Questions That People Ask About Jehovah’s Witnesses
THE remarkable growth of Jehovah’s witnesses in recent years has attracted the attention of news writers the world over. While unbiased accounts are often written about their growth, yet news reporters seldom seem able to state accurately what Jehovah’s witnesses believe. Therefore, many persons ask the Witnesses directly, or write to the Watch Tower Society, wanting to know what Jehovah’s witnesses really believe. Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.
In this day when attitudes toward the Bible are changing, what attitude do Jehovah’s witnesses have toward the Bible?
Jehovah’s witnesses believe the Bible to be the inspired Word of God, God’s revelation to mankind. They are convinced that the Bible is authentic, reliable and the only guide that leads to everlasting life. It is their textbook. They study it and use it until they know how to find the principle, the proverb or example that fits the need or the problem of the moment. To Jehovah’s witnesses the Bible is the Book of the Creator, in which God tells his creatures about creation, about Himself, about His rules of life—rules that are simple and practical. The Bible proves itself to be the revelation of the true God. No other book can do that.—2 Tim. 3:16, 17; 1 Thess. 2:13.
What is the basic difference between Jehovah’s witnesses and other religions?
Jehovah’s witnesses truly believe what the Bible says and try to live according to its principles. Others may say that they believe God’s Word, but do they? Does their manner of life show it? Because they believe the Bible, Jehovah’s witnesses also believe that the end of this wicked system of things is very near, and so they are busily engaged in warning people of this fact. They believe that, after the wicked ones are destroyed, under God’s heavenly rule people are going to live forever in perfect health here on this earth restored to paradisaic conditions. This is God’s promise, and Jehovah’s witnesses believe it.—Ps. 37:9-11, 29.
Why do Jehovah’s witnesses call on the homes of people who already have a religion of their own?
Because Jehovah’s witnesses believe that it is the will of God that they do so. Jesus Christ visited the people at their homes to talk to them about God and his purposes, even though many of them had views on religion that were different from what Jesus taught. Since he instructed his followers to do the same, Jehovah’s witnesses consider it imperative that they follow his example closely. (1 Pet. 2:21; Matt. 10:11-15; Acts 5:42; 20:20) Their calling on people at their homes is a fine thing, because people need to learn of God’s marvelous purposes. Jehovah’s witnesses want people to know that God is going to bring an end to wicked conditions in the earth and replace them with righteousness by means of his perfect, heavenly Kingdom government. The time for that to happen is very near; it is to occur in this generation. People must be warned of this fact and be told what to do to receive God’s protection and blessing. The churches of Christendom are not teaching people these vital Bible truths.—Dan. 2:44; Matt. 24:14, 34.
Why does the Watch Tower literature have so much to say against other religions?
Why is there so much written about cigarette smoking and other forms of pollution today? Simply because many persons are not fully aware of the dangers of these things to humanity. Many persons are not aware that there is such a thing as false religion and the danger it poses to them individually. How many are aware that adhering to false religion can mean their eternal destruction? How many know that false religion has been responsible for much of the ignorance, poverty and wars down through the ages; that it has denied people their rights, opportunities and freedoms? Some clergymen today condone fornication, adultery, homosexuality, wars and violence—the very things that God strongly condemns in his Word. Are true Christians going to stand by quietly and say nothing about such gross misrepresentations? Hardly! Speak out they will, as did the prophets and Jesus Christ and his disciples.—Mal. 1:6-9; Matt. 23:13-36; 2 Cor. 10:4, 5.
Do Jehovah’s witnesses believe that they have the only right religion?
Yes. If Jehovah’s witnesses thought someone else had the true faith, they would preach that. There is only “one Lord, one faith, one baptism,” said the apostle Paul. (Eph. 4:5) Jehovah’s witnesses do not believe that there is more than one way to gain salvation, or that the majority of people meet the strict requirements of true faith. Jesus showed that only a minority would be right. He said: “Narrow is the gate and cramped the road leading off into life, and few are the ones finding it.” (Matt. 7:13, 14) The outcome of the Flood proved that Noah and his family were the only ones who had the right religion. History shows that Jesus and his disciples were the only ones in their day practicing right religion. And a study of the Bible will prove the same about Jehovah’s witnesses today.
Is it true that Jehovah’s witnesses believe that only 144,000 will be saved?
No, that is not true. Rather, it is this number, according to the Bible, that go to heaven, being rewarded with spiritual life in the heavens. (Rev. 14:1-3) The apostle John wrote: “After these things [the selection of the 144,000] I saw, and, look! a great crowd, which no man was able to number . . . And they keep on crying with a loud voice, saying: ‘Salvation we owe to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb.’” (Rev. 7:9, 10) This great, unnumbered multitude are destined to survive the end of this wicked system and to have the opportunity to live forever on the earth. In addition, the resurrection of the dead will open up the opportunity for thousands of millions of persons to gain eternal life. However, only a select number of humans from earth will make up the kingdom of the heavens, God’s government that will rule over earth. The vast majority of mankind who gain everlasting life will live here upon the earth.—Prov. 2:21.
