I appreciate your letter which came while I was out of the city. I have read it with a great deal of interest, and am happy to reply to you.
You mention that we might use the American Standard Revised Version of the Bible as our basis, and for this I am glad, as I enjoy this version. But also I would like to use the Bible published by the Jehovah's Witnesses themselves, the one known as The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures. I am sure you will be willing to have us use that version since it is the official version of the Witnesses.
You mention that you do not accept Jesus Christ as being identical with Jehovah, and that the witnesses do not believe in either a Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Ghost, nor do they accept a heavenly presiding Duo made up of the Father and the Son.
In this letter I will discuss these points. The other points you mention I will take up in a subsequent letter.
Let us first mention the fact that Jesus Christ and Jehovah are one and the same person.
Jehovah's Witnesses' New World version of the Bible clearly shows that Jehovah is the Savior, and beside him there is no Savior. The New Testament, of course, says that Jesus is the Savior, and that there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.
Note the following scriptures, all from the New World Translation by your Jehovah's Witness scholars:
"I am Jehovah AND BESIDE ME THERE IS NO SAVIOR."
". . . Is it not I, Jehovah, besides whom there is no other God, a righteous God and a SAVIOR? THERE BEING NONE EXCEPTING ME."
"But I am Jehovah your God from the land of Egypt, and there was no God except me that you used to know: AND THERE WAS NO SAVIOR BUT I."
Notice some from the New Testament to show that Jesus and Jehovah ARE BOTH THE ONE AND SAME PERSON- -THE SAVIOR OF MANKIND.
"Let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that in THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST THE NAZARENE WHOM you impaled but whom God raised from the dead, by this one does this man stand here sound in front of you. This is the stone that was treated by your builders as of no account that has become the head of the corner. FURTHERMORE, THERE IS NO SALVATION IN ANYONE ELSE FOR THERE IS NOT ANOTHER NAME UNDER HEAVEN THAT HAS BEEN GIVEN AMONG MEN WHICH WE MUST GET SAVED."
"The God of our forefathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew, hanging him upon a stake; God exalted this one as Chief Agent AND SAVIOR to his right hand."
"She will give birth to a son and you must call his name Jesus FOR HE WILL SAVE HIS PEOPLE FROM THEIR SINS."
"Because there was born to you today A SAVIOR WHO IS CHRIST THE LORD."
". . . God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus."
I John 4 :11,-15:
"In addition we ourselves have beheld and are bearing witness that the Father has sent forth his SON AS A SAVIOR OF THE WORLD. Whoever makes the confession that JESUS CHRIST IS THE SON OF GOD, God remains in union with such one and he in union with God."
You see from these scriptures that Jesus of Nazareth is the Savior, who is Christ the Lord. But your same Bible also says that Jehovah is Savior and beside him there is no Savior. So now we have these two statements:
1-- Christ is the only one by whose name we are saved. He is Savior.
2-- Jehovah is the Savior and beside him there is no other Savior.
What are we to believe then? That the Bible is contradicting itself? That the Scripture does not mean what it says? That the writers of Holy Writ did not know what they were talking about? Would they lead us astray?
Or shall we accept the fact of the matter--that Christ and Jehovah are one and the same person?
Let us now look at the title REDEEMER.
Who is our Redeemer? Is it Jehovah or Christ?
The J.W. Old Testament says it is Jehovah. The J.W. New Testament says it is Christ. Note these references among many others:
"However God himself will redeem my soul." And you say God is Jehovah.
"For I, Jehovah your God am grasping your right hand, the One saying to you Do not be afraid, I myself will help you . . . is the utterance of JEHOVAH EVEN YOUR REPURCHASER, THE HOLY ONE OF ISRAEL."
The Repurchaser is the Redeemer, as you know.
". . . And all flesh will have to know that I, Jehovah' AM YOUR SAVIOR AND YOUR REPURCHASER, the Powerful One of Jacob."
"And to Zion the Repurchaser will certainly come and to those turning from transgression in Jacob is the utterance of Jehovah."
"For your grand Maker is your husbandly owner, Jehovah of armies being his name; and the Holy One of Israel IS YOUR REPURCHASER, the God of the whole earth he will be called."
"This is what Jehovah has said, the REPURCHASER of you people, the Holy One of Israel . . . I AM JEHOVAH YOUR HOLY ONE, THE CREATOR OF ISRAEL, YOUR KING."
You can readily see from your Old Testament that Jehovah, known also as the Holy One of Israel, is the Redeemer of the world, or as your Bible says, the Repurchaser, which means the same as Redeemer, since there are many other references to show that the Redeemer "purchased us" with his blood. (Acts 20:28 for instance.)
Now let us look at your New Testament, on the same subject.
I Peter 1:18-19:
"For you know that it was not with corruptible things, with silver or gold, that you were delivered from your fruitless form of conduct received by tradition from your forefathers. BUT IT WAS WITH THE PRECIOUS BLOOD, LIKE THAT OF AN UNBLEMISHED AND SPOTLESS LAMB, EVEN CHRIST'S."
