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A CONVERSATION WITH A NEIGHBOR

Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Believe in Jesus?

The following is a typical conversation that one of Jehovah’s Witnesses might have with a neighbor. Let us imagine that a Witness named Anthony has come to the home of a man named Tim.

BELIEF IN JESUS ESSENTIAL

Anthony: Hi, Tim. It’s good to see you again.

Tim: It is good to see you too.

Anthony: I brought the latest issues of The Watchtower and Awake! for you. I think you will really enjoy the articles in these magazines.

Tim: Thank you. Actually, I’m glad you came by today because there is something I want to ask you.

Anthony: Sure, what is it?

Tim: The other day, I was speaking with a coworker. I told him about the pamphlets you gave me and how interesting they are. But he said that I shouldn’t read them because Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in Jesus. Is that true? I told my coworker that I would ask the next time you visited.

Anthony: Well, I’m glad you asked me. It’s good that you are going straight to the source. After all, what better way is there to find out what a person believes than to ask the person himself?

Tim: That’s what I figured.

Anthony: The truth is, Jehovah’s Witnesses most certainly believe in Jesus. In fact, we feel that exercising faith in Jesus is vital to salvation.

Tim: I thought you did, but when my coworker said that you don’t believe in Jesus, it made me curious. I guess you and I never really discussed it before.

Anthony: May I show you some Bible verses that highlight the importance of exercising faith in Jesus? These are verses that Jehovah’s Witnesses often use in their ministry.

Tim: OK.

Anthony: A good place to start is with Jesus’ own words recorded at John 14:6. These words are part of a conversation that Jesus had with one of his apostles. We read: “Jesus said to him: ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” According to that verse, what is the only way to approach the Father?

Tim: Through Jesus.

Anthony: Correct. And Jehovah’s Witnesses firmly believe that. Let me ask you this: From what you know about God’s requirements, when a person prays, in whose name should he offer the prayer?

Tim: In the name of Jesus.

Anthony: I agree. And that’s why every prayer I offer is said in Jesus’ name. The same is true of all the prayers of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Tim: That’s good to know.

Anthony: Another scripture we might consider is John 3:16. That verse is so important that it has been called the Gospel in miniature. The idea is that if you could take everything that was written about Jesus’ earthly life and ministry and boil it down to one verse, this would be it. Maybe you would like to read this scripture.

 Tim: OK. It says: “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.”

Anthony: Thank you. Are you familiar with this verse?

Tim: Yes, I’ve heard it a lot, and I often see it quoted on signs and billboards.

Anthony: It is a famous verse. Looking at it carefully, notice what Jesus said. He said that God’s love makes it possible for humans to enjoy everlasting life—but only if we do what?

Tim: Exercise faith.

Anthony: Yes. Specifically, faith in the only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ. And this point—that faith in Jesus opens the way to everlasting life—is made right here on page 2 of the magazine I brought you. Regarding the purpose of The Watchtower, it says that among other things, this magazine “promotes faith in Jesus Christ, who died so that we might gain everlasting life and who is now ruling as King of God’s Kingdom.”

Tim: Well, there you go. Right in your own magazine is proof that Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in Jesus.

Anthony: Precisely.

Tim: So, then, why do people say that you don’t believe in Jesus?

Anthony: There are probably a number of reasons why people say that. In some cases, people say it simply because they have heard other people say it. Or they may have been taught this misconception by their minister.

Tim: I’m just thinking here—maybe some people say that you don’t believe in Jesus because you call yourselves Jehovah’s Witnesses, not Jesus’ Witnesses.

Anthony: That could be a reason too.

Tim: Why do you talk about Jehovah so much?

“I HAVE MADE YOUR NAME KNOWN”

Anthony: For one thing, we believe that it is important to use God’s personal name, Jehovah—just as his Son, Jesus, did. Consider what Jesus said in prayer to his Father. It’s recorded at John 17:26. Would you please read that verse?

Tim: Sure. “I have made your name known to them and will make it known, so that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in union with them.”

Anthony: Thank you. Notice that Jesus said he had made God’s name known. Why do you suppose he did that?

Tim: Hmm. I’m not sure.

