How to Respond to the Jehovah’s Witness’ Publication “What Does the Bible Really Teach?” — Part Four
Chapter 4 Who Is Jesus Christ?
By Wilbur Lingle
As can be expected, the teaching about Christ in this chapter is greatly perverted because the Watchtower Society refuses to give Jesus Christ the same place the Bible gives Him. (Philippians 2:9-11. He is worthy of worship.) While saying it believes in Jesus Christ, the Society goes to great length to dethrone Him from His appropriate position in the Godhead. It makes vague statements but never explains them. It does not come out clearly and present its beliefs, but covers them up in a lot of “double-talk.” For instance, it believes that Jesus Christ was only a man and that when He died and went into the grave He was annihilated. Meaning the physical body disintegrated and went back into the elements or gasses, never to appear again as a human. When it speaks of Jesus’ resurrection, it teaches that Michael the archangel was re-created three days after the death of Jesus. To cover this up, it says that Jesus was raised as “a spirit.” But in this chapter it does not even hint at its true belief about Michael, so a person who is unaware would think it believes that Jesus actually rose from the grave. For this reason, you will have to ask many questions to get the Jehovah’s Witness you are talking with to explain what the Watchtower Society actually teaches. This will be hard, but be patient and persistent. In this chapter it says that Jesus Christ is the “Messiah” and that He fulfilled prophecy. Born-again, Bible-believing Christians do not have any problem with this. However, we do not agree with the Watchtower Society as to what the Messiah actually did. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the primary purpose for Jesus coming to earth was to “glorify the Father by remaining faithful unto death.” It states that Adam proved “unfaithful” while Jesus proved “faithful.” On the other hand, true Christians believe that Jesus came for the purpose of dying on the tree in order to shed His blood for our personal sins, and all who confess their sins and accept Christ are born into the family of God. The Society teaches that one must come to the Watchtower Society in order to gain salvation in the future. The Watchtower, November 15, 1981, page 21 states, “Come to Jehovah’s organization for salvation.” Be careful that you don’t get into a discussion of the Trinity. This is what the Witness you are talking to would just love to do. One of the last barriers for a Jehovah’s Witness to cross is a belief in the deity of Christ and the Trinity. You need to take very small steps in this direction and place some doubts in their minds before you deal with the issue. In this chapter there are a number of question you can ask to make them think and question the Society’s teachings. What I present in this chapter is entirely new to the Witness you are talking to and he or she has never really wrestled with the issue of who Jesus Christ really is. I have talked to a number of ex-Witnesses and asked them if they understood, and they all said “No.” Do not discuss every paragraph in this chapter. I will point out the main things to discuss and ask questions on. You want to get the Witness to identify the pre-existent Jesus as Michael and to admit that after the death of Christ he was, according to the Society, the re-created Michael. On page 41, paragraph 10, we read, “The Bible teaches that Jesus lived in heaven before he came to earth.” Question #1 In what form did Jesus Christ exist before He came to this earth? Response: (It will probably be that He existed as “a spirit person.”) Question #2: Could you please be a little more specific than just saying, “He was a spirit person,” since all the angels are “spirit persons”? Did He have a name that He was identified by? (You want to get them to admit that the Society believes that the man Jesus did not have a pre-human existence but it is Michael the Society is referring to.) Question #3: (If they say it was Michael then you do not need this question, but if they have not identified him use this question.) It seems to me that I heard somewhere that the Watchtower Society identifies Jesus Christ as Michael the archangel before He came to earth! Is what I have heard correct? (At this point they ought to identify Him as Michael.) On page 42, paragraph 14, we read, “Jehovah’s only-begotten Son willingly left heaven and came down to earth to live as a human… He transferred the life of his first-born Son from heaven to the womb of a Jewish virgin named Mary.” Question #1: By taking this statement literally, I come to the conclusion that Michael, who is a spirit person, came down and dwelt in the human body that Mary gave him in the form of Jesus. Thus the one who was born would be both human and an archangel. He would have a dual personality, the one of Michael and the one of a human. Is this correct? (Since the Society teaches that Michael did not actually dwell in Jesus, and he was only a man, they will not be able to agree with this statement. The Society really teaches that at the conception or birth of Jesus, Michael willed himself out of existence. You will probably need to ask some more question to get a little clearer answer but you will probably not get a “clear-cut” answer.) Question #2: If Jesus was not both divine and human, then what does this book mean when it states, “He transferred the life of his first-born Son from heaven to the womb of a Jewish virgin named Mary”? (They will probably say that it was just the “life force” that came down.) Question #3: This “life force” is a new expression to me. Would