How might we reason with an individual who feels that bad people should be tormented forever in hellfire? First, we could assure him that the wicked will be punished. Then, we could have him read Genesis 2:16, 17, which shows that the penalty for sin is death. We might explain that by his sin, Adam caused the entire human race to be born as sinners. But we can point out that God said nothing about being punished in hellfire. We could then ask, “If Adam and Eve were in danger of being tormented forever, would it not have been fair to warn them of that?” We could then read Genesis 3:19, where sentence was pronounced after their sin but nothing was said about hellfire. Instead, Adam was told that he would return to the dust. We might ask, “Would it have been fair to tell Adam that he would go back to the ground if he was really going to a fiery hell?” That may cause the person to think more deeply on this subject.
With whom did Paul reason in the account in the book of Acts? The passage states that Paul went into the synagogue in Thessalonica and over the course of three weeks he reasoned with the Jews, using references in prophecy to prove that Jesus was the promised Messiah.
It was not necessary for the apostle to reason with them regarding the elementary things, such as the condition of the dead. The Jews already knew that. They had a basic foundation of truth. After all, they had been entrusted with the sacred Scriptures, which is why Paul was able to use the Scriptures to reason with them in the first place.
What those faithful Jews needed to know was that the promised Messiah had come. Likely the Jewish communities in Asia Minor and Greece had heard about Jesus of Galilee, and the apostle Paul was able to show them that Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection was foretold in the Hebrew prophets and Psalms. As a result some became believers, but other Jews whipped up a mob and attacked the Christians.
Now, though, Satan has shifted tactics. Instead of promoting the outright denial that Jesus is the Christ, he now has it proclaimed that Jesus has come and is here —being invisibly present.
The apostle Paul wrote to the same Thessalonians regarding this, saying: “concerning the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you not to be quickly shaken from your reason nor to be alarmed either by an inspired statement or by a spoken message or by a letter appearing to be from us, to the effect that the day of Jehovah is here.”
Like the Jews in Paul’s day, Jehovah’s Witnesses know the basic truth. They do not need to be taught the truth about the condition of the dead and all of that. However, also like the Jews with respect to Christ’s first century appearance, Jehovah’s Witnesses are laboring under a great deal of misinformation regarding the object and manner of our Lord’s return, as one of C.T. Russell’s first published works was titled. Reasoning from the Scriptures and what we know of the development of the Watchtower over the past 139 years since Russell penned the aforementioned, has not the Watchtower itself been the sole source of quasi-inspired statements, both spoken messages from convention platforms and letters written in the form of magazines, brochures and books, heralding that the presence has begun and the day of Jehovah is here? It is undeniable.
Jehovah’s Witnesses will likely ask: But what about the seven times chronology pinpointing 1914 and all the things Jesus foretold beginning then, were these things just a coincidence? The answer is no. All those things were not coincidental. They were orchestrated by the Devil. Paul went on to explain: “But the lawless one’s presence is by the operation of Satan with every powerful work and lying signs and wonders and every unrighteous deception for those who are perishing, as a retribution because they did not accept the love of the truth in order that they might be saved. That is why God lets a deluding influence mislead them so that they may come to believe the lie…”
If we are willing to reason from the Scriptures there is simply no basis for Jehovah’s Witnesses to believe that the “appointed times of the nations” to trample upon “Jerusalem” began in 607. Furthermore, the prophecy of Daniel, which Jesus even referred the reader to in discussing the trampling of the holy place, has to do with the desolation of Christ’s sanctuary.
What is more, there is no support for the notion that the man of lawlessness exists apart from Christ’s congregation. Quite the contrary, as Paul indicated that he will sit down in the very temple of God and proclaim himself to be a god.
On that note, the February, 2016, Watchtower subtly equated the organization with God, saying in the ninth paragraph:
Hezekiah might easily have grown up to be a bitter, angry man who turned against God. Others who have endured far less hardship have thought that they had valid reason to become “enraged against Jehovah” or embittered toward his organization.
The Watchtower is implying that there is no justification for any of Jehovah’s Witnesses to feel any sort of resentment towards God’s organization. In other words, if any are embittered towards it take it up with Jehovah because it is his organization! This is the telltale evidence of an arrogant man of lawlessness who promotes the organization to the place of God.
But as for reasoning from the Scriptures with Jehovah’s Witnesses, at this point in time it is very difficult, if not impossible. The “deluding influence” that God has allowed is very powerful. However, not all are equally deluded. Some are willing to reason. And as the Watchtower suggests, using questions can be an effective way of inducing people to examine the basis for what the believe to be true.
It will not always be this way, though. The outbreak of wars, food shortages, pandemics and earthquakes in the near future will force Jehovah’s Witnesses to consider a new reality. The Watchtower will not be able to spin it then.
Unfortunately, many will not be willing to accept the truth, the truth that Christ has actually come. They will prefer to continue believing the lie. Or they will accept new lies, preferring to believe the Christ is in the wilderness or inner chambers.
Like the unbelieving Jews in Paul’s day they will be filled with jealousy and madness towards those who accept the truth, a truth that will not emanate from Bethel. As Jesus went on to say: “As for you, look out for yourselves. People will hand you over to local courts, and you will be beaten in synagogues and be put on the stand before governors and kings for my sake, for a witness to them.”
Although Paul regularly preached to the Jews in their synagogues we may be certain that Christ’s anointed followers will not literally be beaten in Jewish synagogues during the conclusion. So how will the scripture be fulfilled? They will be beaten and thrown out of their respective congregations for accepting Christ when he comes.