This sermon is number 1 in a series of 14
Strongholds Shaken - Part 1
"The Witness Of The Watchtower"
by David Legge | Copyright © 2004 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com
The Witness Of The Watchtower
I want you to turn with me to the book of Deuteronomy, Deuteronomy chapter 18 - and we're just, as a slight springboard, going to look at this verse in particular to begin our study tonight - Deuteronomy 18 and verse 22. Moses writes: "When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him". Let me read that again please: "When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him".
We're beginning a series tonight entitled 'Strongholds of Satan', and tonight the particular cult for our contemplation is the cult of the Jehovah's Witnesses. We want to consider this cult under the subject: 'The Witness of The Watchtower', the witness of The Watchtower. Now if you were to mention the Jehovah's Witness movement, or Jehovah's Witnesses to people, there's often a varied response - but usually the majority response is the thought of two well-dressed individuals knocking on your door at an inconvenient time, and talking to you about the end of the world. Or perhaps it's the controversy that we often see in our media, or portrayed on Hollywood film screens, regarding blood transfusion - how little children die because their devout religious parents belonging to this particular cult won't allow them to have a blood transfusion because it's against the religious principles and philosophies of the Jehovah's Witness movement.
It would be easy, with the plethora of publicity that the Jehovah's Witnesses movement gets in our modern age like this, to conclude that they're some kind of eccentric religious fringe, and just a cult of wackos. But the fact of the matter is, the Jehovah's Witness movement is a stronghold of Satan, it is an evil movement, and it is a movement in our modern age that is making strides and converting many. In fact, in the Watchtower magazine, which is their official publication, on January 1st 1995 they claim that the worldwide membership of the Watchtower movement is 4.9 million. Those 4.9 million people are active witnesses in 75,500 congregations around 232 countries on the face of the globe. If you have ever encountered Jehovah's Witnesses you will know that they are a zealous crowd. In fact, I'm led to believe in that publication that the average Jehovah's Witness spends 10 hours per month in door-to-door evangelism. They attend five hours of meetings during one week. We would well ask the question rhetorically: is it any wonder that the organisation is said to be growing at a rate of 4000 converts a week, due to their zealousness and their violent evangelism as far as they can see it. The Jehovah's Witness movement is building five 'Kingdom Halls' a week worldwide. The Watchtower magazine is published twice a month, and it is published in 120 languages. Each issue, on average, is printed 16 million plus copies - and 600,000 of those copies are for distribution in the United Kingdom alone.
So you can see that we're not talking about a little fringe religious extremist group, or Christian sect or cult, this is a movement that is making great strides in our modern age of religious scepticism and so-called rationalism. It is an exclusive society, it does not encourage free thinking, it does not encourage their followers to look into other religions or other religious philosophies. In January's issue, January 15th, of the Watchtower magazine in 1993 - very recent - the followers of the Jehovah's Witnesses were instructed, I quote: 'to avoid independent thinking'. That means, really, if I can put it into my words, that they're to follow the teaching of the Watchtower movement and try not to imbibe any other, as far as they are concerned, 'false teaching' or 'false movement'.
Now that is why they devote 85 percent, mark that figure, of their personal study time to Watchtower publications - not the word of God, but the Watchtower movement dedicates 85 percent to Watchtower writings alone - and 15 percent of their personal study time is dedicated to their particular version of the Bible, the New World Translation. So you see right away where their emphasis lies, it lies not in the word of God, not even in their own interpretation of the word of God, but on the teaching of their own particular anointed prophets as they see it. I believe we'll see tonight that far from being, as they claim, 'Jehovah's Witnesses' upon the earth, they are rather false witnesses according to the teaching of the New Testament. You might say, maybe you're even a Jehovah's Witness yourself, how can you prove this? How do you intend to prove that they're false witnesses? Well, I want to do it tonight upon the witness of their own testimony. That's why I've called our study tonight: 'The Witness of the Watchtower' - what does the Watchtower testify of itself, and what testimony has the Jehovah's Witness movement left on this earth for us to observe?
The first witness that I want us to consider is the witness of their history, the witness of their history. Now please do take notes if you can, or at least get the recordings afterwards. The first founder and President of the Watchtower movement and the Jehovah's Witnesses was a man, as you see on the screen, by the name of Charles Taze Russell. That is where the movement got their original name from, which is perhaps a more correct name, 'The Russellites' - from Charles Taze Russell, their founder. He was born in Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania in 1852, and he was brought up traditionally as a Congregationalist and a Presbyterian, but it wasn't long in his life till he began to become sceptical about the views of his historical Christian forefathers in those denominations. He began to oppose Christian Orthodox religious history. He opposed organised religion of any kind, and many of the teachings that traditional historical orthodox Christians hold dear, he rejected outright.
