Pray for your Pastor

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In our adult small groups we have recently taught on praying for our spiritual leaders in our church. I read several articles and I thought I’d share one from David Chancey.

How do you pray for your pastor? Let’s use the acrostic P-A-S-T-O-R.
P ¬ Pray for your pastor’s purity. Pastors are human just like everybody else and they are subject to great temptation. One of the greatest downfalls affecting pastors and other ministers these days is Internet pornography. Pray that your pastor will not put himself into a position to be tempted, and that when temptation comes, he’ll have the strength to resist.
Pray also for your pastor’s perseverance. Discouragement comes easily when the work seems to be moving too slowly or when a congregation is underachieving. Burnout among ministers is common because they give and give, and don’t always receive. Fatigue is common. Contrary to belief in some circles, ministers work more than just one day a week.
I heard about one minister who could be found at the train station every day at 3 p.m. One church member finally asked him why he was spending so much time at the train station. He replied, “I come down here to watch the train come in. It’s so refreshing. It’s the one thing I see moving that I don’t have to push.”
A ¬ Pray for your pastor’s anointing. Pastors need a fresh touch from God so they’ll have a fresh word for the people. They need God’s power in their life. They need God’s power in the pulpit. Pray that your pastor will not serve in his own strength, but will serve in the power of God.
S ¬ Pray for your pastor’s study time. Pray that he will keep his own spiritual life nourished and fresh. As he prepares Sunday’s message, pray that he’ll have plenty of time that is uninterrupted in which he can discover “a word from the Lord.” Pray that he’ll stay up-to-date and will continue growing personally and spiritually. Be sure that he is taking time away now and then to attend conferences and continuing education events that will recharge his spiritual batteries.
T ¬ Pray for your pastor’s time management. A lot pulls at a pastor’s time. His work is never completed. There is always someone else he should have seen, another prospect to visit or another call he needed to make. And in between a myriad of duties, Sunday is still coming whether his sermon is ready or not.
O ¬ Pray for your pastor’s obedience. Pray for God to help your pastor to know and do God’s will.
R ¬ Pray for your pastor’s relationships. Pray for his family and pray that their time together will be rich. Pray for his work with the other ministers on staff. Pray for his relationships with church leaders and with other people in the community. Pray for harmony and a sense of teamwork.

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What Jesus Would Say to a Muslim?

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What Jesus Would Say to a Muslim John 14:6-14:6

1. I’d like you to picture hundreds of Muslims bowing to the ground in prayer. What kinds of feelings well up within you? Now imagine an image of some angry followers of Islam. How does that affect your emotions? Do you feel afraid or do you get angry yourself?

*** In a recent Christianity Editorial (October 2010) called, “Mosques in Middle America,” the editors write this: “Debate over the so-called Ground Zero mosque has stirred an excess of angst over the Muslim presence in America.” Is there reason to be angry and afraid?

* Muslim cleric Anjem Choudary, appearing on an ABC News town hall meeting, said this: “We do believe as Muslims the East and the West will be governed by Sharia. Indeed, we believe that one day the flag of Islam will fly over the White House.”

* According to the Washington Post, the attempted Times Square bomber, who just received life in prison, told the judge: “We are only Muslims…but if you call us terrorists, we are proud terrorists, and we will keep on terrorizing you…the defeat of the U.S. is imminent.”

* And the group behind the failed Christmas Day bombing has released the second installment of its new magazine, “Inspire,” featuring a man from North Carolina who says he is “proud to be a traitor to America.” Samir Khan, now believed to be in Yemen, says: “We pledge to wage jihad for the rest of our lives until either we implant Islam all over the world or meet our Lord as bearers of Islam.”

* The United States issued an extraordinary global travel warning to Americans Friday about the threat of an al-Qaida attack and closed down 21 embassies and consulates across the Muslim world for the weekend.

The alert was the first of its kind since an announcement preceding the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. This one comes with the scars still fresh from last year’s deadly Sept. 11 attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, and with the Obama administration and Congress determined to prevent any similar breach of an American Embassy or consulate.

“There is a significant threat stream and we’re reacting to it,” said Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He told ABC News in an interview to be aired Sunday that the threat was “more specific” than previous ones and the “intent is to attack Western, not just U.S. interests.”

The State Department warning urged American travelers to take extra precautions overseas, citing potential dangers involved with public transportation systems and other prime sites for tourists and noting that previous terrorist attacks have centered on subway and rail networks as well as airplanes and boats. It suggested travelers sign up for State Department alerts and register with U.S. consulates in the countries they visit.

The statement said that al-Qaida or its allies might target either U.S. government or private American interests. The alert expires on Aug. 31.

2. What should be our response to the fastest growing religion in the world? Did you know that there are over 1.2 billion Muslims across the globe today, making up over 20% of the world population? In America, there are approximately 5 million Muslims, meaning there are twice as many Muslims than Episcopalians in our country. In 2001, there were 19 mosques in TN. alone, and there are over 1,400 in the U.S. today. Islam is a missionary religion, meaning that they are committed to spread their faith and way of life all around the world. This came home to me in a chilling way when I was listening to a Muslim podcast in which the speaker referred to those who are not practicing Islam as the “not-yet Muslims.”

3. While I’m certainly no expert on Islam, I have studied it in Bible College and seminary and these past couple weeks have read a number of books, listened to many different podcasts, some by Muslims themselves, and I’ve read large sections of the Quran for myself. I’ve also contacted four different people who live and minister among Muslims and will share some of their insights a bit later. My aim is to take a missional, not a militant approach.

4. Parents and grandparents, this is really important for us to learn because our children and grandchildren are growing up in a totally tolerant and accepting atmosphere, with no regard for what is true and what is false. In fact, we could say that our culture is tolerant of everything except for the exclusive truth claims of Christianity. Our children must hear biblical truth from home. It’s a much more diverse and politically correct world than what most of us were raised in. One example of this nationally took place on a newscast I watched earlier this month. When reporting about Christianity, a well-known commentator referred to “The Bible” with disdain in his voice and on his face. And then, in the very next sentence, with obvious reverence and a nod to political correctness, he referred to “The Holy Quran.”

5. While two-thirds of Protestant pastors believe Islam is a dangerous religion according to Lifeway Research, my purpose today is not to spread fear but to grow our faith by equipping us so that we can connect people to Christ (this is part of our mission statement). We also want to help Christ-followers see the truthfulness of Christianity and to establish each of us in our faith more deeply and more securely.

6. I should say that it seems a bit presumptuous for me to know exactly what Jesus would say to these different groups of people. My aim is to not guess what He would say but to rely on and relay what Jesus has said specifically in the gospels and in the rest of the Bible, because the Living Word has revealed Himself in the written Word.

7. My outline in these messages will be simple. I will first give a synopsis of each of these worldviews so that we will know what they believe. Then we’ll allow the Word to speak so that we’ll be equipped to know how to behave in order to reach them with the life-changing message of the gospel. My aim is not to be politically correct, but biblically correct.

I. Core Beliefs of Islam

Islam, which means “surrender or submission,” began about 600 years after Christ was born. Adherents to Islam are called Muslims. The key figure in this faith is Muhammad, who Muslims believe to be the final prophet. As a merchant living in Arabia he purportedly had a number of visions over a period of 23 years. These visions became the Quran, which is the holy book of the Muslims. There are six core beliefs of Islam that are held by Muslims from all nationalities (much of this information comes from “Breaking the Islam Code” by J.D. Greear).

A. The basics of Islam:
(1) Allah is unique, all powerful and all merciful to all Muslims (those who surrender to His will)
a. There is but one Allah –
(2) There are good angels and evil spirits
(3) There are many sacred or “Revealed Books” but the four greatest are the Law of Moses , the Psalms, the Gospel of Jesus and the Quran of Muhammad.
(4) There were many prophets – including Moses and Jesus, but Muhammad was the last.
(5) Islam teaches both a resurrection and what we would refer to as hell
The basic Muslim practices are
(1) The “witness” “there is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah”
(2) Ritual prayers (six times a day)
(3) The paying of alms (offerings)
(4) The fast of Ramadan
(5) At least one pilgrimage to Mecca in one’s lifetime.
(6) And Jihad – (individual efforts to serve Allah or engage in war against the enemies of Islam)
Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world today (there’s over 1.2 billion Muslims in the world) In fact over 100 million Muslims live in India alone where they co-exist with the majority Hindu population..
Islam is the second largest religion in Europe and has challenged Judaism as the second largest religion in America.
There are Muslim missionaries around the world and tens of millions of dollars are spent every year supporting missionaries and building mosques around the world.
A Muslim leader has been asked in the past to inaugurate a session of the US Senate praying in the name of Allah.
There are also different types or groups within Islam.
Sunni Muslims – consider themselves the orthodox Muslims
Shiite Muslims define their basic teachings differently than the orthodox
Sufi Muslims gather themselves in brotherhoods and emphasis more matters of emotion and the heart.
The Nation of Islam in America is actually a mixture of Islam/Judaism/Christianity as well as the occult and racial teachings.

B. Allah.

This is an Arabic term meaning, “the deity.” In the midst of rampant polytheism in Muhammad’s day, the message of Islam is that there is only one God. The unforgivable sin in Islam is shirk, which is to worship Jesus as God. The “Allah” of Islam is in direct contrast to the God of the Bible. Let me be clear that they are not identical. Those who say they are the same have to sidestep many Scriptures, including 1 John 2:23: “No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.”

C. The prophets.

Muslims believe that there are 25 primary prophets, beginning with Adam as number one and Jesus as number 24. Muhammad is number 25 and the final prophet. This is important to understand because while Muslims honor Jesus, because Muhammad came after him, what Muhammad says trumps Jesus.

D. Angels and Demons.

Muslims engage in a whole series of rituals designed to avoid the curses of demons and invite the blessings of angels.

E. Holy Books.

While Muslims give credence to sections of the Bible (the Torah, the writings of David, and the gospels), they believe that they have been corrupted and that the Quran has corrected them. Technically speaking, since they believe the Quran was given by the angel Gabriel in Arabic, translations into other languages are not authoritative. Interestingly, they believe that the Arabic words of the Quran have supernatural power whether the hearer understands them or not. Just as they believe that Muhammad is more important than Jesus, so too, they believe that since the Quran came after the Bible, it is the final revelation.

That sounds good but is in direct violation of Rev 22:18: “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book.” Gal 1:8 adds: “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!”

The Quran is divided into 114 chapters, known as “suras.” It’s not arranged in any chronological or narrative order, which makes it very confusing to read. The only thing I was able to observe is that the beginning chapters are excruciatingly long, while the final chapters are extremely brief. It’s filled with rules and warnings and laws, with no narratives or plot. I found it to be a downer to read and couldn’t wait to pick up my Bible again! Another book that is followed is called the Hadith, which is a collection of the sayings and examples of Muhammad himself, which has become the standard for how Muslims should live. If you listen carefully, you’ll hear Muslims quote both the Quran and the Hadith as authoritative for their lives.

F. The final judgment.

Images of paradise, especially for men, are very prominent. Muslims also believe in hell. Even with all their devotion, a Muslim can never be sure of where he or she will spend eternity because one’s ultimate destiny is subject solely to the capricious will of Allah. According to surah 3:157, the only way to know for sure that you will spend eternity in paradise is to die in jihad.

G. Predestination.

Muslims believe that Allah has decreed everything that will happen and testify to this with a frequent phrase, inshallah, which means, “If God wills.”

H. The 5 Pillars of Islam

Along with established beliefs, a Muslim is also governed by expected behavior, known as the five pillars of Islam.

1. The Confession. Muslims continuously recite a simple statement that is also quite comprehensive in scope. It goes like this: “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” To become a Muslim, you must simply repeat this confession three times.

2. The Prayers. Practicing Muslims face Mecca five times a day for prayer. These prayers are very important as a way of earning merit. If they can pray in a mosque, that’s even better because these prayers are worth 25 times as much as prayers said at home or out in the market.

3. Fasting During Ramadan. This is the name of the ninth month on the Islamic calendar and Muslims are not allowed to touch food or water from sunup to sundown.

4. The Giving of Alms. Muslims are expected to give 2.5% of their overall estate to the poor each year.

5. The Pilgrimage to Mecca. Every Muslim is expected to take a pilgrimage to their holy city once in his life, with many saving all their lives in order to have this experience. A trip to Mecca counts the same as 50,000 prayers in a mosque.

II. What Jesus Has Said

1. There is so much that Jesus would say to a Muslim that I’ve decided to focus primarily on what is recorded in the Gospel of John. This gospel reveals its purpose right near the end in John 20:31: “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

2. To make it easier to follow along, let’s start in the beginning and just work our way through a number of passages. I’m not going to make any comments and won’t take many breaths because I want us to hear what Jesus said about Himself and how what He has said should mess with a Muslim. Incidentally, Jesus is mentioned 25 times in the Quran and Muslims give special recognition to the Gospels.

John 1:1-5: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”

John 1:10-14: “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

John 3:3: “In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

John 3:16-18: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

John 3:36: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”

John 5:18: “For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.”

John 5:24: “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”

John 5:43: “I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him.”

John 5:46: “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.”

John 6:29: “Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.’”

John 6:40: “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

John 8:19: “You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.”

John 8:58: “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”

John 10:30: “I and the Father are one.”

John 11:25: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

John 14:6: “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”

John 17:3: “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

What would Jesus say to a Muslim: “If Jesus were to talk to these people, he would explain that they could never pay enough or do enough good to receive a pardoning for their sin. Only his blood could set them free, and only a perfect substitute could remove their guilt and punishment …I think that Jesus would remind them that there really will be a day of judgment, and that they need to get ready. He would also tell them that He loves them and wants to have a relationship with them every day on this earth as well as for eternity.”

A. Law of Non-Contradiction

*** In a podcast debate between a Christian and a Graduate from Bradley University who is a Muslim. This Muslim, who has his PhD in Religious Studies, admitted that Islam and Christianity are mutually exclusive. And yet, many Christians want to believe that it doesn’t really matter what you believe. But friends, the law of non-contradiction says that two contradictory propositions cannot both be true.

*** This was backed up by an article I read from Douglas Groothius of Denver Seminary in which he said: “Neither Christianity nor Islam can logically endorse the other religion’s distinctive claims and practices without denying its own.”

B. How then can we reach a Muslim with the gospel?

1. Your number one resource is the Bible. I was listening to another podcast this past week in the car that featured an expert in evangelism to Muslims. It was very helpful. At the end of the interview, he was asked for a list of resources. I got my pen out and searched for some paper to write down what he was going to say (I had to steer with my knees so this wasn’t easy). As I was poised with my pen, he said something that took me back a bit. I thought he was going to list some books or websites or other podcasts. Here’s what he said: “The number one resource is the Bible. It’s imperative for Christians to get grounded in the Bible and in theology.”

We must read it and study it and know it and then encourage followers of Islam to read it for themselves. When Muslims read the Bible, they become intrigued and are especially attracted to Jesus. I love what Martin Luther once said, “The Bible when attacked should be treated like a lion in its cage. Rather than attempting to defend it, unleash it!” Since Muslims believe Jesus to be a prophet, one idea is to point out that prophets have to tell the truth. You could then go back to the list of verses from the Gospel of John to show what Jesus said about Himself and the way to salvation. Some other ideas from the Old Testament is to use the idea of the scapegoat, the bull offering and the cities of refuge as jumping off places to talk about Jesus.

