How to Respond to the Jehovah’s Witness’ Publication “What Does the Bible Really Teach?” — Part Five
Chapter Five The Ransom—God’s Great Gift
by Wilbur Lingle
People need to be aware that the Watchtower Society uses the same Biblical words and expressions in its publications as evangelical Christians do, but with entirely different meanings. Otherwise, people might come to the conclusion after reading this chapter that the Jehovah’s Witnesses are just another branch of Christianity. But this is not the case. The Society couches its true teachings in a very obscure manner on purpose? in order to deceive. You cannot truly understand what is written in this chapter of their book if you take it at face value. You need to understand what this deceitful book is really saying.
Let me state what the Watchtower Society teaches about the “ransom.” It believes that Jesus Christ died for only the sins that we inherited in Adam. Because of the sinful act of Adam, mankind lost physical life in a paradise here on earth. It believes that Jesus Christ, just as a perfect man, died to pay for the sin of Adam.
As an unconditional result just about everyone—except Adam and Eve, the people in the days of Noah and maybe the people in Sodom and Gomorrah and a few
others—all individuals who lived and died before 1914 (I will explain later) will be resurrected onto the new earth during the Millennium and then given a fresh start with the possibility of meriting everlasting life at the end of the 1000 years.
This will happen by their passing the final test—by remaining faithful to Jehovah when Satan is re-created at the end of the Millennium and goes forth to try to get people to follow him. No Jehovah’s Witness has the assurance that he or she will pass this final test. The Society believes that many will fail, so instead of obtaining everlasting life the Witness will be eternally annihilated. It does not take a particular kind of faith in Jesus Christ to be resurrected onto the new earth. But this “ransom” only applies to those who died before October 1, 1914 and is no longer valid today. The Society claims that in 1914 Christ began to reign in heaven and since that time the Jehovah’s Witnesses have proclaimed their message all over the world, so now only those who respond and are faithful Witnesses—meaning, are in good standing with the Watchtower Society at the time of their death? will be resurrected and go onto the new earth along with the other Witnesses who survive Armageddon. In other words, the Watchtower now claims to be doing what Christ was supposed to have accomplished for mankind from the time of Adam until October 1, 1914.
The Society teaches that at the end of the Millennium some people will merit and receive eternal life; however, this has nothing to do with the death of Jesus Christ, but is the result of their response to Jehovah’s new teachings during the Millennium. The Society derives this idea from Revelation 20:12, where we read,
“And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and scrolls were opened. But another scroll was opened; it is the scroll of life. And the dead were judged out of those things written in the scrolls according to their deeds.” These scrolls will be opened during (not after, like the Bible teaches) Christ’s 1000-year reign, and they contain new rules and regulations which one must live by in order to merit everlasting life. Apparently the people who do not respond to these new teachings and regulations after a long education process will be annihilated sometime before the end of the Millennium and will not be aroundwhen the final test is given!
This is a teaching of the Society that causes a real problem for many Witnesses when you present them with the fact that Jesus Christ was more than just a perfect
man. (Notice how many times the words “perfect man” occur in this chapter.) In the NWT 1 Timothy 2:5-6 reads, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus, who gave himself a corresponding ransom for all—[this is] what is to be witnessed to at its own particular times.” (In the NKJV these verses read, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.) The NWT has added the word “corresponding” before the word “ransom.” The adding of this word “corresponding” is the stumbling block. The Society teaches that before Adam sinned he was “a perfect man,” and so the one to pay the debt for Adam’s sin had to be exactly of the same rank. Thus, since Adam was at first a perfect man, then Jesus could only be a perfect man? since the sacrifice had to be equal. When a Jehovah’s Witness is confronted with the Biblical teaching that Jesus Christ was more than just a perfect man, he or she will often respond, “Then the sacrifice was too great.” The Society does not recognize the fact that we do not only need to be saved from the sins that we inherited in Adam, but that we need to be “ransomed” from our own personal sins which we are responsible for! Many Christians who do not understand the teachings of the Watchtower Society accuse Witnesses of trying to work for their salvation. But according to the Society it is impossible for anyone to earn or merit salvation now on this present earth. The working for and meriting of salvation can only come during the Millennium! The Society teaches that since 1914 only those who die in the good graces of the Watchtower Society or who are in good standing at the time of Armageddon will enter onto the new earth. Thus the Jehovah’s Witnesses are working hard to satisfy the Watchtower Society so that in the future they will be able to work and merit salvation!
