A Godly View of Life
So the Watchtower in this book has taught you that you can go to paradise, that you can see your loved ones again and how we are living in the “last days” so soon you can have these things. Now in this chapter they are going to talk more about how you can earn it.
Once again the opening paragraphs (1 & 2). There is not much to say about as they teach that life is a gift from God and that he is the one that provides us with what we need in a physical sense to keep going in this life. I would not disagree, however they then throw a big “but” in to the equation. I quote from Paragraph 2 :-
“But to enjoy life to the full, we need to learn God’s laws and obey them”,
(Isaiah 48:17,18). Although the claim is that we keep Gods laws in order to enjoy life to the full, as we will see in this chapter their actual claim is that we have to keep up to the laws that they (The Watchtower) dictates in order to be saved.
The Watchtower first talks about Abortion, and says how it is wrong in Gods eyes. Amen!
Then it talks about the sin of hating one another…to quote paragraph 6 :-
Having respect for life includes having the right view of fellow humans. The Bible says: “Everyone who hates his brother is a manslayer, and you know that no manslayer has everlasting life remaining in him.” (1 John 3:15) If we want everlasting life, we need to root out of our heart any hatred for our fellowman, because hatred is the root cause of most violence. (1 John 3:11, 12) It is vital that we learn to love one another.
Question for the Jehovah Witness, “Do you think at times even after being a Jehovah’s Witness that you have hated someone, even if it was only temporary?” The honest answer is yes. The issue is then if the JW is honest this means they won’t get everlasting life either.
The problem is context, what was 1 John 3 talking about here? All you need to do is look at the whole chapter and the next one. 1 John 3 is highlighting to us our sin and how serious it is Gods eyes, and how it impossible to gain everlasting life based on the “good” things we do. Which is why if you just keep reading to the next verse you see how we get everlasting life. 1 John 4:15, 16 reads: –
“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him”.
Now we have the context, all fall short, all sin, all at times hate, so we need to confess that Jesus is the Son of God and be pardoned for our sin, because God is love.
The Watchtower now moves to the subject of smoking. This is what it quotes :-
“many use tobacco, chew betel nut, or take drugs for recreational purposes. Such substances harm the body and often kill the users. A person who makes it a practice to use these substances does not view life as sacred. These practices are unclean in God’s eyes. To serve God acceptably, we have to give up such practices.
There are many other practises that God does not approve in the eyes of the Watchtower (notice that it does not get mention them). Such as Christmas, Birthdays, Fathers Day, Mothers Day, Saluting the flag, being in the Army, University…….the list goes on. Interesting they pick smoking, I would say that this is because most people know that smoking isn’t good for them. I am not going to claim for a minute the God approves of smoking. But I come back to what it says in 1 John
“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him”
All have traits as fleshly imperfect people, even Paul had a thorn in the flesh. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 reads.
I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
You see how the Watchtower misses the point? We are sinners and we are weak, that God we have a saviour who takes the burden of our sin.
I do of course believe that as Christians we should do our best to live out Christian life. But we are not saved as a result of that; we are saved due to the grace of our lord.
In paragraph 8 it says that we also need to avoid thrill seeking sports;
We will not be careless and will not take risks just for pleasure or excitement. We will avoid reckless driving and violent or dangerous sports.
They even quote Psalms 11:5…I am scratching my head to work out how they make that fit, but there you go!!
This reminds me of when I was JW. I was once told that I should not even go to Alton Towers as that would be wrong in the eyes of Jehovah. My response was, “does this mean I should not drive my car as surely that is more dangerous”. Again I agree as Christians we should look at wasting our lives with needless dangerous recreation (going down Niagara falls in a barrel for example). But there is a risk of taking it to the extreme, which un-fortunately is what the Watchtower do as quoted in paragraph 8 says this :-
keep such things as stairs in good condition in your home so that someone does not trip, fall, and get badly hurt. If you own a car, make sure that it is safe to drive. Do not let either your home or your car be a danger to you or to others.
This is not just “good advice”, these are things that are required for Christian salvation. I just have this image of standing before God and him saying…..”well sorry Jason you did not keep your stairs in good condition, I am therefore not going to let you in to the new world”. We are saved through grace, not our own works.
