[ Author: Sally Peterson ]
You might be surprised to find out just how many Jehovah’s Witnesses have never heard the gospel message. Instead of arguing doctrines with them, how about sharing the gospel? How about asking them what their ‘good news’ is, and comparing it to the real gospel?
How would you feel if you came across someone who was sixty years old and had never heard the gospel message? Would you be surprised? Would you feel compelled to share it?
Repeat after me
I was raised a Roman Catholic. Sunday Mass consisted of the liturgy, repeating of phrases by the priest and by the congregation. I don’t recall learning anything at Mass. Stand, kneel, sit, repeat, what does a child learn at Mass? I also went to Catholic School for three years. We learned about Adam and Eve, then jumped straight to Jesus and the twelve apostles. Memorizing of prayers and the Catechism played a big role in their ‘education’. Where was the gospel message preached in all this? It wasn’t.
Having trouble with both the Trinity and Hell (and in those days, you dared not ask), and wanting to know the Bible, I was an easy target for Jehovah’s Witnesses. Of course, they never taught the gospel message either. For sixteen years I faithfully attended meetings, often hearing of obedience to the organization, faithfulness in going out door to door, peddling magazines and faithfully attending meetings. In all that time, I don’t recall ever hearing eternal life was by faith in Jesus Christ.
Prior to 1984, the New World Translation rendered John 17:3 as “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God and the one you sent forth Jesus.” So, to us, eternal life equaled study. Endless studying of watchtower books and magazines, endlessly hearing the same things over and over again at the kingdom hall, this is what gave us eternal life.
A missed opportunity
There weren’t many occasions I came across a born again Christian, but it did happen on several occasions. Sadly, they did not preach the gospel message either. The first encounter the woman asked, “What would you do, if you found out, the watchtower was false?” I told her I would change my religion. She invited us in, and showed me Ephesians 2:8,9. I could see plainly what she was showing me, but I had a question. “How do you explain James 2 faith without works is dead?” She couldn’t, we were at an impasse, but she asked us to wait for her minister to show up. Sadly, he also didn’t preach the gospel message, finding it amusing to ridicule instead. I lost another ten years in the cult.
The second occasion there were two ladies, who insisted they were saved, and never had to produce any sort of “good fruit”. I told them they were wrong and proceeded to show them scriptures. We saw the guilty look in their eyes, and considered ourselves successful.
Did you notice that in both cases, they sought to prove we were wrong, but in neither case did they present the gospel message? I didn’t reject it, I never heard it.
Sharing the good news
You might be surprised to find out the Jehovah’s Witness you are speaking with may never has heard the good news about our Lord and Savior. If he or she were raised as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses chances are very good they’ve never heard the message. Rather than engage in debates over doctrine, why not take a moment and present the good news? If you’d like to reach your Jehovah’s Witness friend, you might try asking them what their good news is. Listen carefully, and repeat it back to them. Chances are, you will hear about Armageddon, paradise earth, the watchtower organization and perhaps a bible study. If you can have them repeat it. Ask are you sure that’s the entire good news you’re sharing?
Then share with them 1 Cor. 15:1-4:
(NIV) “Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed onto you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures
Remind your Jehovah’s Witness that what they told you about the gospel, is not the good news the apostles preached. From there, remind them what the scriptures say about those who preach a different gospel:
(NIV) “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel-which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we p reached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!” Gal. 1:6-8
In all likelihood the Jehovah’s Witness will say that is also their good news. Then you can remind them, that you asked what the good news was, twice and repeated it back to them. At no time did they mention faith in Jesus is what gives eternal life.