We take precautions in our every day lives by avoiding suspicious emails, covering the keypad when purchasing an item, and peer over our shoulder at the ATM making sure to keep your pin code safe. One of the greatest crimes today is identity theft!
Identity theft has to be one of the most difficult situations a person can face. The victim must fight to regain their identity, the same can be said when speaking of Jesus Christ. His identity has been hijacked since the days of the apostles. Paul the apostle warned the church in Corinth not to fall for “another Jesus” (2 Corinthians 11:4).
Who is the Jesus of the Watchtower? Today we’re going to focus on this “Jesus” by examining an article from their bible questions answered page (“Believe in Jesus”—Is Belief in Jesus Enough for Salvation?).
All world religions including non-Christian cults teach a person cannot inherit salvation simply by trusting in Christ. For cultist simply trusting in Christ seems too easy, therefore, in the mind of the Jehovah’s Witness, they can’t comprehend the simplicity which is in Christ.
The Bible’s Answer
“Christians believe that Jesus died for the sins of humankind. (1 Peter 3:18) However, salvation requires more than believing in Jesus as Savior. The demons know that Jesus is “the Son of God,” but they face destruction, not salvation. Luke 4:41; Jude 6.” — Watchtower (Bible Questions Answered)
The Watchtower claims “salvation requires more than believing in Jesus as Savior” the Watchtower teaches a works-based salvation which cannot save anyone. Let’s see what the scriptures have to say about this?
Starting with the apostles it’s known unto us that salvation is a work of God, not us, and salvation is granted to the hell-bound sinner the moment they place their trust in Christ. There are multiple verses proving we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9).
The Bible says salvation is not by works, salvation is only made possible by trusting in Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. When verses such as Ephesians 2:8-9 are shown to a Jehovah’s Witness, they immediately resort to Bible hopscotch. One Jehovah’s Witness “proof text” for a works-based salvation is found in the book of James.
The zealous Jehovah’s Witness will quote half the verse saying “faith without works is dead”. At first glance, it seems as if James is contradicting Paul but that’s not the case. The scriptures cannot contradict themselves, If we read the surrounding text we will get the context to James 2:20.
James 2:18-19 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
Please note “Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works”, the context shows a man to man situation whereas one man says he has faith. The other says he will prove his faith by his works. These verses are in no sense portraying a man being justified by works in the sight of God on the contrary. These verses are teaching a believer will produce works as a byproduct of their faith in the presence of men. Not that their works is a means to obtaining salvation.
When we re-read the Jehovah’s Witnesses “proof text” now the verse makes sense and its clear that James doesn’t contradict Paul in saying:
This is what cults do, they take verses out of context in order to indoctrinate individuals. When reading James chapter 2 we must understand the background. James then goes on to explain how Abraham was justified.
James 2:21-23 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
James tells us Abraham was justified because of his faith which brought about Abraham’s works. Abraham’s faith produced works because he “believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness”.
The Watchtower then gives a list of questions about how is one saved and the “sinner’s prayer”. They pose the question by the Philippian jailer “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:25-31).
Here’s what the Watchtower says one must do in order to be saved. First point they make is believing that Jesus sacrificed Himself for our sins+believe what the Bible says in regards to Him is accurate.
You must believe that Jesus sacrificed his life for our sins. (Acts 16:30, 31; 1 John 2:2) This includes believing that Jesus was a real person and that all of what the Bible account says about him is accurate. — Watchtower (Bible Questions Answered)
Strange that the Watchtower says salvation is contingent on “believing that Jesus was a real person and that all of what the Bible account says about him is accurate”. This is strange to say, obviously when an individual is saved they believe Jesus is a real person and God’s word is true. But notice how they make it about working for salvation.
They said “and that all of what the Bible account says about him is accurate“, just as was mentioned earlier, just trusting in the finished works of Christ is too difficult for cults to accept.
The second requirement for salvation according to the Watchtower is “learning what the Bible really teaches”.
Learn what the Bible really teaches. (2 Timothy 3:15) The Bible says that the apostle Paul and Silas told a jailer: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will get saved.” Then, after that, they began to teach “the word of Jehovah” to the jailer. (Acts 16:31, 32) This indicates that the jailer could not truly believe in Jesus unless he had a basic understanding of God’s Word. He needed accurate knowledge based on the Scriptures.—1 Timothy 2:3, 4. — Watchtower (Bible Questions Answered)
The reason the Watchtower says a requirement for salvation is “learning what the Bible really teaches” is because they trick people into believing they need to be associated with the organization in order to be savable. Take a look at this quote from them.
“But Jehovah God has also provided his visible organization, his “faithful and discreet slave”, made up of spirit-anointed ones, to help Christians in all nations to understand and apply properly the Bible in their lives. Unless we are in touch with this channel of communication that God is using, we will not progress along the road to life, no matter how much Bible reading we do.” Watchtower 1981 Dec 1 p.27
This quote is essentially places the Watchtower organization in the position only Jesus Christ posses. Without straightly saying you must be part of the Watchtower organization to have salvation because the Bible according to them is not sufficient.
The third requirement for salvation according to the Watchtower is you must “repent or feel a deep sorrow”.
