From House to House: Proclaiming What?

Perhaps nothing distinguishes us as much as our extensive preaching work – from house to house, in public places, and wherever people are found” (Awake! Sept. 2015, 7)

JWs believe their door to door preaching (field service) makes them the only true religion on earth. A friend once told me about a Witness who called at his place and when he indicated he’s a Christian, the JW said “If you are really a Christian why are you not going from house to house to preach your faith?”

That JW was trying to send my friend on a guilt trip; to reinforce the idea that “unless you are with us, you are not there yet” – a mindset often grilled into JWs:

Do you know of anyone else who preaches about God’s kingdom from house to house throughout the world?” (Does God Care? 2001, 30)

An important way in which we show love for our fellowmen is by witnessing to them about God’s kingdom. Only one group of people is doing this work that Jesus foretold. (Mark 13:1) These are Jehovah’s Witnesses (The Watchtower, June 1994, 18).

In 2004, I went for evangelism in an area and we (the lady with me) tried to witness to a woman. Her visage was angry and her response was harsh; she wanted to drag us into an argument. Why was she so angry with us? Because she is a Jehovah’s Witness and in her little Watchtower bubble world, she didn’t expect that anyone else would be preaching from house to house. They alone seem to have the copyright over that.

This “we alone” mentality fosters a sense of pride that blinds JWs from critically examining what they are being led to believe. Reflecting on this tactic, an ex-JW said “It doesn’t start out that you are the only ones who have the truth, but that you are the only ones making sacrifices for the truth.”

An article in The Watchtower (Nov. 15, 2005) featured examples of JWs risking their lives, reputation and health to gain converts. But the same can be said about other sects like the Mormons. This doesn’t distinguish JWs.

“Since the last days began in 1914, Jehovah’s Witnesses have preached the good news of God’s kingdom throughout the world in the manner ordered by Jesus, namely, at the homes of the people. (Matthew 10:7, 12, Acts 20:20) Millions of Witnesses call on people in every nation to talk to them about the new world” (Does God Care? 2001, 30).

Let’s examine the proof texts used here.

(1) Matthew 10:7 “As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’

In its entirety, Matthew 10 contradicts the JW’s manner of preaching. In vs 8, Jesus commanded His disciples “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.”

JWs don’t heal the sick or drive out demons from house to house – since they don’t even believe such works of power operate today. They also collect money to cover the materials they give out.

Jesus’ disciples were instructed to stay in the houses they visit until they leave (v. 11). He directly told them “Do not move around from house to house” (Lk. 10:7). How many JWs stay in the homes of those they preach to, to eat and drink whatever they are given? How can they claim they follow the manner ordered by Jesus with such obvious contradictions?

(2) Acts 20:20 “I did not hold back from telling you any of the things that were profitable nor from teaching you publicly and from house to house.”

Apostle Paul was speaking to “elders of the church” in Ephesus, not to unbelievers (v. 17) and the “house to house” [Greek: kataiokos] was referring to how he taught them “in private homes.”

The early Christians didn’t have church buildings, but met in private homes. And that was the way it was until around the 2nd century. That’s why Paul wrote about Aquila and Priscilla “Greet also the church that meets at their house.” (Rom 16:5) “Give my greetings…to Nympha and the church in her house.” (Col 4:16)

If JWs are being consistent, they should also meet in one another’s homes, not in kingdom halls. The term “house to house” is also used in Acts 5:42 “Everyday in the temple and from house to house they continued without let up teaching and declaring the good news about Christ.”

The earlier explanation applies here also. The good news they preached was “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day…” (1Cor. 15:3). Their message was about who Jesus Christ is and what He has done, not about a coming earthly paradise or joining Jehovah’s organization. They were witnesses unto Christ, not of Jehovah (Acts 1:8).

As the early Christians preached the gospel, God confirmed it with signs and wonders (Acts 3:6-9, 8:7, 13). They were not going from door to door like sales representatives of an organization parroting a doctrinal pretzel within 5 minutes like JWs are trained to do.

The early Christians also “shared everything they had” (Acts 4:32). If JWs are following their pattern, they should be practicing communal living. The point is this: that a thing was done in a certain way in the first century doesn’t mean it must be done the same way at every century of church history.

Jesus and the apostles didn’t just go from house to house, they also preached in marketplaces, synagogues and to crowds of people. They weren’t following a rigid methodology on how the gospel must be preached.

Modern technology notwithstanding, many Christians from different denominations still take the gospel from house to house. But to teach that this is the only acceptable means of preaching and identifying true Christians is legalism and extremism. Even JWs are now modifying their methods. They now organize display stands and outlets, use the Internet, and since 2014, now have their own online TV – something they used to despise.

