Christians are often uncertain how their faith differs from another’s and are unable to say what those differences are. A common misunderstanding is that the God of the Christians and the god of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is the same God, just with a different name. However, this look at the central beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses will prove such an understanding to be incorrect. A basic guide to the differences between Christian beliefs and Jehovah’s Witnesses beliefs is outlined below. This should help us to pray for and share our belief in the Lord Jesus Christ with Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Before you pray, prepare your heart
When we pray for people with a different viewpoint, we should always ask the Lord to stir our hearts with a passion to intercede for them so that none should perish (2 Peter 3:9).
Pray that God will give you the gift of intercession and compassion to pray for those who are still in desperate need of the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Ask for the church to be awakened to the urgency of the times and seasons, and that many would go into the harvest fields of the world, giving their lives for the sake of Christ to those living in darkness.
Origins and history
Christian faith: Jesus Christ. Founded about AD 30–33, in the Judean province of Palestine (today Israel), under the Roman Empire. Followers of Jesus Christ became known as ‘Christians’.
Jehovah’s Witnesses: Charles Taze Russell (1852–1916), and later Joseph F. Rutherford (1869–1942). This religion began in 1879, in Pennsylvania. Its headquarters is in Brooklyn, New York.
Christian faith: The Bible, written originally in Hebrew and Aramaic (Old Testament), and Greek (New Testament).
Jehovah’s Witnesses: Watchtower publications, including ‘the Bible’ (New World Translation only), Reasoning from the Scriptures, and You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth. In addition, they publish the Watchtower and Awake! magazines. It is estimated that the New World Translation ‘Bible’ contains less than 6% of Scripture!
Pray for Jehovah’s Witnesses to have a curiosity to know what the (Christian) Bible says and that they would get hold of a copy and read it. Ask the Holy Spirit to convict them of the love of Jesus for them as they read the Bible.
Christian faith: God is one, and God is Triune (one God in three Persons; not three gods): Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Often the title ‘God’ designates the first Person, God the Father. God is a spiritual being without a physical body. He is personal and is intimately involved with all people. He created the universe out of nothing. He is eternal, changeless, holy, loving and perfect.
Jehovah’s Witnesses: Jehovah’s Witnesses worship one-person, God, whom they call ‘Jehovah’. They do not believe there is a Trinity. They believe that Jesus is the first thing created by Jehovah.
Pray for Jehovah’s Witnesses to encounter God as a Heavenly Father (Luke 11:2), the Lord Jesus as a Friend (John 15:15), and the Holy Spirit as a Comforter (John 14:16).
Christian faith: Jesus is God, the second Person of the Trinity. As God, the Son, He has always existed and was never created. He is fully God and fully man (the two natures joined; not mixed). As the second Person of the Trinity, He is equal with God, the Father, and God, the Holy Spirit. In becoming man, He was begotten through the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. Jesus is the only way to the Father, salvation and eternal life. He died on a cross, according to God’s plan, as the sacrifice and full payment for our sins. He rose from the dead on the third day, and is spiritually and physically immortal. Jesus will come again visibly and physically at the end of the world to establish God’s kingdom and judge the world.
Jehovah’s Witnesses: They do not believe that Jesus is God. Before He lived on earth, they believe that He was the archangel, Michael. Jehovah made the universe through him. On earth, he was a man who lived a perfect life. After dying on a stake (not a cross), he was resurrected as a spirit; his body was destroyed. Jesus is not coming again; he ‘returned’ invisibly (in 1914) in spirit from. Very soon, he and the angels will destroy all non-Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Pray for Jehovah’s Witnesses to have a personal revelation of the divinity of Jesus, that He is fully God (Colossians 1:15), that He is coming again at the end of the age (Revelation 20:6), and will cast into the lake of fire the beast, the false prophet, the devil, Death, Hades and anyone whose names are not in the Book of Life (Revelation 20:10, 14-15).
Christian faith: The Holy Spirit is God, the third Person of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit is a Person, not a force or an energy field. He comforts, grieves, reproves, convicts, guides, teaches and fills Christians. He is not the Father, nor is He the Son, Jesus Christ.
