"Jehovah Witnesses Examined in the Light of the Word of God"
by Radio Pastor, Perry F. Rockwood
The Peoples Gospel Hour
As a matter of historical interest, the founder of this growing cult was Charles Taze Russel. Known as Pastor Russel, he organized a Bible study group in 1870 where he rejected such cardinal doctrines of the Bible as the Trinity, the deity of Christ, Christ's physical resurrection and return, and the reality of Hell.
In 1879 he started a small magazine of 6000 circulation which today, as "The Watchtower," is sent forth every month with over 2,000,000 circulation.
His life was colored with several scandals. In 1906 his wife was awarded a separation because of Pastor Russell's questionable habits with Rose Hall. At another time, when suing Rev. J.J. Ross of Hamilton, Ontario, he proved himself to be a perjurer on the witness stand. Yet his influence grew and his writings have had a circulation of 25,000,000 copies.
His successor was lawyer, J.F. Rutherford who gave the cult their modern name Jehovah Witnesses. Today their leader is Nathan H. Knorr.
Today there are two groups carrying on this traditional teaching and policy. The Dawnites or Dawn Bible Students (Frank and Ernest radio program) reject a few of the changes of Rutherford and hold to the doctrine of a second chance for all who reject Christ now. This is what Pastor Russell believed. The other group is the Jehovah Witnesses of our day.
Of course the Jehovah Witnesses try to avoid any connection with Pastor Russell. They do not quote him nor publish his literature according to their writings. Yet at the same time Rutherford and others have quoted Russell as being authoritative in certain views. Much of their writing is not consistent. Over and over again in their Watchtower of today they say they do not quote or publish Russell's writings. Yet in the July 15, 1950 edition of the Watchtower they quote Russell as an authority regarding his chronology of the 2520 reign of the Gentiles which reign ended (according to Russell and according to the Witnesses of today) in 1914. They listed as their source the Watchtower of 1880 when Russell was Editor-in-chief. This is proof of one of their many contradictions.
(1) THEIR NAME. They take their name from Isaiah 43:10 which certainly is no foundation for believing that Russell and his followers would be called to "witness" to a system which contradicts many portions of God's Word. Primarily this passage refers to Israel (43:1). If Jehovah is the name that God would have us use today, why is it not found in the entire New Testament? While God's people are called by several names such as "sons of God," "believers," "Christians," they are never once referred to as "Jehovah's Witnesses." If this is THE name, why would this be omitted from the Bible and expecially the New Testament?
Now our Lord speaks of witnessing also. In Acts 1:8 He tells His people to be witnesses UNTO HIM. Why do not the Jehovah Witnesses speak of the Lord Jesus Christ? The witness of every believer is unto the Lord.
There is only one Gospel to present to people. The only definition in the entire Bible of this Gospel is found in 1 Cor. 15:1-4 and concerns the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ according to the Scriptures. Why do not the Jehovah Witnesses present this Gospel to people if they desire to go by the Bible?
(3) THE TRINITY. They do not accept the clear Bible teaching of the Trinity. In "Let God Be True," page 102, they say that "It is difficult to love and worship a freakish-looking, three-headed God. The clergy who inject such ideas will contradict themselves in the very next breath by stating that God made man in his own image; for certainly no one has ever seen a three-headed creature." A scientific analysis of sunlight reveals (1) CHEMICAL RAYS which are invisible, and can neither be seen nor felt; (2) LIGHT RAYS which can be seen, but not felt; (3) HEAT RAYS which can be felt but not seen. So it is, no man has seen God . . . Christ has been seen . . and the Holy Spirit is felt in our hearts and lives, but never seen.
Daniel Webster was once chided by an agnostic because he believed so strongly in the Trinity of the Godhead. "But Mr. Webster, how can a man of your mental calibre believe that three equals one?" Mr. Webster meekly replied: "I do not pretend fully to understand the arithmetic of Heaven now."