Repent. (Acts 3:19) You must also repent, or feel deep sorrow, over previous wrong attitudes and conduct. Your repentance will be obvious to others as you stop practices that offend God and do “works that befit repentance.”—Acts 26:20. — Watchtower (Bible Questions Answered)
When one places their trust in Jesus Christ for salvation that person(s) has already repented. They’ve “changed their mind” from dead works (Hebrews 6:1, Hebrews 9:14) to then being a follower of Christ. Repentance doesn’t mean to “feel a deep sorrow” as the Watchtower defines it. Repentance means to have a change of mind.
μετάνοια metánoia, met-an’-oy-ah; from G3340; (subjectively) compunction (for guilt, including reformation); by implication, reversal (of (another’s) decision):—repentance.
Thayer’s Greek Lexicon
μετάνοια, μετανοίας, ἡ (μετανοέω), a change of mind: as it appears in one who repents of a purpose he has formed or of something he has done.
The fourth requirement a Jehovah’s Witness must complete for salvation is baptism. Is it now apparent how the Watchtower by placing these “requirements” on its members is making them try to obtain salvation by their own means?
Get baptized. (Matthew 28:19) Jesus said that those who become his disciples would be baptized. The jailer mentioned earlier was baptized. (Acts 16:33) Similarly, after the apostle Peter taught a large crowd the truth about Jesus, “those who gladly accepted his word were baptized.”—Acts 2:40, 41.— Watchtower (Bible Questions Answered)
We have many accounts of people getting saved, and when the apostles recognized a person professed faith in Jesus Christ, they were immediately baptised on the spot.
Unlike the Watchtower before they baptise you you must have a few months of study answer about 80 questions. When they finally baptise they will ask (1) On the basis of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, have you repented of your sins and dedicated yourself to Jehovah to do his will? (2) Do you understand that your dedication and baptism identify you as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in association with God’s spirit-directed organization? Having answered yes to these questions, candidates are in a right heart condition to undergo Christian baptism.” Watchtower 1985 Jun 1 p.30
This is not the same as what’s shown in the scriptures, the Watchtower removes “the Holy Spirit” and inserting themselves between the person seeking salvation and Christ. Therefore the baptism a Jehovah Witness goes through is not valid. The fifth requirement put forth is to Obey Jesus’ instructions.
Obey Jesus’ instructions. (Hebrews 5:9) Those who “observe all the things” that Jesus commanded show by their life course that they are his followers. (Matthew 28:20) They become “doers of the word and not hearers only.”—James 1:22. — Watchtower (Bible Questions Answered)
It goes without saying a Christian obeys Jesus Christ but the Bible never teaches a person must first obey the “instructions” of Jesus in order to have salvation. According to the book of Romans, it shows that those who haven’t been converted are at enmity against God and are not subject to His law.
ἔχθρα échthra, ekh’-thrah; feminine of G2190; hostility; by implication, a reason for opposition:—enmity, hatred.
Therefore, how can the unregenerate man/woman obey the instructions of Jesus Christ not yet having the Holy Spirit which enables the person to submit to God’s moral law? The answer is they cannot.
The reason why the Watchtower points to “obeying Jesus instructions” is they allude to a fallacious belief that one must “take in knowledge” as a prerequisite to obtaining salvation. The Watchtower has convinced the general rank in file member to believe this by taking John 17:3 and translating the text differently from all other Bibles to read “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ”. Notice “taking in knowledge of you”.
There’s a vast difference between “taking in knowledge of you” and “that they might know you”, one is just knowing the other is having a relationship. The Watchtower doesn’t want its members to have a relationship with God, they want them to be dependant on the organization. The sixth requirement is Endure to the end.
Endure to the end. (Mark 13:13) Jesus’ disciples “need endurance” in order to be saved. (Hebrews 10:36) For example, the apostle Paul maintained strict obedience to Jesus’ teachings and loyalty to God, and he endured in this course from the day he became a Christian until he died.—1 Corinthians 9:27. — Watchtower (Bible Questions Answered)
The Watchtower doesn’t understand that (Mark 13:13) is referring to the tribulation period, reading in context the previous verses speak of those willing to betray believers delivering them to magistrates (the authorities) being put to death. Why is this occurring? The scriptures say in those days believers in Christ will be preaching the Gospel around the world (Mark 13:10).
As for the book of Hebrews, understanding the background helps us to get the context. This general epistle was written to Jewish believers who were facing persecution because they chose to follow Christ instead of Judaism. It was written in a style to remind the Jews who now professed faith in Christ that the former things they used to place their trust in (works based religious system) cannot save them.
The past experience they had in Judaism and now turning away from that religion by placing faith in Christ brought persecution to those Jewish believers. The Watchtower takes such verses to enforce works for salvation. Hence the reason they’re always out with their witnessing carts and recording time or going “door to door”, the Jehovah’s Witness must continually work hard in trying to merit salvation. But if you ask them if they know they’re saved they cannot say with certainty that they have salvation because they have no assurance.
Salvation is by trusting in Jesus Christ alone, He has completed all the work required and said “it is finished”.
Lastly, the Watchtower mentions the “Sinner’s Prayer”, unfortunately, some people have fallen for this teaching. Not all Christians believe in this, what we do believe is God draws (John 6:44) and leads the individual to repentance (Romans 2:4). The person drawn to Christ will come to an understanding they have sinned against God and will see the need for Christ as their Saviour by placing their trust in Him and thus being saved.