Monday, December 22, 2014

Jesus Is Our Savior

Infrequently I hear people say that Jehovah’s Witnesses are not Christian. Since that is a lie or at very least a misconception, I work hard to explain the facts and truth of the matter. Normally, I end up going into a lengthily explanation. For decades I’ve struggled to find a brief explanation. I think I finally hit on it….

We believe what Acts 4:12 says about Jesus: “There is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must get saved.” Indeed, Jesus is the designated savior of sinful mankind, which includes all humans. But now focus on the part that says “has been given.” Who did the giving of Jesus’ name? The answer is found at John 12:49 where we read that “the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment about what to say and what to speak.” Yes, the one Jesus taught us to pray to at Matthew 6:9 with the words “Our Father in the heavens,” God himself, is the one that pointed to Jesus in prophecies as being the Messiah.

Does God, “our Father” have a name? At Psalms 83:18 we read: “May people know that you, whose name is Jehovah, You alone are the Most High over all the earth.” (Other translations) Yes, the Father’s name is Jehovah and that is why we primarily call ourselves Jehovah’s Witnesses—because the Father, Jehovah, is the one that Jesus himself directed that we should pray to and worship.

In short, then, Jesus is God's means for saving mankind from sin and death. He is God's spokesman (John 1:1, "the Word"), and, as the "son of God," is second in command.


  1. Bart, you don't explain how Jesus our savior actually 'saves' the sinful human, and from what does He save us? In your own understanding, what are the basic mechanics of human salvation as effected by Jesus? I'd appreciate your thoughts

    1. Hello anonymous. I typically do not respond to anon posts, but to be brief, this article was not intended to explain what you refer to as "the basic mechanics of human salvation." I have met many "born again" individuals that want me to use a certain phrase that they've memorized as if it were some incantation. Rather than my opinion, here is the official teaching:

  2. Hi Bart & Happy New Year to you! I appreciate your ‘reflections’ blog. Sorry, my name is A.J.
    I did read the Watchtower 2002 article your link took me to, it was informative, at least for a better understanding of the Jehovah’s Witness’ belief.

    I’m not sure what ‘certain memorized phrase or incantation’ you’re referring to, but in as far as me being ‘born again’ or not, I recognize that is a work of Jehovah God’s grace & mercy, and His prerogative alone…and thus I’m at His mercy & trust Him for that.

    Speaking of God’s ‘grace’, the WT 2002 article left me wondering why the concept (even the word itself) was absent. Rather, the word ‘provision’ used in the article seems to imply that Jesus’ sacrifice merely makes it possible to work & gain our own salvation? In this theology, is Eph. 2:8-9 part of the salvation equation? And what of the ‘free’ gift of salvation spoken of in Rom. 6:23? If this is something we must work to gain (as the article seems to imply), than that would be more akin to wages earned, rather than a ‘free’ gift. If such efforts are required to earn one’s salvation under one’s own steam (let alone meet God’s Benchmark of Perfect righteousness), that would be a hopeless endeavor and I’d be doomed. Rather, my efforts & ‘works’ are done in His Name, and are works borne of a heart of profound gratitude for what I believe He has already done for the sinful little speck of a soul that is me; He has saved me from the power of sin & death, and has redeemed me & given me eternal life, and now I am His. And in my estimation, no less than a supernatural work (on His part) was required to effect this transformation in me.

    And what of Jesus being my singular ‘source’ of salvation, and He being able to save me completely by His own power & intercession on my behalf, through my faith in Jehovah God & in His son (Heb. 5:9, 7:24-25)? Is this also excluded from your belief system? If so, then I think I might just stick to trusting in His grace & mercy that He offers freely, rather than working to earn it.

    Anyway, I wish you the best & appreciate your blog.

    1. Hello AJ: Okay, now that I sense you're not trying to start an argument, I'll respect your inquire as sincere. "Grace" is an archaic word (circa 1125 - 1175 We typically use a phrase that today's readers would more readily recognize, "undeserved loving kindness" or merely undeserved kindness"(

      You are right that we cannot earn salvation. However, if you understand that to mean all one needs to do is sit back and do nothing, I'd refer you to Jesus' words at Matthew 22:37-29 and these words found at James1:12, 22, 27; 2:14-17. Just as James' words in chapter 2 accentuate, there is NO relationship where words are sufficient. Action is required to demonstrate true commitment. (Try 40+ years of marriage like I have and tell me that just saying "I love you" is all your wife wants. LOL)
      I appreciate your kind and honest question. It is one I come across infrequently. You are actually the first to sincerely seek an answer from one of Jehovah's Witnesses and not merely accuse us for having a perspective that different.

