Clarifying A Legacy

[What must I do?]

While reading allowed my grandpa’s poetry to Andrew, my eyes welled up with tears. I knew we had like hearts, but it hadn’t occurred to me just how like my grandpa I’d become.

I never knew much about my grandparents faith; my grandpa passed away when I was five years old, and while my grandma shared many stories of her life, I can’t recall her speaking about what she believed. However, I know that she originally had an Anglican upbringing, and when I shared that I had become a Christian, I remember her hollering from the kitchen that she was a Christian too.

When my grandma passed away, Andrew said to me, “We’ll see your grandma and grandpa again,” Nevertheless, when my dad asked me where I believed Grandma went when she died, I told him I really didn’t know what she believed, but if she knew Jesus then she would be with Him in heaven.

From my dad’s questioning I got the impression that he assumed I would say Grandma didn’t make it to heaven because she was a Jehovah’s Witness. However, that’s not a statement that I would ever make.

Though I don’t agree with the Jehovah’s Witnesses understanding of Scripture, in so many ways, whether someone is saved or not is a matter of what they believe and confess. (I’ll expand more on this in part 2) I do, nevertheless, feel that being involved with the JW’s was detrimental to my family. It’s at least part of the reason that I’m currently the only believer in my family.

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” – Rom 10:9-10

Active Love

As for my grandpa’s character, his poetry is a window into the past, through which his loving heart shines brightly. The one thing that bothers me, though, is that his poetry about God never mentions the name Jesus.

Nonetheless, what brought tears to my eyes, was the same active love that I have for my friends and family. (By active I mean that it’s always alive and growing, and it reaches out to others.) My grandpa was very involved with people, and he expressed His love for God. His poetry makes it clear to me that he saw the Lord as a gift worth sharing and meditating on.

The Legacy

While I may share a like heart with my grandpa, this isn’t something that I inherited from him.  Since He died when I was just a child, I never knew him well enough to follow in his footsteps. It’s Jesus that I’ve been getting to know.

The only proof I have that my grandparents knew Jesus, and had the Holy Spirit is my Grandpa’s poetry and my Grandma’s love. It’s not much to go on. However, we’re taught to test the Spirits (1 John 4 ), so to me who they were is my evidence that they had God’s Spirit residing in them. I know that my grandma didn’t adhere to everything that the JW’s taught. In fact when she was told to shun her family she refused to do so. As my mom puts it, she was very feisty. (I’d add: feisty in a good way.) I want to say that I take after her, but it’s really my Lord that I take after.

“By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.” –1 John 4:2-3

It bothered me that my grandpa never used Jesus’ name in his poetry because our Lord’s name is important. Establishing that He is sovereign is important as well. While my grandparents may not have spelled this out clearly for all, I want to leave a legacy that makes it crystal clear I lived for the Lord Jesus. So, with God’s great help, I press on towards that goal.

A real relationship with God is one of FAITH. It’s moves closer to God, believing that He is guiding us and willing us to be used for His purpose.

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“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.  Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” –Matthew 28:16-20

He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”  They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved–you and your household.” –Acts 16:30-31

 

Born of God

[For it is God who works in you…]

When I contemplated how to explain all of the ways that the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ teaching isn’t correct, it overwhelmed me. The problem is that the foundation of their faith isn’t accurate. If the foundation isn’t established accurately, especially the cornerstone, it causes the whole building to be off.

Our Cornerstone

Here’s the thing, Salvation isn’t complicated. It’s really quite simple: There is one name by which we are saved: Jesus Christ. He is our cornerstone. (Acts 4:8-12  ; Phillipians 4:8-12) Those who confess that Jesus is Lord and believe will be saved.

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and if you believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, you will be saved.” –Romans 10:9

Grace not Deeds

While JW’s believe that we must work very hard and adhere to a plethora of rules in order to ensure that we keep our Salvation, those who follow Jesus know we are saved by grace, through faith, not deeds.  Did you catch that? (Through FAITH not any good thing we do, so that no one can boast.)  Our deeds come from a heart full of gratitude for what Jesus did on the cross, not as a means to hang onto our Salvation.