Exercising faith in Jesus is vital to salvation

Anthony: Well, maybe we could look at another scripture that sheds light on the matter. I am thinking of Acts 2:21. There we read: “Everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.” Now, I’m sure you would agree that if calling on the name of Jehovah is a requirement for salvation, Jesus was no doubt aware of this requirement.

Tim: Yes, of course.

Anthony: So the salvation of his followers is one reason why it was important to Jesus that they know and use God’s name. And it’s one of the main reasons why we talk about Jehovah so much. We feel that it is important to make known God’s personal name and help others call on that name.

Tim: But even if people don’t know God’s name or use it directly, they still know who they’re talking about when they refer to God.

Anthony: That may be true. Even so, by telling us his personal name, God has made it easier for us to draw close to him.

Tim: What do you mean?

 Anthony: Think of it this way: We didn’t need to know Moses’ personal name. We could have known him simply as the man who parted the Red Sea or the man who received the Ten Commandments. Likewise with Noah—why know his name? He could have just been referred to as the man who built an ark and saved his family and the animals. For that matter, even Jesus Christ could have been known simply as the one who came from heaven and died for our sins. Right?

Tim: I suppose so.

Anthony: But God made sure that we knew the personal names of those individuals. There’s nothing that adds that special touch like a personal name. Even though we have never met Moses, Noah, or Jesus, just knowing their name makes these men more real to us.

Tim: I never thought of it that way before, but that makes sense!

Anthony: And that’s another reason why Jehovah’s Witnesses use God’s personal name so much. We want to help people build faith in Jehovah God as a real Person whom they can draw close to. At the same time, we place great emphasis on the role that Jesus plays in our salvation. Perhaps we could read one more scripture that drives home this point.

Tim: Sure.

Anthony: Earlier we read John 14:6. Remember, Jesus said that he is “the way and the truth and the life.” Let’s go back a few verses and notice his words found at John 14:1. Would you please read what Jesus said in the last part of that verse?

Anthony sharing a verse from the Bible with Tim

Tim: OK. It says: “Exercise faith in God; exercise faith also in me.”

Anthony: Thank you. Would you say, then, that true faith is an either-or matter? Is it a question of belief in Jesus versus belief in Jehovah?

Tim: No. Jesus said we need both.

Anthony: That’s right. And I am sure you would agree that it’s not enough just to say that we have faith in God and in Jesus. Really, we need to live our lives in a way that backs up that claim.

Tim: Definitely.

Anthony: But just how does a person demonstrate that he truly has faith in God and in Jesus? Maybe we can discuss that question another time. *

Tim: I would like that.

Do you have a particular Bible subject that you have wondered about? Are you curious about any of the beliefs or religious practices of Jehovah’s Witnesses? If so, do not hesitate to ask one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He or she will be pleased to discuss such matters with you.

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We all think about the future. We wonder what life will be like for ourselves and our loved ones. We ask such questions as these: ‘Will my children live in a better world? Will the earth be destroyed in a disaster? Is there something I can change now to make my future better?’ This curiosity is part of who we are; we naturally yearn for reassurance, certainty, order, and stability. If you could be more certain about the future, you could prepare for it, both physically and emotionally.

So, what is in your future? Can anyone know? Professionals who try to predict the future have met with some successes but also many failures. Yet, it is said that God can accurately foretell upcoming events. His Word says: “From the beginning I foretell the outcome, and from long ago the things that have not yet been done.” (Isaiah 46:10) How successful has he been?

GOD’S SUCCESS RATE

Why should you be interested in the success rate of God’s ancient prophecies? Well, if you found a weather forecaster to be accurate every day for a long time, you would be impressed. Likely you would pay attention to what he said about the weather tomorrow. In a similar way, if you were to learn that God has foretold events with a perfect rate of success, you would surely be interested in what he foretells about your future.

A rebuilt wall in Nineveh, a city formerly desolated
A rebuilt wall in the ruins of ancient Nineveh 

THE DESTRUCTION OF A GREAT CITY:

For example, it would really be a remarkable feat to predict accurately that a great city, powerful for many centuries, would soon collapse. Through one of his spokesmen, God foretold just such a thing—the desolation of Nineveh. (Zephaniah 2:13-15) What have secular historians recorded? In the  seventh century B.C.E., evidently some 15 years after God made his prediction, the Babylonians and the Medes attacked and overthrew Nineveh. Additionally, God specified in advance that Nineveh would be made “desolate, as dry as a desert.” Did this advance notice prove to be accurate? Yes. Although the city and its suburbs may have covered some 200 square miles (518 sq km), the conquerors did not preserve and make use of the city, as might be expected. Instead, they destroyed it. Could any political analyst have predicted those events with such accuracy?

