"As for man, his days are like grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
When the wind has passed over it, it is no more, and its place acknowledges it no longer.
But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him..."
~Psalm 103:15-17a

JWs and the Bible

A student that I study the Bible with has run into a Jehovah's Witness, prompting several questions about what I think about them.  I had never really thought about them except as people who teach things not found in the Bible and who do not believe that Jesus is God.  So I got a book from Paul's famous library called Jehovah's Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse, by David A. Reed.  It is a great book, written by a man who is a former JW elder and so knows a lot about what they think and believe.  He gives an overview of what they believe and then goes through the main verses they use to "prove" their points and gives arguments against them.  He also gives his testimony and a guide to talking with JWs (the main point being - don't argue just to "win" - be empathetic and kindly point out what the Bible actually says).  Below are some of the main things they believe compared to what the Bible says.

Jesus


JWs do not believe that Jesus is God.  They think He is just an angel.  In contrast, the Bible states very clearly that Jesus is God.  In Hebrews chapter 1, you will see that it compares Jesus with the angels; it talks about how much greater Jesus is than the angels (verse 4); it says that the angels are to worship Jesus (verse 6); it says that Jesus is God (verses 8 and 10).  From this passage it is clear that Jesus is not just another angel that God created (even a greater angel than the others); He is in fact, God.  There are many other places in the Bible where it clearly says that Jesus is God.

Jehovah


Since the JWs do not believe that Jesus is God, they say that there is only one God, Jehovah.  Because of this, they have changed their Bibles inserting the word Jehovah even when that is not the word used.  The Bible does teach that there is only one God, but it also says that there are three persons in that one God: God the Father, God the Son (Jesus) and God the Holy Spirit.  This is something that is a bit hard to understand, but it is what is clearly taught in the Bible.  For example, see Mark 12:29-32 (there is only one God); then look at Matthew 3:16-17 (Jesus is baptized, the Holy Spirit, or Spirit of God, comes down from heaven, and there is a voice from heaven - God's voice; this shows that there are three persons).  There are many other examples, too.

144,000


JWs also believe that only 144,000 people can go to heaven.  That number was filled up in 1935, so now anyone who becomes a JW can only hope (if they are good enough) to live on the earth forever (instead of going to heaven).  The Bible teaches, though, that anyone who believes in Jesus (believing that Jesus' death paid our punishment for sin) can be saved and go to heaven; there is no limit on the number of people who can go to heaven.  For example, in John 14:1-3, Jesus talks about going to prepare a place for us (no mention of it being only for some people); in John 17:20-24, Jesus prays that all who believe in Him will be able to go to heaven to see His glory.

Salvation


JWs say that believing in Jesus is the only way to be saved, but in practice, they also think that you have to obey the Watchtower Society (their organization) and do a lot of good things to be saved.  But the Bible makes no mention of this at all.  The only thing you have to do to be saved according to the Bible is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (see Acts 16:31 and Romans 10:9).

Birthdays


An interesting thing that JWs believe is that it is a sin to celebrate birthdays - if a JW sends a birthday card to someone, he can be "disfellowshipped" (which means no other JWs - even family members - can associate with that person anymore).  However, there is nowhere in the Bible that it says it is bad to celebrate birthdays.  (JWs get this rule from the fact that the only times birthdays are mentioned in the Bible is in connection to Pharoah and Herod, who both had someone killed on their birthdays.  This seems ridiculous to me - the celebration of birthdays has nothing to do with killing people, and it's not like Pharoah and Herod killed people only on their birthdays.)

Blood Transfusions


Another thing they believe is that it is a sin to recieve a blood transfusion - even if they would die if they didn't get it.  If they do get a blood transfusion, they will be disfellowshipped.  The closest thing to this rule in the Bible is when it forbids eating blood, but there is nowhere that the Bible says you cannot use blood (and it's quite a stretch to say that having a blood transfusion is the same kind of thing as eating blood).

This is just a brief summary of some key points.  By no means does it cover everything, nor do I claim to be an expert in this.  My best recommendation to you if you are considering what JWs believe, is to compare it to the Bible.  What does the Bible say?  Even JWs believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, so it should technically take precedence.  No one should believe something just because their organization told them that's the way it is.  Go back to the Truth (Jesus).

Prophetstown Pictures

As promised, here are some pictures from my "bummel" to Prophetstown.

