Tagged: Arian heresy

Did Jesus die on a torture stake?

nwtJehovah’s Witnesses deny the deity of Christ and His bodily resurrection. These unbiblical views are nothing new; the apostles wrestled with them in the days following the ascension of Jesus, and the church invested much of the fourth century in the Arian controversy, which challenged the Trinitarian view of God.

But one of the more curious doctrines of the Watchtower is the view that Jesus died, not on a cross, but on a “torture stake.”

According to Watchtower publications, “no biblical evidence even intimates that Jesus died on a cross…. Jesus most likely was executed on an upright stake without any crossbeam.”

Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs) argue that the Greek word for cross – stauros – in classical Greek means an upright stake. Further, they teach that the cross is a pagan religious symbol adopted in the early centuries of the church after Satan took control of “Christendom.”

Therefore, JWs insist that their members reject the notion of Jesus’ death on a cross. They should not wear crosses as jewelry or display the symbols in their homes or places of worship.

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Why every Christian should reject the Watchtower’s claims: Part 3

 The views of Charles Taze Russell and subsequent Jehovah’s Witness leaders regarding the doctrines of Biblical Christianity are not new; for the most part, they are recent spins on the Arian heresy of the early 4th century and other more recent Scripture-twisting views. Specifically, every Christian should reject the Watchtower’s claims to be the only true church because of its numerous unbiblical views. Ten false doctrines of the Watchtower are being highlighted in this three-part series.

Click here to review Parts 1 and 2

Download an audio file of Part 3

Click play to listen to Part 3: 

JW False Doctrine 7: Salvation by grace through faith denied.

What the Watchtower says:

  • “It is evident from this that besides faith and baptism, ‘public declaration’ to the effect that Jesus Christ is Lord and the God raised him up from the dead is a requirement for salvation…. Clearly, for all who wish to gain an approved standing with God, Christian baptism is a requirement” (Aid to Bible Understanding, p. 755).
  • “Most Witnesses hope to be found worthy enough to be ‘saved’ from destruction in the future battle of Armageddon and to survive into God’s new earthly system of rule, when ‘paradise’ will be restored to Earth. The four requirements for salvation are: 1) taking in knowledge of Jehovah God and of Jesus Christ; 2) obeying God’s laws and conforming one’s life to the moral requirements set out in the Bible; 3) belonging to and serving with God’s one true channel and organization (that is, the Watchtower Society); and 4) being loyal to God’s organization” (10 Questions & Answers on Jehovah’s Witnesses, p. 7).
  • “Salvation is earned through a combination of faith plus good works. True Christians can have no assurance of eternal life. They must work toward perfection throughout this life, and then throughout Christ’s 1,000-year reign on earth. Next they must pass the final test of Satan (during which Satan is released from the pit to tempt all faithful Witnesses one last time) before God will grant them eternal life. If they fail at any point they are at risk of annihilation (eternal destruction)” (10 Questions & Answers on Jehovah’s Witnesses, p. 7).

What the Bible teaches:

  • Christ’s death at Calvary paid our sin debt and purchased our salvation so that everlasting life is received by grace through faith in Jesus (John 3:16; 5:24; Rom. 4:4-5; 1 Cor. 15:1-4; Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:5).
  • Believers are eternally secure based on the finished work of Christ at Calvary and the faithfulness of God (John 5:24; 10:27-30; Rom. 8:28-39; Heb. 7:25; 10:14; 1 Peter 1:1-5).
  • All who receive Christ by faith enter immediately and everlastingly into Christ’s kingdom (John 1:12; 3:16; 5:24; Rom. 10:9-10, 13).

JW False Doctrine 8: Consciousness of the soul after death denied.

What the Watchtower says:

  • “… the claim of religionists that man has an immortal soul and therefore differs from the beast is not Scriptural” (Let God Be True, p. 68).
  • “Hell is mankind’s common grave” (Jehovah’s Witnesses Official Web Site).
  • At death, the soul, which is inseparable from the body, ceases to exist. Jehovah “remembers” each person’s life essence and recreates it at the resurrection. In other words, the Watchtower teaches the false doctrine of “soul sleep.”
  • There are three classes of individuals who are resurrected (recreated) and are potential heirs of salvation: 1) the 144,000 elect of God who enter heaven; 2) the “earthly class’ of faithful Jehovah’s Witnesses; and 3) the rest of mankind. A fourth class, the unsaved, are annihilated at death and are not resurrected and given a second chance.