HUMAN BONES WILL BURN:

Who would be so daring as to announce—300 years in advance—the exact name and specific ancestry of a man who would burn human bones on an altar, as well as the name of the town where the altar would be located? If such an unusual prediction came true, it would surely make the forecaster famous. God’s spokesman announced: “A son named Josiah will be born to the house of David . . . , and he will burn human bones” on an altar in the town of Bethel. (1 Kings 13:1, 2) About three centuries later, a king named Josiah—not a common Biblical name—came from the family lineage of David. Exactly as foretold, Josiah had “bones taken from the graves and burned them on the altar” located in Bethel. (2 Kings 23:14-16) How could anyone foretell such specific details unless guided by a superhuman source?

Cyrus’ army entering Babylon through open gates as the prophet Isaiah foretold
Bible prophets foretold the fall of Babylon with amazing accuracy 

THE END OF AN EMPIRE:

It would be amazing if a person could successfully predict the name of a man—long before his birth—who would organize the overthrow of a major world power, even indicating the unusual strategy that he would employ. God announced that a man named Cyrus would launch the conquest of a nation. This Cyrus would also free Jewish captives and support the reconstruction of their holy temple. Additionally, God foretold that Cyrus’ battle strategy would include the drying up of rivers and indicated that gates would be left open, facilitating the  conquest. (Isaiah 44:27–45:2) Were the many details of God’s prophecy fulfilled accurately? Historians agree that this conquest by Cyrus actually occurred. Cyrus’ army employed the tremendous engineering feat of diverting one of Babylon’s waterways—in effect, drying up rivers. What is more, the army entered the city through gates that had been left open. Cyrus thereafter freed the Jewish people and declared that they could rebuild their temple in Jerusalem. That was unusual, for Cyrus did not worship the God of the Jews. (Ezra 1:1-3) Who but God could have predicted the details of those historical events?

We have mentioned three examples showing how God successfully foretold future events. These are not isolated incidents. The Jewish leader Joshua stated a fact that was well-known to his large audience: “You well know with all your heart and with all your soul that not one word out of all the good promises that Jehovah your God has spoken to you has failed. They have all come true for you. Not one word of them has failed.” (Joshua 23:1, 2, 14) Joshua’s people could not deny the success rate of God’s promises and prophecies. But how does God do it? There are major differences between God’s ways and man’s. This is important for you to know, for God has made some epic announcements about the near future that will definitely affect you.

GOD’S PROPHECIES VERSUS HUMAN PREDICTIONS

Human predictions are often based on such factors as scientific research, analysis of available facts and trends, or even bogus spiritual insight. After making their forecasts, humans typically sit back passively and wait to see what will happen.—Proverbs 27:1.

In contrast to humans, God knows all the facts. He thoroughly understands the nature and inclination of humans; therefore, when he chooses to do so, God can foresee exactly how individuals and entire nations will act. But God can do more than that. He can even control and change factors and trends to ensure the outcome. He says: “My word that goes out of my mouth . . . will not return to me without results, . . . and it will have sure success.” (Isaiah 55:11) In a way, then, some of God’s predictions are more like announcements or declarations. He actively guarantees a perfect record of success.

YOUR FUTURE

Is there a reliable forecast involving your future and that of your loved ones? If you have advance knowledge of an approaching hurricane, you can take lifesaving action. You can respond similarly to Bible prophecy. God has announced that huge worldwide changes will come soon. (See the box “ What God Has Revealed About the Future.”) This future is quite different from what many so-called experts forecast.

You might think of it this way: The story of this world has an overall plot. It has already been written, and you can preview the finale. God declares: “From the beginning I foretell the outcome, . . . I say, ‘My decision will stand, and I will do whatever I please.’” (Isaiah 46:10) You and your family can have a wonderful future. Ask Jehovah’s Witnesses about what the Bible says regarding upcoming events. The Witnesses are not psychics; nor do they claim to hear spirit voices or to have any special powers of prediction. They are students of the Bible who can show you the good things that God is actively arranging for your future.


