Since the year 1943 Jehovah’s Witnesses (JW’s) have had a methodical way of teaching non-JW’s about what they believe. The method used is to invite one to a “Bible” study, then introduce them to a book published by the Watchtower organization. These books are usually very well written. Much thought goes into how they are worded, how questions are asked and how the questions should be answered. The method of study is to read a paragraph from the book, then read the question at the bottom of the page corresponding to the paragraph. At this point the student should find the answer within the paragraph that was just read and repeat either word for word, or in his/her own words, what the paragraph is saying. It is the responsibility of the JW conducting the study to make sure that the answer given agrees completely with what the Watchtower is teaching at the time of the study.
Over the years these books have been revised and re-published several times, sometimes with doctrinal changes and other times to give a fresh look or title to the study publication. These study books were as follows:
- 1943 – The Truth Shall Make You Free
- 1946 – Let God Be True
- 1952 – Let God Be True (Revised)
- 1958 – From Paradise Lost To Paradise Regained
- 1968 – The Truth That Leads To Eternal Life
- 1982 – You Can Live Forever In Paradise On Earth
- 1995 – Knowledge That Leads To Everlasting Life
- 2005 – What Does The Bible Really Teach?
I have examined all of these books and while there is some truth to be found in reading them, there are (and I am being conservative when I say this) dozens and dozens of problems with some of the theology expressed in these books. At this time I will not go into what was taught in the past by the Watchtower, but I will now present a careful examination of just one of the doctrines currently taught by the Watchtower which cannot be (If read in context) supported by the Bible.
The most recent study publication produced by the Watchtower entitled, What Does The Bible Really Teach, (Bible teach book) quotes Revelation 20:12 from the New World Translation (NWT) which says:
“And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and scrolls were opened. But another scroll was opened; it is the scroll of life. And the dead were judged out of those things written in the scrolls according to their deeds.”
Following this, the Bible teach book on page 214 paragraph 3 says:
“According to the apostle John’s vision, “scrolls were opened,” and “the dead were judged out of those things written in the scrolls according to their deeds.” Are these scrolls the record of people’s past deeds? No, the judgment will not focus on what people did before they died. How do we know that? The Bible says: “He who has died has been acquitted from his sin.” (Romans 6:7) Those resurrected thus come to life with a clean slate, so to speak. The scrolls must therefore represent God’s further requirements. To live forever, both Armageddon survivors and resurrected ones will have to obey God’s commandments, including whatever new requirements Jehovah might reveal during the thousand years. Thus, individuals will be judged on the basis of what they do during Judgment Day”
Quoting from Revelation 20:12 the Bible teach book Speaks of the scrolls that will be opened. The question is asked,
“Are these scrolls the record of people’s past deeds?”
Then the statement is made,
“No, the judgment will not focus on what people did before they died. How do we know that? The Bible says: “He who has died has been acquitted from his sin.” (Romans 6:7)”
Please consider the following:
Romans 6:7 is taken completely out of context! Notice what the preceding verses say beginning with Romans 6:1. (Copied and pasted from the NWT)
“Consequently, what shall we say? Shall we continue in sin, that undeserved kindness may abound? 2 Never may that happen! Seeing that we died with reference to sin, how shall we keep on living any longer in it? 3 Or do YOU not know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we were buried with him through our baptism into his death, in order that, just as Christ was raised up from the dead through the glory of the Father, we also should likewise walk in a newness of life. 5 For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we shall certainly also be [united with him in the likeness] of his resurrection; 6 because we know that our old personality was impaled with [him], that our sinful body might be made inactive, that we should no longer go on being slaves to sin. 7 For he who has died has been acquitted from [his] sin.”
Please notice that the subject matter here is not speaking of literally dying and being acquitted from sin at death. The subject in its context is dying to self. In other words, you die to your former sins through faith in the literal death and resurrection of Jesus. Our water baptism symbolizes our death and burial of the old sinful person in going under the water. Coming up from under the baptism water represents a resurrection as a new person. All past sins are cleansed and forgiven. Thus as verse 6 says;
“our old personality was impaled with Him, that our sinful body might be made inactive, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.”
This means that through the power of Jesus’ blood we can be forgiven when we ask in His name. Verse 7 says;
“For he who has died has been acquitted from his sin.”
This is saying that he who has died to his old personality or old sinful ways, has been acquitted from his sin. We come out of the baptism water as if we were a new person because of Jesus!
The Bible teach book next says:
“The scrolls must therefore represent God’s further requirements.”
