Herbster Evangelism
Psalm 85:6

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Why did I become an evangelist?

by Mark Herbster

The subject of God’s Will seems to be a much debated one, with some saying that God has a general will for all Christians and they are free to make decisions within certain parameters, and others believing that God has a very specific will for each person. I am firmly in the latter category; I believe that the Scriptures are clear that God has a specific will for each of us and that we ought to earnestly pursue it. Philippians 2:13 says “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and do of His good pleasure.” I do not believe, however, that God’s will is a mystical thing that is somehow “revealed” to a person at some point in time; rather, I believe that God reveals His will for a person’s life in a variety of ways.

My purpose in sharing the following thoughts is not to give a comprehensive study on the subject of finding God’s will, neither is it to provide a lengthy discussion on spiritual gifts. My desire is to share my personal experience of how God led me into evangelism and to communicate in a practical way how other young men may determine what role in ministry they should take. Before I begin with that, however, I want to acknowledge the grace that God has abundantly bestowed upon me. I am so grateful for the salvation I have freely received! And I am forever indebted to many, many people who have helped me along the way! I realize as did Paul, “But by the grace of God I am what I am.” (I Corinthians 15:10)

I have met many young men who, knowing God is calling them into the ministry, struggle with the specifics of God’s will in regard to ministry focus and direction. For instance, they have questions such as, “Should I be an evangelist, a missionary or a pastor? What are my gifts? How can I be confident that I am doing God’s specific will?” The answers to these types of questions can be invaluable in assisting young preacher boys to discern God’s will. Perhaps my own story will help someone else in his search for God’s will.

I was blessed to be born into a Christian home, and when I was still very young, my Dad was called into ministry. I cannot remember a time in our family when life was not about ministering to others. Dad was a school administrator, assistant pastor and Christian school specialist during my early elementary years. When I was in fourth grade, Dad became a pastor, and I, therefore, became a PK! As I watched him function in ministry, I saw the joy that ministering to others brought him (and to my Mom as well), and I saw a consistency in his life: he was the same man at home as he was at church. In short, he practiced what he preached! The biggest factor in my decision to enter the ministry was the example I saw in my Dad.

As I grew and understood more of the ministry, the more I desired to be involved in it when I grew up. My brothers and I had opportunities as the pastor’s kids to see aspects of the ministry that other kids do not have so young. We got to meet and fellowship with some of the greatest preachers in the country! We spent time with almost every evangelist who came to our church, we went on countless mission trips, and we participated in various church ministries. We felt as though we were an integral part of Dad’s ministry, and I believe that is why none of us ever resented the ministry. God started to cultivate in me a desire to preach when I was in elementary school. I am confident that that desire was from God: I Timothy 3:1 says, “If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.” I believe that God uses a person’s desires to lead him into the specific will He has for his life (Psalm 37:4; 84:11). By the time I was in sixth grade, there was no doubt in my mind that God was calling me to preach.

Once I knew that God wanted me to preach, I needed to discern His will as to what specific type of preaching ministry. Was I to be a missionary, a church planter, a pastor, an evangelist or some other minister for God? Obviously, God does not audibly speak or write down his specific will for anyone, so how is one to determine his specific role in ministry? I believe that God uses an individual’s personality and gifts to direct him.

I knew from an early age that my personality was very intense and aggressive. I was the one in the Herbster house that had a quick temper! With my parents’ and the Lord’s help, I was able to get this intensity under control and channel it in the proper direction. Mom and Dad told me early on that if I would allow Him to, God could use my intense personality in His work. As I listened to hundreds of preachers growing up, I began to notice that the ones with my personality were typically evangelists. I remember hearing them preach at camp and in revival meetings and wondering if someday God could use my intensity in the same way! Of course, a particular personality does not automatically categorize a person in ministry, but it can help. Since “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord” (Psalm 37:23), I believe that God also uses the opportunities and activities of life to lead a man. Also, the counsel of others in ministry is invaluable to a man seeking God’s will. A person who does not seek and heed godly counsel for a major decision is very foolish: (Proverbs 11:14; 15:22; 24:6)

By the time I was in 8th grade, I knew that God was leading me to be an evangelist. I had a strong desire to follow that path, and I understood God had given me a personality conducive to that type of ministry. I made a commitment at that time to preach any time that I was given an opportunity, and I have kept that commitment to this day.

Immediately after I graduated from high school, I began serving the Lord at The Wilds Christian Camp. Without a doubt, the eleven summers that I spent at The Wilds solidified my call from God to be an evangelist. The first several summers that I worked at camp, I tried to meet with almost every evangelist who came to speak. I would ask them for their counsel, and they were so gracious to give it! It was a privilege to call these great men of God, these spiritual heroes, my friends! Their passion in preaching and burden for souls was obvious and impacted me in a major way. God was beginning to knit my heart to these men and to the ministry of the evangelist.