According to the Society, the death of Christ has nothing to do with our personal sins. When people die, they pay the wages for their own personal sins. The Society tries to prove this belief by misinterpreting Romans 6:7, which reads, “For he who has died has been acquitted from [his] sin.” (This section is speaking about a person who has been born again. There has been a change in the heart. Before we were saved we loved to sin, but after we are saved this love for sin is crucified. Yes, we will sin, but it is not the desire of our heart, and we are greatly grieved when we do sin.) I doubt if the Witness you are speaking with fully understands what the Society teaches on the subject of “the ransom.” Also, at this point, the Witness does not want you to fully understand the Society’s teaching? so that he or she can deceive you into thinking the Society’s teachings are similar to those taught by traditional Christianity.
Jehovah’s Witnesses might strongly object if you would accuse them of not believing in “salvation by grace.” But what the Witness means is that if it were not for the grace of God no one would have the privilege of working for his or her own salvation on the new earth. The Watchtower Society clearly teaches (1) that salvation can only come through the Watchtower Organization, (2) that it is a process that can’t be completed in this present life, and (3) if obtained, it is
something that a person merits. Thus we need to look at this chapter in the light of what it actually is teaching and not in the light of the terms we use in Biblical
Christianity. Thus you will need to ask the one you are conversing with a number of questions to get him or her to explain what the Society teaches? or help to
clarify in his or her own mind what the Society teaches. You might not need all of the following questions or you might have to use more. Since understanding “the ransom” is the heart of Christianity, it is important that you do all you can to get the Witness to think seriously about this important truth. In this section, you can present much of the true gospel in your questions. (When you try to impress upon a Witness that it is possible to know that your own personal sins are forgiven because of the ransom of Christ, he or she will quote Matthew 24:13 to you. It reads, “But he that has endured to the end is the one that will be saved.” To a Witness, this is an absolute truth and one can never know the outcome of all his or her efforts until the very end of the Millennium.)
On page 48, paragraph 3, we read, “Put simply, the ransom is Jehovah’s means to deliver, or save, humankind from sin and death. (Ephesians 1:7)” (This verse in the NWT reads, “By means of him we have the release by ransom through the blood of that one, yes, the forgiveness of [our] trespasses, according to the riches of his undeserved kindness.”)
Question #1: I want to be sure I understand what is written here, so please help me. This seems to be a rather accurate definition of the word “ransom” and agrees with what we as Bible-believing Christians believe. Let me explain. Bible-believing, born-again Christians believe that by nature we are slaves of Satan. (John 8:44, “You are from your father the Devil.”) We believe that Satan has power over those whom he controls. (Acts 26:18, “To turn them from darkness to light, and from the authority of Satan to God.” 2 Thessalonians 2:9, “Is according to the operation of Satan with every powerful work and lying signs and portents.”) We believe that we are not only born with a sin nature but also we sin knowingly, of our own free will and choice, and thus are responsible for our own personal sins. When we speak of sin we mean, pride, self-centeredness, self-righteousness, anger, wrath, jealousy, lying, cheating, gossiping, having an unforgiving spirit, fighting with brothers and sisters, disobedience to parents, etc. We believe that when a person recognizes his or her own personal sins? and what an awful offense they are in the sight of God— and repents, confesses his or her own personal sins and believes that Jesus Christ died on the tree for these sins, then at that moment he or she is taken out of the dominion of Satan and is transferred into the kingdom of the Son and becomes part of the family of God. I noted on page 53, Paragraph 15, that Colossians 1:13-14 is referred to. Let us read these verses. “He delivered us from the authority of the darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of his love, by means of whom we have our release by ransom, the forgiveness of our sins.” Is this not what these verses teach? I note that it says “forgiveness of our sins,” which I take to mean our “personal sins” and not just the sins we inherited from Adam! Wouldn’t the verses 1 John 1:8-9, mentioned at the end of this same paragraph, mean what we as Bible believing Christians believe? 1 John 1:8-9 reads, “If we make the statement: ‘We have no sin,’ we are misleading ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous so as to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” If we have been cleansed from “all unrighteousness,” doesn’t that make us stand right now perfect in the sight of God? Since we have been taken out of the dominion of Satan and become a child of God (John 1:12, “However, as many as did receive him, to them he gave authority to become God’s
children, because they were exercising faith in his name.”) then does that not put us under the protection of Almighty God as one of His children! (Yes, as children of God we might sin, but we do not lose our “sonship” but only our “fellowship.”) When we become children of God, by the new birth, we come under the protection that Jesus promised in John 10:28: “And I [Jesus] give them everlasting life, and they will by no means ever be destroyed, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” Is this exactly what you believe as a Jehovah’s Witness? that your past, present and future sins have all been forgiven because of the ransom provided by Jesus when He shed His blood for sinners upon the tree?