Do Jehovah’s witnesses believe that only they will be saved?
Jehovah’s witnesses believe their work to be a lifesaving work. Why would they engage in it if they believed that there was no hope for others? They are certain that God’s mercy will extend to many kinds of people. The apostle Paul stated that God is going to resurrect even “the unrighteous.” (Acts 24:15) So, Jehovah’s witnesses believe that many will be saved who are not now Jehovah’s witnesses.
But with regard to the coming “great tribulation,” and being saved through that conflict, the Bible shows that people must now turn to God and take their stand on his side if they wish protection from Him. Jesus said: “Just as the days of Noah were, so the presence of the Son of man will be. . . . they took no note until the flood came and swept them all away, so the presence of the Son of man will be.” (Matt. 24:21, 37-39) Noah and his family, however, were saved through the Flood, because they served Jehovah God. All the others were destroyed. Jesus said that is what will happen at the coming “great tribulation,” and this Jehovah’s witnesses believe.
Some people say Jehovah’s witnesses do not believe in Jesus Christ; is that true?
No, that is not true at all. They do believe what the Bible teaches about Jesus Christ, that he is God’s “only-begotten Son,” “the beginning of the creation by God.” (John 3:16; Rev. 3:14) Jehovah’s witnesses believe that Jesus was resurrected from the dead and is alive today, immortal, ruling as king in God’s heavenly Kingdom government.—Rev. 1:5, 18; 11:15.
What Jehovah’s witnesses do not believe is that Jesus was God Almighty on earth, a so-called second person of a Trinity. This the Bible does not teach. The Bible teaches that Jesus was not coequal with the Father, but as Jesus himself declared: “The Father is greater than I am.” (John 14:28) Jesus did say: “I and the Father are one,” but also prayed that his followers might become one in the same way, “I in union with them and you in union with me,” showing that this oneness was in purpose, not in substance, body or godship.—John 10:30; 17:21, 23.
It has been said that Jehovah’s witnesses preach a God who will destroy most of mankind. How can they love a God like that?
People claim that some wars are right, but these wars are known to have killed thousands of innocent men, women and children. Yet God’s war of Armageddon will not kill any innocent, righteous ones. The war that God will wage will be for the ultimate good of all righteous mankind. In that war only the wicked will perish. (Ps. 145:20) What lover of righteousness can object to that? God will wage war to save the earth from being ruined and so that mankind can live here in peace and happiness. (Rev. 11:18) As a doctor, to save the body, often must remove cherished limbs because of cancerous corruption, and is loved for his work when he is successful, so God will remove corruption from the earth and will be loved for his righteous act because of the final outcome, namely, a righteous, peaceful, paradise earth on which lovers of righteousness will be able to live eternally.—Rev. 19:1, 2.
Why do Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse to share in politics?
Jehovah’s witnesses believe in the necessity of government. They know that without government anarchy and chaos would reign. They accept the Bible’s teaching that earthly governments have the right to make laws to regulate morals, protect persons and property, to collect taxes and maintain public order. (Rom. 13:1-7) And Jehovah’s witnesses obey such laws. However, when there is direct conflict between God’s law and that of an earthly government, Jehovah’s witnesses obey the supreme law of God as they are commanded to do in the Bible. (Acts 5:29) So they are not apathetic toward government; in fact, the opposite is true.
However, Jehovah’s witnesses are wholeheartedly devoted to God’s heavenly government, the kingdom of God. This government Jesus taught Christians to pray for and to seek first in their lives. (Matt. 6:10, 33) Since they have given their allegiance to God’s heavenly government, their subjection to earthly governments is relative. The Bible describes them as being “ambassadors” of God’s kingdom, “substitutes for Christ.” (2 Cor. 5:20) So loyalty to the heavenly Kingdom government prevents them from sharing in the politics of this world. “They are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world,” said Jesus Christ.—John 17:16.
What are Jehovah’s Witnesses doing to improve conditions in the community?
Thomas Jefferson, one of America’s leading presidents and statesmen, once said that the Bible makes “better citizens, better fathers, better husbands. . . . The Bible makes the best people in the world.” This in substance is what Jehovah’s witnesses are doing by means of their Bible educational work. They are making better fathers, better mothers, better children, in fact, the best people in the world. Therefore the very nature of their work is a blessing to any community.
At a time when the world is divided nationally, racially, economically and religiously, and is at war with itself, Jehovah’s witnesses teach law and order and respect for government. What could be more helpful to a community than that? Jehovah’s witnesses are teaching people not to steal or lie or murder, but to be honest, hardworking, just and integrity-keeping. As a result, the lives of many persons have been improved.