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COVER SUBJECT | CAN ANYONE SEE THE FUTURE?

Some Successes, Many Failures

 

Would you like to know your future? The notion appeals to many. There are a lot of people who predict upcoming events—with varying results. Consider the following:

  • SCIENTISTS utilize sophisticated equipment and vast amounts of money to forecast various matters, such as how pollution will eventually affect the earth and whether it will rain in your neighborhood tomorrow.

  • PROFESSIONAL ANALYSTS predict trends in business and politics. Warren Buffett, one of the wealthiest people in the world, has been dubbed an oracle for his successful business investments. Nate Silver, another analyst, has interpreted statistics to help him make predictions about everything from U.S. politics to Hollywood film awards.

  • ANCIENT SOURCES have been interpreted as prophecies. Some people see modern-day fulfillment in the vague writings of 16th-century Michel de Notredame (Nostradamus). A Mayan calendar cycle that ended on December 21, 2012, was interpreted by some as a portent of cataclysmic events.

  • RELIGIOUS LEADERS sometimes predict tragic worldwide events to warn mankind and gather followers. Doomsday prophet Harold Camping and his disciples widely advertised that the earth would be destroyed in 2011. Needless to say, the world is still here.

  • PSYCHICS claim to have special abilities to predict the future. Edgar Cayce and Jeane Dixon both made some accurate predictions about 20th-century events. Each also uttered many failed predictions. For instance, Dixon foretold the outbreak of a World War III in 1958, and Cayce predicted that New York would slide into the ocean in the mid-1970’s.

Is there really any reliable way to see the future? The question is worth asking. If you were able to preview upcoming events, life could be very different for you.


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The answer could change your life.


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THE BIBLE’S VIEWPOINT

What is meditation?

“I will meditate on all your activity and ponder over your dealings.”—Psalm 77:12.

WHAT PEOPLE SAY

Meditation takes many forms, a number of which have roots in ancient Eastern religions. “The mind has to be empty to see clearly,” said one writer on the subject. His words reflect the view that emptying the mind while focusing on certain words or images promotes inner peace, mental clarity, and spiritual enlightenment.

WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS

The Bible puts a high value on meditation. (1 Timothy 4:15, footnote) The kind of meditation that it encourages, however, does not entail emptying the mind or repeating a certain word or phrase, sometimes called a mantra. Rather, Biblical meditation involves purposeful thinking on wholesome topics, such as God’s qualities, standards, and creations. “I meditate on all your activity; I eagerly ponder over the work of your hands,” prayed a faithful man of God. (Psalm 143:5) He also said: “I remember you while upon my bed; I meditate on you during the watches of the night.”—Psalm 63:6.

 How can meditation benefit you?

“The heart of the righteous one meditates before answering.”—Proverbs 15:28.

WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS

Wholesome meditation gives us inner depth, quiet reserve, and moral strength—all of which add insight and understanding to our speech and behavior. (Proverbs 16:23) Such meditation, therefore, also contributes to a happy and rewarding life. Concerning the person who regularly meditates on God, Psalm 1:3 states: “He will be like a tree planted by streams of water, a tree that produces fruit in its season, the foliage of which does not wither. And everything he does will succeed.”

Meditation also helps us to improve our comprehension and memory. To illustrate, when we study an aspect of creation or a certain Bible topic, we learn many interesting facts. But when we meditate on those facts, we see how they relate to one another and to what we have learned in the past. Thus, just as a carpenter turns raw materials into an attractive building, meditation enables us to “assemble” facts into a coherent pattern or structure.

Should meditation be properly directed?

“The heart is more treacherous than anything else and is desperate. Who can know it?”—Jeremiah 17:9.

WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS

“From inside, out of the heart of men, come injurious reasonings, sexual immorality, thefts, murders, acts of adultery, greed, acts of wickedness, deceit, brazen conduct, an envious eye, . . . and unreasonableness.” (Mark 7:21, 22) Yes, like a fire, meditation must be controlled! Otherwise, improper thoughts could nurture hurtful desires that might race out of control and lead to evil deeds.—James 1:14, 15.