Response: (They will probably be very vague but will answer something like this.) We believe that Christ died for our past sins.
Question #2: What do you mean when you say “Our past sins”?
Response: These are the sins we inherited in Adam.
Question #3: What does it means for us in the future that Christ “ransomed” us from the sins we inherited in Adam?
Response: It means that most people will be resurrected and given a new start on the new earth.
Question #4: Since Jesus Christ paid the ransom only 2000 years ago, then what about the people who lived before the time of Christ?
Response: Most of them will be included in the ransom.
Question #5: In other words, it doesn’t take any particular faith in Jesus Christ to benefit from the ransom but it is something that is unconditional?
Response: Yes. That is right.
Question #6: I thought that the new earth was going to be a perfect place, but you are now telling me that billions of sinners are going to be resurrected onto this new earth. How can you have so many sinners and have a paradise?
Response: The Bible teaches in Romans 6:7 (“For he who has died has been acquitted from [his] sin.”) that when these people die they pay the wages for their sin? so that when these people are resurrected they are given a fresh start.
Question #7: What happens to those who become Jehovah’s Witnesses but later on do not prove faithful? by sinning and refusing to repent? or those who have a
falling out with the Society and remain in that condition? Will these people also profit by the ransom and be resurrected to go on the new earth when Armageddon occurs?
Response: No. These people have declared themselves unworthy and will be eternally annihilated.
Question #8: So in the cases of those who become Jehovah’s Witnesses, “the ransom” is conditional upon their relationship with the Watchtower Society, and they will not be included like the people who knew nothing about Christ before He was born?
Response: Apparently, that seems to be the case.
Question #9: Since I have never been a Witness and “the ransom” is unconditional for “most other people,” then it would seem best that I do not become a Jehovah’s Witness? because I can be 100% sure of going to the new earth. But if I became a Jehovah’s Witness there is the possibility that I could prove unfaithful or decide to walk away, and in that case I could not go to the new earth. So it seems I have a much better chance on going onto the new earth than you do as a Witness!
Response: It is not exactly like that. You see, now if a person has a chance to hear the message of the Watchtower Society and learns how to please Jehovah and does not respond, he will not be given a chance to go onto the new earth but will be eternally annihilated at death, or if he is living when Armageddon occurs then he will be destroyed and so have no chance of going onto the new earth.
Question #10: This is very confusing to me. If I understand you correctly, from the time of Adam until the Watchtower Society came on the scene people entered onto the new earth because of “the ransom” that Jesus Christ provided when He shed His blood upon the tree and died, but since the Watchtower Society was organized, the unconditional ransom through Christ was negated and now the Watchtower Society is doing what Christ used to do! Would I not be correct in saying this?
Response: (I am not sure of the answer you will receive, because it would be difficult for them to respond “Yes” and it would be hard for them to say “No.”)
Question #11: (I know I am repeating here, but since facts don’t sink in too fast when talking to Jehovah’s Witnesses you will have to repeat many times.) I am a Bible-believing Christian. I believe that Jesus Christ paid “the ransom” by dying on the tree for both the sins I inherited in Adam and the sins I have willfully committed. I read my Bible daily so that I can learn what pleases Yahweh and what displeases Him, so that I can live a life that brings glory to God. I want to obey His commandments. I believe in practicing holiness and living a righteous life. I believe in being good to my neighbor. But are you telling me that this not enough to escape annihilation at death or when Armageddon occurs just because I am not a Jehovah’s Witness?
Response: (At this juncture the Witness will probably begin to back off and become rather vague.) It is really hard for me to say, because God is the final judge and we do not know what the outcome will be.
Question #12: In other words, what you are telling is that maybe the Watchtower Society is not the only organization that is doing God’s will, but there is the possibility of other religious groups out there who are pleasing in the sight of Yahweh?
Response: (At this point they will probably be very quick to respond) We know that we have “the truth.”
Question #13: Could I ask you a personal question? How many other religious groups have you investigated in depth on your own before or after you became a Witness so that you are able to compare them with the teachings of the Watchtower Society? so that you can say with confidence you have “the truth”?
Response: I know that the Watchtower Society has “the truth” so I don’t need to investigate.
Question #14: But the people in the other religions would tell me exactly the same thing. I can’t understand how you can be so confident if you have never investigated.
Response: I know that I have the truth and don’t need to investigate.