Where in the Bible do we even see an allusion to there being “further requirements” before or after Armageddon? The Watchtower and JW’s use the phrase “new scrolls.” Yet, the term “new scrolls” cannot be found anywhere in Scripture, not even in the NWT. They use the word “new” to fit their doctrine. (See Watchtower 6/15/1985 page 18 paragraph 21. See also Knowledge That Leads To Everlasting Life page 185 paragraph 13 and Revelation Climax page 300 paragraph 15)
The Teach book continues:
“To live forever, both Armageddon survivors and resurrected ones will have to obey God’s commandments”
AMEN! However, this does not mean what it says. JW’s will tell you they keep the Commandments of God. Unfortunately JW’s only keep 9 of God’s 10 Commandments. (Please see my letter to the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses)
The Teach book statement continues:
“including whatever new requirements Jehovah might reveal during the thousand years. Thus, individuals will be judged on the basis of what they do during Judgment Day.”
So again, according to this, we will have different rules in the new world than we have now. My understanding is that Jehovah is preparing us now for the new world with all of His righteous requirements which are written in the Bible. Jehovah does not change! (Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8) Also, notice that the Teach book says we will be judged on the basis of what we do during Judgment Day. The Watchtower applies the time of this judgment to the 1000 year reign of Christ. Please notice what the NWT says in John 5:28-29:
“Do not marvel at this, because the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.”
The word judgment used here in the NWT is not what the original Greek text says. The Greek word used here is krisis which is pronounced kree’-sis. This word is literally translated, condemnation or damnation. So if we were to replace the NWT word judgment with the literal word that was used in the Greek, the text in John 5:29 would read:
“those who did good things to a resurrection of life, those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of condemnation.”
Or, it would read:
“those who did good things to a resurrection of life, those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of damnation.”
Does this sound like a “second chance” is to be had by anyone that dies before Armageddon who is blatantly or unrepentantly disobeying God?
According to the Watchtower teaching, if I am an unrepentant sinner and I die before Armageddon, I will have another chance to get it right during the 1000 years. Because remember, they said that when I die my slate has been “wiped clean.” Please allow me to illustrate just how unfair and unscriptural this teaching is.
Suppose you and I were both alive on the day of the battle of Armageddon as the JW’s teach it. You and I are guilty of the same sin whatever it may be. Yet, I just happen to die tragically just 5 minutes before Armageddon strikes. You however, are alive just 5 minutes later when Armageddon strikes. Under the JW theology I will be resurrected and be forgiven of all my sins. I will be given another chance to get it right, so to speak because I have died before the end came and have, as the Teach book says, “a clean slate.” Why? Because according to the JW‘s view of Romans 6:7 I have been acquitted from my sins. But you will be destroyed eternally by God simply because you had outlived me by 5 minutes and did not repent (or become a JW) before Armageddon had struck. Does this sound like a just and fair God? Does this sound like the God of the Bible? Is this what the Bible really teaches?
Might I submit that we are ALL judged by Jesus based on the knowledge and the understanding we have or have been exposed to. We are held accountable to that knowledge in the life we are living now. If we die before Jesus’ return, we will be judged as either righteous or unrighteous based upon the life we were living at the time of our death. We are Judged individually according to our deeds in this life, not that which is to come. (Revelation 2:22-23) For those in the first resurrection death has no authority. (Revelation 20:6) Those who are judged as wicked or evil will be resurrected after the 1000 years because Revelation 20:5 says of the second resurrection:
“The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.”
Remember that death has no authority over those in the first resurrection. (Revelation 20:6) Of course the JW’s apply this to the 144,000 which are not even mentioned in the context of Revelation 20. (This will be addressed in another article)
Why will the unrighteous dead be resurrected after the 1000 years? Because Philippians 2:10-11 NWT says:
“so that in the name of Jesus every knee should bend of those in heaven and those on earth and those under the ground, 11 and every tongue should openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”
For this to happen those in the grave who have not recognized Jesus as Lord must be resurrected. The first resurrection will have already taken place at Jesus’ second coming. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) But keep in mind that the second resurrection occurs after the 1000 years. (Revelation 20:5) This means that the resurrected unrighteous will confess that Jesus is Lord when New Jerusalem comes down from Heaven. At that time – after their confession that Jesus is Lord – fire and sulfur will destroy them. This is the second death. When these are destroyed the second death will have occurred. Satan and his demons will also be completely destroyed at this time. From the second death there is no resurrection. (Revelation 21:7-10)
As Christians we need to be in the first resurrection not the second! There is no second chance! We are being judged in this life. There is much more that could be said about this subject, but my prayer is that this will help you to decipher the truth of God’s Word in this matter.