Less than Zero
By: Pete Garcia
“The devil would have Christ prove Himself to be God, by turning stones into bread; but the Holy Ghost shows His Godhead by turning stones into flesh (Ezekiel 36:26)” – Thomas Watson
The other day I was sitting at home with the family watching some Duck Dynasty, and we got a knock at the door. As usual, my dogs go berserk and I walk over to peek through the glass and to my delight, it was my favorite sort of visitors…Jehovah Witnesses! My wife thinks I’m odd that I get all giddy when they show up, but it’s not every day that someone comes to my door wanting to engage me in a theological discussion.
I think most Christians just politely take their brochures and slam the door on them, or if they’re feeling a little frisky, go out and challenge them on being in a cult. Either that ends in frustration or argumentatively, it usually is not the fruitful way to approach the situation.
The most important step in any engagement is to bathe your conversation gratuitously in prayer to the Holy Spirit for discernment, and the words to say. Stay courteous and never let the conversation get heated or negative. They need to know the truth just as much as the next person, so either having an elitist attitude or becoming obtuse, doesn’t help.
Now, I don’t recommend going out and seeking confrontations unless you’re really grounded in the Word. Many of these groups deceptively use the same words and phrases that is common vernacular in the Christian tongue, but they have ulterior definitions of what they want it to mean. So, if you’re ever in the situation that I find myself in from time to time, take a moment and share the true Gospel with them.
You don’t have to be an expert on cults to know how to handle yourself. Bank tellers’ study real currency, so that when a fake one comes through their hands, something will not feel or look right. You study the real, so that the counterfeit will make itself evident.
Starting out, I’ll listen to their introduction. If they’re handing me a pamphlet, nine times out of ten, there is a picture of Jesus on there. I simply start off by asking them who they think that Man was. After they give me a brief ‘once-over’ of who they say Jesus was, I ask to see their Bible (New World Translation), and I show them from their bible how Jesus is God and that God is a Trinity.
The Trinity is probably the clearest and best example to use in sharing with JW’s or other groups who believe this way, and if you can show them this conclusively, they might get mad and walk away, but I guarantee you that the seed has been planted.[BTW, it is WAY more effective witnessing tool if you use THEIR Bible to show them, because if you pull out your own, they will use that to discredit anything you say. I will say that you have to be careful, because many of your tried and true passages that you would use in a normal bible such as the KJV or NASB, may sound different because they are either reworded to say Jehovah in any reference to God, and/or they have added or subtracted words so that it fits their beliefs. I’ve selected some text using their bible to show them, how Jesus is God, how that God is Tri-Une in nature.]
Often times they will start off by using Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and show me that Jehovah God is one God…and to that, I agree with them. I’ll even show them Isaiah 44:6 and 46:9-10 as other examples to build their case. They will show you Jesus interacting with the Father Jehovah in passages like Matt 3:17 or 26:39. It’s not that they don’t believe Jesus is God, but rather, that He is the literal Son by whom Jehovah created. This is similar to what Mormon theology teaches, in that Jesus is ‘a god’. Jehovah Witnesses also believe Jesus was at one time, Michael the Archangel, but was chosen by God to become His son and that salvation is something you have to work for.
So my first question to them comes down to, is Jesus God? I try to build this in a simple, logical manner that shows them a pattern. And for this, I point them to Luke chapter 4. This is where Jesus was being tempted by Satan in the wilderness to worship him, and Jesus rebuked him using their Scriptures saying, “You, therefore, if you do an act of worship before me, it will all be yours.” In reply, Jesus said to him: “It is written, ‘It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service.'” Then, I show them Revelation 19:10 and 22:8-9 where twice an angel stops John from worshipping him, and shows them that worship is reserved ONLY for God. Again, my door-knocking friends and I are still in agreement. So we, using the testimony of three witnesses, are in agreement that worship is reserved only for God. To which they excitedly say yes.
