Excitement was in the air. The week that we had waited for for a long time had finally arrived. Forty thousand Jehovah's witnesses from all over California and neighboring states were expected to arrive in southern California for a week-long convocation to be held at the San Diego Stadium.
Local Jehovah's witnesses were tickled pink. Everyone was excited and doing his part, however small, to make this event one of the most memorable ever. Many opened their homes to accommodate out-of-town visitors who were unable to afford hotel or motel accommodations. Many invited friends, co-workers, families, neighbors, and acquaintances to partake of this long-awaited spiritual feast. Many people came. Some were serious; others came just for curiosity. Whatever the reason for coming, this was a much needed breath of fresh air. There was no question in the minds of everyone that this convocation would go down in the annals of the Jehovah's witness organization as one of the most important event ever!
I was excited about this event because I was one of over one thousand people to be baptized into the Jehovah's witness organization at the end of the week. Five or six large above-ground swimming pools were situated at the back of the stadium for this event. I could hardly wait. My excitement couldn't be contained. I was bursting at the seams.
I woke up early the first morning of the convocation. I started getting myself and my baby ready. Looking out the window while preparing breakfast, I could tell it was going to be a great day full of promises. The morning was gorgeous. Birds were singing. The sun wore a warm, gentle smile, and the rustling leaves of the poplar trees told me that the breeze was scattering Jehovah's love messages and blessing upon the world just awakened from slumber.
Later on, my friends came and picked us up. We drove to the stadium in plenty of time to find good parking and good seats--close to the front where we could see everything that was going on. We didn't want to miss anything.
We walked up to the stadium almost in rhythm with the beautiful, inspirational music that was being played by a live band. My son was chattering happily as I pushed his stroller along. Goose bumps were forming on my skin. I visualized the New Jerusalem and the saints of Jehovah marching to Zion. I saw the beauty and splendor of the place. I saw Jehovah blessing His people, and the angels were singing and praising Him. The music was glorious. I was in total awe. All questions and doubts that I might have had about the Jehovah's witness organization and its teachings vanished like mist in the morning sun.
I was overtaken with emotions that tears were flowing down my face. I whispered a prayer thanking Jehovah for allowing me to come into the Jehovah's witness organization. I thanked Him for the lessons I learned under the tutorship of an experienced, patient teacher. We studied for over a year, going over difficult passages that were so ingrained in my mind it seemed they couldn't get disentangled or dislodged. I prayed that this week, others, too, would come to a knowledge of Jehovah and many would come to their valleys of decision and choose to become members of an organization that teaches the truths about Him.
But something unforeseen, unexpected happened that dampened my spirits, my enthusiasm, and my joy about becoming a baptized member of the JW organization.
I was one of many who volunteered to open up their homes for out-of-town visitors. I wanted a nice, clean, roach-free place for my guest. I requested the apartment manager to have a pest exterminator come and rid the place of roaches. I had requested that this be done previously but the apartment manager had other priorities to take care of. I thought now was a good time to get her to do something. She promised she would do it.
I waited for the pest exterminator to show up, but he didn't show up until the Friday before the week of the convocation. While I prepared the place for extermination (covered food, dishes, etc.), he sat there looking through my bookcase. He noticed that I had a lot of books on health and religion. He started talking about health. It was up my alley every bit of it, and I enjoyed the conversation. He said his name was Art.
We talked about vegetarianism--that vegetarians live longer than non-vegetarians, we talked about the importance of exercise, drinking plenty of water, adequate sunshine provides Vitamin D and converts natural steroids on the skin to good cholesterol, on and on we talked. At the time I was not a vegetarian even though I was before I became pregnant with my son. I went back to eating kosher meats because I wasn't sure if I would get enough protein or get all the essential amino acids, etc. Rather than put the health of my unborn child at risk, I would do what normal people do--eat meat.
Then, Art started talking about religion. He did his homework well for 'the health message (I later came to know) is the entering wedge for the Gospel'. He saw that I had the New World Translation of the Bible and asked if I was a Jehovah's witness. I told him that I would become one at the end of the week. I was overjoyed about my decision to be baptized and invited him to the convocation at the stadium. I thought: We'd get him converted to Jehovah's Witness in no time.