By the way, when handling your Bible, be sure to use a copy that you have not written in for that would be offensive to a follower of Islam. Also be sure to not let it drop below your waist, and if you stack it with other books, make sure you put it on the top. To fail to do those things is a sign of disrespect in their eyes (www.godwardthoughts.com).

2. Make sure that you love Muslims. Do you have any hatred in your heart toward Muslims? In my research for this message, I listened to a Muslim message called, “Dealing With Extreme Christian Evangelicals.” He argued that the great source of anger toward Islam is coming from evangelicals as they spew out “lava of hatred.” Friends, followers of Islam are made in the image of God and Muslims matter to Him. It’s time for us to converse and not quarrel, to treat them with respect not contempt. Check out 1 Peter 3:15: “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”

*** A Missionary reported: “People are not convinced by knowledge, debate, or hostile action (like the pastor in Florida who wanted to burn holy books). Instead it is godly living and love that makes a personal impact. When I was a child, we lived in such an area. SIM had a hospital there. A religious leader came for treatment. As he was waiting, he saw one of my parents’ colleagues who was also waiting, give his chair to a poor family with a sick child. The leader was amazed that such an educated person would do something like this and continued to watch how my parents’ colleagues responded to different situations. As a patient he sometimes deliberately made things difficult for the doctor and nurses, yet they continued to be gracious. During the daily chapel services he would stop his ears so that he wouldn’t hear. One day a persistent fly would not leave. As he tried to shoo it away, he heard a verse of Scripture quoted. As he closed his ears again, that verse continued in his thoughts. With time and much thought he decided to follow the way of the Bible. Years later he was one of the strongest evangelists in the region.”

*** One hundred years ago, the missionary Samuel Zwemer was known as the Apostle to Islam. His whole approach could be summarized with this phrase: “A ministry of friendship.” He once said that you can say anything to a Muslim provided you say it in love and with a smile. *** Apparently the sun and the wind were having an argument. “You have no power,” said the wind, “you are just stuck up there in the sky, bound by the forces of gravity, impotent and immobile.” Just then a man with a coat walked past. The sun said to the wind, “If you are so strong and mobile, see if you can blow the coat off the man’s back.” The wind blew furiously, but the man just pulled the coat all the more tightly around himself. “Stand back,” said the sun, “and let me see what I can do.” The sun poured out its warm rays upon the man who soon became uncomfortable and duly removed his coat.

If we desire to see Muslims remove their opposition to the Gospel and shed their beliefs and start following Christ, we too will only succeed when they feel the warm rays of Christian love and compassion rather than the cold winds of arrogance and point-seeking confrontation.

3. Tell Muslims about Jesus. Brothers and sisters, we don’t have to make Jesus more palatable to people. In fact, 1 Cor 1:18 says that the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. Jesus is truth and can stand up to thorough investigation. Our job is to tell others about Him. By the way, the exclusive truth claims of Jesus do not mean that we should demonstrate an arrogant spirit. Ravi Zacharias captures this well when he writes: “Without the undergirding of love, the possessor of any conviction becomes obnoxious, and the dogma believed becomes repulsive to the one who disagrees with it” (“Deliver Us From Evil,” p. 83).

*** Roy Oksnevad, director of the Institute of Muslim Studies at Wheaton College said this in an interview in Christianity Today (3/1/2000): “One former Muslim has said Islam had the rules and discipline she wanted in her life, but lacked the power to live the life the rules stipulated: ‘As a system of personal discipline, Islam has few equals. As a means of earning God’s favor, it’s a spiritual treadmill.’”

*** One idea is to reference Luke 8:40-48 where Jesus heals a bleeding woman. To the Muslim, cleanliness is the path to touching God but Jesus showed that touching Him is the path to cleanliness. When the unholy touches the holy, the unholy does not defile the holy; the holy purifies the unholy.

*** For Muslims, Allah is a force but not a friend. He’s far away, unpredictable, and impossible to please. There is no statement in the Quran that says “Allah is love.” It does say that “Allah loves” two times but his love is conditioned on whether an individual keeps his laws and standards. One author points out that to the Muslim, Allah is the distant one, the cold judge and the hater of infidels. Most feel disconnected from their deity, they know they need purification, they live with a sense of shame that they’re not doing enough and they seek an intercessor. We could say it like this: Islam is the ultimate religion of works-righteousness while Christianity is all about gift-righteousness. In Islam, people obey and hope to be accepted. In Christianity, I am accepted, therefore I obey. But remember this, you and I cannot argue a Muslim into the kingdom because, according to J.D. Greear, “The roots of Muslim beliefs are not found in their minds, but in their hearts.”

*** Philip Roberts of Midwestern Baptist Seminary developed a plan for witnessing to Muslims that rests on three realizations:

* Muslims rarely hear a truthful presentation of the gospel

* Few Christians understand Islam

* Evangelistic efforts should be defined in terms of relationships, not transactions

4. Live your life for Jesus. Because Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, those of us who know Him should have our lives shaped by Him. Are you living for Him right now? Do you need to come back if you’ve been drifting?

*** Many Muslims say the number one thing that keeps them from Christ is the lifestyle of Christians. One Christian who lives among Muslims said this: “They are contemptuous of Christians because they think they are worldly…” J.D. Greear says that according to Muslims, “Christians are morally loose and do not show respect for God.”

Some in the media talk about the need for Christians to apologize to Muslims. I’m not quite sure what they’re referring to but if we’re going to apologize, the real apology we should make is that we have not been living according to the standards of Scripture. I don’t know what you think about the Ground Zero mosque controversy but the true “Ground Zero” for Christians is that we be grounded and growing in our faith.

III. Momentum Among Muslims

*** One Christian scholar has identified three primary misunderstandings related to Muslims.

* They’re all terrorists. They make up only a very small percentage.

* They’re all theologians. Most do not follow the 5 Pillars and many follow “Folk Islam”

* They’re unreachable. Many exciting things are happening in this regard.

*** One friend who lives in a country where the dominant religion is Islam sent me an email recently in which he said this: “Well as far as trying to reach a Muslim…it’s hard, but not impossible. One of the best things going for us is that a devout Muslim wants to have a relationship with God.”

*** Another friend, who lives in another part of the world, gives six reasons why a Muslim is more open than is commonly believed.

* He privately doubts his own standing with God because no one can fulfill all of Islam’s requirements.

* He lives in fear because Islam offers no assurance of salvation.

* Although he prays a lot, he doesn’t have any personal relationship with God and doesn’t expect God to meet his needs.

* His faith is fragile because it has never been challenged or tested.

* He doesn’t really understand his own religion and therefore has a hard time explaining it and defending it.

* He is very open to spiritual conversations.

Far too many of us think a Muslim can never come to Christ. But, it’s happening all around the world, and I believe it will speed up as the return of Christ nears. Matt 24:14 says: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Some believe the greatest harvest in history is already starting to happen.

*** Here’s a report I read just this past Thursday from the Christian Post: “Iran may be ‘closed land politically,’ one ministry leader told the Lausanne Congress, but it is also ‘the most open nation to the Gospel in the entire world. Betrayed by the government, disillusioned with the religion, depressed by the prospects of the future, Iranians when they come to know the Lord Jesus Christ are completely transformed.’”

According to those I’ve talked to, it seems like God is using four ways to point people to the only Way.

*** How It’s Happening

1. Dreams, visions and miraculous interventions. In Acts 2:17 Peter is preaching and quotes from the Book of Joel: “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.” We know that God used dreams with Abraham and Joseph in the Old Testament and Joseph and Peter in the New Testament. A survey of over 600 ex-Muslims reports that over 25% had dreams or visions that played a vital role in their conversion. Among African Muslims, over 40% report that they came to Christ through “visions, dreams, angelic appearances or hearing God’s voice.” We get a bit uncomfortable with this in the west but for the Muslim, they give great credence to dreams (to learn more, see morethandreams.org).

“One in my mentoring group…came from the country with the largest number of adherents. She grew up in a family very devoted to their faith. Her father died when she was young. As a university student when she received news that her mother had become a follower of “Issa”[Jesus] she was very angry and refused to go home in order not to associate with an infidel. She sought to be more devoted in practicing her faith. One night she had a dream. A very kind-looking man told her, “I am the way, truth, and the life.” She awoke and wondered what that dream could have meant. Sometime later she received a New Testament. While reading the Gospel of John she came across the same passage. Then she knew whom she had seen in the dream. At that point she decided to become a Christ follower.”

2. The Back to Jerusalem Movement. Chinese house churches are planning to send at least 100,000 evangelists from China through many predominately Muslim nations all the way back to Jerusalem.

3. The explosion of technology. The world is indeed flat, isn’t it? Using radio, satellite television, DVDs, CDs, thumb drives, the Internet and smart phones, the gospel is racing around the world.

4. Faithful messengers. Did you know that only 6% of the western Christian missionary force is working with Muslims? We need to do what we can to change this, and we are.

*** I came across a study of 650 believers from a Muslim background. This study involved people from 40 different countries and 58 different ethnic groups. Do you know what the number one reason was that they listed for why they had come to faith in Jesus? It was because of the lifestyle of Christ-followers.

*** Related to this, one person who has a heart for Muslim missions has said, “It’s not strange for a Muslim to hear the gospel more than fifty times before it starts to make sense for him.” I love how one paraphrase captures the meaning of 1 Thess. 1:8: “The word has gotten around. Your lives are echoing the Master’s Word, not only in the provinces but all over the place. The news of your faith in God is out. We don’t even have to say anything anymore — you’re the message!”

*** Can you imagine what it’s going to be like when men and women from all over the world will be bowing before the Messiah on the throne in heaven? Close your eyes as I read from Rev. 5:6-14: “Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.’ Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang: ‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!’ Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, forever and ever!’ The four living creatures said, ‘Amen,’ and the elders fell down and worshiped.”

What Jesus Would Say to a Wiccan?

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What Jesus Would Say to a Wiccan Rev 2:6

*** Before 16-year-old Rebecca lights candles on the small altar in her bedroom each night, she says her prayers: “Hail, fair Moon, ruler of the night, guard me and mine until the light. Hail fair Sun, ruler of the day, make the morn to light my way.” On her altar are four porcelain chalices representing the elements — air, water, fire and earth. Each contains rose petals, semi-precious stones, melted candle wax and dried leaves. They rest on the corners of a five-pointed star. A frog symbolizing “spirit” and “life” sits on point five of the pentagram. Here, in front of her altar, Rebecca performs rituals and casts spells.

Rebecca is one of the growing number of teenage girls who practice Wicca. For the past half-century, this religion has been growing by leaps and bounds in Europe and North America. Drive to the mall and you’ll see cars with bumper stickers declaring, “The goddess is alive. Magic is afoot!” Flip on the tube or go to the movies and you’ll find witches portrayed as young, powerful and glamorous. From “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” to The Craft, something is definitely “afoot” in American culture.
1. Last week we tackled Islam because it’s almost always in the news and on our national and international radar. Our topic today, “What God Would Say to a Wiccan” has some national significance as well. Do you remember when a U.S. Senate candidate admitted that she had dabbled in witchcraft as a teenager? Have you heard that thanks to the Pagan Pride Project, pagan symbols are now allowed on tombstones of our U.S. soldiers who are Wiccan? Wiccans in Cleveland who put a hex on LeBron James as he got ready to play his first game with the Miami Heat. This is what they chanted live on a radio station: “Tie a knot against the king. May he die without a ring.”
2. But my choice of this topic is closer to home because of the inroads of Wicca in our county, our community, in our schools and in our homes. I came across a book title written by a former youth pastor that shows how this belief has gone main stream among teens today. One could make the case that this generation is the first to grow up with witchcraft as an accepted part of the culture. His book is called: Generation Hex.
*** In 2006, researcher George Barna came out with the top 12 most significant or surprising faith findings for that year. Coming in second was this report: “Three out of every four teenagers have engaged in at least one type of psychic or witchcraft-related activity. Among the most common of those endeavors are using a Ouija board, reading books about witchcraft or Wicca, playing games involving sorcery or witchcraft…Conversely, during the past year fewer than three out of every ten churched teenagers had received any teaching from their church about elements of the supernatural” (www.barna.org).
*** By some estimates, Wicca “appears to be the fastest growing religion in America.” But what exactly is “Wicca” anyway? One scholar writes, “The modern religion of Wicca, otherwise known as Old Religion, Magick, Witchcraft, the Craft, and the Mysteries, is part of the neo-pagan movement.”

*** I repeat what I said last week. Parents and grandparents, this series is really important because our children and grandchildren are growing up in a totally tolerant and accepting postmodern atmosphere, with no regard for what is true or what is false. In fact, we could say that our culture is tolerant of everything except for the exclusive truth claims of Christianity. Our children must hear biblical truth from our church and from the church that meets in our homes.
1. And this topic is especially relevant for parents of older adolescents because the demographic group that is most attracted to Wicca is teenage girls. Influenced by “Sabrina the Teenage Witch,” “Wizards of Waverly Place,” and “Charmed,” along with an openness to Wicca spun by the Harry Potter franchise, many teens are experimenting with the occult.

***There’s even a “Secret Spells Barbie.” When I looked into it, this is what I found on the web: “Hey girls! There’s a new Barbie in town! Wiccan Barbie! Now you and Barbie can hold rituals and cast spells just like a real Witch! Instructions are included for all the major Sabbats, casting a circle, love spells and more. Form your own coven with your friends.” An episode of the Simpson’s even dealt with this topic as Lisa considered joining a coven.
***Danny Aguirre, who runs a Christian hot line at the Spiritual Counterfeits Project, has noticed something, “In the last six months, I have received more inquiries about Wicca than any other religion in the 10 years I have worked here.” The demographics of the callers? “All teenage girls,” says Aguirre.

I. Preliminary Points

1. I want to make three points right at the beginning.

A. Its OK to write in your Bible.

1. Last week I made the argument that in witnessing to Muslims, we should be careful to not use a Bible that we’ve written in. While that’s good advice when talking to a follower of Islam, it’s important to underline, jot down notes in the margin and anything else you can do to get the Word in your head, your heart and out into your hands as you live it out on a daily basis.

2. Friends, we need to know the truth of the Bible if we’re ever going to spot error. I’m told that when bank tellers are trained to recognize counterfeit money, they simply are given genuine money and told to familiarize themselves with it. That way, when a counterfeit bill shows up, they are quick to spot it.

B. I have no desire to create an unhealthy interest in the occult.

1. My goal is to show the supremacy of Christ in such a way that you will be motivated to commit your life in a much greater degree to the glory of God as you live out your purpose in this world.

*** The words of C.S. Lewis in “Screwtape Letters” should be kept in mind: “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.”

C. I will not be going on a witch hunt in the sermon, and I don’t want you to either.

1. We should be embarrassed by how Christians in the past burned witches at the stake, including many young mothers and children. Referred to as the “burning times,” we must be quick to apologize for this because as Christ followers we are called to be kind, polite and respectful. When you meet a Wiccan your first responsibility is to love them as Jesus does and then do all in your strength to point them to the Savior.
2. I’ve read parts of three different books by Wiccan authors; and I’ve listened to a number of pagan podcasts and messages by Wiccans. I’ve also listened to a number of sermons by pastors much brighter than me. In addition, I’ve done a study of what Scripture teaches about witchcraft and Wicca.

