25 Comments

The Watchtower’s Struggle with Being Born Again

April 1, 2009 Watchtower

April 1, 2009 Watchtower

I’ve read some past Watchtower magazine articles in an attempt to verify the Jehovah’s Witness teaching about what it means to be born again. I’ve found their teaching on this is truly inadequate. In discussions with Jehovah’s Witnesses, I’ve tried to explain the biblical meaning of born again in many ways. During our conversations, none of my questions regarding the shortcomings of their teaching have been answered.

I was excited when I discovered the April 1 Watchtower cover story was about being born again. I hoped that maybe the writers would attempt to fill in some of the gaps in the teaching. Unfortunately, this article is nothing more than a rehash of articles I’ve already read.

These are some of the questions that remain unanswered concerning the teaching:

  1. The non-144,000 JWs are not born again. 1 John 5:1 says that everyone who believes Jesus is the Messiah is born again. How can JWs not be born again, yet profess to believe that Jesus is the Messiah?
  2. The non-144,000 JWs are not considered children of God. I agree that unless you are born again, you are not a child of God. I don’t think the average JW knows that the Watchtower teaches that he or she isn’t a child of God. If they’re not children of God, whose children are they? I believe they remain children of the devil.
  3. If being born again means having been raised from spiritual death to spiritual life (Ephesians 2:1), and most JWs aren’t spiritually alive, they must still be spiritually dead. Does that not concern them?
  4. Jesus said that one will not see the kingdom of God unless he or she is born again (John 3:3). Wouldn’t the paradise earth that most JWs aspire to be considered part of the kingdom of God? They won’t even see paradise earth without being born again.

Every time I’ve tried to discuss this with a Jehovah’s Witness, he or she attempts to change the subject to why he or she is satisfied with paradise earth, and why only the 144,000 are born again. Those are interesting topics to discuss, but I’ve tried to keep the conversation on the topic at hand: If you’re not born again, what are you?

In the Bible, some Jews claimed to be children of God, because they were children of Abraham (John 8:41). Jesus corrected their thinking, telling them that they were in fact children of the devil (John 8:44).

The reality is that for Jehovah’s Witnesses (and everyone else who is not born again), there are only two choices: Either you are reborn as a child of God, or you remain a child of the devil.

25 comments on “The Watchtower’s Struggle with Being Born Again

  1. Jhn 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
    By inserting a one letter word they have changed the entire doctrine of our faith. They say and the Word was “a” God.
    Big difference.

  2. “The reality is that for Jehovah’s Witnesses (and everyone else who is not born again), there are only two choices: Either you are reborn as a child of God, or you remain a child of the devil.”

    Not to hijack this post, but several years ago a friend of mine mentioned that he was concerned about his father – who was not saved. My friend described his dad as a good man, etc. I mentioned that, spiritually, his dad was a child of Satan if he was not born again. He was shocked to hear that and initially accused me of being hateful – until he understood that by soft-peddling the lost state of people we hate them. True love is telling lost people the gospel, not in telling them they’re “OK”.

  3. Bill,

    There you go again! Trying to use Scripture and plain reason! When you know good and well those things don’t mix with Watchtower teachings!

  4. Bill, do you believe all JWs are lost in their current state of belief or do you believe some actually are saved even though they are in a false religion? I was looking at some of the nuances of your post.

    I engage them indepth whenever they come to my neighborhood and generally I ask questions I know are not a part of “the script” they come prepared to deliver.

    I also have had several very good friends who were JWs. One provides me unbiased insight into JWs as people without us getting doctrinal.

    I was just wondering that because it seems to be a belief that God has “his people” everywhere…perhaps incognito?
    Thanks!

  5. Unfortunately for individual Witnesses, they are not allowed to accept the hope and promises of Jesus at face value. They are told that the Bible is not necessarily written for them but rather for the 144,000 “anointed” ones. It is rather sad. As John chapter 1 says “ALL who believed in Jesus he granted authority to become children of God”. The Witnesses do not accept this offer. When they read the scriptures it is through a veil of a faulty theology.

