Scripture Reading: Isaiah 43:8-13
1. In August 2004 there were reportedly 6.5 million practicing JWs in the world.
2. Their history began in the late 1800’s.
3. Materialistic in their views of God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, man, the earth & eternity.
I. WHO ARE THEY?
1. Like the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the roots of the JWs go back to William Russell and “Second Adventism.”
2. Founder: Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916): Born in Allegheny, PA (now part of Pittsburgh), Feb. 16, 1852.
a. Reared Presbyterian by Scotch-Irish parents; Joined the Congregational Church at 15 yrs.
b. Troubled by doctrines of Predestination & eternal punishment…skeptic by age 17.
c. Chance contact with Wm. Miller followers in 1868, who believed in return of Christ in 1874.
d. 1870: Formed Bible study group of 6 members who later elected him “Pastor.”
e. 1880: 30 congregations in 7 states.
f. 1879: Published Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence (circulation of 6,000); Now The Watchtower (more than 22,000,000 in over 132 languages).
g. 1881: Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society established; 1886 name changed to Zion’s Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania; by 1889 congregations all over the world.
h. 1908: New headquarters in Brooklyn, NY.
i. Prolific writer: 7 volume Studies in the Scriptures.
j. Blasphemous & embarrassing claim of Charles T. Russell:
“If the six volumes of ‘Scripture Studies’ are practically the Bible, topically arranged with Bible proof tests given, we might not improperly name the volumes ‘The Bible in an arranged form.’ That is to say, they are not mere comments on the Bible, but they are practically the Bible itself. Furthermore, not only do we find that people cannot see the divine plan in studying the Bible by itself, but we see, also, that if anyone lays the ‘Scripture Studies’ aside, even after he has used them, after he has become familiar with them, after he has read them for ten years—if he lays them aside and ignores them and goes to the Bible alone, though he has understood the Bible for ten years, our experience shows that within two years he goes into darkness. On the other hand, if he had merely read the ‘Scripture Studies’ with their references and had not read a page of the Bible as such, he would have the light of the Scriptures.” (Russell, The Watchtower, Sept. 15, 1910, page 298)
1. World headquarters in Brooklyn, New York.
a. The Watch Tower Society (Governing Body – 7 member board of directors).
b. Branches (Branch Servant over a nation or group of nations).
c. Districts (District Servant, 2 or 3 circuits).
d. Circuits (Circuit Servant, each Circuit has about 20 congregations).
e. Congregations (local company of Witnesses with Kingdom Halls; Congregational Servants, 7 overseers in each Kingdom Hall, selected by the Circuit Servant).
-BIBLE: Local, independent, autonomous congregations of Christians, with Holy Spirit-qualified elders & deacons (Acts 14:23; 20:28; Phil. 1:1).
C. Name: “Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
1. The organization called “Jehovah’s Witnesses” did not exist until 1931 (“What is Wrong with Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Organization?”, W. Wallace Layton, What is Wrong?, 203).
2. Adopted in 1931 at convention in Columbus, Ohio to distinguish themselves from a smaller group (Associated Bible Students) (Ibid.)
3. Claim: Witnesses to the world of Jehovah’s name & purposes – Isa. 43:10.
-BIBLE: Disciples of Christ are called Christians (Acts 11:26).
a. Witness testifies of what he knows & sees – Jno. 3:11.
b. Isa. 43:10-12: Israel is the witness who testified to the nations of the true God (44:6-8).
c. Apostles of Christ were commissioned to be witnesses of Christ – Acts 1:8.
d. Salvation is in no other name but Christ’s – Acts 4:12.
II. KEY DOCTRINES OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES.
A. Doctrines about God (fundamentally wrong in their concept of God).
1. Name of God: Jehovah.
“God has many titles but has only one name. That name is JEHOVAH. In most Bibles, God’s name has been removed and has been replaced with the titles LORD or GOD. But when the Bible was written, the name Jehovah appeared in it some 7,000 times!—Exodus 3:15; Psalm 83:18” (“What Does God Require of Us?”, Lesson 2, #2)
-BIBLE: Jehovah is Eternal God.
a. Jehovah (Yahweh): “The existing One” – Exo. 3:13-15.
b. Name = Memorial – Exo. 3:15: He is known as the eternally-existing Deity (“I AM” – 3:14; Yahweh – 3:15)
c. Name = Reputation, fame, glory – Exo. 9:16.
