What Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Believe About Salvation?
“Come to Jehovah’s organization for salvation”
They announced it boldly in the WATCHTOWER MAGAZINE, NOVEMBER 15, 1981, PAGE 21
For any religious institution to proclaim itself as the vessel for salvation is a startling announcement. So it’s important to first understand how members of the Watchtower Society interpret the meaning of that word “salvation.”
Here is what it says under the topic of SALVATION on page 356 of their publication Reasoning from the Scriptures:
Definition: Preservation or deliverance from danger or destruction. That deliverance may be from the hands of oppressors or persecutors. For all true Christians, Jehovah provides through his Son deliverance from the present wicked system of things as well as salvation from bondage to sin and death. For a great crowd of faithful servants of Jehovah living during “the last days,” salvation will include preservation through the great tribulation.
Salvation for the JW means SURVIVING ARMAGEDDON. And since that is believed to be a war in the near future, they do not consider themselves or their neighbors saved at present. Salvation, therefore, is something they are working toward themselves and also inviting others to obtain through their ministry campaign.
So how is “salvation from Armageddon” connected to the organization and does Jesus play any role in this for them?
As stated in their definition, they believe Jehovah will provide deliverance from the present wicked system of things “as well as salvation from bondage to sin and death.” Saved from “bondage to sin” may seem similar to what Christians believe, but for Jehovah’s Witnesses it has more to do with their own efforts toward keeping clean and undefiled by the world. Jehovah’s organization becomes the agency through which they learn what sins to avoid through their accountability to the leadership known as the Governing Body. They believe Jesus is head of the organization and educates active members through this Governing Body of eight men who oversee every aspect of the organization.
See the difference? While salvation for the Christian entails more of a focus on inward heart-regeneration, becoming alive to the things of God and being redeemed from the penalty of sin, the Jehovah’s Witness viewpoint is more external, based upon actions and legalistic standards. But the apostle Paul declared in the first century that for those who trust in Christ, there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1). Though Jehovah’s Witnesses have high regard for Jesus, they do not believe that Jesus ALREADY paid for their sins as his death. Therefore, they remain under a constant dread that Jehovah can strike them down at any moment due to infractions committed against Watchtower rules. It’s up to them to save themselves through being good enough.
Now that you understand how they view salvation in contrast to what Christians believe, you can be prepared to encounter their diversion from actually reasoning on it!
Continuing under the topic of SALVATION, there are also suggested replies one of Jehovah’s Witnesses may give to Christians who question their view. Here is some “reasoning” from page 360 in the Watchtower book with that title:
If Someone Says—
You might reply: ‘I am glad to know that, because it tells me that you believe in Jesus Christ. The work in which I am sharing is one that Jesus assigned his followers to do, that is, to tell others about the establishment of his Kingdom. (Matt. 24:14)’
Then perhaps add: (1) ‘What is that Kingdom? What will its coming mean to the world? (Dan. 2:44)’ (2) ‘What conditions will there be here on earth under that heavenly government? (Ps. 37:11; Rev. 21:3, 4)’
Or you could say: ‘Then you appreciate what the apostle Peter said, here at Acts 4:12, don’t you? . . . Have you ever wondered by whom the name of Jesus was given for us to put faith in it?’
Then perhaps add: (1) ‘Jesus himself tells us. (John 17:3)’ (2) ‘Notice that Jesus said he had made his Father’s name known. (John 17:6) What is His personal name? What associations does it convey to your mind? (Ex. 3:15; 34:5-7)’
‘Are you saved?’
You might reply: ‘So far, I am. I say that because I am also aware of the Bible’s counsel not to be overconfident of our standing. Are you acquainted with this text? (1 Cor. 10:12)’
Then perhaps add: ‘What is the reason for that? To persons who had been born again and had the hope of heavenly life (Heb. 3:1), the apostle Paul wrote . . . (Heb. 3:12-14) It is by growing in knowledge of God’s Word that we fortify our faith.’
Or you could say: ‘I could answer that by simply saying, Yes. But did you know that the Bible speaks of more than one salvation? For instance, have you ever considered the significance of Revelation 7:9, 10, 14? . . . So, there will be people who will be saved through the coming great tribulation, to live right here on earth. (Matt. 5:5)’
Do you see how they dodge the question of salvation? Right away they talk about the work they do preaching about the end of the world or direct your attention to the father/son relationship of Jehovah and Jesus. They dismiss what was accomplished at the cross (which they call a torture stake). As long as they do that and convince the listener to also, then the importance of works can be upheld and used to direct a person to the Watchtower Society for salvation instead of the person of Jesus Christ.
But according to the Bible, salvation is for NOW not later. As one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I thought my doctrine was right, but admit that deep down inside I got a little jealous when I heard one of those “born agains” say they were “saved.” I would walk away from their door wishing I could be as “deluded” as them and believe it was finished.
The thought of having God’s acceptance and approval right now is foreign to the JW. They zealously seek after God, but have been taught that Jehovah will only love them if they perform all that the Watchtower requires of them in order to make it through Armageddon. And even then, they are not saved because they will have to remain faithful to the organization and commit no sin through a literal 1,000 years post Armageddon. Salvation remains a long way off for the JW, but they continue to urge others to “come to Jehovah’s organization for salvation” in the hope that they might obtain it one day.
Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie