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What Do Jehovah Witnesses Believe?

Today’s Question: Tom, can you explain to me about the beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses? Their beliefs seem kinda weird. Can you please help me to understand their beliefs?

Timothy

Bible Answer: The only things most people know about Jehovah Witnesses is that they don’t salute the flag, participate in holidays or take blood transfusions, and that they are zealous for their religion by going door to door. Many Christians think it is hopeless to share the gospel with Jehovah Witnesses but they are wrong. There are many people in my church that are ex-Jehovah Witnesses. They are easier to win to Christ than you might think.

            I remember a mother and daughter from the Watchtower came to our house to witness to my wife and me. Yet, soon in the conversation, the daughter put down her materials and said, “I am interested in hearing about what you believe.”

            With that open door I proceeded to tell the young woman about Christ and salvation through Him. I pointed out the errors of Jehovah Witnesses and helped her see more clearly the truth of the gospel. Her mother was concerned that her daughter was opened to my words, so she grabbed her daughter by the arm and said, “Let’s go.”

            The daughter turned toward her mother, took the hand off her arm and told her, “You can go if you want, I want to stay here and listen more to what they have to say.” The mother was very upset but stayed. After sharing the gospel for at least an hour, the young woman told us the Kingdom Hall she was a part of and welcomed any call from us. Less than a week later I called asking for her, and they told me that she left the Jehovah Witnesses. Praise God!

            I believe that anyone who would join a fringe religion, and sacrifice so much to be part of the religion, must have a strong desire to please God. You can use their strong desire to point them closer to Jesus Christ.

Make no mistake about it: the Watchtower organization is a false Christian religion. People cannot be saved by embracing what they teach. So how can we convince Jehovah Witnesses about the errors of their faith?

First, we can use the Bible. Thankfully they accept the Bible as the Word of God; however, like all pseudo Christian religions they twist the scriptures to prove their beliefs. 

Second, they need to know the history of their organization. Their organization goes back to the 1870s and started with Charles Russell who founded the “International Bible Students.” He started a magazine called, “Zion’s Watchtower” and wrote six books entitled, “The Millennial Dawn” later changed to “Studies in Scriptures.” He boasted of his books:

"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 (Studies in the Scriptures) aside, even after he has used them, after he has become familiar with them, after he has read them for ten years if he then lays them aside and ignores them and goes to the Bible alone, though he has understood his 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 be in the light at the end of two years, because he would have the light of the Scriptures" (Watch Tower, 15 September 1910, p. 298).

            Jehovah Witnesses argue that their teaching is grounded only in the Bible, but even Russell recognized that if people read the Bible only, they would no longer be followers of his teachings. This statement by the founder is shocking, and so Jehovah Witnesses must recognize that their beliefs do not come from the Bible but from the literature of the Watchtower. If they departed from the literature they would quickly (two years according to Russell) depart from the organization. If their teaching is found in the Bible, then why would Jehovah Witnesses depart from their teachings if they read only the Bible? They would leave because their teachings are not found in the Bible.

            Jehovah Witnesses claim that the Watchtower is God’s prophetic organization; however, they have made numerous predictions that did not come true. The most famous prediction came from the founder himself who said the whole world would see: “the full establishment of the Kingdom of God in earth at A.D. 1914, the terminus of the times of the Gentiles” (Charles Russell, Thy Kingdom Come, 1891, p. 126).

            They even reiterated their view that 1914 would see the return of Christ and the establishment of the Kingdom on earth:

"Now, in view of recent labor troubles and threatened anarchy, our readers are writing to know if there may not be a mistake in the 1914 date.... We see no reason for changing the figures nor could we change them if we would. They are, we believe, God's dates, not ours. But bear in mind that the end of 1914 is not the date for the beginning, but for the end of the time of trouble" (15 July 1894, p. 226).

            When 1914 failed to bring about the cataclysmic change and return of Christ, Judge Rutherford, who became president after Russell’s death in 1916, reinvented the meaning of this prophecy. He declared that Christ indeed did come, but he came “invisibly” and set up headquarters in Brooklyn. I know this is laughable to many Christians, but Jehovah Witnesses are taught to believe that Christ has returned and His kingdom is working through the Watchtower. Judge Rutherford changed the theology of the Watchtower to include this new revelation.

Since that time, Jehovah Witnesses, read scriptures in light of this new-founded truth. Never mind that Rutherford was simply trying to stop a mass exodus of disciples with this creative invention, yet Jehovah Witnesses have embraced this inventive theology—that Jesus established His Kingdom in Brooklyn on 1914.

            Another important concept of their teaching was that only 144,000 Christians could be of the “anointed class” and rule in heaven. Since the Watchtower was growing and coming close to reaching that number, Judge Rutherford brought another new invention to the Watchtower. On May 31, 1935, He declared at a Washington, DC Convention of Jehovah Witnesses, that anyone coming into the organization after May 31, 1935, would comprise an earthly class called the “Great Crowd.” It is their view that the 144,000 “anointed class” will rule in heaven over the earthly class. From this concept, Jehovah Witnesses do not believe anyone can be born again anymore, because they have been taught that the full 144,000 heavenly saints have already been filled.

So when you try to witness to JWs about being born again, they do not see it possible for anyone today to be born again. Yet, I have pointed out to Jehovah Witnesses that the number 144,000 is a symbolic number. I sometimes ask people, how did the Apostle John know there were a 144,000? After looking at the scriptures carefully they finally know the answer: Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel” (Rev 7:4).

            He “heard” the number! Correct. But what did he “see”?  “After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb” (Rev 7:9).

            John is seeing the same group called a 144,000 and he says that they could not be numbered. The first part of the vision of him hearing the number is meant to convey the complete number of true believers [12 apostles multiplied by 12 sons of Israel multiplied by 1,000 (complete number) equals 144,000]. But the second part of the vision of him seeing is meant to convey that even Gentiles are part of God’s Kingdom and that the number is greater than you can imagine. He was not saying there were two classes of disciples. The bad interpretation of Rutherford has put current Jehovah Witnesses under the delusion that they can never be born again or be filled with the Spirit, because these privileges are for the special 144,000 club. 

            The Watchtower departs from Biblical teaching when it comes to many important truths such as:

1. The Trinity (they say it was invented by the Catholic Church)

2. Salvation by grace (they believe works are necessary)

3. Jesus crucified on the cross (they say it was a stake)

4. Jesus deity (they believe He was the archangel Michael)

5. The bodily resurrection of Jesus (they believe he was raised a spirit)

6. Eternal judgment (they deny hell)

7. The need to be born again (they believe they cannot be born again).

It is not the scope of this article to refute each and every false belief of Jehovah Witnesses, but rest assured their beliefs are easily refuted by the Bible.

Timothy I hope I have answered your question. More importantly it is possible to lead Jehovah Witnesses to the Lord; you just need to know a little about them so you know where they are coming from.

I also know that many Jehovah Witnesses will be reading this article. If you are a Jehovah Witness I know you are seeking the truth or you probably would not have come to this site. I encourage you to write me and I will do my best to lead you to salvation. You can be born again!

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