Answering the door to JW's
Who are the Jehovah's Witnesses?
Jehovah's Witnesses are people that belong to the Watchtower organisation. The organisation can trace its origin to the bible studies of its founder Charles Taze Russell in 1870. JW's are essentially gnostic in th nmeir belief that is they believe that knowledge (from the Greek gnosis) and the following of that knowledge is the way to God. Gnosticism is a Greek philosophy and way of understanding the world; the world is part of a cosmic war between good and evil. God and the spiritual realm is a good force and the physical realm is evil. Jehovah witnesses adopted some of this philosophy and imported it into Christianity. They are well known for spreading their message at every opportunity. The Watchtower organisation began life as a printing publisher and since its inception distributing printed media has been prolific. They see Jehovah's Kingdom on earth as the only true religion; therefore they claim to be the sole witnesses’ to Jehovah and his purpose.
The History of the Jehovah's Witnesses
The organisation was founded by Charles Taze Russell and then adapted by Judge Rutherford. Russell came from Pennsylvania where, in 1870 at the age of 18, he organised a bible class, they elected him 'Pastor' six years later. One of the central themes in Russell's teaching is the denouncement of all organised religions of the world, especially the religion of his early life, Christianity and as he grew up he became enamoured with the Adventist movement in America.
Charles Russell lived a life full of controversy and during divorce proceedings it came to light that the vast wealth of the quickly growing religion was owned personally by him, as well as numerous other legal controversies that surrounded his life.
Russell believed strongly that Christ was going to return at a set date; He and other Adventists believed that Christ would return in the autumn of 1874 and shortly after this date the Adventists went on to teach that Christ had returned but he had done so invisibly. This Russell disagreed with and soon thereafter founded his own society 'Zion's Watchtower'. In 1879 he began printing on a large scale very quickly, using his privately owned publishing companies and these amalgamated in 1884 to become 'The Watch Tower and Bible Tract society'. Today the Watchtower as it is now known tries to separate itself from Russell and his early followers, due in part to the many controversies surrounding his life.
Some of the controversies:
Russell advertised and organised the sale of Miracle wheat. It cost $1 (£15 today) a pound of wheat seed claiming it had 5 times the growth rate of standard seed. This was published as false by a newspaper at the time called the Brooklyn Eagle, which Russell later took to court for libel, Russell lost.
Russell went on an around the world preaching trip, as he went he sent manuscripts of the sermons he had been preaching around the globe, these were printed in Russell's literature and in newspapers. However these sermons never took place, newspapers in America claimed that his sermon in Honolulu 'had a large audience and attentive hearing.' However when a local newspaper in Honolulu was asked to comment on the speaking event they replied...
'He was here for a few hours with a bible students committee of foreign mission investigation, but did not make a public address as was anticipated.'
This was not an isolated event but seemed to have happened often during his trip.
Reverend J.J. Ross published an inflammatory pamphlet entitled 'Some facts about the self-styled 'pastor' Charles Taze Russell' exposing the pastor. The pamphlet claimed Russell theology was false. Russell took Ross to court for libel; it was proved in court that Ross' accusations where true. Ross then wrote another pamphlet entitled 'some facts and some more facts about the self-styled 'pastor' this includes some records of the court proceedings. Those court records are as follows...
Attorney Staunton “Do you know the Greek Alphabet?”
Russell “Oh yes”
Attorney . “Can you tell me the correct letters if you see them?”
Russell. “Some of them, I might make a mistake on some of them”
Attorney “Would you tell me the names of those on top of page 447 I have got here” (Wescott & Hort Greek NT)
Russell “Well I don’t know”
Attorney “You can’t tell what those letters are, look at them and see if you know?”
Russell. “My way..” Staunton interrupts here
Attorney “Are you familiar with the Greek language”
Remember Russell claimed to have the only correct interpretation of scripture above anyone else and to have superior knowledge of the original languages.
