Recently, I received by mail, a tract and a letter from someone I assume is a Jehovah’s Witness. The tract was printed by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. Also included was a lovely handwritten note from a gal who failed to include her last name.
Rather than simply trashing it, I decided it might be good to respond. I thought some might perhaps be interested in my response.
Please note – all Biblical references are marked “NWT” for the New World Translation” – which is the Watchtower Society’s official version of the Bible.
June 10, 2009
I want to thank you for your kindness in sending me the tract “All Suffering Soon to End!”, and for your pleasant hand written note accompanying it. Though I do not know how you happened to pick me personally to write to, it does demonstrate that you genuinely believe that the “last days” are upon us; that you believe you have some insight as to the implications of it; and that you are motivated to tell others for their good. These are things well worth considering.
I read your tract through with interest several times. As being one myself who believes the Bible is God’s infallible, inerrant revelation and Word to mankind, I was hoping the tract would prove to affirm the truth of the Scriptures. And for the most part I found basic agreement with many points truly taught in the Bible. But imagine my sadness when I found the most critical part missing, the Gospel! It unfortunately completely lacked any reference to the saving grace of Jesus Christ obtained by His substitutionary atonement at Calvary. In fact, I was left with the distinct impression that the author of the tract believes that one can save himself by virtue of obeying God’s will or laws.
You see _________, if we posit a salvation based upon our own obedience to God’s will (as revealed in the Bible) we have two insurmountable problems before us.
Problem #1. None of us obey God perfectly.
How much is enough? How perfect does one have to be? If “the upright are those who learn Jehovah’s will and do it” (as the tract says) then who is truly upright? For who always does God’s will perfectly? This is why the Bible reminds us that “if a law had been given that was able to give life, righteousness would actually have been by means of law. But the Scripture delivered up all things together to the custody of sin, that the promise resulting from faith toward Jesus Christ might be given to those exercising faith…Consequently the law has become our tutor leading to Christ, that we might be declared righteous due to faith. But now that the faith has arrived, we are no longer under a tutor.” Gal. 3:21, 22, 24, 25 NWT.
The Apostle’s point here seems quite clear:
a.If there was such a thing as a law given, that if we obeyed it we could be declared righteous, then righteousness could be had that way. But it can’t.
b.Instead, God’s way that we would receive the promise (of forgiveness – being declared righteous and thus having eternal life) is that it results simply by having faith in His Son – Jesus Christ.
c.While the law had it’s purpose – once one has been led to Christ – we do not live under the law anymore.
The reason for all this Paul has already given to us in the previous chapter where we read: “knowing as we do that a man is declared righteous, not due to works of law, but only through faith toward Christ Jesus, even we have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be declared righteous due to faith toward Christ, and not due to works of law, because due to works of law no flesh will be declared righteous. Gal. 2:16 NWT
Here again we see that a person has no hope of being declared righteous based upon obedience to law, but only on the basis of faith in Jesus Christ.
It is this great truth that leads Paul to exclaim in Philippians 3:9 that he may “be found in union with him, having not my own righteousness which results from law, but that which is through faith in Christ. The righteousness that issues from God on the basis of faith.” NWT
This means the “everlasting life” Jesus prayed regarding, comes from “their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one you sent forth, Jesus Christ.” John 17:3 NWT
Problem #2. Obeying God’s law is simply not the Gospel.
There is no question that those who come to saving faith in Christ make the genuiness of their faith known in doing good works – it’s one of the reasons He saves us (Ephesians 2:9-10). But to put the works in front of faith as the means of our salvation, is to put the cart in front of the horse.
How does the Bible articulate the good news, the Gospel? Let’s let 1 Corinthians 15 answer that. “Now I make known to you, brothers the good news which I declared to you, which you also received, in which you also stand, through which you are also being saved; for I handed on to you, among the first things, that which I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that he was buried, yes, that he has been raised up the third day according to the Scriptures; and that he appeared to Cephas and then to the twelve.” (I Cor. 15:1-5 NWT)
Do you see the Gospel here __________? It is not that we can obey enough to be declared upright, but that Jesus died for our sins! That he died in our place, taking upon himself the wrath of God you and I deserved, that we might go free – and be declared righteous through simply having faith in him. “The one who did not know sin he made to be sin for us, that we might become God’s righteousness by means of him.” (2 Cor. 5:21 NWT) “Therefore, now”, “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 5:1 NWT). “By this undeserved kindness, indeed, you have been saved through faith; and this is not owing to you, it is God’s gift. No, it is not owing to works, in order that no man should have ground for boasting.” (Eph. 2:8-9 NWT) “God set him forth as an offering for propitiation through faith in his blood…so as to exhibit his own righteousness in this present season, that he might be righteous even when declaring righteous the man that has faith in Jesus.” (Rom. 3:25-26 NWT)
Who then is the one who is declared upright, righteous by God? The one who has put all of his trust in Christ and that, in opposition to putting any reliance upon their own works or obedience to the law.
How can all this be __________? Only because Jesus Christ is – “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29 NWT) This one who is “the exact representation of his [God’s] very being” (Heb. 1:3 NWT) – The one who in Matt. 1:23 NWT is named “with us is God.” The one who in Heb. 1:10 is the Lord Jehovah of Ps. 102:26 (see Heb. 1:8 “But with reference to the Son”). The one who in Joel 2:32 is the Jehovah everyone must call upon to be saved is the same Jesus they must hear preached in order to call upon him in Rom. 10:11-15. The one of whom our Bibles say: “let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you impaled but whom God raised up from the dead, by this one does this man stand here sound in front of you. This is ‘the stone that was treated by you builders as of no account that has become the head of the corner.’ Furthermore, there is no salvation in anyone else, for there is not another name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must get saved.” (Acts 4:10-12 NWT)
Read your Bible __________ – not the Watchtower. The Bible you can trust for certain. And it would turn you to him and him alone. “You are searching the Scriptures, because you think that by means of them you will have everlasting life; and these are the very ones that bear witness about me.” (John 5:39 NWT).
“Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will get saved.” (Acts 16:31 NWT)