Saturday, January 20, 2007

"Dad! There's a Woman at the Door with a Bible?

I was sitting at my laptop computer this morning. I had just finished breakfast and had not yet dressed for the day. I was working on an article about the previous evening’s witnessing at a local mall, when there was a knock on our door.

As is the practice in our law enforcement household, two of my daughters rushed to the door and peered through the peephole. They have been trained not to open the door to strangers. Marissa, my 17-year-old, in an intense whisper, said, “Dad! There’s a Woman at the Door with a Bible!”

I go up off the couch and joined my daughters at the door. As I suspected, there were two Jehovah’s Witnesses at the door. The copy of the “Watchtower” in the hand of the younger of the two ladies gave them away.

I couldn’t open the door, however. I wasn’t dressed. I rushed to my bedroom and grabbed my clothes. My wife, who was already in the bedroom, gave me that little grin and look in her eyes that often indicates the following thought: Tony, what are you up to now?

“There are a couple of Jehovah’s Witnesses at the door!” I said. “If I hurry, I might be able to catch them as they knock on our neighbors’ doors.” (We live in a condominium, so our neighbors are close by.)

Looking back to how I raced through the house and hurried to put on my clothes, all I needed was a good, old-fashioned firehouse pole and the imagery would be complete. I was rushing to get back to the front door the way a firefighter awakened out of a sound sleep rushes out of the fire station to answer a call.

I opened our front door and waited for the ladies to walk down stairs from our neighbor’s home. As they made their way down the stairs I said, “Hello, ladies. Can I help you?”

With smiles on their faces they walked up to my door. The younger of the two ladies showed me a copy of “Watchtower” magazine. “We’re out today offering people a copy of the ‘Watchtower.’”

The subtitle of the issue she was holding was “How to Have a Successful Life.” I asked her, “So, what would you consider to be a successful life?”

“Happiness.” She answered.

“Happiness?” I asked with a hint of confusion. “Happiness in this life or the life to come?” I asked.

“Well, happiness in the life to come will be found in paradise.” She said.

Knowing the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ beliefs regarding heaven and the repopulation of the new earth (paradise), I asked, “What must I do to go to heaven?”

“Only 144,000 of god’s chosen people will go to heaven.” She answered.

“And who will that 144,000 be?” I asked.

“We don’t know.” Both ladies answered.

“Wow.” I said. “So you cannot give me any hope.”

Not wanting to get into a circular argument about their errant theology regarding heaven and paradise, I asked the ladies what I must do to go to paradise. They gave me the answer I expected. “You have to live a righteous life and grow in your knowledge of god.”

“What does it mean to grow in my knowledge of God?” I asked.

The younger lady opened her bible (the erroneous New World Translation) to John 17:3. She pointed to the verse and read aloud, “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.”

A more accurate translation of the original Greek text is, of course, found in reliable translations of Scripture, such as the New American Standard Bible. The NASB’s rendering of John 17:3 is, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

The difference between the Word of God and the scriptures of the Watchtower Society should be obvious. The Bible in John 17:3 points to a relationship (submissively, experientially, personally, and intimately) with God the Father through God the Son (one God) as the means of eternal life. Conversely, the New World Translation of John 17:3 points to gaining (or “taking in”) intellectual knowledge about God and Jesus Christ (whom JW’s believe is a created being, and not God in the flesh) as the means of eternal life.

Experience with Jehovah’s Witnesses has taught me that a debate about who’s translation of the Scriptures is correct often leads to only more circular arguments that keep the conversation away from the conscience of the JW’s with whom I am speaking. I could have pointed out that not one of the New World Translation translators had any degrees in the biblical languages. But that would have only served to put them on the intellectual defensive. So, I tried another tactic with the ladies at my door. I used their translation to bring about a discussion of God’s Law.

“So, are you telling me that I will go to paradise if I gain more knowledge about God?” I asked.

The women hesitated before saying, “Yes. You should read your Bible every day and you will grow in your knowledge about God.”

“So then, I can be a liar, and a thief, and a murderer, but so long as I learn more about God I will go to paradise?”

They were caught off-guard. They weren’t sure how to answer. I took advantage of the pause in the conversation to ask the ladies if they considered themselves to be good people. Both said that they were, although they admitted that they were not perfect and they try hard to live righteous lives.

