At the NoHo metro station, it's not uncommon to encounter Jehovah's Witnesses. They love to hang out there, usually standing somewhere around the stairs that lead underground, offering their magazines to the people that walk to, or from, the subway. As evangelists there, we've gone toe-to-toe with them numerous times; our encounters with them have ranged everywhere from gently and politely sharing the Gospel with them and pointing out their errors...to becoming angry at their false doctrine and getting on our boxes to publicly call them out on their sins (Our most frequent rebukes coming from Matthew 23: "hypocrites...whitewashed tombs...how shall you escape the condemnation of hell?!").
I'll never forget one particular night when Dave, Mike S. and I were returning to the station after a good night of evangelism. After lots of open air preaching, one-to-ones and handing out tons of tracts, we had gone to a restaurant across the street for some food and fellowship. As we crossed the street again and were heading back to the NoHo Station parking lot to go home, a very horrible and grieving sight caught Dave's eye...and pretty soon it got our attention as well--two sly and crafty Witnesses were preying on three unsuspecting youth, conversing with two young men and a young lady and offering them their materials. Immediately, an intense anger rose within us, and we zealously and boldly started to rebuke them right then and there. We interrupted their conversation and, needless to say, caught them very off-guard. (As Dave would later describe the whole ordeal: "We spiritually jumped them!") Mike read Galatians 1:8-9 to them as we warned them to repent of their false gospel, stop deceiving people, and turn to Christ for salvation. Shocked and embarrassed, the JWs began to slowly walk away. The youths didn't really know what was going on. Then Dave walked a couple yards away and started to open-air preach, exposing some of the Watchtower Society's lies and preaching the true, biblical Gospel. After he finished several people sitting nearby even clapped! It seems we weren't the only ones who were sick of the JWs' heresies and their leading people astray. Dave, Mike and I also got to personally talk with the two young men and woman and gently explain to them why we had to raise our voices with their proselytizers and rebuke them sharply, stressing the seriousness of the situation--that their eternity was at stake! The Gospel naturally flowed from this conversation, and we left them considering the fact that they needed to repent and believe in Christ and read the Bible for themselves. Another victory won at NoHo, praise the Lord!
Of course, not all our run-ins with the J-dubs have been that intense...well, okay, maybe just most of them. Perhaps it's the heightened degree of their deception--they literally are following doctrines of demons (and powerful, deceptive ones at that)--and thus there is a heightened degree of spiritual warfare when we encounter them. I've personally noticed that I not only feel righteous indignation when confronting them, but I also become more "spiritually sensitive". I realize that there is a real battle for souls going on, and grieve not only for their souls, but for the souls of those being led astray by them. Amazingly, the Holy Spirit has empowered me in supernatural ways in my many of my personal encounters with them.
One such encounter occurred last Wednesday at NoHo. Brother Dean was open-airing, and I was standing around and handing out million-dollar bill tracts. One lady walked by me and I handed one to her. She asked me what it was about, and I told her it contained the million dollar question: "Will you go to heaven when you die?" Even before she told me, I perceived in my heart that she was a JW. She asked me where in the Bible it says that there is an eternal hell. I asked her if she was a Jehovah's Witness, and she affirmed that she was. The battle was on! I quickly grabbed my Bible and gently reasoned with her about the doctrine of hell. In addition to mentioning many, many verses that talk about an eternal hell, I gave her the one I usually give J-dubs: Luke 16:19-31, the story of Lazarus and the rich man. The rich man dies and finds himself in conscious torment, while Lazarus is ushered into Abraham's bosom. (They believe it's only a parable. I usually explain to them that there is no indication from the context that it is a parable, and Jesus even mentions the name of a man, Lazarus, something He doesn't do in any parable. And even if, for the sake of argument, it happened to be a parable, no parable Jesus ever gave was fantastical in nature--they were all based on real-life situations [e.g. the sower, a certain king, a certain man, etc.]. When this argument is presented it is usually followed by a blank expression on their part and an attempt to quickly change the subject.) I also appealed to her conscience and concept of justice, and spoke of the holiness of God and her own sinful and wretched standing before Him. She was proud and self-righteous, rejecting the God of the Bible, the divinity of Christ, and the true Gospel, in favor of her own works-righteousness. The conversation turned heated and LOUD, but I wasn't angry at all with her. On the contrary, I compassionately told her numerous times that I cared about her and didn't want her to end up in hell. I shared my testimony and told her Christ could set her free from her sins. The Lord really empowered me with wisdom that day. She couldn't answer the Scriptural arguments I was giving her, but she outwardly appeared hard-hearted and didn't want to give up her irrational beliefs, even after admitting that her organization might be a cult. Nevertheless, I felt something occurred, a dent was made in her belief system, the seed was planted in her heart. We ended up talking for more than an HOUR! It was one long wrestling match, but the Lord was in it and I trust that He received the glory from the whole encounter and pray that He may save that poor lady.
But wait, there's more! Last week, I had yet another power-encounter with a JW, this time on Friday. I was at home in the morning and heard the doorbell ring. I opened the door and, unexpectedly, I found myself facing a young Watchtowerite, who looked around my age. Surprisingly, he was alone. He introduced himself and immediately began sharing with me about the "new world" Jehovah promises, reading out of the book of Isaiah. I didn't even have a Bible on hand, and thought it not convenient to get it at the moment. But still I proceeded to reason with him concerning sin, righteousness, judgment, and the Gospel. I made this very amiable young gentleman look up verses of Scripture for me on his own Bible. Since they don't believe Jesus is God, but only "a god" (their own perverted version of John 1:1), I pointed out texts that say that there is no other God besides Jehovah. Since they believe that Jehovah God created Jesus and Jesus, in turn, created the whole universe and all creation, I made him look up Isaiah 45:11-12, which says that Jehovah created the earth, man, and the heavens with His own hands. I reasoned with him about the triune nature of God. I also gave him the same arguments concerning hell that I shared with the lady a few days before. But more importantly, I felt compelled to share my testimony with him. I told him how Jesus had saved me from the bondage of hypocrisy and many other horrible sins, and how through His atoning death on the cross and resurrection I had eternal life, a personal relationship with God...and freedom from my sins! I shared with him how much joy and peace I have in Christ and how I long and delight to be with Him, and praise Him, and spend time in prayer with Him (heart longings utterly foreign to the JWs). I stated and rhetorically asked, "I already have God's favor through Jesus Christ, I don't have to move one inch to the left or to the right in order to be any more or any less loved by God! Why, then, would I want to forsake all that and go back to a system of works, trying to earn God's favor?" Once again, God's Spirit was upon me, and the JW had difficulty answering my questions. And more wonderful still: God brought many verses into my mind and heart that I was able to recite off the top of my head--and even correct the young man as he erroneously used his bible to quote verses out of context. In the end, I told him that if he was wrong he would spend an eternity in hell, and pleaded with him to get right with God through Jesus Christ, God the Son. He seemed shaken by all I had said to him, bid me farewell and quickly left. He had a sad countenance as he walked back to his car. If you remember, pray for him, his name is Michael.
Well, this was just a small glimpse into the daily battles for people's souls that my brothers and I face. I hope it may have been of edification and encouragement to anyone reading it. The next time a Jehovah's Witness knocks at your door, or if you encounter one on the street, don't be afraid! Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might...and remember: they're precious souls who need the Gospel too! I used to fear talking to them, but no longer. I ENJOY getting into conversations with them. I will gladly get into no-holds-barred matches with them, pointing out their errors and showing them the Truth, that by all means I may save some.