Tag Archives: New Covenant

Preparing Jehovah’s Witnesses to Listen, a New Strategy, Tested in Real Life

Anyone attempting to reach Jehovah’s Witnesses lately have likely noticed their recent attitude change, where they have moved away from a willingness to talk, discuss, and debate, to where they quickly employ discussion-enders, either referring you to their website, or saying something like, “I’m not going to argue with you.” As I have discussed in two previous posts, their new practice is due to (1) their recent training, where they are strictly warned to not to engage in any form of dialogue with apostates or opposers, and (2) the convenience of the jw.org website, where JW’s glibly refer people they would rather not interact with. Their thoughts (I imagine) as they talk with you are as follows:

Oh-oh, He asked me about something I can’t explain. This must be one of those evil, deceptive, satanic opposers we have been warned about. I must not talk with them. Good thing we have the website to refer them to, so I can save face and dismiss him in a polite fashion.

One of the challenges I have faced is that they are partly right that I have been a bit deceptive. Not in an evil, satanic way; just in clever ways. (I fancy myself to be like Nathan the prophet, telling King David a story, then lowering the boom with “You are the man.”) But in their mind, their thinking is “Why should I trust anything this guys says to me, if he’s using trickery to get me to think about something?” Hmm. Good point. Of course we could turn that argument around, talking about the multiple instances of deception on the part of the Watchtower and its governing bully. But that would hardly be productive, would it?

Instead, I have sought new, more up-front and honest ways to discuss things with my JW friends and acquaintances. Take a look at my descriptions of my new strategy in my two previous posts here and here.

So this past Saturday I got an opportunity to go live with my new strategy. Two JW’s came to my door, and we introduced ourselves to each other. I’ll call them Ken and Allen. I asked, “Are you the Jehovah’s Witnesses?” Of course they answered that yes, they were. “Oh good, I love you guys,” I replied. As they awkwardly acknowledged my gushing about them, I added, “Yes I love you guys, and I’m so deeply concerned about you. I’ve been in some deep prayer for my JW friends and acquaintances. I’m just so heavily burdened for you, because I love you so much.”

They politely skirted around that issue by showing me the brochure “Good News From God.” I discussed it a little with them for a few minutes, but then I went back to my agenda. “My big concern for you and my other JW friends is that you’re being denied a number of kingdom privileges, including being adopted as Jehovah’s sons, and having Jesus as your mediator, and being in the new covenant, and quite a few others also.”

Allen responded that I may have misunderstood about the mediator, which allowed me to explain that my JW friends and I had looked up the topic of “mediator” in the Insight book, where it states clearly the Watchtower teaching that Jesus is the mediator for only the anointed 144,000 believers. From there we talked about several topics, including adoption as sons, the JW gospel versus Paul’s gospel, and others. At no time did either Ken or Allen “shut down” or accuse me of being argumentative. We remained friendly and interactive throughout. I described my experiences with other JWs’ reactions to learning that Jesus was not their mediator, and returned again to sharing my burden and concern for them, expressing my desire that my JW friends would be able to experience these privileges as I have. We ended on their offering to return and discuss things more with me, which I encouraged.

My hope and prayer is that God, by his Holy Spirit, will protect us; that Ken and Allen won’t be stopped by others who know about me, and that they will return next week or sometime soon. Ken and Allen are from a different congregation than the one I occasionally attend, but it’s here in the same town. Hopefully one congregation won’t rat me out to the other. If you’re reading this soon after it was written, I desire your prayer. Thank you!

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Preparing Jehovah’s Witnesses to Listen: A New Strategy, Part 2

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In a previous post, I lamented about the recent phenomenon I have noticed with Jehovah’s Witnesses: their reluctance to engage in dialogue with anyone who doesn’t seem like a “humble, teachable one,” (easy mark), and their eagerness to refer people to their website (ostrich-like avoidance). See that previous post here.

While driving home the other day, I thought of another (related) strategy that I’m eager to try. Rather than using clever baiting tactics, or posing as a humble, curious Bible student (not that there’s anything wrong with those strategies), my new approach will be more up-front, genuine, honest, and transparent.

Side note: I have been wrestling lately, at least on the back burner of my mind, about the ethics of my “undercover” strategies, where I pose as a naive Bible student to keep them interested. But I have resolved the issue, at least in my own mind. If Jehovah’s Witnesses can justify their use of “theocratic warfare,” that is, the use of deception with outsiders, then so can I. And actually, I liken my strategy less to deception, and more with that of Nathan the prophet, who told a story to king David, lowering the boom at the end with the revelation: “You are the man.” (See Second Samuel 12:7.)