II. What’s a Wiccan?

1. Since 2001, the number of Wiccans has doubled every year. While many studies say that Wicca is the fastest growing religion in our country right now, one Wiccan author says that, “Trying to find us, though, can sometimes be rather tricky. And honestly, that’s part of the fun.” 2. In that sense, it’s hard to know which witch is which. Sorry. Slightly more than half of Americans say that have never heard of Wicca, so if you don’t have a clue, you will when we’re through.
3. The word “Wicca” can mean wisdom, or “to bend or shape energy” and is a generic term for modern and contemporary witchcraft with its roots in paganism and the fertility religions of Western Europe. Often referred to as Witchcraft or the Craft, their worship centers around a male and female deity and rituals are practiced that revolve around the cycles of nature. This modern revival of goddess worship can best be understood by defining some key terms. I should say that most Wiccans wouldn’t use these terms but I find them to be helpful because it helps us see how Wicca contrasts with the Way of Jesus.
* Reincarnation. Many Wiccans believe that at death, the soul passes into “Summerland,” until the soul is re-birthed again into the physical world. By the way, a Pew Research Poll found that 22% of Christians believe in Reincarnation.
* Monism. This means that all is one and one is all; a mystical oneness connects us to nature.
* Animism. This is the belief that inanimate objects possess a vital life force.
* Pantheism. Similar to animism; it’s the idea that everything is deity.
*Panentheism. Deity is within everything and everyone has the deity within them.
* Polytheism. Belief that there is more than one god and/or goddess.
* Postmodernism. This is the predominate worldview today in which one’s beliefs are determined by personal preference or feelings rather than whether it’s true or not. All views are equally valid because truth is discovered by experience, not knowledge. In this view, there are no absolutes and everything is relative.
4. Although some Wiccans are devoted exclusively to the Goddess, most worship both the Goddess and the God. Raven Grimassi, a Wiccan scholar, has written, “The Source of All Things, also known as the Great Spirit, is generally personified in Wiccan belief as a Goddess and a God.”

5. It’s important to point out that the Goddess and God are merely personifications of this ultimate source of all things. The Source itself is both “unknowable” and “incomprehensible.” It is perhaps for this reason that some “Neo-Wiccans” have simply abandoned such personifications altogether, choosing rather to view the gods as simply “detached metaphysical concepts.” But for those who embrace such personifications, the Goddess has often been associated with the moon (and has thus sometimes been called the Queen of Heaven). She is also known in three aspects, corresponding to the three stages of a woman’s life: Maiden, Mother, and Crone. She was alleged to have reigned “with a male consort called The Horned One who was a nature god and was also associated with the sun.” Interestingly, this god was not only viewed as the consort of the Goddess, he was also her son as well. Each year he was born of the Goddess, became her lover, and died-only to be reborn once more the following year from his own seed! This was known as the Year God cycle and was associated with the fertility of the land and the annual cycles of seedtime and harvest.

6. Interestingly, modern Wicca shares many similarities with the ancient fertility religions of Canaan, religions specifically condemned by God in the Bible.} For instance, the Wiccan Goddess is revered by some as the Queen of Heaven, by others as Astarte. But in the Bible, the worship of Ishtar, the queen of heaven, and Astarte, or Ashtoreth, is repeatedly condemned, as is the worship of her consort, known sometimes as Baal, sometimes as Tammuz. Judges 2:11-13 we read: “Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord . . . they provoked the Lord to anger . . . they forsook the Lord and served Baal and the Ashtoreth.” But if the only true God rejected the ancient Canaanite religions and their practices, would His reaction to modern Wicca likely be any different?

III. What Does a Wiccan Believe?

1. The Wiccan ethic, or as they call it, the Wiccan “Rede” is this, “An’ if it harm none, do what ye will.” I think we could agree with the first half of this statement for it sounds a bit like the commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves. Basically, when you put the two parts together, as long as you don’t hurt anyone, you can do whatever you want. Who wouldn’t want a religion like that? That’s actually one reason why it’s becoming so popular.
2. While denying the existence of sin, Wiccans do believe in what they call the “Rule of Three,” which states that whatever you do, it will come back to you with triple force, whether you are giving off “positive energy” or “negative energy.” This would be similar to Karma.
3. It’s difficult to really determine the worldview of a Wiccan because it is so individualistic and there is no one spokesman for the faith or one authoritative book to consult.

*** Scott Cunningham, a Wiccan author writes: “There is not, and can never be, one ‘pure’ or ‘true’ or ‘genuine’ form of Wicca…it is a merging with the goddesses and gods, the universal energies that created all in existence.”

4. Adherents are encouraged to experiment with beliefs and behavior and to do whatever works for them.

*** Here’s a typical statement from a leading proponent when it comes to trying to pin down their beliefs: “It is not necessary that your ‘truth’ conform to anyone else’s. Conversely, you cannot expect the world to conform to your truths, either.” We could say that they absolutely believe in no absolutes. Their belief system is non-dogmatic and those who follow it are, for the most part, non-judgmental toward others who believe differently.
5. While some Wiccans are part of a coven, or a congregation, many today are solitary practitioners. Actually Wiccan’s say that there are two other ways to practice:
* In a duality. When I asked what this meant, she quoted the words of Jesus (I’m sure that’s not what He meant): “Where two are more are gathered.”
* In a grove. This is where solitaries come together for specific reasons.
6. Wiccans often cast spells during ritual practices, many times inside a sacred circle that represents the elements of air, fire, water and earth, and the spirit which unites them all. They also use what they call “sacramental tools,” which can include swords, chalices, wands, canes, amulets, stones and shields.
*** When you ask Wiccan’s for some reading recommendations, one of the books they suggest is “To Ride a Silver Broomstick” by Silver RavenWolf, perhaps the most widely published Wiccan author today. In this book, she reprints the “13 Principles of Belief” that were adopted by the Council of American Witches in 1974. Interestingly, because of disagreement and other infighting, this council disbanded later that same year. These principles of belief still serve as an accepted standard, with some exceptions. I’m not going to list all of them for the sake of time, but I’ll mention a few to give you the flavor.
#1. They practice rites to attune themselves with the natural rhythm of life forces marked by the phases of the moon and eight “sabats” that are celebrated with the changing of the seasons.
#2. Wiccans are very committed to the protection of the environment and seek to live in harmony with nature, referring to our planet as “mother earth.” As Christ-followers we should embrace creation care while avoiding the worship of the world. We must preserve our planet but never worship that which is created but instead worship God the Creator.
#3. Wiccans believe in a depth of power that is not apparent to the average person. This power is lying within everyone and in everything.
#4. Wiccans are into goddess worship, along with the worship of a god. This understanding of the divine as feminine and masculine is at the heart of their belief. One author says that the real initiation involves the “bond with the lord and the lady.”
#7. The Wiccan Way believes in magick as a means of living within the world. One popular proponent of Wicca says this: “…Every act can be a ritual, and that every moment we are alive is another chance to honor the divine within and around us.”
#10. Here’s how this one is stated: “Our only animosity toward Christianity, or toward any other religion or philosophy-of-life, is to the extent that its institutions have claimed to be ‘the only way’ and have sought to deny freedom to others and to suppress other ways of religious practice and belief.”

*** Wiccan author Scott Cunningham adds, “It’s the highest form of human vanity to assume that your religion is the only way to Deity.”
#12. Wiccans do not accept the concept of absolute evil, nor do they worship any entity known as Satan. They do not seek power through the suffering of others.
7. Wiccans worship “the mother goddess” and her companion “the horned god.” They say both of these deities manifest themselves in nature. For instance, Rebecca’s prayer acknowledged the sun as the female goddess and the moon as the god. You may also have heard the goddess referred to as Mother Nature. Wiccans believe that the goddess is in everything — in rocks and in trees, the earth and the sky.

8. Sometimes, the goddess is represented by specific female deities such as the ancient Greek goddesses Artemis (the goddess of the wilderness) or Gaia (the goddess of the Earth), who was celebrated in the film Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. Some Wiccans even claim that the goddess is Mary, the mother of Jesus. The horned god is often represented by the lusty Greek god Pan or the Egyptian god of the dead, Osiris.

9. Most Wiccans celebrate eight holidays or “sabbats” centered on the solar cycles and “esbats” centered on the lunar cycles. These celebrations are supposedly times of heightened interaction between the natural and supernatural worlds.

10. Magic and spell-casting are an integral part of Wicca. Wiccans say that spells are symbolic acts performed in an altered state of consciousness in order to cause a desired change. There are spells to overcome loneliness, to attract money, to bring inner power and to bind an enemy, among others. Witches acknowledge that spells can be used to do good or harm.

11. Wicca has no central book (like the Bible) that spells out its beliefs, so witches practice their religion in different ways. Some witches meet in groups called covens or circles, while others practice alone.

12. When you ask a Wiccan about their faith, I identified an merger of beliefs from many different traditions. I heard Jewish terms, strains of Buddhism, New Age, Hinduism, Native American spiritual practices, Greek and Roman mythology, Egyptian religion, with a smattering of Christian symbols and rituals thrown in for good measure. They even use the word “sacrament” to refer to a ritual called, “Cakes and Ale,” which seems to have been borrowed from the Christian understanding of communion.
13 They utilize the pentacle, which is the pentagram with a circle around it, the crescent moon, sticks, broom handles, herbs, candles, circles, and altars. Sexual license is held in high regard, with no consequences or judgment for whatever behavior is chosen. My two friends also talked about a “Pagan Pride Convention” that they go to each year up in Chicago. Last year 700 people attended.
14. I’ve been asked what the purpose or point of Wicca is. Here’s what Dianne Sylvan says: “The point of Wicca, the real mystery behind it all, is to remember the Divinity within ourselves and all things; to manifest our God and Goddess all the time, every day, every moment…to understand that we are the embodiment of the Divine love and nurture, and to express that love in the world; to walk as god and goddess…We don’t believe in our gods, we know them. We are them.”

IV. The Bible Way.

1. Now that we’ve learned a bit about the “Wiccan Way,” it’s important for us to understand the Bible way. Most people that are attracted to the occult are ill-informed about what the Bible teaches.
2. I’ve been helped in my understanding of this by a pamphlet published by Focus on the Family called, The Hidden Traps of Wicca. Here’s part of what it says: “One thing Wiccans have right is that there is a supernatural world that interacts constantly with the world we see, touch and smell. Unfortunately, they believe its okay for humans to interact with spirits and spiritual forces any way we choose…Many Wiccans say that Wicca is harmless and nature-loving — that it has nothing to do with evil, Satanism and dark forces. But that is exactly what Satan wants them to believe!” Check out 2 Cor 11:14-15: “Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.”
3. In a world of “Wicca for Dummies” (yes, that’s the title of a real book), we have sanitized the occult and have taken something that should horrify us and made it harmless. Friends, it’s imperative that we go back to the Word of God so that we say what God says about Wicca and witchcraft. Jesus knew the Bible and quoted it all the time, especially when He was being tempted by Satan (Luke 4:1-13). I believe Jesus would use the Word of God and would say something like the following to a Wicca. Last week we focused primarily on what Jesus declared about Himself in the Gospel of John. Today I want us to literally walk through the Word, beginning in Genesis and ending in Revelation.
4. Wiccans are fond of saying their paganism predates Christianity. In a very real sense that’s true. I think it can be traced back to the Garden of Eden and was first voiced by Satan himself in his questioning of Eve in Gen 3:4-5: “‘You will not surely die,’ the serpent said to the woman. ‘For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’” Wicca appeals to the desire to be God, not submit to Him. Again I quote from Scott Cunningham, “We don’t bow down to the deities; we work with them to create a better world.”
Lev 19:26, 31: “…Do not practice divination or sorcery…Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the Lord your God.”
Deut. 18:10-12: “Let no one be found among you who…practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord…”
In 1 Sam 28, King Saul does the forbidden and consults a witch, or medium, in order to speak with someone who is dead.
1 Kings 18 describes the showdown on Mount Carmel between the prophet Elijah and the prophets who believed in all sorts of pagan gods. Elijah challenged the people to choose sides in vs 21 and stop straddling the fence: “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” This is a great example of the exclusivity of the God of the Bible. After God showed up when the pagan god of fire couldn’t get a spark going, verse 39 says, “The Lord—He is God! The Lord—He is God!”
2 Kings 9:22: “‘How can there be peace,’ Jehu replied, ‘as long as all the idolatry and witchcraft of your mother Jezebel abound?’” By the way, as you read the Old Testament, you’ll come across something called “Asherah Poles.” These were used in goddess worship, and much like Wicca rituals, this pole or tree stump was set up under the shade of a green tree. This type of goddess worship was a constant stumbling block to God’s people in the Old Testament.
2 Chron 33:6, we see that King Manasseh was involved in some practices that made God upset when he, “practiced sorcery, divination and witchcraft, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the Lord, provoking him to anger.”
Micah 5:12-13 God says: “I will destroy your witchcraft and you will no longer cast spells. I will destroy your carved images and your sacred stones from among you; you will no longer bow down to the work of your hands.”
Matt 7:13-14, Jesus made it clear that the way to heaven is extremely restrictive: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
***A new study released by the Pew Forum finds most Americans don’t believe that there’s only way to heaven. This quote really troubled me: “57 percent of evangelical church attendees said they believe many religions can lead to eternal life…”

1. As believers in Jesus we must teach what Jesus himself taught. He is the only way to heaven and His claims are very exclusive in the sense that there is no other way except through Him. The exclusivity of Immanuel is emphatic.
2. How does this mesh in a pluralistic society like ours that values variety and excludes exclusive truth claims? It’s helpful to remember that the world of the biblical authors was filled with paganism and pluralism as well. In the midst of all this doctrinal diversity, the Bible makes some rather startling claims that run counter-cultural to the mantra of religious tolerance.
3. While some have tried to say that it’s possible to be a Wiccan and a Christian, Jesus said this in Matt 12:30: “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.” The Bible makes it clear that every individual is either in the kingdom of the Son or in the kingdom of Satan, in the realm of darkness or in the light, forgiven or unforgiven, saved or lost, twice-born or once-born, on the road to heaven or on the highway to hell. That means that even though Wiccans would say that they are not worshipping Satan, their whole belief system is authored by Satan and god and goddess worship is in reality an offering to the devil himself.
5. Let’s revisit what Jesus declared about Himself in John 14:6: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Let me come back to #10 in the Wicca Principles of Belief. Wiccans are very open to all avenues of religion except for the exclusivity of Jesus: “Our only animosity toward Christianity, or toward any other religion or philosophy-of-life, is to the extent that its institutions have claimed to be the ‘only way’…”
6. These passages are extremely exclusive and overwhelmingly clear: Jesus is the only way to heaven. His statements of divine authority are incompatible with the homogenizing views of religious pluralists.