Accordingly, the Bible encourages us to meditate on ‘things that are true, righteous, pure, lovable, well-spoken-of, virtuous, and praiseworthy.’ (Philippians 4:8, 9; footnote) When we take in such fine thoughts and “sow” them in our mind, we will reap in the form of beautiful qualities, gracious speech, and warm relationships with others.—Colossians 4:6.

 


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INTERVIEW | GUILLERMO PEREZ

Dr. Guillermo Perez recently retired as head of surgery at a 700-bed hospital in South Africa. For many years he believed in evolution. But later he became convinced that the human body was designed by God. Awake! asked him about his faith.

Please tell us why you once believed in evolution.

Dr. Guillermo Perez

Although I was raised as a Catholic, I had doubts about God. For example, I could not believe in a God who burns people in hell. So when my university professors taught me that living things evolved and were not created by God, I accepted that view, assuming it was supported by evidence. My church, by the way, did not reject evolution but held that it was directed by God.

What aroused your interest in the Bible?

My wife, Susana, began studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses, who showed her from the Bible that God does not torture people in a fiery hell. * They also showed her God’s promise to make our planet into a paradise home. * At last we found teachings that made sense! In 1989, a Witness named Nick began visiting me. During a discussion about the human body and its origin, I was impressed with the simple logic of the words found in the Bible at Hebrews 3:4, which says that “every house is constructed by someone, but the one who constructed all things is God.”

Did your study of the human body help you to accept creation?

Yes. For example, the way our body repairs itself was carefully designed. Wound healing, for instance, involves four overlapping phases, all of which reminded me that as a surgeon, I merely worked with the body’s built-in repair system.

Tell us, what happens when our body is wounded?

Within seconds, the first phase of a series of processes designed to stop bleeding goes into action. These processes are extremely complex  and efficient. I might add that our circulatory system, which has some 60,000 miles (100,000 km) of blood vessels, must be the envy of plumbing engineers, for it has the means to plug leaks and repair itself.

What is involved in the second phase of repair?

The bleeding stops within hours and inflammation starts. Inflammation involves an amazing sequence of events. First, blood vessels that had initially constricted to reduce blood loss now do the opposite. They dilate to increase blood flow in the wounded region. Next, protein-rich fluid makes the whole injured area swell. This fluid is vital for fighting infection, diluting poisons, and removing damaged tissue. Each step requires the production of millions of specialized molecules and cells in a cascade of events. Some of these events, by the way, serve as stimulants for the following phase, after which they shut down.

How does healing continue?

Within a couple of days, our body starts generating repair materials, a process that marks the beginning of phase three and that reaches a peak in about two weeks. Cells that form fibers across the wound migrate to the injured area and multiply. Also, tiny blood vessels sprout and grow toward the injured area, where they remove waste and supply extra nutrients during demolition and repair. In another complex series of events, special cells are generated that draw the edges of the wound together.

That’s a lot of activity! How long before repair is complete?

The final stage, remodeling, can take months. Broken bones are restored to their original strength, and the fibers that were initially laid across a soft-tissue wound are replaced with stronger materials. Altogether, wound repair is an amazing example of highly programmed coordination.

Can you recall a case that especially impressed you?

When I see how the body repairs itself, I’m left in awe

Yes. I remember treating a 16-year-old victim of a terrible car accident. The girl was in critical condition with a lacerated spleen and internal bleeding. Years ago, we would have operated to repair or remove the spleen. Today, doctors rely more on the body’s power to repair itself. I merely treated her infection, fluid loss, anemia, and pain. A few weeks later, a scan showed that her spleen had healed! When I see how the body repairs itself, I’m left in awe. And I’m even more convinced that we were designed by God.

What drew you to Jehovah’s Witnesses?

I found them to be friendly, and they always answered my questions from the Bible. I also admired the courageous way they shared their beliefs and helped others to learn about God.

Did becoming one of Jehovah’s Witnesses help you in your work?

Yes. For one thing, it helped me to cope with compassion fatigue, a form of emotional burnout that often affects doctors and nurses who constantly deal with people who are diseased or injured. Also, when patients wanted to talk, I was able to explain our Creator’s promise to end sickness and suffering * and bring about a world in which no one will say, “I am sick.” *