You may recall that in an earlier post, I wrote, “Watchtower study books repeat a number of points in the various chapters, so you may also have to repeat some points in various contexts or during several different sessions in order to get across your thoughts to the Witnesses. That’s fine, but don’t alienate them by beating a dead horse.”
That advice is especially applicable to this chapter.
Chapter 15—“Worship That God Approves”—doesn’t contain any new doctrinal teachings. Instead, it brings together things the book has already taught in an effort to convince you that the Watchtower religion is the only true religion and that you should join it.
So as you go through the chapter with the Witnesses, you’ll need to consider which points you have adequately challenged in your earlier discussions and which require reinforcement.
Because that depends on the particular Witnesses with whom you have been engaging, I will highlight all the key points you might raise.
It will be up to you—guided by the Holy Spirit—to decide what to emphasize and what to let pass.
The focus—Jesus or us?
Paragraph 2 (p. 144) asks, “How can you know the right way to worship Jehovah? You do not have to study and compare the teachings of all the many religions. You need only learn what the Bible really teaches about true worship.”
Notice where the Watchtower places its emphasis. It’s not on the person of Jesus Christ and our need for him. Rather, it’s about your performance and your need to comply with supposed worship requirements.
Paragraph 3 (p. 145) continues this theme: “It is important that we worship Jehovah in the way that he approves. Many people believe that all religions are pleasing to God, but the Bible does not teach that. It is not even enough just to claim to be a Christian. Jesus said: ‘Not everyone saying to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter into the Kingdom of the heavens, but only the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will.’ To have God’s approval, therefore, we must learn what God requires of us and do it.”
As Christians, we can concur with what that paragraph actually says but not with the works salvation system the Watchtower preaches.
Paragraph 4 (p. 145) says, “To have eternal life in Paradise… we must worship God properly and live now in a way that is acceptable to him. Sadly, many refuse to do so. That is why Jesus said: ‘Go in through the narrow gate, because broad is the gate and spacious is the road leading off into destruction, and many are going in through it; whereas narrow is the gate and cramped the road leading off into life, and few are finding it.’ (Matthew 7:13, 14)”
The Watchtower doesn’t understand the importance of Jesus’ statement in John 10:7: “Most truly I say to you, I am the door for the sheep.”
In other words, the “narrow gate” is Jesus himself, not an organization with all its laws, policies, and regulations.
That’s why I believe that the best response to these claims is The Come to Jesus Approach from my book, Getting Through to Jehovah’s Witnesses: Approaching Bible Discussions in Unexpected Ways. The objective of that approach is “to help Jehovah’s Witnesses see their need to come to Jesus Christ in order to obtain salvation.” (p. 73)
As I said on p. 74 of that approach, “Jehovah’s Witnesses need to see that Jehovah wants them to come to Jesus to get their sins forgiven. They need to know that they are obeying Jehovah God if they come to Jesus for forgiveness and that they are disobeying Jehovah God if they don’t. This concept will surprise them. The Watchtower has not trained them to deal with it.”
That entire approach has been designed to help them see this. In my experience, the most effective Scripture to show them is John 5:39-40, where Jesus said to the Pharisees, “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”
The focus—works or a faith that works?
Instead of directing people to a transforming, personal relationship with Jesus, the Watchtower has substituted its works salvation system.
Thus, paragraph 5 (pp. 145-146) says, “Jesus said that the true religion would be evident in the lives of the people who practice it. ‘By their fruits you will recognize them,’ he said. ‘Every good tree produces fine fruit.’ (Matthew 7:16, 17).”
In other words, those who practice the true religion would be recognized by their beliefs and their conduct.”
It ignores Jesus’ warning in Matthew 23 that the Pharisees appeared righteous to men because they focused on outward appearances.
This would be a good juncture at which to use The Faith and Works Approach.
Next week, we will examine six features which the Watchtower says characterizes the true religion.