SHORT CHRISTIAN READINGS SELECTED FOR FORMER JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES
Pilgrimage Through The WatchTower
By Kevin Quick
Excerpts from Chapter 9: Life in Christ (edited)
The following Sunday I attended church for the first time. I was terrified! All that I knew at that time about church was from what I had learned at the Kingdom Hall, that the churches were infested with demons, and that no true Christian would ever dare set foot in one. ...
I enjoyed the service, and I enjoyed meeting my new brothers and sisters afterwards. My initial fears melted away as I began to understand what true Christian fellowship was all about. Though I had just met them, I really loved these people! We were not joined together so much by the knowledge that we carried in our minds, as are Jehovah's Witnesses, but by the personal relationships that we each had in our hearts with Jesus.
Like that night after my accepting Christ as Savior, when my heart spontaneously cried out, "Let God be praised!", so now as I fellowshipped with these born again Christians, my heart was saying as it were, "Amen! Amen! You love Jesus too? Amen!" I knew that I was one of them, and I loved them! We were all one in Christ (Rom 12:5). After several months of fellowship ... , I was baptized ... "in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matt 28:19)."
Life as a Christian and life as a Jehovah's Witness are as different as day and night. The foundation of my new life, my personal relationship with Christ, is a glorious, immovable foundation (Matt 7:24,25). My righteousness is no longer my own; I indeed have no righteousness in myself. But positionally I am, as are all true Christians, "in Christ," inseparably joined to Him forever. His impeccable righteousness has been imputed to me, not by works that I have done, but by the work that He has done for me, which righteousness I have simply received by faith (Eph 2:8-10).
And experientially, I can testify that God is at work in me, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Phil 2:13). As I walk with Him day by day, I experience His sanctifying work in me, from the inside out. I am enabled at all times by the Holy Spirit who indwells me to live a life that is pleasing to my heavenly Father. Many of the old, fleshly desires that I used to be plagued with both before and after becoming a Jehovah's Witness were entirely taken away when I accepted Christ. And of those that still remain, not one of them is any match for the indwelling Holy Spirit as I yield my life to Him.
Since coming to Christ, the Bible is a brand new book for me. Passages that were once dark and mysterious are now glorious, full of light and life. Oh, how joyous to experience the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit (John 14:24, 1 John 2:27)! I am sometimes moved to tears of joy and thanksgiving when I read of what my Savior has done, how He loves me, and how He is so patiently preparing us to spend eternity with Him.
Bible study has turned from obligatory tedium to one of life's most wonderful adventures. Bible study, whether it be at church, Sunday school, small group gatherings, or alone at home, has proven to be a rich source of spiritual nourishment for me. Unlike Watchtower [Cult] indoctrination, true Christian studies are boundless. Scholarly works on nearly every subject imaginable are available for objective study. Studies in Christian theology and church history are ready and waiting for the seeker. ... I always make it a point to pray to my Father that He might direct me to the materials ... that I would benefit from most. I've yet to be disappointed!
Weekly Church services, so difficult for me that first time, have proven to be a wonderful source of Christian fellowship and edification. My fellowship with other Christians is enjoyed not on the basis of an enforced organizational unity, but on genuine love and concern for one another. Communion services are especially beautiful and touching for me, having been denied this special fellowship with Christ for many years.
Regarding doctrinal unity, I have found agreement on the essential doctrines of the Christian faith among all of the dozens of evangelical ("born again") churches that I have visited over the past several years, together with charitable room for differences of opinion on relatively inconsequential matters. I've found the Watchtower [Society's] incessant accusation of profound doctrinal disunity among evangelical churches to be wholly unfounded.
Worship of God is another glorious aspect of Christian life that I was entirely unacquainted with as a Jehovah's Witness. As [Jehovah's] Witnesses, we never worshiped God. We talked a lot about "Jehovah's pure worship". We had meetings; we sang songs; but we never worshiped Jehovah.
Now, at Christian meetings, in personal prayer, indeed at all times, I've found worship to be a most natural and enjoyable aspect of my new life. From the first "Let God be praised!" that flowed spontaneously from my heart on the night that I accepted Christ, until this very day, unfeigned worship is the unceasing expression of my new heart toward Him.
Serving God is no longer the tedious chore that it was as a Jehovah's Witness. Rather than obligation, I am motivated now by love; love for God and love for people. As I yield to Him, as His love is shed abroad in my heart, I feel something of the compassion that God has for our lost world; that same love that impelled Jesus to leave His glorious place in heaven to come to earth and die for us.
Likewise, I now serve God not because I have to, but because I want to. And as you might expect, having spent a number of years with Jehovah's Witnesses, I especially have a tender place in my heart for them. Though my efforts to reach out to my former brethren with the love of Christ are often very stressful and emotionally painful for me, still I care for them and do what I can. ...
Excerpt from Chapter 10: Appeal and Conclusion (edited)
The trauma that I experienced during my pilgrimage through the Watchtower [Cult] is by no means exceptional. The testimonies of countless thousands of ex-Jehovah's Witnesses are considerably more tragic than mine; many culminating in severe emotional instability, depression, hopelessness, and even suicide. The tragedy to me in this appalling state of affairs is that it is all so utterly unnecessary! Now that I've told my story, I'd like to conclude by making an appeal to you, my reader, whether you be studying with Jehovah's Witnesses, are now an active Jehovah's Witness, or are a Christian interested in reaching out to Jehovah's Witnesses.