Charles Taze Russell
‘Some facts and some more facts about the self-styled pastor’ is available on…
After Russell's death in 1917 leadership passed to his experienced lawyer, Joseph Franklin Rutherford. It was Rutherford who coined the phrase 'Jehovah's Witnesses', as the society saw themselves as the sole witnesses of the true God. This, they claimed, was Jehovah's true theocracy, (theo-God and cracy-rule) with Rutherford himself as Jehovah's mouthpiece. Rutherford institutionalised a lot of the practises we associate with JW's today, he urged JW's to distribute materials door to door and founded the current magazine 'AWAKE'. He also began referring to the meeting places as 'Kingdom Halls'.
What do Jehovah's Witnesses believe?
The beliefs of the Jehovah’s Witnesses are like a cracked mirror reflecting the truth; using much of the same language and characters but with different meanings and emphasis.
New World Translation
The 'bible' the Watchtower uses is called the New World Translation. First translated in 1950, the Watchtower have refused to name the people who translated the NWT, however their names have been given by people that have left the organization. None of the translators have ever completed any education in Greek, Hebrew or Latin. The NWT uses subtle changes in the text to justify certain beliefs, for example:
'Proskueno' is Greek for worship or 'to give worship'. In the NWT any reference of 'Proskueno' to God is translated rightly as worship. Jesus, however, is described as receiving 'Proskueno' 15 times in the New Testament but the NWT chooses the word 'obeisance' instead of worship when it refers to Jesus. There is no justification for this translation. 'Obeisance' means to give homage and due respect, this is a major reduction of Proskueno, which literally means to 'rush forward, kneel and kiss a masters hand.' The text is clear that Jesus was worshipped both whilst on earth (Matthew 2:2, John 9:38) and when he is in heaven (Luke 24:52, Hebrews 1:6).
And Jesus answered him, "It is written, "You shall worship (Proskueno) the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.'"
Only God can be worshipped, if Jesus is worshipped he is either being falsely worshipped as Peter was or he is God. However Peter denies being an object of worship;
When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshipped (Proskueno) him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, "Stand up; I too am a man."
Jesus never denies being an object of worship, despite on many occasions receiving worship in person (Matthew 8:2; 9:18; 14:33; 15:25; 20:20; Mark 5:6-7; John 9:35-38.) Therefore Jesus was worshipped because he was and is God.
The NWT’s choice of words aims to lesser Jesus' divinity in the ears of the JW adherents. We shall look at some verses which are useful to compare later.
The exact interpretation of scripture is the task of the governing body of the Jehovah's witnesses alone. JW's are required to learn and study the bible but independent thought and study is discouraged. The Watchtower magazine and elder manuals inform what the true teaching should be. Every congregation receives the same exact message globally on every Sunday, the topic and tone of the teaching is decided at the headquarters in New York and sent globally to every Kingdom Hall weekly.
Jehovah's witnesses believe there is one solitary God and his personal name is Jehovah. They completely disregard the Trinity, seeing it as a satanic invention that lessens the divinity of the one God. The Holy Spirit is God's force on earth much like electricity or a fire and Jesus is the archangel Michael in human form.
The concept of the Kingdom is central to JW's who believe the age of human government is over. Therefore a JW may not vote, hold a public office, serve in the military, carry firearms, pledge allegiance to any nation or salute any flag. All these things are seen as putting earthly government above a heavenly government. The voice of that heavenly government is the Watchtower society based in New York; this society therefore has complete control of Jehovah's witnesses globally.
This heavenly government will consist of human officials, sometimes called the anointed class. These consist of 144,000 individuals that will be kings in heaven whilst the rest of the JWs will live on an earthly paradise.
Salvation by works
It is by listening and obeying the Watchtower society that you earn salvation alongside the archangel Michael's sacrifice in the form of Jesus. Jehovah's witnesses believe that Jesus died on a stake rather than a cross and therefore the symbol of the cross is banned. Salvation is made possible by Jesus' death but salvation itself is held by the Watchtower society and they can use this to control individuals in the society. The Watchtower society also practices 'disfellowshipping' which essentially means that anyone who continues to practice, what they consider, a sinful lifestyle is removed from the congregation and the other JW's may not communicate with them.