***The claims of Christ are outrageous but they happen to be what G.K. Chesterton called “the wild truth.” Flannery O’Connor has said: “The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.”
7. Peter boldly states in Acts 4:12: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
8. In Acts 13:6-12, we’re introduced to a magician named Elymas who opposed Barnabas and Saul as they were preaching and he also tried to turn people from the faith. Check out what the Apostle Paul said in vss 10-11: “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind, and for a time you will be unable to see the light of the sun.”
Acts 19:19-20 we read of those in Ephesus, a center for witchraft, who practiced the occult and then became Christ followers. “A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.”
Gal 5:19-20: “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft…”
1 Tim 4:1 reminds us that we shouldn’t be surprised that many are being drawn away to the occult: “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.”
9. When Jesus spoke to the seven churches in the Book of Revelation, He called out one church for harboring a group called the Nicolaitans while he complimented the church at Ephesus for hating their practices. The Nicolaitans had worked out a compromise with pagan beliefs and believed that they should have spiritual liberty to practice idolatry and immorality. The early church father Iranaeus said that they, “Lead lives of unrestrained indulgence.” Rev 2:6: “But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.” Notice that they hated their practices, not the people themselves. Rev 2:15 shows that the church at Pergamum put up with their practices, even in the church: “Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans.”
Rev 22:15 speaks of those who are in heaven as those on the “inside” while unbelievers are left out: “Outside are the dogs [that means our dog Charlie’s not going to make it], those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.”

V. What Can We Do?

Why is that some believe that the church and Christians are not providing what people are looking for? What can we do about that? Here are nine ways to live out the way.
1. Grow and let your kids see God changing you. If we believe the truth of Rom 1:16, we should exhibit it on a regular basis: “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes…”
2. Pray with your kids and expect answers.
3. Show the purpose of living a Christ-centered life.
4. Reach out to the lonely. One study I read said that 30% of those attracted to Wicca were lonely.
5. Care for the environment.
6. Take advantage of Christian community and encourage your kids to do the same. Join a small group and encourage your students to do the same.

7. Pay attention to the message of media and entertainment’s value system. In other words, watch what you watch and what video games you play. Check out http://www.pluggedinonline.com for a Christian perspective on movies, music, video games and other entertainment options.
8. Be the church.
9. Stay away from Wicca. You may think that your pastor is paranoid but this is not harmless stuff or a fairy tale. Yes, I am warning you about Wicca. There is a real live battle for souls going on today.
10. I’m really challenged by what 1 Pet. 2:12 says: “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”

*** Here are some suggestions for witnessing to a Wiccan:
1. Don’t become accusatory, judgmental or argumentative.
2. Don’t misrepresent their beliefs.
3. Show genuine love.
4. Put on your spiritual armor.
5. Focus on a relationship with Jesus, not religion or rituals.
*** The Bible says that all people without Christ are pagans. Check out 1 Cor 12:2: “You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols.” The Bible also says that we are made for another place, that the desire to connect with God is how we’ve been designed. We do have a God-created sense of the spiritual realm because God has made us that way. Ecc 3:11: “He has also set eternity in the hearts of men.”
*** Halloween is a high holiday for Wiccans where they believe that the “veil” between the natural world and the spirit world is at its “thinnest.” It’s where the veil lifts and spirits come to visit. I am so glad that Jesus Christ, God’s one and only Son, tore the veil forever between us and God. The Bible says that when He died, the temple curtain that kept people from the Holy of Holies was split in two, from top to bottom (Matt 27:51). We now have full access to Him and can approach Him at any time, on any day, through the shed blood of Jesus.
*** What would Jesus say to a Wiccan? I think He would say something like this. “I love you and there’s nothing you can do to ever change that. I am the way and the truth and the life and I invite you to follow Me alone. I died in your place, paying the full price for your sins. Confess your sins. Repent of the way you’ve been living and receive me into your life.”
You can do that right now. You can move from blindness to sight, from death to life, from being lost to being found. All you need to do is give your life to the Lord Jesus Christ.
*** In Over My Head: A Former Wiccan Tells Her Story

Kathy was raised in the church but rejected its teaching in her teens. She lived in Salem, Mass., a place with a history of witchcraft and many practicing Wiccans. “I was always kind of artsy, different and non-conformist,” she says, “Wicca attracted my interest because it appealed to those facets of my personality. It was certainly non-conformist, and I liked the mystery surrounding it.” So Kathy found a Wiccan high priestess who took her under her wing and taught her how to be a witch. “She told me it was all white magic, and that’s all I was interested in.”

But after a few years, things turned sour. “The more I learned, the more things started to spiral downward, deeper and deeper into darkness and black magic. I became very good at what I was being taught. My teacher never acknowledged Satan but did say there was something called ‘the abyss’ that we should avoid.”

For Kathy, however, that proved to be difficult. “One hot summer night I was lying awake in my bedroom when all of a sudden the room became very cold. I started to shiver and broke out into a cold sweat, although it was the height of summer. A cold wind blew in through my windows, startling me. Now I was terrified. I hugged my knees to my chest and gasped as a legion of what can only be described as black demons encircled my head, all laughing at me. I started screaming out my Wiccan spells to rebuke them, hoping they would disappear. That only made things worse. The laughter escalated with each spell I tried.

“Then all of a sudden I remembered my days in Sunday school as a child and the teachings of Jesus. I hadn’t thought about that in a long time. In a loud voice I called upon Jesus Christ to rid the room of this dark presence. Instantly they were gone, and my bedroom was once again calm and warm. My life was never the same after that.”

The next day on the way to school Kathy told herself, You have some serious personal inventory to do. She walked into a church that afternoon and has never looked back. Kathy is a Christian now and warns women who think Wicca is harmless. “A lot of women think that by practicing Wicca, worshiping this so-called goddess, that they are celebrating their womanhood. I am here to tell them there is a lot more to it than that. Lots of them haven’t had the experiences I have. But they can and will if they stick with it. It’s like the warning on a pack of cigarettes: ‘Wicca is dangerous and could be hazardous to your health.’

What Jesus Would Say to an Atheist?

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What Jesus Would Say to an Atheist

Psalm 14:1

*** Ravi Zacharias tells the story about one-time heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali: “Ali was flying to one of his engagements and during the flight the aircraft ran into foul weather.

1. The passengers were instructed to fasten their seatbelts immediately, and all complied but Ali. So the flight attendant approached him and requested that he buckle up, only to hear him audaciously respond, ‘Superman don’t need no seatbelt.’ The flight attendant, however, did not miss a beat and quickly replied, “Superman don’t need no airplane either!’”

1. Unfortunately some people today have assumed that they don’t need the seatbelt of Scripture to navigate through life’s turbulence.

Do you know what’s amazing about this Psalm? This Psalm begins with people who don’t believe in God. And get this:
– There are 41,173 verses in the Bible and God gives one half of one verse to the atheist!
– There are 774,746 words in the Bible and God gives the atheist 11 words.
*** There was an atheist who was complaining to his friend that there’s no holiday for the atheist. Christians have Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter. Then his friend said, “Then why don’t you take April 1st!”
About 7% of America does just that! They say, “There’s no God, so I’m a fool!” What we just read is the only dialogue God has with the atheist – that’s it! 2 sentences: “There’s no God!” And God says, “Fool”! End of conversation!
***This reminds me of a little boy who was talking to his atheist dad at dinner and said, “Dad, do you think God knows that we don’t believe in him?”
Even the most educated genius with the highest I.Q. can be a fool! The person in the natural can know what E=MC square is, but in the spiritual knows nothing about the ABC’s of God!
Think about it – the most brilliant scientist who sees a car – has no problem believing there’s a designer. He sees a portrait and has no problem believing there’s an artist. He reads a book and has no problem believing there’s an author! But when he sees creation, he denies there’s a creator! That’s really amazing to me!
*** In 1916 Albert Einstein was so disturbed that the universe was not eternal but in fact had a beginning that he wrote about this “Irritating fact”, “Philosophically, the notion of a beginning of the present order of nature is repugnant to me…I should like to find a genius loophole.”
But in 1949 he wrote, “Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind.”
***You know, while there really is only about 7% in America who are atheist, the truth of the matter is that there’s more foolish people in America than we admit! More foolish people who claim to be Christians even!
*** There are 2 types of atheist in America:
– The intellectual – believes there’s no God.
– The practical – behaves like there’s no God.
And the most foolish person in the world today is not the intellectual fool, but rather the practical fool, the one who believes in God but their lifestyle is godless!
The practical atheist says:
There’s a God, but I’m going to live without him.
There is a Bible, but I’m not going to live by it.
There’s a Lord’s Day, but I’m going to sleep it away or go fishing all day!

What is a Christian Atheist? It is someone who believes in God but lives as if God does not exist. These people’s lives do not reflect the reality, the grace or the power of God in any way. Do you know people who believe in God but do not fear Him? Do you know people who believe in God but worry all the time? Do you know people who believe in God but never share their faith? Do you know people who believe in God but see no value in the local church? It is so sad to see people attend church for 10 or 20 years and never change. How can someone believe in Jesus enough to get them out of hell, but not actually enough to change the way they live?
*** The most famous atheist of our day was Madelyn Murray O’Hare. Her son William quotes her as saying…“I’m an atheist, not because I’ve searched behind every star and looked under every rock to prove there’s no God. I’m an atheist because I want to live my life as if there’s no God.”
*** Pope Francis Says Atheists Who Do Good Are Redeemed, Not Just Catholics

Pope Francis rocked some religious and atheist minds today when he declared that everyone was redeemed through Jesus, including atheists.

During his homily at Wednesday Mass in Rome, Francis emphasized the importance of “doing good” as a principle that unites all humanity, and a “culture of encounter” to support peace.

Using scripture from the Gospel of Mark, Francis explained how upset Jesus’ disciples were that someone outside their group was doing good, according to a report from Vatican Radio

Of course, not all Christians believe that those who don’t believe will be redeemed, and the Pope’s words may spark memories of the deep divisions from the Protestant reformation over the belief in redemption through grace versus redemption through works.

I. Angry Atheists

1. A true atheist actively denies the existence of God. From Time Magazine’s cover story in 1966 that asked the question “Is God Dead?” to some odd atheists like Madalyn Murray O’Hair who were relatively easy to dismiss, it seems that today the playing field has changed with the advent of some really intelligent “scientific” atheists who strike me as angry and abrasive. Also known as the “new atheists,” their attacks have become more prominent and pointed as their books have gone main stream.

*** One could make the argument that in the past 10 years or so, atheism has found its voice in our culture. In 2007, the Lilly Endowment funded a survey by Trinity College that revealed that 15% of Americans now cite “no religion” when asked for their religious preference. Granted, saying you have “no religion” is not the same as being an atheist but one could make a strong case that more and more people are opting out of belief in God.

2. In preparation for this message, I listened to part of an audio book by atheist and best-selling author Richard Dawkins called, “The God Delusion.” I was struck by his angry diatribe against religion. At one point he declared that to raise a child in one’s faith is “child abuse.” I was going to play a section of the audio recording of chapter two from his book but I decided that I couldn’t do it because it’s filled with blasphemy and other bombastic language that should never be used in referring to our Holy God. It makes me wonder why He’s fighting a God He doesn’t even believe exists.

***G. K. Chesterton once said, “After meeting an atheist, I became a Christian.” I can see why.

***Another book that I skimmed this week is written by Christopher Hitchens with the title, “god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.” Like Dawkins, he believes that religion does more harm than good. Listen to what he writes on page 217: “How can we ever know how many children had their psychological and physical lives irreparably maimed by the compulsory inculcation of faith?” Check out some of the chapter titles:

* “Religion Kills”

* “Revelation: the Nightmare of the ‘Old’ Testament

* “The ‘New’ Testament Exceeds the Evil of the ‘Old” One

3. While I’m certainly no expert, and these guys are much smarter than me, neither of them offered any compelling evidence to not believe in the existence of God. Instead, they used venomous language to lambast people of faith. I was both underwhelmed by their arguments and grieved for the state of their souls. In particular, I’m saddened for Christopher Hitchens because he now has cancer and is still rejecting the Lord and making fun of Christians who are praying for him.

4. Interestingly, because we live in a “scientistic” culture, when someone who is a scientist speaks, almost everyone grants him or her undue authority irrespective of what the topic is. While Hitchens and Dawkins are indeed experts in their fields, they are not really qualified to make philosophical and religious assertions. Even the brilliant physicist Stephen Hawking, in his new book, “The Grand Design,” seems to go out of his way to argue that the laws of physics show there is no need for a supreme being. But he then makes a god out of gravity in an effort to argue that “the universe can and will create itself from nothing.”

5. There are many different ways to approach atheism and to argue for the existence of God. I find Dr. William Lane Craig’s arguments compelling:

1. The cosmological argument – the universe came from something rather than nothing.

2. The teleological argument – the complexity in the universe presents the case for an intelligent designer.

3. The moral argument – true morality comes from God.

4. The resurrection of Jesus – the evidence of the resurrection has not been refuted.

5. The immediate experience of God – experience as evidence for God.

6. These philosophical arguments would take an entire sermon series to flesh out so instead I’m going to walk through the Word today, like we’ve done the past two weeks. Partly in response to these arguments, a parody had been propagated called, “The Flying Spaghetti Monster,” which atheists sometimes use to show how absurd it is to believe in a Supreme Being. The central belief is that an invisible and undetectable Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe after “drinking heavily.” I believe that Jesus would just shrug this off and go right to the Bible for his answer to an atheist. Let’s start at the beginning.

***God Just Is

The Book of Genesis gets its name from the Hebrew – It’s the book of “beginnings.” Look at the first four words: “In the beginning God…” By the way, this is the first instance of baseball in the Bible – “in the big inning.” This is a declaration that God has always been; He’s had no beginning and He will have no end.

Did you notice that Genesis 1:1 is a simple declaration of the existence of God, and does not provide an explanation for His existence? The Bible just assumes that He is. He is eternal. He is here today. He was here yesterday. And He will be here tomorrow. He was, He is, and He will be.

II. Don’t Be a Fool

1. It’s a pretty bad deal to be called a fool by someone. It’s even worse to be called a fool by God. Check out the first part of Psalm 14:1: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.” The word for “fool” here means someone who is as stubborn as an animal. This kind of fool does not have a mental problem in his head; he has a moral problem in his heart. Notice that the fool says this to himself. Instead of proclaiming his atheism publicly, he privately lives as if there’s no God.

I wonder how many of us do the same thing. We publicly proclaim that we’re following Christ but if someone were to follow us around all day, record everything we say, monitor everything we think, note how many times we pray, look at how much we give, and measure the unforgiveness in our heart, would they conclude that we’re a Christian? Are we essentially just doing what we want and living as if God does not exist? In that sense, aren’t we practical atheists when we live like that?

2. The second part of this verse helps us see that beliefs lead to behavior. If people persist in believing that there is no God, they will act accordingly. Once God is effectively removed from our heads and our hearts, then there will be consequences in our character: “They are corrupt…” and in our conduct: “their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.” The word for “vile” means “rotten, putrid, and decayed.” The implications of atheism are crucial because everything crumbles with God out of the picture. There is then no basis for morality, no purpose in pain, no reason for existence and no hope for the future.

*** There is a podcast last week called, “The Good Atheist.” I think the name was tongue-in-cheek because the tagline was: “Chilling Tales of Godlessness.” I decided to hang in there and give it a chance but I had to turn it off because of all the cussing, the vulgar talk and the countless times that they took the Lord’s name in vain. I understand why they cuss and talk vulgar because if they don’t believe God exists, then why not do whatever you want and say whatever you’d like? But I don’t get why they take the Lord’s name in vain if they are convinced He doesn’t even exist. That doesn’t add up to me.