The house-to-house system is obviously not bringing out the best results for JWs. For instance, some householders may not be home during their visits, and some may refuse to listen. Their preaching work has also been banned in many countries. According to Awake! (May 1, 2011), JWs spent 1.6 billion hours in their preaching work in 2010 alone.

How does this translate into conversions? India, with a population of 1 billion has only 25,000 JWs. Pakistan has 1032 out of 145 million, while Indonesia has only 18,000 JWs out of a total population of 219 million. Most of their converts actually come from person-to-person contacts (colleagues or family members).

JWs have elevated themselves on a pedestal of false superiority by claiming “they alone” are fulfilling Jesus’ prophecy to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. They have also made a legalistic system out of their preaching work. Every Witness is mandated to carry a house-to-house card, field service report and a territory map which are to be submitted monthly to their elders for grading. To be poorly graded means you are a weak Witness and that implies Jehovah is not happy with you.

A JW must spend an average of 10 hours a month in door to door preaching; special pioneer Witness, 120 hours a month and a regular pioneer must spend at least 70 hours a month, to maintain a right standing in the congregation. This is a system of works and guilt in which JWs have to continuously work to win the approval of their leaders.

Christians do preach the gospel, but we do not measure out the hours required in order to maintain a right standing before God. How does it work going door to door with a stopwatch in our pockets and when it ticks off, to say “Oh sorry, I have to go now, I’ve reached my hour limits for the week”? Our preaching is borne out of the love of God and obedience to His Word.

To safeguard this doctrine, the New World bible has been mistranslated. For example:

Romans 10: 9-10 “For if you publicly declare that ‘word in your own mouth’ that Jesus is Lord, and exercise faith in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one exercises faith for righteousness, but with the mouth one makes public declaration for salvation.

What the Watchtower Society means by “exercising faith” has been explained elsewhere. The two key doctrines of the gospel – the Lordship of Jesus Christ and His bodily resurrection – is rejected by JWs, so the “gospel” they are preaching is false. The above text was deliberately rendered to support the idea that by public declaration or field service, JWs are saving themselves. This is legalism.

The Lord Jesus spoke of the efforts of the Pharisees and scribes who travel “sea and land to make a proselyte [convert]” and when he converts he becomes “twofold more the child of hell” (Matt. 23:15). Zeal and sincerity are good, but they can be misplaced. No matter what efforts a deceived person puts into preaching a false gospel, it is in vain before God.
In conclusion:

1. Since JWs are not the only ones preaching from door to door, they can’t rightly claim it as their distinguishing mark.

2. Their house-to-house preaching is based on misinterpretations (and mistranslations) of the Bible, and therefore cannot be valid.

3. Even if their interpretation is valid, the gospel they preach is a false gospel that cannot save both the preacher and listener.

4. Since their gospel is false, then they are not fulfilling Jesus’ prophecy of taking the gospel to the ends of the earth.

Will Islam Dominate the World?

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“Islam will dominate the world!” This is about the only note in the Muslim harp when they become bereft of convincing arguments. It’s more like a lullaby to be sung to beat insomnia after being confronted with the hard truths about Muhammad and his cult.

Why do Muslims love repeating this drivel? For instance, to say that a religion is true because “it‘s the fastest growing” is a fallacy of appeal to numbers. It is like saying a pie is nutritious because there are so many flies perchiing on it.

There are 3 ways I want to approach this issue: to examine whether this chant can be supported from Islamic sources, demography and from a Biblical point of view.

(1) The Quran says:

It is He [Allah] who has sent His messenger with guidance and the religion of truth and will make it dominate over all religions; inspite of the idol worshippers” (Sura 61:9).

This verse exposes the tyrannical, expansionist and oppressive mindset Muhammad had. This verse proves that Islam is not a religion of peace or tolerance, because the emphasis of a religion of peace is how to co-exist with other religions, not how to oppress them.

If Islam is the truth, or even a fraction of the truth, then it need not be established by force. Truth is established by reason, not by force.

If something is true, one should be able to prove it logically, otherwise it’s a lie. But Muslims believe Islam must be enforced on the whole world through whatever means – murder, finance, deception and politics.

They kidnap hundreds of girls and rape them, using their bodies to breed new generations of Islamic terrorists and also marry several women and reproduce in large numbers (“bed jihad”). All these ploys accentuate the lies of Islam.