you please explain to me what a “life force” is in an angel and just exactly what part of Michael entered into Jesus if He is not both human and divine? (You will still probably not receive a clear answer. You might even get some very stupid statement.) Question #4: Maybe it would help me to understand what this “life force” is if you explain to me how humans have a “life force” and just what it is. (With this question you should receive the reply that the “life force” in humans is the breath that keeps the human body alive. If this is the answer you receive, proceed with this next question.) Question #5: Since Michael was a “spirit being” without a human body and lungs, it would only be logical that he could not breathe and thus did not have a “life force”! So how is something that doesn’t exist able to be transferred into the womb of Mary? Question #6: Since the Society teaches that Jesus was not both human and divine, and nothing from Michael was in Jesus, then did Michael still exist in heaven? (At this point they might tell you that he willed himself out of existence. If you receive this reply, then ask this next question.) Question #7: If it is true that Michael willed himself out of existence, then how did he do it? I know of only two possible ways. (1) The Father would have had to kill him. But this would not be a possibility because the Bible says, “The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23)” and since Michael was perfect and never sinned, the Father could not be just and kill Michael! (2) Michael would have had to kill himself by committing suicide! I don’t think this would be a possibility either because JW say the Bible teaches that suicide is a sin. Would you please help me solve this difficult problem? (I have used these types of questions with Jehovah’s Witnesses and found them very effective because they are not the standard questions presented to Witnesses, so they do not have answers.) Question #8: This is all very confusing and sounds like a “great mystery.” If Michael did will himself out of existence in some unexplainable way, then he would have been dead and there would be no “life force” to transfer into the womb of Mary! Please help me out. Question #9: (To make Jesus God at this stage in your witnessing it is too much for a Witness to accept, but here is a step towards this goal which you might use. What I state in this question is what the Watchtower Society believes and teaches, but you don’t want to let the Witness know that you know too much about his or her religion.) I understand that there are some religious groups who believe that in the days of Noah (according to Genesis 6:2) “the sons of God” were actually wicked angels who saw “the daughters of men” and went down and took these women for their wives and lived upon this earth. But when the flood came and the physical body drowned, the angel part separated from the body and went back to heaven. Wouldn’t this be an answer as to what happened in the case of Jesus and Michael? Michael came down and dwelt in the man Jesus, but they were separate and did not amalgamate into one? (It will be hard for them to agree with you and also to disagree, but you have planted a seed.) There is a contradiction recorded on page 41 that I would like to mention and then present a question. In paragraph 10, line 2-4 we read, “Micah prophesied that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem and also said that his origin was ‘from early time.’ (Micah 5:2)” This verse reads in the NWT, “And you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, the one too little to get to be among the thousands of Judah, from you there will come out to me the one who is to become ruler in Israel, whose origin is from early times, from the days of time indefinite.” In the NKJV the words “time indefinite” are rendered “from everlasting.” Go down to paragraph 11, line 5, where we read, “This means that Jesus is the only one directly created by God.” Next go to paragraph 12, line 3, and it says, “Obviously, then, he had a beginning.” So the Watchtower Society teaches that the Son was created and had a beginning, in spite of the fact that the Bible says that Jesus is “from everlasting.” Let me go back and quote the entire previous sentence. “Obviously, then, he had a beginning, whereas Jehovah God has no beginning or end. (Psalm 90:2)” This verse reads in the NWT, “Before the mountains themselves were born, or you proceeded to bring forth as with labor pains the earth and the productive land, even from time indefinite to time indefinite you are God.” In the NKJV the last part of this verse reads, “Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” Question: (After going through what I just wrote above, you can continue with this question.) We see that exactly the same words? “from everlasting” or “from time indefinite”—that are used of the Son, Jesus Christ, are also used of the Father. If you go and check in a Hebrew lexicon you will see that the Hebrew word is the same in both cases. This being true, then why does the Watchtower Society teach one thing from Micah 5:2? that “from everlasting=from time indefinite” means that the Son was created and had a beginning? and then in Psalm 90:2, where exactly the same word is used, the Society teaches that the Father had no beginning or end? (You need to press the Witness you are dealing with hard on this point. Ask him or her to go and check if he or she does not believe you. Micah 5:2 is a very strong verse, proving Jesus is eternally God.) In the very last sentence on page 41 it states, “The only-begotten Son never even considered trying to be equal to his Father.” You still do