From that he began to organise little Bible classes in Pittsburgh in 1870, and they met regularly - they claim - to study God's word. Then, from that little Bible class in 1879, there began a magazine entitled 'Zion's Watchtower and Herald of Christ's Presence' - which was later renamed 'The Watchtower - announcing Jehovah's Kingdom', we know it today as 'The Watchtower Magazine'. The Jehovah's Witnesses then as a movement were incorporated in Pennsylvania in 1884 under the name 'Zion's Watchtower Tract Society', and in 1886 he - that is, Charles Taze Russell - was involved in publishing the first volume of the 'Millennial Dawn', which is now known by Jehovah's Witnesses as a series of books, volumes of books, entitled 'Studies in Scripture'.
You might think that all that information is irrelevant, but please bear with me because it's not, because I believe from my studies of the Jehovah's Witness movement that this series of books by Charles Taze Russell - at least the first four volumes save one - is more important to the Watchtower movement than the word of God. It's more valued to the Jehovah's Witness than the Bible, even their own translation of the Bible.
Now let's think about this man Charles Taze Russell for a moment in biography, because not only were his theological views interesting as we'll see later - but he himself personally, as an individual, was involved in many conflicts during his life: not least marital conflicts - you might say 'Amen' to that one! - or legal conflicts. The historical records record that in 1913 the courts granted his wife a divorce, and later charged him with fraud and with perjury. Walter Martin, who has written a very detailed book of the cults entitled 'The Kingdom of Cults', keeps many of the duplications of those court records in that book - and if you want a copy of them, I can copy it for you after the meeting tonight - but Martin summed up Charles Taze Russell's life in this quip which is so telling: 'As a speaker Russell swayed many, as a theologian he impressed no one competent, as a man he failed before the true God'.
Charles Taze Russell was not only a false teacher, but we will see from a video clip that David's just going to put up now, that Charles Taze Russell had great question marks over his individual morality and personality in his community and in his family. Watch this clip very carefully:
[Begin transcript of video clip]
Interviewer: "In your expert opinion Mr Mulrooney (sp?), are they in fact a cult?"
Interviewee: "Yes, Jehovah's Witnesses definitely fit the description of a cult, despite their denials. A cult always has a strong central figure demanding absolute authority. They even admit in the Proclaimer's Book that a cult developed around Charles Taze Russell, their founder.
Narrator: "Charles Taze Russell was born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania in 1852. From age 11 he worked in the family clothing store and he became a successful businessman. At age 17 he came under the influence of the Early Second Adventists, who were setting dates for the end. He soon broke ties with the Adventists and launched out on his own, publishing the magazine now known as 'The Watchtower'. His following grew, but trouble was brewing on the home front".
Narrator: "In 1906 after a number of marital battles, Russell was divorced from his wife Maria. Instead of sharing his personal assets with her, he transferred them to the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society which he totally controlled. The Proclaimer's Book mentions this transfer in a tiny footnote, but we don't read the obvious there: Pastor Russell had cheated his wife. The Proclaimer's Book makes the repeated point that Pastor Russell was not found guilty of adultery, this was true only because his wife did not bring charges of adultery against him - instead she accused him of immorality with a young girl who was residing in their home".
Maria: "It was late in the evening, about eleven o'clock, he put his arms around her and kissed her. This was in the vestibule before they entered the hall, and he called her 'his little wife' - but she said 'I am not your wife', and he said 'I will call you daughter, and a daughter has nearly all the privileges of a wife'".
Questioner: "And what other terms were used?"
Maria: "Then he said: 'I am like a jellyfish, I float around here and there, I touch this one and that one; and if she responds I take her to me, and if not I float on to others'. And she wrote that out so that I could remember it for sure when I would speak to him about it, and he confessed that he had said those things".
Narrator: "Why would The Proclaimer's Book say that Maria Russell was seeking prominence for herself, when in reality the court stated: 'He says himself that she is a woman of perfect moral character, and his own testimony is a strong confirmation of her allegations'. The judgment described his behaviour as cruel and barbarous treatment, adding: 'His course of conduct toward his wife evidenced such insistent egotism and self-praise that would necessarily render the life of any sensitive Christian woman a burden, and make her condition intolerable'".