Question #15: The conclusion I have come to after this conversation concerning “the ransom” is that for almost 6000 years the ransom was unconditional, so that with a few exception just about all the people who have lived will be resurrected and given a second chance on the new earth to walk pleasing to Yahweh. But since the Watchtower Society was organized this unconditional ransom is no longer in effect, and now the only possibility of entering the new earth and maybe meriting eternal life is through the good graces of the Watchtower Society. Would this be correct?
Response: (You will probably receive a vague answer, but you have planted seedsof doubt.)
On page 50, paragraph 9, we read, “Since a perfect human life was lost, no imperfect human life could ever buy it back. (Psalm 49:7,8) What was needed was a ransom equal in value to what was lost.” Then in the same paragraph, line 8, it is stated, “another perfect human life was the ‘corresponding ransom’ that was required—1 Timothy 2:6.” This verse reads, “Who gave himself a corresponding ransom for all—[this is] what is to be witnessed to at its own particular times.”
Question #1: I am greatly confused at what is written here because I have never heard or read of a “corresponding ransom.” “Ransom” yes, but not “a corresponding ransom.” I checked this verse in other Bibles and none of them have the word “corresponding.” If a person is demanding a $100,000 ransom I do not think the person would object to receiving $200.000 in ransom money instead of the demanded $100.000. Almost always the person who is paying the ransom is richer than the one who is demanding it! The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 13:1, “At the mouth of two witnesses or of three every matter must be established.” On the basis of this verse, could you give me three verses in the Bible where this concept is clearly presented and able to be comprehended by the average reader? Also, not just in the NWT but in other Bibles.
Response: (You will not receive any verses. The purpose of this question is to plant seeds of doubt.)
Page 50. All of paragraph 10. (I doubt if you received a clear answer when you asked before, “What came down from heaven when this life-force was transferred into the womb of Mary?” You can ask the following question to re-enforce your previous question.)
Question: I am greatly perplexed by what is written here. It says that the Father “sent one of his perfect spirit sons to earth.” Then continuing it reads, “He transferred the life of this Son to the womb of Mary” and the outcome was that “Jesus was born as a perfect human.” This doesn’t make any sense to me. The Society says that “the only-begotten Son” was “transferred from heaven to earth.” But this one that came down was an angelic being. Usually if a person is transferred because of his job from New York to Chicago it is exactly the same person. Yet you have an angel transferred from heaven to earth but the end result is that there is nothing of the angel that is left and you end up with something entirely different? and that is “a perfect human”! I could see a body being prepared for an angel to live in on this physical world, but when you start out with “A,” an angel, and end up with “B,” a human man, it doesn’t make sense. It seems to me that the angel completely disappeared and something entirely new took its place! In John 16:28 Jesus declared, “I came out from the Father and have come into the world.” Jesus says that once He, the person talking, existed in heaven and now He is living on earth. I would like to know exactly what was transferred from heaven at the birth of Jesus and what was this life from heaven that actually dwelt in Jesus?
Response: (You probably still won’t receive a clear-cut answer, but keep pressing.)
On page 51, paragraph 13, lines 5-6, we read, “On the third day after Jesus died, Jehovah raised him back to spirit life.”
Question #1: What happened to the physical body of Jesus Christ after these three days?
Response: It apparently was dissolved, because the Bible says that His body did not see corruption.
Question #2: Will Jesus’ physical body be resurrected like most other people and given a chance to live on the new earth in the future?
Response: No. If Jesus did, then He would be taking back the ransom. (I don’t understand what the Society means by this and have never received a good answer.)
Question #3: So Jesus Christ is eternally annihilated?
Question #4: This is one of the most astounding and unjust beliefs that I have ever heard of! Adam and Eve started out perfect, but they sinned and will be eternally annihilated. After Satan is re-created and becomes alive for a short time he will be eternally annihilated. Jehovah’s Witnesses who do not prove loyal to the Watchtower Society will be eternally annihilated when they die or Armageddon occurs. In all these cases, the people are eternally annihilated because of their own sins. But according to the Watchtower Society, Jesus Christ is “the greatest man who ever lived.” He was the only one who remained perfectly faithful to Yahweh to the very end. He never sinned. He died upon that awful torture stake for most of the wicked sinners upon the earth so that they will have the possibility of obtaining everlasting life in a beautiful paradise. But Jesus Christ, the greatest person who ever lived, will never be resurrected? and has received the same end as an unrepentant Jehovah’s Witness! This does not sound like justice to me! Could you please explain to me why the reward from Yahweh for Jesus Christ being the most faithful and loyal person who ever lived receives the same end as the worst of sinners?