It turned out that this pest exterminator knew more than just exterminating pests. He was familiar with and knowledgeable about the Jehovah's witness organization. He talked about its history and its founder, Charles Taze Russell. Then, he started spouting out the various doctrines we believed in and held dear. I was surprised and amazed at his knowledge. 'Why do you know so much about Jehovah's witnesses?' I asked him curious to know. He said he just did some reading about them and their teachings, and he knew people who were Jehovah's witnesses.
For every JW teaching he cited, he provided a Bible text to counter it. Turning away from him, I rolled my eyes heavenward and thought: Why does it have to be him to come at this critical hour just before my baptism! I don't need this. He went non-stop expounding and comparing what the JW organization teaches and what the Bible teaches. My jaw dropped in disbelief. It was like night and day. Before I could say anything and before I knew it, Bible studies were being scheduled and set up, and I surprised myself by saying: I'll be delighted to have a Bible study with you.
Even though my apartment would be safe for occupancy a couple of hours after the extermination, I didn't want me and my eighteen-month old toddler to be in it until at least 24 hours had passed. Besides, I couldn't stand the smell; it made me dizzy. I told Art to come to my girlfriend Debbie's apartment where we had already planned to spend the night with her. Her apartment was two or three buildings away from mine and located in the same large apartment complex. Like me, Debbie was a candidate for baptism into the JW organization. She was excited as I was.
Art and his wife Marilyn and their six-month old son Kevin came to Debbie's apartment that night. "We need to be open minded about this whole thing" I whispered my warning to Debbie. She eyed me warily. I reminded her that the truths our denomination teaches could not be controverted. They would stand the severest of tests. In my heart, however, I knew differently. Trying hard to appear nonchalant, I said to her: "Let's give this man a chance. Let's just see what he has to say."
But the truth of the matter was, I was hungry for what Art was telling me earlier and wanted more. I wanted him to show us from the Bible so we could read it for ourselves that the Holy Spirit is a Person. I wanted Debbie to see it for herself too. You see, Jehovah's witnesses believe that the Holy Spirit is only the active force of God, a cosmic energy, and not a personality. That night Art gave us texts after texts proving that the Holy Spirit is indeed a Person. I was jotting everything down like crazy. My fingers were cramping but I kept on. Here's some of what I wrote down:
The Holy Spirit speaks. Acts 13:2, Acts 8:29, Heb 3:7,8.
He dwells in us. Rom 8:9, 1 Cor 6:19.
He teaches and guides. Jn 14:26, 16:13.
He reproves and convicts of sin. Jn 16:8,9.
He testifies and bears witness. Jn 15:26.
He intercedes for us. Rom 8:26.
He can be grieved, lied to, and resisted. Eph 4:30, Acts 5:3; 7:51.
Obviously, Jehovah's witnesses do not believe in the Trinity. Even though the word 'Trinity' is nowhere to be found in the Bible, the scriptures support and teach it. The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Godhead, a distinct personality from the Father and the Son. Art showed me three texts that forever fixed in my mind that the Trinity is biblical. These three texts are:
Acts 5:30 - 'The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.' This text specifically states that the Father raised up Jesus from the grave.
Jn 2:19 - 'Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.' Here, Jesus refers to His death; in three days He says I will raise it up.
Rom 8:11 - 'But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.' Christ was made alive by the Spirit. 1 Pet 3:18 (NI).
Who raised up Jesus? the Father, Himself, or the Holy Spirit? Without the Trinity concept you would not be able to answer this question. In these texts you could not help but see the oneness of the three distinct personalities of the Godhead. Three distinct personalities named GOD yet ONE in nature, character, love, and power. They are not three Gods in One Person as someone tried to explain to me years ago. Christ Himself said that He would give us another Comforter--the Holy Spirit. See Jn 14:16. 'The Holy Spirit is Christ's representative, but divested of the personality of humanity, and independent thereof.' --God's Amazing Grace, Page 191.
The story of the creation of our world shows clearly the Trinity at work. Note especially Gen 1:26 - 'And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness...' The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the water (verse 2). In Jn 1:3 and Col 1:16 we find that God created all things by Jesus Christ. For more information on the Holy Spirit and the Trinity go here The Heavenly Dove.