Speaker: "I was surprised to find out many strange things about Pastor Russell when I did independent research on him. Here in the finished 'Mystery Book' he taught that the churches of Christendom were started by bald-headed men with smoke on their brains. He thought that if a dog's head were shaped like a man's the dog could think like a man. He gave health advice that was pure quackery - for example he taught that appendicitis was caused by fighting worms in the colon. He sold so-called 'miracle wheat' at greatly inflated prices to his gullible followers. None of these things are brought out in the Proclaimer's Book".
[End video transcript]
You can see very clearly, I think, that there are large question marks over the founder of the Jehovah's Witness movement. Now when Charles Taze Russell died in 1916, he was succeeded by a Missouri lawyer who had actually been the attorney for the Jehovah's Witness movement at that time. His name was Judge Joseph Franklin Rutherford. At that time the movement was known under the name 'The Dawn Bible Students Association', and it was Rutherford that changed the name from that said to the 'Jehovah's Witness Movement', based on Isaiah 43 verses 10 and 12 which reads: 'Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour. I have declared, and have saved, and I have shewed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD' - capital L-O-R-D, which is Jehovah, Yahweh - 'that I am God'.
He actually claimed that it was an angel who revealed to him that the movement should have their name changed from 'The Dawn Bible Students Association' to 'The Jehovah's Witness Movement' in 1931 based upon that text. It was Rutherford who established the headquarters in Brooklyn, New York; and it was Rutherford, for the first time, who gave himself complete authority over the whole of the Watchtower movement. What he said went, he was in that dictatorship position. Now we'll spend a little more time on these individuals, but just to say that after Rutherford there was a gentleman called Nathan Knorr who took over in 1942. He probably did more to build up the Watchtower movement than any other leader. When he became leader the Watchtower movement totalled 115,000 people, and by the time he had finished they totalled over 2 million in their population. It was during his reign, Nathan Knorr, that the 'New World Translation' of the Bible was produced in 1961. You will see that after Nathan Knorr in 1977 the next president was a man who was Nathan Knorr's sidekick, Frederick William Franz - who was also the spokesperson on the committee for the New World Translation. More recent presidents of the organisation have been in 1992, Milton Henschel; and in the year 2000, very recently, a man by the name of Don Adams.
Now the significance of these leaders is seen now as we consider another main witness of the Watchtower movement, secondly: the witness of their prophecies. We've seen the witness of their founder, the dubious theology that he has, we'll look into it in more detail later on; also the dubious moral character, even in the eyes of the law, that he had and the claims that he was making even about 'miracle wheat' and your physical conditions and illnesses. But what I want you to see now is the witness of the Watchtower movement concerning the prophecies that they make. If the Watchtower is what it claims to be, the one true church - that's what it says - Christ's representatives on the earth today proclaiming God's message, the proclaimers of God kingdom - if you read their literature, this is what it says - they believe and claim that they are the only correct ones teaching Scripture on the earth today. Now if they claim that, and their claim is true, you would expect that their prophecies, which are based on their teachings from the word of God so-called, would come true - wouldn't you?
The problem is that every prophecy that the Watchtower movement has ever made, has failed miserably - all of them, without exception! Now the information that I'm going to give you tonight, if you were to deliver it to a Jehovah's Witness, their probable response would be: 'Well, you're taking those statements out of context' - but I assure you that I am not. Or, they may say: 'Well, those people who made those comments didn't claim to be the prophets of God', or they may say 'Well, the light is getting brighter for us now and we know more today than we did then, and we're understanding Bible prophecy better now than we have ever done'. Now listen: the facts of the matter are, no matter what a Jehovah's Witness says to you on your door, the Jehovah's Witness movement does claim to be the only prophet of God today in the world. They claim it from their own writings, Watchtower Magazine 1st April 1972 asks the question: 'So does Jehovah have a prophet to help them, to warn them of the dangers and to declare things to come? These questions can be answered in the affirmative. Who is this prophet? This prophet was not one man, but was a body of men and women. It was the small group of footstep followers of Jesus Christ known at the time as 'International Bible Students', today they are known as 'Jehovah's Christian Witnesses''.
Now I remind you of our text that we began with this evening, Deuteronomy 18 and verse 22: 'When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him' - or 'do not listen to him!', for he is a false prophet and he is not from the Lord. The fact of the matter is that the Watchtower movement today still claim that our Lord Jesus Christ returned in His second advent in the year 1914. Still today that is their claim! Now they claim that it was an invisible return, because they had to do that because He didn't come visibly in the year 1914, but they still purport this: that He is reigning from the heavens as King of kings and Lord of lords over His kingdom. Now from the date that they made that prophecy, from the lips of Russell in the late 1800s, for approximately or perhaps just over 100 years they have continued to make false prophecies concerning the second coming of the Lord Jesus.
