Jehovah's Witnesses trace their origins to the nineteenth century Adventist movement in America . That movement began with William Miller, a Baptist lay preacher who, in the year 1816, began proclaiming that Christ would return in 1843. His predictions of the Second Coming or Second Advent captured the imagination of thousands in Baptist and other mainline churches. Perhaps as many as 50,000 followers put their trust in Miller's chronological calculations and prepared to welcome the Lord, while, as the appointed time approached, others watched nervously from a distance. Recalculations moved the promised second advent from March, 1843 to March, 1844, and then to October of that year. Alas, that date too passed uneventfully.
Jehovah Witness Beliefs
They believe that Jesus did not rise from the dead. Russell says His body either dissolved into gases or is still preserved somewhere.
They believe that God is not triune (i.e., Father, Son, and Holy Ghost).
They believe that there is no such thing as a hell of everlasting torment. Hell is just the grave. The wicked are simply annihilated.
They believe that man has no spirit.
They believe the Holy Ghost is not a person of the Godhead, just a "life force" of God.
They exercise mind control over members.
They believe that man must work to be part of "God's system of things".
They believe that only the 144,000 mentioned in the book of Revelation will live in heaven with God.
They believe all dead people will have a second chance for eternal life at the millennium. If you do not prove worthiness at this time, you'll be destroyed.
The believe the blood of Christ does not forgive sins, it gives us a "chance" to live again. They have NO assurance of salvation as Jehovah's Witnesses who supposedly know the truth.
They believe Jesus is the archangel Michael - Jesus is a created being.
They believe Jesus is just an agent of God, nothing more.
They believe that Jesus' second coming occurred invisibly in 1874. Russell's successor, Rutherford, says this was confirmed by the creation of the first labor organization in 1874.
They believed Russell when he said that in 1914 the millennium would occur and righteousness would be restored to the earth. As 1914 approached, he, and his successor, changed the date to 1915, 1916, 1924, 1928, and on and on to the present day! When you ask a Jehovah's Witness about this, they'll give you the party line, "Well, the Watchtower is reaching different levels of enlightenment."
Let's take a look at the story in the Gospels of Jesus' visit to Thomas after his resurrection, and see how he dispelled Thomas's fears and doubts about who He is.
Jesus and Thomas
Joh 20:24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.
Joh 20:25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.
Joh 20:26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.
Joh 20:27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.
Joh 20:28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.
Joh 20:29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
Now- below I've included a commentary from Great Texts; it gives an excellent discourse on this story, and greater insights that a serious student would find very interesting and clearly uses scripture to dissolve the error of Jehovah Witness' false teachings.
My Lord and My God
Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.—Joh_20:28.
It was a strange confession this, to be addressed by a pious Jew, who knew the meaning of his faith, to the man Christ Jesus, with whom as man he had companied, with whom he had eaten and drunk, whom he had heard speak in human words through human lips. The Jew believed in a God who had created men, who worked through them and ruled them, who was conversant with all their ways, who spoke to them and had spoken through them. But it was a God who was more immeasurably distant than imagination could bridge, whose ways were higher than men’s ways, and His thoughts than men’s thoughts, as high as the heaven is from the earth. He had spoken through men, but it is in that very consciousness of the prophets that the distance between God and man becomes most significant. It emphasizes just where man is highest; for in proportion to man’s goodness does he become conscious of his own sinfulness in the presence of the high and holy God. “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts”—that had been the cry of Isaiah. “Ah, Lord God! behold I cannot speak: for I am a child”—that had been the confession of Jeremiah’s weakness. There was not one of these holy men of God who, if we had proposed to offer him the sort of reverence that is due to God, would have hesitated for a moment to rebuke it in the language of St. Peter, “Stand up; for I myself also am a man.” The last of the prophets, he who is called greater than the prophets, is conspicuous for this self-effacement in the presence of God, though in his case he took off the glory of his prophetic crown to cast it at the feet of Christ. Truly a strange confession this, to see one who knew the meaning of his belief in the one and only unapproachable God, and hear him speak to One who was truly Son of Man, truly Jesus of Nazareth, in the words “My Lord and my God.”
1. The text forms the climax of the Fourth Gospel. It is St John’s answer to the question, “Who then is this?” That question was asked by the people when Christ stayed the storm on the Sea of Galilee. They were astonished without measure, we are told, and said one to another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
Four answers have been given to that question.
(1) First there is the answer which the people themselves gave. “Is not this the carpenter’s son?” they said. He was one of themselves. He had been born in Bethlehem; He had followed His father’s trade; He had lived amongst them, and they believed that they knew Him. They knew Him and all His kindred: “Is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us?” He simply made an addition of one to the population of the town of Nazareth.