We recognizse that the Trinity is not "reasonable." It is actually only when we know Christ personally as Saviour that we understand His deity and it is only when we have received the witness and comfort of the Holy Spirit that we acknowledge Him to be the Divine Comforter. If we could understand it we would be like God. GOD IS ONE. The believer knows this as well as any Jew that Jehovah or God is one God. Read Deut. 6:4-9. So we are told that this makes it impossible to believe in the Trinity. But the word for one is "echawd" which means one in unity. For example in Genesis 2:24 we read: "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one (echawd) flesh." Surely no one believes that the man and the wife becomes one person, but in a divine way they do become one, and the same Hebrew word is used here as in Deuteronomy 6:4-9.
We do not believe in three Gods. We believe in one true God who is in three persons. Now by a person we do not just mean a human being. A person is not a person just because he has a body. A human being may have lost both legs, both arms, eyes, ears, nose, etc., but he would still be a person, with personality. He thinks, he feels, he determines. A person is any being who has knowledge, feelings, and will.
It was St. Augustine who spoke of the fact that God is love, and used this as proof of the Trinity. Love must have an object. So there was the eternal Father, the source of all love, the eternal Son, the object of that love, and the eternal Spirit of love between them, and these three are one.
In Genesis 1:1 we have God the Father as Creator: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." In John 1:2 we have God the Son: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made." In Job 26:13 and Job 33:4 we have the Holy Spirit as Creator: "By His Spirit He hath garnished the heavens." "The Spirit of God hath made me." A very simple rule is that things equal to the same things are equal to one another. There can be no doubt that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are One.
There are two main words in the Old Testament for God: Elohim and Jehovah. In English we form plurals by adding s, but in the Hebrew the plural is formed by adding the sound of m. In English we would say one cherub and several cherubs. In Hebrew we would say one cherub and several cherubim. The principle name for God in the Old Testament is Elohim which is plural but is always used with a singular verb. This plural does not mean three gods but it does mean the revelation of God in Trinitarian form. SO THE WORD ELOHIM PRIMARILY REFERS TO GOD AS CREATOR.
The word Jehovah primarily refers to God as Redeemer. This understanding of the names of God helps us to see the Bible message. Some have told us that since we have these two names for God that Genesis was written by different writers with different ideas about God. But this is not so for the names represent two different aspects of God.
For example we are told by higher critics that there are two accounts of Noah when he was commanded to take two of all animals into the ark, and again he was to take seven of some into the ark. But it was Elohim, the creating, maintaining God who ordered Noah to take two of every animal for their survival. It was Jehovah who told him to take seven of the animals for there had to be shedding of blood. In Genesis 7:16 we read: "And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God (Elohim) had commanded him: and the Lord (Jehovah) shut him in." So we have Creator and Redeemer working together for the preservation and redemption of the race.
Notice the Godhead at work in the creation of man in Genesis 1:26: "Let US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness." Jehovah Witnesses tell us that since God is a Spirit, God did not make man in His own image. But this image referred to in Gen. 1:26 is a spiritual image and man, like God, is a trinity (which the Jehovah Witnesses have to deny to also be consistent). Man is a soul and he has a body and he has a spirit. In this way we are created in the image of God.
At the fall, man's spirit plummeted from its original state (he is now dead - Ephesians 2:1), and it is only by the new birth that this spirit is "renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him" (Col.3:10).
New Testament Teaching
In Matthew 3:16,17 we have the baptism of our Lord. We read of the Father who speaks from heaven, the Son who is standing in the water, and of the Spirit who descended like a dove and abides upon Christ.
In 2 Corinthians 13:14 we have the Trinity clearly presented: "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all."
The Great Commission is from the Godhead in Matthew 28:19: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."
John 14:16: "And I, (Jesus) will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever." (Also John 14:26; 15:26).
Other important references are: Acts 2:33; 10:38; Romans 8:11,16,17; 1 Corinthians 12:4-6; 1 Peter 1:2. Look these references up carefully. In them is the Godhead revealev.
You will notice in talking with Jehovah Witnesses that they are always reaching for this translation and that translation and primarily reaching for their own bible which leaves out what is contrary to their own pet beliefs.
The fact that these Jehovah Witnesses are sincere is no reason for us to believe what they teach. Paul was sincerely WRONG when he persecuted the church (Acts 27:9). They have "a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge" (Romans 10:2). There is only one true authority for our belief and that is the Word of God.