Enter the Curveball
This is where I point them to John 20:28. This is the passage where Doubting Thomas falls on his knees and declares to the risen Jesus, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus neither rebuked him nor stopped him. Then there is usually silence on they’re part. So I then take them to Revelation 22:12 ask them to read it to me and tell me who that is. Clearly, it is Jesus. (vs. 16 confirms this)
“I am the Al’pha and the O?me’ga, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (New World Translation)
And then too Revelation 1:8:
“I am the Al’pha and the O?me’ga,” says Jehovah God, “the One who is and who was and who is coming, the Almighty.” (New World Translation)
And then I ask them if God (Jehovah) can die, to which of course they don’t believe…so I take them to Revelation 1:17-18
“I am the First and the Last, and the living one; and I became dead, but look! I am living forever and ever, and I have the keys of death and of Ha’des.” (New World Translation)
Last but not least, I finish it off with Revelation 22:16
“I, Jesus, sent my angel to bear witness to YOU people of these things for the congregations. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright morning star.” (New World Translation)
By now, there is a sense of worry and frustration building over our conversation like a dark cloud. Again, I ask them, how many God(s) are there? And we go back and read Deuteronomy 6. So then I ask, how can there be one God if Jesus is also God? Are there two Gods? This will almost immediately launch you into the Trinity rabbit hole. I say rabbit hole because they’ve been taught that the Doctrine of the Trinity came from Constantine and is propagated through the Roman Catholic Church and that it is a false doctrine created by men (black pot meet black kettle). To this pitfall, I avoid caution. Not that we can’t prove the Doctrine of the Trinity (although the word Trinity is not in the Bible), but because they’ll want to take you backwards through church history pointing out all the faults of the Roman Catholic Church. Stay focused on the scriptures!
If it comes down to it, just know that Early Church Fathers (disciples of the Apostles) believed fully in the Trinity and taught that those who didn’t, were NOT Christians:
-Ignatius (30-107AD) -Justin Martyr (110-165AD) -Mathetes (130AD) -Athenagoras (177AD) -Clement of Alexandria (190-200AD) -Tertullian (210AD) -Origen (200-240AD) -Lactantius (285AD)
So using their New World Translation Bible, let’s review our Tri-Une Godhead and see where their Bible says:
Deity of the Father
Deity of Christ
– Micah 5:2 (read the last part of that verse) compare with Matthew 2:1
– Isaiah 9:6 (ask them who this speaks of)
– John 8:58 (I would say compare with Ex 3:13-14, but they’ve changed it dramatically)
– Titus 2:13 (point out that the [the] in brackets means someone added that word in)
– Hebrews 1 (points out that Jesus was never an angel)
Deity of the Holy Spirit
– Acts 5:3-4 (object pronoun of the sentence: who played ‘false’ to who?)
– 1 Corinthians 2:10-11 (No one knows the mind of God except God)
– 1 Peter 1:2 (perfect scripture with all three Person’s of the Godhead)
– Matthew 27:19-20 (baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit-if they were not equal, then why would Jesus command they be baptized in all three names?)
I think that by the end of this exercise, the idea that God is one Being, in three Person’s, is clearly shown even in their scriptures, and it is a defining attribute unique to our God alone…which is why so many groups twist and pervert this. Moreover, let me say that if you deny the Deity of any of the Godhead, whether it be the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit, you are not worshipping the God of the Bible.
Cults and pseudo-Christian groups have from the beginning either added too, or taken away from God, in order to make Him fit their belief structure. However, if you take away any one of the three, you have nothing. If you try to make God three gods (Tritheism) or make God one god in three modes (Modalism), you don’t have the God of the Bible. And if you don’t have the God of the Bible, you have nothing, you have less than zero.
I’m not saying a person has to have a perfect, working knowledge of the Trinity to be a Christian. What sets the cults and the non/pseudo-Christian sects apart from true, orthodox Christianity is that they seek to twist and change the nature and deity of Christ. The doctrine of the Trinity actually works out well to separate the wheat from the chaff. When a person becomes born again, they are indwelt and sealed (Eph 1:11-14, 2 Cor 1:21-22) by the Holy Spirit who reveals that truth to them through studying God’s word.
Someone who deliberately twists that truth or denies it outright (apostasy) probably wasn’t a born-again Christian to begin with. In fact, the two times of greatest and varied apostasy, began at the beginning of the Church with the Gnostics, and is now raging through the various denominations within Christendom today in many shades and colors.
As we draw near to the end of our age, expect many to come claiming to be Christ, or coming in Christ’s name (Matt 24:4-5). They have no saving knowledge, but are peddling another gospel in which Paul states very emphatically, that they are accursed (Gal 1:6-9). Thankfully, we are not held responsible for converting people, but only in sharing the Good News with them. I hope this helps. Remember, prayer for guidance in that the Holy Spirit will direct you in what to say, and when to say it.
“If there be one God subsisting in three persons, then let us give equal reverence to all the persons in the Trinity. There is not more or less in the Trinity; the Father is not more God than the Son and Holy Ghost. There is an order in the Godhead, but no degrees; one person has not a majority or super eminence above another, therefore we must give equal worship to all the persons.” – Thomas Watson