Recently I decided to be sure that, concerning my opposition to Watchtower, I am doing what the Bible teaches I should do. The verse, Mark 9:40 kept coming to my mind: “For the one who is not against us is for us.”
I would not want to be guilty of being against a group who are for Christ, so I decided I should look more closely at the teachings and doctrine of Watchtower to see if Jesus would say this to me concerning this ‘sect’.
First I looked at the context of Mark 9:40. Jesus is speaking to his disciples, specifically John. John had seen someone casting out demons using the name of Christ and John asked Christ if he should rebuke the person. Here is the rest of what Christ said:
But Jesus said:
“Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. For the one who is not against us is for us. For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward. “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. Mark 9:39-43
Is Watchtower doing mighty works in the name of Jesus? Are they causing little ones to stumble? To determine this, the only fair place to look is at the JW official web-site and this is where I searched. Here is what I found:
Concerning doing mighty works in the name of Jesus, I can find nothing on their web-site to indicate that they do anything in the name of Jesus. Those who call themselves “Jehovah’s Witnesses” do everything in Jehovah’s name. Certainly, the name Jehovah is the translation some give to the name of Yahweh, or the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the great I AM. Jesus, is a member of the Godhead, meaning the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:19) so Christ is a part of Jehovah:
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. Colossians 2:8-9
So doing works in Jehovah’s name could be considered as also doing them in Jesus name for those who understand Colossians, however, Watchtower does not acknowledge this truth. In fact, they call all who believe this idolaters and teach that those who believe the Trinity are worshiping three gods rather than the One true God. For this reason, I do not believe that they do any mighty works in the name of Jesus.
As to the second part of the passage, do they cause “little ones” to stumble, a person must look at thousands of pages to know all that Watchtower teaches? This should be a heads up for most people. The Bible doesn’t contain a thousand pages. Here is a short summary.
Watchtower, who speaks through men called the governing board for the group who call themselves Jehovah’s Witnesses, teach certain things as indisputable doctrine to their members. Some of what they teach is or appears to be biblical. To spot error requires knowing the scripture and knowing it well. Remember that those who are seeking are usually not familiar with the Holy Scriptures.
Here is what they teach about Jesus. They teach that Jesus is a created being, one of many sons of God, who came to give his life as a ransom and quote Matthew 20:28. To deal with the first part of this will require another post, but at this time we will look only at the teaching that he came to give his life as a ransom for many. This is a truth found in the Bible. They teach original sin of Adam and that God, (Jehovah) paid a price or ransom to release us from slavery to sin and death. This appears to be sound and much like what other Christians teach. They do not, however, give Biblical passages, but rather isolated verses to support each statement they make and rather than giving multiple scriptures to support what they say, they give statements from the governing board. As a person continues to read Watchtower’s version of the gospel one finds this:
One of the first diversions from traditional Christianity found is that Watchtower refuses to accept Christ died on a cross, but insist a stake was used. They give a long explanation that basically says the word for cross was mistranslated and that the cross has become an idol to people who are outside of the Watchtower organization. Personally, I do not think that it is necessary to defend the translation of the word cross. It can be translated tree, and Watchtower acknowledges this, but want to say there were not enough trees, so it had to have been a stake. I believe the method of the crucifixion is less important than this truth:
Romans 5:6-8 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.)
I am willing to overlook their refusal to acknowledge Christ death on the cross, although there are arguments that can be made for this.
Their next diversion is not just from tradition, but this one is from the teaching of the Bible. The Watchtower lesson gives the result of the ransom and at first glance, they sound as if they get it right. A close look at what Watchtower teaches, however, gives another picture.
They say three things were accomplished and I list them here as a., b., and c.:
a. Forgiveness of sins – (Watchtower quote.)
Certainly the Bible teaches Christ died so that our sin can be forgiven. No argument here.
b. A clear conscience before God (Jehovah)-(Watchtower quote.)