Some of the sins listed as warranting disfellowshipping are as follows:
Abortion, adultery, apostasy, bestiality, blood transfusions, "brazen conduct" or "loose conduct" drug abuse, drunkenness, extortion, fornication, fraud, gambling, greed, homosexual activity, idolatry, incest, interfaith activity, lying, manslaughter, murder, "perverted sex relations", polygamy, pornography, reviling, sexual abuse, slander, spiritism, theft, use of tobacco and the study of any philosophy, psychology or sociology that has not been approved.
This practice is in part taken from Matthew 18:17
If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
However if you understand what Jesus meant by 'let him be to you as a gentile and a tax collector' it changes radically the advice Jesus gives.
While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples…It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
So rather than expelling people who you think are sinful, treat them with more grace because they need healing.
This is a highly controversial topic among Watchtower adherents and one that may modern JWs know little or nothing about. Firstly the bible is clear about incorrect prophecy:
‘How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?’— when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.
If someone claims they are a prophet of God and claims something that either is untrue or something that does not happen they are not really prophets of God. With that in mind let’s consider the prophecy that has come out of the Watchtower organisation over the last century.
"Our Lord, the appointed King, is now present, since October 1874,"
(Studies in the Scriptures, vol. 4, p. 621).
Russell taught that Christ had returned invisibly in 1874. (Before changing his mind and disagreeing with the Adventist movement).
" . . . the 'battle of the great day of God Almighty' (Revelation 16:14), which will end in A.D. 1914 with the complete overthrow of earth's present rulership, is already commenced,"
(The Time Is at Hand, 1908 edition, p. 101).
"The Bible chronology herein presented shows that the six great 1000 year days beginning with Adam are ended, and that the great 7th Day, the 1000 years of Christ's Reign, began in 1873,"
(The Time Is at Hand, forward, p. ii).
"Therefore we may confidently expect that 1925 will mark the return of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the faithful prophets of old, particularly those named by the Apostle in Hebrews 11, to the condition of human perfection,"
(Millions Now Living Will Never Die, p. 89).
At this point Russell had died and the new leadership under Rutherford taught that 1925 was an important date where biblical prophets would return.
"The date 1925 is even more distinctly indicated by the Scriptures than 1914,"
(Watchtower, Sept. 1, 1922, p. 262).
"Our thought is, that 1925 is definitely settled by the Scriptures. As to Noah, the Christian now has much more upon which to base his faith than Noah had upon which to base his faith in a coming deluge," (Watchtower, Apr. 1, 1923, p. 106).
"The year 1925 is here. With great expectation Christians have looked forward to this year. Many have confidently expected that all members of the body of Christ will be changed to heavenly glory during this year. This may be accomplished. It may not be. In his own due time God will accomplish his purposes concerning his people. Christians should not be so deeply concerned about what may transpire this year,"
(Watchtower, Jan. 1, 1925, p. 3).
The society seemed to have wavered when the expected year came around.
"It is to be expected that Satan will try to inject into the minds of the consecrated, the thought that 1925 should see an end to the work,"
(Watchtower, Sept., 1925, p. 262).
"Some anticipated that the work would end in 1925, but the Lord did not state so. The difficulty was that the friends inflated their imaginations beyond reason; and that when their imaginations burst asunder, they were inclined to throw away everything,"
(Watchtower, p. 232).
When nothing happened they immediately rejected all previous promises claiming it was imagination.
Times magazine published in 1930
Judge Joseph Frederick Rutherford 60, lives in a ten room Spanish mansion, No 4440 Braeburn Rd, San Diego, Calif. Last week he deeded No 4440 Braeburn Road, and adjacent two car garage and a pair of automobiles to King David, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthae, Samuel and sundry other mighties of ancient Palestine. Positive is he that they are shortly to reappear on earth, Said he: 'I have purposely landscaped the place with palm and olive trees so that these princes of the universe will feel at home..