    If the Witnesses come back, and they probably will since you accepted the magazine, ask what they think of Romans 8:14 and John 1:12 — ask are you lead by Holy Spirit? are do you believe in Jesus? Doesn’t that make you a child of God?

    Ask if they feel that Jesus is their mediator. Most will say yes. Then ask how this can be if the Watchtower teaches that Jesus only the mediator for the 144,000 anointed ones. If they are shocked by this invite them to research this in their own publications. Ask if this is true, then how is it that they can approach the Father?

    I am linking to your article from my blog @ http://www.jw-news.info

  6. It is exciting to think that there are thousands of Christians out there who are called to be missionaries to JW’s.

    May the LORD bless you as your ministries seek to be used of God to open the eyes of their heart that they may believe!

    Keep it up!

  7. Gcmwatch,

    It’s not possible for a true Christian to deny the deity of Jesus (John 8:24), salvation by faith alone (Galatians 3:10), or the physical resurrection of Jesus. That means there are no good Jehovah’s Witnesses who are saved.

    I did hear a story of some Jehovah’s Witnesses who got saved, and they struggled to leave the organization for a while, and they were finally disfellowshipped.

    Thanks for your comment.

    Bill

  8. Bill,

    With all due respect the doctrine of “salvation by faith alone”, as it commonly taught in protestant denominations, did not exist until the time of Augustine.

    This puts us in an uncomfortable position of saying that four hundreds of years those who claimed to be Christians, including the Church Fathers, and great cloud of martyrs, were never really saved.

    Because of this I’m cautious before pronouncing judgment on who is saved and who isn’t saved.

    That being said there are many sincere Jehovah’s Witnesses who love God but have been mislead by bad teaching. We must have faith that they will lead to the real Truth. I am encouraged that the number of those claiming to be of those claiming to be of the 144,000 is steadily increasing instead of continuing to decline. This means that more and more Jehovah’s Witnesses are at least opening their hearts to the Word of God. Ultimately this may mean sacrifice as you pointed out.

    I myself was disfellowshipped from the Jehovah’s Witnesses for following Jesus, just a year after accepting the Word of God and demonstrating unity with Christ by accepting his body and blood during the annual memorial observance.

  9. Anthony,

    The doctrine of salvation by grace alone through faith alone was taught in the Bible. It is a doctrine that naturally results from an understanding of the true gospel and God’s justice.

    We’ve broken God’s law by lying, stealing, lusting, having other gods, etc. The only means of payment for our sins is the blood of Jesus. Jesus paid for our sins completely. There is nothing you need to add to His finished work. He gives this to us as a gift.

    How do you earn a gift? What kind of payment do you offer for a gift? If there is a payment, it’s not a gift. Furthermore, If God is just, He cannot accept a payment in exchange for forgiving sin. That would be bribery, and would make Him unjust.

    Galatians 3:10 says, “All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”

    There may be weird circumstances where a true Christian is confused about some doctrine. But, while I’m certainly not the final Judge of anyone’s soul, I have no problem saying that anyone going door to door advocating a false doctrine (such as salvation by Jesus plus works) is cursed. All I’m doing at that point is quoting the Bible. We all need to have the guts to stand for what the Bible says, even if it’s unpleasant.

    Do you believe in salvation by grace alone through faith alone?

    Thanks for your comment.
    Bill

  10. Dear Anthony,

    Thanks for your comment.

    I completely agree with Bill, the doctrine of justification by grace through faith in Christ alone existed before Augustine. It was/is taught in the holy Scriptures.

    Furthermore, this doctrine predates the Bible itself. Abraham believed God (faith) and it was reckoned to him as righteousness (justification). See Genesis 15:6. This was long before even the 10 Commandments and Mosaic Law was established.

    Justification by faith was furthermore reinforced by James in James 2:23 and Paul in Romans 4:3, Romans 4:9, Romans 4:22, and Galatians 3:6.

    I strongly encourage you to read Galatians tonight. In fact read it several times (it’s only six chapters long) and pay careful attention to Paul’s overall theme of that letter. I think chapter three especially will help you in understanding the Christian doctrine of salvation by faith.

