His forgiveness – which is my goal. My goal is not to debate and not to win; my goal is to love the guy and save the guy. Once the experienced Witness realizes what’s going on, he’s likely to “have something else that we have to do shortly”, and “we’ll be back later”, and probably no other Witness will ever come to your house again. So you’ve got one shot at this – make it count.
Third, I’m going to talk about what I want to talk about. I’m not going to answer the questions the JW has posed; I’m not going to deal with whatever topics he wants me to deal with. It’s my time; it’s my topic – pretty simple.
Fourth, and finally, my topic is Jesus. Not blood transfusions or life after death or the Trinity – Jesus. Jesus, Jesus, only Jesus. Jesus is God and Jesus is my Savior. That’s my topic. Here’s my five minutes – somebody time me here. Oh, wait, I need a volunteer to play the part of the Jehovah’s Witness. [Joe Beran raises hand] Thanks! Come on down!
[starts timer] Friend – I’m glad you came today! I’ve got good news to share with you. Jesus is Jehovah God and He is my Savior! [interruption – something like “Did you know that the Bible tells us we’re going to live on the new earth forever”] Friend, can I call you Joe? Joe, I gave you your five minutes, and now I’d like five minutes to share with you. Thanks.
I’ve taken the liberty of examining your Bible, and I’ve found out a very strange thing. Right there in your own Bible it says that Jesus is Jehovah God. [interruption – same as first] Joe, now we agreed, right? This is my time to talk. I know there are lots of verses that talk about Jesus not being the same as His Father – that’s another topic. I’m going to stick to one thing at a time, OK. Let’s see, where was I? Oh yes, Jesus is Jehovah God. Let’s take a look at a few verses, can we? Great. How about:
Isaiah 44:6 “This is what Jehovah has said, the King of Israel and the Re-purchaser of him, Jehovah of armies, ‘I am the first and I am the last, and besides me there is no God.’”
Now clearly we can see from this verse that Jehovah God is the first and the last.
Now check this out:
Revelation 1:17 “And when I saw him [in context, ‘someone like a son of man’, that is, Jesus], I fell as dead at his feet. And he laid his right hand upon me and said, ‘Do not be fearful. I am the First and the Last.’”
So both Jesus and Jehovah are the first and the last!
Now either there are two first and two lasts, or Jesus and Jehovah are the same. I’m thrilled to share with you that they are the same, because there can only be one first and one last. Jehovah Jesus.
There’s tons of verses like this that I could share with you – it’s pretty sweet, isn’t it? [interruption – they’ve got to go now] Joe, now I know the timer has rung, but you’ve interrupted me three times – could I just have two more minutes with you and your friend here? Great. I want you to know that eternal life is a free gift for you. Check out this verse:
Ephesians 2:8-9 “By this undeserved kindness, indeed, you have been saved through faith; and this not owing to you, it is God’s gift. No, it is not owing to works, in order that no man should have ground for boasting.”
So you see friends, you don’t have to gain any great knowledge to be saved. Your salvation doesn’t depend on anything you do. Your Bible is clear that simply putting your faith and trust in Jesus who died for you will give you eternal life. What do you think? Oh, wait, let me start the timer and give you five minutes – that way I won’t interrupt you, OK? Great. [Hey, thanks Joe for helping out this morning!]
And then you’re off to the races, with five more minutes to pray for them while they talk, and then five more minutes for you to witness about the incredible gift of salvation that you have in Jesus. You just have some more verses at the ready, and let God’s word have its way in the heart of your new friend.
I want you to leave here this morning with two things in mind.
First of all, know your Bible. It’s the Word of God, after all. Jehovah’s Witnesses know their Bible – they have their own translation, which is a mis-translation, designed to bolster their beliefs. How much more should you and I know the very Word of God, which gives eternal life?
And that leads me to the second thing I want you to leave here with today: a sure and certain knowledge of your salvation. Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for your sins. God wants you to know – not just hope or wish or dream or want, but to know – that your sins are forgiven and that you have eternal life. Check out what the Apostle John says to people like you and me:
I John 5:13 “I write you these things that you may know that you have life everlasting, you who put your faith in the name of the Son of God.”
You are saved. Be sure of it. And may Jehovah God so fill you with His Holy Spirit that you might be able to share with others that very very good news. Let’s pray.
For more information on Jehovah’s Witnesses, check out many books at your public library.
Two particularly helpful ones are:
“Apocalypse Delayed: The Story of the Jehovah’s Witnesses” by M. James Penton c. 1985
“Understanding Jehovah’s Witnesses” by Robert M. Bowman, Jr. c. 1991
In addition, there is a great resource on line that you can purchase for $6, on How to Respond to Jehovah’s Witnesses:
we have this resource in the Christ Lutheran Church library as well.
In addition to all this, Pastor Scheich has attached a series of notes to his sermon on thewww.room211.orgwebsite – check that out by clicking on the “Services” button and following the links – or go to http://yourworld.room211.org
Sermon Topics: Classic