(Time Magazine, March 31, 1930)
Despite the disappointment provisions were made for the biblical rulers of old.
"There was a measure of disappointment on the part of Jehovah's faithful ones on earth concerning the years 1917, 1918, and 1925, which disappointment lasted for a time . . . and they also learned to quit fixing dates,"
(Vindication, p. 338).
A year later the leadership saw fit to stop fixing dates on the calendar
"Receiving the gift, the marching children clasped it to them, not a toy or plaything for idle pleasure, but the Lord's provided instrument for most effective work in the remaining months before Armageddon,"
(Watchtower, Sept. 15, 1941, p. 288).
Despite no longer fixing dates urgent and immediate language is still prevalent in the literature.
"According to this trustworthy Bible chronology six thousand years from man's creation will end in 1975, and the seventh period of a thousand years of human history will begin in the fall of 1975 C.E Six thousand years of man's existence on earth will soon be up, yea within this generation. The rein of Christ...to run parallel with the 7th millennium ..."
(Life Everlasting in Freedom of the Sons of God, 1966, p. 29-30)
15 years after the death of Rutherford they had begun again setting dates
"True, there have been those in times past who predicted an 'end to the world', even announcing a specific date. Yet nothing happened. The 'end' did not come. They were guilty of false prophesying. Why? What was missing? . . . Missing from such people were God's truths and evidence that he was using and guiding them,"
(Awake, Oct. 8, 1968).
They claimed the previous date setting was missing God's truth and guidance.
"1914 a marked year. Years in advance Bible Scholars realized that 1914 was to be a year of great significance. They expected great changes to take place, and the facts confirm that 1914 was, indeed, a marked year."
(The Truth That Leads To Eternal Life; 1968; 40,000,000 ed.; p. 91)
For the first time the connection between the 1914 prophecy and the 1st Word War was made. Ignoring the fact the orignal prophecy was that the 'battle of the great day of God Almighty' would end rather than the commencment of war.
"in view of the short time left, a decision to pursue a career in this system of things is not only unwise but extremely dangerous....Many young brothers and sisters were offered scholarship or employment that promised fine pay. However, they turned them down and put spiritual interests first."
(Kingdom Ministry, June 1969, p. 3)
JW's were encouraged to leave education and long term investments as the fixed date loomed nearer.
"Does this admission of making mistakes stamp them [Watchtower] as false prophets? Not at all, for false prophets do not admit to making mistakes."
(Watchtower, Nov. 1, 1972, p. 644)
They defend their position as Jehovah's mouthpiece (remember again Deuteronomy 18).
"Yes, the end of this system is so very near! Is that not reason to increase our activity?...Reports are heard of brothers selling their homes and property and planning to finish out the rest of their days in this old system in the pioneer service. Certainly this is a fine way to spend the short time remaining before the wicked world's end."
(Kingdom Ministry, May 1974, p. 3)
People selling up to become pioneers (full time evangelists)
"Does this mean, then, that mankind has now reached 6,000 years into the 7,000 year period that God blessed and made sacred as his rest day? ... No, It does not mean that."
(Watchtower 1/10/1975 p. 579)
Material that is less certain of the specific date, keep in mind people had been encouraged to leave education, long term prospects, investments and property for the certainty of this date.
"It may be that some who have been serving God have planned their lives according to a mistaken view of just what was to happen on a certain date or in a certain year. They may have, for this reason, put off or neglected things that they otherwise would have cared for. But they have missed the point of the Bibles warnings concerning the end of this system of things, thinking that Bible chronology reveals the specific date."
(Watchtower, July 15, 1976, p. 440)
The Watchtower claim Biblical prophecies are essentially incorrect and people who follow them are mistaken.
