Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Jehovah's Witnesses: Declared righteous by faith and works?


Anonymous said...

Hi Mike , just a comment - I'm assuming you're aiming your sermon at persons of below average intelligence ? I found it patronising to say he least. Most JWs would disagree with your portrayal, as the scriptures teach we are saved by faith alone -amen to that ! I know I am saved, because of the work Jesus did on the torture stake , and because he has been raised from the dead and reigns as my Eternal Father - having purchased me with his blood. It is this ALONE that saves us ,as you correctly state , so amen to that!It is my faith in Christ that moves me to good works - I do not attend meetings or witness to others or help the poor and needy where I can, simply because I believe these works will save me - I think it is wrong for you to imply that our motives for seeking to do good to others are selfish and based on a desire to be saved, while that may be true of some - it is untrue of the vast majority - who are moved by heart-felt faith and love for God and others to do the works they do. The scriptures are clear , without faith it is impossible to please Him! True faith - will be followed by good works as we are lead by the Spirit . Dont judge the heart motives of millions of persons - a dangerous thing t do - leave that to Jesus !

Mike Felker said...

@anonymous, I aimed this at all of the Jehovah's Witnesses who have greatly misunderstood the Bible's message of Salvation by faith alone. Though your experience may be different, I have found that the vast, vast majority do not understand salvation by faith alone. In fact, almost every JW that i've come across has strongly disagreed with it. Furthermore, i've rarely come across a JW that has been able to explain the simple point of Romans 4:1-8. This is why I felt the need to provide an explanation in such a way, as elementary as it might seem.

Just to provide support for my experience, check out my older videos where I pose questions concerning salvation by faith alone and look at all the responses from JW's. And furthermore, give this video some time and i'm expecting that many JW's will not be providing an "amen" to what i'm saying.

Anonymous said...

There are over 7 .5 million JWs , you may at most have a few hundred odd, if that posting on your site , hardly representative of the majority I would argue. Judging by some of the comments made - I would have to say that it is likely they are made by persons who do not have a solid grasp of the issue or are unable to articulate the official Soteriology of the Society correctly.

The Apologetic Front said...

Its not just those whom I meet on the internet. I have talked to many, many more in person during my 2 years I spent in study with different groups at different kingdom halls. All strongly denounced the biblical doctrine of justification by faith alone. I'm willing to grant your point that there are plenty of oddballs out there for every group, including mine. But that's precisely my point. I made this video to correct any who have misunderstandings with regards to this doctrine, whether JW's, Catholics or Mormons.

If it turns out that most JW's are in agreement with the Bible on this issue, then praise God for that. But in my research of Watchtower doctrine, i've yet to find any clear statements by the Watchtower that affirm justification by faith alone. If you can show statements to the contrary, whereby the WT clearly puts forth a position that justification is by faith alone, then i'll gladly take a second look.

Anonymous said...

Mike says: "... faith alone."

The inspired Bible writer James says:

"... not by faith alone." (James 2:24)

Who do you believe?

Anonymous said...

I believe the Bible writers make a distinction between true faith , which naturally produces fruitage and good works as opposed to false faith - simply saying one believes , why even the Devil believes, but it will not lead to his salvation .Faith if it is genuine , will be characterised by good works - the two go hand in hand - this is what James is trying to tell us , that it is true heart felt faith alone that saves ,and that good works are born from such a faith.

The Apologetic Front said...

@anonymous #1. I hope you can see now why I posted this video. As predicted, there seems to be some disagreement and confusion amongst JW's on this issue.

Anonymous said...

Well, that may be so - not all Christians share the same level of spiritual maturity or insight on every matter or issue . I have had many discussions with Evangelicals , and they do not share the same views on every subject either - even when it comes to the key doctrine of the Trinity , there are many differences of opinion. Take John Stott as an example , although a well respected Evangelical scholar he is also an annihilationist and does not believe in the doctrine of eternal torment...

Mark Hunter said...

I would have thought it the job of the Governing Body to make sure all Jehovah's Witnesses understood God' plan for salvation and that all Witnesses, in the proud unity, would be on the same page.

I'm not sure which Kingdom Hall or Watchtower magazines "anonymous" frequents or reads, but in my 36 years attending 3 Kingdom Halls and reading/studying countless Watch Tower Society publications, I didn't have his/hers understanding of salvation.

Anonymous said...