2. Jehovah is not a plural God (deny the Godhead revealed in the Bible).
“Jesus called God “the only true God.” (John 17:3) Never did he refer to God as a deity of plural persons. That is why nowhere in the Bible is anyone but Jehovah called Almighty.” (“Should You Believe in the Trinity?”, Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, 13)
a. Word “Trinity” is not in Bible, but Godhead is (Acts 17:29; Rom. 1:20; Col. 2:9).
b. Jehovah: Plurality in One God.
(1) Elohim is plurality in one – Gen. 1:1, 26.
(2) But, Elohim is Jehovah – Exo. 3:14-15.
(3) Therefore, Jehovah is plurality in one God!
c. One Lord – Deut. 6:4 (echad): The force of an adjective, united, together; not solitary, only one (which is yachid) – Gesenius, 28, 345.
(1) “The word for absolute oneness (yachid), although appearing 12 times in the Old Testament, is never used of the unity of Jehovah God” (Apostles of Denial, Gruss, 127-128).
(2) echad: Gen. 1:5 (first day); Gen. 2:24 (one flesh); Jug. 20:8 (all the people…as one man); Ezra 2:64 (whole assembly was 42,360); Isa. 65:25 (…shall feed together)…
d. One Jehovah = Plurality in One God:
(1) Jehovah (Yahweh) is plural Elohim (“Us”) in Gen. 3:22.
(2) But, Yahweh is ONE Yahweh in Deut. 6:4.
(3) Therefore, ONE Yahweh is a UNITED ONE.
e. Three personalities identified in one God (Father, Son & Holy Spirit): cf. Husband & wife “one” flesh; Egg (shell, white & yoke).
B. Doctrines about Jesus.
1. JWs: Deny the deity of Jesus Christ (not equal with Jehovah).
a. Jesus was created & is less than Jehovah.
“Jesus the Christ, a created individual, is the second greatest personage of the universe.” (Make Sure Of All Things, p. 207)
“He was formed countless millenniums ago as the first and the only direct creation by his Father, Jehovah, and because of his proved faultless integrity, was appointed by Jehovah as his vindicator and the chief agent of life toward mankind.” (Ibid, p. 207)
“In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.” (Jno. 1:1, New World Translation)
-BIBLE: Jesus is God (deity).
a. Jesus is God – Jesus is Jehovah.
(1) Jno. 8:58 – I AM (Exo. 3:14-15).
-Jno. 8:24 – Unless JWs believe Jesus is the “I AM” (Jehovah), they will die in their sins!
(2) Rev. 1:11, 17; 22:13: First & Last, Alpha & Omega.
(a) Isa. 44:6 – Jehovah!
(b) Isa. 43:10-13 – The Jehovah the Bible is not the Jehovah of the JWs!
b. Jno. 1:1: JWs say because there is no definite article (“the”) before theos, “a god” is correct.
(1) Other verses in John 1 without definite article before theos – not translated the same in their Bible: Jno. 1:6, 12, 13, 18.
(2) Self-serving perversion of the Scriptures!
c. One with the Father (Jno. 10:30 - “I and the Father are one” … made himself God, 10:33)
d. Jno. 20:28: “My Lord and my God.” (Statement of faith)
(1) ò theos – Definite article (the JWs: Jehovah, the one true God).
(2) Both words addressed to & about Jesus -- & He accepted them both! – Jno. 20:28-29
e. Father testifies that the Son is God – Heb. 1:8-9.
f. The fullness of the Godhead (deity) dwells in Jesus – Col. 2:9.
