Jehovah’s Witnesses are much more than those individuals who spread the Gospel from door to door. However, a lot of people do not know much more about them than that. There has been a lot of confusion during recent years as to their beliefs and who they are as a church.
Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Believe in God? Witnesses believe God is the Creator and the Supreme Being. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that God is the Father and separate from the Son, Jesus.
However, they reject the idea of the Trinity, stating there is no spiritual basis or proof that the Trinity exists.
Who are the Jehovah’s Witnesses?
The Jehovah’s Witnesses were started by a man named Charles Taze Russell in 1870. He began by leading a Bible Student movement. During this time, he began to question some of the traditional Christian views. From these questions, he created what became the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization.
The Witnesses, as they are called, focus on God the Father. They took their name from the Tetragrammation which is written as YHWH or JHVH and are normally pronounced as Yahweh or Jehovah. Originally called the Watch Tower Society because the founder published a magazine that was called Zion’s Watch Tower and the Herald of Christ’s Presence. The name was then changed to include the name of the Father, becoming Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Jehovah’s Witnesses utilize a translation of the Bible called the New World Translation. Previously, they used the King James Version. However, now they use this version exclusively. This translation was created specifically for the Witnesses. Opposers state that this version was created and varied to back up the beliefs of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, but the group states that the version is true to the word of God.
Jehovah’s Witnesses base their beliefs on the 66 books within the Bible, which include the Old and New testament. They have built their belief systems and practices based on the raw material of the Bible without predetermining what was to be found there.
While they accept the entire Bible, they are not fundamentalists. They recognize that parts of the Bible are figurative or symbolic and not meant to be taken literally. They also recognize the Bible as God’s inspired message to the world.
Within the Bible, whether the King James Version or their New World Translation, Jehovah’s Witnesses feel that there is no biblical reference to the Trinity. Because the word Trinity is never explicitly used, Witnesses feel that the doctrine was developed over several centuries as an answer to certain controversies within the scripture and church. They feel there is only one true God.
Along these lines, they believe that Jesus is not equal with or part of God. They teach their followers that Jesus was created by God and does not coexist with Him. They take Jesus’ words at face value when He says in John 14:28, “The Father is greater than I am”. With that being said, they do not worship Jesus because they do not, ultimately, believe that he is the Almighty God.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe Jesus lived in heaven before coming to earth and that after his death and resurrection he then returned to heaven. They also believe that Jesus “gave his perfect human life as a ransom sacrifice” and that through his death and resurrection make it possible for those with faith to gain everlasting life.
Within the worship of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, they do not venerate the cross or other images. They believe that based on scripture Jesus did not die on a cross, but actually on a stake- making the symbol of the cross insignificant. Key aspects of their worship include the following:
- Praying to God
- Reading and Studying the Bible
- Meditating on what is learned from the Bible
- Meeting together to pray and study the Bible, sing, express their faith and encourage fellow Witnesses and others.
- Preaching the “Good News of the Kingdom”
- Helping those in need
- Constructing and maintaining Kingdom Halls and other facilities use to further their worldwide Bible educational work
- Sharing in disaster relief
Witnesses worship the one true God, the Creator, or Jehovah. He is the God of Abraham, Moses and Jesus. They follow the teachings and examples of Jesus Christ and honor him as the Savior and as the Son of God. So, though they learned from the Bible that Jesus is not the Almighty God and that there is no spiritual basis for the Trinity Doctrine, they still follow His teachings.
According to Christians, the third person in the Trinity is the Holy Spirit. However, similar to their view on Jesus, Jehovah’ Witnesses believe that the Holy Spirit is not equal with the Father. They believe that the Holy Spirit is a force that is applied by God. They feel that, because the Bible refers to the Holy Spirit as God’s hands, fingers, or breath- this shows that the Holy Spirit is not a person.
The hands of a craftsman cannot function independently of his body and mind, as such the Holy Spirit only operates if God directs it to do so. The Bible also compares God’s spirit to water, associating it with things such as faith and knowledge. All of these comparisons lead Witnesses to believe in the impersonal nature of the holy spirit.
Jehovah’s Witnesses do not celebrate Christian holidays such as Christmas or Easter because, of course, they do not believe that Jesus is equal to God. They also do not celebrate other national holidays or birthdays because they feel it is important to stay separate from the secular world. They also feel that Easter and Christmas celebrations are rooted in pagan customs and rites, and that other celebrations such as birthdays are displeasing to God.
Jehovah’s Witnesses remain neutral politically. Witnesses do not believe in serving either in the military or in politics. This is just another way that they remain separate. They emphasize citizenship in God’s Heavenly Kingdom, remaining politically neutral based on Biblical teachings. They do not lobby, vote, run for government office or participate in actions that lead to governmental change. They continue to believe that the Bible directs them to remain neutral.
Because Jehovah’s Witnesses give allegiance only to Jehovah, they do not pledge allegiance to the flag, they do not vote, they do not serve in armed forces, and they do not hold public office.
The Witnesses believe that The Kingdom of God is the real government, in heaven, and not a condition in the hearts of Christians. The Kingdom of God replaces human governments and accomplishes God’s purpose for the earth. Biblical prophecy indicates we are living in the last days and they will take these actions soon.
The belief that the Kingdom of God is a real government is outside of normal Christian ideology. However, Witnesses believe that the Kingdom of God will replace human government. They believe that Jesus is the King of God’s kingdom, and that he actually began ruling as king in 1914.
The mention of 1914 confuses many, but Witnesses believe the end times actually began in 1914. This period will conclude with Judgment Day, the 1,000-year reign of Christ with the 144,000 “anointed” resurrected people who are chosen by God.