@Mark , Ever read Philipinans 2:12 and Romans 14:12? We will not stand before the Lord as JWs , Evangelicals , Methodists etc , but as individuals. Im curious to know why it took you 36 years to reach the conclusions you have about the WTS? Have you also thrown out the baby with the bath water ?

Mark Hunter said...

I've read those verses and I understand that Jesus mediates for me, and for all who trust him. I recognise that Jesus alone died for my sins and that his righteousness is imputed to me in the place of my guilt.

I understand, and believe, that salvation belongs to no man, but only comes through faith in Christ.

The Watch Tower Society doesn't teach this, but instead inserts itself into the salvation process. But you, as a JW, know that already.

What's this about "throwing the baby out with the bathwater"?

Anonymous said...

James 2 v 19-20 The Message Bible
"Do I hear you professing to believe in the one and only God, but then observe you complacently sitting back as if you had done something wonderful? That's just great. Demons do that, but what good does it do them? Use your heads! Do you suppose for a minute that you can cut faith and works in two and not end up with a corpse on your hands? "

Mark Hunter said...

But do your works justify you, that's the point?

Anonymous said...

I think we have already answered that one Mark .

Mark Hunter said...

So why are you quoting James 2?

The Apologetic Front said...

@anonymous, if this was "already answered," then why are there two JW's providing contradictory positions on this? Has the Watchtower not made any clear and definitive statements with regards to justification, faith, and works?

Mark Hunter said...

I'm confused; how many Jehovah's Witnesses are posting on this thread under "anonymous"?

Anonymous said...

A lot. Mark Hunter, I am the real Anonymous. The Watchtower Society has done a good job of explaining this subject.

Let me clear this whole thing up. Here is the Watchtower's position: "Saved, Not by Works Alone, But by Undeserved Kindness"
This article is found in the 2005 Watchtower, June 1st.

There is a good comment that explains what the real stance is, "Important though the good works themselves may be, the motives for doing them are even more important."

Can't get any clearer than that can we?

Mark Hunter said...

"There is a good comment that explains what the real stance is, "Important though the good works themselves may be, the motives for doing them are even more important."

Can't get any clearer than that can we?"

So, let me get this straight:
- you're not saved by your works
- you're saved by underserved kindness
- your good works important
- your motives behind the good works are even more important

That's not particularly simply, though, is it?

I mean, either Jesus imputes his righteousness to us as the ultimate demonstration of our Father's grace, thus allowing us to be saved via that imputed righteousness, OR;
- our works do play a part (ie. they're important (see above))
- but our motives behind those works is even more important

So, I could trust Jesus with all my being, I could do the works Jesus did, but my salvation still wouldn't be certain because I'd need to make sure my motives were right.


Great work, Governing Body.

The Apologetic Front said...

Yeah, i'm with Mark on that one. All this brought forth was less clarity and more confusion.

Anonymous said...

What it clears up is the Watchtower's stance. You are asking JW's and you seem to be getting different answers. So I showed you what you both already know.

We believe that works must accompany faith, ie going to meetings, going in field service and just plain being a good Christian person in the community.

To simply say as you, non denominationalists and many other "christians", faith alone isn't enough as is brought forth in the book of James, as is brought forth by Jesus life and the Apostles.

Let me give you an example of motives behind faith because this is ultimately what you are accusing JW's for. Let's say there is a JW who has committed a serious sin. No one knows about, maybe never will. He decides in his mind that he knows what he has done is wrong and instead of begging forgiveness he starts going out in the ministry.

The motives are wrong. Instead of wanting to share the Good News of the Kingdom to help save some, he is trying to balance out his sin.

Even though works alone can't save us, they are necessary. That is why Christians are called “a people peculiarly his own, zealous for fine works” and why they are encouraged to “consider one another to incite to love and fine works.” James, simply says: “As the body without spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.”

A true Christian performs works, simple as that. Motivated by God's spirit.

The Apologetic Front said...

@anonymous, i'm beginning to think that you do not understand my position on faith and works. Do you think that my view is that works are not necessary in demonstrating the genuineness of one's faith? Is it my view that one can have "faith," but continue living a life in sin and rebellion against God? If this is not the case in my view, then how would you contrast it with the WT's view?

Mark Hunter said...

Jehovah's Witnesses need to believe that Christians do not believe works are needed. This is because Jehovah's Witnesses are perpetuated a lie by their beloved Governing Body, namely the Witnesses are the only ones doing God's will.

