2011 – 2 – Jehovah’s Witnesses and Jesus

In a recent online Dialogue with a Jehovah’s Witness it reminded me just how convinced they are that Jesus is not God and is not alone sufficient for their salvation.

This Jehovah’s Witness’s argument centred around John 17:3 a very well used verse by them which says: This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

Or in the New World translation, used by Witnesses, it says: This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.

The difference is very telling. In our Bibles we know Him; in their Bibles they have a knowledge of Him. However the point he was making was that the Father is the only true God, meaning Jesus is not God. The purpose of this article will be to look at how the Jehovah’s Witnesses represent Jesus and some of the things He said about salvation, and how the Bible represents these things. The purpose of this is not that we would be able to simply win arguments against Jehovah’s Witnesses but that we would show them that Jesus is their only hope. That salvation is not from any religious movement but rather it is from knowing Christ personally, and placing their hope in Him, in all of His divine sufficiency.

Looking at the article ‘Is God Always superior to Jesus’ in the ‘Should you believe the Trinity’ manual by the Jehovah’s Witness organisation, we see this argument they make further developed.

2 Corinthians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of tender mercies and the God of all comfort, (NWT)

As well as in

1 Timothy 5:21 I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus and the chosen angels to keep these things without prejudgment, doing nothing according to a biased leaning. (NWT)

The argument we see developing is that because Jesus Christ is talked about separately from God then the watchtowers argument that they are separate and are not at all one God comes out.

In the Article “Who is Jesus Christ?” on Watchtower.org it says this:

Jesus is Jehovah’s most precious Son—and for good reason. He is called “the firstborn of all creation,” for he was God’s first creation. (Colossians 1:15) There is something else that makes this Son special. He is the “only-begotten Son.” (John 3:16) This means that Jesus is the only one directly created by God. Jesus is also the only one whom God used when He created all other things. (Colossians 1:16) Then, too, Jesus is called “the Word.” (John 1:14) This tells us that he spoke for God, no doubt delivering messages and instructions to the Father’s other sons, both spirit and human.

12 Is the firstborn Son equal to God, as some believe? That is not what the Bible teaches. As we noted in the preceding paragraph, the Son was created. Obviously, then, he had a beginning, whereas Jehovah God has no beginning or end. (Psalm 90:2) The only-begotten Son never even considered trying to be equal to his Father. The Bible clearly teaches that the Father is greater than the Son. (John 14:28; 1 Corinthians 11:3) Jehovah alone is “God Almighty.” (Genesis 17:1) Therefore, he has no equal.

This hints at a heresy called Adoptionism which says that Jesus became the Son of God or the Christ at His baptism as opposed to ‘That’s what He was anyway.’

We see a very strong leaning within Jehovah’s Witness thinking towards Jesus just being a man, a man with a high position, but just a man.

This is also shown in how they interpret this verse in John.

Notice that Jesus prays to One whom he calls “the only true God.” He points to God’s superior position when he continues: “So now you, Father, glorify me alongside yourself with the glory that I had alongside you before the world was.” (John 17:5) Since Jesus prayed to God requesting to be alongside God, how could Jesus at the same time be “the only true God”?

As well as this in reasoning from the Scriptures, the book that every Jehovah’s Witness carries with them in their ministry tells that they believe Jesus is Michael the archangel. They base this on 1 Thessalonians 4:16 with the shout of Jesus being referred to as the archangel’s call. Also in Revelation, with it describing Jesus and Michael the archangel (separately) as going to war against Satan and his wicked angels. (Rev 12:7-12 and 19:11-16)
 

What the Watchtower organisation has done is to bring Jesus down from being God to not being quite a man but rather a high angel, this could help explain how they see Him as a god but not God.

In Watchtower articles they have repeatedly looked at the verses talking about the human side of Jesus and not made equal use of the verses talking about the divine side of Jesus. When Christ was on the earth He came to demonstrate what we needed to see in order to live a Godly life and to follow Him. In doing this He stepped down from His glorious position as God at the right hand of the Father, Philippians 2 explains this:

Philippians 2:4-8

Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Jesus emptied Himself of His glorious position to take the form of a bondservant. Who did He take the form of a bondservant of? The answer is His Father. Jesus took the form and role of a servant of His Father and when on the earth that is exactly the role He performed.

Interestingly the key part of the New Testament that comes to mind clearly referring to Jesus as God comes from the mouth of God the Father.