Back on topic: Here’s my new strategy, represented by the following imaginary dialogue:

Me (approaching JW’s doing cart ministry): Hello! Are you the Jehovah’s Witnesses?

JW: Yes we are!

Me: Oh, I love you guys!

JW: Oh, good. Have you been studying the Bible with someone?

Me: Yes, I have several JW friends, and I love y’all so much. I just want all of you to experience what I have experienced, being adopted by Jehovah as his son, and having Jesus as our mediator, and being in the New Covenant.

JW: Oh yes, of course Jesus is our mediator.

Me: Oh, you don’t know, do you?

JW: Know what?

Me: You don’t know that Watchtower teaches that Jesus is the mediator for only the 144,000.

JW: No, that’s not right.

Me: Oh, yes, I have checked this out with my JW friends, and we have verified it at the JW.org website. In fact, here’s my printout of the article on “Mediator” in the “Insight” book. You know of that book, yes?

JW: Well, yes. (Pauses to look at the article). Well, I don’t know about this. I think I need to do some more research on this.

Me: Oh, yes, please do, and let me know what you find out. Here’s my phone number and email address. You see, this breaks my heart, because I love you all so much, and I want you to experience the joy and excitement that I have been experiencing lately, and the Watchtower is withholding these and many other kingdom privileges from you. There’s the mediator issue, and being adopted as sons, and the new covenant, and being born again, and . . .

JW: Well, we know that being born again is only for a special set of people.

Me: Oh, I know you believe that. In fact, I have a favorite scripture about that. Can I share it with you?

JW: Okay.

Me: Can you look it up in your New World Translation? I want to see if it says the same thing as mine. I usually read from the New American Standard. It’s First John 5:1.

JW: Here it is.

Me: Can you read that for me? Especially the first half.

JW: “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born from God.”

Me: Yes, that’s what my version says too. So, do you believe that Jesus is the Christ, or Messiah?

JW: Yes.

Me: So therefore, you have been born again.

JW: No, it says “has been born from God,” not “born again.”

Me: But the cross-reference in the online version of the New World Translation at jw.org connects this verse with John 3:3, where Jesus says that you must be born again.

JW: Um, I’m going to need to research that some more.

Me: Please do, because it grieves me that the ones I love so much are being denied these kingdom privileges that the Bible says are available to all believers.

And we hopefully go on from there, if Mr. JW doesn’t shut down the conversation. But I do think this will make the dialogue last at least a few minutes more than if they sense I’m trying to be clever with them. This way, they know up front that I have no intention of becoming a JW, and that I’m sharing with them my genuine concerns about the organization. Hopefully they will sense that I’m not an evil, Satanic, deceptive opposer, but rather a concerned, yea even burdened genuine believer in Jehovah. That’s my hope, and I’m ready to give it a try, and will report hopefully in an upcoming blog post. I would love it if others try this, and let us know (in the comments below) how it went.

 

 

 

 

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Thank you, Jesus, for Jehovah’s Witnesses

Over the weekend I was thinking about my involvement with Jehovah’s Witnesses the last few years, and I found myself talking with God about it. Have you ever prayed something, then realized the import of what you just prayed, after praying it? That’s what happened to me. What I prayed was, “Thank you, Jesus, for Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

By the way, yes, I talk to Jesus, praying directly to him, because along with Thomas I can say to Jesus “My Lord and my God” (literally, “The Lord of me and The God of me”). The practice of addressing Jesus in prayer is second nature to me, and has been from the early days of my Christian journey.

So as I prayed that simple prayer to Jesus, I realized something. I realized that my attitude toward JW’s had changed over the years.

It used to be that I would reluctantly talk with my friend Mark. At times I even avoided him, if I didn’t feel like talking. At that time, I was not thankful for Jehovah’s Witnesses. More like, I just tolerated them, reluctantly. Now, I’m eager to meet with Mark and others, even going out of my way to connect with them. So what changed? The answer is: I did. Over the last few years, The Lord changed me. And He used at least two things to accomplish that change.

The first thing that changed my attitude was seeing God at work as I conversed with Mark and other JW’s. Seeing Mark open to what I had to share, and realizing that only God could cause that openness (see John 6:44), was highly encouraging. And seeing God protect my conversations with him and others from the intervention of JW elders and overseers was exciting, something like being a secret agent for Jesus.