I want to consider four of these leaders in particular. The first is Charles Russell, he made two predictions of the second coming of the Lord. The first was in 1874, he said that the Lord would come, doomsday would appear and usher in the coming of the Lord Jesus. Then he made another prophecy that in the year 1914 the Lord Jesus Christ, after some kind of Armageddon, would be reigning from the skies - and that is what Jehovah's Witnesses still believe today, you can read about in 'Studies in Scripture' volume 4, page 621 - I quote: 'Our Lord, the appointed King, is now present since October 1874'. Russell was the first to make false prophecies. Second was Rutherford, he predicted that in 1925 the Lord Jesus Christ would usher in Paradise upon the earth. Lo and behold it didn't happen, and when it failed, to keep the myth going do you know what they did? They built a house in California called 'Beth-Sarim' and this was the house that was to house the princes of God that would come at the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ - i.e. characters like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. There it was, as visible proof that they really believed that the Lord Jesus was going to bring in Paradise in 1925 - but guess who ended up inhabiting 'Beth-Sarim'? Judge Rutherford!
Not only did he predict in 1925 that the Lord Jesus would usher in Paradise, but when that didn't come to pass and Hitler rose to prominence in World War II, he taught that Jehovah's Witnesses should not enter into the war, they should not engage in the Armed Forces because no side would win - Germany nor the Allies - because Armageddon was coming, World War II was going to usher it in upon the world. Armageddon didn't come, Judge Rutherford was proved - like Russell - to be a false prophet.
Then Nathan Knorr, influenced by his predecessor Rutherford, was responsible for the prediction that said the Lord Jesus Christ would return in 1975. The next slide will show you the actual edition of the magazine 'Awake', which is a Jehovah's Witness magazine not the same as the Watchtower, but in this magazine he purported that the year 1975 would be the year - 'it's later than you think when the Lord Jesus would come'. Do you know what many Jehovah's Witnesses, sincere and dedicated in sacrificial living, do you know what they did? They sold all their possessions, they gave their money to the poor and to the society, and they were all waiting for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Many of them made life-changing decisions on the ground of Nathan Knorr's prediction. Let me show you on video one couple who almost made a life-changing, in fact a life-stealing decision. The man who you will hear speaking is a man called Dave Riccoboni, and he and his wife were former headquarter members in the Watchtower movement. Listen to this testimony:
[Begin video transcript]
Speaker: "Unfortunately my wife and I left the Watchtower Society in 1974, which was the year before Armageddon was supposed to hit and demolish the world, so we never did find out how the circuit overseers dealt with 'only one month to Armageddon, brothers', or 'only one month after Armageddon, brothers'. Because we had, by this time, found out the lie of the Watchtower chronology, and we saw it for what it really was: inane, insane"
Mr. Riccoboni: "1974 was a very difficult time for me, I was freaking out. I had to make a decision, a critical decision, because my wife had to undergo surgery and the doctor said she needed a blood transfusion. I had to make the decision, and the brothers were encouraging me to make the right decision to please Jehovah, because after all Armageddon was only a year away, so even if she died she'd be resurrected right away".
Mrs Riccoboni: "You can just imagine the fear, I had so much fear, it was so frightening. I was near death, I was in hospital, and the brothers and sisters told me to take my stand for Jehovah - don't accept a blood transfusion. If I accepted the blood transfusion I would die at Armageddon, if I didn't and I died I'd be resurrected - the Great Tribulation was coming, it was 1974 and 1975 was at our doorstep. By staying loyal to Jehovah I would be resurrected, so that was the hope I was given".
[End video transcript]
They almost gave up their marriage. I heard the testimony of another man, he and his wife ceased from having any children because they believed that Armageddon was going to come upon the world. That man decided that he wouldn't conscript in the American Army, and because of that was sent to prison, missed many years at home with his wife, missed the privilege of having a family because of these false claims of these false teachers. You would well ask the question tonight: have they learned from their mistake? The fact of the matter is, they haven't! They try to wash over these facts, some would even say that some of the recent publications coming up to 1999 were indicating that the Lord was probably going to come in the year 2000. All of this prophesying is put down to 'new light', they say this is how God reveals new truth to His people! The fact of the matter is that time is the enemy to the false prophet, that's why when time passes they have to continually get 'new light' to tell more prophecies, because the old ones are proven to be wrong.
The Lord Jesus said in Matthew 24:24: 'There shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect'. Isaiah 8 says in verse 20: 'To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to my word', God says, 'it is because there is no light in them'!