The Hadiths, however, give us a different picture about Islam’s future:

“[T]he Messenger of Allah observed: Verily Islam started as something strange and it would again revert (to its old position) of being strange just as it started, and it would recede between two mosques just as the serpent crawls back to its hole” (Muslim 1:270).

Muslims will diminish in number and they will go back to where they started [before Islam].” (Abu Dawud, 2:19:3029)

Muslims will be the scum and rubbish even though their numbers may increase; the enemy will not fear Muslims anymore. This will be because the Muslims will love the world and dislike death…” (37:42:4284)

What Muhammad is saying that Islam rather than taking over the world, will crawl back into the hole it came out from. Good riddance!

(2) Demographically, the rise of Islam in the West is due to immigration and high birth rate, not conversion.

A 2009 survey states that the population of Muslims in the US is only 0.8% of the total US population (CNS News, Oct. 2009).

Dr. Ilyas Ba-Yunus, Emeritus Professor of Sociology of the State University of New York, stated that 75% of new Muslim converts in the US leave Islam within a few years.

This correlates with a 2010 European Social Survey showing that most Muslim immigrants in Europe rarely go to the mosque after a year. In the Netherlands, mosque attendance has dropped from 47% in 1998 to 35% in 2008 (Elsevier, July 29, 2009).

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life (April 2010) stated that Christians now outnumber Muslims in Africa by 2 to 1 ratio. The growth of Christianity in sub-Saharan Africa has risen from 9 million in 1910 to 516 million today- a 60% increase eclipsing Islam.

According to Roman Silantyev of Interreligious Council in Russia, 2 million Muslims have converted to Christianity, while only 25,000 Orthodox church members have embraced Islam.

While Islam grows at 2.7% per year, Christianity grows at 6.9% per year, that is three and half times faster than the increase of the world population.

Christianity is growing rapidly in Asia, Latin America and Africa. For example, China had 1 million Christians in 1950. Today there are over 100 million Christians there. This excludes the millions of people worldwide who have been saved through Christian TV and online Bible teachings. If Islam is the “fastest growing” religion, it needs to back it up or shut up.

(3) From a Christian standpoint, population is irrelevant when it comes to salvation. God is not a respecter of numbers.

For example, tens of thousands of Israelites left Egypt, but only two from that generation – Joshua and Caleb – entered the Promised Land. The Lord Jesus said:

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).

Paul the apostle wrote that “all they which are in Asia be turned away from me” and forsook him. Yet that didn’t diminish the truth he preached one iota (2 Timothy 1:15).

Truth does not require a population of people to believe in it to be valid; it remains true whether they believe it or not. There was a time when 98% of the world believed in a flat earth, but they were wrong – very wrong.

Unlike the expansionist agenda of Islam, true Christianity does not aim at dominating the world or oppressing other religions, but rather to call men and women out of the evil system of the world and prepare them for a glorious eternity in heaven.

Whilst Islam is obsessed with earthly triumphalist dreams without any assurance of the hereafter, for the Christian, there is no greater joy and security that awaits us than to be in Christ’s presence forever (John 14:1-4).

Islam may rule the world and pass away with the world like the ancient death cult of the Aztecs and Incas (since it’s of the world) but it is definitely not taking anyone to heaven.

Hell Fire and “the Society’s” Dark Lenses

Previously, I’ve examined the errors of the Watchtower Society regarding death and the immortality of the inner man here and here.

In this piece, their denial of the existence of Hell will be dealt with.

“As noted earlier, some religions teach that if a person lives a bad life, after death he will go to a place of fiery torment to suffer forever” (What does the Bible Really Teach? p. 64).

It is sophistry to lump “some religions” together without noting the differences in their concepts of hell and what qualifies a person for it.

Islam, for instance, believes that only those whose bad works exceed the good, or the “infidels” will go to hell. Hinduism and Buddhism believe in temporary hells but don’t believe in the concept of sin.

Even when this distinction is made in their sources, JWs omit it. For example, in Reasoning from the Scriptures (p. 175), the quote from the Encyclopedia Americana (XIV, 68) says:

“Buddhism which dates back to the 6th century B.C.E. in time came to feature both hot and cold hells. [page 69] The utterly reprobate, along with Death and Hell itself, will finally be cast into the Lake of Fire (Rev 20:13-14).”

The part in bold was conveniently left out. In Bible Christianity, hell is not just for those who have “live a bad life.” The wages of sin (singular) is eternal death (Rom. 6:23). That is, just one sin is enough to qualify a person for hell.

This teaching dishonors God. Jehovah is a God of love and would never make people suffer in this way. (1 John 4:8) How would you feel about a man who punished a disobedient child by holding his hands in a fire. Would you respect such a man? (Ibid)

Notice the switch here. At first we are told “some religions” believe in Hell, now we are told it dishonors God. Which God – since religions don’t believe in the same God?

