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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.

09 September 2005

The Cross and Heaven: Answering a JW’s Lies

Q: One child was hit by a car 3 years ago. He is home with us in a semi-coma. He requires constant care and we are exhausted. Another child suffered a hospital injury at birth and is developmentally delayed and needs constant care.

A Jehovah’s witness came into our home, telling us that our faith is not true and that we will not go to heaven unless we only seek and live the truth. He confused us about the cross, saying that it is idolatry and that we should not use it. We get great comfort from our home’s cross.

He quoted Bible verses that say there is no heaven and that no one is there now but that it was to be on earth after the return of Christ, when all the dead will be raised to be judged. We are confused.

This man wants to come back weekly to instruct us how to save our boys. My husband is grief-stricken and feels we should listen to any idea for answers and comfort. I feel that my Lutheran beliefs are not lies.

Will you please shed some light on the subjects of the cross and heaven?

A: First of all, you have my prayers and my sympathy.

Now I’ll say it flat out: This man is a liar and a mouthpiece of Satan.

Following the false teaching of the unchristian Watchtower Society, he twists and distorts Holy Scripture, squeezing out the comfort of the resurrection and the promise of eternal life with God for all believers. He turns Paul into a liar when Paul says (1 Cor 2:2) that he came prepared to preach “nothing … except Jesus Christ and him crucified” — the same Paul who stated that the message of the cross is folly to those who are perishing (1 Cor 1:18).

This man is, indeed, bound by folly and likewise a spreader of its evil. He makes Jesus a liar — Jesus who said to the dying criminal, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise. (Luke 23:43)” He ignores John’s vision of the martyrs under heaven’s altar crying out (Rev 6:9-11) and denies Jesus’ story of poor Lazarus being taken immediately to Abraham’s bosom, a symbol of heaven itself. (Read Luke 16:19-31 for the entire account.)

Don’t let this folly destroy your confidence in your Savior. Instead, remind yourself and your husband that through His death on the cross, Jesus destroyed death and opened eternal life to all believers. This includes your children, even one who may never be able to consciously understand or express a relationship with Christ, yet who certainly has one through Baptism and the Word of God.

Christ CrucifiedChrist knows first-hand what it’s like to be helpless as He was abandoned by His friends, forsaken by His Father, battered by His enemies, and hung paralyzed on the cross by the nails. As Peter noted in Acts 2:39, this is God’s love “for you and for your children,” won by Christ’s crucifixion and given you through water and the Word. As baptized Christians, your boys are saved!

You know helplessness as you look upon your children. In that, the Father shares with you some of His own helplessness as He looked down upon His own Child. If he freed his Son, He condemned fallen mankind to hell. Instead, He “did not spare his own Son, (Rom 8:32)” but gave “his life as a ransom for many. (Matt 20:28)” Hebrews 12:2 reminds you to fix your eyes on “Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame.”

Keep these reminders. Use them to focus your thoughts not on a couple pieces of wood or metal that intersect, nor even upon a crucifix showing an image of a dying or dead Jesus, but on the Savior whose sacrifice they recall. For more positive writing on the cross of Christ, you might want to read Double + Crossed and the links to which it points.

Sing the hymns of the church, including the opening and closing stanzas of Abide with Me:

Abide with me, fast falls the eventide.
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heav’n’s morning breaks and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

He who became helpless for you will help you who are now helpless. You signed your letter, “A sinner in pain.” I cannot take away the pain, nor should I try. It is a hurt born of love. But the Father’s pain in watching His Son and the Son’s pain in doing the Father’s sanctifies the pain of the saints. To this end, I leave you with these words from 1 Peter 1:3-9:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith — more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire — may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him.

Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.

Send email to Ask the Pastor.

Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just have to say i can't WOW you lbeliet a JW in your house. Out of all believes i think they are one lost sad group. More or less just feel sorry for them. All they learn to do if fight and not love everyone or what they believe!
Sad very Sad

09 September, 2005 14:21  

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