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Knocking on Faith's Door: Engaging with Jehovah's Witnesses

In a world brimming with idolatrous beliefs and practices, an unanticipated knock at your front door can open the door to a wide range of perspectives. It might be a local politician seeking your support, a police officer discussing your views on the foundational standard for relationships, as outlined in Gen 2:24. Alternatively, it could be a well-dressed pair of individuals dedicated to door-to-door evangelism—those who identify as Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs).

The neatly dressed individuals who arrive equipped with pamphlets and messages of 'hope' adeptly present themselves, skillfully conveying a message reminiscent of the Christian gospel. They speak of Jesus, God's Kingdom, and the hope it brings. Yet, for the believing, born-again Christian who stands at the door recognizing that the JW conveys a different gospel, a two-fold question arises:

  1. Do I simply close the door? OR

  2. Do I engage in a conversation?

For a true, born-again Christian who loves the Lord and is passionate about sharing the gospel, the answer is clear—outreach. Rarely does an opportunity arise where individuals willingly engage in discussions about God, especially those who are unregenerate. The fact that God brings unregenerate and lost souls to our doorstep is undoubtedly a sign that we are called to minister to them.

How to Minister to Jehovah's Witnesses: The real challenge, then, is how to go about it. JW individuals are often well-prepared when they knock on your door, frequently choosing times when you might be less prepared or at your least convenient. This presents a crucial question: what should you do? As a Christian, it is your responsibility to share the gospel, even if it means doing so in less-than-ideal circumstances. However, being prepared or having resources on hand for moments when you might not be as well-prepared as your theological foes can be immensely helpful. This analysis aims to provide a starter package for those who find themselves face-to-face with JWs and are having moments of doubt.

Love for Your Neighbor: A key prerequisite for this analysis is that you are already a born-again Christian who desires to evangelize to JWs. If you lack genuine love and concern for these individuals, the information provided below may be of limited use.

Let's Begin: You're at home, and you hear a knock at the door. You weren't expecting anyone, so you wonder if it's the UPS driver. However, you soon realize you didn't order anything, and your curiosity deepens. Could it be a neighbor? As you approach the door, you see two well-dressed individuals waiting. You've got it right—chances are these are Jehovah's Witnesses. Upon opening the door, the JWs launch into discussions about bad governance and the Lord's Prayer. It all seems a bit unusual as an introduction to a gospel message, yet it carries the hallmarks of Christianity. Still, something doesn't quite add up. And you're correct in thinking so; the use of the Lord's Prayer as a segue into discussing the Kingdom is intentional, as we will explore further. But first, let's dive into dissecting the Lord's Prayer, which is more in line with the first place the JW will go to.

The Lord's Prayer: "Your kingdom come," or better stated, "Your government come." The Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs) view the Lord's Prayer, particularly the phrase "Your kingdom come," as a central element of their theology. They interpret this prayer as a plea for God's literal government, God's Kingdom, to come to Earth and replace all human governments. They believe that this Kingdom was established in heaven in 1914, with Jesus Christ ruling as King, and that it will eventually bring an end to all human governments, wars, and conflicts. For JWs, praying "Your kingdom come" means actively supporting and promoting their message of God's Kingdom. They see themselves as messengers of this Kingdom, and they believe that by spreading their message door-to-door, they are fulfilling this prayer's request for God's Kingdom to come. Jehovah's Witnesses interpret the Lord's Prayer as a call for the establishment of God's literal government on Earth, with a particular emphasis on their role in proclaiming this Kingdom and its message. They believe this prayer is closely tied to their eschatological beliefs about the end times and the ultimate triumph of God's Kingdom over human governments.

JW Lord's Prayer: "Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified. Let your Kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also on earth. Give us today our bread for this day; and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the wicked one."

Addressing the Prayer | Matthew 6:7-14 "When you pray, do not babble like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. This is how you should pray”: The context in which Jesus gives His instruction before teaching His disciples to pray is crucial. JWs often fail to provide this context, urging readers to stop just before reaching the proof text they want to emphasize. In all honesty, I believe that understanding the full context preceding the Lord's Prayer is essential. It sets the stage for Jesus' instructions to His disciples, who, at this time, grappled with confusion regarding the nature of God. However, for reasons known to God and the JW, they seem determined to interpret the Lord's Prayer solely in the context of the "Kingdom" government's arrival. With this in mind, let's delve into the orthodox and historical understanding of the prayer as these responses will be your responses in addressing the context of the Lord's prayer to the JW.

Addressing God: The prayer begins by addressing God as "Our Father," emphasizing a personal and intimate connection with the divine.

Acknowledging God's Holiness: "Hallowed be your name" signifies recognizing God's holiness and sanctity.

Desire for God's Sovereign Rule: "Your kingdom come" signifies our longing for God's sovereign rule and reign to be established on earth. It reflects our recognition that God's kingdom is not merely a physical realm but a spiritual reality where He rules with justice, righteousness, and love. We desire for His authority to be acknowledged by all and for His divine order to replace the brokenness of the world.

Alignment with God's Will: "Your will be done" goes hand in hand with desiring God's kingdom. It conveys our willingness to submit to God's divine plan and purpose for our lives. We acknowledge that God's will is perfect and that He knows what is best for us. This part of the prayer reflects our desire to live in obedience to God's guidance and to surrender our own desires and plans to His higher wisdom.

Bringing Heaven to Earth: The phrase "on earth as it is in heaven" is particularly significant. It expresses our hope that the qualities and attributes of heaven, such as holiness, peace, and unity, would manifest in our earthly existence. We long for the restoration of a fallen world, where God's will is perfectly accomplished, just as it is in the heavenly realm.

Transformation of the Heart: When we pray for God's will to be done, we are inviting Him to transform our hearts and align our desires with His. It reflects our recognition that our human nature often leads us astray, and we need God's guidance to walk in His ways. In essence, this part of the Lord's Prayer encapsulates a profound yearning for God's divine rule and purpose to permeate every aspect of our lives and the world around us. It reflects a desire for His righteousness, justice, and love to prevail, ultimately leading to the fulfillment of His kingdom on earth.

Petitions for Daily Needs:

  • "Give us this day our daily bread" acknowledges our dependence on God for sustenance.

  • "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors" highlights the importance of forgiveness and seeking God's forgiveness.

  • "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil" asks for God's guidance and protection from temptation and harm (Matthew 6:11-13).

Salvation and redemption are central to the Christian faith. They involve reconciling individuals with God, not just changing worldly systems. The Bible teaches that God desires a personal relationship with His people, as seen in John 3:16: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." It's essential to remember not to limit the Lord's Prayer to one possible meaning. The broader context is clear; Jesus is instructing people on how to pray and not to be overly verbose or repetitive in their prayers. The concept of the "Kingdom of God" being both "at hand" and "to come" is crucial (Matthew 12:28; Mark 1:15; Luke 17:20-21). The Kingdom of God has both a present reality and a future fulfillment, highlighting the tension between the current reign of God in believers' hearts and the future consummation of His Kingdom in all of creation. By addressing these aspects of the Lord's Prayer, you can engage in a meaningful dialogue with Jehovah's Witnesses, shedding light on the profound theological discrepancies between their interpretation and the orthodox Christian faith. Remember, the goal is not just to counter their beliefs but to present the genuine gospel message rooted in the teachings of Jesus Christ.

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