Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Question for Jehovah's Witnesses: what must I do to be saved?

12 comments:

Mike said...

Dude, you spent a lot of time on the front portion of your hair (I guess girls call it "Bangs"), but you missed a spot in the middle (we guys call it "Bed Head")!!!! hahaha, just kidding, bro!

Oh yeah, good vid-post, too! :)

Shawn said...

I can't believe no one has jumped on this yet?

*** w85 12/1 pp. 6-7 Righteousness Before God—How? ***

Neither Catholic nor Protestant “Justification”

Catholic dogma goes beyond what the Bible teaches when it claims that “a man is really made just,” or righteous, by the gift of divine grace bestowed at baptism. It is not baptism that washes away original sin, but it is Christ’s shed blood. (Romans 5:8, 9) There is a big difference between really being made righteous by God and being counted, or considered, as being righteous. (Romans 4:7, 8) Any honest Catholic, struggling in his fight against sin, knows that he has not really been made righteous. (Romans 7:14-19) If he were really righteous, he would have no sins to confess to a priest.

Furthermore, if Catholic dogma followed the Bible, the sin-conscious Catholic would confess his sins to God, asking forgiveness through Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:9–2:2) The intercession of a human priest at any stage of “justification” has no foundation in the Bible, no more than the accumulation of merits upon which the doctrine of indulgences is based.—Hebrews 7:26-28.

The Protestant concept of justification, as meaning a Christian’s being declared righteous on the merits of Christ’s sacrifice, is without a doubt nearer to what the Bible teaches. However, some Protestant churches teach “justification by faith alone,” which, as we will later see, overlooks specific reasonings presented by the apostle Paul and by James. Those churches’ spiritually smug attitude is summed up by the phrase “once saved, always saved.” Some Protestants believe that it is sufficient to believe in Jesus to be saved and, therefore, that justification precedes baptism.

Further, certain Protestant churches, while teaching justification by faith, follow the French reformer John Calvin and teach personal predestination, thus denying the Biblical doctrine of free will. (Deuteronomy 30:19, 20) It can, therefore, be stated that neither the Catholic nor the Protestant concepts of justification are totally in harmony with the Bible.

What Does the Bible Teach?

Yet the Bible definitely teaches the doctrine of “justification,” or the way in which a human can be granted a righteous standing before God. We have earlier seen why we need to be put right with God, since we are all born, not as God’s children, but as “children of wrath.” (Ephesians 2:1-3) Whether God’s wrath remains upon us or not depends upon our accepting or refusing his merciful provision for reconciliation with him, the holy, righteous God. (John 3:36) That loving provision is “the ransom paid by Christ Jesus.”—Romans 3:23, 24.

The apostle Paul showed that Christ’s ransom sacrifice opens up two hopes, one “upon the earth” and the other “in the heavens.” He wrote: “God saw good for all fullness to dwell in him [Christ], and through him to reconcile again to himself all other things by making peace through the blood he shed on the torture stake, no matter whether they are the things upon the earth or the things in the heavens.”—Colossians 1:19, 20.

To share in either of these two hopes, it is necessary to have a righteous standing before God, and this involves much more than merely “believing in Jesus.” Just what is involved for Christians who have the heavenly hope and for those whose hope is to live forever in a paradise on earth will be considered in the following two articles. Please read on, and do not hesitate to ask the witness of Jehovah who supplied you with this magazine to discuss these articles with you, Bible in hand.
***

So there are two ways to be saved! That is so much better than only one way. But this is a cliff-hanger, we still don't know _how_ we get to be saved.


*** w85 12/1 pp. 16-17 Declared Righteous as a Friend of God ***

Accounted Righteous as Friends for Survival

13 The Fine Shepherd, Jesus Christ, is now bringing in “other sheep” that are not of the “little flock” of 144,000 “holy ones” to whom the heavenly Kingdom is given. (Luke 12:32; Daniel 7:18) These “other sheep” listen to the voice of the Fine Shepherd. (John 10:16) They exercise faith in Jehovah and in his Son. They dedicate their lives to Jehovah on the basis of Christ’s ransom sacrifice. They are baptized “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit” and recognize the need to cultivate “the fruitage of the spirit.” (Matthew 28:19, 20; Galatians 5:22, 23) Their names are written in Jehovah’s book of remembrance.