A. Creation Cries Out Ps. 19:1-6, 7-14

The Bible makes it clear that there is evidence for God everywhere. We don’t have to look far to see Him because He’s displayed His beauty in creation. Turn over a few pages to Psalm 19.

1. He’s revealed Himself in the world. We see this in verses 1-6. We’ll look just at verses 1-2: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.” God is everywhere present and He’s left his fingerprints all over creation. The earth is marked, if you will, by a sign that declares in bold letters: Made by God.

2. He’s revealed Himself in the Word. Look at vs 7: “The Law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul…” God has not only revealed Himself in a general sense through His creation of the world but has also made known His character through His Word. The Bible is bursting with direct statements from God about God – and it reveals His mind, His heart, and His will for us.

3. Our response should be worship. Check out vs 14: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

B. The Living Word Reveals God

When we come to the New Testament, we read in John 1:18 that Jesus has made the Almighty apparent: “No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.” That means when we understand Jesus, we understand God, for He is God. God’s primary vehicle for self-disclosure is through Jesus Christ. The Bible teaches in Heb. 1:3 that “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being…” Jesus reveals who God the Father is. Jesus would say to an atheist just what He said in John 8:19, “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.”

In my Bible reading one day last week I came across a verse that reminded me once again that for some people even when they are given a boatload of evidence including many miracles and overwhelming proof, they will still refuse to repent and receive what Jesus offers. Why is that? Because for some, the issue is not lack of evidence, but is rather a refusal to believe in spite of all the evidence. I find John 12:37 really compelling: “Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him.”

***The Christian apologist Josh McDowell tells about a student who once told him that all of his questions and problems had been answered. McDowell then asked, “Are you then going to become a Christian?” The student told him that he did not want to do that. When McDowell asked why, he said, “Frankly, because it would mess up the way I’m living.”

III. Evidence for God’s Existence is Evident Rom 1:18-20

Turn now to Rom 1:18-20 where at least three truths become clear.

A. God expresses His wrath toward those who suppress the truth. Vs. 18

We see this in vs 18: “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness.” We tend to reject the doctrine of God’s wrath but because He is righteous, He must express His wrath against unrighteousness. The word “suppress” means “to hold down.” To deny God’s existence is exhausting and ultimately futile because it’s impossible to suppress. Let me demonstrate with this spring.

B. God has clearly revealed Himself. Look at vs 19:

“Since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.” Abraham Lincoln once said, “I can see how it might be possible for a man to look down upon the earth and be an atheist, but I cannot conceive how he could look up into the heavens and say there is no God.”

C. We have no excuse to not believe. Rom 1:20

Romans 1:20 states that the evidence for God’s creative power is clearly evident: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” Henry Bosch has pointed out this example of God’s careful and marvelous design: “The earth rotates on its axis at approximately 1000 miles per hour. If that had been 100 miles per hour, our days and nights would be ten times longer, and our planet would alternately burn and freeze.”

*** In his book called, “The Reason for God,” Timothy Keller states that the real challenge is not to prove that God exists, but to recognize that people already suspect that God exists. He’s revealed Himself in nature and we know about Him by nature. And because He is the Creator, He is greater than that which He has created. It’s not that people can’t know God; it’s that some don’t want God. But, this natural revelation of God is limited. We can know the power of God by observing His creation, but we can’t know His love. For that we need His Word and we need the gospel.

***An Atheist Sees the Light Here’s some of what he had to say.

“I wish I had insight!! But, I was only a fool pretending to be wise and informed…I valued the praise of men…I felt superior by denying God…Atheism is more about denying the evidence of God all around you than believing God does not exist…One thing is common among most: their interest in learning. Getting an atheist like this into the Bible is the best way to set them up for a conversion by the Holy Spirit. In all likelihood, most atheists will think very little of a Christian and reject what they say without even hearing their words; nobody could have said anything to me that I’d have listened to. I was only interested in myself, I had no profound convictions, only bringing praise to myself…To the man with knowledge, the serpent is logic and the venom is pride.

The atheist that doesn’t believe God can exist in a world with so much bad will have a hard time being convinced by others…We cannot convince them their ways are wrong, we are not the Holy Spirit nor can we fulfill the role of the Holy Spirit. A man that considers himself wise does not seek the counsel of those he considers foolish. I would warn against getting into confrontations or debates; the atheist is likely to approach the debate with anger towards your ignorance (and ours towards their blasphemy). “A gentle answer turns anger away. But mean words stir up anger [Prov 15:1].” Gently warn them — do not quote their ruin — we know not what their hearts are or will be at the time they meet their Savior.

*** Foundation of Faith

When it all comes down to it, while there is ample evidence for the existence of God, the exercise of faith is foundational. We can’t just trust God on the basis of logic and reason. Hebrews 11:6: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

*** I’m reminded of the story about the little boy who was growing up in an atheist home. He turned to his dad one day and asked, “Daddy, does God know that we don’t believe in Him?” Phil 2:10-11 teaches that every Atheist will eventually bow before the Lord and recognize not only His existence but His supremacy, righteousness, justice and holiness. Unfortunately, for many it will be too late to be saved: “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

IV. Reaching Atheists

1. Love atheists. Before speaking to an atheist first make sure that your heart is filled with love.

2. Ask questions. Most atheists hold to their beliefs for a reason.

***According to the Dare2Share ministry, there are four basic questions you can ask an atheist.

* “What do you mean by that?” (This makes them define the terms in their argument.)

* “How do you know that to be true?” (This makes them explain the logic of their argument.)

* “What difference does it make?” (This makes them defend the value for their argument.)

* “What if you’re wrong?” (This makes them think the unthinkable.)

Here are 12 additional questions that will help move them to the logical end of their beliefs.

“What do you mean by ‘atheist’?”

“Do you mean there is absolutely no God?”

“Do you mean that you don’t know personally if there is a God?”

“How do you know that there is no God?”

“Have you been everywhere in the universe?”

“What solid evidence can you produce to prove your position?”

“What difference has atheism made in your life?”

“Has it given you a purpose to live for?”

“What fulfillment has it brought you?”

“What if you’re wrong and the God of the Bible is real?”

“If you’re right, I have nothing to worry about, do I?”

“But if you’re wrong, what are the consequences?”

3. Know your Bible. This is really the main application for every one of the sermons in this series.

*** In September of this year, the Pew Forum on Religious and Public Life released some stunning results of a survey about the Bible, Christianity and other world religions. It turns out that atheists answered more questions correctly than evangelicals! We actually came in fourth place, with atheists and agnostics sharing the top spot; followed by Jews and Mormons (we’ll be addressing “What Jesus Would Say to a Mormon” next week). Friends, this is a survey we should have nailed. I’m not one to bring up Packer football illustrations but we need to do what legendary coach Vince Lombardi did when he took his team back to the basics of football. With his players huddled around him, he held up a football and famously said, “This is a football.” Brothers and sisters, “This is a Bible!”

*** Unfortunately, there has been a continuing decline in biblical knowledge even though we have access to more Bible teaching than any Christians in history. I am pleased to report one bright spot in the study. Those who attended worship services weekly performed better on the survey so it appears that something is sticking on Sundays.

4. Let your kids question but help them find answers. I’m told that the decline of faith among parents in Germany is leading to a whole generation of children growing up with an “atheist mindset” and the belief that “faith doesn’t matter.” The idea of a singular truth has become so unpopular that it is widely regarded as dangerous, arrogant and potentially violent.

*** Os Guinness has said that the biblical view of truth has become “obscene to modern minds” and is taken by many to be exclusive, intolerant and divisive.

Parents, while some children hold on to atheism through reason and logic and science, others are wrestling with serious questions about evil, miracles and prayer. Still others find the Christian faith to be too difficult so they just kind of drift away. And others want to just have fun. But the part that has really rocked me recently is that we as parents sometimes fall into the same kinds of things, and our kids notice.

*** One blogger writes: “What we’ve lived in our homes, private lives, churches, workplaces and friendships have spoken louder. We are the ones who appear to not believe in the God we say is real.”

***The Centrality of the Cross

An atheist once said, “If there is a God, may He prove Himself by striking me dead right now.” Nothing happened. “You see,” he said. “There is no God.” To which his friend replied, “You’ve only proved that He is a gracious God.”

We’re reminded of God’s grace when we celebrate communion as we fasten our seatbelts to the foundation of our faith – the death, burial, resurrection, ascension and second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is both “super-man” and “super-God.” How can we not but serve Him with all that we have? My former atheist friend puts it like this: “You cannot give up your life to something without letting it take part in your life for more than an hour a week!”

What Would Jesus Say to a Mormon?

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What Jesus Would Say to a Mormon Heb 1:1-2

1. As we come to the final sermon in this series, some of you might wonder why we’re looking at a group that seems to be up close to us. Most of us understand why we would preach about Muslims, Wiccans and Atheists, but isn’t Mormonism a Christian religion?

2. Others of you might be a bit fuzzy about what it is that Mormons believe. It’s my hope that by putting on the lens of Scripture our own faith will come into greater focus.
3. The Holy Spirit according to Paul explicitly said that in later times some will fall away. Now if the Holy Spirit explicitly says something you best pay attention to it. This particular prophesy has never been more fulfilled than in the Mormon church. Paul said that in the later times or you can translate that in the latter times or in the latter days many will fall away from the faith. It is interesting to note that the Mormons known as the church of the “latter day” saints like what

*** Harry Ironside said when he was talking to a Mormon once. The Mormon said, “Excuse me sir I am a member of the church of the latter day saints. What are you and he said “I am a member of the church of the former day saints.” what he was saying was I am a member of the church of the saints who go back strictly and only to the New Testament.

4. We are going to find that Mormonism is one of the most vicious and pernicious and perverted aberrations of Christian truth that you can find. Now there are some people who get upset when you talk about the faith of other religions. But I want you to know that Jesus would be upset if we didn’t. For Jesus said that anyone other than orthodox Christians who profess to be Christians are indeed wolves in sheep’s clothing.

5. I will say again that your average Mormon is an industrious, clean-living, moral, upright, forthright citizen. But we are not dealing with their deportment. We are dealing with their doctrine. We will find out that the cornerstone of their religion is a man just like the cornerstone of our religion is a man. But the cornerstone of our religion is Jesus while the cornerstone of their religion is Joseph Smith.

6. We need to be reminded once again of what John said in his second epistle vs 9 “Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ does not have God. The one who abides in the teaching he has both the father and the son.” So I say at the outset to the Mormon and about the Mormon if you are wrong about Jesus it doesn’t matter what you believe about Joseph Smith.

I. The Positives of Mormonism

1. Let me say up front that this sermon is not meant to be an attack on any individual and will not be presented in a spirit of arrogance or anger. I want to echo what the Apostle Paul said in 1 Tim 1:5: “But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” Here at MBC we want to love people just like Jesus does. There are many positive things about Mormons.

2. Here are some that come to mind. Granted, these are generalizations, but I think they’re true for the most part.
• They are very kind.
• They love to serve. They work tirelessly to help with the flood cleanup in this community.
• They care about what they put in their bodies. No alcohol, illegal drugs, coffee or tea are allowed.
• They are not afraid to stand up for moral matters. They worked very hard in California in 2008 to support Prop 8 which banned same-sex marriage.
• They care about our country. Glenn Beck, Mitt Romney, Harry Reid and Orrin Hatch are practicing Mormons.
• They are very family-oriented.
• They have outstanding music from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
• They believe in education. Brigham Young University is world-renowned.

A. Mormon History
1. I don’t want to bore you with too much history, but it is important to understand a few things, especially as it relates to Joseph Smith, who was the first prophet and founder of Mormonism. You see, the entire Mormon Church rests upon the foundation of its history in America and it originates solely from the visions of Joseph Smith. The 10th Mormon President and Prophet, Joseph Fielding Smith, put it this way: “Mormonism must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith.”
2. It’s important to understand that Mormonism is only 190 years old. In 1820, at the age of 14, Smith claimed to have a vision when he was seeking God’s direction about which church he should join. He was told to join none of them because all of them were “wrong…that all their creeds were an abomination… [And] that those professors [of those churches] were all corrupt.”
3. Three years later, he allegedly had another vision and this time a person (or angel) named Moroni told him about some hidden golden tablets. He had four other appearances and eventually translated these tablets from “Reformed Egyptian” into the Book of Mormon in 1830. Smith that after he translated the golden tablets, he was ordered to destroy them, and that while translating them, if anyone else looked upon them they would die.
4. Smith also claimed that John the Baptist appeared to him and Oliver Cowdery and anointed them with the Aaronic Priesthood. They then baptized each other for the remission of sins. Several months later, Peter, James and John reportedly appeared physically to them and conferred the Melchizedek Priesthood upon them.
5. After moving around because of persecution over their practice of polygamy, Smith was arrested and later killed by the militia in Carthage, Illinois in 1844. A struggle for leadership ensued, with Brigham Young becoming the next president and prophet. He led them westward where they founded Salt Lake City.
6. According to their own statistics as published in their official magazine called, “Ensign,” as of 2009, there were 14 million Mormons meeting in about twenty-five thousand congregations. In addition, they have around 52,000 full-time missionaries and 130 Temples. With a presence in over 140 nations, some have said that if Mormonism continues to grow at its present rapid rate, there will be five hundred million Mormons by the year 2040.
7. I should say that the official name for Mormonism is “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.” Instead of using this longer title, I’m going to be using the names “Mormon” and “Mormonism.”

B. Mormon Beliefs
***There is so much material as it relates to Mormon beliefs that I’m going to have to just pick a few areas and summarize. I think it will become readily apparent that Mormon doctrine differs greatly from biblical Christianity. I’m drawing this material from their primary sources, from a book called, “Searching for the Truth” from Group Publishing, from a book called, “Mormonism Explained” by Andrew Jackson and from “Reasoning From the Scriptures with Mormons” by Ron Rhodes. If you’d like to do some more study on Mormonism, see Utah Lighthouse Ministry and Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.
1. Authority. Mormons consider the Bible to be very important, though they use only the KJV, and then only if it’s their “corrected version.” They also follow the “Book of Mormon,” “The Doctrine and Covenants” and “The Pearl of Great Price” which are revelations for the Americas. Let me quote from the beginning of the Book of Mormon to show the place they give to their sacred writings: “The Book of Mormon is a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible.” This is what Joseph Smith said a few paragraphs later, “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.”
We could say that Mormons put on the lens of the Book of Mormon when reading and interpreting the Bible. This book even refers to Christians as fools for only believing in the Bible. Listen to this quote from 2 Nephi 29:6 – “Thou fool, that shall say: ‘A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible…’”
*** A pastor who lives in Salt Lake City stated how difficult it is to appeal to the Bible because Mormons follow other writings and the “Living Prophet,” which is the President of the Church. He speaks infallibly and authoritatively when addressing doctrinal and church matters because they believe God is giving continual revelation to him and through him to the church. An example of this is what happened in 1978 when the head prophet declared a new “revelation” that allowed African American men to be ordained to the priesthood, reversing a doctrine that had been in place for 140 years.
*** Ezra Taft Benson, the 13th President of the Mormon Church, said this in 1980: “The living prophet is more vital to us than the standard works.” That would be not only the Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price, but also the Bible.