The witness of their prophecies is clear, but thirdly I want you to note the witness of their Bible. We've seen the witness of their history, and I am really only skirting the surface here tonight, the witness of their prophecies, and thirdly the witness of their Bible. You will see what is known as the 'New World Translation'. In a recent publication of the Watchtower movement, trying to defend its indefensible positions, called 'The Proclaimers', it says that the New World Translation is a 'literal translation that faithfully presents what is in the original writing'. It goes on to say that the entire translation committee were Spirit-anointed Christians. Now the problem with that statement is twofold, in fact the problem is right throughout it all, because first and foremost this is not a literal translation of the original writing. In fact Fred Franz, who later became the fourth president, chairman and spokesman of the translation committee who was mainly responsible for the whole work, had not one Hebrew nor Greek qualification to his name. How could he translate the Scriptures from the original writings? Not only that, but when you ask the Watchtower Movement who are these Spirit-anointed Christians who translated the word of God, they will not tell you! I'll leave you to conclude why that is.
The fact of the matter is that this is not a translation at all, it is a botch in order to reflect their own particular doctrines, because it is not in the word of God, what they teach! Bruce M. Metzger is one of today's leading Bible scholars. He was asked what he thought of the New World Translation, and he says 'Rather than a version of the Bible, it is a perversion of the Bible'. In fact he is quoted as saying that you find within the New Testament of the New World Translation the word 'Jehovah' 237 times, when the word 'Jehovah' is not found in one Greek manuscript existent. He goes on to say 'That is far from responsible scholarship'. Not only that, but every opportunity the translators get they denigrate the Lord Jesus Christ in His person from being the Eternal Son of God, co-equal with God, God the Son, to be a mere creature - perhaps a superior one, but certainly not God of very God.
I would love to have time to go into this more, but save to say that the witness of their Bible testifies that they are false witnesses. There's their history, their prophecies, their Bible, and then fourthly the witness of their theology. Now you would wonder really how they got so many dates wrong if their theology was correct regarding the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The reason why they got the dates wrong is that their theology - particularly this aspect of their theology, but many others - is based not on Spirit-led teaching, but on occultism. I want you to hear me very clearly tonight: Charles Taze Russell got his teaching of the second coming of the Lord Jesus in 1914 from what we call 'pyramidology'. Pyramidology is simply the teaching that in the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt that some of you have seen on your holidays, that there is a witness of God to the times and the seasons and all the generations of humanity. Without going into it in great detail, Charles Taze Russell believed that the Pyramid of Giza was God's stone witness corroborating the biblical time periods that we need to know in order to work out when the Lord Jesus will return.
Now you can actually see Russell's gravestone, there it is: 'Charles Russell, born February 16th 1852, died October 31st 1916 - the Laodecian Messenger'; but just beside Charles Taze Russell's grave is a monument to him which takes the form of a pyramid. There's actually an inscription on that pyramid in dedication to him, because that's where his theology came from, from a pyramid which is pagan, we could go as far as to say it's occultic in its origination. There he is buried beside it. We move from Russell to his successor Rutherford, and we find there that he actually claimed to contact the dead Taze Russell, and he believed that Russell was telling them how to go forward in the great Movement. He claimed, of course, as I said, that an angel revealed to him to change the name to 'Jehovah's Witnesses', but he also made this statement - now mark this - that the Jehovah's Witnesses movement was not led by the Holy Spirit, 'but by a collection of spirits'!
Their theology is occultic, and it can be seen in its fruit. What do they deny? Well, first of all they deny the Trinity, that there is one God in three persons. In 'Let God Be True', page 100-101 - and I have all the references to these statements that I'll make tonight, I'm not going to go through them all, but if you want to know where they are I can show you - they deny that God is in three persons, one substance, but God is one person. They think they're being terribly orthodox in that assertion, yet the fact of the matter is that God's word testifies to a triune Godhead even way back at the beginning of the Old Testament. Jot down a couple of these verses: Genesis chapter 1 and verse 26, God said: 'Let us make man in our image' - they will say He was talking to the angels, but man was not made in the image of an angel, man was made in the image of God. You could look up further verses in Genesis 3:22, where the plural is used for God; Genesis 11 verse 7, and 'God' even the name 'Jehovah' is used often in the plural. It can be chopped and changed with the word 'Elohim' which is a plural word for God. Also if you turn to Matthew 28 and verse 19, you find in the New Testament that we are taught by our Lord Jesus Christ to baptise in a triune name, that's why we don't baptise just in the name of the Lord Jesus, but in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The benedictions within the New Testament, for instance 2 Corinthians 13:14, and also 1 Peter 1 and verse 2 have those three names of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit - not three gods, but God in three persons.