14 These “other sheep” gathered in this time of the end will make up the “great crowd” whom the apostle John saw in vision, after he had seen the 144,000 members of spiritual Israel. (Revelation 7:4, 9) He described the “great crowd” as having “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Verse 14) Because of their faith in the Lamb’s shed blood, a degree of righteousness is credited to them. This was depicted by their symbolic white robes. They have a clean standing before Jehovah, and “that is why” he allows them to ‘render him sacred service day and night in his temple.’ (Verse 15) Still, each day they must confess their sins to Jehovah and ask for forgiveness through Jesus Christ.—1 John 1:9–2:2.

15 That the “other sheep” are God’s friends and even now have a relatively righteous standing before him is also made clear in Jesus’ prophecy on ‘the sign of his presence,’ which includes the illustration of the sheep and the goats. Because the “sheep” do good to the remnant of Christ’s 144,000 “brothers” still on earth, they are blessed by Jesus’ Father and are called “righteous ones.” Like Abraham, they are accounted, or declared, righteous as friends of God. Their righteous standing will also mean survival for them when the “goats” depart into “everlasting cutting-off.” (Matthew 24:3–25:46) They will “come out of the great tribulation” that will mark the end of the present wicked system of things.—Revelation 7:14.
***

So most of us are not going to heaven, but if we're really nice to the ones who are with a cherry on top, we can survive the horrors of Armageddon. I really hope there will be licensed therapists on the other side, because there are going to be a LOT of people with PTSD after witnessing the mass destruction of the vast majority of the population.

It turns out, one needs to be a part of an organization to be saved. ( I feel bad for the first century Christians who had no organization available to which they could belong... but they did have the opportunity to talk to Jesus, so I guess we're even )

*** w06 4/1 pp. 21-25 pars. 3-15 ‘Go and Make Disciples, Baptizing Them’ ***

3 To be among those who enjoy that precious relationship with God, one must make a dedication to Jehovah and symbolize it publicly by water baptism. This is in obedience to Jesus’ direct command to his disciples: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19, 20) The Israelites listened to a reading of “the book of the covenant.” (Exodus 24:3, 7, 8) Thus, they understood their obligations toward Jehovah. Likewise today, an accurate knowledge of God’s will as found in his Word, the Bible, is essential before one takes the step of baptism.

4 Clearly, Jesus intended for his disciples to have a solid foundation for their faith before they would get baptized. He instructed his followers not only to go and make disciples but also to teach them ‘to observe all the things he had commanded.’ (Matthew 7:24, 25; Ephesians 3:17-19) Therefore, those who qualify for baptism have usually studied the Bible for months or even a year or two, so that their decision is neither hasty nor ill-informed. At the baptism itself, the candidates answer yes to two key questions. Since Jesus emphasized that ‘our Yes should mean Yes, our No, No,’ it will be helpful for all of us to review carefully the significance of these two baptismal questions.—Matthew 5:37.

Repentance and Dedication

5 The first baptismal question asks the candidate if he has repented of his former life course and dedicated his life to Jehovah to do his will. This question emphasizes two vital steps that must be taken prior to baptism, namely repentance and dedication.

6 Why must a person repent before presenting himself for baptism? The apostle Paul explains: “We all at one time conducted ourselves in harmony with the desires of our flesh.” (Ephesians 2:3) Before we came to an accurate knowledge of God’s will, we lived in harmony with the world, according to its values and standards. Our life course was under the control of the god of this system, Satan. (2 Corinthians 4:4) Having come to know God’s will, however, we resolve to live “no more for the desires of men, but for God’s will.”—1 Peter 4:2.

