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Jehovah’s Witnesses (Session 46)

Purpose: It is the purpose of this session to acquaint the disciple with a cultish group that has a theistic orientation.

Objectives

1. The disciple will understand the nature and working of a cult.

2. The disciple will understand some elementary things about Jehovah’s Witnesses and how their beliefs differ from biblical Christianity.

3. The disciple will learn some of the ways Jehovah’s Witnesses proselytize.

4. The disciple will learn some approaches that can be used to reach Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Scripture Memory

Absolutely not! Let God be proven true, and every human being shown up as a liar.

Romans 3:4a

Agenda

1. Mutual accountability, sharing and prayer.

2. Discuss the questions.

3. Discuss new terms.

4. Share Scripture memory.

What is a Cult?

There will be three cults that we consider in this section. A definition or description of a cult might be helpful. Although there is no universally adopted definition, there are characteristics of cults that are worth mentioning as we begin this study.

Doctrinal Differences

Cults talk about new revelations from God. Often these revelations come in order to justify teachings (often new to them), and therefore there is a denial of the sole authority of Scripture. Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and The Unity Organization are examples of cults. Grace as a means of salvation is denied, as is the uniqueness of Jesus as the second person of the godhead.

Sociological Differences

There are sociological differences that characterize cultish groups. It is common for cults to engage in proselytizing and practice deception in their use or misuse of terms. Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the International Church of Christ are examples of those who proselytize vigorously.

Authoritarianism

A third characteristic involves authoritarian aspects of cultish groups. They are dogmatic, close-minded, and generally are separatists. Brainwashing takes place in these systems.

Many other things prevail such as immorality and physical abuse. Although we will not deal with the group known as “The Children of God,” David Koresh’s group, or the Way, immorality has persisted in these groups as well as many of today’s cults.

Worksheet

Understanding the Jehovah’s Witness

I. Origin

It is important to identify the worldview of each of the groups we consider. One of the few things that can be said for Jehovah’s Witnesses is that they believe in One God who is supreme in the universe. They are therefore monotheistic. Theists teach that there is One God and He is supreme. He is always referred to as Jehovah. They are quite different from Mormons who are polytheists (believing in many gods), or Unity people who are pantheists (nature is god).

In the middle 1800's a group of Christians sold their worldly goods and ascended up a mountain to wait for the coming of the Lord. When they were mistaken and He didn’t come, one part of the group became Seventh Day Adventists and the other was the group of people from which the “witnesses” came. The latter group didn’t make much of an impact during the late nineteenth century. This changed, however, after “Pastor Russell” experienced a great turn of events. Russell was not a pastor, but because he was often involved in Bible studies, some called him “pastor.” He was a shoe salesman. One night someone came into his store and announced the impending death of a very wealthy man. The dying man was apparently frightened, and thought he was going to suffer eternity in hell. “Pastor Russell” quickly quieted his fears by telling him there was no such place. The man experienced such comfort that he gave his entire fortune to Russell before he died, and hence the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. This organization has contributed abundantly to the growth of the cult. The early name of this group was the Millennial Dawnists. They believe that Christ returned in the spirit and is in the world today. They are now known as the Jehovah’s Witnesses (hereafter referred to as JW’s).

This group practices mind control. They deny all but themselves any place in the world to come with God. They are basically unwilling to listen to the interpretation of Scripture by anyone outside the movement.

II. Major Errors in Jehovah’s Witness’ Teaching

A. Concerning God - His name is Jehovah and only He is from ever lasting to everlasting. They refuse to recognize his other names or attributes.

B. Concerning Christ - He is God’s only Son, and He was the first of all God’s creation. Of course, this is not true. What does John 1:1 say? JW’s translate this “the Word was a god” rather than God. What is the teaching of Colossians 1:15-18?

He was called God by whom? Hebrews 1:8

What did Paul say in Rom. 9:5? If all things were created by Him, how could He be a created being?

In their system, the JW’s claim that Christ was not raised in a physical body, but in a spiritual body. Yet the “spiritual” body could be touched, looked like a man and ate as men ate. See John 21:13 ____________________ and Acts 1:9__________________. He was raised in a physical body, and sits in heaven today at Jehovah’s right hand.

