I met with My Jehovah’s Witness buddy for the first time in more than a month. We had not met for so long because I was on a mission trip in Utah and then he was on vacation. It was good to see him again and after a half hour of catching up with each other, we jumped right back into our study. This meeting was different than all of our previous meetings because this time, he brought his son. I immediately recognized that the dynamic change could be fatal to our discussion so I had to be careful. The questions I ask are not easy questions and we sometimes get pretty deep into our discussions. No man wants to be viewed as “losing in a discussion” in front of his son (JW#2).
This young man was polite, respectful and listened, but did not contribute much to our conversation. When I felt it was appropriate, I included JW#2 is our discussion because I know what it is like to be a kid tagging along and listening to adult conversations, bored out of my skull. The poor kid had to dress up in nice clothes and a tie instead of being outside playing with his friends during his summer vacation.
We started our discussion in paragraphs 16-17 of the, “Teach” book. In this paragraph there are a number of interesting descriptions of Jehovah that are also true of Jesus. I didn’t want to jump into the Deity of Christ with him yet, but I did want to make note of the descriptions and “stuff my aces” for the future. I’ll share my thoughts with you here though.
The book states that, “Jehovah alone is referred to as ‘the Almighty,’” refers to Jehovah as “King of Eternity,” and that Jehovah, “created all things.” As we were reading through these two paragraphs, I could not help but think about the verses which also apply these characteristics to Jesus. For instance, Hebrews 1:3 says that Jesus, “upholds all things by the word of His power.” If He can uphold all things by His power, then that would make Him all-powerful. What is the difference between being all-powerful and almighty? None. The description “King of Eternity” reminds me of Isaiah 9:6 where Jesus is called, “Eternal Father.” That phrase literally means that He is the Father of eternity or in other words, all eternity flows from Him.
Lastly, according to John 1:3 of the New World Translation (NWT), “All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence.” It isn’t very often that the NWT is clearer than recognized translations. I actually like the translation here better than most translations. The problem for Jehovah’s Witnesses though is that is disagrees with what the Watchtower says the Bible teaches. Apart from Jesus, not even one thing came into existence. It wasn’t time to show these things to my Witness friend yet, but one day we will discuss it.
The three of us would take turns reading the paragraph and then my buddy would read the questions at the bottom of the page. I am supposed to just parrot back the answer from the paragraph, but like I have mentioned before, I don’t like to have my answers provided for me so I answer the question the way I really believe and not according to what the book dictates. This is good for a couple of reasons. First, it tells the Witness that I am thinking on my own and second, it gets them outside of the book and listening to what you are saying instead of what the Watchtower wants them to hear. When I give them my own answers, it is an invitation for them to join me in reflection about what God’s Word really says.
My Witness buddy spent quite some time talking about how Jehovah is Almighty. The book asks what we can learn about the aforementioned titles so I used that opportunity to plant some seeds for future opportunities. I started talking about how God is completely beyond our understanding of Him. I focused on the title, “King of Eternity” and expressed trouble in really understanding what that means. To think about how God had always existed is mind boggling.
To give him an idea of what I was getting at, I told him the true story about my first deep thought. I was three or four years old and was walking in the backyard with my mother. She told me that God knew what I was going to do, even before I did it. I thought that was amazing, but then asked, “What if I change my mind?” My mother blew my mind and answered, “God knew you were going to change your mind.” I was completely dumbfounded. I still struggle to really understand that to this day.
I also told my Witness friend that I have had conversations with atheists who reject these kinds of ideas because it doesn’t make sense to them. I told him that it is unreasonable to reject something simply because one does not understand it. He agreed with me. We talked about how impossible it is for something finite to understand the infinite and that God is not limited to our understanding of Him. Again, he agreed with everything I was saying.
What he does not see coming is that I will one day apply that same principle to the doctrine of the Trinity. Jehovah’s Witnesses HATE the doctrine of the Trinity. One of the main reasons they reject it is because they think the doctrine is unreasonable. When we talk about atheists rejecting something because they don’t understand it, he agrees with me, but he will have trouble with that idea once I apply it to what the Watchtower teaches. Since I know we will one day get back on to the doctrine of the Trinity, I will take advantage of a chance to help him understand the point. I am always on the look-out for opportunities to prepare for discussions down the road.
When we got to paragraph 19 my friend asked the question at the bottom of the page, “How can we begin to draw close to God, and with what benefit?”
KW: And what?
JW1: And with what benefit.
KW: What benefit? I don’t like to think about that.
KW: I don’t want to think about getting close to God because of some benefit.
JW1: That’s true, but there are benefits.
KW: There are, but I don’t like to think about it.
(JW2 giggled at this)
JW1: Well, that is a nice attitude to have.
KW: If I start to think about the benefits, now I have to worry about my motives and I don’t want to have to worry about that.
Even though my Witness friend agreed with me, he still felt like he needed to establish the point made in the study book that there are benefits to knowing God and brought up verse related to this point. I brought up James 4:2-3, “You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.” I said that many people, Christians included, like to dream about what they would do with $1,000,000 instead of how they could honor God with that money. I was not making my case against the benefits there are in following God, I was making the point that if Christians obey God for the benefits, then we are doing so in vain. If our motives are wrong, then we are not worshipping God. We are worshipping what we can get from following God.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have the view that anyone outside of the Watchtower is “worldly” and influenced by Satan. By making the point I made about motives, this communicates a deeper commitment to righteousness that they are not use to seeing in non-Witnesses. If anything, it helps the Witness want to continue to meet with you simply because they are intrigued.
My Witness friend will not be able to meet next week because he has a week-long “elder’s school” that he has to attend. He has not been told what the subject is which I find interesting. I was wondering if it is something about the new doctrinal change that appears in this month’s Watchtower magazine. More on that later.
Please keep praying for my Witness friend.