A. Who Are They, and Who Are Their Leaders?
The Jehovah's Witnesses (JW's ) are a religious sect begun by Charles Taze Russell in the 1870's. To develop their peculiar teachings, Russell drew from the teachings of the Seventh Day Adventists and his own interpretation of the Bible to establish the cult as we know it today. Through aggressive, door-to-door proselytizing and authoritarian leadership, the group has grown to 4.5 million members in 180 countries.
The leadership of this organization is also known as the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. This small group of men wields absolute authority over its members - from a small house in New York called Bethel. To date they have had four presidents: Charles Taze Russell (1972-1916); Joseph Rutherfuord (1917-1942); Nathan Knorr (1942-1977); and Frederick Franz (1978-present. These presidents are viewed as having "direct access" to Jehovah and for proclaiming Jehovah's "wishes" to their followers.
- Russell - believed that you could not hope to understand the Scriptures without his book, "Studies in the Scriptures." He said, "You cannot see the divine plan of God by studying the Bible by itself." He believed to study the Bible alone leads one to darkness and heresy - he claimed to have had "inspiration" in the writing of the book.
- Rutherford - believed the organization became more authoritative under his command. Rutherford changed, and denied hundreds of Russell's teachings. He justified these "revelations" by claiming a "progressive revelation." Thousands left the organization when Rutherford did this.
- Knorr - grew the organization from 105,000 to 2.5 miliion members, with stresses on training the Jehovah's Witnesses to be more agressive in their evangelism. A new Bible translation was produced under him - New World Translation.
- Franz - the era of crisis, many thousands have been hurt and left the Jehovah's Witnesses, yet they continue to grow, especially in the 3rd world.
B. What Attracts People To Their Cause?
Many people are attracted to their cause because of their claim to have authorative answers to life's problems. They do this through: claims to offer divine guidance, claims to provide genuine solutions to life; stress moral and family values.
The appeal to people who are looking for answers, who are freightened about the future, and who are tired of the lack of morals in our society.
A. What do they believe about Jesus?
The Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Jesus Christ was the first creation of God, the Archangel Michael. They believe that this archangel was changed into the man Jesus, thus ceasing to be an angel. Later, this man Jesus was changed into a new and improved immortal angel and this happened after God recreated the dead Jesus after his death. They believe that he "had a beginning" and was actually a "creature of God." They therefore reject the Deity of Jesus Christ. They believe that Christ, "...received immortality as a reward for faithful service to God." They believe that his identity has been "altered" - the believe Jesus needs a "demotion" !
Refutation: The Bible clearly teaches that although Jesus is fully man, He is also fully God (John 1:1; 5:18; 10:30; 20:28; Colossians 2:9; Philippians 2:1-8) These verses, and others, teach that Christ is, as God, eternal, not created. The NWT blatantly mistranslates these verses! The Bible also teaches that Jesus was already immortal and could never have ceased to exist. We know that He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8); neither did He have to earn His own salvation because he is and was always sinless (Hebrews 4:15). Russell said that Jesus is, "...dead, forever dead." But it seems like the Apostle Paul disagrees with this in 1 Timothy 2:5. The "Christ" of the Jehovah Witness is clearly not the Christ of the Bible!
B. What do they believe about God, and the Trinity?
- They believe that the God of Christianity is a false and Satanic counterfeit of the one true God, Jehovah. Russell said, "We see God as a single person, not in a single being in whom are united three persons, as Christians view God."
- They reject the doctrine of the Trinity, and believe we teach that there are three Gods.
- They misrepresent what we do believe about the trinity, and appeal to "human reasoning" in their judgment of God's Word.
Refutation: I would like us to look at a series of questions to refute this Jehovah Witness teaching:
- Who raised Jesus from the dead? The Father (Romans 6:4); the Son (John 2:19-21); The Holy Spirit (Romans 8:11).
- Who Does the Bible say is God? The Father (Ephesians 4:6); The Son (Titus 2:13); The Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3,4).
- Who created the world? The Father (John 14:2); The Son (Colossians 1:16,17; John 1:1-3); The Holy Spirit (Genesis 1:2).
- Who saves/regenerates man? The Father (1 Peter 1:3); The Son (John 5:21); The Holy Spirit (John 3:6)
C. What do they believe about salvation?
The Jehovah Witnesses believe that there are three classes of people who will be saved by their good works. But each one of these classes is working to gain a different salvation:
- Small group of Jehovah's Witnesses called the 144,000. Only these are elected by God for special spiritual privileges. They teach that these saints are "presently justified" which they would teach can be broken at any moment by disobedience to God. They teach that Justification is for these select few only. They believe that being "born again" is being water baptized - they teach that Jesus was born again at His baptism.
- The second class includes all other Jehovah's Witnesses called, "other sheep" who cannot be "justified" or "born again". At death God does not recreated these people into "spirit beings" but rather recreates only their physical bodies to live only on the earth. These people are told that they will be ruled over by Jesus (Michael the Archangel) and the 144,000 "super" Jehovah's Witnesses!
- The third class includes non-Jehovah's Witnesses who have lived good enough lives to be given the opportunity to earn salvation after death (Hebrews 9:27) - All who are worthy of this "second chance" will be recreated by Jehovah to live in the new Millenium if they attain perfection during it.
Refutation: Not one of these teachings is biblical! Let's look at a few passages:
- Salvation is not of works (Ephesians 2:8,9)
- Salvation is free to all who believe (Acts 4:12; John 3:16; Galatians 1:6-8)
- Jesus declares o all, "Ye must be born again." (John 3:3-18)
- Salvation cannot be gained or maintained by personal works of righteousness (Galatians 2:16,21).
- Salvation is to those who trust in the finished work of Christ through repentance and faith (Luke 18:9-14; Romans 3:22; John 5:24)
Hundreds of mistranslations abound in the New World Translation of the Scriptures, with obvious Jehovah's Witnesses bias. Dr. Mantey said, "I have never read any New Testament so badly translated as the New World Translation (NWT). In fact, it is not a translation at all. Rather it is a distortion of the New Testament."
Titus 2:13: "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ." - KJV
Titus 2:13: "While we wait for the happy hope and glorious manifestation of the great God and of [the] Savior of us, Jesus Christ" - NWT
Why do this? They want to deny the deity of Jesus Christ! By adding, besides other things, the "the," they are obscuring the fact that Paul is declaring Jesus Christ our Savior is God!
Colossians 1:17, "And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist." - KJV
Colossians 1:17, "Also, He is before all [other] things and by means of Him all [other] things were made to exist." - NWT
Why do this? Everyone agrees these verses speak of Jesus! Inserting the word "other" twice means that they are implying that Christ Himself is not the Creator! Greek word here is "panta" - meaning "all things" not "all other things."