    Sincerely,
    - The Pilgrim

  11. Anthony,

    Thank you for dropping by. I would be careful about saying that a certain doctrine “never existed until…” a certain point in time. For instance, we hear people say sometimes that “Catholics did not believe in the Immaculate Conception until 1854″ when in fact, the doctrine had been taught for many years in the Papist system, but was not declared dogma until 1854.

    We Protestants hear the same kind of argument used against the Orthodox view of the Trinity. They will say, “Well, you know, it was Constantine at the Council of Nicea in 325 that invented the Trinity” (Of course, according to most heretical belief systems, “Nicea” and “325 AD” have become the favorite place and date for just about every Christian belief). When in fact Tertullian, writing a full 100 years before Nicea, referred to the deity of Christ over and over again.

    Likewise, to say that the doctrine of ‘salvation by faith alone’…did not exist until the time of Augustine” is also not historically correct, since it was the very thing that Paul wrote about in his letter to the Galatians. He wrote in Galatians 3:8–And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “in you all the nations shall be blessed.” He went on to say in verses 13-14–Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us…that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

    There was, at the time, a sect of Jewish believers (Judaizers) that did not believe a man was justified by faith alone, and that they had to be circumcised. Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians to assure them that there were no works of law, no works of flesh, that could be added to the cross of Christ. In fact, if any person were to teach such a thing, Paul said “let them be Anathema” (Galatians 1:8-9).

    In fact, even John the Baptist taught that a man was saved by faith that leads to righteousness. Josephus said of John Baptist that he was “…a good man who urged the Jews to train themselves in virtue…and to come together for baptism: on one condition only would their baptism be acceptable to him–if it was undergone not to escape the penalty of sins but to purify the body, since the soul had been already purged by righteousness” (Antiquities XVIII, v, 2 [quoted by Eusebius in History of the Church, 1, 11, 8]).

  12. I agree that salvation by faith alone wasnt a doctrine or creed later introduced into Christendom, but is etched into the very fabric of scripture in a significant way.

    Denying this key element, effectively cuts one off from any hope of true relationship with God through Christ.

    I have found that engaging them on the unfairness and discrimination of the 144000 belief has gotten some very startled responses. Since Christ shed his blood for all, why do a small minority prevent all from partaking of his blood in the sacrement? If it is so good, why are some not allowed to share in its goodness and benefit?

    Thanks and blessings!

  13. I have alot of trouble talking to Jehovah’s Witnesses. I get mad and forget everything I know. I just toss it up as me not having the gift for it.

  14. Jason,

    I’ve had varying levels of success as well. I think it’s gone better each time, because God continues to mellow me, and I’ve had more practice.

    Keep it simple. The gospel is the message that saves, and that’s all you need. Keep taking the opportunities that God gives you.

    Thanks,
    Bill

  15. That’s true, I probably need more practice. And God has given me some peace about it. It’s mainly this one friend at work, I think God sent him because I was getting complacent about studying my bible. Now I read every night either apologetics books or the Word, it got me on the right track. Thanks for the response, it was definitely encouraging. J.

  16. I have talked with many so called witnesses. It can be difficult because they are not honest when talking about their religion. Asking a simple question can result in doubletalk, misdirection, or in the case of this audio clip, outright lies.

    http://www.adrive.com/public/8f35de490c69f8c7332c1f10b232bee84d0e3466232587a641e460602ad4c7f4.html

  17. Let’s say JW’s are wrong about the Trinity, being “Born Again, Hell Fire etc. But, did Jesus say that by ones DOCTRINE all would know that ye are my disciples? Or was it by ones “fruits (works)”.
    Look at Matthew 7:21-23.
    Look at the record so called Christains have made for themselves throughout history with the Inquisitions, the Crusades, the two world wars, etc.
    Yes, If there’s a test to get into the Kingdom and God is a trinity, or they misunderstand the concept of being born again, or Hell fire punishment, yes, they will fail the test. But, if their winning God’s approval is based on the Fruitage they produce. By their doing their best to imitate the course set by Jesus (Luke 4:43) or by their doing their best to obey the “Great Commission” (Matthew 28:18-20) or meeting the identifying mark of true Christians (John (13:34,35), judge for yourself.

