The Watchtower greatly underestimates the power of sin that dwells within us and greatly overestimates the power of natural man to overcome it.
Paragraph 15 of Chapter 5 of “Bible Teach” (p. 53) states, “Because of inherited imperfection, we have a real struggle to do what is right.” I recommend that you point out to the Witnesses that our sinful condition is far worse than that! Self-effort to prove ourselves loyal to Jehovah will never be sufficient.
Have them read aloud from their Bible Romans 7:18-24:
For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, there dwells nothing good; for I have the desire to do what is fine but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good that I wish, but the bad that I do not wish is what I practice. If, then, I do what I do not wish, I am no longer the one carrying it out, but it is the sin dwelling in me. I find, then, this law in my case: When I wish to do what is right, what is bad is present with me. I really delight in the law of God according to the man I am within, but I see in my body another law warring against the law of my mind and leading me captive to sin’s law that is in my body. Miserable man that I am! Who will rescue me from the body undergoing this death?
The relationship of faith and works
Paragraph 17 (p. 54) says that in order to receive everlasting life on a paradise earth, “we need to show that we appreciate the gift of the ransom.” Paragraph 20 (p. 55) tells us we do this by exercising faith in the ransom. In Watchtower teaching, “exercise faith” means doing good works, including door-to-door witnessing and meeting attendance.
This provides you an opportunity to apply the portion of The Righteousness Approach entitled “You Can’t Make Yourself Worthy by Your Works.” (pp. 65-66)
At this juncture, you can also use The Faith and Works Approach, pp. 97-101, from my book, Getting Through to Jehovah’s Witnesses: Approaching Bible Discussions in Unexpected Ways, where I discuss the Watchtower’s proof texts the Watchtower uses to support its teaching that salvation comes through faith plus works.
On pp. 101-102, I said:
A good diagnostic question to ask Jehovah’s Witnesses is this: “If Jehovah were to speak to you tonight and give you an opportunity to make a case to him as to why you are worthy of everlasting life, what would you tell him?”
Would they say, “Because I am not immoral like those television preachers and because I do good works such as door-to-door witnessing”? Or would they say, “Because I have received as a free gift the righteousness from God that comes by faith in Jesus’ sacrifice and I know because of that he is working inside me”?
The first answer` is self-exaltation. The second answer is the way of salvation.”
Who is in the new covenant?
Chapter 5 concludes (paragraph 21, pp. 55-56) by saying that another way to show your appreciation for the ransom sacrifice is to attend the annual Watchtower Memorial—its version of communion, which it also calls “the Lord’s Evening Meal.”
In an appendix entitled “The Lord’s Evening Meal—An Observance That Honors God,” (p, 206), the book states (p. 207), “Who should partake of these Memorial emblems? Logically, only those in the new covenant—that is, those who have the hope of going to heaven—should partake of the bread and the wine.”
So no one except those who profess to be among the “anointed” heaven-bound 144,000 actually partake of the bread and wine. Everyone else just watches respectfully.
At this juncture, you can make several points from The New Birth Approach, pp. 131-138, where I answer Watchtower objections and show the following:
- The new birth provides inner transformation we all need.
- All Christians—not just 144,000 of them—are in the new covenant.
- Unless we eat Christ’s flesh and drink his blood, we have no life in us.
- The new birth is available to everyone, not just 144,000.
This chapter has given you the opportunity to discuss a number of important topics relating to Christ’s sacrifice:
- What is God’s greatest gift to us? Christ’s work or Christ himself?
- Inherited sin—exactly what curse did we inherit from Adam?
- What is the real value of Christ’s sacrifice?
- Who really came to save us?
- Whose sins did Christ pay for?
- Did Jesus die on a stake or a cross?
- The nature of Christ’s resurrection body
- Slavery to the power of sin
- The relationship of faith and works
- Who is in the new covenant?
Next week, we’ll move on to Chapter 6 of “Bible Teach”—“Where Are the Dead?