When I first studied with Jehovah’s Witnesses, I was shocked when they told me that only a small percentage of Christians will ever go to heaven and that all others will live on a paradise earth.
Watchtower Teaching #2: Only 144,000 Christians will ever go to heaven
“Bible Teach,” Chapter 8, paragraphs 8-9 (pp. 78-79) say that exactly 144,000 Christians (including Paul and Timothy) have been specially chosen throughout the Christian era and that they will be raised to heavenly life and rule in heaven with Jesus. The two citations given are 2 Timothy 2:12 and Revelation 14:1, 4.
This is an example of the Watchtower hopscotching the Bible and joining unrelated passages to prove one of its doctrines. I have previously discussed this in two posts—“Stopping Bible Hopscotching” and “The Watchtower Collapses Contexts”.
“Bible Teach” doesn’t tell you that the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses are all among the 144,000, which gives their writings great authority and credibility. You’ll learn that later if you progress to becoming a Jehovah’s Witness.
It also doesn’t tell you the Watchtower teaching that this designation of people for spirit life and rulership in heaven is what the Bible means by being “born again.”
However, you can inquire about the new birth.
I suggest that you do so, because this would be a good opportunity to use The New Birth Approach from my book, Getting Through to Jehovah’s Witnesses: Approaching Bible Discussions in Unexpected Ways. The objective of that approach is to challenge the Watchtower’s explanation and its two-class salvation system by showing Jehovah’s Witnesses from the Scriptures that the new birth involves an inner transformation of a person by the Holy Spirit and is the only way by which anyone can obtain eternal life.”
If you weren’t able to get into those issues back in Chapter 5, you could do so now. If you did cover that already, a brief review might be in order.
Likewise, you can also use The Bodily Resurrection Approach to call into question the Watchtower teaching that there are two different types of resurrection bodies—physical and spirit. If you weren’t able to get into that approach extensively in your discussions of Chapter 7, you could do so now (see the posts “What Happens Between Death and Resurrection?” and “Discussing the Coming Resurrections”). If you did cover that in your Chapter 7 discussions, a short recap might be helpful here.
Paragraph 9 (p. 78) that from heaven Jesus and the 144,000 will rule over the earth. In fact, the Greek text says that this rule will occur on the earth. In an earlier post entitled, “Using the Kingdom Interlinear Translation”, I have explained how to show this to Jehovah’s Witnesses out of the Watchtower’s interlinear online Bible.
You can also ask the Witnesses, “Where does the Bible teach that heaven and earth are mutually exclusive—that resurrected ones must be in one place or the other both never both? Angels are able to exist in either place and to travel back and forth. Is there any reason why God can’t enable human beings to do that as well?”
Watchtower Teaching #3: Earthly governments are about to be replaced by a paradise earth
Paragraph 16 (p. 81) cites Daniel 2:44 to the effect that God’s Kingdom will destroy all earthly kingdoms and replace them forever.
What it doesn’t tell you—and what many Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t know—is that the Watchtower previously predicted the complete overthrow of earth’s governments in 1914. How to document and use this fact is covered on page 285 of The False Prophecies Approach.
I’ll talk more about Watchtower false prophecies next week.
Paragraph 18 (pp. 81-82) states that this overthrow and replacement of earthly governments is about to occur in “the battle of Armageddon.”
This provides you with an opportunity to discuss with the Witnesses their feelings about Armageddon. Although they are unlikely to admit it to you, many Witnesses live in terror of Armageddon, fearing that Jehovah might not consider them worthy to survive it or to enter the millennial kingdom. I’ve previously posted about this in “Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Fear of Armageddon”.
Paragraph 21 (p. 84) says, “The power of Jesus’ sacrifice will be applied so that faithful humans will no longer get sick and die. Instead, under Kingdom rule they will be able to live forever.
The key word in that sentence is “faithful.”
At this point, you can ask if sickness and death will not exist in the millennial kingdom. Ask specifically about Isaiah 65:20: “No more will there be an infant from that place who lives but a few days, Nor an old man who fails to live out his days. For anyone who dies at a hundred will be considered a mere boy, And the sinner will be cursed, even though he is a hundred years of age.”
That sounds like there will be quite a bit of death there, doesn’t it?
You can also remind them of what the Judgment Day appendix said on p. 215: “However, not all will be willing to conform to God’s will…These wicked ones will be put to death permanently during Judgment Day.” I discussed that in my comments on Chapter 7.
Paragraph 21 (p. 84) also states “that eventually under God’s Kingdom everyone alive will honor Jehovah’s Name.” If you believe you have adequately covered the divine name issues in your earlier discussions, you can let this statement pass. If not, this would be an opportunity for you to make with them the issue I raised on page 219 of The Divine Name Approach—does “honoring someone’s name” mean using it frequently or does it mean exemplifying his good quality and teachings in your own life?
Next time, we’ll discuss Teaching #4 of Chapter 8—the claim that the Watchtower correctly foresaw what would happen in 1914.