What the Bible teaches:

  • At death, man’s eternal destiny is fixed in one of two places: heaven or hell.  All people have conscious existence at death and beyond (Luke 16:19-31).
  • Hell is a place of everlasting conscious existence, where the unbeliever is forever separated from God (Matt. 25:46; Rev. 14:9-11; 20:10).
  • Heaven also is a place of everlasting conscious existence, and the believer’s soul/spirit goes there upon death (2 Cor. 5:8; Rev. 22:5).

JW False Doctrine 9: Eternal punishment in hell denied.

What the Watchtower says:

  • “Hell is mankind’s common grave” (Jehovah’s Witnesses Official Web Site).
  • “Who is responsible for this God-defaming doctrine of a hell of torment? The promulgator of it is Satan himself. His purpose in introducing it has been to frighten the people away from studying the Bible and to make them hate God” (Let God Be True, p. 98).
  • “The doctrine of a burning hell where the wicked are tortured eternally after death cannot be true, mainly for four reasons: (1) Because it is wholly unscriptural; (2) it is unreasonable; (3) it is contrary to God’s love; and (4) it is repugnant to justice” (Let God Be True, p. 99).
  • “Would a loving God really torment people forever? … The wicked, of course, are not literally tormented because, as we have seen, when a person is dead he is completely out of existence…. And it is also a lie, which the Devil spread, that the souls of the wicked are tormented …” (You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, pp. 81, 88-89).

What the Bible teaches:

  • Hell is a place of everlasting conscious existence, where the unbeliever is forever separated from God (Matt. 25:46; Rev. 14:9-11; 20:10).

JW False Doctrine 10: Heaven as the destination for all believers denied.

What the Watchtower says:

  • Only 144,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses, called the “anointed class” and chosen by Jehovah, will be in heaven. The remaining faithful Witnesses, after an indefinite length of time in a state of soul sleep, will be raised to populate Paradise Earth – if they remain faithful throughout the millennium and final test.
  • “So this ‘congregation of God’ is made up of all Christians on earth who have the hope of heavenly life. In all, only 144,000 persons finally make up the ‘congregation of God.’ Today, only a few of these, a remnant, are still on the earth. Christians who hope to live forever on earth look for spiritual guidance from members of this ‘congregation of the living God'” (You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, pp. 125-26).
  • “Many millions that have lived in centuries past and who were not Jehovah’s Witnesses will come back in a resurrection and have an opportunity for life. Many now living may yet take a stand for truth and righteousness before the “great tribulation,” and they will gain salvation (Jehovah’s Witnesses official Web site).
  • The “anointed class” will one day rule in heaven with the elder brother Jesus. The anointed class is sovereignly chosen, or elected. Members of this class receive five benefits not given to others: 1) They are now presently “justified” by God as long as they maintain their justified status; 2) they are now consecrated and anointed as priests; 3) they are specially sanctified for Jehovah’s purposes; 4) if they remain faithful, at death they will be regenerated or born again just as Jesus was born again; 5) they will then rule in heaven with God and Jesus. At the “resurrection,” the 144,000 will be changed into spirit creatures, just as they believe Jesus was at His “resurrection.” This constitutes being “born again.” Thus, just like the Watchtower Jesus, they will live in heaven as spirits but not on earth as physical persons. They are thus said to be given immortality as spirits in heaven, in contrast to a physical eternal life on earth.
  • The “other sheep,” or “great crowd,” constitutes the rest of the Witnesses. The average Witness today has virtually no expectation of being elected to the anointed class, neither does he or she have any expectation of being “born again.” If the “other sheep” are successful in earning their salvation they will be given positions of leadership in the millennial age. However, they are also warned that if they do not pass additional millennial tests, they will forfeit their eternal life and be annihilated.
  • The rest of mankind are resurrected to life on earth in the exact moral condition in which they died, and they must then seek to attain their own perfection during the millennium. If they attain perfection and also pass the final millennial test by avoiding the judgment of God in Rev. 20:7-9, they will obtain eternal life on earth.

What the Bible teaches:

  • All believers have God’s promise of a home in heaven, will go there instantly upon physical death, and will return with Christ to earth one day (John 14:1-3; 2 Cor. 5:8; Rev. 19:11-16).
  • There is no opportunity for salvation beyond the grave, as the Watchtower teaches  (Luke 16:19-31; Heb. 9:27).

More resources:

The Jehovah’s Witnesses: An Overview (PDF)

Comparing Christianity to the Jehovah’s Witnesses (PDF)

Key Mistranslations of the New World Translation (PDF)