Now we come on to the blood issue. I am not sure where to start with this, so I will start at the beginning. Paragraph 11 reads:-
Jehovah’s view was clear: His servants could eat animal meat but not the blood. They were to pour the blood on the ground—in effect, returning the creature’s life to God.
They quote Leviticus 17:13,14 to support this. It’s a pity they don’t quote verse 15 as well then they would see the context.
“Anyone, whether native-born or alien, who eats anything dead or torn by wild animals must wash his clothes and bathe with water and he will be ceremonially unclean till evening then he will be clean. But if he does not wash his clothes and bathe himself he will held responsible”
Why is this verse even there? Because in times of distress, for example in war, it might become necessary to eat an animal that had not been slaughtered the kosher-way. Why? To save lives! Although it was against the law to eat un-clean animals at times it was necessary.
The paragraph goes on….
We must ‘keep abstaining from blood.’ In God’s eyes, our doing that is as important as our avoiding idolatry and sexual immorality. Does this include blood include blood transfusions? Yes. To illustrate: Suppose a doctor were to tell you to abstain from alcoholic beverages. Would that simply mean that you should not drink alcohol but that you could have it injected into your veins? Of course not! Likewise, abstaining from blood means not taking it into our bodies at all. So the command to abstain from blood means that we would not allow anyone to transfuse blood into our veins. 14 What if a Christian is badly injured or is in need of major surgery? Suppose doctors say that he must have a blood transfusion or he will die. Of course, the Christian would not want to die. In an effort to preserve God’s precious gift of life, he would accept other kinds of treatment that do not involve the misuse of blood. Hence, he would seek such medical attention if that is available and would accept a variety of alternatives to blood.
15 Would a Christian break God’s law just to stay alive a little longer in this system of things? Jesus said: “Whoever wants to save his soul [or, life] will lose it; but whoever loses his soul for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:25) We do not want to die. But if we tried to save our present life by breaking God’s law, we would be in danger of losing everlasting life. We are wise, then, to put our trust in the rightness of God’s law, with full confidence that if we die from any cause, our Life-Giver will remember us in the resurrection and restore to us the precious gift of life.
Amazing!! We have just heard that we should not waste our lives with extreme sports now we hear that even under extreme circumstances we would never have a blood transfusion!!
They use Acts 15 to support the fact we should not have a blood transfusion – is that right? No. The issue was in Acts 15 that the Jews and Gentiles had been saved through the grace of Jesus. The Jews however where trying to get the Gentiles to uphold the Mosaic law. When the Gentiles refused to, this caused a problem. James is trying sort it out by asking the Gentiles to abstain from these things so as to not upset there Jewish brothers. We see in other chapters in Acts and Romans, that our salvation has nothing to with circumcision or food, or blood, but for the sake of the Jewish brothers of the time they where to abstain from these things in order not to stumble them. Of course this has nothing to do with blood transfusions in spite what the Watchtower teaches.
There closing sentence in paragraph 16 is this :-
Today, faithful servants of God firmly resolve to follow his direction regarding blood. They will not eat it in any form. Nor will they accept blood for medical reasons.* They are sure that the Creator of blood knows what is best for them. Do you believe that he does?
The idea is if you say yes they you agree, if you say no you are not one of those faithful servants. If you as a Christian do not want a blood transfusion then that is one thing, to say it is a sin is in my view a big error on the part of the Watchtower.
Paragraph 18 states – Only by means of faith in the merit of Jesus’ shed blood can we gain salvation. Amen, so why have I just been told something completely different in this chapter claiming that I gain everlasting life through un-holding the laws of the Watchtower.
I would like to close by giving you some questions that you could ask the JW that is studying with you :-
If we are supposed to hold up to some of the old Jewish law, should we not also be circumcised?
John 5:24 reads Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. Do you not believe this is enough?
If we are saved through works, is the gift of grace not actually a gift?
If I uphold this law with I be guaranteed salvation? If no, how can I have that guarantee?
It is my hope and prayer the JW you are studying with will not only be able say the error of the Watchtower but they will also see that if they just believe in the real Jesus that they can be forgiven of there sin and be guaranteed salvation.