Now I know that this is something that is very difficult to understand, even for those who believe it and espouse it - do you know why? Because we cannot understand it, we cannot understand the inconceivable - you cannot understand God! But you see, I am not called upon tonight as a Trinitarian believer to explain the inexplicable, but what you are called to explain if you are a Jehovah's Witnesses is to explain the indefensible, and to explain the evidential that is in the word of God. Let me show you how Father, Son and Holy Spirit on separate occasions are called God. Turn with me to John's gospel chapter 6, John chapter 6 and verse 27, the Lord Jesus says: 'Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father' - underline it - 'sealed'. 'God the Father', John 6:27. Now turn with me to Hebrews chapter 1, Hebrews 1 this time and verse 8: 'But unto the Son', and the context shows that God is the 'he' here, 'unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom'. Who is God here? It is the Son being designated as God. The Father is called God, the Son is called God, now if you turn with me to the Acts of the Apostles chapter 5 you will find there the account of how Ananias and Sapphira had stolen some of what they had dedicated by their words to God. They had sold fields, they were going to give produce, they said, to the work of God - but they didn't, and God struck them dead. In verse 3 Peter said: 'Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie', now mark this, 'to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God'. Now in verse 3 he said that he had lied to the Holy Spirit, but who does he say he's lying to in verse 4? God!
The Holy Spirit is designated God in the Scriptures. The Son, Jesus Christ, is designated God - we could show you a hundred verses. The Father is designated God, He is not what the Jehovah's Witnesses say, just Jehovah and the Son is some exalted angelic being, and the Spirit is some impersonal force that is the influence of the heavenly Father, Jehovah. They are three persons in one God.
The witness of their theology, now we take this a step further to look more specifically at the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Because not only is the witness of their theology false, but we see that the witness of their Christ is false. The Christ of the Jehovah's Witness movement is not the Christ of the word of God. The Lord, in Matthew 24:24 that we read, said there would be many false Christ's. Paul said that if anyone preach another Jesus unto you let it be anathema, let that gospel be anathema, accursed to you - for there is no other Christ!
The Jehovah's Witness movement - I can hardly take it upon my lips, it is so blasphemous - claims that the Lord Jesus Christ is the archangel Michael who became a man. They claim in the Watchtower magazine, 15th May 1963 page 307, that doctrine; and also in the New World on page 284. They claim that the Lord Jesus Christ is Jehovah's first ever creation, that He was made just like you and I are made. He may be more superior than you and I, but yet they believe that He is a creature and He is not God. The archangel Michael! Now there obviously are many problems with that statement, but the fact of the matter is in Jude verse 9 we read there that concerning the bones of Moses the archangel Michael dared not bring a railing accusation against the devil - that means he could not of himself and in his own power defeat the devil, or even reprimand the devil! Are we to suggest that the Lord Jesus is inept to face the evil one? We cannot make such a suggestion, do you know why? Because in Matthew chapter 4 and verse 10, where the Lord Jesus is tempted in the wilderness by the devil himself, it says that He rebuked the devil, He sent him away!
This is no archangel, this is God the Eternal Son. Yet the Jehovah's Witnesses movement claim that He was only a perfect man, not God manifest in flesh. Yet turn with me to John chapter 1 verse 1, we read very clearly there: 'In the beginning was the Word', speaking of the Logos, Christ, 'and the Word was with God, and the Word', mark this, 'was God'. Now of course they've got ways of somersaulting many of the texts that we'll present from the word of God tonight, the New World Translation changes 'and the Word was God', to 'the Word was a god' - and, wait for it, they changed the capital 'G' to small case, He was only 'a god'. They will blind you with Greek grammar, they think, by saying to you: 'There's no definite article there before the word God'. The definite article is 'the', there is no 'the' before God here - and they're correct, there is no 'the'. Where there is no 'the', they therefore say it must be 'a', if it's not 'the God' it must be 'a god' - and so they insert 'a' before it to mean that the Lord Jesus was not 'the God' Jehovah, but only 'a god'.
Now I don't want to blind you with science tonight, but the fact of the matter is that the Greek grammar does not necessitate you to put the indefinite article in here 'a'. In fact, I'll tell you better than that: when the definite article in Greek has been used already, there is no necessity for it to be repeated - it is assumed within the sentence of Greek grammar. But if you don't understand that, you'll understand this, that the same expression is used in verse 6: 'There was a man sent from God' - there is no definite article there in the Greek, but lo and behold what does the New World Translation do? They don't put 'a' in there, they say: 'There was a man sent from God', it wouldn't look right 'a man sent from a God', would it? Look further down to verse 12, the same omission of a definite article is there: 'But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God', they don't write in the New World Translation 'a God', they leave it as 'God', as the eternal God. Verse 13 is the same: 'Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God' - they don't put 'a God', it's exactly the same expression as you have in verse 1. In verse 18 it's the same: 'No man has seen God', they don't write 'a God'. The reason why they write 'a God' in verse 1 where there's no call for it in Greek grammar or in the context of this text is because they have it in their hearts, satanically, to denigrate the person of Jesus Christ. There is no other explanation.