7 This new course brings many rewards. Above all, it opens the way to a precious relationship with Jehovah, which David compared to an invitation to enter into God’s “tent” and “holy mountain”—a grand privilege indeed. (Psalm 15:1) Logically, Jehovah would invite not just anyone but only those “walking faultlessly and practicing righteousness and speaking the truth in [their] heart.” (Psalm 15:2) Depending on our circumstances before we learned the truth, meeting these requirements may mean that we must make certain changes—both in conduct and in personality. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Colossians 3:5-10) The motivation for such changes is repentance—deep regret over our former life course and a strong determination to please Jehovah. This leads to a complete turnabout—abandoning a selfish, worldly way of life and pursuing a course pleasing to God.—Acts 3:19.

8 The second part of the first baptismal question asks the candidates if they have dedicated themselves to Jehovah to do his will. Dedication is an essential step that must precede baptism. It is made in prayer, in which we express the desire to give our life to Jehovah through Christ. (Romans 14:7, 8; 2 Corinthians 5:15) Jehovah then becomes our Master and Owner, and like Jesus we delight to do God’s will. (Psalm 40:8; Ephesians 6:6) This solemn promise to Jehovah is made only once. Since we make our dedication in private, however, a public declaration on the day of baptism serves to let everyone know that we have made this solemn dedication to our heavenly Father.—Romans 10:10.

9 What does following Jesus’ example in doing God’s will involve? Jesus said to his disciples: “If anyone wants to come after me, let him disown himself and pick up his torture stake and continually follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) Here he outlined three things that we must do. First, we “disown” ourselves. In other words, we say no to our selfish, imperfect inclinations and yes to God’s counsel and direction. Second, we ‘pick up our torture stake.’ In Jesus’ day a torture stake was a symbol of shame and suffering. As Christians, we accept our part in suffering for the sake of the good news. (2 Timothy 1:8) Although the world may ridicule or reproach us, like Christ we ‘despise shame,’ happy in the knowledge that we are pleasing God. (Hebrews 12:2) Finally, we follow Jesus “continually.”—Psalm 73:26; 119:44; 145:2.

10 Interestingly, even some opposers recognize the dedication that Jehovah’s Witnesses have made to God to serve him unreservedly. For example, in the Buchenwald concentration camp of Nazi Germany, Witnesses who refused to renounce their faith were required to sign the following printed statement: “I am still a committed Bible Student and will never break the oath I have sworn to Jehovah.” Surely this well expresses the attitude of all dedicated, faithful servants of God!—Acts 5:32.

Identified as One of Jehovah’s Witnesses

11 The second question asks the candidate, first of all, if he understands that his baptism serves to identify him as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. After undergoing immersion, he becomes an ordained minister who bears Jehovah’s name. This is both a great privilege and a serious responsibility. It also puts the one baptized in line for eternal salvation, provided he remains faithful to Jehovah.—Matthew 24:13.

12 Certainly, it is a singular honor to bear the name of the almighty God, Jehovah. The prophet Micah said: “All the peoples, for their part, will walk each one in the name of its god; but we, for our part, shall walk in the name of Jehovah our God to time indefinite, even forever.” (Micah 4:5) Nevertheless, an obligation accompanies this honor. We must strive to live our life in a way that brings honor to the name we bear. As Paul reminded the Christians in Rome, if one does not practice what one preaches, the name of God is “blasphemed,” or brought into disrepute.—Romans 2:21-24.

13 When a person becomes one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, he also assumes the responsibility to witness about his God. Jehovah invited the dedicated nation of Israel to be his witnesses in order to testify to his eternal Godship. (Isaiah 43:10-12, 21) But the nation failed to fulfill this role, and they eventually lost Jehovah’s favor completely. Today, true Christians are proud to have the privilege of bearing witness to Jehovah. We do so because we love him and long for his name to be sanctified. How can we be silent when we know the truth about our heavenly Father and his purpose? We feel as did the apostle Paul when he said: “Necessity is laid upon me. Really, woe is me if I did not declare the good news!”—1 Corinthians 9:16.

