Sharing the gospel with Jehovah’s Witnesses is often like a battle. I’m not talking about fighting the people. I’m talking about spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:12). Before you start, you need to make sure you have prepared your heart for the encounter.
Here are 3 recommendations for your preparation.
1. Do a personal spiritual inventory.
Make sure that you yourself are saved, that you have been born again. If you are unsure of your salvation, then your own spiritual condition needs to be your first priority. You can’t tell someone else how to find a relationship with God unless you have such a relationship yourself.
Here are some diagnostic questions to consider:
- Have you come to the point of repentance for your own sins?
- Are you relying on Christ and Christ alone for your own salvation?
- Have you given up on generating your own righteousness and trying to earn God’s acceptance through good works?
- Have you humbled yourself before Christ and asked him to forgive your sins and save you based solely on his atoning sacrifice on the cross?
If not, I urge you to take those steps now. If you have questions about what you need to do or why, then find someone who can help you and get your own standing with God secured.
As part of your personal inventory, make sure that you have a submissive spirit toward God. If you know that you are saved, how is your walk with the Lord? I’m not saying that you need to be walking in sinless perfection before you try to help someone else. By that standard, none of us would qualify. What I am saying is that you need to be walking in reliance on the Holy Spirit if you are going to be effective in reaching out to others.
Likewise, make sure that you have a godly motive.
- Are you itching to win a spiritual argument with some Jehovah’s Witnesses?
- Are you hoping to stump them with clever questions?
- Are you planning to impress them with your Bible knowledge and understanding?
- Do you long to add some spiritual scalps to your belt?
- Are you hoping to have a success story to relate to your inner circle of Christian friends?
Attitudes like this are easy to fall into, but they are nothing but sinful pride that will hinder your witness.
2. Pray for self-control.
Because Jehovah’s Witnesses believe they are “in the truth” and you are in darkness, many of them can be arrogant and condescending. You don’t want to allow this to get to you or you may end up saying or doing something you’ll regret.
Accept it as a given that they think all of evangelical Christianity, including your church or denomination, is deceived by Satan. Take it in stride if this attitude comes through to you. The Watchtower has trained them to believe these things.
Love them anyway.
Ask the Holy Spirit to give you this love, since genuine Christian love can only come from God himself.
Remember that the Lord Jesus himself extended love and grace to people who branded him a false Messiah.
It has been my experience that if Jehovah’s Witnesses get frustrated and realize that they have no answers for some of the points you are making, they sometimes get antagonistic and verbally abusive. If that happens, don’t retaliate and don’t take it personally.
Sometimes that’s in indication that you’re actually making progress with them. Psychologically, they may be trying to provoke you into doing something they can construe as persecution so as to justify to themselves ending your discussions.
How did Jesus himself act when people reviled him? The Holy Spirit can enable you to have the same attitude as the Lord did: “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23).
3. Pray for appropriate boldness.
Exercising self-control doesn’t mean being a doormat.
I have had Witnesses try to tell me what I believe. I nip that in the bud by politely informing them that I will speak for myself.
Some of them have tried to tell me why I believe something. For example, they may made bold claims about the doctrine of the Trinity and tell me that no one would take the teaching seriously if Constantine hadn’t forced the teaching on Christendom in the 4th century. Once again, I nip that in the bud by letting them know that I believe what I do because of what the Bible says, not because of what the Watchtower may have taught them about church history.
If they malign the character of pastors or Christians I respect, I tell them that I will refrain from insulting remarks about Jehovah’s Witness and that I expect the same courtesy from them.
Disagreeing with or questioning the correctness of each other’s beliefs is fine. Personal insults are not.
Make sure you model the sort of conduct you expect from them. If you realize you have crossed a line, apologize immediately.
The late Dr. Walter Martin, author of The Kingdom of the Cults, used to say that the only irrefutable witness is the example of a transformed life.
(Adapted from my upcoming book, Getting Through to Jehovah’s Witnesses)
Can you think of other spiritual and emotional preparation that should be added to the list? Have you ever lost your poise in meetings with Jehovah’s Witnesses? What triggered it? What would you do differently next time?
Share your thoughts in the comments.
Coming up next: Witnessing to Jehovah’s Witnesses in Love: Prepare Your Mind