“Without faith no one can please God. Anyone who comes to God must believe that He is real and that He rewards those who truly want to find Him.”  Hebrews 11:6-8

Good Deeds Are Important

Don’t get me wrong, good deeds are important. For they show who we belong to, and help point others to Jesus. (Matthew 5:13-16) Therefore we strive to become thoroughly equipped and ready for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ; Titus 3:1-5)

So our Salvation is based soley on what Jesus has done, (His sacrifice on the cross) not on what we can do. Whereas good works come from a heart full of the Holy Spirit, which is eager to do good for the gospel. (Titus 2) Apart from Jesus we can do nothing. (Romans 8:1-17)

The Holy Spirit 

When a person gives their life to Jesus they will receive the Holy Spirit .  He (The Spirit of God) helps us to understand Scripture and gives us special spiritual gifts. When we allow the Holy Spirit to lead, good works and fruit will follow. They are simply a by-product (and evidence) of God’s Spirit working within us. Deeds and fruit only prove the genuineness of our faith.

However, we will still make our mistakes because we’re learning and living in weak bodies, but we have forgiveness for our sins, as we confess and reject them.

Can A Person Lose Their Salvation?

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that a person can lose their Salvation. This is a false belief. It’s also a misunderstanding and contradiction of Scripture. This is where discernment becomes important because things can be close to the truth, but subtly wrong. Looking at Scripture as a whole is important too, rather than isolating verse to prove a point.

“Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now even more in my absence, continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” -Philippians 2:12

The verse above simply means that we are to pursue the goal of growing in Christ with awe and respect.  We strive to become mature in understanding, in faith and belief, making us fruitful and able to do good works. Again, this is evidence that our faith is alive and growing. (A saving faith.) Luke 18:35-42Luke 7:36-50 A saving faith is one that understands who Jesus is, what He has done, and receives Him as Lord. The Scripture below suggests that if a person loses their faith, they were never saved to begin with.

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.” –John 10:28

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” –Matthew 28:19-20

We learn to love God’s word and His ways, all by His Spirit working in us, if we truly have the The Spirit of God. However, we can stifle the Holy Spirit and go astray. (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22) In this case the Lord comes after us to bring us back into the fold.  Yet again, we can’t save ourselves. (John 6:35-40)

Who Do You Say Jesus Is?

Here’s why the JW’s foundation isn’t firm. Who they say Jesus is isn’t accurate. They reject that Jesus is co-equal with God the Father.  It’s important to clarify this because what we believe matters. It also makes backing everything up with Scripture extremely important.

One of the best Scriptures to solidify that Jesus does infact share divinity (making Jesus God) is in Hebrews where God the Father calls Jesus both God and Lord. Jesus was there in the beginning with the Father. He wasn’t created, as the JW’s believe.  Infact nothing was created without Jesus, making it impossible for Him to be a creation, Himself. (John 1:1-5)

“But this is what He said about His Son: “God, your Kingdom will last forever and ever.  You use your authority for justice.  You love what is right and hate what is wrong. So God, your God, has chosen you, giving you more honor and joy than anyone like you.” God also said, “O Lord, in the beginning you made the earth, and your hands made the sky.  These things will disappear, but you will stay.  They will all wear out like old clothes.  You will fold them up like a coat, and they will be changed like clothes. But you will never change, and your life will never end.” –Hebrews 1:8-1

If we want to be strong men and women of faith, we have to listen to the Holy Spirit, and pray for discernment. We must keep learning and growing just as we would work towards any worthy goal. For those who are true believers, keeping God’s commandments aren’t too difficult or burdensome (Matthew 11:28-30) because it is God who works in us. It is not of our own doing, we have been born of God.

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”  –1 John 5:1-5

“For it is God who works in you to will and to act on behalf of His good purpose.” –Philippians 2:13

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If you’re interested in following this series, all posts can be found here. And the first post in this series can be found right here: Faith: Mapped

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