"Let me give you an example of motives behind faith because this is ultimately what you are accusing JW's for. Let's say there is a JW who has committed a serious sin. No one knows about, maybe never will. He decides in his mind that he knows what he has done is wrong and instead of begging forgiveness he starts going out in the ministry. "

This is where you assume that sins need to be confessed to the elders (priests?) before a person can be forgiven ("no one knows about"; apart from God himself, no?). Notice you use the term "serious sin". That's because the Governing Body has brainwashed you into believing that there's a sliding scale of sin;
- getting drunk once in your one home = small sin
- copping a feel of your girlfriend = bigger sin
- regular masturbation = medium sized sin
- doubting the Governing Body = big sin

Whether on not Jehovah has/will forgiven you or not is dependent on where your size comes on the Governing Body's sliding scale of sin. It also depends on whether you confess your sins to the representatives of the Governing Body. Notice that it does not depend on the value of Jesus' shed blood.

Why is thing wrong?

Jesus took away, cleansed us of, has forgiven us for all of our sins. His blood paid the price for all of our sins. Therefore we do not need a human agency to get involved in the matter. It has nothing to do with them, no matter what year they claim God chose them. To believe and act like we do devalues Jesus' sacrifice and places us again under law....

And we certainly don't need to feel in our hearts that our works can balance it out again. We'd only feel that if we'd been brainwashed by the Governing Body into believing that Jesus shed blood does not/will not/cannot cover our sin.

All the very best of good fortune to you, anonymous, as you go through life trusting implicitly, and obeying without question (for fear of committing a very big sin) the Governing Body.

Adrian said...

Seems you have set the proverbial woodland alight with this one Mike.. lol
As the original "Anonymous" on this thread , my aim was to play " Devils Advocate" and observe how the discussion evolved .
I confess , I was once a JW and also an Evangelical Chritian - sorry ;-)
So I have a unique perspective , well acquainted with both sides - I can honestly say, the " Governing Body issue" aside it seems to be a classic case of semantics i.e you say "tomato" they say "tomahto", however ultimately both reaching the same conclusions in the end so in a nutshell, genuine faith = faith + works , with primary motive behind works being love for God and ,neighbour. The question is then , are we all arguing for the sake of arguing ? Trying to score points for most intellectual reasoning on the subject ? Shouldn't we be looking at what common ground we all share and trying to resolve differences in a spirit of love , instead of hurling great big "stones" at one another ?

The Apologetic Front said...

Adrian, I appreciate you coming out and being honest here. But this is far more than just a semantics issue. JW's not only fail in providing a clear and unmistakable position with regards to this issue, but hold positions that are in stark contrast to what the Bible teaches; in particular, in Romans 4:1-8.

Also, if this were just "arguing for the sake of arguing," i'd be doing much more useful things with my time. This is about proclaiming the gospel to all who are willing to listen and interact. And yes, this does involve arguing. But we are discussing things that place our eternal salvation at stake; depending on which position you hold. And the most loving thing I can do is to share the truth in love. Lord willing, i'm able to do so in gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15).

Mark Hunter said...

I think we need to remember that when a religion makes the claim that Jesus chose it in 1919 to speak exclusively for God, and that the men "running" the religion need to be acknowledged (and obeyed) in order to avoid being executed at Armageddon, then that religion bears close scrutiny;

- does the religion offer a body of evidence to support it's claims of exclusivity?
- does the religion teach what the Bible clearly does?

It isn't about semantics, it's about making sure we have "the truth".

Adrian said...

Mike I can't read hearts ,but don't doubt your sincerity or your motives,however I have witnessed my fair share of hypocrisy amongst JW s and Evangelicals alike . Having spent two years in fellowship with a movement called " New Frontiers" lead by Terry Virgo , who claims to be a 21st Century Apostle ,and then for a short period with a non denominational house church movement. Conclusion , all religions and movements have their idiosynchrassies some worse than others, problem is that fallen human nature being what it is craves power and control over others and men/women often use religion as a vehicle to achieve there ambitions, sadly the WTS has fallen prey to such like ones , however I've certainly seen the same in other movements to.

The Apologetic Front said...

Adrain, no doubt that hypocrisy is everywhere. And I can only hope that i'm consistent enough to be willing to point that out in my own backyard when it arises. However, the Watchtower has presented itself as above and beyond almost anything i've ever encountered in terms of its hypocrisy and control amongst its adherents. But I would say my primary reason for specializing in JW's is because of my passion for seeing them come to know the Jesus that I know and worship.