As for the God of the Bible, His  is manifested in how He wills “that all sorts of people should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth” (1 Tim. 2:4).

He is “he does not desire anyone to be destroyed but desires all to attain to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). Thus, He has provided a way of salvation by which man will not go into eternal perdition.

That God is love doesn’t imply that He is a passive or an indulgent father who pampers sinners or exonerates the wicked. .

To say that “a God of love can never make people suffer in Hell” is like saying “a good lawyer can never send people to jail.” The analogy of a man holding the hands of a disobedient child in fire doesn’t fit that of Hell at all. God doesn’t just point at some people and say, “You and you will go to hell.”

The Lord Jesus said Hell was created for Satan and his angels (Matt. 25:41). People go there because they side with the devil in sin.

“The one who practices sin originates with the Devil, because the Devil has been sinning from the beginning” (1 Jn. 3:8).

Those in hell reap what they sowed. The justice of God demands that sin be punished. He will never excuse or tolerate sin.

The holiness of God also demands that sin be removed because only the holy can live with him. The natures of God act in accordance. To cling to a single attribute and form a doctrine around it, is idolatry.

God’s love is as real as His justice and holiness. The same God who preserved Noah and his family destroyed the rest in a flood.

Sheol, Hades and the Grave

The Hebrew word for hell is Sheol. According to The New Bible Dictionary, “This word is used in the Old Testament for the place of the dead … In the later Jewish literature we meet with the idea of divisions within Sheol for the wicked and the righteous, in which each experiences a foretaste of his final destiny” (J. D. Douglas, 1962, 518).

The Pictorial Bible Dictionary says:

“While the word Sheol, does not pointedly refer to a definitive doctrine of endless retribution, but rather to a shadowy existence beyond the grave, it nevertheless reflects the belief in a future and continued existence” (Merrill Tenney, 1967, 346).

The Greek word for hell is hades and it is defined as:

“The region of departed spirits of the lost (but including the blessed dead in periods preceding the Ascension of Christ) … It corresponds to Sheol in the O.T. IN the KJV… It never denotes the grave, nor is it the permanent region of the lost; in point in time it is, for such, intermediate between decease and the doom of Gehenna” (W. E. Vine, An Expository of New Testament Words, 1940, “Hades”).

Greek scholar, Joseph Thayer defines it as “the nether world, the realm of the dead … In the Septuagint the Hebrew Sheol is almost always rendered by this word … the infernal regions, a dark and dismal place … the common receptacle of disembodied spirits” (Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, 11).

On the other hand, the Watchtower Society argues:

The fact that the King James Version translates the one Hebrew word Sheol three different ways shows that hell, grave, and the pit mean one and the same thing … In all the places where Sheol occurs in the Bible it is never associated with life, activity, or torment” (You Can Live Forever in Paradise Earth, 1982, 82, 83)

Sheol, or Hades, is thus not a literal place in a specific location. Rather it is the common grave of dead mankind, the figurative location where most of mankind sleep in death” (Bible Teach, p. 212)

But the difference is clear: Sheol/Hades is the unseen world of departed spirits while the grave is the seen world or the place of the body at death.

The Hebrew and Greek words used for the grave are Qeber and Mnemeion respectively. This blows the JW’s assertion into pieces.

The Bible differentiates between hell and the grave so clearly that it can only be missed by those who have dark goggles of the Watchtower on:

I. The body never goes into Hell. It’s always described as the place of the soul (e.g Ps. 16:16, Acts 2:25) while the grave is never the place of the soul.

The body is mentioned going into the grave 75 times in Scripture.

II. Hell is never used in the plural while the grave is used in plural 38 times and singular 74 times (e.g Lk. 11:44, Jn. 5:28 etc).

III. There is not a single place where an individual’s hell is mentioned, whereas individual graves are mentioned 79 times (e.g Gen. 35:20)

IV. God alone puts men into sheol (Num. 16:30, 1Sam. 2:6) Nowhere is man said to put anyone into Hell. In 40 places, men are said to put bodies in the grave.

V. Hell is described as a place of activity (Lk. 16:19) while the grave is described as a place where there is no wisdom, thought or activity (Eccl. 9:10)

VI. The inhabitants of hell are stirred up at the coming of others (Isa. 14:9-11, Ezk. 32:27-32) while the grave is the abode of lifeless unconscious bodies.

