By Brian Rice, Access Adult Coordinator at MBC Tysons
A week or so before Lon preached on the book of Colossians, a very nice Jehovah’s Witness couple came to my door. The woman shared the script she had memorized to try and show me that our beliefs were the same—we are sinners in need of Jesus as a savior. After a few minutes of polite conversation and affirming what she had said so far (none of which was yet heresy), I asked what the difference is between her beliefs and what I as an evangelical Christian would affirm. She continued down her script, and with polite curiosity I asked the same question a few more times. There obviously must be some difference or else why continue the sales pitch? Finally, with reservation, she said that she does not believe Jesus is God.
BINGO! Now we could start a real discussion. After trying to show me that Jesus was just God’s son and not actually God Himself through their “Bible” (New World Translation), the man paraphrased a couple of verses where Jesus claimed to only be God’s son and not actually God. I asked, “You’ve paraphrased some scripture, but can you show me where Jesus said that?”
He answered, “In Colossians 1.”
I now had a HUGE smile on the inside and replied, “Colossians was written by the Apostle Paul 30 years or so after Jesus had ascended to heaven.” At this point I had enough knowledge of Colossians to know that it is an epistle Paul wrote in which Jesus never spoke. (It hit me how important it is to know how the Bible fits together.)
The man quickly backtracked. “Well it was Jesus through Paul…I mean the Holy Spirit through Paul.” He quickly read Colossians 1:15: “He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” The man claimed that this proved Jesus was just another created being, the first created being. I knew this couldn’t mean what this man claimed it meant, but I hadn’t studied this passage enough to be prepared with an answer. After hearing Lon’s sermon on Colossians, I now find it surprising that the man chose that letter to dissuade me from the truth that Jesus is God. The deity of Christ is the very issue that Paul was affirming to the Colossians!
The man continued his argument by saying the reason for Jesus’ crucifixion was that the Jewish leaders were angry with Him for claiming to be God’s son. I explained that this proves that Jesus claimed He is God (Matthew 26).
The couple left without changing their belief that Jesus is not God, but that’s OK. Only God can change hearts; I am just responsible to be obedient to His call to share the truth. I was thankful for the holes God showed me in their beliefs. Before leaving, they thanked me for talking with them and shared how at most of the 100,000 doors they knock on each year, people do not speak with them at all. Hearing the statistic of how intentional and bold they are about sharing their false version of the Gospel, I was convicted on my lack of boldness. Christ resides in me, with all His truth and power, yet how many people am I sharing with every year?
After they left I quickly checked out the study notes in my Bible for Colossians 1:15. I needed to find out how the Bible, which is inerrant, could say that Jesus was created yet He is God. John MacArthur’s note explained:
“The Greek word for ‘firstborn’ can refer to the one who was born first chronologically, but most often refers to preeminence in position, or rank. In both Greek and Jewish culture, the firstborn was the ranking son who had received the right of inheritance from his father, whether he was born first or not. It is used of Israel who, not being the first nation, was however the preeminent nation. Firstborn in this context clearly means highest rank, not first created… Thus Jesus is the firstborn in the sense that he has the preeminence and possesses the right of inheritance over ‘all creation’. He existed before the creation and is exalted in rank above it.”
Colossians is as applicable today as it was in 62 A.D. when Paul wrote it to the church at Colossae. There are still people who are deceived into denying the deity of Christ, yet they hold to other parts of scripture. Please pray that God would soften the hearts of this couple and many others, and that He would reveal to them the true identity of His Son Jesus.
3 Takeaways from My Encounter with Jehovah’s Witnesses:
1. Bible survey is important.
It is critical to know the story of the entire Bible and how all of the pieces fit together.
2. Always be prepared to answer.
“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” 1 Peter 3:15. I wish I had been as prepared for them as they were for me.
3. I (we) need to be bolder toward the lost.
Although this couple and the rest of the Jehovah’s Witnesses do not have the Living God residing inside them, they are living out what they understand to be the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). I have the Holy Spirit, God, residing in me, yet I am not as intentional as they are in obeying Jesus’ command to make disciples.
If you would like more information about Jehovah’s Witnesses and sharing the Gospel with them, check out www.gotquestions.org:
Witnessing to Jehovah’s Witnesses – what is the key?
Who are the Jehovah’s Witnesses and what are their beliefs?