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Birthdays, a Bummel and Babies

Well, the past few days have been pretty busy. To begin things, Friday was my birthday. We didn't do too much to celebrate, but several people remembered my birthday, which was very nice, and then we had some good family time that evening over a game of Settlers. Guess who won? Wrong! It wasn't me, it was David. You'd think he'd let me win on my birthday, wouldn't you?!?! :) (Just kidding, David. It was fun.) Then I got to fold some laundry while watching a movie. (Some chores still have to be done, even on birthdays.)

Saturday, I went to Prophetstown State Park with some Chinese friends - they cooked some delicious Chinese food for our picnic! It was very relaxing: walking the trails, observing nature (we even saw a turtle!) and looking at the historic farmhouse. The weather was gorgeous - sunny, but not hot - and we stayed there for about five hours. I'll try to get some pictures here from that trip soon.

Back at home, Mom had gotten a phone call from a social worker, asking if we would take two children in for foster care! (We are a licensed foster care family, but have not had any foster children since Maria came home.) After a quick discussion with Dad, she agreed, so we now have two kids under one year! So Saturday evening, I acted as babysitter, while Mom went shopping. Having babies around sure changes things! :)

Sunday was busy with church and trying to adjust to the babies and figure out schedules (when are they used to eating and napping? they didn't come with many instructions!). Now we're on to a new week. Hopefully we'll be able to get the babies onto a schedule soon.

[By the way, if you are wondering what the "Bummel" in the title is referring to, it is referring to my trip to Prophetstown. Here is the official definition of a bummel according to Jerome in Three Men on the Bummel, written by Jerome K. Jerome: "'A "Bummel"...[is] a journey, long or short, without an end; the only thing regulating it being the necessity of getting back within a given time to the point from which one started. ... But long or short, but here or there, our thoughts are ever on the running of the sand. ... We have been much interested, and often a little tired. But on the whole we have had a pleasant time, and are sorry when ’tis over.'"]

It made my day...

Do you know how easy it is to make someone's day? Very. Not convinced? Here are some real life ways you can make someone's day:

Remember when someone's birthday is and then wish them a happy birthday that day!


Or, you can find a bracelet that someone was desperately looking for.


Or, you can simply take the time to stop and talk to someone. Ask them how they are doing and then really care about the answer.



...If it's so easy to make someone's day, then why don't I do it more often?

Isaiah: Justice and Mercy

In Isaiah chapter 2, Isaiah talks about how the people of God are worshiping other gods and following pagans, rather than following God. In response to this, God is going to humble mankind. He will punish pride and arrogance. People will be fleeing from the "dread of the Lord and the splendor of His majesty" and will leave their idols behind them. What must it be like to have a fear of the Lord like this? One response is definitely to "stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he?" Of what account indeed. If God is coming in all the splendor of His majesty, why should we care about man? Yet all too often, I care more for what people will think of me than for what God is going to think of me. Thinking logically, this does not make sense at all, since people are not going to determine where we spend eternity, and they are not the ones we should be striving to please! But it is so easy to forget about the splendor of God's majesty and to forget the dread of the Lord. Oh, that we would keep that in our minds at all times! How much easier it would be to do good and forsake evil if we continually had before us a picture of God in His majesty and splendor.

And, lest all this talk of the fear of God start you thinking that, "Wait a minute! God is a God of love! Love casts out fear!" etc, Isaiah also has a lot to say about God's mercy. We can't throw out God's justice simply because we don't like it. I think Isaiah does a good job of portraying "both sides" (if there are two sides) of God's character: the justice and mercy. Throughout Isaiah, there are passages that point to the hope that is coming in Jesus: the prophecy of a virgin who will be with child (Isaiah 6:13-15); the prophecy of a light coming to shine on the people who live in darkness (9:1-2); the prophecy of a Child who will be born who will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace (9:6-7); and then of course the passage in Isaiah 53 that describes Jesus, who was "pierced for our transgressions" and "crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed." Besides all of these "spotlights of hope," there are numerous references to God's mercy; times when God said, "I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for My own sake, and remembers your sins no more."

What a God we serve! The mighty and awesome God of the universe, who is holy and perfect and cannot tolerate any sin in His presence, but who, in His mercy, makes a way for us to be right with Him through Jesus Christ!