Because of this hope, the "faithful and discreet slave" has alerted all of God's people to the sign of the times indicating the nearness of God's Kingdom rule. In this regard, however, it must be observed that this "faithful and discreet slave" was never inspired, never perfect. Those writings by certain members of the "slave" class that came to form the Christian part of God's Word were inspired and infallible, but that is not true of other writings since. Things published were not perfect in the days of Charles Taze Russell, first president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society; nor were they perfect in the days of J.F. Rutherford, the succeeding president. The increasing light on God's Word as well as the facts of history have repeatedly required that adjustments of one kind or another be made down to the very present time. But let us never forget that the motives of this "slave" were always pure, unselfish; at all times it has been well-meaning.
(The Watchtower; March 1, 1979; p. 24)
The Watchtower admits the two individuals who claimed to be Jehovah's only mouthpiece who together founded and shaped the society are not perfect and got things wrong.
Partly because of eagerness to be alive when Jesus Christ reveals himself in glory, there have been believers throughout the centuries who began looking for a particular period or a year for the windup of the ungodly system of things. This has happened right down to these "last days." Since certain expectations were not realised, many stumbled and returned to the ways of the world. In fulfilment of Peter's words, even today we hear the voice of ridiculers. (2 Peter 3:3,4)
(Choosing The Best Way Of Life; 1979; p. 169)
A defence is being built surrounding these failed prophecies.
If the wicked system of this world survived until the turn of the century (the year 2000), which is highly improbable in view of world trends and the fulfilment of Bible prophecy, there would still be survivors of the World War I generation. However, the fact that their number is dwindling is one more indication that "the conclusion of the system of things" is moving fast toward its end.
(The Watchtower, Oct. 15, 1980, p. 31)
For many years JW's believed that the generation who witnessed the invisible return of Christ in 1914 would see the end of the world. The fact that the 'World War 1 generation' was dying out suggests there the end of the world is near.
After drawing attention to the many things that have marked the period from 1914 onward, Jesus said: 'This generation will by no means pass away until all these things [including the end of this system] occur.' (Matthew 24:34, 14) Which generation did Jesus mean? He meant the generation of people who were living in 1914. Those persons yet remaining of that generation are now very old. However, some of them will still be alive to see the end of this wicked system. So of this we can be certain: Shortly now there will be a sudden end to all wickedness and wicked people at Armageddon."
(You Can Live Forever In Paradise On Earth, p 154, 1982)
A definitive statement of the importance of the 1914 generation.
In 1993 a history of the Jehovah's Witness was written entitled 'Jehovah's Witnesses: Proclaimers of God Kingdom'; one chapter is entitled 'notable dates'. The 1925 and 1975 predictions do not appear in the book.
[Discussing the generation of Mt 24] "apparently refers to the peoples of earth (now) who see the sign of Christ presence but fail to mend their ways."
(Watchtower November 1, 1995 p.12)
The generation that will see Christ return is now this current generation, not the generation of 1914.
As we can see when taken over the course of 100 years several prophetic beliefs, and specific dates have been altered or ignored.
1874 Christ's Invisible return
1914 All world governments overthrown, Christ becomes king in heaven
1925 Biblical rulers will return to lead God's Kingdom
1975 Beginning of Christ's earthly reign
Date setting produces excitement and fervour and an increase in membership, after 1975 membership dropped suddenly and growth slowed. One former member talks about the disappointment.
'I said it from the platform! We told everyone the end was near. When I became a Witness I gave up my insurance policies, I cancelled all my insurance endowments, I never bought a house because I knew I wouldn't need one, we didn't even want to put the kids' names down for school'
(taken from 'Jehovah's Witnesses: Portrait of a Contemporary Religious Movement' By Andrew Holden, page 151)
The emphasis, importance and disappointment of date setting is something that many modern JW's know very little about. The same authority that informed their doctrine, bible translation and everything about their lives have been proved false time and time again, but this is something covered up. These facts should not be beaten over the head of a JW at the doorstep but be part of an ongoing discussion, have love and care for the people in front of you trapped in this system of control.
Witness at the Door Step
The JW at the door step has a precise purpose and goal to bring you into the Kingdom Hall and ultimately to become a Jehovah's Witness. They will as a matter of course attempt the following…
They will impress on you Humanity's prospects in Armageddon without God.