While Debbie was defending the JW's stand on the subject and was argumentative and loud the whole time, rays of precious truth were filtering in through the dark clutter of man-made doctrines, traditions, philosophies and vain deceits that were lodging dangerously in my mind. It was obvious that night that our next Bible study would be without Debbie.
Thus began my first step in understanding God's truths.
Then, I remembered a story that happened long ago. Two disciples of Jesus, disheartened, hopeless, faithless, and walking in the shadow of the cross, started on their walk home to Emmaus eight miles away from Jerusalem. It was a long and difficult walk. In some parts the road was not safe. It was steep and dangerous. Shortly afterward, they were joined by a stranger who wanted to know what manner of conversation they were having that made them so sad.
I could almost hear them say: Hello! Where have you been? Haven't you known all that had happened here in Jerusalem these last three days? Of course, we know why they were sad. They had forgotten or rather, they had failed to comprehend Christ's mission. They had expected the Messiah to free them from the Roman yoke. 'O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory?'
"The disciples wondered who this stranger could be, that He should penetrate to their very souls, and speak with such earnestness, tenderness, and sympathy, and with such hopefulness. For the first time since Christ's betrayal, they began to feel hopeful. Often they looked earnestly at their companion, and thought that His words were just the words that Christ would have spoken. They were filled with amazement, and their hearts began to throb with joyful expectation.
"Beginning at Moses, the very Alpha of Bible history, Christ expounded in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself..." --Desire of Ages, Page 796.
"Jesus maintained His disguise till He had interpreted the Scriptures, and had led them to an intelligent faith in His life, His character, His mission to earth, and His death and resurrection. He wished the truth to take firm root in their minds, not because it was supported by His personal testimony, but because the typical law, and the prophets of the Old Testament, agreeing with the facts of His life and death, presented unquestionable evidence of that truth." --Signs of the Times, Oct. 6, 1909.
Just as Jesus expounded the scriptures to His weary disciples long ago on that lonely road to Emmaus, my friend Art expounded to me the scriptures covering topic after topic of precious truths. A correct understanding of these topics was essential for my spiritual growth and salvation. Jesus said: 'This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.'
Jehovah's witnesses do not believe in the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. They believe that Jesus was a created being, a prophet, a teacher, a good man. He was not God; He was a created son of God. Art proved to me from the scriptures that Jesus was Jehovah God of the Old Testament. There was never a time when He was not. Here are some of the texts Art shared with me:
Jn 1:1-4 - 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...' In the New World Translation (NWT), the last phrase reads: '...and the Word was a god' with a small letter 'g' to denote a 'lessor' god than Jehovah, a created, powerful godlike one. But notice this next text in the NWT:
Isa 43:10-12 NWT - 'You are my witnesses,' is the utterance of Jehovah...'Before me there was no God formed; and after me there continued to be none. I am Jehovah, and besides me there is no Savior.'
Here, Jehovah is saying that there was no God formed before or after Him, and besides Him there is no Savior. In other words, Jesus could not have been created, and did you notice that Jehovah is the Savior?
In the NWT Luke 2:11 reads: 'Because there was born to you today a Savior who is Christ the Lord...' Jehovah is Christ, the Saviour!
Rev 1:8 (NWT) - 'I am Alpha and Omega,' says Jehovah God, 'the One who is and who was and who is coming, the Almighty.'
This refers to Jesus Christ. The Book of Revelation is a revelation of Jesus Christ given to John. Jesus is the One who is coming back to the earth. He is Almighty!
Col 2:9 - 'For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.'
NWT Isa 9:6 - '...And his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.'
NWT Ex 13:21 - 'And Jehovah was going ahead of them in the daytime in a pillar of cloud...and in the night time in a pillar of fire.'
NWT I Cor 10:4 - 'And all drank the same spiritual drink. For they used to drink from the spiritual rock-mass that followed them, and that rock-mass meant the Christ.'
Jehovah in the pillars of cloud and fire of the Old Testament was the Rock Jesus Christ of the New Testament.
In the Wilderness of Temptation, Jesus rebuked Satan with these words: "...It is written, 'you must not put Jehovah your God to the test.'" --NWT Mt 4. Again, Jesus is Jehovah!
Mt 1:23 - 'Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.'
Heb 1:5-8 - '...Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son...And let all the angels of God worship him ...But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.'
