Thursday, March 08, 2012

Armageddon and the Gospel

Over the years I have grown weary of prophecy pundits, who are always declaring the end of the world. Get out your newspaper and just look and see how the Bible predicted the events you read. However, by their methods of reading the Bible, it becomes as mushy as anything Nostradamus said. It just gets old. But I guess in another sense, I have benefited by their teachings. They have driven me away to find a more consistent and sound way of looking at Biblical prophecy.

A few days ago, my Jehovah's Witness friend, Russell Webster, stopped by with a new issue of Awake. And being the good "End of the World" sect they are, we get  yet another end of the world scenario.

Now I must confess that much of the article on Armageddon is something most Christians could easily agree with unlike in past generations that speculated certain dates. However, like many Dispensational Christians, by definition, the end must happen fairly in this generation.

In the portion of the article that addresses, "When Will The War Of Armageddon Come?", it offers an interesting viewpoint. It states on page 8,

The stage is now set for the war of Armageddon. How so?

Already there exists a worldwide association of people who serve Jehovah and live by the Bible's elevated moral standards. With God's backing, millions from all nations, tribes, and tongues are gathering together to form a harmonious, loving brotherhood. That brotherhood exists among Jehovah's Witnesses. -John 13:35

Now if that sounds odd to you, it should. I have asked many times of Russell if he knows that he has eternal life and if he will for certain enter this new paradise on Earth in the future. He was not able to answer for the simple reason that he has based his salvation upon his deeds. He felt that if he stopped doing the Saturday visits through the neighborhoods, then he could not possibly be a true follower even though he has been doing "Jehovah's work" for close to 40 years.

Please notice the standards by which he knows the end is near. It is a bunch of people with moral standards who hang out together. Yet I know atheists/agnostics who have better moral standards than many people who call themselves Christians. Is moral standards the way to be recognized as Jehovah's Witnesses. Well, there is some truth to that, but I would venture to say that my friend Russell would say there is more to it than that. In fact, I know he would say that one must be about witnessing door to door or forfeit your salvation.

My point for noticing all of this is quite simple. There is no Gospel among JW's. There is no Gospel in being good or even hanging out with a group of people who go door to door or trying to gain salvation through some kind of meritorious system. Please read the conversation between Jesus and the Rich Young Ruler from Matthew 19:
Mat 19:16  And behold, a man came up to him, saying, "Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?"
Mat 19:17  And he said to him, "Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments."
Mat 19:18  He said to him, "Which ones?" And Jesus said, "You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness,
Mat 19:19  Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
Mat 19:20  The young man said to him, "All these I have kept. What do I still lack?"
Mat 19:21  Jesus said to him, "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me."
Mat 19:22  When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

Now Jesus' point is not that the Ruler needed to be just a bit better or give away everything and then he would be good enough. His point was that no matter how much he thought he kept the law, he was always breaking it! By giving everything to the poor, he would be fulfilling the law, but even then, one must admit he would have fallen short at some point of it no matter how hard he tried.

There is only One who has fulfilled the law. There is only One who is righteous. There is only One who has taken away sin perfectly upon the cross as a substitute for His people. There is only One righteousness that is alien and foreign to us that we must possess by faith alone. There is only One to whom we must flee from sin and wrath.

It is true that Jesus will come again. That is part of the Gospel. It is true that one day He will gather his people and deliver them from God's eternal wrath in the final sense. But the question remains.

Will you look outside of yourself and look to a perfect Savior, the eternal Son of God, Jesus the Christ, today?


Danny Haszard said...

The big difference between Jehovah's Witnesses and Christians is that the Watchtower Society's central core creed proclaims Jesus second coming in October 1914.

They sometimes try to obscure this today and say that he came 'invisibly'.Yes,all other Christains are awaiting Jesus return,the JW say he ALREADY came in 1914.
Danny Haszard

Howard Fisher said...

Thanks for the comment Danny.

I'm not all that certain that's the biggest difference. Although technically you are correct. Dispensationalism has a model that is very similar even at points they come to different outcomes. That of course is due to their historical roots being from the same era.

The more fundamental difference that I was attempting to note is that through all of their literature, they talk about their unity around their morality. All of their literature talks about things one could hear among any religious group. Healthy living by being morally good and all of that stuff.

But there's no Gospel!