Today we’re starting a whole new series. It’s called, “Test Every Spirit.” We’re going to be looking at many of the false religions and false beliefs that exist in the world. We’re going to look at groups like Jehovah's Witnesses, who deny the deity of Christ. We’ll be looking at Mormons, who believe that GOD--YHWH, Almighty GOD--was created, born just like you and me, and that he eventually became the GOD that we know. We’ll be looking at Islam, and the things they believe. We’ll be looking at how the Koran and their need to “earn” Allah’s mercy is the driving force behind the terrorists and suicide bombers so common today.
We’re also going to look at some false beliefs that have even come up in the church. Doctrines like the prosperity gospel. The belief that just because GOD made a promise to one person one time, that you can somehow “claim” that promise to increase your material wealth. Then there’s the Oneness doctrine, put forth by famous preachers like T.D. Jakes. These folks believe that GOD is three persons, just not at the same time. GOD was the Father here, and the Son there, and the Holy Spirit somewhere else. we’ll also take a look at the truth about Angels, and we’ll spend a week or two on Catholicism.
The title of this series is “Test Every Spirit”, and it comes from 1st John 4:1, in which the apostle John says, Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. Even way back then, shortly after Christ walked the earth, there were many false beliefs about who He was. Just like today. You know, looking back at many of the messages I’ve preached, I found that there has been one phrase in particular that I have used quite often. I found that many of my sentences began with the words, “Many people think…”, or “Many people believe…” And I really think that stems from the fact that for so many years, I didn’t know the truth. And there are, as John said, many false prophets out there. And that we need to not only know the truth, but we also need to know how to spot a lie, and we need to know what makes it a lie.
Today we’re going to begin by taking a look at Jehovah’s Witnesses. And the text for today is one I read last time, 2nd John 9-10—Whoever…does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him… I chose these verses because if people know nothing else about Jehovah’s Witnesses, they know this: that if their doorbell rings at 8:00 on a Saturday morning when you're not expecting company, you could pretty much guess who it is. I remember when I was a kid, I’d be watching cartoons. Mom would see a car pull in the driveway, and she’d quick turn everything off, and run us kids upstairs. And I’d have to miss my cartoon.
Before I begin let me just make a few things clear. The goal of these messages over the next few weeks is not so that we can simply debate these people, or put them down because of their beliefs. Many of these people grow up believing these things. And these people are lost, and they need to know the truth of Christ just as much as we did when we were lost. My goal is this: if you know someone who is involved in one of these organizations, you will be able to show them the truth from the Bible, and also from their own group’s publications. I don’t recommend reading the Watchtower, but sometimes it’s good to know what they’re saying and, “speak their language” as it were. So, let’s get started.
First, let’s look at what Jehovah's Witnesses believe about GOD. They make no bones about it. They do not believe in the doctrine of the Trinity. They will tell you that right up front. They believe that only the Father is GOD, and that the name “Jehovah” is the only name you are to use in referring to GOD. They do not believe that Jesus was GOD in the flesh. In fact, they believe that Jesus Christ was a created being and that in fact He was the archangel Michael in the Old Testament. And as far as the Holy Spirit, why that’s GOD’s “active force”. The Holy Spirit is NOT a “person”, the Holy Spirit does not have emotions, and the Holy Spirit is just “there.” Eventually, we’ll see what they believe about death, and heaven, and Hell. They don’t believe in a literal Hell. If you do not belong to the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, you are just simply wiped out when you die.
Let’s start by taking a quick look at the history of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, the name of the “official” Jehovah's Witnesses organization. It was founded as Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society in the late 1800’s by a man named Charles Taze Russell, who came out of the Seventh-Day Adventists, and who preached that Christ’s return was going to happen within their lifetimes. After his death, a Missouri lawyer named Franklin "Judge" Rutherford took it over, and in 1931 gave the society the name Jehovah's Witnesses.
Now, as far as Scriptures, they have three main pieces of literature they consider to be “Scripture.” First, they have their own translation of the Bible, called the New World Translation. To say that it is a false translation is to be too kind. They also offer other periodical publications. The main one is called “The Watchtower”, and the other one is called “Awake!” Jehovah's Witnesses consider both of these to be “Scripture”, and hold them in the same regard as they do the Bible. They like to refer to themselves as GOD’s “faithful and discreet slave”, and that the Watchtower Society is GOD’s authority here on Earth.
Well, one problem is this: if they claim to be GOD's "mouthpiece", or GOD's "prophet", or GOD's "chosen--and by the way, when some group claims to have a “living prophet”, be very skeptical. Many groups claim to have a “living prophet” that is anything but a true “prophet.” That title gets so mangled and abused these days. The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society claims to speak prophecies in the name of Jehovah, YHWH. Thing is, none of their prophecies about Christ’s return have come true. In Deuteronomy 18:22, GOD Himself says, When the prophet speaks in the name of Jehovah and the word does not occur or come true, that is the word that Jehovah did not speak… That’s from the New World Translation.
See, they run into trouble claiming that GOD is somehow speaking through them, and that “The Watchtower” is the word of GOD. And yes, they do make this claim. Listen to this interview with former Watchtower president Fredrick Franz:
Q. At any rate, Jehovah God is now the editor of [The Watchtower], is that right?And then there is this interview with another former Watchtower Society president, Nathan Homer Knorr, another former president of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society:
Franz: He is today the editor of the paper.
Q. How long has He been editor of the paper?
Franz: Since its inception he has been guiding it.
Q. In fact, [The Watchtower] is set forth directly as God's Word, isn't it?
Knorr: Yes, as His word.
Q. Without any qualification whatsoever?
Knorr: That is right.
Well, if it’s GOD’s word, it must be 100% accurate. However, in 1897 they “prophesied” that Jesus had returned in 1874. But then, in 1899, they said that He was going to return in 1914. Then, in 1916, they said that He had returned in 1873. Then, listen to the things they had to say about the year 1925:
- 1918—“…we…expect that 1925 will mark the return of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the faithful prophets of old…”
- 1922—"The date 1925 is even more distinctly indicated by the Scriptures than 1914."
- 1923—“Our thought is, that 1925 is definitely settled by the Scriptures”
- January 1925—“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.”
- September 1925—“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.”
- 1926—“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.”
- 1931—"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. "
So, that said, let’s compare the teachings of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society with the truth of the Bible. Let’s look first at Christ Himself. Jehovah's Witnesses claim that Jesus Christ was Michael the archangel. From their own website:
The foremost angel, both in power and authority, is the archangel, Jesus Christ, also called Michael.
Well, that’s a problem. See, in Hebrews 1:5-6, the writer says, …to which of the angels did He ever say: ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You’? And again: ‘I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son’? But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: ‘Let all the angels of God worship Him.’ In fact, in the Jehovah's Witnesses own New World Translation, listen to what it says in Hebrews 1:3-4—[Jesus] is the reflection of [the Father’s] glory and the exact representation of his very being, and he sustains all things by the word of his power; and after he had made a purification for our sins he sat down on the right hand of the Majesty in lofty places. So he has become better than the angels… In both of those passages, there is one word that is missing. That word is “other”. It doesn’t say, “Let all the other angels of GOD worship Him.” It doesn’t say “He has become better than the other angels.” And that’s because Jesus IS NOT AND NEVER WAS JUST AN ANGEL!!! In fact the NWT says that Jesus is “The EXACT representation of GOD’s very being!!”
Part 2 tomorrow.