"Christ by purchase released us from the curse of the law."
Galatians 4 :4-5:
". . . God sent forth his Son . . . that he might release BY PURCHASE those under the law."
This makes Christ the "Repurchaser" or Redeemer, you see, as spoken of in the Old Testament.
". . . because you were slaughtered and WITH YOUR BLOOD YOU BOUGHT, persons for God out of every tribe . . ."
" . . . through the release by the ransom paid by Christ Jesus. God set him forth as an offering FOR PROPITIATION THROUGH FAITH IN HIS BLOOD."
I Corinthians 1: 3O-31:
"But it is due to him that you are in union with Christ Jesus who has become to us wisdom from God, and also righteousness and sanctification AND RELEASE BY RANSOM that it may be just as it is written, He that boasts let him boast in Jehovah."
"By means of him we have the release by ransom through the blood of that one . . ."
" . , , the Son of his love, by means of whom we have our release by ransom, the forgiveness of sins."
And so we might go on. You see that Jesus is the one who ransomed, or repurchased, us and is therefore the Redeemer or Repurchaser.
If you prefer to hold to the term "Redeemer", then we might turn to the American Standard Revised version, which you say you accept, and it does use the term "Redeemer. I suggest that you look up these same references in the Revised Standard version. You will see that I speak the truth. For instance, I give you the last reference quoted above:
" . . . beloved Son in whom we have REDEMPTION, the forgiveness of sins."
The reference in Ephesians 1:7 is a similar one: "In him we have redemption through his blood."
So you see, Christ is the Redeemer and the "Repurchaser" who has ransomed us , both from the law and from sin, granting us the forgiveness of sins.
Since your Bible says Jehovah is the "Repurchaser" and it also says that Christ is the "Repurchaser," there is only one deduction that may be made in reason: Christ and Jehovah are one and the same Person.
You notice that your Old Testament references speak of Jehovah as the Holy One of Israel. Is Christ also the Holy One of Israel? The New Testament says so.
I repeat one of your Old Testament references to refresh your mind, and then will quote from the New Testament.
"I AM JEHOVAH YOUR HOLY ONE, THE CREATOR 0F ISRAEL, YOUR KING."
Note also Isaiah 54:5, which also says that the Holy One of Israel is your "Repurchaser."
Now let us turn to the New Testament.
" . . . I know exactly who you are, the Holy One of God."
" . . . I know exactly who you are, the Holy One of God."
You note that even the devils knew who he was--that he was not only Jesus of Nazareth but was also the Holy One of God.
Scriptural references to the Judgment of all men at the last day will assist us also, as will some others which we shall mention.
I will give both the New World and Revised Standard version. The New World first, followed by the Standard.
New World--"For God himself is Judge."
Standard--"For God himself is Judge."
New World--"As for Jehovah he will sit to time indefinite, firmly establishing his throne for Judgment itself. And he himself will Judge..."
Standard--"But the Lord sits enthroned forever, he has established his throne for judgment. And he judges the world..."
New World -"Before Jehovah, for he has come, for he has come to Judge the earth ..."
Standard--"Before the Lord, for he comes, for he comes to Judge the earth ..."
I Chronicles 16:33:
New World--"On account of Jehovah for he has come to judge the earth."
Standard--"Before the Lord for he comes to Judge the earth."
This is enough from these two versions to indicate that the Lord, or Jehovah, will be the judge at the last day. Many other scriptures might be cited, but I feel sure you will accept these, particularly as they are quoted from your own J. W. Bible.
There can be no doubt about it--the Old Testament, which is as much a part of the Bible as the New Testament, clearly teaches that JEHOVAH WILL BE THE JUDGE AT THE LAST DAY. To this you will agree.
But what does the New Testament say on this subject?
It says that JESUS CHRIST WILL BE THE JUDGE AT THE LAST DAY.
Let me give you some citations.
New World--"For the Son of Man is destined to come in glory of his Father with his angels and then he will recompense each one according to his behavior."
New World--"FOR THE FATHER JUDGES NO ONE AT ALL BUT HE HAS COMMITTED ALL THE JUDGING TO HIS SON."
Standard--"The Father judges no one but has given all judgement to the Son."
New World--"Also he ordered us to preach to the people and to give a thorough witness that this is the One decreed by God to be judge of the living and the dead." (See verses 36 to 38 to ascertain that it is Jesus Christ of whom he makes this reference,)
Standard--"And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God to be judge of the living and the dead."
New World--"For we shall all stand before the Judgment seat of God, for it is written, as I live, says Jehovah, to me every knee will bend down and every tongue will make open acknowledgement to God. So then each of us will render an account of himself to God."
Standard--"For we shall all stand before the Judgment seat of God, for it is written, as I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God; so each of us shall give account of himself to God."
Jude, verse 14:
New World--"Look Jehovah came with his holy myriads to execute Judgment against all."
Standard--"Behold the Lord came with his holy myriads to execute judgment on all."
II Corinthians 5:10:
New World--"FOR WE MUST ALL BE MADE MANIFEST BEFORE THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF THE CHRIST that each one may get his award for the things done through the body."