Secondly, my study of scripture in preparation for my conversations with JW’s has been nothing less than transformational for me. When I researched the benefits of being a believer in Christ, which scripture says are available “to all who believe,” rather than only to the 144,000 as taught by Watchtower, the result has been a re-vitalization of my faith. Doctrines that in the past have been limited to rational understanding (head knowledge) are now felt by me emotionally, and experienced by me directly. Here are some, but not all, of those scriptural truths that have for me a new-found significance:

Adoption: When I put my trust in Jesus, Jehovah adopted me as his son. I’m his legally adopted child, and have a relationship with him where I can even call him “Dad.” (John 1:12, Romans 8:15, Galatians 3:26 and 4:6.)

Heirs: Because I am Jehovah’s legally adopted child, I’m also his heir. I inherit from him a heavenly home, as well as access to his authority now, and rewards in the life to come. (Romans 4:14 and 8:17, Galatians 3:29 and 4:7, Titus 3:7, Ephesians 3:6 and James 2:5.)

Mediator: Having Jesus as my mediator between me and Jehovah means that Jesus redeemed me by his ransom, and intercedes in prayer for me, giving weight and meaning to the concept of praying “in Jesus’ name.” (First Timothy 2:5-6, Hebrews 8:10-12.)

Kings and Priests: Jehovah makes all of his adopted children (even me) kings and priests, from the moment of faith (aka belief). (First Peter 2:7-9, Revelation 5:9-10.)

Rebirth: All who believe, that is, putting their trust in what Jesus did for them (including me) are born again, experiencing a new life in Christ. (First John 5:1. Note: this verse in the New World Translation app, published by the Watchtower, provides a cross-reference to John 3:3, about being born again.)

New Covenant: All who believe (not just 144,000), again including me, are grafted into the New Covenant, which is JEHOVAH’S ARRANGEMENT WITH HIS PEOPLE. (See what I did there with the all-caps and italics? That’s the emphasis we need to be using when we speak about it.) This New Covenant is the legal contract that Jehovah signed with Jesus’ blood, committing himself to many promises, some of which are listed here. (Hebrews 8:10-12, 9:15, and 12:24, Ephesians 2:12.)

Citizenship: We are made legalized, naturalized citizens of Jehovah’s kingdom, with all the responsibilities and benefits pertaining thereto. Just as the foreign residents in Old Testament times could become naturalized citizens of Israel, and could participate in all the festivals and feasts, including the Passover, we now are entitled to full participation in all the benefits of the New Covenant, including the Lord’s Evening Meal, among many others. (Ephesians 2:19, Philippians 3:20, Exodus 12, Numbers 15, Isaiah 56:6-8.)

This list is not exhaustive; there are others including, but not limited to, eternal security, immortality, being able to please Jehovah, being declared righteous, being Abraham’s seed, and receiving/having/being sealed with the Holy Spirit. Learning about all these benefits that are given to little ol’ me has injected my faith journey with a new-found power and joy. So I thank you, Jesus, for Jehovah’s Witnesses!

May Jehovah touch your life in the same way as you study in preparation for your conversations with JW’s and other pre-Christians.

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Talking Points

I have several talking points that have become my standard “go-to’s” when meeting a new Jehovah’s Witness for the first time. They are:

1. Here’s one of my favorite Bible verses: 1 John 5:13, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” I’m excited because I know that I have eternal life. Do you know for sure that you have eternal life?

2. If the 144,000 are in the New Covenant, what covenant are the great crowd in? The 4 possibilities are Old Covenant, New Covenant, Some other covenant (Abrahamic, Noahic, etc.), or no covenant at all. (Some JW’s try to say Abrahamic, but Watchtower’s recent article says that Abrahamic is only for the annointed 144,000.) I love looking at Jeremiah 31:31ff with them.

3. Let’s look at Romans 8 together. Have you ever read it? Tell me, how much of this chapter is for Great Crowd Believers?

4. I think I just discovered a new one. Looking at Ephesians 2:19 and Philippians 3:20. Are Great Crowd believers citizens of Jehovah’s kingdom? If not, what status do they have? If they’re not citizens, are they “legal aliens”?

I’m looking forward to trying that new one the next time I meet a JW.

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The Little Dogs Under the Table

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