    2. AJ: Some corrections:
      Matthew 22:37-39 (Not thru vs 29 as originally written)
      "... having a perspective that IS different."

      Regarding comparative readings, note the KJV use of "grace" as compared to the NWT use of "favor"

    3. AJ: I wrote the following tonight in hopes of addressing your question more extensively:

    4. Thanks for the response Bart. And thanks much for sharing the site, what a resource! It’s pretty comprehensive & powerful. I have a couple of bible software applications that I use for my own personal research & growth, and the will now be among them.

      I see you’ve expanded on the subject in your most recent post, and I look forward to studying it, but I at least wanted to respond to you on our initial thread; I’ve been married for almost 25 years myself, and we've together experienced plenty of rocky times in our relationship, but it’s only in the last 8 years or so that we’ve come far closer to the elusive happiness & ‘oneness’ two people bound by God are supposed to experience. And trust me, the closeness we experience now isn’t the product of our hard-wrought efforts at learning to get along and just coexist together…the catalyst for us was God Himself, and His transforming intervention in my own heart & life; in one instant in time, He took this once-darkened, sinful, selfish, self-centered heart & mind of mine and brought it all into His wonderful Light. And life has never been the same since…but that’s another story for another time. Still, suffice it to say that it was God’s effectual grace at work in me. An archaic a term or not, the word simply & aptly encapsulates all that is His unmerited, unearned (can’t be merited or earned by paltry human endeavor), utterly undeserved loving kindness! And just as John Newton’s old hymn succinctly captures, how amazing it is.

      On to our discussion, I generally agree with your statements, up to a point. And I am thoroughly settled in God’s sentiments on what pure & undefiled ‘religion’ is in His eyes (a rather stark contrast to modern man-made religion). I indeed know that one shouldn’t just sit back and do nothing, but I think that common contention & contrast somewhat misses the point; that ‘good works’ are the resultant product of a grateful heart belonging to the human soul who has already been brought across & established on the other side of the salvation equation (in this life now). The willingness to work for God’s Kingdom by utilizing and giving of one’s time & resources (given him/her by God to begin with) are byproducts of the budding fruits of the Spirit. Otherwise, it would be putting the buggy before the horse, as it were.

      I believe wholeheartedly in hearing God’s word and doing what it says, but I would suggest that before we treat James’ “faith without works is dead” in absolute, literal terms, we should bear in mind a couple of very sound exegetical methods of interpretation; ‘Scripture doesn’t contradict Scripture’ and ‘Scripture should be interpreted in light of Scripture’ (in particular, the less clear Scripture interpreted in light of the clearer on a given subject). James words must be reconciled with Paul’s own treatment of works of human righteousness (specifically that of the legalistic religious variety). Among others, the letter to the Galatians (ch. 2 & 3) is a very good treatment by Paul on the subject. Even our very best works of rightness is as filthy rags (menstrual cloth in the NWT) to Him.

      I have no contention with James’ words (they are inspired after all), but they must be harmonized with that of Paul’s, who treated the subject far more exhaustively than did James. I personally believe that what James is doing is expounding on practical (and expected) Christian ethics for his hearers such as what would be in congruous keeping with brotherly love for others in the Body, which ought characterize one’s professed faith. From His admonitions, we'd be safe in surmising that at least some of those hearers were bound to be false professors of faith (i.e. claimed faith in Jesus with their lips only) who may have been more or less idle, or even happy takers of resources rather than willing givers themselves, else James may have not have even broached the topic to start with.

      Continued . . .