Standard--"For we must all appear before the Judgment seat of Christ so that each may receive good or evil according to what he has done in the body."
II Timothy 4:1:
New World--"I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus who is destined to Judge the living and the dead."
Standard--"I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is to Judge the living and the dead."
The 25th chapter of Matthew is likewise conclusive on this same point.
These references are sufficient regarding the judgment. It is obvious from the Old and New Testaments that Jehovah is to be the judge of the living and the dead. Jesus is that Judge as is explained in the New Testament. The Father will not judge, for all Judgment has been given to the Son. Therefore, JEHOVAH, WHO IS JESUS CHRIST will be the judge of the living and the dead.
Now let us refer to John the Baptist. John was a forerunner. But for whom? Christ or Jehovah?
New World--"Listen, someone is crying out in the wilderness. PREPARE THE WAY OF JEHOVAH you people, make his roads straight . . . Now John was clothed in camel's hair. . . and he would preach saying, After me someone stronger than I am is coming; I am not fit to stoop and untie the laces of his sandals. I will baptize you with water BUT HE WILL BAPTIZE YOU WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT."
Standard--"The voice of one crying in the wilderness; prepare the way of the Lord . . . Now John was clothed with camel's hair . . . and he preached saying, After me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."
New World--"FOR YOU WILL GO IN ADVANCE BEFORE JEHOVAH TO MAKE HIS WAYS READY. "
Standard--"For you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways."
New World--"All were reasoning in their hearts about John. May he perhaps be the Christ? John gave the answer saying, I for my part baptize you with water, but the one stronger than I am is coming, the lace of whose sandals I am not fit to untie. He will baptize you people with holy spirit and fire."
Standard--"All men questioned in their hearts concerning John, whether perhaps he were the Christ. John answered them all, I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and the fire."
John 1:23, 26, 29:
New World--"I am a voice of someone crying out in the wilderness, MAKE THE WAY OF JEHOVAH STRAIGHT, Just as Isaiah the prophet said. . . John answered them saying, In the midst of you one is standing whom you do not know, the one coming behind me but the lace of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie. . . The next day he beheld Jesus coming toward him, and he said, See the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. THIS IS THE ONE ABOUT WHOM I SAID Behind me comes a man who has advanced in front of me . . . the reason why I came baptizing with water was that he might be made manifest to Israel."
Standard--"I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as the Prophet Isaiah said . . . John answered them, I baptize with water, but among you stands one whom you do not know, even he who comes after me, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie . . . The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. THIS IS HE OF WHOM I SAID: After me comes a man . . ."
Can there be any misunderstanding this language?
Your own Bible says that John the Baptist was the forerunner of JEHOVAH, and that this individual (Jehovah) before whom he comes as a forerunner, was to baptize with fire and the Holy Ghost.
Then Jesus came to John, and mentioning Jesus by name, John says: "THIS IS HE OF WHOM I SAID . . ." Can there be any misunderstanding that?
Jesus, you see, is Jehovah. They are one and the same. Your own Bible proves it.
Now let us go on again.
The Biblical references to the Creation also reveal that Jesus and Jehovah are one and the same, that Christ actually is Jehovah.
Although the first part of Genesis in the Jehovah's Witness Bible does not specify the Creator as Jehovah, but merely as God, a little later in the account of the Creation it does identify the Creator as Jehovah-God.
Verse 5 of Genesis, chapter 1, begins to speak of the Creator as Jehovah-God, and then as the formation of man is reported, we read in the New World translation, "And Jehovah-God proceeded to form man out of the dust," etc. Then verses 8 and 9 of this same chapter read:
New World--"Further Jehovah-God planted a garden in Eden, toward the east and there he put the man whom he had formed. Thus Jehovah-God made to grow out of the ground every tree desirable to one's sight and good for food and also the tree of life in the middle of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and bad."
Standard--"Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living being. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree, etc. . ."
But who was this Jehovah-God who was the Creator of all things?
The New Testament tells us that it was Christ, Jesus of Nazareth.
Speaking of Christ, the Word of God, we read:
New World--"All things came into existence through him, and APART FROM HIM NOT EVEN ONE THING CAME INTO EXISTENCE."
Standard--"All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made."
New World--"Spoken unto us by means of a Son whom he appointed heir of all things AND THROUGH WHOM HE MADE THE SYSTEMS OF THINGS."
Standard--"Spoken to us by a Son whom he appointed the heir of all things, THROUGH WHOM ALSO HE CREATED THE WORLD."
New World--"He was in the world and the world came into existence through him."
Standard--"He was in the world and the world was made through him."
Now who was the Creator? The Old Testament says Jehovah-God. The New Testament says it was Christ, the Word, "who was with God." Then Christ and Jehovah are one and the same.
Many other references might be given on the general idea of the identity of Jehovah and Christ, but surely these conclusive passages on the Judgment, the mission of John the Baptist, and the Creation should suffice for any reasonable person.
