It’s happened to all of us. You’re standing there on your front porch, it’s Saturday morning and there are two Jehovah’s Witnesses looking back at you. They are packing Bibles, literature and a head full of knowledge. The pressure is on to perform, but your mind goes Biblically blank. What do you do?
So the Jehovah's Witnesses (JW's) are smiling back at you and your mind has gone blank? No problem. Try this approach next time you are in that situation.
There are a few things you can do to move forward when you feel you are in quick-set concrete like this, but the first thing is not to panic. This is not as big a disaster as it seems. Nowhere in the Bible does it say the true test of a Christian is how much Scripture they can memorise.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. After all there are a few places in the Bible where we are advised you to do that very thing. See Colossians 3:16, Deuteronomy 6:6-9, Deuteronomy 11:18-21 Joshua 1:7-8.
But I think we should avoid feeling as though the person who memorises the most Scripture is the winner. After all, there are also places in the Bible where we read that knowledge for its own sake merely “puffs up”. (1 Cor 8:1)
So our starting place is recognising the value in having God’s word planted in your heart, but not despairing if you have trouble quoting it from memory.
What to do
Let’s say you’re having an off day and are taken by complete surprise when the JW’s march up the driveway. It’s before 10am and you haven’t had your first coffee yet, so the brain is on strike.
The conversation will inevitably open up with the point the JW’s wish to make that day about the state of the world. This is normal because they are trained to ask people to have a look at the world and decide if all is well or not. It’s a no brainer because most people can think of a hundred things wrong with the world; wars, sickness, poverty etc. The JW’s then simply offer their solution – Jehovah and his one true organisation.
At this point I would simply agree with as much of what they say as I can. What’s the point in arguing about where AIDS came from or that the world is immoral. We don’t have to find as many disagreements as possible with JW’s, we simply want to share the Gospel with them.
Getting a word in
The most frustrating thing about talking to JW’s is their habit of changing the subject. Just when you seem to be getting somewhere, you’re off on another track never to return. It’s not a coincidence.
There are usually two of them, sometimes more, and only one of you, so if you should happen to drive home your point with no. 1, no. 2 will sense the awkward silence and blurt out a completely irrelevant comment, usually taking you to a completely new passage of Scripture at which point you will be asked a question without notice.
When this happens, the tough side of me comes out. I dig my heels in and say something like, “Let’s not talk about that until we have finished this” or “We can talk about that in a minute, but for now let’s get to the bottom of this”.
If I have overstepped the mark with JW’s in the past (OK I admit it), this is the place. I refuse to be led on a game of Search the Bible in fast forward because it is a deliberate ploy for them to avoid having to answer the tough questions the Gospel asks of us. Gentle but firm is the best policy.
Getting to the point
When you finally sense a break in the traffic, you should jump in and get straight to the point. Remember we are trying to share the Gospel here and there may be no ‘perfect’ moment presented to you.
Apart from that, we are exploring what to do when you can’t remember Scripture, so let’s join our two friends Christian and JW as they engage some Saturday morning banter and see how they go.
JW We have a booklet which examines the state of the world. Would you like to see it?
Christian I’m not really interested in your literature, but I’ll take a look at it if you like.
JW It shows us how the world is spiralling out of control. Surely this can’t go on, do you agree?
Christian I agree that one day it will all end, yes.
JW What makes you think that?
Christian I’m a Christian and I believe God is in complete control, so I don’t really worry about it.
JW Well, we think Jehovah is the only one who can fix the problems of the world and one day his people will live with him in paradise. Where do you think you will be?
Christian Where we will be is not anywhere near as important as how you get there. On what basis is someone saved?
JW Well, we’re not qualified to say who is or who isn’t saved. We don’t know.
Christian Yes, but you were in the middle of telling me you had the answer to the world’s problems. Surely your answer would provide some sort of assurance that the path you’re recommending was true and can be trusted.
JW no. 2 Look at Isaiah 43:10. It tells us who Jehovah’s true witnesses are.
Christian Listen, I have a question to ask you. It’s not about heaven, hell, paradise or which of us is the real deal. It’s the most important question you can ask. What must I do to be saved? It’s the question the Philippian gaoler asked. (Acts 16:30) Tell me the Gospel.
JW You must trust in Jehovah and demonstrate that belief by your works.
Christian That sounds like salvation by works.
JW Oh no. We believe we are saved by Jehovah’s free gift, it cannot be earned.
Christian That’s good, but there’s one bit you’re missing; faith in Jesus Christ. Salvation is only found through faith in Christ. Everything else, no matter how sincere, is a different gospel.
Don’t sweat it
Notice I didn’t quote any Scripture in this conversation. The reference to the Philippian gaoler would be a great addition if you could remember it but it doesn’t affect the end result. You have jumped through a few hoops with the JW’s and then gently, but firmly directed the conversation to the main event.
Whatever your ability with the Bible, there is no need to break out in a cold sweat when you see the JW’s on their way to your door. It’s not a contest, it’s an opportunity to tell people the gospel and you can do that without quoting Scripture if you know the Gospel.
The point is to have a plan of attack. Get your understanding of the Gospel firmly established now, before the situation arises. Every Christian should be able to share their faith and I guarantee that as you start actively witnessing, you will be surprised what words God will give you at just the right time.