I was afforded an opportunity that most Christians are not, last Saturday. The opportunity to discuss the scriptures in the house of a Jehovah’s Witness. The reasons for this are rather lengthy, but I can summarize it briefly. Two of my children, and their mother, (hereafter referred to as S.) now attend a local Kingdom Hall – I was informed of this the day before I was scheduled to pick them up. I was curious as to what brought their mother to this decision, as she comes from a (nominal) Roman Catholic background. A phone discussion ensued, in which she admitted that she didn’t have answers to many of my questions. Therefore, I was told that they would invite their Elder to answer any questions that I might have. you HAD to confess the Father as GodFurther, I could not have the kids unless I had this discussion. As it turns out, he didn’t show up – I was rather skeptical that he would, as JWs are told not to invite “apostates” (non-JWs) into their houses. However, I did talk to a younger man living there, hereafter referred to as J. – (I’m not sure what the relationship there is, and I didn’t ask) whose sister, and her two small children also live in the house (and who listened to the entire conversation).

S. and I had discussed several passages previously – especially John 1 and Hebrews 1. However, when we began our discussion, I began by asking him to define what it was he believed, in his own words. After he did that, I would take a bit to explain what I believe, in as succinct a manner as possible. He did so, and took about 2-3 minutes to do so. I took notes as he did, so that I would be sure not to become confused thereafter. Here is what he told me:

1. Jehovah is God’s name.
2. His son is Jesus.
3. After the resurrection, Jesus will be the head of the government, along with the 144,000.
4. There is a trial period after sleep.
5. Satan deceived Eve, and tested God.
6. Therefore, God gave Satan a chance – to exercise a certain amount of rule.
7. Satan is the government over the world, and the world has seen how Satan’s rule is.
8. How we choose is how we will be judged.

I believe I asked one question, at this point, in order to confirm what it was he had said. I think it was about point 6, and the story of Job was discussed, but very very briefly.

I then began to present what I believed. I was only able to get a very short way into point 3, due to the myriad objections that came my way at that point. This is the outline I use when giving a short explanation of what Christians believe. It can be expanded, compressed, or given a detailed look, depending on the subject.

1) Scripture:
i) Scripture is the God-breathed (inspired) self-revelation of God to, and for His people.
ii) It is comprised of 66 books – the OT originally written in Hebrew, with the NT written in Greek.
iii) No word of the Scripture can be broken, as Christ said – therefore, it is the only arbiter, source, or definition for what must be believed.

2) Trinity Defined
i) Within the one Being that is God, there exist eternally three coequal and coeternal Persons, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
ii) Each word of this definition is important. Each term has a certain, definite meaning. Please don’t ignore any of them. These few words present the foundation of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity: monotheism, the existence of three divine Persons, and the equality of those Persons.
iii) The phrase “one Being” communicates the truth that there is only one true God, the Creator of all things. The Trinity is monotheistic. It is not, however, Unitarian. Monotheism says that there is only one Being of God, while Unitarianism asserts that there is only one person of God. The Being of God is what makes God, God. It is the substance of God. In the Christian definition I just gave you – recognize the difference between the words Being and Person. The failure to recognize that the definition given above is using these two terms in different ways is one of the prime reasons for confusion in regard to the Trinity. Being is what makes something what it is. Person is what makes someone who he or she is. As Hank Hanegraaff puts it, when speaking of the Trinity, we speak of one what (the Being of God) and three whos (the three divine Persons).
iv) We speak of these three divine Persons as coequal and coeternal. The Father has eternally been the Father, and the Son has eternally been the Son. The terms Father and Son refer to an eternal relationship that they have with each other. It is vitally important to understand that this relationship has always been. If we neglect to recognize this fact, we run the danger of thinking that the Father precedes or creates the Son, when this is not the case. While theologians speak of the Father begetting the Son, they do so in such a way that completely denies that the Son is a creation of, or ontologically inferior to, the Father. Each of the divine Persons shares fully and completely in the divine Being, but they likewise bear a relationship to one another within the Godhead itself. Many arguments raised against the Trinity actually focus on the relationship between the Persons, as if these automatically indicate an inferiority of nature. We do well to recognize this kind of error in the arguments of those who oppose the Christian faith.
v) The final assertion of our definition comprises the deity of Christ and the deity and personality of the Holy Spirit. Many of our conversations of the Trinity focus on this particular area. The key element in successfully explaining and defending the Trinity is to recognize that the doctrine is based on the plain teaching of Scripture. We can never afford to abandon the only ground upon which the Christian can stand — the teaching of God’s Word. Each of the three foundations of the doctrine are clear teachings of the Bible, and we must focus our defense there, if we wish to honor God and give a God-glorifying answer to those who ask.
(Taken and compressed from a section of The Forgotten Trinity, James R. White)