I asked the younger of the two ladies if she considered herself to be a good person. She said she tries to be. I asked her if she had ever told a lie. She was slow to answer. I asked, “What would you call me if I lied to you?” Both ladies said, “Well, we wouldn’t call you a liar.”

“Why not?” I asked. “What does a person have to do before you would consider them to be a liar?”

“They would have to lie.” They said.

“Okay.” I said. “So, a person who lies is a liar. It doesn’t matter how many times they have lied, or if they try not to do it as much as they once did. A person who murders is a murderer. A person who steals is a thief. And a person who lies is a liar.”

The young lady also admitted to being a murderer-at-heart and disobedient to her parents. This is when I learned that the older lady was the younger lady’s mother. Mom was quick to affirm her daughter’s disobedience.

“If God judges you according to His holy standard, His Ten Commandments, would He find you innocent or guilty of breaking His Law?” I asked.

“The daughter answered, “Guilty.”

Mom quickly chimed in with, “But God is merciful and he will forgive us.”

“Do you think God will forgive you for your sins against Him, just because you ask?” I asked.

“Yes.” The mother said.

I took the ladies into the courtroom. I asked them if a convicted criminal stood before a judge for sentencing and told the judge that he was sorry for what he had done and would try not to do it again, would the judge be a good judge, following the law, if he let the criminal go. “I guess it would depend on the crime.” The mother said.

In order to make it more personal, I asked the mother, “What if someone brutally murdered your beautiful daughter. The heinous criminal is caught. The evidence points to his guilt. And he confesses to the crime. You are sitting in the courtroom with your family and friends on the day of sentencing. The guilty criminal says, ‘Your honor, I’m very sorry for killing that young girl. I haven’t murdered anyone since. I’m trying to do good deeds. Please let me go.’

“The judge looks at the man who murdered your daughter and says, ‘You’re free to go.’ Would the judge be a good judge, following the law, if he let the man who murdered your daughter go free?” I asked.

The mother was quick to answer. “No.” She said.

“Nor will God, whose standard is perfection and much higher than any human court, simply let you go because He is merciful or because you say you are sorry or because you try to do better.” I said. “Your only hope for forgiveness is to repent of your sin and put your trust in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation. Your good works cannot possibly save you. If you don’t repent and receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you will receive the death penalty for your sins against God and you will spend eternity in hell.”

“Oh, you believe in hell.” The mother said. Jehovah’s Witnesses deny the existence of hell and believe that the person whom their god does not deem worthy of heaven or paradise will simply be annihilated.

“Yes I do.” I said. I spent no time debating the ladies about the existence of hell. I stuck to the Law and the gospel.

“I hope you will consider these things.” I said. “Jesus said that He is the way, and the truth, and the life, and that no one will go to the Father—no one will receive eternal life—but through faith in Jesus Christ. Your own righteousness will not earn you anything with God. If you do not repent and come to faith in Christ, you will receive what you deserve for your sins against God. So please think about it.”

I politely thanked the ladies for talking to me. The ladies said good-bye and I slowly closed my door. I didn’t want the loud or sudden closing of my door to leave them with the impression that I didn’t enjoy my conversation with them.

There was a time in my Christian walk when I thought the best way to handle cultists who come to my door was to not answer the door. I thought the best way to keep them from spreading their false doctrines was to not let them speak to me. How foolish I was. How wrong I was. How sinful I was.

I thank God for changing my heart and allowing me to get excited, now, when someone knocks on my door. In fact, I think I am going to put a small sign on my front door that reads, “All Solicitors Welcome.”

Please pray for the ladies who came to my door, and for all the people who have bought the lies of the Watchtower Society and other cults. Pray the Lord will bring them to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

I look forward to the next time one of my daughters announces, “Dad! There someone at the door!”

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Tony,

Thanks for posting this blog. I enjoy listening to you witness on the Way of the Master. It's interesting to read more details on your witnessing encounters. You inspire us wimps to step up to the plate and speak the truth in love. Keep up the great work!
-Susan

ccanuck said...

Way to go, I always enjoy listening to you on the radio, keep on doing what your doing!

Anonymous said...

Tony,
This gives me some insight for one of my clients who is Jehovah Witness. I hope I can learn more on what to say to her.
April