The ridiculous irony of it is this, that they are the ones who accuse Trinitarian Christians of being polytheistic, that means that we have more than one God because we believe the Lord Jesus Christ is God. Yet they are the ones saying He is 'a god' - they believe in more than one God! What does 'Emmanuel' mean? 'God With Us'. In the Old Testament, how many times is Jehovah claimed to be the only Saviour? Yet when you get into the New Testament Christ Jesus is claimed to be the only Saviour, 'Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins'. Let me ask you an Irish question, well, it's really an American question from New York: are there two firsts and lasts? Can there be two firsts and lasts? Or is that not a contradiction in terms? Are there two first letters of the alphabet and two last letters of the alphabet? Are there two Alphas and two Omegas? There are not! Yet in Revelation 21 God is described there as Alpha and Omega, and in Revelation 22 the Lord Jesus is described Himself as the first and the last.
Here's an interesting one for you that you can confront those two men with on your door the next time they turn up. In Luke's gospel chapter 4 and verse 12, the Lord Jesus in the temptation, the New World Translation translates the word 'kurios' (sp?) in Greek - which is translated in our version as 'Lord' - as 'Jehovah'. Remember the Lord Jesus said: 'You shall not tempt the Lord your God'. Well they translate it, now watch this, in the New World Translation: 'You must not put Jehovah, your God, to the test'. Now who was being tested in the temptation? Was it Jehovah? Or was it Jesus? They say Jehovah is not Jesus, yet here they translate the word 'Lord' as 'Jehovah', confusing us and confusing themselves, because they can't work it out themselves that Jehovah is Jesus! Jehovah the Son.
Is it not true in your reading of the New Testament, that the Bible on several occasions forbids the worship of angels? Is that not true? Remember John in the Apocalypse fell at the feet of an angel, and the angel lifted him up, for we are not to worship angels. If the Lord Jesus is an exalted angel, can you answer me this question: why is it in Hebrews 1 and verse 6 that God says: 'Let all the angels of God worship Him'? His person is trodden in the dust by the Jehovah's Witness moment. His passion is trodden underfoot by the Jehovah's Witness foundation. It is not enough to get you into heaven, because they claim that you need to have good works on your side, you need to sell so many magazines, you need to go round so many doors, you need to be in the 144,000 who will eventually enter paradise. They deny the ultimate finished work of the Lord Jesus, they deny the physical resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ - that He did not rise in body, but He rose in some kind of spiritual sense. Yet what did Paul the apostle say in 1 Corinthians 15 verse 15: 'Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ', physically Paul is talking about, 'whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not'. He's saying that 'we're false witnesses if Christ is not risen bodily from the dead', and they are false witnesses for saying such!
Regarding salvation, they deny the reality of hell, they claim that only their members will go to heaven. Good works are what you will need on top of Christ's death to get there. They claim that we cannot be brought into covenant relationship with God through a mediator in Jesus Christ, rather they say that the 144,000 are in the covenant with God and they alone, and they must be the mediators to bring us to God. We, if you like, if we were all Jehovah's Witnesses tonight, ordinary ones, we are in the great crowd - therefore it doesn't matter so much that you're related to Jesus, because He's not the mediator, what matters is that you're related to the 144,000 that are in covenant and can bring you to God. That's why the Movement is exalted above the Christ! Yet Ephesians 2:8 and 9 says: 'By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast' - it is the gift of God! First Timothy 2 verse 5 says: 'There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus' - Hallelujah!
I wonder are you mixed up in such a confusing and Christ-denigrating work and faith as the Jehovah's Witness movement? I call you tonight, on the authority of the word of Christ, to get out, to seek a Saviour who will take away all your sins and give you peace with God. Salvation is not to be found in a society or in a movement or in a denomination, Jesus Christ came to men and said, above religion, 'I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father but by me'. He is God's Son, and it was Thomas that fell at His feet realising the reality not only of who He was, but what He had done - He had died and He had rose again: 'My Lord and my God!'. Have you realised that? Will you acknowledge Him tonight as the only Lord, as the only Saviour, and His work on the cross and His resurrection as the only way that you can get to heaven?