How strange it is that these people who denounce all believers, pastors, churches and other Christian organizations of our day continue to call themselves Christians. In their book, "Let God Be True," page 219 we read: "These Christians constitute a body or group of persons, dedicated to do God's will under His Chief Witness, Jesus Christ." They call themselves Christians, but they deny all that the Bible teaches concerning the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us consider exactly what they teach about Christ.
Christ not Worshipped
In their Watchtower of January 1, 1954, page 31 we read: "That no distinct worship is to be rendered to Jesus Christ now glorified in heaven." Their argument is simple. The Bible teaches in Exodus 34:14 that only God is to be worshipped. If, as the Bible teaches, Christ is to be worshipped then this proves that Christ is God. The deity of Christ is one doctrine that they hate and despise so much that they condemn all who believe it, of the Devil.
They deny what the Bible teaches in 1 Timothy 3:16 that in Christ "God was manifest in the flesh." In "Let God Be True," page 106 they say: "God's justice would not let Jesus, as a ransom be more than a perfect man. So he could not be the supreme God Almighty in the flesh." In other words Jesus was no more than a perfect man.
One important passage that declares Christ's deity is John 1:1,16: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . . and the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." Now the Jehovah Witnesses translate this verse: "In a beginning was the Word, and the Word was with the God, and a God was the Word." They teach that when "the" is used before God in the first instance and with "a" in the second proves "That two persons are spoken of as being with each other, and not two persons as being one and the same God" (Let God Be True, page 106).
We can see how they teach that Jesus was not God with all the attributes of deity. "The truth of the matter is that the Word is God's Son who became Jesus Christ and who did have a beginning" (Let God Be True, page 107). Thus they teach that Christ was not God from all eternity. They say,... "He is a 'mighty god', but not the Almighty God, who is Jehovah" (The Truth Shall Make You Free, page 47).
One of the sad facts of the followers of this cult is that they spend hours and hours studying their own books and writings rather than the Bible itself. The Bible is pushed into the background so that the more they become indoctrinated into this system the less they know the Bible.
God makes clear our responsibility when the truth concerning Christ is rejected: "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine (teaching) of Christ, HATH NOT GOD. He that abideth in the doctrine (teaching) of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctring (teaching), receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds" (11 John 9-11).
The Bible teaches that Christ is God from all eternity (John 1:1); that He was God's agent in the creation of the world and upholds all that exists (John 1:3-10; Col.1:13-17; Heb 1:1-3). That He was God was attested by John the Baptist (John 1:29); John (John 1:14); Peter (Matt.16:16); Thomas (John 20:28); Nathanael (John 1:49); the Centurion (Mark 15:39).
This is even more wonderfully seen when we compare the Old Testament prophecies of Christ and their fulfillment in the New Testament. Regarding His birth, we have the place mentioned in Micah 5:2 and fulfilled in Matthew 2:1. His virgin birth is mentioned in Isa. 7:14 and fulfilled in Matt. 1:18-23; His birth to be the occasion for weeping in Ramah as mentioned in Jeremiah 31:15 and fulfilled in Matthew 2:18.
Regarding His death, we have it prophesied in Isaiah 53:6 that He was to suffer which prophecy was fulfilled in Mark 10:45; Luke 23:4,14,15,22. He was to be sold for thirty pieces of silver (Zech. 11:12,13) and fulfilled in Matt. 27:9,10; He was to be forsaken by all His friends (Psalm 69:20) and fulfilled in Mark 14:50; He was to be betrayed by a friend (Psalm 55:12-14, 20, 21) as fulfilled in Mark 14:43-45; He was to be crucified (Psalm 22:1-21) and of course He was. Surely this is manifold evidence of the deity of Christ.
Then of course we have His own declarations concerning Himself: He states His own heavenly origin in John 6:38-40 In Matt. 11:27 and John 14:6 Jesus claims exclusive knowledge of the Father because of His Sonship relation, a knowledge that human teachers can never possess. He openly declared that He was the promised Messiah in Luke 4:17-21 (cf with Isa. 61:1,2).
