The best way to approach a discussion with a Jehovah’s Witness is with questions.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have been well trained in what their governing body (GB) teaches. They can quote scripture verbatim, and yet they have completely missed the point about Jesus; for them salvation is through works. Questions help them think this through to a more biblical conclusion.
Their faith is in the ‘organisation’ which has put itself between them and God. They have been taught that you are wrong and they have the truth – even if that ‘truth’ has changed many times in the 140 years of Watchtower Society (WTS) history!
Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught not to think for themselves but to trust the ‘faithful and discrete slave’ of Matthew 24:45, which they are told is the eight GB members up in New York State, USA. Simply telling them the truth is not enough, they know you’re wrong even if they don’t know why.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught to be the teacher, never the pupil. They won’t accept literature from you despite their aim of convincing you to take one of their books or magazines. How, then, is it possible to get through to them?
There are a number of strategies that can be used. Perhaps the easiest is to ask Jehovah’s Witnesses questions like a pupil asking of a teacher. Having questions in mind also helps ‘break the ice’ when you speak with them; it’s a good opening to begin a discussion.
Don’t expect great results though, they won’t agree with you even if they do see your point. All you can do is sow a seed of doubt and pray that the Holy Spirit will work on them and that the seed will one day bring forth fruit.
There are two types of questions; one that lays a doubt over the validity of the WTS and the other shows them the truth in the Bible. You are sowing doubt and sharing truth. If you haven’t time for both, share truth. Neither will be effective without the power of the Holy Spirit behind it – remember that and remember too that you are just one step in His plan so don’t get discouraged.
Some questions will need to be ‘set up’ and others can just be asked straight away. But Introduce your questions with something like “I read an article in your literature which I found confusing and I would be very grateful if you could explain it for me…”
At suitable points ask them where in the Bible it says what they’re saying. Nod appreciatively, but point out that it doesn’t actually say that – few of their ‘supporting’ scriptures actually say what they want them to say!
Here are ten questions you could try;
1. If you found the Watchtower contradicted the Bible which would you believe?
This is a really just a preparatory question which should have an obvious answer, but it is designed to subtly introduce the idea that there may be a disparity between the Watchtower and the Bible. No doubt the Jehovah’s Witness will respond that this doesn’t happen but try and get an answer from them if you can.
2. How can I gain eternal life?
Questions focusing on salvation principles are to the point and helpful. This is an extremely powerful question to ask, but is best supported by knowing what their answer ‘ought’ to be from WTS literature. Their literature is very contradictory on this matter and does require research to get a grasp of what they’re trying to say.
The route to eternal life for a Jehovah’s Witness is long and tortuous, passing through various stages, with a big final exam at the end that the Bible tells them most will fail!
They are likely to show you John 17 v 3 in which the WTS has changed the phrase “…this IS eternal life…” to “This MEANS eternal life…” to imply that gaining knowledge of God is a prerequisite for eternal life. However, ignoring that deception, you could continue with “How much knowledge do I need?” and continue to probe.
It is unlikely that they will point you to John 3 v 15, 16. These verses will circumvent their theology even though those verses are also mistranslated to add in the phrase “…exercising faith…” rather than “…believe…”
Their salvation is basically through works and being deserving. If you point out that Romans 6 v 23 tells us eternal life is a gift they may respond that it is a gift that Jehovah may take away if we fail to meet His standards.
They will struggle to see that it cannot therefore be a gift but a reward. This discussion of works versus gifts may lead on to the next question which is a good one when you’re short on time.
3. Do You Know if you have Eternal Life?
A Jehovah’s Witness cannot know they have eternal life until the end of the 1000 year reign when they must pass the final ‘test’ set out in Rev 20 v 8. This may come out from discussing the previous question. Having got a definitive ‘no’ answer (which you may struggle to get!) ask them would they be surprised to find that the Bible tells us we definitely can know we have eternal life; then show them 1 John 5 v 13.
They may respond by saying that verse only applies to the 144,000 who they claim will be in heaven – ask them where it says that in the Bible. Point out Jesus’ words in John 5v24, which say ‘anyone’ who hears and believes ‘has eternal life.’ Make sure that verse is planted in their minds with the idea “wouldn’t it be great to KNOW you have eternal life?” before moving on!