We're going to finish tonight by watching a short clip of some Jehovah's Witnesses who came out and found Christ to the glory of God and to the satisfying of their souls. If you're a Jehovah's Witness tonight, you listen very, very carefully:
[Begin video transcript]
"[I had no reason] to doubt my loving parents who raised me in the organisation. Although I was an honour student, I give college and went to Watchtower Headquarters. There I met Bill and we shared many questions and concerns about the organisation during our courtship. We questioned especially the blood issue. We ended up leaving Bethel to get married, and moved to my parent's farm. We were very happy until someone reported our doubts about blood transfusion. We were both finally dis-fellowshipped and disowned by our families. With our inheritance lost and no job-training we started our lives over. We researched the organisation and proved they were false prophets, and wrong on doctrine too. We saw that we had put the organisation where Christ should have been. We determined to serve Christ, not some organisation, and have done so with great joy ever since. Bill is home with the Lord now, and I'm carrying on our ministry with the Lord's help. Although my family still shuns me, I pray that they may one day turn from the organisation to faith in Jesus Christ".
"I was converted to Jehovah's Witnesses when I was 18 years old and seeking for God. I give up earning an honours degree in university to devote myself to the organisation. I'm ashamed now of the control I give to the organisation over my life. I nearly died refusing a blood transfusion. I let the elders make decisions I should have made. At an assembly in 1972 I stayed with my Christian uncle who immediately set his church to praying for my deliverance from the Jehovah's Witnesses. As they prayed, and a Christian shared his faith, I finally questioned doctrine - especially about Jesus supposedly being Michael the archangel. I took my concerns to the elders, I found out that you cannot ask honest-hearted questions, nor is there any honourable way out of the organisation. I left early in 1975 causing an uproar in the congregation, since Armageddon was expected in a few months. It was the best decision I ever made, other than receiving Christ as my Saviour. My husband, Keith, and I have served the Lord ever since".
"I began studying with Jehovah's Witnesses in the early forties, then after I came out of prison I continued as a Jehovah's Witness until 1970. However I had been reading forbidden Christian books, and also I was not living the life that I should have been. I confessed to the elders, and they dispensed with my 26 years of service in ten minutes. I was out. But then a loving Christian friend put his arms around me and showed me the love of Christ, and I felt more love from him in ten minutes than I felt from the organisation in 26 years. Later, while reading a Christian book, I knew for certain that Jesus Christ is God, and I fell to my knees and received Him as my Saviour".
"When I was six months old my parents became Jehovah's Witnesses, and I lived totally for the organisation for 50 years. But I saw so many injustices over the years, and so much unkindness, so little mercy. You know they present a facade of love, but people are really sacrificed for the sake of the organisation. Finally, after they destroyed my family, I began to research the Watchtower organisation and to read the Bible, because I wanted to know if the Watchtower was God's channel, I wanted to know how to get eternal life. Well, I found out that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life - not some organisation - and of course Jesus gives us eternal life"
"I was in my third year of college in 1973, and thinking about law school. At that time my Jehovah's Witness parents told me that Armageddon was due by 1975. I had 18 months to live, so I quit school and went back to the Jehovah's Witnesses - but as God would have it, some wonderful Christian showed me that I was following a false prophet. The facts were right in my own books. Now I don't like being lied to, and when I found out that the Watchtower had deceived me I knew I was in a cult - but then something wonderful happened. I accepted Jesus as my Lord, and He would never lie to me. So many people have accepted the lie by reading the Watchtower. Now I have dedicated my life to showing them the rest of the story, the real story about Jehovah's Witnesses - a non-prophet organisation! My prayer is that Jesus will open the eyes of many Jehovah's Witnesses to see the love of Christ"
[End video transcript]
Let us pray: Father, we thank You that You sent Your only begotten Son, and we thank You that He came as the only Saviour. He died on the cross not as a man, but as God manifest in flesh, able as a man to bring us as men to God, and able as God to bring God to men as deity. O Lord, we fall before His hypostatic union, God and man, in worship in praise, in adoration. But Lord, we pray that if it there are any who have never confessed Him as Lord and God, that they would do so tonight - turn their back on false doctrine and the strongholds of Satan, and turn themselves to the truth that is in Christ that will set them free and give them life in abundance. Hear our prayer we pray, to the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ we ask it, Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the first tape in his Strongholds Shaken series, titled "The Witness Of The Watchtower" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word. The inclusion of Images and diagrams in this transcript is done without intention to breach any copyright restrictions. If this has been done in any instance, please contact us and we will willingly remove the offending item.
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