There can only be one conclusion: Jehovah is Christ. Christ is the Jehovah of the Old Testament, as he is the Savior and Redeemer of the New.
Now may we go to another phase of this subject?
Let us note a few scriptures which indicate the fact that God has made Christ equal with him, contrary to the teaching of your church.
New World--"All things that the Father has are mine."
Standard--"All that the Father has is mine."
New World--"And all my things are yours and yours are mine."
Standard--"All mine are thine and thine are mine."
New World--"All things have been delivered to me by my Father."
Standard--"All things have been delivered to me by my Father."
New World--"All authority has been given me IN HEAVEN AND ON THE EARTH."
Standard--"And Jesus came and said to them, All authority IN HEAVEN AND ON EARTH has been given to me."
Repeatedly the Savior taught that "My Father and I are one," and I believe you agree that those words do not mean physically. Then if they are one in other things, specifically for instance, in jointly holding all power in heaven and earth--are they not alike in power and authority and prestige and honor and glory? The scriptures say so.
You seem to think that Jesus is not divine--that is Deity--in the same sense in which the Father, or Jehovah, as you speak of him, is divine. The above scriptures should clarify that point for you also. Since all power and authority and glory have been given to Jesus and since "All my things are yours and yours are mine," it would indicate that as the Father is Deity, even so is the Christ Deity.
It is unfortunate that your Bible puts in lower case the statement that Jesus of "the Word" is "a god" in John 1. Of course he is a God, equal with his Father, and he certainly deserves a capital "G," not a lower case one as your Bible gives, for your own scriptures, as above quoted, show him to be equal with the Father.
But if these scriptures are not convincing enough for you, let us turn to the first chapter of the book of Revelation. You know, of course, that Alpha and Omega are the Greek words for the first and the last, or the beginning and the end.
Revelation 1:8, 17 and 18:
New World--"I am the Alpha and the Omega says Jehovah God. . .And when I saw him I fell as dead at his feet. And he laid his right hand upon me and said, Do not be fearful, I am the First and the Last, and the living one, and I BECAME DEAD; BUT LOOK! I AM LIVING FOR EVER AND EVER AND I HAVE THE KEYS OF DEATH AND HADES."
Standard--"I am the Alpha and the Omega says the Lord God. . .When I saw him I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand upon me saying, Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one; I DIED AND BEHOLD I AM ALIVE FOREVER MORE and I have the keys of Death and Hades."
No one can question this. The only person who died, as above referred to, and is alive forever more, is Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who was crucified and resurrected on the third day afterward.
But the scripture--your own Bible--says that this Individual is also JEHOVAH GOD, and that he is ALPHA AND OMEGA, the FIRST AND THE LAST.
So Christ is God, the Son of God the Father, and a separate Person from him. He also is Jehovah. He also is the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last, Alpha and Omega.
Using your own Bible, there is no other conclusion. This makes the Jehovah's Witnesses religion wrong in what it says. It repudiates its own Bible.
If you stay with the Bible, you too must repudiate the Witnesses. If you stay with the Witnesses you must repudiate the Bible. Which is the wise step? You cannot serve two masters, the Savior himself said. You cannot, both, believe and disbelieve at the same time.
You are an honest and an intelligent person. I am sure you love the truth as it is taught in the Bible. But, the Bible tells you that the whole position of the Jehovah's Witnesses is faulty and wrong, and is CONTRARY TO THE JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES' OWN BIBLE.
And isn't it interesting, that all these scriptures which I have referred you to, in your own New World Translation, SUPPORT AND SUSTAIN THE LATTER-DAY SAINT DOCTRINE AND POINT OF VIEW?
And what does that prove? That the Latter-day Saints are right and the Jehovah's Witnesses are wrong. If you accept the Bible, you cannot reach any other conclusion.
And why is this so? Because there has been an apostasy, and the Witnesses are a part of it. There also has been a restoration of the truth through the agency of Joseph Smith, as foretold in the scriptures, and the Latter-day Saints have that restored truth.
One more thing before we close this letter. Let us finish what we have been saying about the Godhead or Trinity. Then in our next letter we can discuss other questions which you raise.
Is the Holy Ghost a part of a Divine Triumvirate in the heavens? Does he work in partnership with the other two members of the Godhead? Let us see what the scriptures have to say about Him.
Matthew 1:10-20: (I take only e few words from these verses to avoid making this letter longer than it is. You may read the full text in the scriptures for yourself.)
New World--"She was found to be pregnant by the holy spirit. . .for that which has been begotten in her is by the holy spirit."
Standard--"She was found to be with child of the Holy Ghost." (They at least capitalize "Holy Spirit.")
New World--"The virgin will become pregnant and will give birth to a son and they will call his name Immanuel WHICH MEANS WHEN TRANSLATED, WITH US IS GOD."
Standard--"Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel, which means God with us."
New World--"This one will be great and will be called the Son of the Moat High."
Standard--"He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High."
New World--"In answer the angel said to her: Holy Spirit will come upon you, AND THE POWER OF THE MOST HIGH WILL OVERSHADOW YOU. For that reason also what is born will be called holy, God's Son."