One of these evangelists that I was able to get to know very well was Evangelist Tom Farrell. Next to my Dad, Brother Farrell is the man who has impacted my life in the greatest way! Shortly after I graduated from high school, he told me that, when I was ready, he would allow me to travel with him in order to learn from him and become acclimated to the itinerate ministry. He kept his promise, and my family and I spent our first year in fulltime evangelism traveling with him. I consider him to be my mentor in evangelism. Having a mentor is a key, I believe, in ascertaining God’s will and in preparing for a specific ministry.

In the spring of 2002 I officially began in fulltime evangelism. I look back with great joy and thanksgiving for the grace of God that has led me to this ministry. I truly can say as Paul said, “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry” (I Timothy 1:12).

This is my personal story, but each person’s story will be different. However, God does lead people in similar ways. He will always use your background, personality, talents, the counsel of others and ministry opportunities to point you down the right path. Sometimes, I believe, some young preachers may look at evangelism as a glamorous opportunity and hastily choose this role. I would recommend answering the following questions before deciding to be an evangelist:

1. Do you have a particular passion to preach the gospel?

2. Does your personality seem to be a good fit for an itinerate ministry?

3. Do other people whom you respect see this ministry as a good fit for you?

4. Do you have an overwhelming burden to see people get saved?

5. Are you willing to leave the discipleship ministry primarily to the pastor?

The answers to these questions and others can help with decisions about the specific will of God. God wants to direct His children. Psalm 84:11 says “No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.”

I can say with all sincerity that being an evangelist is a good thing! It is a privilege to be a servant of Jesus Christ and a servant to the local church.

Abstinence from Alcohol

by Mark Herbster

I believe that the Bible teaches total abstinence from alcohol. “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” (Prov 20:1) This verse clearly states that it is not wise for us to partake of alcoholic beverages. If it is not wise it is foolish. I believe that there is clearly a distinction between the use of alcoholic and non-alcoholic wine in the Bible.

There are many Old Testament and New Testament passages that use the word wine, whether Hebrew yayin or Greek oinos, to refer to non-alcohoic fruit of the vine. Clearly in many of these passages the word simply means grape juice. Ex. (Prov 3:10) So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine. In this passage it would be very hard to make a case that the wine was alcoholic. It seems in context to simply be talking about the overwhelming abundance of the grape juice. The word for wine in Hebrew, yayin, means newly pressed wine, prior to fermentation. If the word means before fermentation then, unless the context speaks otherwise, we should assume each reference speaks about non-alcoholic wine. We know this is the case because there are many passages that actually encourage and promote the use of yayin. This yayin could not be alcoholic as we know today.

Proverbs 23:29-35 is a key passage in the distinction in Bible wines view. In verse 31 God through Solomon puts an absolute prohibition on a certain type of yayin. This type of wine is the wine that makes itself red. The natural process is yeast in the wine devours the sugar and causes fermentation. This fermentation is what makes the wine alcoholic. The wine that makes itself red may be wine that has set for a period of time for the express purpose of fermenting. There is clearly a distinction between normal grape juice and fermented grape juice. The word yayin can mean both and must be distinguished by the context. This is similar to the use of cider in our English language. The rest of verse 31 may be referring to the actual fermentation process. “when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright.” Rest of this passage describe the results of someone indulging in alcoholic beverages. It talks about the spiritual and physical problems that come as a result of drinking alcohol. “The most immediate and dramatic consequence of the ingestion of any amount of alcohol is the impaired efficiency of the brain with its related central nervous system” (Charles Carroll). Why would God ever allow us to consume something that has such dramatic effects on our physical body. Clearly this passage in Proverbs is a reference to something different that just fresh squeezed grape juice.

One of the arguments that commonly comes up against this view is that all wine had to be fermented because they had no way of preventing fermentation in those days. This is simply not true based upon several ancient authorities. So, there was definitely a distinction between fermented and un-fermented wine.

This prohibition did not apply in medicinal situations. Proverbs 31:6-7 says to give strong drink and wine to those who are close to death. I Timothy 5:23 commands Timothy to take a little wine for some physical stomach problems. This would apply to us today as many of the medicines that are used may include some percentage of alcoholic content.

So, the summation of my view is as follows: The Bible uses the word wine in both instances of fermented and un-fermented grape juice. It must be discerned and distinguished by the reader what the context is teaching concerning wine. If the context is speaking of drunkenness, revelry, and/or any other result of intoxicating wine we may assume it is definitely dealing with fermented grape juice. If does not we may assume it is dealing with un-fermented grape juice. However you look at it God clearly teaches us to abstain from alcoholic beverages.

