I felt a little low yesterday, so imagine my delight when the phone rings and the random caller on the other end wants to offer me encouragement from 1 Peter. Of course, I’m always suspicious of random phone calls, but I thought I’d go with this.
Caller: “Have you ever thought about God and suffering?”
Me: “Yes, I have.”
Caller: “Do you think that the bible has answers to the worlds problems.”
Me: “Yes, I do.”
Caller (a little surprised): “Would you mind if I read something to you from 1 Peter.”
Me: “I would love that.” (You can see I’m not saying much).
Caller: “First, would you mind receiving some literature in the mail about God and suffering?”
Me: “Sure, but who is the publisher?”
Caller (again, surprised): “The Watchtower and Tract Society.”
Me: “Ah, I see. I was looking forward to hearing some scriptures read. I’m a Christian and I thought you were too. If it’s alright, I’d prefer that we talk about who Jesus is and why you must believe that Jesus is Yahweh.”
And then the conversation changed dramatically. I tried to be as friendly and cordial as possible, at the same time wanting to speak authoritatively from Scripture. The JW was taken aback and was not prepared at all for a series of arguments from Scripture as to why Jesus is necessarily God. The following are what I took her through:
The Trinity in the Great Commission (Matt. 28). In Jesus’ command to baptise disciples, he says that we are to baptise into the Triune name. That is, the one name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. I told her that this one name indicates that God is one, yet the three individual person are distinct yet connected by the words “and of the.”
I also took her to Isaiah 6, where the prophet sees what he would have understood as Yahweh in the temple. However, John 12 tells us that Isaiah saw Jesus and Acts 28 tells us that it was the Spirit who spoke to Isaiah.
Finally, I took her through a list of verses in Isaiah where Yahweh’s attributes are described and then compared them with the New Testament’s ascription of the same attributes to Jesus: Yahweh is the first and the last – Isaiah 41:4 & Jesus in the first and the last – Revelation 2:8; Yahweh is the only saviour – Isaiah 43:11 & Jesus is the only saviour – 1 John 4:14; Yahweh is the king of Israel – Isaiah 43:14 & Jesus is the king of Israel – John 12:15; Yahweh is the Holy One – Isaiah 47:4 & Jesus is the Holy One – John 6:69.
I told her plainly that if she denies that Jesus is God, then she will go to hell. She said that she denied the existence of hell. So I started to explain why hell is a place and why hell means that Jesus is necessarily God (only God can suffer hell on the cross for sinners).
At this point she didn’t want to talk any more. “I read my bible differently.” “Great,” I said, “I’d like to know why you believe, from the bible, that Jesus is not Yahweh.” She replied, “You have the bible memorised much better than I. And I don’t have time to go through all of this. You are set in your ways and it’s better if we ended the phone conversation.”
That’s when I got a little miffed. “You mean to say that it’s okay for you to ‘waste my time’ by randomly calling me. But as soon as it gets a little hot, you want out of the kitchen. That’s called copping out.” I had previously mentioned that I knew a key JW in Toronto named Nick Todd, whom she knew. So her reply to my challenge was, “Well, I am sure that whatever Nick told you is good enough.” My response was that her faith demands that she does the tough work of digging in her heels, rolling up her sleeves in order to find out the truth. She wanted none of it and was none the happier to get off the phone.
I finally asked her to take a month, to look over what I’d said, and call me back. I told her that I’d be happy to meet with her and Nick and go through the issues. When she tried to intimate that my Trinitarian views were novel amongst Trinitarians, I asked her for a list of books she’d read on the Trinity from an evangelical point of view. She couldn’t so I told her that I’d give her a list if she wanted. She didn’t.
I write this not with the intention to gloat. I really hope it doesn’t come across that way. My purpose is to show other Christians that it is necessary to be ready, as Peter admonishes, to give a reason for the hope that we have at any time. Who knows when the Lord will deliver such an easy time of evangelism? Be ready.
As well, I hope that Nick or some Toronto JW googles something and my blog appears. If this is the case, and you are a JW. I ask you to consider the biblical reasons why Jesus is God, the second person of the Trinity, the only saviour. My prayer is that you would repent of your sin and trust Christ for salvation.