And this answer is given still. In our day there is scarcely a more popular answer than this. Jesus is a man; He makes an addition of one to the population of the world. He is a man, it is added, of supreme ability, originality, and earnestness. He is a man of most exceptional goodness. Those who make this answer have a little difficulty in agreeing as to just how good He was. Some go so far as to say that He seems to have been sinless, or at any rate that nothing sinful is reported of Him. But most will not go so far as that. They cannot believe that any man whose father and mother we know could be sinless.
In the shop of Nazareth
Pungent cedar haunts the breath.
’Tis a low Eastern room,
Windowless, touched with gloom.
Workman’s bench and simple tools
Line the walls. Chests and stools,
Yoke of ox, and shaft of plow,
Finished by the Carpenter,
Lie about the pavement now.
In the room the Craftsman stands,
Stands and reaches out His hands.
Let the shadows veil His face
If you must, and dimly trace
His workman’s tunic, girt with bands
At His waist. But His hands--
Let the light play on them;
Marks of toil lay on them.
Paint with passion and with care
Every old scar showing there
Where a tool slipped and hurt;
Show each callous; be alert
For each deep line of toil.
Show the soil
Of the pitch; and the strength
Grip of helve gives at length.
When night comes, and I turn
From my shop where I earn
Daily bread, let me see
Those hard hands—know that He
Shared my lot, every bit;
Was a man, every whit.
Could I fear such a hand
Stretched toward me? Misunderstand
Or mistrust? Doubt that He
Meets me in full sympathy?
“Carpenter! hard like Thine
Is this hand—this of mine:
I reach out, gripping Thee,
Son of man, close to me,
Close and fast, fearlessly.”
(2) The second answer is made by God. “This is my beloved Son.” The people of Nazareth claimed Him as theirs. He is one of us, they said. God’s answer is, He is not yours, He is Mine. The time may come when He will be yours also; He is not yours yet. He will be yours when you know that He is not simply an addition of one to the population of Nazareth; He will be yours when you know that He is not merely a man, but the Son of man. Meanwhile He is Mine; He is the Son of God. This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
This answer is not so popular in our day. It is not so comprehensive; it is said to be not so comforting. The great merit, we are told, of regarding Jesus as simply one of us is that we can then be sure of His sympathy. But is it enough to be sure of His sympathy? Must we not also be sure of His power? It is one thing to know that He is willing; is He also able to help us in every time of need? He who is the beloved Son of God has all the sympathy for us that the kindest-hearted man could have; and, much more than that, He is able to succour them that are tempted.
When our Lord Jesus Christ became Man, He identified Himself with humanity, in all its weakness, in all its sorrow, and (in a figure) in all its sin. An unflagging outpouring of sympathy, an untiring energy of benevolence, a continuous oblation of self-sacrifice—that was the life of the Son of Man upon earth. Many a man has borne his poverty more bravely because Jesus Himself was poor; again and again it has helped men in the furnace of temptation to think that
He knows what sore temptations mean,
For He has felt the same.
And the mourner in dark and lonely hours has found comfort in the remembrance that Jesus wept at a human grave, and knows all the bitter longings of his soul.1 [Note: S. C. Lowry, Lent Sermons on the Passion, 55.] His question still, to every sufferer who needs relief, to every sinner who needs pardon, is, “Believest thou that I am able to do this?” And the reply still is, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”
(3) The third answer is again the answer of the people—“This is indeed the Saviour of the world.” It was the answer given by those Samaritans who had discovered for themselves that Jesus could both sympathize and deliver. It was the answer of those who had had personal experience of His saving grace and power. “Now we believe,” they said to the woman of Samaria, “not because of thy speaking: for we have heard for ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Saviour of the world.” They had taken the answer of the inhabitants of Nazareth and the answer of God the Father and had put them together. He was both the carpenter and God’s Son.
And this is the final answer. There is no possibility of going beyond it. The answer of the inhabitants of Nazareth is shortsighted and very partial. God’s answer is partial also, since it has to wait our response before it can be made complete. But it is not short-sighted. It has within it the promise, as it has the potency, of the salvation of the world. It is God’s own expression of the momentous fact of history: “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son.” It only waits for that fact to have its fulfilment—“that whosoever believeth on him may not perish but have everlasting life.” The answer of the people of Samaria is complete and it is final. All that has yet to be done is to have its contents declared and appropriated. What does Saviour involve? And how is the Saviour of the world to be recognised as mine?