2. JWs: Firstborn & Son of God means Jesus was created.
“Jesus lived in heaven as a spirit person before he came to earth. He was God’s first creation, and so he is called the “firstborn” Son of God. (Colossians 1:15; Revelation 3:14) Jesus is the only Son that God created by himself. Jehovah used the prehuman Jesus as his “master worker” in creating all other things in heaven and on earth. (Proverbs 8:22-31; Colossians 1:16, 17) God also used him as His chief spokesman. That is why Jesus is called “the Word.”—John 1:1-3; Revelation 19:13.” (“What Does God Require of Us?”, Lesson 3, #1)
-BIBLE: Jesus Christ was not created, but is eternal.
a. Son of God: Equality with God – Jno. 5:17-18; 10:30, 33-36.
(1) “Son of” denotes indicates sameness in nature as – cf. Lk. 10:6; Mk. 3:17.
-“Son of God” does not mean Jesus was created by God any more than disciples are created by peace (Lk. 10:6) or James & John were created by thunder (Mk. 3:17)!
(2) Jesus is Creator, not a created creature – Jno. 1:3; Rev. 3:14; Col. 1:16 (Mic. 5:2).
(3) “Only begotten” – Jno. 1:14 (Heb. 11:17) – Unique, one of a kind.
b. Firstborn: Preeminence – Col. 1:15-18 (cf. Israel, Exo. 4:22).
c. Son is due the same honor as Father – Jno. 5:23.
* JWs deny the Son…they do not have the Father! – 1 Jno. 2:23 (Jno. 12:44-45; 14:9)
C. Doctrine about the Holy Spirit.
-JWs: The Holy Spirit is not God (not deity).
“What, though, is the holy spirit? It is not a person like God. Rather, it is God’s active force.—Psalm 104:30.” (“What Does God Require of Us?”, Lesson 2, #3)
“So the holy spirit is the invisible active force of Almighty God which moves his servants to do his will.” (Let God Be True, p. 108)
“As for the “Holy Spirit,” the so-called “third Person of the Trinity,” we have already seen that it is, not a person, but God’s active force. (Judges 14:6) John the Baptist said that Jesus would baptize with holy spirit even as John had been baptizing with water. Water is not a person nor is holy spirit a person. (Matthew 3:11)” (The Truth that Leads to Eternal Life, 24)
-BIBLE: The Holy Spirit is God (deity).
a. The Holy Spirit is called God – Acts 5:3-4.
b. The Holy Spirit has distinct attributes of personality: Speaks, Acts 1:16; teaches, Jno. 14:26; knowledge, 1 Cor. 2:11; has a will, 1 Cor. 12:11.
c. Attributes of deity: eternal (Heb. 9:14); omniscient (1 Cor. 2:10-11); omnipotence (Mic. 3:8); omnipresence (Psa. 139:7-10).
d. Use of pronouns in NT shows this to be so – Jno. 16:13.
D. Doctrines about Man:
Man does not have an immortal soul.
The dead are unconscious because they no longer exist.
There is no eternal hell (place of eternal punishment).
1. JWs: Man does not have an immortal soul.
-Man is a soul (combination of flesh & breath); man does not have a soul.
“How, then, did the human soul come into existence? By God’s creating the human body from the dust of the ground and combining it with ‘the breath of life.’ This means that the human soul is maintained by breathing the needed air through the nostrils. It does not mean that the human creature, man, is maintained alive by having inside himself an invisible, spiritual, intelligent something called ‘soul’ that can separate from the body at death and that can continue its intelligent, conscious existence in an invisible, spiritual realm, either with angels or with demons.” (Things in Which it is Impossible for God to Lie, 142; cited by Barnett, II:4)
“Whereas the human soul is the living person himself, the spirit is simply the life force that enables that person to be alive. The spirit has no personality, nor can it do the things a person can do. It cannot think, speak, hear, see or feel.
“This spirit or life force is found in all living creatures, being passed on from parents to offspring at the time of conception.
“Because they all have this same life force or spirit, man and the animals die in a similar manner.” (The Truth that Leads to Eternal Life, 39)
* “In order to eliminate the possibility of an eternal spirit suffering eternal punishment, materialists must define the nature of man as physical only.” (Examining Popular Doctrines: Basis Bible Doctrine, Part 4, Robert Harkrider, 68)
-BIBLE: Man is a dual being, having mortal flesh & immortal spirit.
a. Man both is a soul
(1) Man became a living soul (nephesh) – Gen. 2:7 (life force, Gen. 1:20, 30).