Standard--"And the angel said to her, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you, therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God."
I take special pains to quote these scriptures for two reasons:
First, that some people believe Christ to be the child of the Holy Ghost and not of the Father, and these scriptures make it clear that he is the Son of God Almighty and that he himself is Divine, for his name Immanuel signifies that--God with us!
Second, to show the fact that the Holy Ghost is closely related to all that God does, for he "came upon" Mary, while she was in the process of conceiving by the MOST HIGH who "overshadowed" her. Hence, the child became the Son of GOD, not of the Holy Ghost, but of God the Father. If the Holy Ghost were not a part of this divine Triumvirate, would he be permitted to be present at such a moment as this?
And then note how closely the Holy Spirit worked with Christ at the important moments in his ministry:
New World--"And immediately the spirit impelled him to go into the wilderness." (This was at the time of the temptation.)
Standard--"The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness."
New World--"Now Jesus, full of holy spirit, turned away from Jordan, and HE WAS LED ABOUT BY THE SPIRIT in the wilderness."
Standard--"And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, turned away from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit for forty days in the wilderness, tempted by the devil."
This is remarkable. Would Jesus be "led about by the Spirit" if that Spirit were not a part of the heavenly Triumvirate? Would he submit to the Spirit otherwise, this Jesus who was made EQUAL WITH THE FATHER?
New World--"For example, whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man it will be forgiven him, BUT WHOEVER SPEAKS AGAINST THE HOLY SPIRIT IT WILL NOT BE FORGIVEN HIM, no, not in the present system of things nor in that to come."
Standard--"Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven either in this age or in the age to come."
This is a most notable scripture on the point under discussion. Ask yourself about the importance of the Holy Ghost in the light of this declaration of the Savior. Is the Holy Ghost in some minor position as the Witnesses would have us believe?
Probably the Witnesses themselves should beware as they "speak against the Holy Spirit."
The Savior lists the Holy Spirit as part of the Heavenly Trinity in these words:
New World--". . .baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
Standard--". . . baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
The Holy Spirit appeared at the baptism of Christ, as you know. We need hardly quote that scripture to you, but please note it by way of further reference, for it shows the Trinity all present at that time: The Father in Heaven acknowledging Christ as his Son, the Savior in the waters of baptism, and the Spirit descending in the form of a dove--again a Trinity.
I call your attention to all the Savior says about the Holy Spirit in the 14th, 15th, and 16th chapters of John's Gospel. He gives the Holy Spirit his proper place as a member of the Trinity.
I hope you will notice the many references in the Book of Acts to the manner in which the Holy Spirit DIRECTED the work of the ministry of the Apostles. How could he do this in Christ's Church if he were not a part of that Trinity?
Note, for instance, Acts 2:30; Acts 11:17; Acts 4:8; Acts 1:8 and many others.
But in this connection, I call your particular attention to one reference of exceptional interest--that in which the HOLY GHOST DIRECTED THE CALL OF PAUL AND BARNABAS. As you read these scriptures ask yourself if the Holy Ghost was not speaking for God in giving this revelation; ask yourself if anyone not divine, not a part of the Trinity, could give such a revelation from heaven to man. And ask yourself if anyone, not of the Trinity, would be calling Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ in this manner, for both Paul and Barnabas were thus called to be apostles. (Sea Acts 14:14:)
New World--"As they were publicly ministering to Jehovah and fasting, THE HOLY SPIRIT SAID: Of all persons, set Barnabas and Saul apart for me for the work to which I have called them."
Standard--" While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, THE HOLY SPIRIT SAID, set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them."
With that, can anyone logically minimize the Holy Ghost and say he is not a part of the Trinity, working in such close, intimate ways with and for the Savior and the Father?
All the evidence is FOR a Holy Trinity. Why not accept it. It comes from your own Bible. Why not believe and accept your own Bible?
Mark E. Petersen
Baptism is for Remission of Sins
Dear Sister ___________,
I promised you in my last letter that I would write again, this time concerning the latter part of your letter to me.
At this point I would like to mention the fact that God is unchangeable, and that his gospel is an eternal one, and is therefore unchangeable also. Both he and his gospel are the same yesterday, today and forever.
You may say that the Law of Moses is different from the gospel of Christ. That is true. Numerous scriptures show that the gospel was to supplant the Law of Moses and hence, was different from it. The Law was a "schoolmaster," as Paul described it, "to bring us up to Christ" and his gospel.
Also let us remember that the gospel was preached even in the days of Abraham and Moses, but "the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it." As a result of this apostasy from the gospel in Moses' day, the Lord gave the Law of Moses as a schoolmaster to bring the wayward people back to the gospel.
Paul's epistles are full of this doctrine. If you wish some references on it beyond those I now give I will gladly provide them. But in the meantime you might read Heb. 4:2, Gal. 3:8, and Gal. 3:24.
Now permit me to quote to you some passages about the fact that God is the same yesterday, today and forever:
New World--"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today and forever.'
Standard--"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever."