As to His deity, He claims Oneness with the Father in John 5:18; 10:30; 17:21,22. A careful study of the "I AM" passages will show clearly that Christ taught that He was God. In Exodus 3:14 God revealed Himself as the "I AM." This was the covenant Name by which he revealed Himself to Israel. Jesus used the same name with reference to Himself in John 8:58; John 18:5,6,8.
As to His ministry, He made promises that are far beyond the power of any man, whether he be created, perfect, or the best that ever lived. He promised rest (Matt. 11:28-30); the Water of Life (John 4:14); the Bread of Life (John 6:35); Abundant Life (John 10:10); Eternal Life (John 3:36, 5:24, 6:40, 11:26); the Holy Spirit (John 15:26); answers to prayer (John 14:13,14; 15:16; 16:23); and Peace (John 14:27).
Of course He became Man, God and man united in one wondrous Person. Here is a mystery beyond our understanding but received from the Bible by means of faith through the Holy Spirit (1 Tim. 3:16; John 1:14). As Man He hungered; He wearied; He thirsted; He slept; and He died. As God He forgave sin; He stilled the storm on the sea; He made the lame to walk; He opened the eyes of the blind; and He raised Himself from the dead.
This is the only Christ who saves. Any other is not the Bible Christ but an Antichrist and those who proclaim any other are anti-christians.
I am quoting from a letter that came today from California and shows exactly what the Jehovah Witnesses teach concerning Hell: "Could you supply me with Scriptural information concerning the 'Jehovah Witnesses'? If you know there is a hell-fire torment for the wicked please tell me where to find it in the Bible. The Witnesses say it is not torment and if it is, I want to know it. If you are right you can prove it from God's Word. I have $100 for the Book, Chapter, and Verse so stating that the wicked are tormented after death."
For years Russellites agitated against "the Roman Catholic doctrine of hell." Rutherford in his book, "The Harp of God," says: "Those who die are never again conscious . . they have no memory while dead" (page 45). "The doctrine of eternal torment cannot be true for at least four separate reasons: (1) because it is unreasonable; (2) because it is repugnant to justice; (3) because it is contrary to the principles of love; and (4) because it is entirely unscriptural" (page 47). On the same page he says: "A creator that would put in operation a system of endless torment would be a fiend."
In his book, "Reconciliation," he also writes: "There is no thought expressed in the Bible anywhere that God purposes to put any of his creatures into a place of endless torment" (page 25). "Hell is not a place, but it is a condition. It is a condition of death, which means non-existence" (page 296). "The doctrine of Hell torment being a lie and emanating from the Devil, and the clergymen being the ones who teach that doctrine to the people, it follows that in teaching such false doctrine, clergymen are the servants of the Devil" (page 296).
Pastor Russell also says in "Millennial Dawn," Vol. 1, page 127: "God is too good to sustain an everlasting hell." In Vol. 1 page 128 he also says: "Eternal torture is nowhere taught in the Bible."
Let us examine these statements in the light of God's Word.
First, they make the statement that "Hell is not a place, but it is a condition." Why do they believe in a definite place called Heaven and reject the truth from the same Bible that Hell is a real place. Just as Jesus taught that Heaven is a prepared place, so the same Jesus taught that Hell is also a prepared place. In Matt. 25:41 we read: "Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, INTO EVERLASTING FIRE, PREPARED FOR THE DEVIL AND HIS ANGELS."
Here we are taught that Hell is a place of everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels. It is true that God did not create Hell for His people. Hell was created for the Devil and his angels. But let us remember that everyone is either a child of God or a child of the Devil. Jesus said to the religious people of His day who rejected His Sonship and His salvation: "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do" (John 8:44). We can only become children of God by being adopted into His family when we receive Christ as our own personal Saviour (Read carefully John 1:11-13). If we are children of God we have Heaven for our permanent home. If we are children of the Devil we shall have to go to the Devil's home which is a definite place called Hell.
In Luke 16 the rich man tried to warn his brothers lest "they also come into this PLACE OF TORMENT." It was a definite place not a condition.