Divorce & Remarriage

by Mark Herbster

God hates divorce (Mal 2:16), and so I hate divorce. The Bible is very clear that divorce is not something God desires. The first institution that God established was marriage (Gen 2:23-24). God’s desire was that man would leave and cleave to his wife until death they do part. In the New Testament quotation of Gen 2:24 God says “…What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matt 19:6). No man would include every husband living! God does not want divorce to take place. His desire is one man for one woman for a lifetime.

Though God’s desire is no divorce the reality is that divorce will occur. We live in a sin cursed world and we are sin cursed beings. Moses in Deut. 24 allowed the people to give a bill of divorce. Matt 19 says that Moses did this for the hardness of the hearts of the people. Then God says “but from the beginning it was not so.” In other words God hates divorce.

Many people would like to use Matt. 19 to allow or even counsel one to get a divorce in the circumstance of fornication. To be consistent with the nature of marriage the picture of marriage and the direct commands of scripture we should conclude that this is not saying God allows or ever desires divorce. So, there must be a logical way to explain what is commonly known as the exception clause. In the context of Matt. 19 the religious rulers were testing and questioning Jesus to get him to agree with one or the other views of divorce. The one group believed divorce was allowable in any situation, and the other group believed it was allowable in only adulterous situations. Jesus did not agree with either one of the common religious views. The disciples were shocked and said “it is not good to be married” (v 10). They would not have been shocked if He would have agreed with the adultery view.

So, what was the difference in Jesus’ statement. Jesus is acknowledging that divorce will happen even though He does not like it. If a spouse is involved in fornication (continual pattern of sexual sin) and is not repentant, God allows for a separation to wait for repentance and reconciliation. He obviously does not acknowledge the possibility of a legitimate divorce because he says to remarry would be committing adultery. If it was legitimate to divorce, it would not be adultery to remarry. If the adulterous spouse divorces and remarries and there is no hope of reconciliation, then the “innocent party” is not in adultery unless he/she remarries.

The question is asked then, “why was this statement not included in the other gospels?” A possible answer is that Matthew was specifically addressed to a Jewish audience. The Jews were readily familiar with the two schools of thought promoted among the religious rulers. Therefore it was common for them to just assume that an adulterous marriage would result in a divorce. The gentiles, however, were in no need of clarification. When Jesus said in Mark 10:11 and Luke 16:18, “Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another committeth adultery,” there was no need for clarification. They simply took this to mean what it says. God hates divorce!

In a simple statement here is what I believe about divorce. God hates divorce in any circumstance. If divorce occurs against the will of God as the result of adultery (or any reason), there are only two options of resolving the situation; remain unmarried or be reconciled.

This view does agree with the other passages of scripture that deal specifically with divorce. In I Cor. 7:10-11 Pauls says “…Let not the wife depart from her husband. But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband; and let not the husband put away his wife.” Romans 7:2-3 says that if you marry someone else, as long as your spouse lives, you commit adultery.

Christian Science

by Mark Herbster

The Christian Science church was founded by a woman named Mary Baker Eddy. As a child, she struggled through illness and emotional trauma. She is said to have been “domineering, quarrelsome, and extremely self centered.”[1] The church calls her their “mother” and leader, the “Discoverer and Founder” of the Christian Science teachings. Mary was married three times. One husband died of yellow fever, Mary divorced the second husband and the third one died of what she termed “arsenic poisoning mentally administrated.”

After her third husband died, Mary came into contact with Phineas Quimby. Dr. Quimby had a system of mental health and healing which was called “The Science of Man” and referred to as the “Science of Christ” and “Christian Science.”[2] In 1866 Mary fell on a slippery sidewalk and was injured. She was pronounced incurable. She cried for a Bible so she could read Matt. 9:2 and, purportedly, she was miraculously healed. “It was this experience that convinced her of the truth of Christian Science.”[3] In 1875 Mary published her work “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” in which she plagiarized from many of Dr. Quimby’s works.[4] She claimed her work was inspired of God, and that she was the key to unlocking the Bible. She stated in the preface of her book:

Since the author’s discovery of the might of Truth in the treatment of disease as well as of sin, her system has been fully tested and has not been found wanting; but to reach the heights of Christian Science, man must live in obedience to its divine Principle. …The divine Principle of healing is proved in the personal experience of any sincere seeker of Truth.[5]

Without a doubt, the Christian Science Cult was born and bred out of an emotionally unstable woman’s mind, and it obviously preys on the emotional needs and experiences of others. In 1879 the official Church of Christ (Scientist) was formed in Boston, MA . Today the Church “Consists of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, and about 2,000 branch Churches of Christ, Scientist, worldwide in 80 countries.”[6]

Heresies

The theology of the Christian Science Cult is as very confusing. It consists of a twisted mess of writings and is vastly different from the theology of Christianity. The Christian Science doctrines are primarily based on the teachings of Mary Baker Eddy and are not at all consistent with the clear teachings of the Scripture.

