Christians sometimes ask Jehovah’s Witnesses if they have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal savior. Some of them will say yes because they do believe that Jesus is “the savior,” but in reality that’s Christian lingo and they have no idea what you are talking about.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have no personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. They don’t claim to. They don’t think such a thing is desirable or even possible. Rather than coming directly to Jesus for salvation, Witnesses rely on their dedication and service to the organization they think he has chosen to represent him on earth—the Watchtower Society.
Interestingly, the No. 6 public edition of the Watchtower 2016 contains the following statement in an article entitled “Lessons from the Birds of the Heavens”: “Today, Jesus invites us to come to him for refreshment and protection from the burdens and anxieties of our daily life.—Matthew 11:28, 29.”
What is ironic about this statement is that Witnesses consider it sinful and idolatrous for a person to try to develop a personal relationship with Jesus today. Why? The Watchtower teaches them that only the Father is Jehovah, that only he is God. They believe that Jesus Christ is not God but that he is really Michael the archangel, the first creation of Jehovah. Think of the alarm bells that would go off inside you if someone told you that you need to have a personal relationship with the archangel Michael, that you need to pray to him and ask him to forgive your sins. This is the obstacle that you have to overcome with Witnesses.
For years, I tried to address this challenge by tackling head-on the Watchtower’s misunderstandings concerning the identity of Jesus. The problem was that the need to come to him personally for salvation got lost amidst controversy over the Trinity, the nature of Jesus’ divinity, and Watchtower’s claim that Jesus is Michael. Then I heard a talk by Arnold Hoffman in which he recommended a separate devotional approach which bypasses discussion of these identity issues in order to focus attention on the Witnesses’ need for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
The key to the approach is to show the Witnesses that Jehovah God wants them—in fact commands them—to come to Jesus personally in order to obtain salvation and forgiveness of sins. This concept will surprise them. The Watchtower has not trained them to deal with it.
Focusing on Jehovah’s command that we come to his Son goes straight to the heart of God’s plan of salvation, the need for a saving encounter with Jesus Christ. Rather than confronting the Witnesses over doctrinal differences, you will be talking about what they want most in life but can never obtain through the Watchtower system—the assurance that they are saved and the knowledge that they have God’s approval. Of course, this can only be obtained by coming to Jesus by faith.
Jesus said, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture (John 10:9, KJV).” Jehovah’s Witnesses need to see that before they can enter through the door they must first come to the door—Jesus himself.
This approach doesn’t require you to invest a large amount of time in doctrinal study. Likewise, you will avoid having to respond to a prepared Watchtower presentation.
If you have tried this sort of relational approach, how did it go? What feedback can you give us?
Share your thoughts in the comments.