Secondly, Rutherford gives four reasons why they do not believe in the doctrine of eternal torment. His first three are of little interest to us because they are in the realm of the natural. We are interested only in what God declares in His Word and Rutherford says that such a doctrine is entirely unscriptural.
In Luke 16:19-31 we have a literal picture given by the Lord Jesus Christ on the reality of torment in Hell. To deny this passage of Scripture is to deny the truthfulness of Christ which is a denial of His Deity. But since the "Jehovah Witnesses" deny the Deity of Christ it does not bother them to reject His Word or to interpret it entirely out of its context.
They tell us that this passage is a parable in which the rich man represents the clergy of Christendom, who are now afar off from God and dead to His favor and tormented by the Kingdom truth proclaimed by Lazarus who represents the "Jehovah Witnesses."
Surely any reasonable person must see that such an interpretation is ridiculous from beginning to end. These are the words of the Lord Jesus Christ and there is nothing in all of Scripture to indicate or to suggest that this has any reference to modern Christendom or to the "Jehovah Witnesses."
If, as some have declared, this passage is a parable, it still points to something that is real. In fact, the reality would be more terrible than the parable itself.
There is nothing here to even indicate that this is a parable. When Jesus spoke in parables, it was definitely stated in such words as, "And He spoke many things unto them in parables;" "Therefore speak I to them in parables;" "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto ..." The fact was clearly stated when Jesus spoke in parables.
Here in Luke 16 we have a look into a literal place called Hell. It is a place of torment: Verse 23: "being in torments;" Verse 24: "I am tormented int his flame," Verse 25: "Thou art tormented;" Verse 28: "this place of torment."
It is a place of conscious suffering. The "Jehovah Witnesses" ridicule these words of Jesus by saying it would be foolish to ask Lazarus to come with a literal drop of water on his finger for that drop of water would quickly evaporate in the great heat. In this instance they try to prove a point by mentioning the heat as being real. But the fact is that under such circumstances it would be logical to expect the right man to cry out for even a drop of water when he suffered so greatly in the fire of Hell. Men cry out in the desert for water even though no water is in sight. In Hell they cry for water even though there is none for them. The concern should not be whether or not the water would evaporate but rather the fact that the cry is heard because of the terrible torments from which there is no relief.
It is a place of memory. Verse 25: "Son, remember," Even every "Jehovah Witness" who does not repent and turn to Christ will remember in Hell those who tried to point them to Christ and will remember their refusal to receive God's Word literally as the Word of God. Every sinner will remember in Hell his many opportunities to come to Christ.
It is a place of no return. Verse 26: "Between us and you there is a great gulf fixed." There is no way of escape from Hell. They teach that "The great company and the ancient worthies will be raised to receive another opportunity." They also teach that "Death is a period of absolute non-existence." So according to their teaching those in the place which does not exist will be given a second chance to be saved. God says in Heb. 9:27; "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (not another chance).
There are other passages of Scripture to prove the reality of Hell and Hell fire. Under no condition can they be interpreted as meaning "The torments of conscience." We have already referred to the "everlasting fire" of Matt. 25:41. Matt. 13:42: "And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth." Mark 9:43,44: "And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the FIRE THAT NEVER SHALL BE QUENCHED: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched."
To sum it up, let us notice that at least seven different faculties are clearly set forth: (1) The rich man could SEE - "In hell he lifted up his eyes.. and SEETH Abraham afar off." (2) He could FEEL ("tormented"), (3) He THIRSTED - "cool my tongue." (4) He could TALK - "Father Abraham, have mercy on me." (5) He could PRAY - "I pray thee." (6) He could REASON - "If one went . . from the dead, they will repent." (7) He could REMEMBER - "five brethren."
The Jehovah Witnesses teach that there is no eternal punishment or torment for the wicked dead. They approach people as interpreters of the Greek but actually they know very little of the Greek language. Often they quote memorized words from the Hebrew but know less about the language.