Doctrine of the Atonement

For the Christian Scientist, the idea of atonement is nothing more than love overcoming sin and suffering. In her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy states:

“Wisdom and Love may require many sacrifices of self to save us from sin. One sacrifice, however great, is insufficient to pay the debt of sin. The atonement requires constant self-immolation on the sinner’s part. That God’s wrath should be vented upon His beloved Son, is divinely unnatural. Such a theory is man-made….Its scientific explanation is that suffering is an error of sinful sense which Truth destroys, and that eventually both sin and suffering will fall at the feet of everlasting Love.”[7]

Apparently, the Biblical teaching of a once-for-all, sacrificial atonement paid by the death of Christ on the cross is nothing more than a false theory to the Christian Scientist. According to their teaching, Christ’s suffering on the cross was only important as an example of love and goodness overcoming sin and suffering. They do not believe that Christ actually died.

“Jesus’ students, not sufficiently advanced fully to understand their Master’s triumph, did not perform many wonderful works, until they saw him after his crucifixion and learned that he had not died.”[8]

“The efficacy of the Crucifixion lies in the practical affection and goodness it demonstrated for mankind.”[9]

As a natural result of this view of the crucifixion, they also deny the physical, bodily resurrection of Christ.

The Nature of God

The Christian Science god is a pantheistic god. He is referred to as “Life,” “Truth,” “Love,” “Principle,” “Mind,” “Substance,” “Intelligence,” “Spirit,” and “Mother.” God, therefore, has no personality and is not a transcendent personal Being.[10]

“The Jewish tribal Jehovah was a man-projected God, liable to wrath, repentance and human changeableness. The Christian Science God is universal, eternal, divine love, which changeth not and causeth no evil, disease, nor death.”[11]

The Deity of Christ

Similar to the Jehovah’s Witness’s teaching, the Christian Science Cult teaches that promoting the deity of Christ violates the first commandment to “have no other gods before thee” (Exodus 20:3).

“The Jew believes that the Messiah or Christ has not yet come; the Christian believes that Christ is God. Here Christian Science intervenes, explains…and settles the question. Christ as the true spiritual idea is the ideal of God now and forever…The Christian who believes in the first commandment is a monotheist. Thus he virually unites with the Jew’s belief in one God, and recognizes that Jesus Christ is not God.”[12]

For the Christian Scientist, Christ is simply an example of someone who lived out the spiritual teachings and scientific principles. He is not God, they believe, and to say that he is exhibits a polytheistic worldview. Mary Baker Eddy said, “The theory of three persons in one God (that is, a personal Trinity or Tri-unity) suggests polytheism, rather than the one ever-present I AM.”[13]

Her view of the trinity is radically opposed to the teaching of Scripture.

“Life, Truth, and Love constitute the triune Person called God,–that is, the triply divine Principle, Love. They represent a trinity in unity, three in one,–the same in essence, though multiform in office: God the Father-Mother; Christ the spiritual idea of sonship; divine Science or the Holy Comforter. These three express in divine Science the threefold, essential nature of the infinite. They also indicate the divine Principle of scientific being, the intelligent relation of God to man and the universe.”[14]

There is no way to expose all of the heretical teachings of the Christian Science Cult in this discussion. But it is safe to say that the theology taught by the cult reflects very little of the true teachings of the Bible. Instead, it is the twisted teaching of an arrogant, emotional woman. It resembles and reflects more of the New Age and eastern mysticism philosophies than it does of the true biblical worldview.

Helps

One of the most helpful passages to confront the Christian Science heresies of the atonement and deity of Christ is Colossians 1:19-22:

“For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; 20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.  21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mindc by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled  22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:”

These verses present undeniable proof of the deity of Christ and the vicarious atonement He paid for sinners on the cross. In order to understand what this passage is teaching, we must look in depth at two important words.

1. πλήρωμα (fullness) – The word πλήρωμα was used by the gnostics to represent the sum-total of all the divine powers and attributes. “The πλήρωμα statements in Colossians present the full unity of the work of God and Christ in such a way that the distinctness of person is preserved and yet monotheism is not imperiled. God works through Christ in His whole fulness (1:19), in His full deity (2:9).”[15] The apostle Paul directly attacks any heresy that suggests that Christ was not totally God.