VII. The Bible describes Sheol/Hades as being located in “the nether parts of the earth” (Ezk. 31:14) “the lower parts of the earth” (Ps. 63:9) “the heart of the earth” (Mt. 12:40).

VIII. Sheol/Hades is described in the same way a literal place is. It’s a place with gates and bars (Job 17:16, Isa. 38:10, Rev. 1:18); it enlarges itself (Isa. 5:14); it’s a place of sorrow (Ps. 18:5), torment and regret (Lk. 16:23-31), pains (Psa. 116:3) and debasement (Isa. 57:9).

IX. The language used to describe what goes on there shows it’s not the grave.

Men are forced into it (Isa. 5:15), cast into it (Ezk. 31:15-17); it’s a place of unquenchable fire (Mt. 3:12) where conversations are carried on and where knowledge and memory exists (Isa 14:9-16, Lk. 16:19-31).

X. Substitute the word “hell” with the “grave” in the following passages and you would have these:

“The sorrows of the grave encompassed me about…” (2 Sam. 22:6)

“…But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of the fire of the grave” (Mt 5:22)

“…It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into the grave, where the fire never goes out” (Mk. 9:43)

“And in the grave he lift up his eyes being in torments…” (Lk. 16:23).

Substitute the word “grave”/tombs with “hell” and we have:

“Jacob set up a pillar over her hell” (Gen. 35:20)

“anyone who touches a human bone or a hell, will be unclean for seven days” (Num. 19:16)

“who sit among the hells and spend their nights keeping secret vigils” (Isa. 65:4)

“You build hells of the prophets and decorate the hells of the righteous” (Mt. 23:29)

“This man lived in the hells, and no one could bind him anymore…” (Mk. 5:3).

To define hell as the grave renders many Bible verses absurd. JWs must choose which to follow – the inspired Bible or a bunch of uninspired men in New York city.

The case of Lazarus and the rich man is a problem for JWs so they had to construct a load of unwarranted assumptions around the parable:

Is it reasonable or Scriptural to believe that a man suffers torment simply because he is rich, wears good clothing and has plenty to eat? … Is hell literally within speaking distance of heaven so that an actual conversation could be carried on? Also if the rich man were in a literal burning lake, how could Abraham send Lazarus to cool his tongue with just a drop of water on the tip of his finger?” (The Truth that Leads to Eternal Life, 1968, 42-43

The false assumptions introduced into the story are:

1. That the rich man went to hell because he was rich. The Bible didn’t say so.

2. That Abraham’s bosom is heaven and it was so close to hell. The Bible never said so.

3. That the rich man was in a lake of fire. The Bible didn’t say this.

No one who reads Luke 16 will come up with such silly conclusions. Notice again how Watchtower leaders concocted their own fanciful ideas about Lazarus and the rich man:

In his [Jesus’] illustration, the rich man stood for the class of religious leaders who rejected and later killed Jesus. Lazarus pictured the common people who accepted God’s Son … A death, or change from former conditions, happened when Jesus fed the Lazarus class spiritually, and they thus came into the favor of the greater Abraham. At the same time, the false religious leaders “died” with respect to having God’s favor. Being cast off, they suffered torments when Christ’s followers after Pentecost forcefully exposed their evil works” (Ibid, 43)

This rigmarole was made up for one simple reason: to avoid admitting the Biblical doctrine of Hell staring them in the face!

Like a fly that gets more trapped in a web as it struggles, the more Watchtower leaders attempt to twirl away plain Bible truths about hell, the more they are forced to resort to varying degrees of inanities to cover up their lies. In that same book, an appeal is made to Job:

He prayed to God: ‘Who will grant me, this that thou mayest protect me in hell [sheol’; the grave, AV], and hide me till thy wrath pass, and appoint me a time when thou wilt remember me?” (Job 14:13,) How unreasonable to think that Job desired protection in hell if it is a fiery-hot place! (Ibid, 42)

This sophistry can only deceive those ignorant of Biblical eschatology. In the OT, hell had two compartments, the righteous compartment or paradise (“Abraham’s bosom” Lk. 16:22, 23:43) and the torment compartment where the wicked dead went (Isa. 32:12, Ps. 9:17).

The righteous dead were kept in the former until Christ came to pay the ransom. It was a hiding place from God’s wrath – a place of comfort and without fire. This was where Lazarus, Christ and the penitent thief went into at death (Ps. 16:10, Eph. 4:8-10).

Since Christ had conquered death and hell and liberated the OT saints, the saved now go to heaven at death.

Abraham’s bosom/paradise is now empty. It would take the height of folly for JWs to ignore the historical context of Job’s prayer. That is classic theological craftiness.