Some years ago two members of this cult walked into our Book Room and began talking to one of our Staff members. When I saw her becoming impatient I asked what the problem was. She stated that the two men were trying to prove from the Hebrew text that man did not have a living soul. I went into my study and brought forth the Hebrew Bible. I asked them to find for me the Book of Daniel. They were unable to do so. I asked them to find for me the Book of Isaiah. They could not do so. I asked them to read any one verse of the Hebrew Bible and they said they could not and did not know anything about the Hebrew language. They were quoting some memorized text that had been given them in order to leave the impression that they were Bible students.
Now the first question is this: Does the word "eternal" mean "everlasting?" The word which is translated "everlasting" or "eternal" occurs about seventy times in the New Testament. Let us give some examples: "To be cast into EVERLASTING fire" (Matt. 18:8); "That I may have ETERNAL life" (Matt. 19:16); "These shall go away into EVERLASTING punishment" (Matt. 25:46); and "the righteous into life ETERNAL"; "Is in danger of ETERNAL damnation" (Mark 3:29); "They may receive you into EVERLASTING habitations" (Luke 16:9).
The Jehovah Witnesses tell us that the word "everlasting" does not mean "everlasting" in the Greek. We have quoted several verses which contain the same Greek word "aionios" which is applied in many ways. It applies to the punishment of the wicked and also to the life which every believer possesses in Christ.
In the Old Testament the word "olam" is used which is the perfect equivalent of the Greek word "aion." This word "aionios" is used in the following ways in the New Testament:
(1) To denote the duration of the being or glory of God. Read Matt. 6:13; John 8:35; Romans 1:25, 9:5; 16:27; Gal. 1:5; 11 Tim.2:10; Heb. 1:8; 5:6; 1 Pet.4:11; 5:11; 1 John 2:17; Rev 1:18; etc...
(2) To denote the duration of the believer's life in Christ. Matt. 19:16; 25:46; Mark 10:17, 30; Luke 10:25; John 3:15, 16, 36; 4:14, 36; 6:27; 10:28; Acts 13:46, 48; Romans 2:7; 5:21; Gal. 6:8; 1 Tim. 1:16; Titus 1:2; 1 John 1:2; 3:15; 5:11; 13:20; Jude 21.
(3) To denote the duration of the punishment of the unsaved. Matt 18:8; 25:41, 46: Mark 3:29; 11 Thess. 1:9; Heb. 6:2; Jude 7, 13; Rev. 14:11.
All Greek scholars agree that the words olam, aion, aionios, translated "everlasting" and "eternal" are words of duration, and unless so stated, they always imply UNENDING DURATION.
The Jehovah Witnesses teach, with several variations, that man is not immortal, and that only those who accept Christ and do what they are supposed to do will have endless duration of life. (their veiw of salvation will be discussed later). They will agree that there is some suffering in the lake of fire or some other place, but that after some punishment all such souls cease to be. But again, a careful study of the Greek word shows how false this doctrine is: (1) The same words used to express the believer's blessedness are used to express the duration of the unsaved person's suffering (See quotations above). There cannot be one meaning in one place and another meaning in another for the same word. (2) Even more significant, the same words are used to express the duration of the suffering of the unsaved which are used to express the duration of the existence of God. Compare 1 Tim. 1:17 with Matt. 25:46; Rom 16:26 with Jude 7; Rev 10:6 with 20:10. If God will cease to exist after time has passed then we may argue that the suffering of the unsaved will cease. But God cannot be God if He ceases to exist.
The further argument is brought forth that the words pertaining to the punishment of the unsaved indicate annihilation rather than suffering. They say that such words as "death" (Romans 6:23), "destroy" or "destruction" (Matt. 10:28), and "perish" (John 3:16) point to annihilation.
Now a fundamental rule of interpretation of the Bible is that a word must be interpreted according to its Biblical usage and in the entire New Testament none of these words ever mean annihilation or extinction of being. The word "death" as found in 1 Cor. 15:36; John 12:24; 11 Peter 1:14; John 5:24 and other such passages has no reference to annihilation.
God used the word "destroy" in Genesis 6:7 but it does not mean extinction of being as may be seen by comparing this with 1 Peter 3:18-20 where we read that Christ visited these same people who were disobedient. They were not destroyed in the sense of annihilation.