2. κατοικῆσαι (dwell)- This word is an aroist active infinitive which means to make an abode or home. Wuest’s Word Studies says, “The word ‘dwell’ is katoikeō (κατοικεω), ‘to be at home permanently’ in a certain place. The Greek word for a ‘home’ is oikos (οἰκος), ‘to live at home,’ oikeō (οἰκεω). The prefixed preposition kata (κατα), the local meaning of which is ‘down,’ adds permanency to the idea in the verb.”[16] He goes on to say that the sum total of divine powers and attributes are “at home in the sense that this divine fullness was not something added to His Being that was not natural to Him, but that it was part of the essential Being as part of His very constitution, and that permanently.”[17]

This verse teaches that the sum total of all the divine powers and attributes (πλήρωμα) are at home (κατοικῆσαι) permanently in Christ (ἐν αὐτῷ).

The passage goes on to teach the truth that Christ substituted Himself for the reconciliation of mankind. Christ, in whom all divine powers and attributes are resident, went to a cruel rugged cross and died a bloody death. The phrase “by him” (δι᾽ αὐτοῦ) is repeated. Jesus Christ is the instrumental agent in the new creation, as in the original creation.[18] This phrase is repeated to emphasize that Christ alone is the mediator between God and man. This reconciliation process came by means of the “blood of His Cross” (v. 20). This totally contradicts what Christian Science teaches:

“The efficacy of Jesus’ spiritual offering is infinitely greater than can be expressed by our sense of human blood. The material blood of Jesus was no more efficacious to cleanse from sin when it was shed upon ‘the accursed tree,’ than when it was flowing in his veins as he went daily about his Father’s business.”[19]

Colossians 1:20 clearly teaches that the blood shed on the cross was the means of reconciliation of man to God. Paul addresses the erroneous belief that Christ did not die in verse 22. The Greek phrase ἐν τῷ σώματι τῆς σαρκὸς αὐτοῦ διὰ τοῦ θανάτου totally dispels this false teaching. The word ἐν (in) is not signifying the place of death, but the instrument of death. It indicates that “Christ’s physical body was the means by which reconciliation was effected.”[20] “The whole phrase makes plain that the reconciliation of the Colossians was accomplished by one who was truly incarnate and who really died.”[21]

Mary Baker Eddy says that God unleashing His wrath on His beloved Son is “divinely unnatural.” But Colossians 1:19 states that this reconciliation by his death “pleased the Father.”

Colossians 1:15-16 clearly teaches that Jesus Christ was the creator of all things. How could that be? Does Genesis 1:1 say, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”? God and Jesus created all things. This is why in Genesis 1:26 God says, “Let us make man in our image.” He uses a plural pronoun, a clear evidence of the plural nature of God. “This one God is called the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, all distinct personalities, all designated by God.”[22] The Scripture gives irrefutable evidence for the doctrine of the Trinity.

It is very clear that the Christian Science views of God, Christ and the atonement are totally opposed to the clear teachings of Scripture. Yet followers of this cult would still argue that they do believe the Bible. But if one denies these three straightforward doctrines of the Bible, then that one does not believe the Bible.

[1] F.E. Meyer, The Religious Bodies of . (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1961) p. 532.

[2] Martin, Walter, The Kingdom of the Cults. P.249

[3] Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry, “Christian Science History,” [on-line], accessed 22 April 2004, available from www.carm.org/Christian_science/cshistory.htm. Internet

[4] Martin, Walter, The Kingdom of the Cults. P. 249

[5] Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, The Mary Baker Eddy Library, [on-line]Preface p. vii-x, accessed 23 April 2004, available from http://www.marybakereddylibrary.org/marybakereddy/scienceandhealthonline.jhtml. Internet

[6] Church of Christ Scientist official site, “About the Church of Christ Scientist,” [on-line] accessed 23 April 2004, available from http://www.tfccs.com/aboutthechurch/, Internet.

[7] Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 23.

[8] Ibid, p. 45

[9] Ibid, p. 24

[10] Martin, Walter, The Kingdom of the Cults. P. 267

[11] Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 140

[12] Ibid, p. 360

[13] Ibid p.256

[14] Ibid p.331

[15]Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Vols. 5-9 edited by Gerhard Friedrich. Vol. 10 compiled by Ronald Pitkin. Edited by Kittel, Gerhard, Geoffrey William Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich. Grand Rapids, MI : Eerdmans, 1964-c1976.

[16]Wuest, Kenneth S. Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament : For the English Reader, Col 1:19. Grand Rapids : Eerdmans, 1997, c1984.