New World--"Every good gift and every perfect present is from above, for it comes down from the Father of the celestial lights and with him there is not a variation of the turning of the shadow."
Standard--"Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change."
New World--"For I am Jehovah; I have not changed."
Standard--"For I the Lord do not change."
You might also note Psalms 103:27.
Now here is my purpose in asking you to note these passages.
You say that in the last days of John the Baptist, baptism was for the remission of sins, but in Christ's ministry it was a pledge of dedication, and not for the remission of sins.
As you know, John belonged to the dispensation of Christ, and not to the dispensation of Moses. John was the forerunner of Christ, and ministered simultaneously with him; they even baptized during the same period, the scripture saying that Jesus baptized more than John. (See John 4:1)
John's baptism was for the remission of personal sins.
Christ's baptism was given to his followers also for the remission of their personal sins. It was so taught by the Apostles and their associates. Baptism for the remission of sins was NOT abandoned in the New Testament. There is no place in the scriptures which says that baptism for the remission of sins was abandoned in favor of a baptism of dedication. Your teaching such a doctrine smacks of the Catholic error about baptism to take away the effect of original sin.
Note these scriptures, KEEPING IN MIND THAT GOD AND THE GOSPEL DO NOT CHANGE.
New World--"John the baptizer turned up in the wilderness, preaching baptism (in symbol) of repentance for forgiveness of sins."
Standard--"John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for forgiveness of sins."
New World--"So he came into all the country around the Jordan, preaching baptism (in symbol) of repentance for the forgiveness of sins."
Standard--"And he went into all the region about the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins."
New World--"But as for you, young child, you will be called a prophet of the Most High, for you will go in advance before Jehovah to make his ways ready, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by forgiveness of their sins."
Standard--"And you, child will be called the prophet of the Moat High: for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins."
Acts 2 38:
New World--"Peter said to them: Repent, and let each one of you be baptize in the name of Jesus Christ for forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the free gift of the holy spirit."
Standard--"And Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins: and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
New World--"And now why are you delaying? Rise, get baptized and wash your sins away by your calling upon his name."
Standard--"And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling upon his name."
May I say that in your Jehovah's Witness Bible there is an obvious error in translation in Acts 22:16, for it says, ". . .wash your sins away by your calling upon his name."
All the other versions I have read differ from yours in that they clearly indicate that it was through baptism that our sins are washed away, not through prayer, or "calling upon his name."
There is water in baptism, but not in prayer. The "washing away" expression obviously refers to the ordinance, in which an element was involved, with which a washing could be accomplished, and that was water. Hence the ordinance in which our sins are washed away is baptism, not prayer, or calling upon his name."
The Standard version, which you accept, makes this very clear as you see from the above quotation.
Since this is a question of translation, may I refer to several other translations to prove my point? They all agree in disagreeing with your Bible. So if you insist that yours alone is right, you become like the woman who proudly watched her son (out of step) marching with a group of soldiers, and remarked, "They are all out of-step but Jim."
Here are a few of the other translations on this point:
The 1947 Catholic Vulgate revision: "Rise up and be baptized and wash away thy sins, invoking his name."
The Knox Catholic version: "Rise up and receive baptism, washing away thy sins at the invocation of his name."
The Authentic New Testament: "Rise, and be immersed, and wash away your sins as you invoke his name."
Phillips: "Get up and be baptized! Be clean from your sins as you call on his name."
Moffatt: "Get up and be baptized and wash away your sins, invoking his name."
New English Bible: "Be baptized at once, with the invocation of his name and wash away your sins."
Catholic Vulgate of 1582: "Rise up and be baptized and wash away thy sins, invoking his name."
Obviously all these versions show that we wash away our sins in baptism, but also that we pray to him, invoking his name. But prayer is a supplication, it is not a washing away of sins.
The purpose of baptism did not change from John to Christ. It was the same with, and by, and for both. Both baptized, both taught the "baptism of repentance for the remission of sins," and to say that the ordinance changed from John to Jesus is to reject the scripture.
Christ was without sin. He was our example. He submitted to baptism to show that all the rest of us who are sinful cannot fulfill all righteousness without it.
Why would Peter preach "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins" if baptism was not the Christian means of obtaining a forgiveness of sin? Would Peter preach a non-Christian doctrine? Was Peter off on a tangent?
I quoted in the preceding paragraph from the Standard version. Let me repeat what your own New World translation says:
"Repent and let each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF YOUR SINS." (Acts 2:38.)
How can language be more clear? To sidestep that teaching is to sidestep the truth. It is in your own Bible, clear as crystal. Why not accept your own Bible instead of the private interpretation of the J.W. teachers who are off on a tangent?
It is obvious that even as John preached the baptism of repentance for remission of sins, so did Peter. When Peter preached it, John was long since dead, and Jesus had ascended to heaven. Peter was fully into the apostolic period. Yet his doctrine on baptism was the same as John's, Why? Because there is only one doctrine of baptism, not two, and the gospel doesn't change and neither does God.
Do you recall Paul's words to the Ephesians? I quote them for you:
New World--"One Lord, one faith, ONE BAPTISM."