While this is true, Watchtower’s indoctrination concerning the interpretation of this is very incomplete and shallow. They teach that a guilty conscience can easily lead to hopelessness and make us feel worthless. Here is what they say: “Through the forgiveness made possible by the ransom, though, Jehovah kindly enables us to worship him with a clean conscience despite our imperfection. (Hebrews 9:13, 14) This makes it possible for us to have freeness of speech with Jehovah. Therefore, we can freely approach him in prayer. (Hebrews 4:14-16) Maintaining a clean conscience gives peace of mind, promotes self-respect, and contributes to happiness.”
Here is what they miss! They totally leave out the aspect of faith and justification by grace through faith and the cleansing effect of the precious blood of Christ Jesus. It isn’t found at this place on their web-site. What is found instead is an emphasis on Hebrews 6:12 “Be imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” They emphasize a faith that produces works, but omit a saving faith that is taught in so many places in the Holy Bible.
While they may occasionally refer to the scriptures* below as they have them written in the New World Translation, they do not teach that salvation comes by grace through faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ:
Ephesians 2: 8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Romans 4:3 …Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness. (Gal. 3:6 and James 2:23)
Romans 3:28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.
Romans 5:1-2 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Romans 9:30-32 What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
They seem to miss the New Covenant:
“This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,” hen he adds,
“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” Hebrews 10:16-17
And while they do acknowledge the need for a blood sacrifice, it is after a long lesson on not accepting blood transfusions, rather than being taught as the power of God to purify our conscience.
Hebrews 9:14 … how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
I should mention, the Watchtower organization uses only one translation of the Bible and it is called New World translation. It was done in the mid-twentieth century by unknown “translators” with unknown “credentials”, so I do not refer to it. Watchtower always refers to it and this causes a good deal of confusion when those who do not know the Bible are listening to their spiel because in it, the writers have added words and phrases not in the original manuscripts to see that it fits the Watchtower doctrine. All Christians agree that the blood of Christ cleanses us from all our sins. The Bible clearly teaches this. It also teaches that Christ presents us before God with a clean conscience. The diversion comes from their third comment and how they teach a person receives salvation. (Frequently a reader will be referred, not to the Bible, but to what Watchtower teaches concerning Scripture.)
c. The hope of everlasting life on paradise earth. (Watchtower quote)
Here we see that the removal of a hope for eternal life in heaven has been replaced by the hope of everlasting life on paradise earth. While Christians know that the Bible teaches there will be a new heaven and a new earth, we also believe verses such as the following should not be ignored or changed:
Philippians 3:19-21 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
Luke 6:23 Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.
Luke 18:22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
Matthew 18:3 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. ”
Believers know that God created heaven for his born again believers.
Another teaching of Watchtower that differs from the Bible is that Christ did not arise in his earthly body, but rather as a spirit being. To this I would simply ask them: Why was the tomb empty and why does Watchtower ignore the following?
(The resurrected Jesus speaking!) See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”Luke 24:39
The information given above is by no means a complete list of how Watchtower departs from the true teachings of the Holy Bible. It is a short list I found when looking for an answer to the original question: Is Watchtower organization for Christ Jesus or against Him? Would Jesus say that they are for Him?
It appears to me that the answer would have to be ‘No’ when answered in light of the complete context and passage of Jesus’ answer to John. I would say that those who call themselves “Jehovah’s Witnesses” are actually ‘Watchtower witnesses’. Watchtower has done exactly what the Pharisees did during Jesus time. They teach as doctrine the commandments of men. They have literally thousands of pages published by the governing board of the Watchtower Organization. They frequently up-date and change their doctrines. They remind me of the people the Bible describes in 2 Timothy 3:7 “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth”, because they are constantly revising, changing and rewriting the ‘truths’ they expound.
*Hebrews 11:7, Acts 15:9, Acts 26:9-18, Romans 3:25, 2 Corinthians 5:7, Galatians 2:16, Galatians 3:8, Galatians 3:24, Hebrews 10:38, 1 Peter 1:3-5