not want to go into detail about the deity of Christ and the Trinity, but there is a point you can make here and then just move on. Do not let them take you to other verses like John 14:28 where the Witnesses like to use part of the verse, “The Father is greater than I am.” (What is written just before these words, “I am going my way to the Father,” the Society denies. It teaches that Jesus went into the grave never to be seen again.) Stick to the point. Question: I notice what is written here on page 41, “The only-begotten Son never even considered trying to be equal to his Father.” I am rather puzzled at this statement. In John 5:23 Jesus said, “In order that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He that does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.” This verse seems rather plain to me and doesn’t need any interpreting. If I am to honor the Son exactly as I honor the Father, then doesn’t this make the Sonequal with the Father? On page 45, paragraph 20 it states, “Jesus set the finest example of loyal obedience to God. He remained faithful to his heavenly Father under all kinds of circumstances.” Question: To me, this is a rather strange statement. 1 Timothy 1:15 states, “Faithful and deserving of full acceptance is the saying that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Of these I am foremost.” Since the Bible teaches the purpose for Jesus Christ coming to this earth was to die on the tree and shed His blood for the remission of our sins in order to save us from our sins, then why does the Watchtower Society teach that His purpose in coming was to just be faithful to the end? (You are not so much desiring an answer as you are in presenting the gospel in your question.) On page 46, paragraph 21, starting from line 8, we read, “However, on the third day after Jesus died, his heavenly Father resurrected him back to spirit life (1 Peter 3:18.) A few weeks later, he returned to heaven.” This is probably one of the most deceitful statements made by the Watchtower Society. The Watchtower Society clearly teaches that man does not have a soul that is separate from the physical body and leaves the body at death. Rather, the “soul” is the entire person, identical with one’s physical body. It also believes that the “spirit” is the breath or “the life force that enables that person to be alive. The spirit has no personality, nor can it do the things a person can do. It cannot think, speak, hear, see or feel.” (Quoted from the 1968 Watchtower book THE TRUTH that leads to ETERNAL LIFE, page 39.) With this Watchtower definition in mind, then what does it mean when the book states, “His heavenly Father resurrected him back to spirit life”? It means that the archangel Michael? who the Society claims willed himself out of existence when Jesus was conceived or born? was re-created three days after the death of Jesus. Then he impersonated Jesus in a number of different bodies, including even the body with the nail and spear scars (John 20:27) that the Society teaches had already gone back to the elements—fooling everyone. Furthermore, Michael in his pre-human existence was only “a god,” but at his re-creation he became “Mighty God.” (In the future, after the Millennium is over, he will be demoted once again to “a god.” Please don’t ask me to explain this.) I asked various Jehovah’s Witnesses about this for eight years before I finally had one explain that this “resurrection back to spirit life” means that Michael was re-created. (There are only two places where I have found this written in Watchtower literature. One is on page 2600 of the reprints of the April 1, 1900 Zion’s Watch Tower. It reads, “By a resurrection—a raising up to life; being created again, the same identical being, yet more glorious, and exalted even to ‘the express image of the Father’s person.’ (Heb. 1:3).” The other one is on page 155, paragraph 23, in the 1974 book God’s “Eternal Purpose” Now Triumphing for Man’s Good: “He resumed his pre-human name, Michael, so that again there was a ‘Michael the archangel’ in heaven.” If people realized this teaching, most would not become Witnesses. In other places, instead of saying “spirit life,” Watchtower literature says Jesus was resurrected as “a spirit.” The Society takes the word “spirit” from 1 Peter 3:18 “in the spirit,” and “a” from 1 Corinthians 15:44 “a spiritual body,” and comes up with the words “a spirit.” One of the few places in the Bible where the expression “a spirit” is used is in connection with the resurrection of Jesus. It is found in Luke 24:39 when the disciples saw the resurrected Jesus and thought He was “a spirit,” but Jesus clearly denied this. He said, “For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.” The Bible speaks over one hundred times about the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ, but in spite of this, the Watchtower Society still teaches that Jesus Himself was not resurrected but it was Michael who was recreated. Some Witnesses do not understand what I have just written. Others do, but do not want to tell you this early in your studies. You might need quite a few of the following questions. If you have received the desired answer that it was Michael who was re-created then you can proceed with other questions. But if you just can’t get them to tell you that it was the re-created Michael then you might say, “Just a minute. It seems like I have heard or read somewhere that the Society teaches that this “spirit life” or “a spirit” was actually the re-creation of Michael. Am I correct?” If they deny this, then ask them to do some research and come up with a clear answer. Question #1: I am rather confused here. What