*** Joseph Smith said this “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the book of Mormon to be the word of God,’ now at first glance you think that they are simply putting the book of Mormon on the same level as he Bible which is bad enough in and of itself to listen again to what Joseph Smith says, “I told I the brethren that the book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth and the keystone of our religion. And a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts than by any other book.

*** As a matter of fact Joseph Smith felt that the Bible was incorrect in many of its translations and therefore he went about correcting some errors in the Bible and formulating his own translation which has become known as the” inspired version of the Bible.” Now he had to do this for the obvious reason that to leave the Bible as it is directly contradicts some precious Mormon doctrine. For example in Joseph Smith’s version we are told in Gen. 3 that Satan rebelled against God because he first offered to come as man s redeemer and God turned his offer down. We are told in Gen. 6 that Adam was baptized by immersion. Then there is a prophesy that Joseph Smith inserts in the 50th chapter of the book of Genesis which establishes him as a greater authority than the Lord Jesus Christ. “And that seer will I bless and his name hall be called Joseph and it shall be after the name of his father for the thing which the Lord shall bring forth by his hand shall bring my people unto salvation. In other words Jesus is not good enough to bring salvation. Only Joseph Smith can do that. And so God’s final and ultimate revelation has been not through the Lord Jesus Christ but through Joseph Smith. We might note that that directly contradicts the word of God for we are told in Hebrews 1:1-2 “God after he spoke long ago to the fathers and the prophets in many portions and in many ways in these last days has spoken to us in his son.” That is, Jesus Christ is God’s full and final revelation, to this world.

***Then there are other sacred works that they consider to be on a par with the Bible. The first is doctrines and covenant; these are new revelations that were given to Joseph Smith concerning baptism for the dead, celestial marriage and polygamy. It is interesting to note that the book of Mormon is silent about the first two things and it denounces polygamy. Then there is the book, the pearl of great price. These are their articles of faith. These are additional revelations that were given to Joseph Smith beyond the doctrines and covenants. So the first thing we need to notice here is that not only is the word of God looked upon as inferior and in need of correction. It is indeed placed beneath the other 3 works by Joseph Smith as the authority of the Mormon church.

2. God the Father. Joseph Smith said this in his “King Follet” sermon, “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man.” He is married to a physical wife and has “progressed” to godhood as one of many gods. Joseph Smith said it like this in his own words: “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s…” (“Doctrine and Covenants,” 130:22).

*** God according to Mormon theology is not a spirit. Rather he is a body. He has material substance for his being. He is flesh and blood. You can feel God, touch God, see God and in fact you could taste God if you could bite him. God in other words is simply an exalted man. Joseph Smith said and I quote, “God himself was as we are now and is an exalted man.” Now where do they get this belief? Well, they quote verses such as “God’s ears are not dull that he cannot hear, and his arm is not so short that he cannot save. And they say, you see God has arms and God has ears. He has eyes just like we do. But they fail simply to understand that the Bible uses what we call anthropomorphic language. That is we use figuratively language attributing to God human qualities to help us conceptualize God.

***The Bible says in John 4:24, “God is a spirit. Those that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. But it is interesting when’ you read the inspired version or the Mormon version of that verse they translate it this way: “God has a spirit.

***But it gets worse. Not only do they teach that God is a body and not a spirit, they believe in polytheism. That is they worship many Gods. They distinctly deny the trinity. They believe that the Gods are simply exalted men and that men are in the process of becoming Gods. Joseph Smith says how many Gods there are I do not know but there never was a time when there were not Gods and worlds and when men were not passing through the same ordeals that we are now passing through. That course has been from all eternity and it is and will be to all eternity.” In other words the world we live in is not the only world there is but there have been a great number of worlds and also a great number of Gods. Spencer Kimble, the leader of the Mormon church said this, “What man is God has been and what God is man is becoming.” In other words what the Mormons have done is to humanize God and to deify man and in the process have not only denied the trinity but they have established themselves as a polytheistic religion. Joseph Smith aid this, I have always declared God to be a distinct personage. Jesus Christ a separate and distinct personage from God the father and that the Holy Ghost was a distinct personage and a spirit, and these 3 constitute 3 distinct personages and 3 Gods,” he said elsewhere, “the doctrine of a ‘plurality of Gods (that is many Gods) is as prominent in the Bible as any other doctrine. It is all over the face of the Bible. It stands beyond the power of controversy. You see the best of Mormon men and women are going to become Gods themselves.

*** When you ask the question then how did the one we referred to as God with a capital g become our God? Here is the answer. “The heads of the Gods appointed one God for us.” That is in eternity’ past there was a council of Gods and these Gods appointed our God to be the God of this earth the: he goes on to say, “And when you take that view of the subject it sets one free to see all the beautiness, holiness and perfection of the God” of course our answer to that is we don t worship 3 Gods but we worship one God in 3 persons. We do not worship 3 Gods nor many Gods. There is only one God. The Bible says in Isa. 44:6, “Thus says the Lord, the king of Israel, I am the first and I am the last and there is no God besides Me.” Here we agree with our Jewish friends who quote the Shema, Deut.6:4 which says, “The Lord our God is one Lord. So understand that not only do the Mormons deny the spiritual essence of God, they not only deny his sovereignty, they not only deny his preeminence, they not only deny his Trinitarian nature, they deny the concept of a monotheistic God. They worship a plurality of many Gods.

3. Jesus. The Mormons teach that Jesus Christ was actually produced by a sexual relationship between a resurrected Adam God and Mary. Brigham Young said, “Jesus our elder brother was begotten in the flesh by the same character that was in the Garden of Eden and who is our father in heaven.” A prominent Mormon professor said this, “Jesus was the offspring of a mortal mother and of an immortal or resurrected and glorified father.”

In addition to this they teach that Jesus Christ was married. For as we will see in just a moment the only way to salvation in Mormon thought is through marriage. They teach that the wedding in Canaan was the wedding of Jesus of himself. At this wedding Jesus not only took a bride. He took brides, he married Mary, Martha, and Mary Magdalene. In short Jesus was no more divine than you or I can become or like many others have become. He was just the first born among many Gods, Jesus is not Lord. Jesus is not the savior. The atonement of Jesus did not secure our salvation. The death of Jesus was meaningless in terms of our going to heaven. That in a nutshell is the teaching of the person and work of Jesus Christ

4. Sin. Mormons believe that Adam’s sin was actually a good thing because it fulfilled God’s purpose of populating the earth. They don’t talk much about sin, preferring words like bad habits, mistakes, and poor judgments. According to their doctrine, Jesus’ sacrifice was not able to cleanse us from all our sins (“Journal of Discourses,” Vol. 3, p. 247, 1856).

This is indeed one of their most amazing doctrines. They teach that the fall in the Garden of Eden was a necessity so that Adam and eve could have children. You see they teach that there are many spirits who need bodies to exist on earth. Therefore it is the duty of Mormons to have children so these spirits can inhabit earthly bodies, that’s why it was necessary for Adam and Eve to sin and thus become mortal so that they could have children so it is not a terrible thing. It is a wonderful thing. Joseph Smith put it this way, ‘the fall of Adam and eve was a necessary change in order to provide mortal parroting for the spirit children of God who were ready and waiting for the experience of earth life. In other words before Adam and eve could reproduce children that could be inhabited by preexistent spirits they first had to sin. That of course directly contradicts the word of God because before Adam and eve fell God distinctly commanded that they reproduce and multiply and replenish the earth.

But it was directly because of this teaching that the concept of polygamy became popular at least for awhile in Mormon thought, you see the [Mormons felt that since there were all of these eternal spirits waiting to get into an earthly body then the more children one had the better. In fact as you study the teaching on polygamy by the Mormon church it is amazing to watch how through the years they flip flopped from one end of the issue to the other.

*** For example; In the book of Mormon Joseph Smith expressly forbids the practice of polygamy. I quote ‘here shall not any man among you have save but one wife and concubines he shall have none. In other words one man and one wife for one life. But a few years later Joseph Smith got another special revelation from God which expressly told him to take unto him many wives. And so Joseph Smith was married to almost 50 women. And Brigham Young, Smith’s successor, married 27 women and fathered 56 children. That was the official teaching of the church up until almost the 20th century when Utah applied for statehood and realized the only way they would become a state would be to forbid polygamy and so in 1890 Mormon president Wilford Woodruff issued an official declaration discontinuing the practice of polygamy. However there are many who still believe that Mormons do practice polygamy. The reason for this is that the Mormons believe in celestial marriage. That is they believe there are still spirit beings in heaven who are reproducing spirit children. Therefore there is still more and more need of human bodies for those spirit children to enter into so they can marry and obtain salvation and then go back to their celestial kingdom and they themselves reproduce more children, William Rogers former assistant to the attorney general in the state of Utah states “Today in Utah there are more polygamous; marriages than in the days of Brigham Young.”

*** Incidentally, I agree with Mark Twain on the issue of polygamy. A Mormon once approached Mark Twain and said, ‘can you show me any verse in the Bible that would speak against polygamy?” Mark Twain said, “I certainly can.’ and he said, “No man can serve 2 masters.

5. Salvation. Exaltation is attained by good works, not by grace alone: “We know it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23). And this is from Joseph Smith’s “King Follet” sermon: “This then, is eternal life—to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be gods yourselves.”

There Are 2 Keys To Being Saved In Mormon Thought.

The first key and the greatest key is marriage. In the Mormon temple every day there are performed what are known as celestial marriages. These are marriages that are sealed for all eternity now this is very important because people who go to heaven single will never become Gods. They will always remain as angels. For you can only progress to becoming a God if you are married in heaven and are also producing spiritual children. So a marriage for time that is one that is not performed in a Mormon temple will be dissolved by death. And people so married will be single in the life to come and will live as angels and not as Gods. But those couples who are married in a Mormon temple otherwise known as a celestial marriage will be sealed to each other for eternity, their union will last forever and they can forever produce spiritual children and thus progress to becoming Gods themselves . His is so important to them that the Mormon church teaches this, ‘the most important single thing any member of the church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints can ever do in this world is to marry the right person, by the right authority in the right place.” Now the only comment I will make here is to remind you of the words of Jesus who said in (Luke 20:34) “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage.”

The second key to salvation in Mormon thought is baptism. They believe in baptismal regeneration. That is that one must be baptized by immersion in order to be saved, from this belief comes one of their most infamous doctrines, the doctrine of baptism for the dead. Thousands of people are baptized every year in the Mormon church for their ancestors who have died before them without being baptized. For they believe that a person can be baptized for a dead relative and secure that dead relative s salvation. They base that belief on 1 Cor. 15:29. The baptistry in the Mormon church is built beneath the ground. That is to simulate the graves of the dead. These baptisms must be performed in a temple. They must be very carefully recorded and there should be 3 witnesses at every baptism.

You see this is one of the reasons why the Mormons are so interested in their ancestry and why the Mormon church has one of the greatest ancestry file; in all of the world. Each Mormon is expected to trace his lineage and ancestry as far back as he can and to be baptized for every person who did not experience the baptism of the Mormon church. How very quickly what Paul simply meant here in 1 Cor. 15:29.was that if there is no resurrection from the dead (remember the context here is resurrection) than baptism is meaningless. Because baptism is to picture the death and the burial and the resurrection of Jesus and it is also to picture the death and burial to sin of the person being baptized and his being raised to a new life in Christ. It is also to picture his future resurrection at the second coming of the Lord. But if there is no resurrection then why be baptized? In other words all Paul is saying here is that baptism without a resurrection is meaningless. You see what they are trying to teach is that you can actual be a savior for someone else. Friend, I don’t need a sinner to be baptized for my sin. I need a savior to be crucified for my sin.
6. Afterlife. People either go to spirit prison or to paradise after they die. Faithful Mormon men will be exalted and some will become gods, ruling and populating their own earths. Women can be exalted only if sealed in marriage to a Mormon man. If a man and woman are “sealed” in the Mormon Temple then when they die they will be with each other in the afterlife, and once they become gods, they will have spirit children and populate their own planet: “We were first begotten as spirit babies in heaven and then born naturally on earth” (“Journal of Discourse,” Vol. 4, p. 218).
7. The true Church. From the very beginning, Joseph Smith believed that all churches were apostate, an abomination and corrupt and that his church was the only one true church. Here’s how it’s worded in Doctrine and Covenants 1:30 – “And also those to whom these commandments were given, might have power to lay the foundation of this church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased…” While Mormons previously separated themselves from other churches there now seems to be an effort to publicly soften this stance. But the fact of the matter is that, according to them, only those who are baptized in the Mormon Church are true believers. They also practice “baptism for the dead” and have secret temple rituals available only to members in good standing.
If I had to distill their doctrine down to one sentence, it would be something like this: They lower God and lift up man. I would put them squarely outside the biblical frame of Christianity and classify them as a cult. I know that sounds strong but I say that for three reasons.
• They have an exalted and unquestionable leader.
• They have special writings which are equal to or above the Bible.
• They claim to be the only group that has the truth.

III. Three Questions

Some of you may be unsettled by what I have said. Perhaps it seems like the preaching has been too strong. After all, there are nice people practicing other religions. How can we say that they’re wrong? In light of the exclusive claims of Jesus Christ, you and I may be asked at least three questions by pluralistic people.

1. The Question of Sincerity. Who can question the sincerity of a Muslim bowing to pray five times a day or the good things that Wiccans are trying to do for the environment, or the strong family values of Mormons? The assumption here is that because people are sincere they can’t be wrong. But sincerity, or the lack of it, has nothing to do with determining truth. In other words, we can be sincere and right or be sincere and wrong.

2. The Question of Tolerance. This question goes something like this: “Even if you believe Christianity is true for you, does that mean it has to be true for the rest of the world? Isn’t that condescending and unloving?” Because Christianity does have a narrow nature to it, it has been attacked as being intolerant of what others believe.
The underlying assumption is that anything this narrow has to be wrong but a position can be narrow and wrong, or it can be narrow and right. For instance, truth is always intolerant of error. The fact that one plus one always equals two is very narrow, but it’s also right. When I fly with Scott Peterson in an airplane (which I’ve only done once and don’t plan to again), I want him to land on the runway, not the highway. I want my pilot to be narrow-minded when he’s flying the plane I’m on.
Since Jesus says in John 14:6: “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” then that’s true for me and it’s true for you, whether we believe it or not. We can argue all day about whether this claim has an intolerant spirit about it. Is it backed up by evidence? Are there reasons to believe what Jesus said? If so, then we must allow for a certain amount of intolerance because truth is always intolerant of error.