Other people who prove their loyalty to Jehovah during the end times will live eternally on earth in the new paradise. However, those who “rebel against God will be permanently destroyed, as will Satan and the demons,” though they do not believe these individuals will suffer eternally in hell.
One thing that is extremely controversial in the world outside of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is their refusal of certain medical treatments. One of these being their rejection of blood transfusions, even in situations where a transfusion could save one’s life. Witnesses state that some medical treatments conflict with Biblical principles and, therefore, reject the treatments. In the Bible, there is scriptural reference to receiving blood to sustain the body. The Bible also prohibits treatments or procedures that can be thought to be tied to the occult or occult practices.
Due to these restrictive medical practices, Russia has recently banned Jehovah’s Witnesses from practicing there. There are 8.3 Million Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world, with other countries being more lenient as to their practices.
In reference to Salvation, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that deliverance from sin and death is possible through the ransom and sacrifice of Jesus. To benefit from this sacrifice, people must not only exercise faith in Jesus but also change their lives and become baptized. Salvation cannot be earned but comes through the undeserved kindness of God. A person’s works prove that his faith is alive, and he deserves salvation.
In reference to Heaven, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jehovah, Jesus Christ and the angels reside in a spiritual realm and that a small number of people, 144,000, will be resurrected to live life in Heaven to rule with Jesus in the Kingdom of Heaven.
In opposition to Christian thinking, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that God created the Earth to be the eternal home of Man. They say that God will bless the obedient with perfect health and an everlasting life within an earthly paradise. That means that the initial 144,000 will live in heaven, with the remaining obedient souls remaining on earth – but an earth that will become very different from the earth we reside on now.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that people who die pass out of existence. They do not suffer in hell upon their death. They believe God will bring billions back from death through resurrection. However, those who refuse to learn the ways of God after being raised to live with be destroyed forever with no hope of resurrection or a life in heaven. Until that time, those who have died are no longer in existence, even in heaven.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe the evil and suffering began on earth began when one of God’s angels rebelled. This angel, who was afterwards known as Satan, persuaded the first human couple to join him and the consequences were disastrous for their descendants. God has allowed evil and suffering to settle the moral issues raised by Satan, but he will not permit it to continue forever.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe, essentially, that to gain salvation you must witness for Jehovah; you must go out on the streets and proclaim salvation in Jehovah. They are different from Christians in that they believe Jesus Christ is only one of many gods and that He is a created being. They translate John 1:1 as, “In the beginning was the word…and the word was a god.” The Greek says, instead, “And the word was God” (John 1:1).
The Jehovah’s Witnesses are organized into congregations, each one being oversaw by a body of elders. The elders, however, do not form clergy and are unsalaried. During church meetings, there is no tithing or collections taken. All of the activities are supported by anonymous donations.
The governing body is a small group of mature Witnesses who serve at the world headquarters and provide direction to Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide. Witnesses strive to adhere to a form of Christianity that was taught by Jesus and practiced by the apostles through the direction of this governing body.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are best known for their door-to-door ministry. They believe that this is an effective way to fulfill the Great Commission and that first century Christians spread their messages both publicly and from house to house- quoting scripture to back up this ideal. They do not believe that this door-to-door ministry earns them their salvation through good works, and they do not believe in pressuring people to change their religious beliefs- stating this is wrong. They do, however, believe that it is acceptable to argue for their own beliefs.
When traveling in their door-to-door ministry, they hand out two magazines; AWAKE! Which is a general religious magazine, and THE WATCHTOWER, which is a magazine focused on the significance of world events in the light of the prophecies of the Bible. These are created by the Jehovah’s Witnesses and help readers to learn more about their beliefs.
The group are globally united in their beliefs and work hard to have no social, ethnic, racial or class divisions within the group. This unity allows for personal choices. Each Witness makes their own decisions that they feel are in harmony with their own Bible training and conscious.
Witnesses strive to show unselfish love in all of their actions and avoid things that are displeasing to God. This includes the misuse of blood by taking blood transfusions. They are peaceful and do not participate in warfare. They respect the government and obey its laws as long as they do not call on them to disobey God’s laws.
When it comes to family, Jehovah’s witnesses adhere to God’s standard of marriage which is the union of one man and one woman. The only way that couple is allowed to divorce is in the face of sexual immorality. Witnesses feel that the wisdom found within the Bible helps families to be successful.
Jesus also commanded us to “love your neighbor as yourself”. That ideal goes into the way that Witnesses deal with others. Jesus did teach that Christians are not part of the world, so Witnesses try to work what is good toward all while remaining strictly neutral in political affairs and affiliations with other religions. However, Witnesses respect the choices that others make in these matters.
Jehovah’s Witnesses do not refer to their places of worship as churches, calling them instead, “Kingdom Halls”. They believe the model of the first century Christians is one in which all baptized members are ordained as ministers and go forth to share the preaching and teaching to others.
Both men and women can be ministers, and within each congregation “spiritually mature men” serve as elders. Around 20 congregations will form a circuit, and congregations receive periodic visits from traveling elders who are know as the circuit overseers.
Guidance is provided by a governing body that is made up of elder Jehovah’s Witnesses who work at their international offices in New York. A number of corporations are in use by the organization, and they are often referred to collectively as “The Society” after the oldest and most prominent of their corporations, “The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania”.
The Jehovah’s Witness organization has roots within Christianity, and a lot of its beliefs are in line with those teachings. However, their interpretation of Biblical teachings have led them in a different direction than traditional Christian churches. Jehovah’s Witnesses do believe in God, but they believe that He is a singular God and that the Trinity that describes God as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is not a Biblically based doctrine and therefore untrue. They do believe that Jesus lived in heaven, came to Earth and was sacrificed, and now lives in Heaven once again. However, they think that Jesus is a creation of God and not a part of Him. They also do not believe in the Holy Spirit as mainstream Christians do.
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