14 The second question also reminds the candidate of his responsibility to work with Jehovah’s spirit-directed organization. We are not alone in serving God, and we need the help, support, and encouragement of “the whole association of brothers.” (1 Peter 2:17; 1 Corinthians 12:12, 13) God’s organization plays a vital role in our spiritual growth. It provides a wealth of Bible publications that help us to grow in accurate knowledge, to act wisely when we are faced with problems, and to cultivate a close relationship with God. Like a mother who makes sure that her child is well-fed and cared for, “the faithful and discreet slave” provides an abundance of timely spiritual food for our spiritual advancement.—Matthew 24:45-47; 1 Thessalonians 2:7, 8.

15 At weekly meetings, Jehovah’s people receive the needed training and encouragement to be faithful Witnesses of Jehovah. (Hebrews 10:24, 25) The Theocratic Ministry School teaches us to speak in public, and the Service Meeting trains us to present our message effectively. Both at our meetings and through our personal study of Bible publications, we can see Jehovah’s spirit at work, directing his organization. By means of these regular provisions, God alerts us to dangers, trains us to be effective ministers, and helps us to keep spiritually awake.—Psalm 19:7, 8, 11; 1 Thessalonians 5:6, 11; 1 Timothy 4:13.
***

Notice that "The second question also reminds the candidate of his responsibility to work with Jehovah’s spirit-directed organization. " So to be saved, we must belong to Jehovah's spirit-directed organization. Of course, the next question is... How can we identify which organization is Jehovah's organization? Fortunately, the Watchtower give us the answer...

*** w97 1/15 p. 22 pars. 21-22 What Does God Require of Us? ***

21 We are not alone in making the changes needed to bring our lives into harmony with God’s standards. Jehovah has a people on this earth, and he expects us to serve him along with them. This brings us to the fourth requirement. We must serve Jehovah with his spirit-directed organization.

22 How, though, can God’s organized people be identified? According to the standards set out in the Scriptures, they have real love among themselves, they have deep respect for the Bible, they honor God’s name, they preach about his Kingdom, and they are no part of this wicked world. (Matthew 6:9; 24:14; John 13:34, 35; 17:16, 17) There is only one religious organization on this earth that has all these marks of true Christianity—Jehovah’s Witnesses!
***

So there's the answer to the question of how one can attain salvation. Study with one of Jehovah's Witnesses from the publications of the Watchtower Society and make a life-long dedication to God's spirit-directed organization, also run by the Watchtower Society.

Mike-e said...

wow, great points Shawn! A lot actually have jumped on this on my youtube page. Its pretty amazing watching JW's stumble over this seemingly simple question! They apparently aren't aware of the law of excluded middle. Its either

1. Faith alone
2. Faith plus works
3. Works alone (obviously, thats not even under consideration)

This issue is like nailing jello to the wall. It seems like they advocate sola fide at some points, but then they go back to these confusing statements that seem to imply that works can add to their justification. So confusing!

I think the plain and simple answer is, as you pointed out...study with a JW, get baptized, and attend meetings. That's how you get saved. But wait, you gotta be really really good until armaggedon! But still not guaranteed!

Voice of Reason said...

To be saved:

First, don't make stupid youtube videos.


Second.

Serve Jehovah God through Jesus. Salvation is a byproduct of that.
In other words, don't worry about salvation.

So your next question is how does one serve Jehovah.

John 17:3 says to take in knowledge of Jehovah and Jesus.

The best way is to study the Bible with Jehovah's Witnesses and then serving Jehovah will come easier. But any other religion just focuses on the personal salvation and that causes them to lose out on it as selfishness is not part of God's way.

Mike-e said...

So I can make Youtube videos as long as they aren't stupid? :-P

Ok, so let me make sure I understand you correctly. I have to serve Jehovah, and thus will be saved as a byproduct? Question: how faithful do I have to be in my service to Jehovah? Honestly, I am an utter failure before a holy and righteous God and need to know how faithful I need to be in order to be accepted by Him. I'm assuming that you don't have the same problem I do.

