For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. 2 Corinthians 11:4
There are religious groups who say they are ‘Christian’ and use the term ‘Gospel’ who might, on the surface, seem to be saying the same thing as the Holy Bible teaches. A closer inspection of these groups beliefs reveal something that the apostle Paul warned the church at Corinth about.
I share this in light of our recent meeting with two Jehovah’s Witnesses. For more on how those of us who follow a Bible-based Christianity need to grow in our understanding, see one of my previous postings What is the Gospel?
As we sat and had discussion with the two Watchtower members (who by the way greatly downplayed the Watchtower indoctrination and claimed to only be influenced by the Scriptures themselves), I brought up the words of the Lord Jesus who made a definitive statement that He, the Son, should be honoured JUST AS the Father is honoured. He went on to say that whoever does not honour Him does not honour the Father who sent Him (John’s gospel 5:23). I chose to bring up this clear statement of the rank of the Lord Jesus because Jehovah’s Witnesses are blinded to the eternal God-nature of Jesus. The lead Jehovah’s Witness in the discussion sought to downplay the meaning of this strong statement, because to admit that Jesus should have the same honour as God the Father would mean Jehovah’s Witnesses would have to reject Watchtower theology and walk away from their religion. So as this man sought to explain away the meaning of ‘just as’ to downplay the level of honour due to the Lord Jesus, he decided to then focus on something else Jesus said a few verses earlier in the same chapter of John’s gospel. The Lord Jesus stated that
“…the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do…” (v.19).
In order to uphold the false doctrine that Jesus is not of the same status of divinity as the Father, Jehovah’s Witnesses must read into verses like this an alternative meaning than what was intended. Was the Lord Jesus saying He was merely human when He said He can do nothing “of Himself”? Was that really the message He was trying to get across? Not from careful attention to the context! When we understand that the Lord Jesus came from heaven and took on human flesh through His incarnation, then we understand that He was sent, not created at a point in time, then we can grasp the depth of what He meant. The Lord Jesus was declaring that He was not simply a ‘lone ranger’ doing His own thing, but that He actually had the AUTHORITY to do what He did. For Jesus stated that He was able to “see” what the Father was doing. Who can claim such insight or such depth of knowledge of the Father’s works? No-one but the unique Son who said “I and My Father are one.” (John 10:30). Did He mean one in purpose only? More than that! A simple study of the translated Greek term for “one” indicates that He was talking about being one in essence or nature. If the Lord Jesus was simply a created being with special privileges given, He would have been blaspheming. As the Watchtower organisation wants to give the appearance of being a Christian organisation, they cannot be seen to accuse Jesus of blasphemy. Therefore, it’s easier to reinterpret the meaning of “one” as being “of one purpose or accord” although an honest searching of the Scriptures apart from the Watchtower theology would reveal otherwise.
This brings me to another false teaching which came up in our discussion with the Jehovah’s Witnesses – Jesus being the “firstborn”. The lead Jehovah’s Witness in our meeting decided to bring up the following:-
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. Colossians1:15
For those of us whose eyes were opened by the Spirit of God to know who the Lord Jesus really is, the statement above is a wonderful proclamation of His status as God revealed. The Holy Bible makes reference to the ‘firstborn’ within the context of special privileges and inheritance.
However, as Watchtower theology denies who Jesus really is, the false interpretation of the above statement is that Jesus was created before the rest of creation. My response to this in the meeting was that the term “firstborn” carries a wider meaning not specifically related to being physically born or created but to do with rank (position of pre-eminence). The Lord Jesus Christ, being the Son of God sent to rescue sinners, was understood by the first apostles to be firstborn in his rank over creation. For the same chapter of Colossians goes on to declare that all things were created “by Him”.
It should be noted that the Watchtower false doctrines are not a new phenomenon. They are simply a newer version of an older heresy called ‘Arianism’ which was propagated around 4th century AD by a church leader called Arius. Whilst Jehovah’s Witnesses might not agree with being linked to the Arian heresy, there are similarities of doctrine regarding Christ Jesus, see Arianism
People who become Jehovah’s Witnesses are taken through rigorous studies of a corrupt Bible version called the New World Translation along with the Watchtower magazines, so talking with them requires our own confidence in God’s Word from good Bible translations (don’t bother using a questionable paraphrase like ‘The Message’). Some Christians might say “don’t bother wasting time talking to Jehovah’s Witnesses, they’re too indoctrinated”. However, we are clearly taught in the Holy Bible to not take a passive stance:-
Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. Jude 1:3
To “contend earnestly” is to engage in a struggle, a fight for truth. Not a physical fight but a spiritual warring with “the sword of the Spirit” – the word of God is our “sword” to pierce light through the darkness, to pierce false arguments with truth.
Now, a warning. Let us humble ourselves unto God in our understanding of His word, because satan is a master of deception. There have been occasions when individuals have left true, Bible-believing churches and became Jehovah’s Witnesses. I believe this sometimes happens because their personal faith in Christ was not properly grounded in truth and they were not adequately discipled, so they stayed in immaturity in the faith and became easy targets for ‘another gospel’. Sometimes there is a ‘hit and run’ approach to bringing new people to the Christian faith – get them to just say a ‘sinner’s prayer’, tell them to come to Sunday meetings, but no personal discipleship or accountable relationships.
There is a lot more to be said about the false gospel which is being declared by Jehovah’s Witnesses (and other cults which claim to be ‘Christian’), some of which I have previously sought to address through my personal encounters with some of them shared here Witness to Jehovah’s Witnesses. However the subject matter related to answering those who bring “another gospel” is much bigger than my small contribution to the matter. For more in-depth information on what Jehovah’s Witnesses believe, see here jehovahs-witnesses-beliefs
May God give us wisdom and boldness in these dark times.
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