Notice that the Father called his Son Jesus 'GOD'. Now, if the Father Himself called His Son 'GOD', why couldn't the Jehovah's witnesses do the same?
All these texts support a Triune God. The Trinity is biblical--three distinct personalities, yet ONE in nature, character, love, and power. I see it as a surname. For a while my parents and I had the same last names. We were distinct personalities, yet we were one family.
A correct understanding of who Jehovah God is was a light so bright it nearly blinded me. I shuddered when I thought: If JWs are wrong on this important subject, they could be wrong in other subjects as well.
The next topic Art covered during my memorable walk to Emmaus was The Second Coming of Jesus. Jehovah's witnesses believe that Christ, in spirit, returned to this earth in 1914. I can't remember now how they came up with the year 1914. But Art said something that made sense. Christ, in spirit, had never left us. The Bible teaches that Jesus will return to this earth in like manner as he left. He ascended into heaven literally, visibly, and bodily. His disciples saw Him go up to Heaven. Therefore, He will return literally, visibly, and bodily. All will see Him return. Some will be glad to see Him; others will cry to the rocks and mountains to fall on them. Here are some of the texts on the second coming of Jesus:
Acts 1:9-11 - '...while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.
Rev 1:7 - 'Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him...'
It is interesting to note that when I questioned my JW teacher about this text, her explanation was that it was the 'eye of understanding' as when talking with someone and you understand what they are saying, you nod your head and say: I see.
Mt 24:27 - 'For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.' In the NWT the word 'coming' was changed to 'presence'.
Click here for more information on The Second Coming of Jesus.
The JW organization believes that Jesus died on a torture stake, not on a cross, and that God's moral law, which included the Sabbath, was nailed to the stake--it is no longer binding upon Christians today. I had a real struggle with this one, for I have always believed that the law had existed as long as God existed for His law of love is the very foundation of His Throne. A Kingdom without law is absurd. His law is eternal. Ps 111:7,8.
The time came, however, when I had to make a decision to get baptized into the JW organization. I felt that it was expected. After all, I had studied and fellowshipped with them for over a year. Rather than have my teacher think that I was too dense or stupid, I made a commitment to be baptized. When I threw God's law out the window of my soul, sweet peace went out with it. Ps 119:165. Immediately, I was troubled in mind and heart. I couldn't sleep at night. My conscience bothered me, and I felt my heart was not right with God.
My friend Art helped me get back on track. He expounded to me the perpetuity and immutability of the moral law of Jehovah, and this confirmed in my heart and mind that His Word, His Law is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. Only then did I experience once more the peace of God that passeth all understanding. For more information, go to The Gospel and the Law.
For the rest of the convocation, I was just going through the motion. My heart was not in it. My excitement and enthusiasm about the JW organization were gone. I was pensive and quiet the whole time. My friends were concerned and asked if there was anything wrong. There was nothing wrong, of course. My mind was just busy pondering, reflecting, dissecting, and assimilating the Bible studies I was having on the side with Art and Marilyn. I marveled at the unexpected turn of events. I greatly puzzled over why my friends--these wonderful, loving, warm-hearted, intelligent Jehovah's witnesses couldn't see that Jesus is Jehovah God, that He would judge the world with His law, and that He would return literally, visibly, and bodily to this earth some day.
The westering sun sank low in the horizon painting the sky with a glorious symphony of colors. Enraptured by the beauty before me, I contemplated my future and which church I would go to. I thought of my many friends in the JW organization. I knew I would miss them, and my heart ached. But I thought of my new-found faith and knowledge of Jehovah God, and my heart leaped for joy. Looking at the sunset and the fast-disappearing sun, I smiled and thought: As sure as this sun will rise up tomorrow, I know I will have a new beginning--a new church and new friends.
"During the journey to Emmaus the sun had gone down, and before the travelers reached their place of rest, the laborers in the fields had left their work. As the disciples were about to enter their home, the stranger appeared as though He would continue His journey. But the disciples felt drawn to Him. Their souls hungered to hear more from Him. 'Abide with us,' they said. He did not seem to accept the invitation, but they pressed it upon Him, urging, 'It is toward evening, and the day is far spent.' Christ yielded to this entreaty and 'went in to tarry with them.'