3) Sin defined
i) Sin is any failure to conform to the moral law of God in act, attitude, or nature. (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, pg 490)
ii) Exo 20, Matt 5:22,28, Gal 5:20, Eph 2:3
iii) A failure to glorify God in all things and to thus love him perfectly – Mark 12:30, Isa 42:8, 43:7,21, Eph 1:12
iv) Sin is lawlessness – 1jo 3:4, Rom 2:15, Rom 2:17-29,
v) Right in their own eyes – Deu 12:8, Judg 17:6, 2Ki 10:30, Pro 21:2

4) Punishment defined
i) Death – Eze 18:4
ii) Everlasting – matt 25:46
iii) Demanded by God’s Holiness – Rom 7:12, Rev 4:8, 6:10, 15:4
5) Biblical requirements for salvation
i) Belongs to God alone – Gen 49:18, Psa 3:8, Isa 12:2, Isa 45:8, 45:17
ii) Everlasting – Isa 45:17, 51:6,8, Mar 16:20, 2th 2:13, Heb 5:9
iii) Substitutionary – Rom 4:24-25, 5 (all)
iv) Justifies – Rom 5 ( all of 5) Rom 8:33 (and all of 8 )
v) Atones (propitiates) – Rom 3;25, heb 2:17, 1jo 2:2, 4:10

6) Depiction of the Savior and Redeemer
i) Isa 53, Mic 7:16

7) His salvific work – atonement and redemption
i) By that atoning work, He satisfies the wrath of God against the sin of man – past, present of future. Fulfills the covenant of the law, begins the covenant of grace, and satisfies every requirement God had decreed. By this mighty work, He has secured us as His elect people, as chosen from before the foundation of the world (eph 1), as newly reborn creatures, being sanctified in his love and grace.

8 ) Perfection of that work, due to the perfect fulfillment of it
i) His work is not, and cannot be, a failure. Christ died for His peculiar people, throughout history, and throught the future, securing their pardon, once and for all. His perfect sacrifice, as the spotless lamb, purchased us as His people for all eternity.
ii) Our rebirth is His gift (Eze 37-38, eph 2:5) Our faith in Him is His gracious gift (heb 12:2), as is the repentance (acts 5:31, 2ti 2:25) we must show. His salvation is a perfect gift, as is His sanctifying grace (eph 2:8-9, 5:26, 1th 5:23).
iii) Therefore, man may never take one iota of God’s glory in salvation for Himself.

9) Perfection of His people through Him
i) Those who are in Christ are branches of the one true vine. There are those who falsely claim to be part of the vine – but will be pruned, and cast into the fire.
ii) False professors – apostates – are those who knwo the truth, yet reject it in favor of a lie.
iii) True believers endure to the end. That is the hallmark of a true, enduring faith – for all true faith is a gift of God, and therefore cannot fail.
iv) At the resurrection, we will be made like Christ, and live forever in the presence of the Triune God, praising and glorifying Him forever. Heaven and earth will be remade, and a number beyond counting will be present. We will no longer sin, and sin will be cast into hell along with the demons, the unsaved, sinful humans, and every hint of depravity and corruption.

10) To put the Gospel succinctly: God is Holy – man is sinful. Man must repent of his sin, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, for who he claims to be – Lord over all of creation, and the only savior for mankind. To reject the identity, the lordship, or the salvation of Christ is to reject the only way to be saved from an eternal hell, and to fulfill the condemnation of God which He has already determined for all sinful creatures. To believe truly is to spend eternity in the presence of God, glorifying Him.

So, this was my planned outline. As I said, I didn’t get far into it. J. said he had a question – if I recall, the immediate question was – how can two persons be the same person. if you will recall, the above specifically states that it is important to make the distinction there. When i expanded upon what the various terms meant, and signified – I was given more objections, and more, and more. When I asked if I could finish the presentation of what I believed, I think the answer I received was “but you haven’t answered what I said about (x) yet.” Answering the objections, it seemed, was now the point of the discussion! This is a very, very common gambit in debate. I have a name for that – shotgun apologetics. Fire a full spread, see what hits – then chamber the next round of shot. Eventually, your opponent is either out of time, or out of answers – and either one works. So, I switched tacks a bit. I began answering objections with Scriptures that would counter his objection. I did get to exegete a bit of John 1 – unfortunately, the greek text I had pulled up on my browser (transliterated, original, english) was lost as I plugged my laptop in. The screen wouldn’t reactivate, and I lost my browser windows that i had kept up the entire trip, for this very purpose, as I knew that text (along with several others) would be a sticking point. So, I had to “reconstruct” the word order of the Greek text from what I could show him from Strong’s inline references in my KJV E-sword. Very frustrating.