Jehovah’s Witnesses: Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the Holy Spirit is not God, but rather an impersonal and invisible, active force of Jehovah.
Pray for Jehovah’s Witnesses to encounter the Holy Spirit as the Comforter, Counsellor, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby, etc. (John 16:7; AMP).
Christian faith: Salvation is by God’s grace, not through an individual’s good works. Salvation must be received by faith. People must believe in their hearts that Jesus died for their sins and rose again physically, which is the assurance of forgiveness and resurrection of the body. This is God’s loving plan to forgive sinful people.
Jehovah’s Witnesses: In this religion, one must be baptised as a Jehovah’s Witness. Followers must earn everlasting life on earth by good works, such as door-to-door evangelism. Salvation in heaven is limited to 144,000 ‘anointed ones’ and this number has already been attained. The remaining believers must live on the earth for eternity.
Pray John 3:16-18 for Jehovah’s Witnesses: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
Christian faith: After death, believers go to heaven. All people await the final Judgment at the end of the age. Both saved and lost people will be resurrected. Those who were saved will live with God in a new Heaven and Earth. Those who did not choose Christ are lost and will suffer the torment of eternal separation from God (in hell). Jesus’ bodily resurrection guarantees believers that they, too, will be resurrected and receive new immortal bodies.
Jehovah’s Witnesses: The 144,000 ‘anointed ones’ will live as spirits in heaven. The rest of the righteous, ‘the great crowd’, will live on earth and must obey God perfectly for 1,000 years or be annihilated.
Pray for Jehovah’s Witnesses to ask questions about life, death and hell. Pray that the Holy Spirit will work in their hearts and minds. Ask that they would find a Christian Bible to read on these subjects.
Christian faith: After death, non-believers go to hell (a literal place, without any presence of God). After judgment (Revelation 20:12), all whose names are not found in the Book of Life will be cast in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15). This is the second death (Revelation 21:8).
Jehovah’s Witnesses: Eternal punishment does not mean the eternal torment of living souls. Hell is not a place, but a condition of death, which means ‘non-existence’. They believe the doctrine of ‘hell torment’ is a lie because they think it is unreasonable, repugnant to justice, contrary to the principles of love and entirely unscriptural.
Pray for Jehovah’s Witnesses to seek the true meaning for themselves of the Hebrew and Greek translations of the words ‘death’ and ‘hell’. Ask for the Holy Spirit to convict them of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8-11).
Christian faith: Group worship, usually in churches. No secret rites. Baptism and Lord’s Supper (Communion). Active voluntary missionary efforts. Aid to those in need: the poor, widows, orphans, and downtrodden. Christians believe that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah promised to Israel in the Old Testament (Tenach). Jesus said His followers would be known by their love for one another.
Jehovah’s Witnesses: Also known as International Bible Students Association (IBSA). Jehovah’s Witnesses meet in Kingdom Halls instead of churches. They meet twice a week. Their meetings are open to the public, and they examine what their ‘Bible’ says and how they can apply it to their lives. Active members are encouraged to distribute literature door-to-door. Once a year, only the ‘anointed ones’ partake of the Lord’s Evening Meal (Communion). Jehovah’s Witnesses do not observe holidays or birthdays. They are forbidden to vote, salute the flag, work in the military, or accept blood transfusions.
Pray for Jehovah’s Witnesses to consider attending a Christian church service out of curiosity. Pray for the Holy Spirit to minister to them on that day in a very personal way, that will draw them into the Kingdom of God.
Christian faith: Christians celebrate Christmas (birth of Jesus), Passover (crucifixion of Jesus), the Resurrection of Christ and Pentecost (the Holy Spirit imparted to believers).
Jehovah’s Witnesses: The Jehovah’s Witnesses commemorate Christ’s death as a ransom or ‘propitiatory sacrifice’ through observing the Lord’s Evening Meal or Memorial once per annum. As mentioned, only the ‘anointed’ ones may partake in this Communion.
Pray for the Holy Spirit to cause Jehovah’s Witnesses to enquire why Christians celebrate their festivals. Pray also that their hearts will be open and receptive to hearing the gospel and receiving Jesus into their hearts as the Hope of glory (Colossians 1:27).