(4) Thomas declared its contents. The Saviour of the world is both Lord and God. He is Lord, for He is a man. The inhabitants of Nazareth knew that. He is also the supreme man. They did not know that; and when He claimed it they took Him to the brow of their hill to cast Him down headlong. Thomas had discovered that Jesus is Son of man, the representative Man, the Man to whom every man owes obedience. But He is also God. The people of Nazareth did not know that He was God: but God the Father knew—“This is my beloved Son.” That also was contained in the title which the Samaritans gave Him—“the Saviour of the world”—though they did not bring it out, and probably were not aware of it. Thomas brought it out, knowing as he did that no man, if he is only man, can save his brother or give to God a ransom for him.
But Thomas not only declared the contents of the Samaritans’ confession, he appropriated them. He said, “My Lord and my God”; from which we see that he was led along a path of his own, through his own personal experience, to this appropriation.
2. Now this is the confession to which the Fourth Gospel has been leading up. St. John began with the statement that the Word was God. He showed at once that he identified the Word with Jesus of Nazareth, for he said that the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. Then he proceeded with the rest of the life of Jesus, selecting his incidents in order to show that he was right in identifying Jesus with the Word. He came quite early to the people of Samaria, who said, “This is the Saviour of the world.” But that was not definite enough; it was not individual enough. He proceeded with the life, recording its wonderful words and wonderful works, till he came to the death and the resurrection of Jesus. He reached his climax and conclusion in the confession of Thomas, “My Lord and my God.” Then he brought his Gospel to an end with that frank expression of the purpose of it—“These are written, that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye may have life in his name.”
3. Is it not a remarkable thing that this confession was made by Thomas? We speak of Thomas as the doubter. Is it not astonishing that the doubting Thomas should have been he that rose to that great height of faith, and was able to say “My Lord and my God”? It may be that we are not so much astonished at it as our fathers were. Tennyson has taught us to believe that doubt may not be undesirable. At least he has taught us to repeat comfortably his words--
There is more faith in honest doubt,
Believe me, than in half the creeds.
But even to us it is surely a surprise to find that that man whom we have looked upon as most reluctant of all the Apostles to make the venture of faith, makes at last a venture which must, we think, have startled the rest of the Apostles as they heard it, calling this Jesus with whom they had companied all these days not only Lord but also God. But let us see if Thomas was the common doubter we have taken him for. We know very little of his history. Almost all we know from the Gospels is contained in four sayings.
(1) The first saying was uttered on the occasion of the death of Lazarus. Jesus and His disciples had left Judæa for fear of the Jews when word reached them in their seclusion that Lazarus was dead. Jesus announced His intention of returning to the neighbourhood of Jerusalem. The disciples remonstrated. “The Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?” When Jesus persisted, “Let us also go,” said Thomas, “that we may die with him.” These are not the words of a vulgar doubter. They are the words of a man who counts the cost. If he errs in counting the cost too deliberately, at any rate he falls into fewer mistakes than the impulsive Peter. And it is the more creditable to him that, counting the cost so carefully, he makes so brave a decision as this.
(2) The second saying is spoken in the Upper Room. Jesus was trying to prepare the disciples for the impending separation. He was going away. They knew where He was going, did they not? “Whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.” But they did not know; and it was Thomas who uttered their ignorance: “Lord, we know not whither thou goest: and how can we know the way?” There is neither doubt nor conspicuous caution in the words; there is simply the mind of the practical man who is willing to go where he has to go but would like to see the way.
(3) It is from the third saying that Thomas has obtained the name of doubter. Jesus had risen from the dead, but Thomas could not believe it. No more could the rest believe it until they had evidence before them. Thomas happened to be absent when they had it, and he said, “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” With such an expression of determined disbelief to his credit, it is not to be wondered at that Thomas has received the name of doubting Thomas. Yet these are scarcely the words of a man who doubts habitually. They are rather the determination of a cautious and practical man to make sure that he has evidence enough to go upon. And God never refuses any man sufficient evidence. A few days afterwards Jesus offered Thomas the very evidence that he demanded. Thomas was wrong in relying so entirely on the evidence of the senses, and he was rebuked for that. “Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed. Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” But it is to the glory of Thomas that when he did obtain sufficient evidence he believed with all his heart. As soon as he understood, he trusted; as soon as he knew, he loved. He needed no more than the evidence of the Resurrection to prove the Divinity. He made the great leap of faith and threw himself personally into the arms of a personal Saviour—“My Lord and my God.”
(4) “My Lord and my God.” This is the fourth saying of Thomas that we know. Thomas the doubter has left his doubt behind. He has outstripped his fellow-disciples. He has outstripped even the impetuous Peter, whose great confession,” Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” lacks the personal appropriation that marks the difference between insight and faith.