4. Do I have to be Jehovah’s Witness to be resurrected on to paradise earth?
Again, this question may follow on form the previous two. Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught the vast majority of people (the ‘great crowd’ of Revelation 7 v 9) will live out eternity on a paradise earth, not in heaven. This includes those who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Their literature supports the resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous to a second chance to gain Jehovah’s favour during Jesus’ 1000 year reign. So this begs the question of what a Jehovah’s Witness achieves in this life, or in fact any action or belief, as we are all resurrected irrespective of our affiliation! See the next question
5. If the unrighteous are resurrected to the paradise earth anyway what did Jesus achieve?
The implication is that whether I follow Christ or not I will be resurrected so what was the point of Jesus dying? They may try and say His death allowed us all to be resurrected. If so ask them where it says that in the Bible and even where it says so in their literature – it doesn’t!
John 3 v 16 (even in their Bible) requires some response to gain eternal life, either belief in Christ or by exercising faith in Christ. The next question is a variation on this theme.
6. The WTS teaches that Jesus’ death was only a sacrifice for Adam’s sin so why does the Bible tell us Jesus died for ALL our sins?
You could point them to some of the following verses; Rom 5 v 15, Rom 4 v 25, 1 Cor 15 v 3, Heb 9 v 28, 1 John 1 v 9 – there are many others. They may well point to 1 Tim 2 v 6 in which their Bible has added the word “corresponding” before “ransom”. This does not appear in the original Greek.
7. Where in the Bible does it say that God’s kingdom is not a kingdom but a government?
The WTS teaches God’s kingdom is not that over which God rules, but a ‘government’ made up of the 144,000 from Rev 7 v 4. If the kingdom were actually a kingdom then they would need to be born again to enter or even see it (John 3 v 3, 5) and Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught that only the 144,000 need to be born again.
They may point you to Daniel 2 v 44 and Isaiah 9 v 6; neither of which show a kingdom is a government. You can link this to John 3 in a warning to remind them that if they’re not born again they will never even see the kingdom let alone enter it!
8. Where in the Bible does it say the 144,000 will rule over the earth?
They may point to Rev 5 v 10 but you can point out that the previous verse identifies those as the great crowd, compare verse 9 to Rev 7 v 9. They may show you Rev 20 v 4 but this again does not mention the 144,000. Don’t dwell too long on this; just allow the question to simmer in them.
9. Why did the WTS become an associate member of the United Nations in 1992 until 2001?
This question is designed to sow a seed of doubt in their minds as to the validity of the WTS’s claim to be the ‘faithful and discrete slave’ by showing its hypocrisy. But before posing this question as an attack on the organisation it is best to prepare the way otherwise the effect can be lost.
Innocently start by asking why Jehovah’s Witnesses are not allowed to participate in political affairs. Then ask if it would be OK for them to join a local political party if it was only to use something like their gym.
Move on to asking them why they hate the UN so much; they claim it is the scarlet beast of Rev 17 v 3. Getting them to confirm first how the UN is so opposed to Jehovah’s kingdom before dropping the bombshell that that the WTS joined it increases the effect.
They may well deny that this actually happened but just ask them to speak with their elders to confirm it or research it themselves. If they refuse to accept this as actually happening perhaps get them to think how they would react if hypothetically it had happened. Leave the question to fester in their minds.
10. Is Jesus Your Mediator with God?
The Bible is clear that there is only one mediator and that is Jesus (1 Timothy 2 v 5)/ The WTS teaches that He is only the mediator for the 144,000 and, in effect, the 144,000 are the mediators for the rest.
The Jehovah’s Witness may answer in the affirmative, but then change their mind when you remind them that the WTS says He isn’t. If so ask them who is their mediator – again leave that one for them to ponder.
When confronted with a question they cannot answer a Jehovah’s Witness is taught to respond either with ‘We’re not here to argue’ or ‘We don’t argue over the meaning of words’. If you come up against these answers it’s time to move on.
Remember you’re not trying to win the argument you’re trying to sow a seed(s) that will one day bear fruit. In a future article we will be suggesting some slightly more controversial questions for when you have more time and resources to hand.