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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Witnessing to Witnesses [Part 3]

Jehovah’s Witnesses profess to believe the Bible is the inspired and accurate word of God but reject its consistent testimony to the deity of Christ.

That combination doesn’t work. It’s intellectually vacuous and spiritually dangerous.

You may not regularly engage with JWs, but the extent to which scripture parallels Jesus with Jehovah (or YHWH, or in most Bibles, “the Lord”) is still a subject very much worthy of consideration. John wrote that the Father has given all judgment to the Son in order that “all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father”.

That’s the aim of this series.

I.   New Testament Writers Apply Jehovah’s Names to Christ (cont’d)

9.  “Our Righteousness

Jeremiah speaks of a “righteous branch” that will reign as king over Israel and execute justice and righteousness in the land. He is to be the salvation of Judah and the security of Israel, and this is his name:
“[Jehovah] is our righteousness.”
This is different from saying that Jehovah is righteous, or even that Jehovah defines righteousness. It is far more personal than that. Paul picks up this theme for the Christian in Corinthians, where he tells us:
“Because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption.”
It is not a surprise to the Christian that his righteousness begins and ends with Christ, but we may not all recognize the connection with Jehovah, or that Jesus becoming righteousness to the believer was explicitly foretold centuries before it happened.

10.  “God”

In every translation I can find, Titus 2:13 refers to “our great God and Savior Jesus Christ”. Jesus Christ is “God”, or at least so say the writers of the New Testament. The only thing English translators debate about this particular phrase is where they ought to place the commas.

It will not come as a surprise that in the Old Testament Jehovah also is called God:
“That all the peoples of the earth may know that [Jehovah] is God; there is no other.”
It is not enough to note that Jehovah is God, we are told that he is singularly and specifically God. There is no other. Thus Jesus cannot be another “God”. He is the same God.

Sorry, JWs. If you want to retain even the faintest pretence that you acknowledge the inspiration of scripture, you are going to have to accept this.

11.  Redeemer”

Jehovah is a God who redeems. GotQuestions spells this out nicely:
“The kinsman-redeemer is a male relative who, according to various laws of the Pentateuch, had the privilege or responsibility to act on behalf of a relative who was in trouble, danger, or need. The Hebrew term (go el) for kinsman-redeemer designates one who delivers or rescues (Genesis 48:16; Exodus 6:6) or redeems property or person (Leviticus 27:9–2525:47–55). The kinsman who redeems or vindicates a relative is illustrated most clearly in the book of Ruth, where the kinsman-redeemer is Boaz.”
But the real value of the laws about redemption in the Old Testament is that they establish and define the role of Jehovah toward Israel. The story of Ruth and Boaz is human, warm and lovely, but its greater value is its foreshadowing of the work of God in rescuing his people. As Isaiah tells us:
“Thus says [Jehovah], your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: ‘I am [Jehovah], who made all things.’ ”
Jehovah is Israel’s redeemer, just as the law provided.

Of course Jesus answers to this as well. Paul declares:
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us — for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’ ”.
Much more may be said about redemption. The point is that Christ is to the believer what Jehovah is to Israel. There is no useful distinction to be made between them.

The Witnesses are wrong to exclude Jesus from deity.

And (of course) there’s much more to come.

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