Evidence of these good effects is seen in the unity and peace that exist among the increasing number of Jehovah’s witnesses. This fine relationship among themselves has been achieved by means of their Bible educational work, which teaches people to love one another and to put their trust in Jehovah God and his kingdom.—Matt. 6:9, 10.
Why do Jehovah’s witnesses not suffer from the racial problems so prominent today?
Jehovah’s witnesses are free of racial problems because of what they believe about God and man. The Bible declares that God “made out of one man every nation of men, to dwell upon the entire surface of the earth.” (Acts 17:26) It also says that “God is not partial.” (Acts 10:34) This Jehovah’s witnesses believe. Since mankind has descended from the one man Adam, then all men are related. Therefore, Jehovah’s witnesses find no basis for making distinctions between men. This Scriptural viewpoint has set them free from racial discrimination.
Do Jehovah’s witnesses have any special programs to attract youth, in view of the trend of youth to turn away from religion?
Perhaps more than anything else, youths today want to be told the truth and be given a reason for living. They have been lied to and deceived so much that they are tired of it. That is why they beg their elders to “tell it like it is.” This is what Jehovah’s witnesses insist on doing. From infancy their children are told the truth about things such as Santa Claus, Easter and false religion. They also learn the truth in answer to such questions as, Where are the dead? Why has God permitted wickedness? Are wicked spirits misleading mankind? and, Where is this wicked system of things headed? Bible studies are held regularly with them, for only this book reveals the purpose of life. Youths want impartiality, advancement and a sense of accomplishment. The Christian ministry of Jehovah’s witnesses opens to them opportunities for complete fulfillment of life. In association with the Christian ministry are the pleasures of clean, honest relationships. When they have these things, additional gimmicks or programs are not needed.
Why do Jehovah’s witnesses not take blood transfusions?
Jehovah’s witnesses do not take blood transfusions because God’s law forbids the using of blood in such a manner. God’s law forbids one to steal, to murder, to commit adultery, to worship idols; so Jehovah’s witnesses do not do these things. God’s law also says: “Abstain from . . . blood.” (Acts 15:20; Gen. 9:4) So in obedience to God’s command, they abstain from taking blood. This does not mean they reject all medical treatment. No, in emergencies, they will use plasma volume expanders, which are much safer than transfusions of blood. Jehovah’s witnesses do not condemn medical practice; there are many physicians and dentists among them. But they will not violate the law of God simply to go along with a current medical practice.
But suppose one’s wife or child were near death. Giving blood, no matter who the loved one might be, would still constitute a violation of God’s law. Just because one is near death, this does not give one liberty to break God’s commands. When one is near death is no time to tamper with or violate the law of God, but a time to draw as near as possible to God by remaining faithful. Everlasting life is the reward for faithfulness. How foolish it would be to gamble away the prospect of life eternal for the very uncertain promise of a cure by blood transfusion!—Rev. 2:10.
When did Jehovah’s witnesses get started?
In all fairness, Jehovah’s witnesses believe that this question should be answered by giving the ancient and modern history of Jehovah’s witnesses. Since Jehovah’s witnesses are not a sect but are an association of men and women who put God’s service first and line up with Bible principles, they are part of the group of witnesses that began with the first true witness of God, Abel—all of whom have looked to the righteous conditions of God’s new order to come. It was Jehovah God who spoke of his people as witnesses, saying: “You are my witnesses, . . . and I am God.” (Isa. 43:12) And it was Jehovah’s Son, Christ Jesus, who said: “You will be witnesses of me . . . to the most distant part of the earth.” It was the apostle Paul who referred to Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac and the prophets as “so great a cloud of witnesses.” (Acts 1:8; Heb. chap. 11; Heb 12:1) So witnesses of Jehovah existed all the way back to Abel.
In modern times Jehovah’s witnesses began their activity in the early 1870’s. In 1870 Charles Taze Russell, brought up by God-fearing Presbyterian parents, was not satisfied with the sectarian explanations of the Bible given him, so he started a Bible-study class with several of his friends. They discovered many of the Biblical truths that had been hidden by Christendom’s traditions. In 1874 they published information to debunk the religious theory of the earth’s being destroyed by fire at Christ’s second coming. They pointed out that the second coming of Christ would be invisible, as the apostles had long before known. As they continued to point to firm Scriptural truth, others who wanted to be true witnesses of God joined with them.
In July 1879, to help in this work, the first issue of The Watchtower was published. Circulation of The Watchtower has grown from a first issue of 6,000 to more than 6,000,000 copies each issue today in seventy-two languages!