does it mean “His heavenly father resurrected him back to spirit life”? (They will probably tell you that he was raised as “a spirit.”) Question #2: What happened to the physical body of Jesus? Question #3: Where does the Bible teach that His body went back to the elements? Question #4: The Bible speaks in over one hundred places about the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Not once do we have the very words “a spirit” in connection with His resurrection, except when Jesus Himself denied that He was raised just as “a spirit” in Luke 24:37-40, so why does the Watchtower Society make it “a spiritual resurrection”? Question #5: This book quotes only one verse, 1 Peter 3:18, to try to prove this concept of “a spiritual resurrection.” But this verse does not teach that! It says, “Being made alive in the spirit.” Other Bibles read, “Made alive by the Spirit”(NKJV, NIV, etc.). In other words, Jesus Christ was raised up by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 13:1, “At the mouth of two witnesses or of three every matter must be established.” Could you please give me three verses where it clearly teaches that Jesus Christ was raised just as “a spirit”? (It is interesting to note that the Watchtower Society uses this Corinthian verse when it comes to convicting an accused Witness of child molesting. There are many of these molesters. If there were anyone else watching, then there would be no molesting! But you can use back on them this verse that the Society uses.) Question #6: How could something that never died be resurrected? The Bible in Matthew 27:50 states, “Again Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and yielded up [his] spirit.” (In a footnote in the NWT it says, “He let go of the spirit.”) Where did this “spirit” of Jesus go that “He let go of”? The answer is found in Ecclesasties12:7: “Then the dust returns to the earth just as it happened to be and the spirit itself returns to the [true] God who gave it.” (The Watchtower Society teaches that the body goes back to dust at the time of death, thus taking the first part of this verse to be literal; then why doesn’t it take the second part literally? The spirit does not die.) Since the spirit of Jesus never died, it couldn’t have been resurrected, could it? Please give me something in Jesus that actually died and was resurrected. Question #7: I am still very much confused. By just reading the Bible a person would never come to the conclusion that that it was a spiritual resurrection of some kind and not a physical resurrection. Look at John 2:18-22. The sign that Jesus gave to the Jews was that when His body was destroyed, died on the tree, in three days it would be raised up. It clearly says that Jesus was not talking about “a temple of stone” but His physical body. The people who heard Jesus speak these words understood “the temple” to be Jesus’ physical body. Matthew 27:62-63 reads, “The next day, which was after the Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together before Pilate, saying: ‘Sir, we have called to mind that that imposter said while yet alive, “After three days I am to be raised up.”’” Upon hearing this, Pilate ordered a guard for the tomb for three days. Doesn’t this clearly indicate that Jesus taught His physical body would be raised? (To try and get around this section in John 2:18-22, the Society teaches that the “temple” was the spiritual church and that after three days the church began to be established. However, even this is a contradiction, because the Society teaches that God did not begin to call out people for His “spiritual temple” until 40 days later, at Pentecost, and not three days after his death!) Question #8: Does the Watchtower Society teach that “the spirit” in man is the seat of his or her personality and can think, speak, hear, see and feel? (They will have to say “No.”) Question #9: Since “a spirit” has no personality and can’t think, speak, hear, see or feel, then what was actually resurrected? The word “resurrect,” means that “something that fell down stood up.” Please give me something that lived on this earth that was resurrected. Question #10: (By this time, if they have said nothing about Michael being recreated then you can come out and ask:) This is very complicated! It seems to me that somewhere I heard or read that the Society teaches that it was actually Michael who was re-created. Is this true or not? Question #11: (If they do say it was Michael, you can continue by asking this question: ) Excuse me, but this is still very confusing. Why doesn’t the Watchtower Society come out and clearly present what it believes? that when the man Jesus died and was buried, within three days His body was dissolved back into the elements, since it didn’t see corruption, and at this time Michael was re-created? Question #12: If it is really true that it was Michael who was re-created, then it was Michael and not the man Jesus who appeared to the disciples and others on quite a number of occasions! On occasions Michael appeared in a physical body just like the one that was on the tree, because it had nail prints in the hands and feet and a spear wound in the side (John 20:27). To me this amounts to “fraud,” since the archangel Michael would be impersonating the man Jesus Christ. Wouldn’t you agree? Question #13: In the Bible, angels appeared a number of times in the form of man, but in all of these cases they were identified as angels. If it was really Michael the archangel who appeared for 40 days after the death of Christ, then wouldn’t it seem logical that at least in a couple of places where Michael impersonated Jesus he would be identified as an angel?