Hebrews 1:8-9

But of the Son He says,
         “YOUR THRONE, O GOD, IS FOREVER AND EVER,
         AND THE RIGHTEOUS SCEPTER IS THE SCEPTER OF HIS KINGDOM.
    9″YOU HAVE LOVED RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HATED LAWLESSNESS;
         THEREFORE GOD, YOUR GOD, HAS ANOINTED YOU
         WITH THE OIL OF GLADNESS ABOVE YOUR COMPANIONS.

What I want to do here is show that Jesus Christ is absolutely 100% God. He is just as much God as the Father is; however, Jesus became a man. When He became a man He humbled Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant and did not grasp His equality with God.

This grasping does not mean He did not try and gain equality with God, but rather it means He did not keep hold of the equality with God that He already had. In Hebrews 1 we see God the Father restore Christ to His rightful position. Many cults have seen Christ’s exaltation after His work on the earth to be a kind of promotion as a reward for His good works on the earth. This is totally incorrect. In reality Christ is as glorious now as He ever was. Our salvation comes from just calling on His name in a cry of genuine faith. This kind of power can only be found in God.

In John 1:1-3 we see that Jesus is the Word, who was with God and is God and created all things.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning wit
h God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being (NASB)

In the Watchtower’s New World Translation we see this key difference.

In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.  This one was in [the] beginning with God. All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence.

Jesus steps down from being God, to a god. Interestingly in the Watchtower’s own Greek interlinear version it puts it like this.

In beginning was the Word and the Word was toward the God, and god was the word. This (one) was in beginning toward the God. All (things) through him came to be, and apart from him came to be not-but one (thing) which has come to be.

In my Greek interlinear it puts the exact translation like this.

In [the] beginning was the Word, and the Word was with  – God, and God was the Word. This one was in [the] beginning with – God. All things through him became, and without him became not one thing which has become.(Interlinear NASB-NIV)

The only difference of note is that the Watchtower version says toward the God, and my version says with God. However, even the Watchtower interlinear version does say that the word Jesus was (or is) God. Which creates problems when you look at the version most Witnesses will be paying attention to, saying a god.

Moving on, this chapter in John is essential in seeing that Christ is God, He created ALL things. If He was a created being this would not work as He would have had to create Himself,

Colossians 1:16 says

For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created through Him and for Him.(NASB)

All things have been created through Him and for Him. What does ‘for Him’ mean? We see the answer in verse 18.

He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.

So that He will have first place in EVERYTHING, this means so that He gets all the glory from the Church. We see many times in the Old Testament that when God acts, He acts primarily for His glory. God’s first priority is, always has been, and always will be that He may be glorified and be shown to be how great He is.

Isaiah 43:7

God has made us for His glory

Everyone who is called by My name,
And whom I have created for My glory,
Whom I have formed, even whom I have made.”

Jeremiah 13:11

For as the waistband clings to the waist of a man, so I made the whole household of Israel and the whole household of Judah cling to Me,’ declares the LORD, ‘that they might be for Me a people, for renown, for praise and for glory; but they did not listen.’

Isaiah 48:9-11

    For the sake of My name I delay My wrath,
         And for My praise I restrain it for you,
         In order not to cut you off.
    Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;
         I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.
    For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act;
         For how can My name be profaned?
         And My glory I will not give to another.

God, being the most glorious being in existence rightfully hold’s Himself and His glory above all.

Isaiah 42:8

I am the LORD, that is My name;
I will not give My glory to another,
Nor My praise to graven images

God would never allow glory that is His to be given to another, He would never do something as amazing as open the gospel to the whole world and allow the glory to go to a created being, an angel. This is what the Jehovah’s Witnesses say is happening. If Jesus, Michael the archangel in human form, is at the head of the Church, it would be idolatry to the highest level and the God we see in Isaiah would have nothing to do with it.

Jesus is God because the Church exists for His glory, and because ALL things have been created through Him and for Him, so that He gets the glory, so that God gets the glory because He is God.

What we see in the New Testament is Jesus perfectly showing how we should live, perfectly living in humble submission to God the Father, who was His God as there is no other God. Jesus had not grasped His equality with God, which He clearly has, but He emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant so that we may know Him personally. How amazing! Today thank God for this amazing grace and pray you get the opportunity to share this with anyone who does not know it.

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