  18. Fruit from a dead (i.e. unregenerate or not born again) tree is bad fruit for it is written that no bad tree can produce good fruit. First, the tree has to be made good and only God is good. This is why a man must be born again. For it is written: “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” (Rom 8:9 – bold added)

    Hence, all the “good” works produced from unregenerate JW’s (by your own doctrine) are of the flesh produced by a dead tree and not from a quickened (i.e. regenerate) believer. No different than the good works produced by Mormons, Catholics, atheists, agnostics, Hindus, et al. And for these works and your faith in them as your means of righteousness, you will hear the dreadful words of the Lord Jesus, “Depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Mt 7:23)

  19. I guess I don’t get the point.
    If the works are rotten, even in the name of Christ., they’re not acceptable. I would assume that would be the case whether or not the tree is alive. Ands, obviously, Jesus wouldn’t be referring to a dead tree since it cannot produce any fruit what-so-ever (be it good or bad).
    Or, perhaps you don’t understand the verses sited. In other words, in your estimation, whether or not what one does in the name of Christ, whether in harmony with the will of God or not, is unacceptable unless they’re born again.
    So. it appears as though, being “born again” provides one with Carte Blanc”, so to speak, because he’s “saved”?
    So, if a “born Again” Christian and let’s say a Buhdist rob a bank. And each Kills a guard as they exit, the Buhdist will burn in hell since he hasn’t accepted the Lord Jesus as his savior. But the “born Again” Christian will receive the blessings of Heavenly Bliss since he’s “Born Again” and Jesus died for his sins?
    I think the falicy of this line of thought is brought out clearly beginnig at at Hebrews 10 :26

  20. You do not get the point that a man must be born again because you are denying the Scriptures and holding to the false teachings of the Watchtower. What point do you not understand where the Word says if a man has not the spirit of Christ he is NONE of his? Hence, all who have not the spirit are none of his – basic logic.

    Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

    Regarding the tree, I understand it well and for you sake I will quote it below. In fact dead, i.e. corrupt trees, do in fact produce fruit, but because they are not of God, it is bad fruit. For it is written: “…a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” (Mt 7:17-19)

    You are committing a logical fallacy by erecting a straw man argument. I suggest you read “Logic” by Gordon H Clark. A Christian, that is a true Christian who sins, as it is written in 1st John, repents for his sins and the blood of Christ forgives him of his iniquity. And yes, the blood of Christ cleanses one from all sins.

    If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (I Jn 1:8-10 – bold/italic added)

    Yet a true believer will not continue in sin. Again, you would know this by studying 1st John and elsewhere in the Scriptures like Romans.

    Also, it is funny how you use murder as your strawman. Do you realize that the whole entire human race was damned simply because one piece of fruit was eaten in disobedience to a simple command? Re. the Buddhist, he could be more holy than the “best” of JW’s and he is still damned as are all who do not believe that Jesus is I AM.

    I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am, ye shall die in your sins. (Jn 8:24)

    Finally, you are quite wrong about Heb 10:26. So you are implying you have never willfully sinned? What in the world is sin but willful disobedience. What about the man in Corinthians who willfully took his father’s wife? That verse, is talking about apostasy; a total abandonment of the faith; this being the true faith. Read all of II Peter 2 for clarification.

    Secondly, notice how he talks about “knowledge of truth.” All knowledge of truth does is make you a clever devil, for the devil is more orthodox than most people as he fully understands the truth (Jas 2:19). Yet this knowledge never did and never will save him.

  21. A Jehovah’s Witness can’t be born again until they recognize Jesus as deity and not an angel.

    2Corinthians 11:4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.

    In the verse above the Apostle Paul is clearly stating that there will be people that proclaim “another Jesus” that Paul has not proclaimed.

