Christians and Jehovah’s Witnesses agree that all descendants of Adam (except Jesus) are born under condemnation and that faith in Christ’s sacrifice is essential to salvation, but there the similarity ends. The Watchtower salvation system and the Bible’s way of salvation are completely incompatible. The chapter sets out the contrast in a nutshell and then goes on to explain the differences in greater detail. (pp. 55-56)

The Bible teaches that God declares us righteous apart from works when we place our faith in Jesus Christ and his sacrificial, atoning death. God does have good works for us to do, but they have no role in saving us (Ephesians 2:8-10). It is only by having a transforming new birth that we are able to do these works. (p. 55)

In contrast, the Watchtower teaches a two-class salvation system which it considers biblical—one path for 144,000 “anointed” Jehovah’s Witnesses and a different path for everyone else. It believes the new birth is not an inner transformation available to anyone but rather a designation by God that a person has a “heavenly hope”—the opportunity to be resurrected in spirit form and go to heaven to be with Christ and from there jointly to reign over the earth. But in order to do this, they first must prove worthy in this life by their works. (pp. 55-56)

All the “other sheep” have an “earthly hope”—the prospect of living forever in paradise on earth in physical form. Because they will never be going to heaven, they don’t need to be born again or justified by faith, as do the 144,000. Instead of having Christ’s righteousness imputed to them, the “other sheep” will progress to moral perfection on their own merit during Christ’s coming 1000 year reign over the earth. (pp. 55-56)

Faith in Christ’s sacrifice doesn’t guarantee them eternal life. It gives them a chance for life. In order to make it into Christ’s millennial kingdom, they must “exercise faith” in his sacrifice and thus work to the uttermost to measure up to Jehovah’s righteous standards. (p. 57)

Although they will enter the millennial kingdom with the same sinful inclinations they had when they died, they can progress to perfection during that kingdom because Satan and demons will be bound, Christ will rule righteously, and they will have the benefits of Christ’s sacrifice applied to them as they submit to his rule. If they fail a final test by Satan when he is loosed, Jehovah will annihilate them. But if they pass the test, they will be back to the level of moral perfection Adam had before he sinned—having no sinful inclinations, but still capable of sinning. In the unlikely event that they sin deliberately after passing that “final test,” Jehovah will annihilate them. (pp. 56-58).

The Bible’s actual way of salvation is much different. Although Revelation 7 refers to 144,000 believers, they appear in the end times and have a special mission, not a different path to salvation or a different destiny. There is no second chance at salvation after death. In this life, we need to come to Christ by faith, repent of our sins, and receive the free gift of eternal life. All those who put saving faith in Christ in this way receive a transforming new birth which includes forgiveness of sins and the free gift of Christ’s righteousness. The Holy Spirit then indwells us. He places us in Christ and Christ in us. (pp. 58-59)

When Christians die, they go to heaven immediately in spirit form to be with Christ. At the resurrection, they will receive glorified bodies of flesh and bone, and their spirits will be reunited with these bodies. All Christians will be wherever Christ goes—in heaven or on earth. During Christ’s millennial kingdom, they will reign with Christ over those who survived the great tribulation. In the end, the heavenly Jerusalem will come to earth and God will dwell with us there. At that time, the distinction between heaven and earth will be abolished (Revelation 21:1-4). (p. 60)

Study Questions

  1. Jehovah’s Witnesses have a two-class, two-different paths salvation system. In a nutshell, what are the two classes? (pp. 55-56)
  1. As a Christian, how would you define the expression “born again”? How do Jehovah’s Witnesses define the expression “born again”? Who needs to be born again in order to be saved and who doesn’t? According to the Bible? According to Watchtower teaching? (pp. 55-56)
  1. According to the Bible, is genuine faith in Christ’s sacrifice sufficient to obtain eternal life or just a chance to obtain eternal life, provided we prove worthy by our works? How would a Jehovah’s Witness answer that question? (pp. 55-58)
  1. According to the Bible, are good works important or unimportant for Christians? What role do good works have in saving us? What has to happen inside us before we can do the good works that God wants us to do? (p. 55)
  1. According to Watchtower teachings, what role do good works have in saving us? What does the Watchtower mean by “exercise faith”? (p. 57)
  1. According to the Bible, how righteous do we have to be in order to obtain eternal life? How does the Watchtower answer that question? (pp. 55-56)
  1. In contrast, briefly explain what we need to get across to Jehovah’s Witnesses about the Bible’s real way of salvation and about the millennial kingdom. (pp. 58-60)