[17] Ibid

[18]Jamieson, Robert, A. R. Fausset, A. R. Fausset et al.. A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments. On spine: Critical and explanatory commentary., Col 1:20. Oak Harbor, WA : Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997.

[19] Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p.25

[20] Peter O’brien, Word Biblical Commentary, Colossians, Philemon. (Word, Incorporated, 1982), p. 67-68

[21] Ibid, p. 68

[22] Josh McDowell, A Ready Defense. P. 410-411

The Glory of God

by Mark Herbster

The Glory of God

The word kavod(glory) in the Old Testament comes from a root verb which is translated as heavy, rich, honorable, or glorious. In I Samuel 4:18 the word is used to describe Eli as a heavy man. Also in II Samuel 14:26 the word describes Absalom’s hair as heavy. This meaning is rarely used in the OT. The noun taken from this verb is kavod (glory). It is translated as glory, glorious, honor, or honorable. By far the majority of uses translate the word glory.

The word very rarely carries the literal meaning to be heavy or weighty. It is more common to see the figurative use as in being heavy with sin. The word usually carries a negative connotation. “Generally speaking there are three groupings of figurative uses. The first would relate to parts of the body expressing slowness, dullness or implacability. The second relates to events or experiences describing their severity in terms of heaviness, and the third would express size or number in such terms” (TWOT, 426). Another general use of the figurative is more positive in character. In this case the word carries the idea of being weighty in the sense of being noteworthy or impressive. The character and reputation of the individual along with the abundance of possessions or the accomplishment of great heroic acts would make one weighty (glorious) in the eyes of other people. In the same sense God, who has the greatest character, and has done the greatest acts, is the essence of glory. In many instances God reveals the weightiness of his character in the temple and in the earth. This reference means more than just the reputation of God’s character. It is synonymous with God’s presence among us.

In the negative sense Isaiah 59:1 speaks of God’s ears not being heavy, that they cannot hear. Nehemiah 5:18 describes the second negative use, “the bondage was heavy.” Genesis 18:20 describes the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah as very heavy. This boasts of the magnitude of their sin. In the positive sense Haman in Esther 5:11 “told them of the glory of his riches.” In Job 19:9 he says, “He hath stripped me of my glory.” Job is definitely referring to the possessions and health that make him a reputable person. In Exodus 16:10; 40:34 God fills the tabernacle with his presence. In I Samuel 4:21-22 the ark of God, which represented the presence of God, had been taken. So Eli’s daughter-in-law names her son “Ichabod, saying, the glory is departed from Israel.” Clearly she is referring to the presence of God departing. There are many references to the Glory of God as referring to the weight of His character and works. Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God.” Psalm 21:5 says, “His glory is great in salvation.” Dueteronomy 5:24 says, “The Lord our God hath shewed us his glory and his greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire.”

This study helps in the understanding of many verses of scripture. Take for instance I Chronicles 16:24,28-29. David is singing a song of praise and adoration to the Lord because the ark of God has been brought to the city of David. In verse 24 he says, “Declare His glory among the heathen.” We should follow David’s exhortation and be showing and speaking of God’s weightiness of character and action to the lost world around us. Not only should we declare his glory to others, but also we should devote glory to him ourselves. In verse 28-29 it says, “Give unto the Lord glory and strength. Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name.” Then he tells us how to give him the glory due unto his name. He says, “Bring an offering, and come before him: worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. Fear before him, all the earth.” How can we give God the weightiness and honor he deserves? We must sacrifice for him, worship him and fear him. This is what truly glorifies His name.

Jehovah’s Witness

History

The Jehovah’s Witness cult was founded by Charles Taze Russell in 1896. It is also known as the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. At an early age, Russell rejected and denounced many of the major doctrines of Christian teaching. In 1879 Russell founded The Herald of the Morning, a publication which, over time, grew into The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom, the name by which it is known today. Russell started “Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society” in 1884 and published a series of seven books which are now know as Studies in the Scriptures. “According to Watchtower statistics, in January 1981 the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society…had known branches in more than 100 lands and missionary and kingdom preaching in over 250. Its literature was distributed in 110 languages, and the Society’s volunteers numbered 563,453.”

The Society shifted its headquarters from Pennsylvania to Brooklyn, New York in 1908.Russell continued leading “The Brooklyn Tabernacle” and proclaiming his teachings until October 31, 1916, when he passed away on a train in Texas. In Walter Martin’s substantial work The Kingdom of the Cults (p. 80-81), Martin documents the following statements from the obituary column of The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, November 1, 1916, concerning C.T. Russell:

“’The Society progressed amazingly under the joint administration of husband and wife, but in 1897 Mrs. Russell left her husband. Six years later, in 1903, she sued for separation.’