Men have generally passed on Thomas a very severe judgment. The Church, for ages, has branded infidel on his brow. But this judgment is one that is not justified by the facts, and cannot be entertained by us. At all times and even to this day people are quite ready to scatter such epithets about with an open hand. It is an easy and complacent way of disposing of men. But it is often a shallow enough device. We show thereby but little insight into the nature of men or of God. If we could look into the hearts of those whom we so fling away from us, we should often find deep enough sorrows there, struggles to which we ourselves are strangers, wrestlings for truth and light without receiving it, and yearnings pent up and hidden from the general eye.
There is not one believer who is not assailed by moments of doubt, of doubt of the existence of God. These doubts are not harmful: on the contrary, they lead to the highest comprehension of God. That God whom I knew became familiar to me, and I no longer believed in Him. A man believes fully in God only when He is revealed anew to him, and He is revealed to man from a new side, when He is sought with a man’s whole soul.
They bade me cast the thing away,
They pointed to my hands all bleeding,
They listened not to all my pleading;
The thing I meant I could not say;
I knew that I should rue the day
If once I cast that thing away.
I grasped it firm, and bore the pain;
The thorny husks I stripped and scattered;
If I could reach its heart, what mattered
If other men saw not my gain,
Or even if I should be slain?
I knew the risks; I chose the pain.
O, had I cast that thing away,
I had not found what most I cherish,
A faith without which I should perish,--
The faith which, like a kernel, lay
Hid in the husks which on that day
My instinct would not throw away!
4. How did Thomas reach his great confession? He reached it through the Death and the Resurrection. These are the two events which have occurred between the time when Thomas with the rest of the disciples forsook Him and fled, and the time when he said, “My Lord and my God.”
(1) He obtained “My Lord” first. The resurrection of Jesus gave him that directly. For Jesus had claimed the mastery, and to that claim God had now set His seal by raising Him from the dead. It was the simple confession of the Messiahship. His death seemed to show that He had made the claim unwarrantably, but the resurrection proved that He had made it with the approbation of God.
The title “Lord” as used at the time, had little more significance than the title “Sir,” as we use it in addressing men to-day. But as it fell from the lips of this man, I think I am right in saying that it came with a full and rich and spacious meaning. I do not think for a moment you can differ from me when I say that when Thomas on that occasion said, “My Lord,” in that word he recognized the sovereignty of Christ over his own life, and did by that word yield himself in willing submission to that sovereignty.1 [Note: G. Campbell Morgan.]
(2) But “Lord” alone may be useless. “Ye call me Master and Lord,” said Jesus, “but ye do not the things which I say.” And again, He warned them that many would say to Him “Lord, Lord,” to whom He would have to make the reply that He never knew them. To “My Lord” it is necessary to add “My God.”
Thomas obtained “My Lord” from Jesus’ resurrection. He found “My God” in His death and resurrection combined. We are apt to think that he must have found “My God” in the power which Jesus possessed or in the authority which He wielded; in His miracles or in His teaching. But His life and work could do no more than show that Jesus might be God. What proved Him to be God indeed was His suffering and death followed by His resurrection. For now it was evident that He need not have suffered and need not have died. It was evident that He had suffered and died purely out of love. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” It needs the love of God to lay down one’s life for one’s enemies. “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” “God is love,” and the Man who could not save Himself as He hung upon the cross could be nothing less than God.
If the conclusion that Jesus was God was based merely upon the fact of resurrection, I declare that it was not justified. Resurrection did not demonstrate deity. The Hebrew Scriptures told of resurrection of certain men from the dead. Put these out of mind if you can. Thomas had seen three dead ones come to life during the ministry of Jesus. He had seen Him raise the child of Jairus; he had seen the son of the widow of Nain given back to his mother after he had been laid upon the bier; and he had seen the raising of Lazarus, but he did not stand in the presence of Lazarus and say, My Lord and my God, because Lazarus was alive from the dead. If the confession was merely the result of resurrection, then I declare it was not justified. The fact that Christ was risen from among the dead is not enough to base the doctrine of His deity upon. But, as a sequence to all that had preceded it, I claim that he was justified. In that hour when Thomas became convinced that the One he had seen dead was alive from among the dead, there came back again to him with gathered force, focused into one clear bright hour of illumination, all the facts in the life and ministry that had preceded that resurrection.1 [Note: G. Campbell Morgan.]
Faith is not belief in fact, demonstration, or promise; it is sensibility to the due influence of the fact, something that enables us to act upon the fact, the susceptibility to all the strength that is in the fact, so that we are controlled by it. Nobody can properly define this. All we can say is that it comes by the grace of God, and that failure to see the truth is not so lamentable as failure to be moved by it.2 [Note: Mark Rutherford.]
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No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me,
saith the LORD.
is born of God overcometh the world: and this is
the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
Who is he that overcometh the world,
but he that believeth
that Jesus is the
Son of God?
But they that wait
upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
The Whole Armor
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all,
Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
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