The Bible teaches over and over again what a terrible, conscious, and endless torment is in store for all the wicked. The following phrases from the Bible describe the awfulness of hell's torments: "blackness of darkness" (Jude 13), "hell" (Luke 16:23), "resurrection of damnation" (John 5:29), "everlasting destruction" (11 Thess. 1:9), "gnashing of teeth" (Matt. 13:42), "everlasting punishment" (Matt. 25:46), "everlasting fire" (Matt. 18:8), "tormented with fire" (Rev. 14:10), and "where the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched" (Mark 9:44,46,48). Anyone who is willing to listen to reason and believe the simple teaching of God's Word must see that there is a place reserved for the unsaved called Hell, and those who go there suffer untold agony and endless torment. (Read Rev. 14:11; Rev. 20:10).
Several verses are used by the Jehovah Witnesses as their argument against the consciousness of man after death. One is Eccl. 3:19-21: "For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts, even one thing befalleth them, as the one dieth, so dieth the other, yea, they have all one breath, so that a man hath no pre-eminence above a beast, for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?"
Their interpretation is that these verses teach there is no difference between man and beast because both die and go to the same place and are unconscious. But even a child can see that all these verses teach is that, as far as death is concerned, man is no different from the beast. Death falls upon man and beast alike. "For as one dieth so dieth the other." There is nothing here about being unconscious after death.
But please notice that in verse 21 Solomon presents the facts that part of man lives on after death; "the spirit of man" which goes upward. The same truth is presented by the same writer in Eccl. 12:7: "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it."M\
Here we are clearly taught that the spirit of man leaves the body at death. This is found also in the New Testament in Luke 23:26 where Jesus says: "Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit;" and Acts 6:59 when Stephen says, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."
The Bible clearly teaches that ALL OF MAN does not go into the grave as these false teachers say.
Another passage they often use is Eccl. 9:5,6: "For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything, neither have they anymore a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done UNDER THE SUN."
The key to a right understanding of these verses is the phrase, "under the sun." It is found some thirty times in this Book. The phrase means "pertaining to this life." The dead are not able to know what is taking place under the sun or in this present world.
If this is not the right meaning and if the Jehovah Witnesses are right in saying that the dead literally "know not any thing" then they must also admit that the dead Jehovah Witnesses are without any hope for Eccl. 9:5 says, "neither have they (the dead) any more a reward." However, the Bible teaches that the dead do have a reward (Matt. 16:27) so this passage refers only to the relationship of the dead to this present earth.
Another verse they give to try to prove cessation of being is Psalm 6:5: "For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?"
This verse has nothing to do with their teaching on this subject. Here David, realizing what a sinner he is before God, and that he is worthy of death, in verse 4 cries: "Return, O Lord, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies sake." He knew that if he were to die as a sinner without forgiveness then he would have to go to a place where God is not remembered, not given thanks. Most of the teachings of Jehovah Witnesses are based on texts taken out of their contexts altogether.
In the book, "Let God Be True," page 92, we read the following statement: "Amos 9:2 reads, 'Though they dig into hell, thence shall my hand take them.' How can men dig into hell if it is a place of literal fire and sulphur in the bowels of the earth?"
Here is a statement that is based on a direct deceit. If anyone takes the trouble to read the entire verse it says: "Though they dig into hell, thence shall my hand take them, though they climb into heaven, thence will I bring them down." God is not saying, as the Jehovah Witnesses indicate, that men can dig into hell, neither is He saying that men can climb into heaven. The word "though" is used. What God is saying is that even though it were possible for man to go to these extremes, which it is not, His hand could still reach them.
How easy it is to see that if we are willing to search the Scriptures under the direction of the Holy Spirit, we will not be taken away with every wind of doctrine. May the Lord lead us into the truth as we obey Him step by step of the way.
Notice, too, that they do not teach the reality of salvation through the Cross-work of Christ. They teach that "The 'ransom for all' given by 'the man Christ Jesus' does not guarantee everlasting life or blessing for any man; but it does guarantee to every man another opportunity or trial for life everlasting" (Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. 1, page 150).