    Jesus is not “a god” He is “The God”. They can’t accept that. They are Arianism warmed over.

    They cite a few verses to show that He is an angel, but there are plenty more that prove otherwise. The ones that do prove otherwise they have altered in the NWT to suit their beliefs.

    If you read a version of the Bible that is not the NWT you can see in the book of Revelation that Jesus is God. The whole first chapter is Jesus speaking. The whole book a Revelation Jesus identifies Himself as the Alpha and Omega, beginning and the end, first and the last the same things Jehova identifies Himself as.

    Revelation 1:18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

    I showed that to a Jehovah’s Witness once and he went off on some tangent about the keys of hell and death being figurative so what Jesus said about being dead and then alive was figurative as well.

    The true Church has always defended the deity of Christ. That is why Arianism was found to be heresy and Jehovah’s Witnesses is that heresy with a new name.

    The only thing I could say to a Jehovah’s Witness is to ask God for the wisdom to understand who He is and read a Bible that is not the NWT. Maybe read a NASB, KJV, NKJV, ESV, or any others that don’t deny the deity of Christ. And read it without Watchtower literature.

    Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

  22. BTW…

    I just wanted to clarify that the “Jeff” who is posting here is not me…

    I go by “Jeff H” in this forum.

    Small point, but important to me.
    :)

    In Christ,
    - Jeff H

  23. Admin Bill

    I have had many friends who are JW and have even worked for a company who’s owners are JW. I’d like to respond to some of your questions. Let me preface by saying that the Jehovah organization keeps their followers busy with tracts like Watchtower and sharp stabs into the Bible in only specific supporting areas during indoctrination. One day I got a young lady to come to my home to share some of our beliefs together. I went through a few ideas to which she was open and she possessed a razor sharp accuracy for finding the verses I wanted to discuss until I asked her to turn to Hebrews. She looked at me with such bewilderment and asked to see my Bible (which I was very surprised because they believe i.e ~ NIV is slanted from the Devil) It was a very revealing moment for me to see into the life of a person led by the nose by this organization of deceit.

    Most other experiences I have with JW’s, weather it be friends or people who arrive at my door posses one other revealing trait: During the conversation or questioning there will come a time when the JW will not have an answer and have to make a call to their leadership to help with the question. This leads to only one conclusion and it’s that they don’t “have an account ready for what they believe”. I certainly don’t need to call upon a Deacon or any other Church member to answer for my belief. The JW has been institutionalized into a mess of dependency on tracts and the deceivers who lead them only into certain parts of the Bible. They are never encouraged to read for themselves anything but alternative informational pieces leaving them empty of a relationship with the Word of God. Even though they’re New World Translation may have some seriously intended changes…the Holy Spirit is in those pages and will teach as Jesus promises the Spirit would if they would simply read it for themselves!

    It sounds like you understand the JW’s story about the chosen 144,000 who will inherit a place in Heaven and that the mainstream JW is simply part of “the meek shall inherit the earth” group. They do not believe they have to be born of the Spirit because the institution has taught them that they must earn through works their hierarchy in the “meek inheritance” group. They believe that at the beginning, Adam & Eve and there immediate descendants, there was a sort of “Truth” fracture in the family whereby one true belief system endured and the other path/belief was that of the Evil and deceit. Theirs is the only true religion/chosen group since the beginning therefore everything else falls under the class of the enemy of them knowing Jehovah by name since that time.

    Even though in Revelation, where God plainly states that he “looked and saw a great multitude before the throne IN Heaven” they will invariably say that it is on Earth. It seems to me there’s is just no rationalizing with this type of see white and call it black mentality. We can only love and care for these people like unbelievers until they ask us for our perspective…with which I believe they already know and will never ask because they would then have to face the reality of the fact that they have been most severely misled! Thanks, Jesus Reigns!

  24. This is so true! U said that most jw’s are spiritualy dead, are their some that are spiritualy alive?

  25. Luke,

    I don’t think there are any good JWs who are born again. There may be some who have been saved saved recently, and are on their way out of the organization.

    Thanks,
    Bill

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