(2) Eli’s heart (nephesh) would be grieved – 1 Sam. 2:33. (Not his breath or life force!)
b. Men desire & seek Jehovah with their soul (nephesh) / spirit (ruach) – Isa. 26:9.
c. God formed the spirit (ruach) of man within him – Zech. 12:1.
d. At death, flesh and spirit (ruach) separate – Eccl. 12:7 Jas. 2:26.
e. Jesus identified two parts of humans: body and soul (psuche) – Matt. 10:28:
(1) SOUL here cannot mean the body – it is distinct from the body.
(2) SOUL cannot mean mere fleshly identity, because man kills the body but the SOUL remains.
(3) SOUL is distinct from the body and can live when the body ceases to function (is dead).
f. The spirit is the knowing, conscious part of man – 1 Cor. 2:11.
-It is the mind of man: Paul served God “with my spirit” (Rom. 1:9), and “with the mind” (Rom. 7:25).
2. JWs: The dead are unconscious because death ends existence.
“We see, then, that the human soul is the person himself, and when the person dies, it is the human soul that dies.” (The Truth that Leads to Eternal Life, 37)
“Humans return to dust—to nonexistence—when they die…We cease to exist when we die, but this does not mean that everything is necessarily finished.” (“Should You Be Afraid of Death?”, chap. 2)
“The living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all, neither do they anymore have wages, because the remembrance of them has been forgotten.” (Ecclesiastes 9:5)
“At death the life force eventually leaves all the body cells and the body begins to decay. All conscious thought and actions end. (Psalm 104:29)” (The Truth that Leads to Eternal Life, 41)
-BIBLE: Death does not end existence; there is consciousness after death.
a. Eccl. 9:5: Death ends earthly activity & knowledge of what happens on earth (under the sun, 9:6; 10).
b. Rich man and Lazarus: Consciousness after death – Lk. 16:19-31.
(1) 16:23 – In torments, sight, identity.
(2) 16:24 – Cried, speech, reasoning, pain, desire.
(3) 16:25 – Communication, memory, consequences; Lifetime before death, but he still exists.
(4) 16:26 – Desire.
(5) 16:27-30 – Communication, reasoning with intent.
c. God is not the God of the dead, but the living – Lk. 20:37-38 (Exo. 3:6).
d. Body dies but soul continues to exist – Matt. 10:28.
-“Destroy” (apollumi) means, among other things, “ruin, loss” (Matt. 10:6; 9:17).
e. Day of resurrection: Dead will hear the Son of man (how, if unconscious?) – Jno. 5:28-29.
3. JWs: There is no eternal hell (place of eternal punishment).
(To them, hell is the grave.)
“The doctrine of a burning hell where the wicked are tortured eternally after death cannot be true, mainly for four reasons: (1) It is wholly unscriptural; (2) It is unreasonable; (3) It is contrary to God’s love; and (4) It is repugnant to justice.” (Let God Be True, p. 9; cited by Harkrider, 66)
“Hence the English word ‘hell,’ to conform with the original expression of the condition for the dead and according to its own original meaning, scripturally applied to gravedom, the common grave of all mankind, good and bad alike, in an unconscious state without suffering or pleasure.” (Make Sure Of All Things, p. 155; cited by Harkrider, 66)
-BIBLE: Hell is real, hot & eternal.
a. God promises punishment to the wicked – Rom. 2:6-11.
(1) Everlasting fire – Matt. 25:41.
(2) Either everlasting punishment or life eternal – Matt. 25:46.
(3) Those not written in the Book of Life will be cast into the second death where “they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” – Rev. 20:14-15, 10.
(4) Wicked tormented with fire & brimstone & “have no rest day or night” – Rev. 14:10-11.
(5) God lives “forever and ever” (Rev. 4:9); Torment is “forever and ever” (Rev. 20:10).