3. The Question of Truth. If Christianity is true, then the issues of sincerity and tolerance take a back seat to truth. It doesn’t matter how sincere someone is if they don’t acknowledge the truth of what Christ teaches. Obviously, not everyone accepts the exclusivity of Christianity—or any other religion for that matter. A Mormon and a Muslim believe entirely different things that are contradictory. They both can’t be right.
Here’s another way to say it. How can all religions be true if they contradict each other? The Law of Non-contradiction states that if two statements about one particular issue contradict each other, then there are only two possible answers: (1) only one of them is true, or (2) they’re both false. They cannot both be true in the same sense and at the same time. Since Muslims, Wiccans, Atheists and Mormons all view Jesus differently, they simply cannot, logically speaking, all be correct. If Christianity is true, then those religions that contradict it cannot also be true.
*** It is important it is to develop a relationship with them, pointing out that according to one study it takes seven years on average for a Mormon to move from doubting his faith to becoming a full-fledged follower of Jesus Christ through the new birth. He’s also discovered that while the beliefs of Mormonism are very clear, we really don’t know what an individual Mormon believes unless we ask him or her.
***What would Jesus say to a Mormon, he quickly said, “Jesus would ask them this question: ‘Who do you say that I am?’” This comes directly from Matt 16:15: “But what about you? Who do you say that I am?” It all comes down to Christ, doesn’t it? It must be Jesus plus nothing. We can’t start with Him and then add our own good works or rituals or practices.
*** This is from another pastor who ministers among Mormons: “Most rank-and-file Mormons today are utterly convinced they are Christians, and that is in large part due to the surface similarity of language that clouds the different facts and referents behind the language. As far as what Jesus would say to a Mormon…there is a long-term Free Church pastor out here who has taught the church he pastors to see Mormons as Samaritans. We have common religious history—up to a point. We have common language…which has deviated, but which still leaves them closer to the Truth than other religious traditions. And what Jesus does with the woman at the well is the tactical approach: avoid debating history and talk about life for your dry, thirsty soul found in Jesus. Jesus would say to a Mormon: ‘You’re thirsty and hungry and—though you don’t think it—guilty—and you seek Messiah—misconceived in your own mind perhaps—but you seek Messiah as the answer—that’s me. Come to me and find grace.’ Which incidentally is the same thing he’d say to all the people in your pews this Sunday. So if I were you, I’d…feed their souls, and remove the judgmentalism that is in us in regards to Mormons.”

III. What Would Jesus Say

At the risk of sounding presumptuous because I certainly don’t want to put words in Jesus’ mouth, I can with confidence communicate what Jesus has said in the Scriptures. I’m going to go back over the seven points of doctrine and quote what it is that Jesus is saying to Mormons today. Let’s put on the lenses of the Lord right now…
1. Authority. “First of all, when it comes to what you can ultimately trust, do what I did when I quoted Scripture when tempted by Satan in the wilderness and I said these words: ‘It is written…’ (Luke 4:1-12). ‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished’ (Matthew 5:17-18). Later on I made this statement: ‘Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away’ (Matt 24:35).”
2. God the Father. “‘God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth.’ (John 4:24).”
3. Jesus. “‘I and the Father are one’ (John 10:30).” I can’t help but quote from Heb. 1:1-2 at this point: ‘In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.’”
4. Sin. “This is what I said in John 8:34: ‘I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.’”
5. Salvation. “‘I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.’ ‘I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life’ (John 3:3; 5:24).”
6. Afterlife. “I don’t think I can make it much clearer than what I said in John 3:36: ‘Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.’”
7. Church. “While some churches have lost their way, there has never been a total apostasy. In fact, I have been and will continue to build my church ‘and the gates of Hades will not overcome it’ (Matt 16:18).”

IV. What the Bible Says

The Apostle Paul really got worked up when he heard that some were bailing on their belief in the gospel of grace and turning to something that was filled with rules and regulations in Gal 1:6-8: “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!”
He continues in 2 Cor 11:3-4: “But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.”
John, who allegedly appeared to Joseph Smith, along with Peter and James, gave these cautionary words in 1 John 4:1: “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
And in 2 John 8-11 we’re warned about not welcoming someone who is trying to deceive us: “Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work.” This warning is especially applicable to those who don’t know what the Bible teaches and are unsure of their own doctrine. It might not be the wisest to have long discussions with Mormons until you have figured out your own faith so that you not only know what you believe, but why you believe it.
The Bible says that those who don’t know Christ are actually blind. Listen to 2 Cor 4:4: “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” Friends, Jesus came to restore our sight so that we can see again. Check out John 8:12: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
And for those of us who are believers already, 2 Peter 1:9 warns us about keeping our sight strong and to make sure that we’re growing in grace. The person who doesn’t “is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.”

V. Witnessing to Mormons

We’ve probably all had the experience of having a couple Mormon missionaries ring our doorbells. How should we handle this? On the one hand, we need to be careful about inviting them in and getting swept away by what they’re saying. On the other hand, we need to see ourselves as missionaries of the true gospel.
I’m greatly challenged by the words found in 2 Tim 2:24-26 when it comes to reaching out to those who need to be saved: “And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.”
And so, don’t quarrel. Be kind. Gently instruct. And then trust God to lead people to repentance. I also like these four suggestions made by ChristianAnswers.net.
1. Be prayerful.
2. Be prepared.
3. Be patient.
4. Be persistent.

Here are some other pointers that I’ve picked up.
• Love them.
• Use the King James Version of the Bible.
• Ask questions. Don’t tell them what they believe; instead ask for their thoughts.
• Keep the initiative. Don’t let them drive the conversation or get sidetracked.
• Remember the goal is not to win an argument but to win the person.
• Focus on how to have a relationship with Jesus. Stay away from religious church-talk.
• Share your testimony. You might not feel adequate to debate every point of doctrine but you can respond like the man who was born blind and was healed in John 9:25: “One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”
• Follow the Holy Spirit.

What Would Jesus Say to a Jehovah’s Witness?

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What would Jesus say to the Jehovah’s Witness?           John 1:1,14-17
*** Knock on any door in the United States, as well as in many countries around the world, and the odds are excellent that Jehovah’s Witnesses have been there ahead of you. They are a serious challenge to Christians for several reasons. JW’s continue to grow at a rapid pace. 1980’s ½ million members in United States 2.25 million worldwide 1998 1 million members in United States 5.9 million worldwide in 233 countries. The amount of time JW’s spend “preaching”, either in service, door-to-door, or in other public places is enormous. In 1998, JW’s spent almost 183 million hours preaching in the United States alone. In addition, the JW’s also conducted 4.3 million Bible studies for those who showed interest in their doctrines. Officially called The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, JW’s arm their members with the printed page in astounding amounts. They have a magazine called the Awake which is over 18 million copies and in 80 different languages. The Watchtower, is another magazine sent out semi monthly to instruct the society’s members in doctrine and practice, reached almost 21 million copies in 126 languages. All JW witnessing efforts and tools are designed to oppose and contradict the biblical doctrines and teachings and to twist Scriptures to make the Bible fit a preconceived theology it simply does not teach. The JW’s have their version of the Bible, The new World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, which is filled with mistranslations designed to prove JW doctrines. But just like the other cults, to fully understand where they are coming from, we need to start at the beginning. ***George Gallup states, “This is the most crucial decade in History. Designer, a la carte religion flourishes as traditional Christianity is undermined by counterfeits.”
1. This is true when it comes to Charles Taze Russell the founder of Jehovah’s Witness cult. He was born in February 16, 1852 in Pittsburgh Pa. and died October 31, 1916.
2. He lived a colorful life with all kinds of legal troubles with his religious schemes.
He was selling his so-called sermons that were supposed to have been preached on his “World Tour” in 1912 and that proved to be a lie.
Another scheme was called the “Miracle Wheat” with claims that it would grow 5 times that of normal wheat. It sold for $1.00 a pound. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle was a N.Y. paper that had national importance and it ran from 1841 to 1955. It exposed many of Russell’s schemes through court.

 

*** P.T. Barnum said correctly, “Never underestimate the gullibility of the public…there’s a sucker born every minute.”
In June of 1912 Reverend J.J. Ross pastor of James Street Baptist Church in Hamilton, Ontario published a pamphlet denouncing Russell as a minister and his qualifications as a scholar along with his moral depravity. Well Charles Russell sued Pastor Ross for “Defamatory Libel”.

 

*** In the pamphlet, Ross said that Russell’s system of theology was, “Anti-rational, anti-scientific, anti-biblical, anti-Christian and a deplorable perversion of the gospel of God’s dear Son.”

 

***Under cross-examination that took 5 hours here is just one example of the Russell answered…
Q: Attorney Stanton: “Do you know the Greek Alphabet?
A: Russell: “Oh, yes.”
Q: Can you tell me the correct letters if you see them?”
A: Some of them; I might make a mistake on some of them.”
Q: Would you tell me the names of those on the top of the page?”
A: Well, I don’t know that I would be able to.”
Q: You can’t tell what those letters are? Look at them and see if you know?”
A: “My way…” (at this point Russell is interrupted).
Q: “Are you familiar with the Greek language?”
A: “No”.
The next round of questioning was about his ordination. Russell claimed that his ordination was equal if not superior to ordained and accredited ministers. Attorney Stanton asked Russell to answer “Yes” or “No” to the next questions…
Q: “Is it true you were never ordained?”
A: “It is not true”.
Q: “Now you never were ordained by a bishop, clergyman, presbytery, council, or any body of men living?”
A: “I never was.”
1. He lost his case, and in falling to name the Greek alphabet, he proved himself a perjurer under oath, mainly because all through his ministry he claimed to base his cult on his Greek and Hebrew scholarship!
I. History of the Watch Tower
1. The history of the Jehovah’s Witnesses begins with the founder of the organization Charles Taze Russell. In 1870, at the age of eighteen, an ex-Congregationalist by the name of Charles Taze Russell started a Bible class in Pittsburgh. In 1876, the class elected Russell as their Pastor.
He founded the “Herald of the Morning” in 1879, which eventually developed into what is known today as “The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom.”  Today this publication has grown to over seventeen million copies per month in over one hundred languages.
2. In 1884, Russell incorporated the “Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society” at Pittsburgh. Today this organization has branches in over one hundred countries, and it has missionary works in over two hundred and fifty. With over one-half million volunteer workers, the Jehovah’s Witnesses have become a serious threat to Bible believers throughout the world.
. Russell died in 1916, and Judge J.F. Rutherford took over the Society’s leadership. It was under Rutherford’s leadership that the group took the name “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” and Society headquarters moved to Brooklyn. Rutherford died in 1942, and Nathan Knorr took control and boosted the membership to over two million. In 1961 the Society published its own “translation” of the scriptures, called “The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures.” Knorr died in 1977, and Frederick Franz took over the leadership of the Watchtower Society. Franz is the current leader of the Jehovah’s Witnesses (1991).
II. What Do They Believe?
They offer a cunning mixture of Scripture verses and “almost” Christian doctrines. Their approach, like that of the Mormons, is to stress elements of their doctrine which avoid controversy. The rest comes later.
But they are an “organization” of slaves, working desperately to “earn” eternal life. They seek salvation, not by grace, but by becoming “Kingdom Publishers.”
They don’t have a personal relationship with Christ (who they say is not God), but rather they observe a system of law and works.
They devote their attention to an all-encompassing fascination with prophecy, and the “vindication of God’s sovereignty.”
They believe:
Jehovah God existed from the beginning. His first creations were two angels, Michael (who later becomes Jesus) and Lucifer. Jehovah God created all else through his firstborn, Jesus (Michael).
Jehovah appointed Lucifer to watch over earth, but the angel became jealous of Jehovah. He seduced Adam and Eve, and became Satan. He dared challenge Jehovah’s right to rule! Jehovah gave Satan 6,000 years to try to win over all humanity. When he fails, Jehovah God will re-establish his kingdom and destroy Satan and all his rebellious followers, thus vindicating Jehovah’s name (an obsession with Witnesses).
After thousands of years of this struggle, Jehovah God arranged for Michael to cease to exist and be recreated as Jesus, a human. He was killed as a ransom on a torture stake (not a cross) for all mankind. This released men from Adam’s sinful legacy, and gave them a chance to be worthy of eternal life, if they were faithful Witnesses.
When the human Jesus died, he stayed dead. He was recreated as a spirit (no bodily resurrection) and lives in heaven.
Jesus Christ (now Michael) returned to earth invisibly in 1914 (the date has been changed repeatedly) and is working through his “Organization” to re-establish Jehovah’s kingdom over the earth.
The final battle between Jehovah and Satan, the Battle of Armageddon, is to start shortly, settling the question, “Who will rule earth?” A very special 144,000 Witnesses, the only ones considered “born again,” will rule with Jesus in heaven at the end of this battle. All other Witnesses (numbering millions) will survive Armageddon, and live forever on earth, in the kingdom of the “New World.”
After 1,000 years of this utopian Kingdom comes the final test. Satan will be loosed for a while and deceive many. He and those who rebel with him will be destroyed by fire from heaven (no eternal hell, just quick annihilation). Jehovah’s sovereignty over all creation will have been vindicated once and for all.
While many Christians disagree on the order of final events, there can be no disagreement on the work of Christ, or one is not really Christian. J.W.’s bear the indelible mark of a cult: they claim Christ’s death on the cross is not sufficient for full salvation. One must believe that Jesus is God, and also in His bodily resurrection. Both are denied by the Witnesses.
In fact, Jehovah’s Witnesses deny most of the basic doctrines of Christianity. Former Witnesses point out several basic denials:
They claim: Jesus Christ is not God. Rather, he is Michael the archangel. The Holy Spirit is not a person, but an “active force.” J.W.’s are unitarians, denying the Trinity.
When you’re dead, you’re dead. Man has no eternal soul, any more than animals.
Jesus Christ was not raised bodily from the grave, but was recreated as a new “spirit body.”
Jesus returned invisibly in 1914. There is no “visible coming” planned in the future.
There is no hell. Just like animals, when we die, it is over.
Only 144,000 people achieve heaven. The rest, faithful Witnesses who have died, will be recreated on earth during the kingdom of the “New World.”
Focusing on the Old Testament, their system is a legalistic one. They forbid blood transfusions (they say that is eating blood). They also consider any salute to a flag as worship of that flag, and therefore prohibited. They don’t vote, hold public office or serve in the military.
Consumed with preparing for a “New World,” they know nothing of “New Life” in Jesus Christ.
III. The Doctrinal Error of the Watch Tower
1. Witnesses deviate from biblical Christianity in several areas.

 

First, like all the cults, they deny the Trinity. They believe there is one God, Jehovah. Jesus, is actually Michael the Archangel, the first of God’s creation, who became flesh at the incarnation. After the resurrection, He returned to heaven as Michael the Archangel.1 The Holy Spirit is not God but an active force much like electricity or fire.
2. Second, Witnesses deny the bodily resurrection of Christ, but instead believe He was raised as a spirit and manifested Himself several times in different materialized bodies.
3. Third, they deny the existence of hell and eternal punishment, but believe in total annihilation after death. Only the elite ruling class, the 144,000, are allowed to go to heaven. The faithful Jehovah’s Witnesses remain unconscious after death till they are resurrected in the Millennium. Those who are not in the organization are annihilated after death.
4. Fourth, Witnesses have a works-oriented salvation. Salvation is not based upon a relationship with Christ, but found in the organization. One must serve the society, and depending on one’s faithfulness and absolute obedience, one may be saved.5
5. Fifth, they believe that Jesus returned invisibly in 1914 and established His throne in heaven. At Armageddon, God will destroy all evil, and abolish all the world’s governments, and establish a new Paradise on earth. Then the living and resurrected Jehovah’s Witnesses will inherit Paradise earth. The 144,000 mentioned earlier will rule with Jesus. At this time all unbelievers who have died will be raised (with some exceptions) and will study under the Witnesses during the Millennium, a period of a thousand years. Studying with them will be the unbelievers who have survived Armageddon. After the thousand years, their faith will be tested because God will release Satan from the abyss. At that point all unbelievers will have to choose between Satan or Jehovah. Those who reject Jehovah will be annihilated.
6. Clearly the doctrines of the Jehovah’s Witnesses deviate in critical ways from sound biblical principles.

