About 20 min. ago I was sitting on our living room couch finishing reading Acts 9-11 and preparing to blog about some of the things I learned this morning about the early church. However, my doorbell rang and to my surprise when I opened the door there was a man and his son at the door dressed in dress shirts, dress pants and ties with magazines and a small bible in their hands. The boy (about 12-13) asked if I would have a few minutes free for him to share with me something on his heart about the end times and if he could read me a scripture. I told them I was a believer and that my husband and I attend McLean Bible Church and that I would welcome him to read me the scripture. He read me a scripture from Psalm 104:5-9 "He set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be moved. You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. At your rebuke they fled; at the sound of your thunder they took to flight. The mountains rose, the valleys sank down to the place that you appointed for them. You set a boundary that they may not pass, so that they might not again cover the earth." The boy assured me to not fear the end of the earth, that the things the world is saying about end times aren't true and that God doesn't want us to fear. His dad chimed in with words of encouragement, that God will establish a godly kingdom here where there will never be fear again.
Now this is an encouragement and Revelation does speak of a time when there won't be fear/suffering. And in Revelation we are told that when God establishes the new Heaven and New Earth "He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." What an amazing truth and certainly a comfort these words are for us. I shared with the father and son that I believed in Revelation's account of the end times, that of course there are questions for those who have premillennial and postmillennial views of Christ's return (a theology lesson in itself I'm not ready to explain in depth here, but seek biblical resources and check this out on your own or ask a Pastor), however, the earth will someday be restored by God (Rev. 21:5 "Behold I am making all things new") and God will dwell with his people (different from how he dwells in us now through His Spirit) He will live among the saints who are his children who have committed their lives and souls to Him. The dad was encouraged I knew scripture and thanked me for chatting. When I got inside with the magazines I was searching for the differences between what Jehovah's Witnesses believed vs. what Bible-believing Christ followers believe. It didn't take me long to figure it out (there was an FAQ section, that always helps).
Some of the basic differences are these:
1. "Jehovah's witnesses are Christians, but they are not Protestants for the same reason they are not Catholics- they recognize certain teachings of those religions as unscriptural. For example, the Bible does not teach that God- the very personification of love- tortures people forever in a fiery hell."
They also claim in their magazine that "Jehovah's witnesses built their system of belief and practice from the raw material of the Bible without predetermining what was to be found there. They align their beliefs with the Bible; they do not interpret it to suit themselves."
**However, these statements are contradictory, the Bible does speak of the reality of hell for those who do not believe that Jesus is the Christ, the only Savior and Son of God, that He died for the sins of the world as an atoning sacrifice for all who would believe and that he was resurrected on the third day conquering sin and death so that those he created could be rescued from the eternal death (hell) caused by the fall and have eternal life. Many people, like Jehovah's witnesses, who profess our God is a loving God deny that there could be a hell because they believe it contradicts His character and makes God unloving. However, this isn't true. God provides salvation for humanity that has been affected by the fall/sin. That shows His love! Hell is not a place God desires for those he created to go, however, for those who reject the truth, forgiveness and grace of Jesus and never repent of their sins there has to be punishment because God is loving, He disciplines, He is just. The Bible says in 2 Peter 3:15, "Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation" and 2 Peter 3:9 "He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." God wants to be "right" with the human race He created in His image. However, to be righteous (right with God) repentance is required. The early church in Acts proclaimed the truth of Acts 3:19, "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord..." God loves his people, which is why He sent He only son to suffer the sins of the whole world to save them. All people have this life to commit to Him, to repent, to live in his forgiveness, grace and love. God is loving; He is also a just Judge of the living and the dead (spiritually dead) (Acts 10:42, 2 Tim. 4:1).
**Also, God's word is true as it is, no where in the Bible does it say that we should pick and choose what we want to believe because it makes us more comfortable. God's ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9) and God has much more wisdom than we do for He is God and Sovereign over everything and we are not (Job 38). The Bible tells us that His word is true as it is. We can't choose to fudge over certain parts of scripture so they say what we know people will like more, etc.
2. Jehovah's witnesses also deny the trinity using inaccurate biblical support to say that God the Father is above and not equal to the Son and Spirit as the rest of the Bible proclaims (Genesis 1:26 "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness...", John 14:23 "Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me He will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.")
There's a lot more detail that can be given, however, I just wanted a cover some of the key differences I recognized in my interactions with the two people I met this morning. They were very sweet, it was super cool to see a 12-13 yr. old boy at my door sharing from God's word, however, we must be aware of what people really believe and how it may be similar and different from what the Bible teaches is truth.
I know this was a pretty heavy blog, I encourage you to think through some of the scriptures and ask questions and talk to people in your life you know love God and know the Bible and teach it as it is without adding their own interpretation.
For my friends in VA I encourage you to check out McLean Bible Church or Reston Bible Church if you're not part of a community or have questions about Jesus, salvation, end times, etc.
For my friends in New Jersey, I encourage you to check out Emergence Church in Lincoln Park (a multi-site of Jacksonville Chapel) or Cornerstone Bible Church in River Vale to hear some true completely scriptural teaching about who God is, what He commands, what the Bible really says, etc.
Know today that God has created you in his image and loves you, He sent his son to suffer on the cross for you and to conquer sin and death through his resurrection so you may not have to fear what the world fears but may have eternal life, hope in hard times, peace in the midst of suffering, unconditional love from a holy God and so you may live an abundant life on earth having all you need in Jesus.
Have a great Saturday!