In the many that I have talked to, not one either knew anything about a definite experience of salvation or believed that a person could know for sure that they were saved. Several of them did admit (contrary to their own writings) that Christ died for sinners but salvation was dependent mostly upon their faithfulness in going from house to house giving out literature. They teach and practice a "works" salvation.
This entire teaching is based on their false view of the atonement. Not only do they deny the deity of Christ but they teach that the atonement is not the work of the God-man, the divine and human Saviour, but rather the sacrifice of a human person. It was this human life that Jesus laid down in death and never took up again, they say.
The sacrifice for sin which Jesus made was the annihilation of his human life on the cross and in death. They teach that Jesus "was resurrected a spirit-creature, immortal, no longer a human son of God. His perfect human life, with all its rights and prospects, was laid down in death, but not for sin and in punishment. It was not taken back by Jesus at his resurrection, for he was raised a divine spirit-creature. . . The value of the perfect human life was now available for use on behalf of faithful men needing to be ransomed thereby" (Let God Be True, page 116).
This is contrary to the Bible teaching which is plain and clear for all who wish to hear. God's Word teaches that Jesus Christ, as Son of God and as Son of Man, died in His human nature to make atonement for sin and in that same human nature rose again from the dead. Jesus told the Jews that He could lay down His (human) life and take it up again. "No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again." (See John 10:17,18). He died in His human nature and in that nature He rose again (cf. Luke 24:36-43; John 20:27; John 21:12-14; 1 Cor. 15:3-8).
The Jehovah Witnesses teach that Christ's death was a ransom in that he gave up his human life to God IN EXCHANGE for the eternal lives of his people. "One of the vital doctrines clearly taught throughout the Bible is that of the ransom which God provided through Jesus Christ for men who love God and have faith in him. For instance, Jesus' words at Matthew 20:28 (New World Translation put outby themselves): "The Son of man came, not to be ministered to, but to minister and to give his soul a ransom IN EXCHSNGE for many.'"
All other translations read only "for many" and do not have the words "in exchange" inserted. The words "for many" mean that Christ was a substitute for us by taking our place on the Cross.
The Jehovah Witnesses use the word "exchange" in the sense that a father of a kidnapped child offers a ransom to the kidnappers in exchange or as a ransom for the return of the child. The death of Christ is not an "exchange" for our lives whereby he lost his human life forever.
The Bible teaches that Christ suffered in His human nature, but it was always a union of the human nature and the divine in the Son of God. They do not accept the deity of Christ. How then could a Mediator who is not God, as they claim, bring an acceptable sacrifice for sin? Who can forgive sin? Only God. (Read Luke 5:24; Matt. 9:6; Mark 2:10). When they refuse to accept the deity of Christ they have no foundation for salvation.
In late years the Jehovah Witnesses have received much publicity regarding their refusals to have blood transfusions. This view is based on Deut. 12:23: "Only be sure that thou eat not the blood: for the blood is the life; and thou mayest not eat the life with the flesh."
The Old Testament has much to say about the sacredness of blood. (1) Blood was sacred as an article of food and was not to be eaten (Gen.9:4). (2) Blood is the source of life so that when the blood is shed the life is gone. (3) What the Jehovah Witnesses do not emphasize is that as the blood was identical with the life and represented the soul of the victim, God appointed it as a substitute for the sinner's life. This is the principle recognized by Heb. 9:22; "Without the shedding of blood there is no remission." We must never count the blood of the covenant, by which we are sanctified and saved an unholy thing (Heb.10:29) which the Jehovah Witnesses do in relation to Christ's blood and sacrifice.
It is plain that the Jehovah Witnesses only emphasize the teachings of the blood in relation to its being eaten. But even this emphasis is made with the direct reference of the eating of the blood with the flesh. Now receiving blood transfusions is not the eating of the blood with the flesh at all. It is the sharing of one life with another and has no connection with the eating of flesh.
While they make an issue out of blood transfusions they ignore the most important teaching on the blood, namely, that it is "The blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, that cleanses us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). Apart from the blood there can be no spiritual life and therefore the Jehovah Witnesses cannot be saved until they recognize the true importance of the blood.
Transcriber note: Number figures and current leader, etc, may be different from this booklet, as some time has gone by since it was written.