Jehovah’s Witnesses and Christians have a very different view of the salvation process.
In order to get through to them, we need to be able to understand and articulate these differences.
The Watchtower view
The Watchtower sees all of life as a cosmic sovereignty battle between Satan and Jehovah, and we all have to choose whose side we’re on.
Adam and Eve failed the test.
They rebelled against Jehovah.
Since then, we all have failed the test—all except Jesus. Jesus lived a life of perfect obedience to his Father. He died a horrific death on a Roman torture stake in order to make “the ransom sacrifice,” which gives us a chance to obtain everlasting life.
But now it’s our turn.
We need to “exercise faith” in the ransom sacrifice.
“Exercise faith” uses the word “faith,” but what “exercise faith” really means is continual works.
What kind of continuing works does the Watchtower say are necessary?
- Calling God “Jehovah”
- Witnessing door-to-door
- Refusing blood transfusions
- Studying Watchtower literature
- Attending Watchtower meetings
- Keeping separate from the world
- Serving with “Jehovah’s organization”
- Being submissive to Watchtower elders
- Doing whatever the Governing Body commands
- The list goes on and on and on
In the Watchtower view, your salvation doesn’t depend on Jesus and his finished work; it depends on you and your unfinished work.
It’s all about you and your works.
So how good do you have to be in order to make it into the millennial kingdom? How good is good enough?
No one knows!
In any works salvation system, there’s no way we could possibly know.
Do the best you possibly can.
Now… try harder!
More meetings. More hours going door-to-door. Always more!
Then, according to the Watchtower, if you do make it into the millennial kingdom, you’ll need to take advantage of that opportunity to somehow arrive at moral perfection by the end of that 1000 years.
The Christian view
If the Witnesses are open to hearing a concise explanation of your understanding of the salvation process, here is what you can tell them:
We all begin as unrighteous because we’re descendants of sinner Adam (Romans 3:23).
In fact, all our human-generated righteousness is like filthy rags in God’s sight. (Isaiah 64:6)
Then comes justification by faith, where God declares an ungodly person who does not work righteous in Jesus Christ. (Romans 4:5)
God immediately transforms us from the inside out.
He takes us out of Adam and puts us in Christ and Christ in us. (Colossians 1:27; Galatians 2:20)
The Holy Spirit then indwells us and gives us the power to live righteously. (Romans 8:9)
It’s at that moment that we become a Christian—reborn spiritually—God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:10)
This inner righteousness that we receive as a gift apart from works is what enables us to do the good works that God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)
Without that inner transformation, we’re just lost sinners trying and failing to make ourselves righteous enough for Jehovah.
As I noted in a post entitled The Sequence of Faith and Works, you can sum up the biblical relationship between faith and works this way:
- I believe that a Christian doesn’t work for salvation
- A Christian works from salvation
- A Christian doesn’t work for God’s acceptance
- A Christian works from God’s acceptance
- It’s not a matter of the Christian doing works for God
- It’s a matter of God doing works through the Christian