“The eagle goes even further and declares that ‘at the trial it will show that ‘Pastor’ Russell’s religious cult is nothing more than a money-making scheme.’”

It is documented in many different sources that Russell was raising money through the deceptive sale of “Miracle Wheat.” This wheat seed purportedly had supernatural power to grow five times as much wheat as any other brand. It was sold for $1 a pound, and those reading Russell’s teachings were encouraged to purchase it. All proceeds were to go to the Watchtower Society, which Russell clearly controlled by owning 990 of the 1000 shares of stock.

Jehovah’s Witnesses, then, are clearly following the teachings of a deceitful man. Russell was a renegade and an antagonist who used his heretical teachings for personal fame and fortune. Russell claimed to be an expositor of Scripture and a theologian, but had no formal education, did not know Greek or Hebrew and was never ordained. He then had the audacity to claim that his teachings were necessary to understanding the Bible! It is not the primary purpose of this writing to discredit only the teacher of heresy, but the heretical teachings themselves. However, the historical background regarding the character and methods of the founder does put into question the credibility and validity of the actual teachings of The Watchtower Society.

Heresies

The most destructive aspect of the Jehovah’s Witness cult is the incredibly twisted false teaching that it presents. A comprehensive explanation of the heresies of this cult could fill volumes! This limited project will list and describe two of the major heretical doctrines.

Doctrine of Jesus Christ

The Jehovah’s Witness official doctrinal statement concerning Christ is listed on the Watchtower Society’s website. They believe that Jesus is the first creation of God and that He lived in heaven as a spirit person before he came to earth. They state, “Jesus was a perfect human just like Adam.” They do not, however, believe that Jesus is God. According to them, Jehovah used Jesus to be his master worker in creation and his chief spokesman. The Jehovah’s Witnesses do believe that Jesus died for our sins and rose again in a different form, but they do not believe that Jesus raised Himself from the dead. Instead, they believe that God resurrected Christ as a spirit creature. In his work The Kingdom of the Cults, Walter Martin chronicles several quotes from the Watchtower literature:

“This one [Jesus] was not Jehovah God, but was ‘existing in God’s form….’ He was a spirit person…he was a mighty one, although not almighty as Jehovah God is…he was a God, but not the Almighty God, who is Jehovah” (Let God Be True, 32-33)

“As chief of the angels and next to the Father, he [Christ] was known as the Archangel (highest angel or messenger), whose name, Michael, signifies ‘Who as God’ or ‘God’s representative’” (Studies, 5:84)

“He was the start of God’s creative work…He was not an incarnation in flesh but was flesh, a human son of God, a perfect man…” (The Kingdom is at Hand, 46-47, 49)

Because they vehemently reject the deity of Christ, they also reject the bodily resurrection of Christ. They believe that, by the power of Jehovah, Jesus rose in spirit but not in body.

Doctrine of God

Since the Jehovah’s Witness cult denies the deity of Christ, it is reasonable to expect that they would also deny the biblical doctrine of the Trinity. They teach that there is one God and his name is Jehovah. According to their teaching, “God has many titles but has only one name. That name is Jehovah. In most Bibles, God’s name has been removed and has been replaced with the titles Lord and God. But when the Bible was written, the name Jehovah appeared in it some 7,000 times!”

They oppose any teaching of the Trinity as from the devil. In their minds, this teaching is dangerous because it confuses people about the one true God.

“Beyond a doubt, the Trinity doctrine has confused and diluted people’s understanding of God’s true position. It prevents people from accurately knowing the Universal Sovereign, Jehovah God, and from worshiping him on his terms.”

In addition to the above, the Jehovah’s Witness cult promotes many other false teachings. For example, they believe that Jesus died on a stake, not on a cross; they believe earth will never be destroyed or depopulated; they teach that the soul ceases to exist at death and that hell is mankind’s common grave; they claim to be the only source of truth and teach that if you do not accept their truth your soul will be destroyed.

Helps

It is ironic that two of the major texts of Scripture used by the Jehovah’s Witnesses to disprove the deity of Christ in reality prove that very thing! Colossians 1:15-17 and John 1:1 are helpful passages to refer to when talking with people who have been deceived by the erroneous teaching that Christ is not God.