 

A. Their Deception of John 1:1.

 

1. John 1:1 “…The word was a god.” – New World Translation. In their New World Translation of the Bible that was first published in 1950 shows deliberate misinterpretation of key phrases by their so-called scholars. I call it “scheming scholarship” – it’s a joke!

 

*** On November 24, 1954 Fredrick W. Franz, their leading representative on the NWT Bible translation committee said under oath…
Q: Can you yourself, translate that into Hebrew?
A: Which?
Q: That fourth verse of the second chapter of Genesis.
A: You mean this?
Q: Yes
A: No!
They can’t even interpret the O.T. right, how can we believe their N.T. interpretations?
2. Universal Greek Grammatical Rule: The subject of the sentence is “word”; the verb is “was”. There can never be a direct object “a” following “was”, since verbs cannot take on an object. It is poor grammar and poor Greek to do otherwise.
3. What is this verse from the NWT saying about God and Jesus Christ?
That God is polytheistic – not true!

 

Deut 5:7 “You shall have no other gods before me.”
They get around this as saying that Jehovah is higher than all other gods.

 

Deut 6:4 “Hear O Israel, The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” (Monotheistic)
In Ex 3:14 Jehovah God says to Moses “I Am”
But wait – Jesus said in John 8:58, “Before Abraham was I Am.”
When Jesus said this – any reasonable person can see that Jesus was actually saying, “I Am Jehovah” in the flesh!
By the way, how do we know this for sure? Because in the next verse the Jews tried to stone Him for blasphemy – Jesus was identifying Himself not as a god but Jehovah God!
Now watch this – Isaiah 43:10 “…Before Me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after Me.” Isaiah 43:11 “…And besides Me there is no Savior.”
That Jesus is not equal with God – not true!
To the Jehovah’s Witness, Jesus is Michael the archangel. Remember, Mormons teach that Lucifer is Jesus spirit brother!
4. J.W teach that Jesus is a created god and they use for their proof text…Col 1:15, 16

 

“Firstborn” = origin or initiator

 

Rev 3:14 “…the Beginning of the creation of God.”
Same word as John 1:1 “In the beginning” – which in fact the 1951 Edition of the Jehovah Witness New World Translation of Greek Scriptures agrees!

 

Phil 2:6 “Who being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God.”
“Being” = it’s not the normal Greek word used, but instead Paul uses another word that stresses the essence of Christ’s person – His continuous state or condition.
“Form” = literally, the unchanging character of Christ.
“Robbery” = it’s a word that has evolved over the 1st century. It used to mean something that was seized or snatched by a thief. Then it became to mean – to clutch, embrace or prized.
“Equal” = the exact in quantity, character and number.
Key: When Jesus Christ as God in the flesh, He still had all the exact rights, privileges and honor as deity and so there is still only one God!
Question: Just because Jesus chose not to appropriate all His powers and privileges as man, does that make Him any less God? Absolutely not!
Humble = strength under control

 

Heb 1:3 “Who being the brightness of His glory and the expressed image of God and upholding all things by the word of His power…”
“Being” = His continuous state or condition.
…Same word as in Phil 2:6

 

“Brightness” = not a reflection of God’s glory but rather as God, Jesus has the same exact essence.
“Expressed image” = this word is only used here in the N.T. and in extra biblical literature it meant to engrave on wood, an etching on metal, a brand on an animal’s hide, an impression on clay or a stamped image on a coin. Here Paul is stressing the perfect imprint and the exact representation of the true nature of God in both time and space.

 

Col 2:9 “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily…” What’s the key word here? All!
It’s interesting that in Paul’s day matter was seen as evil and spirit was seen as good. Notice here Paul takes on this false thinking head on! It was unthinkable that God would take on a human body!
Cults use our terminology but they don’t use our dictionary!
The Jehovah’s Witness are the best examples of this principle. Their massive grammatical abuse of the Bible is alarming to a real Greek scholar!

 

B. Their Denial of The Crucifixion.

 

1. They deny that Jesus hung on a cross, but rather on a stake or a pole in the ground. How do does one hang on a pole?
2. The Watch Tower Society says, “The cross is a symbol falsely used to represent Christianity. Jesus was not crucified on a cross, but on a single stake, a single pole in the ground with no crossbar.”
3. They say that the cross is legend! That it developed after the 3rd century! You know – it’s so easy to say this and never show any documentation! This is what Cults are great at doing because they know most people are biblically illiterate!
What gets me is that even secular historians and archaeologist disagree with Jehovah Witness!
C. Their Departure From the Resurrection.
1. They teach that Jesus rose from the dead in spirit only. In a debate with John Ankerburg, this was their comment on Christ’s body, “We know nothing about what became of His physical body, except that it did not decay or corrupt, whether it was dissolved into gases or whether it’s preserved somewhere as a grand memorial of God’s love.” I’ll tell you what happened to His body, “Up from the grave He arose!”
2. There’s too much evidence that proves that Jesus did raise body and all!
Why did Mary and the woman, John and Peter only see the burial cloth in the tomb?
Jesus ate with the disciples – spirit can’t eat!
Thomas touched Jesus’ wounds – you can’t touch sprit!
1 Cor15 speaks of our resurrection and it involves our bodies and Christ’s bodily resurrection is our assurance. I’ll take Paul’s word over any J.W.

 

Rev 1:5 Christ is “Firstborn from the dead.” Simply – Jesus is the first to rise from the dead with a physical body!
2. J.W. say that since Jesus did not physically rise from the dead, He will not physically return! But wait the Bible says, “Every eye will see Him” return to earth!

 

D. Their Distortion of The Word “Jehovah”.

 

1. J.W. teach that the only name for God is “Jehovah” in the O.T and the N. T. and all other names like Lord (kyrios) and God (theos) are added years later and that we’ve distorted His name.
2. Where do they get this, you ask? Well let’s look at this issue:
This is their argument from the Watchtower and Tract Society, “The evidence is, therefore, that the original Scriptures has been tampered with, the same as the text of the Septuagint (Greek translation of the O.T.) has been. And, at least from the 3rd century A.D. onward, the divine name in tetragrammaton form has been eliminated from the text by copyist…In place of it, they substituted the words “Kyrios” and “theos”.”
Tetragrammaton = the Hebrew consonants YHWH, for Jehovah. This is what the J.W’s want us to believe. It’s better translated – Yahweh!
But in reality, Jehovah is a word created by a 13th century Catholic Spanish Monk named Martini. He took the consonants of “Adoni” and “Elohim” to Latinize the word and it was very popular since then.
Now get this, the J.W. agree with this as they said in 1969, “While inclining to view the pronunciation “Yahweh” as the more correct way, we have retained the form “Jehovah” because of the people’s familiarity with it since the 13th century.”
Bruce Metzger said, “Jehovah does not accurately represent any form of the Name ever used in Hebrew.”
So J.W. believe that they need to restore the true name of God and expose the cover up and yet they aren’t!!
Their argument explodes in there face because of the evidence is to the contrary and rather elementary.
It can be shown from literally thousands of copies of the Greek New Testament and not one does the Tetragrammaton appear, not even in the Book of Matthew, which was possibly written in Hebrew or partly in Aramaic.

 

E. Their Discounting of Christ’s Atonement.

 

1. Mormons have a non-sufficient atonement and the J.Ws. are no better off.

 

*** From they’re teaching, “Should You Believe In The Trinity?” “Jesus was no more and no less than a perfect human…thus, when God sent Jesus to earth as the ransom, he made Jesus to be what would satisfy justice, not an incarnation, not a god-man, but perfect man, lower than angels.”
2. Now watch…this discounting of the atonement messes up their salvation also. If you don’t have an all-sufficient atonement you can’t have an all-powerful salvation! If Christ can’t do it for us then whose left…us! I don’t think so!

 

***The Watchtower Society states, “Salvation depends on works. Grace is more or less the opportunity for human beings to earn their salvation by total obedience to the Watchtower Society. Grace does not involve a free gift of salvation.”
Close to 200 times in the New Testament salvation is said to be by faith alone!

 

Rom 10:9 “…If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead you shall be saved.”

 

Rom 10:13 “For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
3. What do these verses have in common? Call on the Lord Jesus not Jehovah! The J.W. mistranslate these verses if you didn’t already know!

 

Rev 4:11 – The J.W.’s translate this “Jehovah” but correctly translate Romans 10:9 – because if they did then Jesus is Jehovah God!

 

***Blaise Pascal the great 19th century Christian thinker wisely said, “Truth is so obscure in these times and falsehood so established, that unless we love the truth, we cannot know it.”
IV. How to witness to the Jehovah’s witness?
A One of the most effective ways to evangelize Jehovah’s Witnesses is to destroy their faith in the Society.
Remember, salvation is found only in this organization. The Watch Tower Society is seen as the spokesman for God. If you can show Witnesses the serious errors of the organization, they will begin to have doubts and questions. This can sometimes lead them to leave the Society.
Attacking the Society’s record of false prophecy can cause JWs to to question the organization. This approach is effective because they claim to have the true understanding of the end times. If we can show them that the organization has been constantly wrong in the area of prophecy, this will certainly make an impact. When the Jehovah’s Witnesses show up at your door again, begin first by asking them, “Are you prophets of God?” Some will say, “Yes.” Others may say, “We are prophets in a sense.” You must make it clear there is no such thing as “a prophet in a sense.” There are only true prophets and false prophets. Some may deny being prophets. If so, show them a copy of the April 1, 1972, Watch Tower article on page 197, which states clearly that they are prophets.
B. Define clearly what makes a true prophet and a false prophet using Deut. 18:20-22.
A true prophet speaks in the name of Jehovah and predicts future things which come to pass. A false prophet speaks in the name of Jehovah and predicts future things which do not come to pass. Make sure they understand this, for this is the most critical step.
C. Ask them, “Is there an organization that fits the character of a false prophet?”
That’s when you say, “Let’s take a look at the Watch Tower Organization.” Have handy copies of the articles mentioned here. The 1889 issue, “The Time is at Hand,” page 101 states, “The battle of the great day of God Almighty (Rev. 16:14), which will end in A.D. 1914, with the complete overthrow of earth’s present rulership, is already commenced.” This 1914 prediction of Christ’s return never came true.
Then the Watch Tower predicted that Christ would return in 1925. The 1918 issue of, “Millions Now Living Will Never Die,” p. 89 states, “Therefore we may confidently expect that 1925 will mark the return of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the faithful prophets of old, particularly those named by the apostle in Hebrews 11 to the condition of human perfection.” This proved to be another false prophecy.
The Watch Tower made a third prophecy of the return of Christ; this one was to occur in 1975. The August 15, 1968, issue of, Why Are You Looking Forward to 1975?, p. 494, predicted the return of Christ in 1975. Once again the Witnesses were shown to be false prophets. If the Witnesses don’t believe these articles are real, tell them to look them up in their church’s library.
Another interesting prophecy is found on page 154 of their book You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth. Here they state, “Some of the generation living in 1914 will see the end of the system of things and survive it.” Most of the 1914 generation are dead, and the few remaining are very old. In just a few years, the Watch Tower will again have another false prophecy. When presented clearly, the record of the Watch Tower’s false prophecies is a very effective tool in witnessing to JWs.
D. The Bodily Resurrection of Christ
An area for effective witnessing to Witnesses is the bodily resurrection of Christ. Witnesses believe that Christ’s crucified body was disintegrated by Jehovah never to exist again. Accordingly, Jesus was raised as a spirit who then materialized and appeared in several different fleshly bodies as the angels had done. Indeed, it was in this form that He appeared to His disciples; i.e., He wasn’t in a human body; He just appeared to be human. He ascended into heaven as a spirit and once again became Michael the Archangel. This doctrine can be easily disproved.

 

Luke 24:36-43, Jesus clearly states in verse 39 that He is not a spirit but a man of flesh and bone. He even ate food to prove that He was not a spirit but had a physical body. John 20:24-27, Jesus shows Thomas His wounds. Jesus is clearly demonstrating to His disciples that the body previously on the cross had been resurrected. If Jesus had a different body than the one on the cross, He would have been deliberately deceiving the disciples. Ask the Witness, “Would Jesus deliberately deceive His disciples into believing something that was not true?”
Next, turn to some passages where Jesus predicts the resurrection of His body. In John 2:19-21 Jesus says, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” Acts 2:26-27, another prophecy of the Messiah’s bodily resurrection. Clearly the prophecies and Jesus’ appearances prove a bodily resurrection.
Witnesses cite 1 Peter 3:18 ; 1 Cor. 15:44-50 to back up their belief. In 1 Peter 3:18 we read, “Christ died once and for all… he being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the spirit.” This verse does not prove Jesus is a spirit. This verse says that Jesus was raised in the Spirit and by the Spirit of God who gives life. Romans 8:11 states that the Holy Spirit was involved in raising Jesus from the dead. Jesus was not raised as a spirit but by the power of the Holy Spirit.
According to 1 Cor. 15:50, “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” Since Jesus is in heaven, Witnesses say He must be a spirit.14 They are correct in saying that the earthly body cannot enter heaven. However, when Jesus rose, He had a glorified body (Luke 24:39). Therefore, He can dwell in heaven because of His glorified state. According to 1 Cor 15:39, “All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another…. There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies.” Christ’s glorified body allows Him to travel in the earthly and heavenly dimensions. Some verses indicate that Christ exists in heaven in bodily form. “For in him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form” Colossians 2:9. The verb “dwells” in the Greek is katoikei, and is in the present tense. In other words, Jesus has a glorified body in heaven, the one that was resurrected. Note also 1 Timothy 2:5, “There is one God and one mediator, the man Christ Jesus.” The verb “is,” is a present tense verb also. How can Jesus be a man if He is Michael the Archangel? Seeing these errors may prompt them to seek the truth.

 

***Charles Smith was a Jehovah’s Witness, working his way up in the organization for 37 years. Outside one of their meetings, he noticed someone with a sign that simply said, “1 John 5:13.” He decided he would read it later. “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (KJV) The verse was shocking to him. He tried reading it again to be sure he had not misread it the first time. “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know… that ye may know… that ye may know that ye have eternal life…” Watchtower theology does not allow them to know they have eternal life. Charles Smith was shocked and confused. After 37 years of working his way up in the organization, he did not know he had eternal life. He did not even know he could know. He took the rather unusual step (unusual for Jehovah’s Witnesses) of reading the verse in context. Much of 1 John 5 was contrary to his JW teachings. When he asked questions about it, what did his superiors tell him? “Don’t worry about it.” Charles could not stop worrying about it. He struggled with this chapter for a year before deciding he had to know or go mad. He finally knew he had to accept the real Jesus, not the Jesus of the Watchtower, as his savior. The last time I talked with Charles, he had not met the person holding the sign outside of one of their meetings. The person holding the sign does not know what happened to Charles. I pray that the person has not become frustrated and given up trying to witness. Only God knows all the results of all our efforts.