His response was to offer more objections. Unfortunately, if someone isn’t listening to your presentations, but waiting for you to finish, so that they can present the next objection, the conversation is effectively over. This wasn’t any different.

So, to make the best of things, so that i could at least present the gospel, I went to Philippians 2, in response to an objection that centered around the humanity of Christ. (One of several) I found something very interesting – every time they’d read Phil 2, they’d just “skip over” the portion that speaks of Christ as “being in the form of God”. Every time. Like it wasn’t even there. After the 4th time I went back to that section, he finally gave me a throwaway answer – “that just means that Jesus was like God” – he became agitated, so I moved on.

So, I proceeded to Isaiah 6. If you remember, this is the chapter where Isaiah sees the Lord – in majesty, train of his robe fills the temple, etc. I showed him the “YHWH” Strong’s reference in my bible – and he agreed, this must be Jehovah God. Then, I took him to John 12. He was visibly annoyed at this point, and muttering to himself – but he turned. We read from verse 30 to verse 41. I asked him: “Who did Isaiah see?” His answer – “God”

I said, “exactly”. Who is John saying that Isaiah saw? “God.” “So,” I said, “who is John saying that Jesus is?” He became extremely agitated at this point, and said “Jesus is a created being – he cannot be God!” “Yet”, I pressed, “Jesus is said, right here, to be the one that Isaiah saw.” “Where does it say that?” He replied. I went through all the times just prior, and just after, that John points out, over and over, that Jesus is the one that is referred to throughout, as “Him”. At 5 times within the previous 5 verses, “Him” is Jesus. There is no context change between the verse prior, and this one – all the same discussion. The next verse says that “even some of the rulers believed in Him” – I asked J. – in who? “God”, was his answer. “The rulers already believed in God the Father – and to be a Jew, you HAD to confess the Father as God – so who is John saying they are afraid of confessing, for fear of being put out of the synagogue? “God!” (Very, very agitated, now)

“Read on a little further, then. ‘He who believes in Me does not believe in Me, but in the One who sent Me. He who sees me, sees the One who sent Me.’ See that? Christ is answering your question for you. Isaiah saw the glory of the preincarnate Christ, seated on a throne, with the train of His robe, fillign the temple.”

I was then informed that the conversation was over, he didn’t want to talk about it, that I could feel free to talk about things related to the children, but that we were done. I asked him – “are you sure you wouldn’t like to look at Psalm 102, first?” The last response I got was “What part of the conversation is over did you not understand?” I spoke to S. for a just a moment longer, and added only that she should recall what Christ said – “Unless you believe that I am, you will die in your sins. That’s the reason I wanted to talk to you all today. Not to win a debate, not to score points, or make myself look smart. I have to be a faithful proclaimer of the Gospel.” The discussion ended, I collected the kids, and their things, and we were on their way.

It may not look like a lot – but remember – I was told that I wouldn’t get my kids otherwise. It would have been very easy to have a “can’t we all get along” discussion. Just ask questions. Instead, I challenged the heart of their doctrine, with the full understanding that I might not get my kids as a result. I didn’t expect to get them at all, to be very frank with you, but I knew that God would be honored by a faithful defense of His gospel, and I couldn’t do otherwise. I trusted that God would be faithful to me, whatever the outcome, but that i had an opportunity that doesn’t come along often – to witness to a jehovah’s Witness where they live, with them knowing that it was with the understanding that they were answering my questions.

Despite that fact – they threw the objections at me – I counted at least 30 separate objections, and many of the same type, but in different forms, using verses, in addition. In a discussion that was meant to answer my questions. No, it wasn’t fair. I didn’t expect it to be. I was interrupted, treated rudely on several occasions – and, to be honest, I may have interrupted someone myself. When two different people are both giving you objections simultaneously, it’s hard not to interrupt someone! But, this isn’t to toot my own horn – it’s to illustrate that God is faithful to those who witness faithfully – especially when they are given every opportunity to “opt out” of a defense of the Christian faith. I never got to ask any of the questions I brought with me. I’m saving them for the meeting with the Elder that they said they would set up on my return. I’m just thankful to God for His faithfulness to me in a situation that could have been devastating.

I have also been invited back to talk to their elder – once again in their home – on July 25th. Please pray for me, that I might be a faithful witness!