Standard--"One Lord, one faith, ONE BAPTISM."
Why then do Jehovah's Witnesses teach about two? Why do they contradict the Bible? They teach one baptism of John and another of Christ? Why?
You say in your letter: "Sins are not removed by baptism, but by continuing faith in Jesus Christ." I ask you to show me anywhere in all the scriptures any passage to prove this statement. I ask you to show me anywhere in scripture where we are taught that by faith we "Wash away our sins."
You also say in your letter: "A person is declared righteous through the undeserved kindness of God," and not through baptism.
Again you go contrary to the scriptures. What does the Lord say about the Judgment? Each of us will be judged--not by God's kindness--but BY THE DEEDS WE HAVE DONE IN THE FLESH. They will determine whether we are clean or not. And the "deeds" by which we are freed of our sins are that we "repent and be baptized."
Read Rev. 20:12-13. I quote it from the New World version.
"And the dead were Judged out of those things written in the scrolls ACCORDING TO THEIR DEEDS. And the sea gave up those dead in it, and death and Hades gave up those dead in them AND THEY WERE JUDGED INDIVIDUALLY ACCORDING TO THEIR DEEDS."
Study carefully the 18th chapter of Ezekiel, and particularly verses 21 to 30. The latter half of the 25th chapter of Matthew is quite explicit on this subject, as is also Rev. 2:23.
So you see, we are not counted righteous merely because God is merciful to us, but we are counted righteous BECAUSE WE HAVE MADE OURSELVES SO BY OUR REPENTANCE AND BY BEING WASHED CLEAN IN BAPTISM.
You say the scriptures show there will be some who will not be resurrected, and you give me Isaiah 26:10-14; Proverbs 10:7 and Psalms 9:5.
I have read these verses carefully in the New World translation, as well as others. I see no such meaning in any of these verses. To place such a meaning in them requires a good deal of imagination.
Why not accept the truth on this subject which is so clear:
"Now if Christ is being preached that he has been raised up from the dead, HOW IS IT THAT SOME AMONG YOU SAY THAT THERE IS NO RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD? If indeed there is no resurrection of the dead, neither has Christ been raised up. But if Christ has not been raised up, our preaching is certainly in vain and our faith is in vain. Moreover we are also found false witnesses of God because we have borne witness against God that he raised up the Christ, but whom he did not raise up if the dead are really not to be raised up.
"For if the dead are not to be raised up, neither has Christ been raised up. Further if Christ has not been raised up, your faith is useless, you are yet in your sins. In fact, also those who fell asleep in death, in union with Christ perished. IF IN THIS LIFE ONLY WE HAVE HOPE IN CHRIST: WE ARE OF ALL MEN MOST TO BE PITIED.
"However, now Christ has been raised up from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep in death. For since death is through a man, resurrection of the dead is also through a man.
"FOR JUST AS IN ADAM ALL ARE DYING SO ALSO IN CHRIST ALL WILL BE MADE ALIVE." (I Cor. 15: New World Translation.)
To read into the passages which you gave me any idea that some will not be resurrected is to repudiate Paul and his doctrine, that just as all die, so all will be resurrected. All means all, complete, not a portion, but ALL.
There are so many passages on the resurrection that I am amazed that you would even bring up such a point.
You say in your letter: "Intelligent life is not possible between death and the resurrection, according to the Bible.
This, too, is amazing. Do you really read the Bible? And do you believe what you read?
Note these examples:
New World--"And look! there appeared to them Moses and Elijah CONVERSING with him."
Standard--"And behold there appeared to them Moses and Elijah TALKING with him."
New World--"And after that Moses the servant of Jehovah died there in the land of Moab at the order of Jehovah. And he proceeded to bury him in the valley in the land of Moab . ."
Standard--"So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab according to the word of the Lord, and he buried him. . ."
New World--"And it came about after the death of Moses, the servant of Jehovah, that Jehovah proceeded to say to Joshua the son of Nun, the minister of Moses, MOSES MY SERVANT IS DEAD."
Standard--"After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses's minister, MOSES MY SERVANT IS DEAD."
If we believe the Bible we cannot doubt that Moses died and was buried in the valley in the land of Moab. We must believe that God spoke the truth when he said: "MOSES MY SERVANT IS DEAD."
Yet Moses appeared on the mount of Transfiguration AND TALKED WITH THE CHRIST. Would it not require "intelligent life" to do such a thing as that? Did not Moses survive death--Moses the individual--and was it not merely his body that died and was buried, MOSES HAD INTELLIGENT LIFE AFTER HIS BODY WAS BURIED. He was not yet resurrected, for as you know CHRIST IS THE FIRST FRUIT OF THE RESURRECTION, and he, the Christ, HAD NOT YET EVEN BEEN CRUCIFIED WHEN THE TRANSFIGURATION TOOK PLACE. (I Cor. 15:20; Acts 26:23.)
So here is one outstanding instance proving this doctrine of the Jehovah's Witnesses to be wrong.
I next refer you to the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. I will not copy from it, as you are familiar with it. (See Luke 16.)