In 1881 what has become the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, the legal corporation today of Jehovah’s witnesses, was organized by Charles T. Russell, and was incorporated and chartered in 1884, with him as its first president. This is how the work began that is now being carried on by Jehovah’s witnesses in 203 lands and supported by over a million of them.
Where does the money come from to finance Jehovah’s Witnesses? Who gets all the money from their books and magazines?
The money received to finance the work of Jehovah’s witnesses is voluntarily contributed by members and friends of the Witness organization. No dues are exacted, no collection plates are ever passed, and no public fund drives are sponsored. Spontaneous giving, without any kind of urging and pressure, is what makes possible. the upkeep of the Watch Tower Society’s ninety-four branches, printing establishments, missionary homes and ministerial activities in 203 lands around the earth.
The membership of the Watchtower Society, which does the printing for Jehovah’s witnesses, does not profit from the income from the millions of placements of books, Bibles and magazines. The Society releases the literature to ministers of Jehovah’s witnesses at cost. The Witnesses give of their time and means to spread such literature to the ends of the earth. It is the generosity of the Witnesses themselves that maintains the entire cost of the ministry, including the use of the printing society. From those contributed funds no monies are used to pay large salaries to officials and special representatives to work for the organization. Even all who work full time in any of the Society’s branch offices do so voluntarily. They are given an allowance of $14 a month, plus room and board. They are all devoted to the service of God, and are concerned about having his approval rather than achieving some financial success.
Is it true that all of Jehovah’s witnesses are really ministers? Have they had schooling for the ministry?
Yes, in the true Bible sense of the word all of Jehovah’s witnesses are ministers. A minister of God is a public servant of God, one who follows in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. (1 Pet. 2:21) Every true Christian who is dedicated to God and baptized in symbol of that dedication renders such ministerial service as a regular part of his worship and is therefore an ordained minister.—Isa. 61:1, 2; Matt. 24:14; 2 Cor. 3:5.
While seminary training and written certificates of ordination are not required for Scriptural ordination, nevertheless, Jehovah’s witnesses do undergo an intensive program of schooling and training for the Christian ministry. They attend five congregation meetings a week, which amounts to five hours of instruction, as well as doing much personal Bible study at home. At their Theocratic Ministry School they learn to speak and teach effectively. This training never ends. Uniquely its students never graduate, nor do they want to graduate. They thoroughly enjoy the school program and, being progressive in outlook, they appreciate the need to keep on learning and improving their skills as ministers of God.
How much time are Jehovah’s witnesses required to devote in their house-to-house preaching?
There is no set requirement. Actually, the time spent depends upon how one is motivated and the time he has available to preach. No compulsion is used. One does what one can. Many devote between ten and fifteen hours a month to calling on others to teach the Bible. Others devote as much as 100 to 150 hours to the organized search for those who desire to know more about God and his kingdom. None are paid for their share in this work; they serve because they love God and their fellowman.
Are not Jehovah’s witnesses missing out on a great deal of fun by living according to the Bible?
True happiness or fun are not goals in themselves, but rewards for right living. This reward Jehovah’s witnesses have. They have peace of mind and contentment, and are genuinely happy people. (Phil. 4:7) This happiness is theirs because they have come to know the living God and are devoted to him. (Ps. 144:15) That is happiness!
Jehovah’s witnesses have much pleasure in life. They enjoy themselves and their associations immensely. They get joy out of clean, moral living and wholesome recreation. They know from God’s Word that there can be no true pleasure in living immorally, in fornication or adultery, the fruits of which so often are terrible diseases and unwanted pregnancies, even suicide. Their happiness stems from wholesome living; it is a fruit of their worship of the true God, Jehovah.—Gal. 5:22, 23.
Last year 1,336,112 publishers of Jehovah together spent 239,769,076 hours in the preaching of the Kingdom good news. They have been striving to implant the Word of God in the minds of others. In twelve months 120,905 persons symbolized their dedication to Jehovah God by water baptism. During the year Jehovah’s witnesses enjoyed an 8.7-percent increase, and that at a time when religious interest in general is on the wane throughout the earth.
What accounts for this growth? While religious writer Louis Cassels says the phenomenal growth “is the result of a zeal for evangelism [that Jehovah’s witnesses have] which puts the mainline denominations to shame,” Jehovah’s witnesses credit their increase to God’s holy spirit. (Zech. 4:6; Isa. 60:22) God is blessing their efforts because they have His truth and are His representatives in the earth today.
In view of their upright conduct and zeal for God, their claim of being the only right religion in the earth should move all truly sincere seekers after God to examine what they have to say in the light of God’s Word the Bible. For your own eternal welfare, we urge you to do so now.
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JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES OF MODERN TIMES BEGAN THEIR ACTIVITY IN THE 1870’S, INCREASING IN THE PAST FORTY YEARS AS SHOWN