The “Bible Teach” Appendix entitled “Judgment Day—What Is It?” claims that Judgment Day will be a 1000-year period in which people get a second chance and will have an opportunity after death in which to learn about Jehovah, conform to his will, and so obtain everlasting life on a paradise earth.
Specifically, p. 214 states:
According to the apostle John’s vision, “scrolls were opened,” and “the dead were judged out of those things written in the scrolls according to their deeds.” (Revelation 20:12) Are these scrolls the record of people’s past deeds? No, the judgment will not focus on what people did before they died. How do we know that? The Bible says: “The one who has died has been acquitted from his sin.” (Romans 6:7)
Have the Witnesses read aloud Romans 6 to get the context. As p. 117 in The Bodily Resurrection Approach states, Romans 6 isn’t talking about physical death freeing people from punishment for sins after the resurrection. It’s talking about spiritual death with Christ in this life freeing them from the controlling power of sin.
As I recommended in The Righteousness Approach (p. 69) from my book, Getting Through to Jehovah’s Witnesses: Approaching Bible Discussions in Unexpected Ways, ask the Witnesses, “What exactly pays our sin debt? Is it Jesus’ ransom sacrifice alone? Is it our own deaths? Is it proving ourselves worthy through our works?” The purpose of these questions is to help the Witnesses to see that they are not relying on Jesus but on themselves.
Page 214 states, “Those resurrected thus come to life with a clean slate, so to speak.”
Take them back to The Justice for the Wicked Approach and its discussion of Jesus’ story of the rich man and Lazarus (pp. 256-263).
There is no second chance after death.
Pages 214-215 go on to say, “The scrolls must therefore represent God’s further requirements. To live forever, both Armageddon survivors and resurrected ones will have to obey God’s commandments, including whatever new requirements Jehovah might reveal during the thousand years. Thus, individuals will be judged on the basis of what they do during Judgment Day.”
Ask, “Are you saying that the millennial reign is a law and works system of salvation with new laws to follow?”
Page 215 says, “…not all will be willing to conform to God’s will…These wicked ones will be put to death permanently during Judgment Day.”
You can comment, “Wait a minute. I thought the book said this would be a paradise, but now it sounds like there will be frequent executions.” If they say there won’t be a lot of them, remind them of Revelation 20:8 which says that in the end, Satan will be able to deceive the nations and gather as many followers “as the sand of the sea.”
Page 215 states, “By the end of Judgment Day, surviving humans will have ‘come to life’ fully as perfect humans (Revelation 20:5).
That’s a pretty twisted interpretation of the verse which says that the rest of the dead didn’t come to life until the end of the 1000 years, but I would recommend focusing on the word “perfect.” Somehow, according to the Watchtower, those who survive the 1000-year Judgment Day will have become perfect humans!
This is the point at which I recommend that you use the Righteousness Approach (especially pp. 66-70) and ask the Witnesses to explain how descendants of Adam will be freed from the power of sin that dwells in us to the point that they will be able to attain to moral perfection.
On pages 57-58 of the Irreconcilable Differences chapter of my book, I give you a list of seven aspects of the millennial reign which—taken together—supposedly will be sufficient to accomplish that.
My favorite is this one: “…as the result of the dripping and trickling down of righteousness from the ‘new heavens,’ the human soil of the ‘new earth’ will respond and become fruitful in a corresponding way.”
If the Witnesses cite that, I would simply ask them, “What does THAT mean?”
If your conversation goes well, I also recommend that you use part of The New Birth Approach (pp. 131-133) to show them that the only way to be saved and attain to moral perfection is to have an inner transformation by the Holy Spirit. One thousand (or even one million) years of education and new laws to follow won’t bring anyone to perfection.
Remind them that because of our inherited sin problem, Galatians 2:16 says, “…no one will be declared righteous by works of law” and 1 Corinthians 15:56 says that “the power for sin is the Law [footnote: Or “and the Law gives sin its power.”].”
Paragraphs 22-23 (pp. 73-74) conclude Chapter 7 by making two claims:
- Jesus was resurrected, but as a spirit, not as a human.
- A “little flock” of 144,000 will also have a spirit resurrection (which happens immediately now that Jesus is present) and rule with him, while everyone else will have the prospect of being resurrected to a paradise earth.
This is the most direct reference in “Bible Teach” to the Watchtower’s two-class physical-versus-spirit resurrection doctrine.
Accordingly, at this point, I recommend that take all the time you need and use as much of the Bodily Resurrection Approach from my book as you can.
As you may recall, the objective of that approach is to refute the Watchtower’s two-class, two-paths-to-salvation system by showing that all Christians will be raised from the dead—as Jesus was—in a glorified physical body of flesh and bones.
Here is a recap of Chapter 7’s Watchtower teachings about what will happen in the near future to people who have died:
- Until the resurrection, the dead aren’t aware of anything—neither bliss nor torment.
- “Judgment Day” will be a wonderful time that will last 1000 years.
- During this time, the “righteous” dead (faithful servants of Jehovah) will be resurrected to life in paradise on earth.
- The “unrighteous” dead (those who did not serve or obey Jehovah because they didn’t know about him) will also be resurrected to the same place and have an opportunity to learn about and serve Jehovah.
- Those whom God judges to be wicked and unwilling to change will not be resurrected; their existence will be over.
- Those who are resurrected will have an opportunity to live forever in paradise on earth.
- Resurrected people will be judged—not on what they did in this life (those slates will be wiped clean)—but on their obedience to Jehovah’s requirements during the 1000-year Judgment Day.
- Wicked ones will be put to death permanently during Judgment Day.
- By the end of Judgment Day, those who survived will have “come to life” fully as perfect humans.
- Satan will be released and allowed to tempt them one last time. Those who successfully resist will possess the earth and live on it forever.
- A special group of 144,000 are now being resurrected immediately after death to spirit life in heaven with Jesus and will take part in his heavenly Kingdom government.
Now that you have this panoramic view, before discussing this chapter with the Witnesses, you might find it helpful to go back over this post to see how I recommend challenging the various aspects of this eschatology.
Next week, we’ll move into “Bible Teach,” Chapter 8—“What Is God’s Kingdom?”
 The Watchtower, “Would You Want to Be There?”, 5/15/74, p. 293