Because Jehovah’s Witnesses believe Jehovah is the ultimate authority, the key to this relational approach is to present the plan of salvation as a command of Jehovah.
Jehovah’s Witnesses need to see that Jehovah wants them to come to Jesus to get their sins forgiven. They need to know that they are obeying Jehovah God if they come to Jesus for forgiveness and that they are disobeying Jehovah God if they don’t. This is the core of the approach. If your encounter with the Witnesses is a one-time meeting or if you sense that the Witnesses you are talking to are ready for it, concentrate on this point.
A former Jehovah’s Witnesses whom I was able to lead to Christ told me that his initial breakthrough “was when you asked me if it was Jehovah’s arrangement that we should go directly to Jesus. It got through my Watchtower wall.”
That said, I’m not presenting this as a “works every time” formula. There is no series of comments or Bible quotations that are guaranteed to be effective. Please remember that only the Holy Spirit knows what each of the Witnesses needs.
Here are two important points to make:
1. Jesus’ commands express the exact will of Jehovah.
Ask one of the Witnesses to read aloud Jesus’ statement in John 8:28: “After you have lifted up the Son of man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing of my own initiative; but just as the Father taught me, I speak these things.”
You can follow up by asking, “So when Jesus commands us to do something, whose commandment is it really?” You are trying to get them to tell you that it’s Jehovah’s commandment.
You can also have the Witnesses read aloud the Father’s own words in Matthew 17:5: “While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!’
2. Jesus commands us to come to him.
Having established that when Jesus tells us to do something, it is a command that comes from Jehovah, you can show the Witnesses that Jesus instructs us to come to him for salvation.
One of the most effective passages I have found with regard to coming to Jesus is John 5:39-40. Have one of the Witnesses read aloud Jesus’ statement to the Pharisees: “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”
Ask the Witnesses to explain to you what mistake Jesus said the Pharisees were making. Pray silently that they will realize that they are making the exact same mistake. Jehovah’s Witnesses search the Scriptures to find the way to everlasting life, but they refuse to come to Jesus to get it.
Ask them to read one or more of them aloud (as many as are necessary to get the point across):
- Matthew 11:28: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” “Come to me…” is a command, not a request. You can say, “If Jesus says, ‘Come to me,’ then what does Jehovah God want us to do?”
- John 6:37: “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.”
- John 6:44-45: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God [“Jehovah”—Watchtower’s New World Translation].’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.” If you sense that they don’t get the point of this passage, ask, “According to that passage, if we listen to the Father, to whom must we come?”
- John 7:37: “On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.”
Don’t overwhelm them. To the contrary, if you sense that you are making substantial progress, slow down and give the Witnesses time to think. Pray silently for the Holy Spirit to speak to them.
Ask them if they have obeyed this command of Jehovah by coming to Jesus for salvation. If they talk in terms of coming to the Watchtower organization, point out that there is a big difference between coming to Jesus and coming to an organization that claims to represent him—regardless of what that organization is.
Do you see why it’s important to show the Witnesses that coming to Jesus is a command of Jehovah himself? Have you tried framing the issues this way? What was their response?
Share your thoughts in the comments.