"The simple evening meal of bread is soon prepared. It is placed before the guest, who has taken His seat at the head of the table. Now He puts forth His hands to bless the food. The disciples start back in astonishment. Their companion spreads forth His hands in exactly the same way as their Master used to do. They look again, and lo, they see in His hands the print of nails. Both exclaim at once, It is the Lord Jesus! He has risen from the dead!
"They rise to cast themselves at His feet and worship Him, but He has vanished out of their sight. They look at the place which had been occupied by One whose body had lately lain in the grave, and say to each other, 'Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked with us by the way, and while He opened to us the Scriptures?'
"But with this great news to communicate they cannot sit and talk. Their weariness and hunger are gone. They leave their meal untasted, and full of joy immediately set out again on the same path by which they came, hurrying to tell the tidings to the disciples in the city. In some parts the road is not safe, but they climb over the steep places, slipping on the smooth rocks... With their pilgrim staff in hand, they press on, desiring to go faster than they dare. They lose their track, but find it again. Sometimes running, sometimes stumbling, they press forward...
"The night is dark, but the Sun of Righteousness is shining upon them. Their hearts leap for joy. They seem to be in a new world. Christ is a living Saviour. They no longer mourn over Him as dead. Christ is risen--over and over again they repeat it. This is the message they are carrying to the sorrowing ones. They must tell them the wonderful story of the walk to Emmaus. They must tell who joined them by the way. They carry the greatest message ever given to the world, a message of glad tidings upon which the hopes of the human family for time and for eternity depend." --Desire of Ages, Page 800-801.
"When the disciples arrived at Jerusalem they entered the eastern gate, which was open on festal occasions. The houses were dark and silent, but they made their way through the narrow streets by the light of the rising moon. They knew that they would find their brethren in the memorable upper chamber where Jesus had spent the last night before his death. Here the disciples had passed the Sabbath in mourning for their Lord. And now they had no disposition to sleep, for exciting events were being related among them. Cautious hands unbarred the door to the repeated demand of the two travelers...
"The two from Emmaus told their story of how the Lord had opened their eyes, and revealed to them the straight chain of prophecy which reached from the days of the patriarchs to that time, and foreshadowed all that had transpired regarding their Saviour. The company heard this report in breathless silence. Some were inspired with new faith; others were incredulous." --Spirit of Prophecy, Vol 3, Pages 216,217.
As the road to Emmaus was long and difficult, steep and rugged at places for the weary disciples of Jesus, I, too, experienced my road to Emmaus difficult and rugged. The Jehovah's witness leadership was not going to let me go without a struggle. They called on the telephone incessantly--the phone ringing off the hook day and night. Sometimes it rang for 45 minutes. I timed it. I covered the ringing phone with pillows to keep from waking up the baby.
On the times when I did talk on the phone, they talked for hours trying to convince me that I was making a fatal decision. I tried to disseminate my new-found knowledge to them, but they wouldn't hear of it. To them, I was leaving the Truth. I was heading for perdition. My house was on fire. They wanted to get me out of the burning house. They wanted to save me.
The quality time that I needed to spend with my baby was being consumed in this fashion. I was drained from the task of defending my position and my decision to stand by the Word of God alone as interpreted by the Word of God. I felt like Martin Luther before the Diet being interrogated by papists for his faith. Like Luther, I was being asked to recant. I would not do it. No! Never! I felt I was being harassed, persecuted, and oppressed. I was left with no alternative but to move far away and to move in the middle of the night where my Jehovah's witness friends close by would not try to stop me on my walk to Emmaus.
That was over thirty years ago.
As the two disciples from Emmaus left their uneaten meal and hurried back to Jerusalem rejoicing and eager to tell their sorrowing brethren the story of how the Lord had opened their eyes and cleared their tangled interpretation of scriptures, my eyes, too, were opened, and my understanding was quickened. I was excited and eager to tell others about my new-found faith and knowledge of my Lord and my God. It was as if I had stepped from the obscurity of dawn to the radiance of noonday. At first, the brightness of the Son hurt my eyes, but they quickly adjusted to the light. It felt good to walk in the light. I wanted others to walk in the light. I knew then that I would never stop telling the wonderful story of my walk to Emmaus.