C. Concerning the Holy Spirit and the Trinity - JW’s believe that the Holy Spirit is the “invisible active force of Almighty God” which moves upon men to do God’s will. As such He is not a person and inasmuch as Jesus is a man, a created being, there is no trinity. Biblical teaching gives reasons to believe He is a person and that He is God.

See what He does, and how Scripture speaks of Him:

John 15:26

John 16:13

Eph. 4:30. He can be _______________, therefore He must be a ______________. How can one grieve an influence?

John 16:18. How could this be any other than a person?

Acts 5 - (the story of Ananias and Sapphira)- How does this story speak of the personality and deity of the Holy Spirit? Can someone lie to an influence?

JW’s deny the Trinity. How does Matthew 28:19 teach this doctrine?

D. Sin and The Sin of Adam

According to the JW’s, sin is falling short of God’s command and mark of perfection. Adam forfeited his perfect human life and Jesus came to restore the human perfection. Jesus did not forfeit His life for others. All from Adam are borne in sin, including Jesus. That which is redeemed and brought back is perfect human life.

According to Scripture, all men have missed the mark of God’s perfection. Write Romans 3:23.

Romans 5:12

Christ paid for all my sin when He died, 1 Peter 2:24.

See also Hebrews 10:10-14, and 1 Peter 3:18. What do these passages teach us?

E. Salvation

JW’s teach that only 144,000 will enjoy heaven. Others who are dedicated to God and are faithful in their works will live on the new earth. This will be a reward for their lives in living and surviving Armageddon.

Scripture teaches that salvation is by _____________ through faith, plus_________ since it is a ___________, Ephesians 2:8-9.

F. Eternity

JW’s teach that all who reject their “kingdom message” will be destroyed. There is no hell where the wicked are punished forever. Neither is there consciousness after death. (See reading on “soul sleeping” in the appendix.)

Scripture teaches that souls will exist forever. Punishment for not receiving Jesus is to have the __________ of God _________on them, John 3:36. It would certainly not be stated this way if people only ceased to exist.

Special note:

  • JW’s have no peace. Their hearts are anguished and their minds are closed. They are totally lacking in assurance.
  • If they talk with you, they try to keep the discussion on their terms.
  • JW’s can be won by Christian love and friendship which is difficult but ultimately becomes meaningful to them.
  • When you witness to them or talk with them, be sure you are well-prepared. Their approach is a twisting of Scripture to agree with their teachings.

Questions for Review and Discussion

1. How do the doctrines of JW’s compare with those of Evangelical Christians?

2. What seems to be the best approach when you are confronted with a JW who comes to your door?

3. See if you can formulate a statement that you can use when approached by someone from this cult.

4. What is very important when you are talking with JW’s as far as their eternal fate is concerned?

5. As far as you can see, what are the major differences attitude-wise between a JW and the average Christian?

6. What do JW’s believe about the return of Christ?

Is it possible for a JW to have eternal life?

Why?

7. A young believing evangelical is dating a JW young lady. They are in love. Both are tenacious about their faith but the hormones are overwhelming. They finally are married and consummate their relationship. What problems will they likely face? What biblical commands have they broken?

Summary and Key Concepts

In this session, we have spoken briefly of (1) the nature of a cult, (2) the origin of Jehovah’s Witnesses and the history of their beginnings, and (3) the major errors of their belief system.

JW’s are a cult, a modern day version of an ancient heresy in the early Church. These teachings find their beginning with Arius, who was condemned by the church for rejecting the deity of Christ.

Their major errors are their denial of the deity of Jesus, the personality of the Holy Spirit, their utter rejection of salvation by grace, and their tiered levels of life in eternity. Some of their idiosyncrasies include not saluting the flag, not serving in military service, and not being allowed to receive a blood transfusion.

This rapidly growing cult uses door to door methods as well as street corner activities to get their literature into the hands of primarily untaught Christians of various denominations. Most of those reached are the result of proselytizing those who already have some kind of belief in God.

Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society is the JW’s publishing house. The New World Translation of the Bible is their translation of the Bible.

Because of their system of works and their beliefs about God and the denial of the trinity, which are held to meticulously, we have no fellowship with them. We should, however, seek to win them to Christ.

Suggested Readings:

1. Martin, Walter — The Kingdom of the Cults, Bethany House, 1985. Pg. 38-125

2. Christianity, Cults and Religions — Rose Publishing

Related Topics: Discipleship