Emphasis Gods judgement in Armageddon
They will often be fairly vague about the purpose of the visit.
Present an attractive promise of paradise, often with pictures.
The will attempt to appear to have superior biblical knowledge and training.
They will always attempt to derail or overcome objections.
The will be sincere in the belief.
They will avoid sensitive doctrinal issues
They will be eager to arrange return visits and bible study's.
Have a host of literature and if they struggle to answer your questions they will direct you to their website.
Perhaps the most important thing to share in return is your own testimony of what God has done in your life, told with love. If you decided prayerfully to engage in the issues that most effect JW's these are as follows.
The Watchtower is not God's mouthpiece.
The New World Translation is misleading and inaccurate.
God has many other names beside Jehovah, calling him Jehovah does not bring you closer to God.
The Holy Spirit is not a force but a person.
God is a Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Salvation is through faith, not by works.
There is one people of God not two. (The heavenly rulers numbering 144000 and everyone else)
Hell is a reality
Jesus changes lives amazingly
Jesus is God
Each of these points will be skilfully contested and argued against and will require knowledge and understanding to navigate, however perhaps the most important discussion is how Jesus is perceived.
Who is Jesus, Angel or God?
Much of JW theology originates from an early heretic called Arius, he taught that Christ was an agent created by God before the beginning of the world, the JW's understand Christ as an arch-angel.
In Gnosticism as the name suggests, knowledge (gnosis) is immensely important, when we are engaging in conversation with JW's it may be more prudent to avoid an intellectual battle of bible verses. It may be better to show your own personal relationship with Christ. A JW will have studied the NWT for many hours and spent time in the Kingdom halls practicing with each other question and answers that they will receive. If you feel like that you want to be involved in refuting the doctrine at a biblical level then you it will be a slow laborious task with hours of research that may bare little fruit.
Perhaps the most important point of discussion is who Jesus really is.
John 1:1 NIV
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:1 NWT
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.
By adding 'a' to the sentence and presenting god in the lower case, immediately demotes Jesus from being THE God to some lesser divine being. This does not fit the context of the passage and leaves us confused as to who Jesus really is. Is he a lesser god? Or a false god? The bible only has two uses for the word 'God'; The God, YHWH, and false gods. The whole of John 1 proves difficult for a JW and the NWT alters much of John 1.
“You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no saviour.
God is saying; he alone is God, no other true Gods were made before or after the one eternal God. And there is no saviour apart from this one God. This removes the possibility that Jesus is a god but not THE God and that he could be a saviour set apart from God.
Colossians 1:15-17 NIV
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
JW's believe Jesus/archangel Michael to have been present at the creation of the world and to have helped in the ordering of what Jehovah created. However the word ‘create’ (Ktizo) means to fabricate something you own in its original form.
And he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." And he said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."
The thief on the cross poses a problem for the Jehovah's Witnesses idea of heaven, this man was not baptised and had lived a sinful life so cannot be called to heaven as one of the 144000, he does however qualify for the earthly paradise that will come after Armageddon. But why then does Jesus say 'today' you will be with me in paradise.
Matthew 1:23/Isaiah 7:14
"Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel" (which means, God with us).
Jesus' will be called God with us, through the bible, names are often symbolic of what that person’s life means. Jesus is called God with us, this verse can also be translated 'God among us'. This is not a symbolic statement that God is on our side but rather a statement of God's proximity in Jesus Christ.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Foretelling the birth of Jesus, a man who will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Prince of Peace but he is also called Mighty God and Everlasting Father. The Son that will be given is man who will be called both prince of peace and father. This displays perfectly who Jesus is.
Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’
The NWT keeps John 20:28 unchanged but JW's claim that like John 1:1 Thomas is exclaiming the Jesus is my god, a lesser divine being.
In response to these verses the JW will bring up several other verses.