-The torment lasts as long as God does!
b. Jesus spoke of hell more than anyone else in the Bible (gehenna, 11 of 12 times by Jesus):
(1) Place of unquenchable fire – Mk. 9:43-48.
(2) Greater destruction than the death of the body – Matt. 10:28.
E. Doctrine about Earth: Paradise on Earth Forever.
“Hence, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the earth will remain forever and that all people, living and dead, who will fit in with Jehovah’s purpose for a beautified, inhabited earth may live on it forever.” (“What do They Believe?”, www.watchtower.org/library/jt/article_03.htm)
“True peace in all areas of life will be realized. Wars, promoters of wars, and the manufacturing of weapons will be things of the past. Why? Because divisive national, tribal, and racial interests will disappear. Then, in the fullest sense, “they will not lift up sword, nation against nation, neither will they learn war anymore.”—Micah 4:3."
“The entire earth will be transformed into a paradise home for mankind. That is why Jesus could promise a man who believed in him: “You will be with me in Paradise.” (“Does God Really Care About Us?,” Part 10)
-BIBLE: Earth will be forever destroyed.
a. JWs assume the earth is eternal, but not God’s will – Gen. 8:22 (inherently suggests will not always remain): "While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, Cold and heat, Winter and summer, And day and night Shall not cease.”
b. 2 Pet. 3:4-13 – Present earth will dissolve; new realm of habitation for the righteous.
(1) 3:4-6 – Old world created by God perished.
(2) 3:7 – Present heavens & earth reserved for fire (day of judgment & destruction of ungodly men).
(3) 3:10 – Elements will melt…earth & its works will be burned up (consumed).
(4) 3:11 – All these things will be dissolved.
(5) 3:12 – Heavens will be dissolved, being on fire…elements will melt with fervent heat.
(6) 3:13 – New habitation of righteousness: Heaven – 1 Pet. 1:4.
-Not just 144,000 “elect class” of JWs doctrine (Rev. 7:1-4 – 144,000 are on earth; 7:9-17 – Great multitude is in heaven!).
III. QUESTIONS FOR JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES:
What name did God give his people in the gospel age: “Christian” or “Jehovah’s Witness”? (Acts 11:26)
Is God’s only name “Jehovah”? (Isa. 9:6; Matt. 28:19)
What must I do to be saved? (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16)
“What, then does Christian baptism signify? It is not a washing away of ones sins, because cleansing from sin comes only through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:7). Rather, it is a public demonstration, testifying that one has made a solemn dedication to Jehovah God and is presenting himself to do His will” (The Truth That Leads To Eternal Life, 183-184).
Did Christ build the “Jehovah Witness” organization? (Matt. 16:18; Acts 2:47; Phil. 1:1)
Does the soul or spirit survive death? (Matt. 10:28; Lk. 16:19-31)
Will all Christians go to heaven or must some stay on earth forever, and is punishment in hell eternal? (Matt. 25:46; 1 Pet. 1:1-5)
1. Jehovah’s Witnesses honor a false God, dishonor the true Christ & hold out a false hope for mankind.
2. Their perversions of the gospel of Christ witness to their lost condition – Gal. 1:8-9.
3. Jesus Christ will save every Jehovah’s Witness who will come out from their error & embrace the truth of His powerful gospel (Rom. 1:16).
Barnett, Maurice, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Volume I & II
_____ Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon of the Old Testament
Gruss, Edmond Charles, Apostles of Denial
Halbrook, Ron, When a “Jehovah’s Witness” Knocks, Guardian of Truth, April 15, 1993, 227-228
Harkrider, Robert, Examining Popular Doctrines: Basis Bible Doctrine, Part 4
Layton, William Wallace, “What is Wrong with Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Organization?”, What is Wrong?
Norman, Tim, Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Deity of Christ, Guardian of Truth, April 15, 1993, 240-244
Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania (www.watchtower.org):
_____, “Does God Really Care About Us?”
_____, Let God be True
_____, Make Sure of All Things
_____, New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures
_____, What Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Believe?
_____, “What Does God Require of Us?”
_____, “Should You Believe in the Trinity?”
_____, The Truth that Leads to Eternal Life