[Jesus Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. Colossians 1:15-17

The cult in question teaches that the word “firstborn” denotes that Christ was a created being, and thus he is not God. The text of the New World Translation (their false translation of the Bible) also inserts the word “other” six times in the passage to make it clear that Christ only created all other things after He Himself was created. In reality, however, the word “firstborn” (πρωτότοκος) does not denote that Christ is the first created being. In the Old Testament, the word “firstborn” was used to denote rank and importance. For example, in Psalm 89:27, Solomon is called the firstborn even though he was not actually the first child of David. This word, πρωτότοκος, simply denotes that Jesus Christ has priority and sovereignty over all creation. Later on the text teaches that Christ created all things. How could he create all things if He Himself was created? There is another Greek word that would have been used to say that he was the first created being. Although it is appropriate to prove the deity of Christ from the word “firstborn,” it may be more helpful to deal with the preceding phrase, “He is the image of the invisible God,” and explain the word “image.”

The word “image” (εκων) undeniably points to the deity of Christ. The word denotes primarily two ideas: representation and manifestation. “Image is not to be understood as a magnitude which is alien to the reality and present only in the consciousness. It has a share in the reality. Indeed, it is the reality. Thus εκών does not imply a weakening or a feeble copy of something. It implies the illumination of its inner core and essence.”  Jesus Christ is an exact representation and manifestation of the inner core and essence of the invisible God, Whose name is Jehovah! Jesus Christ is Jehovah in the flesh. Jesus made this point very clear in John 10:30 when He said, “I and my father are one.”The Pharisees obviously understood that Jesus was actually claiming deity; their response to Christ was, “You, being a man, make yourself out to be God” (John 10:33).

John 1:1 is translated improperly in the New World Translation. It states:

“In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was a God.”

It may seem a small matter to insert such a little word as “a” before “God,” but it actually has a great deal of significance; inserting the word “a” affects the entire meaning of the verse! The Jehovah’s Witnesses insert this word to deny the deity of Christ. This verse, however, cannot be refuted when looked at in the original language.

 εν αρχη ην ο λογος και ο λογος ην προς τον θεον και θεος ην ο λογος

There is not one other modern English translation that translates John 1:1 the way the New World Translation does. All of them say “the word was God.” Θεος is used “quite predominately of the true God, sometimes with, sometimes without, the article.” In John 1:1-18 the word θεος is used six times without the definite article. In order for the Jehovah’s Witnesses to be consistent in their translation, they would have to translate all of them as “a god,” which they do not. It is clear to conclude that the absence of the definite article does not mean that someone other than the one true God is being mentioned.  The absence of the definite article actually clarifies that θεος is the predicate and ο λογος is the subject. It is properly translated, “The word was God.”  The Jehovah’s Witnesses have, to their own satisfaction at least, sufficiently twisted the Scripture to fit into their theology. It is helpful to remember here that founder C.T. Russell did not know Greek or Hebrew!This text was obviously changed to be consistent with the foundational teachings of the cult.

If Christ, as their own Bible teaches, is a god, then the Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in a polytheistic system. They refuse to say that Jesus is God. They will call him a mighty god, but notthe Almighty. Exodus 20:3 commands that we are to have no other gods before the one true God. In trying to explain away the deity of Christ in John 1, they are actually contradicting their own statements concerning the “one true God!” Christ must be either the one true God or a false god!


[1] Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults. (Bloomington, MN: Bethany House, 1997) p. 79.

 

[2] Ibid p. 80.

 

[3] Jehovah’s Witness official site, “Who is Jesus Christ,” [on-line], accessed 20 April 2004, available from http://www.watchtower.org/library/rq/article_03.htm, Internet.

 

[4] Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults, p. 108

 

[5] Jehovah’s Witness Official Site, “Who is God,” [on-line], accessed 20 April 2004, available from http://www.watchtower.org/library/rq/article_02.htm, Internet.

 

[6] Jehovah’s Witness Official Site, “Should You Believe the Trinity,” [on-line], accessed 20 April 2004, available from http://www.watchtower.org/library/ti/index.htm, Internet.

 

[7] “What do JW’s believe, but won’t tell the general public,”[on-line], accessed 20 April 2004, available from http://www.bible.ca/Jw-Wont-Tell.htm, Internet.

 

[8]Wiersbe, Warren W. The Bible Exposition Commentary. “An exposition of the New Testament comprising the entire ‘BE’ series”–Jkt., Col 1:15. (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1996, c1989.)

[9]Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Vols. 5-9 edited by Gerhard Friedrich. Vol. 10 compiled by Ronald Pitkin. Edited by Kittel, Gerhard, Geoffrey William Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964-c1976.)

 

[10] Arndt, William F., and Gingrich, F. Wilbur, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. (Unversity of Chicago Press, 1957) p. 357

 

[11] Josh, McDowell, A Ready Defense. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1993) p. 337

[12]Robertson, A.T. Word Pictures in the New Testament. Jn 1:1.