I have found David my servant; With my holy oil I have anointed him. My hand will support him, And my arm will strengthen him. No enemy will exact tribute from him, And no unrighteous man will oppress him. I will crush to pieces his adversaries from before him And strike down those who hate him. My faithfulness and loyal love are with him, And in my name his strength will be exalted. I will put his hand over the sea And his right hand over the rivers. He will call out to me: ‘You are my Father, My God and the Rock of my salvation.’ And I will place him as firstborn, The highest of the kings of the earth. I will maintain my loyal love for him forever, And my covenant with him will never fail. I will establish his offspring forever And make his throne as enduring as the heavens.
The JW will claim that King David is spoken of in the same language as Jesus. Jesus is called firstborn and so is David, so why is it that we claim Jesus is God but not David? In response to this we must first ask did this description of David's kingdom come true? No, King David's earthly kingdom did in time falter, divide and was crushed, however when we view this passage through the lense of anchient near eastern kingship the last verse becomes immensely important.
I will maintain my loyal love for him forever, And my covenant with him will never fail. I will establish his offspring forever And make his throne as enduring as the heavens.
This whole passage is taking about David's line, the promises made here to David are made to the line of David. That was seen as a great honour for David and it is the reason that the bible makes it clear that Jesus is a decendant of King David and Abraham.
'This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham...'
Jesus inherits and fulfills the promises made to both David and Abraham, so in Psalm 89 God says 'I will place him as firstborn' it looks forward to a time when those that come from David will hold that title.
Exodus 4:16 NWT
He will speak for you to the people, and he will be your spokesman, and you will serve as God to him.
They will argue here the term ‘God’ is used about Moses, in discussions they may allude to this verse but not actually read it. They may say this is the same definition of god that Jesus falls under, this further confuses the issue and is a poor argument. Understanding the passage in that way means that Jesus and Moses are both lesser gods but not THE God.
This verse in actuality is referring to the relationship between God, Aaron and Moses.
He (Aaron) will speak for you (Moses) to the people, and he (Aaron) will be your spokesman, and you (Moses) will serve as God to him (Aaron).
This means that Moses is God's representative to Aaron who is Moses/God spokesman, which is quite different to how Jesus appears who is called God, rather than 'will serve as God.' Therefore the term ‘God’ is referring to THE God that Moses represents not Moses himself.
1 Thessalonians 4:16 NIV
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
Christ himself will come down with a loud command, the JW's claim that ‘with the voice of the archangel’ is the voice of the Lord Christ. Therefore Christ is an archangel. This however is not the case, throughout scripture Christ's return is announced by the Angels voice, and the trumpet of God.
Matthew 24:30-31 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
In Matthew Jesus descends, coming from the clouds and as he descends he sends out his angels to declare him. Jewish tradition held that there are seven archangels, Michael being one of them, with that in mind read Revelation 8:6 and 11:15.
Now the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to blow them.
Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever."
So scripture indicates that the seven archangel’s blow thier trumpets and announces the return of Jesus who is distinct from the archangels and has command over them. This is important because the bible is clear that angels are not to be worshipped.
I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, but he said to me, "You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God."
In summary, understanding that Jesus is God is important because He is God's rescue plan. God himself came to rescue us and bring us back to Him.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me?
Attitude at the doorstep
Your attitude at the door step may be the most important thing JW's will take away from the encounter. Show love, invite them in and provide them with seats and a drink, They may well refuse but that may be for safety reasons. You must remember how important what you discussing is to them, they will have done a minimum 12 hours evangelism a month possibly for decades. If they are a pioneer (full-time evangelist) they will be doing 30 hours evangelism a week. There is an immense amount of human pride at stake if you were to tear down the faith they have held and practiced so dearly. Pray for them as you talk, be patient, they may have several minutes of rehearsed and pre-planned discussion before you actually get to talk to the person behind the literature.
www.jw.org is the official Watchtower website
Walter Martins, 'Kingdom of Cults' has an excellent chapter on JW's although is language is quite confrontational.
There are also many ex-Jehovah witness Facebook pages and YouTube videos