Thirdly, I am studying with Jehovah's Witnesses and have been for over a year. Interesting how, after all this time, no one has ever said "Mike, this is what you must do to be saved..."

Honestly, (whatever your name is), if you studied with me, i'd show you point blank within our first sitting what you must do to be saved. But on your end, it seems to be much more complicated than that.

Voice of Reason said...

"Ok, so let me make sure I understand you correctly. I have to serve Jehovah, and thus will be saved as a byproduct? "

When one sets out on the goal to be saved, one will fail. The reason is that was not Jesus' purpose. His purpose was to glorify is father. When that was done, salvation is also available.

"Question: how faithful do I have to be in my service to Jehovah? Honestly, I am an utter failure before a holy and righteous God and need to know how faithful I need to be in order to be accepted by Him. I'm assuming that you don't have the same problem I do."

I am not an utter failure before Jehovah because Jesus stands with me and for me. My attempts don't matter because, to put it in racing terms, I didn't even pass tech. Jesus gave me a car and is driving it.

"Honestly, if you studied with me, i'd show you point blank within our first sitting what you must do to be saved. But on your end, it seems to be much more complicated than that. "

No, it is not complicated. But people don't know what saved means.

Salvation comes at ones death or at the going through of Jehovah's day or armageddon.

Since there is to be a resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous, one is better to be in the righteous group.

Being saved through armageddon is about washing one's robe and making it white in the blood of the lame to be identified among that great crowd.

Mike-e said...

Maybe I should better define my terms, so I apologize for the confusion. Let me rephrase my question:

What must I do to be declared righteous or justified before God?

Nonetheless, I still question that salvation can only come at the resurrection. Could you explain the following Scripture to me:

"He who hears My word, and believe Him who sent me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life." (John 5:24)

Does this not tell us that eternal life (or salvation) happens when one "believes in Him who sent me?" And does it not tell us that this "passing out of death into life" is past tense, meaning that salvation and justification happens when we profess true saving faith in Christ?

If any of my questioning sounds redundant, I apologize. I'm really trying to figure out exactly where JW's stand on salvation and justification.

jimfisher007 said...

Mike,

Salvation is a gift from God. You can not earn it. John 3:16, John 17:3, Matthew 7: 21-23.

Jim

Mike-e said...

Do you agree then, Jim, that we are Justified by faith alone apart from works?

Voice of Reason said...

"Do you agree then, Jim, that we are Justified by faith alone apart from works? "

What does it mean to be justified?

Mike-e said...

To be justified is to be declared righteous.

jimfisher007 said...

Jesus said:

Matthew 7 (New American Standard Bible)

21"(R)Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.

22"(S)Many will say to Me on (T)that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?'

23"And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; (U)DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'

And:

John 6 (New American Standard Bible)
36"But (AX)I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe.

37"(AY)All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.

38"For (AZ)I have come down from heaven, (BA)not to do My own will, but (BB)the will of Him who (BC)sent Me.

39"This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of (BD)all that He has given Me I (BE)lose nothing, but (BF)raise it up on the last day.

40"For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who (BG)beholds the Son and (BH)believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will (BI)raise him up on the last day."

And:

James 2 (New American Standard Bible)

14(Y)What use is it, (Z)my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?
15(AA)If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food,

16and one of you says to them, "(AB)Go in peace, be warmed and be filled," and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?

17Even so (AC)faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.

18(AD)But someone may well say, "You have faith and I have works; show me your (AE)faith without the works, and I will (AF)show you my faith (AG)by my works."

19You believe that [a](AH)God is one (AI)You do well; (AJ)the demons also believe, and shudder.

20But are you willing to recognize, (AK)you foolish fellow, that (AL)faith without works is useless?

21(AM)Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar?

22You see that (AN)faith was working with his works, and as a result of the (AO)works, faith was perfected;

23and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "(AP)AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS," and he was called (AQ)the friend of God.

24You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.

25In the same way, was not (AR)Rahab the harlot also justified by works (AS)when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?

26For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also (AT)faith without works is dead.


Jim