If you are currently studying with Jehovah's Witnesses, I hope that my experiences will help you to avoid most of the mistakes that I made during my seven years of involvement with them. It's been well said that "The emptiest and unhappiest occupation in the world is trying to act like a Christian when you are not a Christian."
You don't need to discover this truth through your own grueling pilgrimage through the Watchtower [Cult]. First and foremost, I invite you to come to Jesus personally in prayer, asking Him to forgive your sins and inviting Him to come into your life. Trust Him as your all-sufficient Lord and Savior. Don't let Jehovah's Witnesses sell you their "good news of Jehovah's established kingdom (since 1914)".
The Bible speaks of how the apostle Paul "delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Cor 15:3,4)."
And Peter likewise says that "He [Jesus] Himself bore our sins upon His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed (1 Pet 2:24)."
You see, the real Christian gospel is simply this: Jesus died on the cross in your place, enduring for you the full retribution due your personal sins; past, present, and future. Accept this truth, believe it, and you will be born again! Then after accepting Christ, don't ever allow yourself to be enslaved to a small group of domineering men as I have. If you ever detect such a tendency in your own life, read the book of Galatians to see how Paul dealt with the Judaizers of his day, and follow his sterling example.
If you don't have a good, understandable, independently translated Bible (I'd recommend the New American Standard Bible or the Revised Standard Version, among many other good ones), then be sure to get one and read it regularly. Always preface your reading with prayer to your heavenly Father in Jesus' name, that he may guide you in your reading. Be open and attentive to the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit, your personal Guide in all your Bible reading and study.
Study Bible doctrine diligently, always with Jesus as the source and center of your doctrine. ... As you grow in your knowledge and understanding of the Bible, have as a goal the continual development and deepening of your personal love relationship with Jesus.
In time, and as God leads you, I encourage you to visit several evangelical ("born-again"), Bible-based churches in your area. ... When you find a good one (not a perfect one), get to know some of the people there. Ask them about local Bible study groups; a small group Bible study is an excellent place for you to learn, share with others, and grow spiritually.
If you are currently one of Jehovah's Witnesses, I would like to offer you some insights that may clear up some misapprehensions that you might have about born-again Christians. First of all, born-again Christians don't hate Jehovah; they love Him! Neither do they hate His Name; it is used often in their sermons, books, and hymns. They have simply followed the New Testament pattern of magnifying, calling upon, and bowing to the "name above all names," Jesus! (Phil 2:9,10)
Also, Christians don't hate you; they love you! At the doors they often refuse to talk with you, not because they hate you, but because they're afraid of you. Just as you may have a fear of greeting and talking with an "apostate," in the same way many Christians are afraid of talking with you, a presenter of a false gospel. They will even quote the same verses that you do when considering your proper conduct toward an "apostate," namely, 2 John 9 and 10. And in nearly all cases, though it hurts me to see it happen, it's simply easier for them to close the door than to enter into a meaningful conversation with you. Not knowing enough about you, they are understandably apprehensive.
I must speak frankly with you, my [Jehovah's] Witness friend, as I know you would with me if our situations were reversed. You must recognize your position before Jehovah. Without [Jesus] Christ, you are lost.
1 John 5:12 is very explicit: "He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life."
Romans 8:9 says, "if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him." Notice in verse 15 that this same Spirit is that by which Christians with the heavenly hope cry out, "Abba! Father!"
If you do not have this Spirit, you do not belong to Christ.
Even more than that, according to God's Word at Galatians 1:8 and 9, the curse of God abides upon you, a preacher of "another gospel." But that's not the end of the story.
There is wonderful hope for you. You can be saved now, and you can know that you have eternal life (1 John 5:13). The only condition is that you come to Jesus (John 5:39,40), the real Jesus, and trust Him alone for your salvation.
I know that this decision won't be easy for you. As I did, you're going to have to be willing to lose everything to gain Christ (Phil 3:8). But we have Jesus' own assuring words, "the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out (John 6:37)."
Your integrity to Jehovah need never be broken. Your Bible knowledge will not be lost. Much of your knowledge and your zeal for service will carry over into your new Christian life.
If you do accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, and if you do come out of the Watchtower [Cult], my dear brother or sister, I have a couple of recommendations for you. First and foremost, read, reread, and reread your Bible (a good translation, of course!). Take it literally whenever there is no good reason to do otherwise, and don't be afraid to take it personally.
Allow God to lead you into fellowship with other believers. And don't be afraid of the "apostates." Many of them, but by no means all of them, have found Christ in the same way that you have. After I had left the Organization, I was amazed to find that there were hundreds of ex-Jehovah's Witnesses that had independently come to the same conclusions that I had, and had also been born again! You won't be alone.
And those ex-Witnesses that have been born again are nothing like the Watchtower [Society] describes them. I've personally met several hundred of them, and they are unquestionably some of the happiest, most loving, most Christian people that I've ever met. Don't fear them. They're the few people on earth who will be able to fully empathize with you. ...