But note that it deals with LIFE BETWEEN DEATH AND THE RESURRECTION.
I ask you in all candor -- Would Christ deal in lies?
He gave this parable in all seriousness, with only one thought in mind--to teach the truth. THE WHOLE CLIMAX OF HIS STORY RESTS UPON THE DOCTRINE OF IMMORTALITY, THE FACT OF LIFE BETWEEN DEATH AND RESURRECTION. How can you reject it?
Let us look at another:
While on the cross, Christ told the thief that, "Truly I tell you today, you will be with me in paradise." (New World Version.)
Your J.W. Bible puts the comma in the wrong place, putting it AFTER the word "today." The Standard version puts it right: "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."
I emphasize this placement of the comma, because in doing it your way, your church has changed the meaning of the scripture. Fortunately, the other translations support the Standard version--which you say you accept--and show that the J.W. punctuation is in error.
Notice a few:
New English--"I tell you this: today you shall be with me in Paradise."
Moffatt--"I tell you truly, said Jesus, you will be in paradise with me this very day."
Philips--"I tell you truly, this very day you will be with me in Paradise."
Knox--"And Jesus said to him, I promise thee, this day thou shalt be with me in Paradise."
We could quote others to further prove the point, for they all agree that the Standard punctuation is right according to the meaning of the various renditions as quoted here, and that the New World is wrong.
By what right do J.W. translators assume to change the meaning of the scriptures? Is this another case of "they are all out of step but Jim?"
Now where did Jesus go "this day" or on the day of his death, immediately following the death of both himself and the thief?
There is only one place in all scripture which tells us, and that is in the first Epistle of Peter. Let us quote it:
1 Peter 3:18-20:
New World--"Why, even Christ died once for all time concerning sins, a righteous (person) for unrighteous ones, that he might lead you to God, he being put to death in the flesh, but being made alive in the spirit. In this (state) also he went his way and preached to the spirits in prison who had once been disobedient when the patience of God was waiting in Noah's days, while the ark was being constructed, in which a few people, that is, eight souls, were carried safely through the water."
Standard--"For Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit; in which he went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water."
I Peter 4:6:
New World--"In fact, for this purpose the good news was declared also to the dead, that they might be judged as to the flesh from the standpoint of men but might live as to the spirit from the standpoint of God."
Standard--"For this is why the gospel was preached even to the dead, that though judged in the flesh like men, they might live in the spirit like God."
Note if you will that while the body of Christ lay in the tomb he was made alive in the spirit, and in this state also, he went his way and preached to the spirits in prison who had once been disobedient in Noah's day.
Note further that he went there, not to make mockery of them, not to add remorse to them as they languished in prison, not to be vindictive because they were so wicked when on earth that they rejected Noah, BUT TO PREACH HIS GOSPEL OF SALVATION TO THEM.
"For this purpose the good news was declared to the dead." You see, there was this wonderful purpose--he brought his salvation to the dead. He preached to them. Then could they hear? Were they alert?
Obviously they were given the opportunity of repentance in that realm of the dead so that they could "live as to the spirit from the standpoint of God."
Only mentally alert people can receive the gospel, repent, and adjust their lives to fit Christian standards, AND THESE SPIRITS DID IT, AFTER THEY DIED IN THE FLOOD. THEY DID IT WHILE THEY WERE YET SPIRITS OF THE DEPARTED DEAD. They were intelligent, alert, alive, teachable, repentant, believing--all in the spirit world--AFTER DEATH.
What do you call this, if it is not an intelligent existence?
You say that belief in the immortality of the soul "originates from the first lie."
Then I ask you, did Peter lie when he told about this episode? Was he perpetuating the "first lie" as you call it?
DID THE CHRIST LIE TO THE THIEF WHEN HE TOLD HIM THAT HE WOULD BE WITH HIM IN PARADISE THAT VERY DAY OF CRUCIFIXION, THE DAY OF THEIR DEATH?
Can any of us say that Christ lied?
Your Church holds to the belief that there is no intelligent life after death, and that there is no immortality of the soul. The Bible--your own Bible--proves this J.W. doctrine to be wrong.
My Bible Dictionary (the New Inter-varsity Fellowship Bible Dictionary) defines Paradise as "a walled in place--the place where souls go immediately after death."
Are the scholars of your Church greater than the scholars of Cambridge, Oxford, Manchester, and London Universities, who prepared this dictionary? Is this another case where "they are all out of step but Jim?"
I will not burden you with further proof. If you will not accept what I have written here, you will not accept anything I might give in addition.
In all earnestness, I appeal to you to study these scriptures and pray over them WITH AN OPEN MIND.
Do not allow the teachings of the "Witnesses" to further blind you to the truth.
You can see from what I have written that their religion is not based on the teachings of either Christ or his apostles, and that it is not scriptural either.
On the other hand, our religion is the pure Gospel of Christ, restored in these last days, and is fully supported by the Bible and the teachings of the Savior.
Study it carefully, prayerfully, honestly, and God will help you to see the light.
Mark E. Petersen.