    5. Good ‘works’ encompass more than the word normally implies, and is too narrow a word really. In a nutshell (my opinion), good works is the ready willingness of a person to give sacrificially of oneself in both God’s and our Savior’s name; wrought in love, action, deed, resources, etc., and (to reiterate) is is borne out of a grateful heart for what God has already been granted one in terms of one’s salvation, and motivated for what God continues to do in terms of His oft-given grace (unmerited favor if you must) in one’s life.
      We are called & commanded to do good works…but that must be understood as a command issued to those who have already been (and are being) equipped accordingly, those who have been created in Christ Jesus to do good works (Eph. 2:10), that we should endeavor to walk in them. And I believe that while to be created ‘in Christ Jesus’ implies Divine election, and/or having been ‘born again’, it is also a necessary result of sincere trust & faith in the One who redeemed & saves us from sin and death & reconciles us to Himself.

      You cite Mat. 22:37-39 (the two Greatest Commandments above all the rest) in which we’re to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind, and love our neighbor as ourselves, which lends itself to my final point; this is indeed a command from God…but have you ever considered that obedience to it is utterly unattainable by you or I? We haven’t the capacity to maintain obedience to it for 5 seconds, which means we’re guilty of breaking the command repeatedly and continually. And as you cite James, recall that he says essentially, that that if we break even one of God’s commands, we’ve for all practical purposes broken them all (James 2:10), right?

      My point is this; as fallen sin-prone people, we have no hope of meriting the necessary righteousness demanded by God’s Laws & Commands. It is impossible. But (in a way) I’ll recant Bart, works are required for our salvation, but they are not works to be done by us; because thanks be to God in Christ Jesus, they’ve already been done for us by Jesus Himself, and He alone has done for us what we could not do for ourselves. He both suffered & paid the penalty for our sin when He hung on the tree, and merited perfect righteousness through perfect obedience to the Father and to the whole of God’s Law…so that we (who are law-breakers and plainly unrighteous) might become the righteousness of God (2Cor. 5:21). This is also How God is able to (legally/forensically) ‘justify’ & declare righteous the plainly unjust, unrighteous human who trust in His Son’s work. Jesus is the utter completion of all the works God’s Law and thus the fulfillment of all righteousness according to the same Law, indeed He is the fulfillment of all the O.T. antitypes; of the scapegoat, and of the blemish-free lamb, and of the Levitical priesthood, all in one (Heb Ch. 5 through 9).

      As for me, the first & foremost mandate for ‘work’ I’d be concerned with is found in John 6:28-29. All other endeavor will follow, and offered in His Name. So unless I can be convinced (biblically) that my position is in error, this is what I trust in, and Jesus is to who I trust my own salvation. Though I’m not sure that it is compatible with what the Jehovah’s Witnesses hold to.

      I apologize for going on so long Bart, but it just came a pourin’ out. I’m also afraid that I’m at the end of my vacation time, and will have little time for such interesting dialoguing as this, but I’ll read what you wrote and continue to keep up with your blog, and we may dialog again soon.

      I wish you the best,

    6. HI AJ. Admittedly, a lot to read. With my failing sight I've started using a text reader I downloaded from I copied your response into it and let it read it to me. (I do the same even with my blog notes before posting. It acts as my proofreader in that I can hear my mistakes.)

      There were a couple points that I'd differ on. But really, I think we've both clearly made our points. If you'd like to discuss any subject in more detail, I welcome you to write to me using an account I setup specifically for such conversations:

      I hope you had a great vacation. I worked for AT&T for nearly 20 years before being diagnosed with leukemia. Six months after that diagnoses, I was laid off (Q1 of 2011) and haven't worked since. So I've used the time I have in the ministry and to keep my mind sharp with these blog articles. I enjoy mentally stimulating conversations but I also know when it appears its time to end them in a respectful and congenial way. I know that our God-given free will to choose is something I need to respect when I meet others that see things differently. Take care.

  3. Leukemia…wow. I’m sad to know that Bart. I don’t know you in the least personally, except from your blog & our brief correspondences, but my heart goes out you nevertheless friend. I know that news like that has a way of bringing one face to face with one’s own mortality, and asserts a forceful reassessment of one’s perspective & priorities in how they continue to live life. If you don’t mind me probing, what is your current prognosis? Are you receiving chemo-therapy and/or is it in remission?

    And yes, I would like to continue a correspondence with you Bart; God’s Truth, the person of Jesus, and the Gospel are not only intellectually stimulating subject matter, they are of central, supreme importance to me (and I have many questions, specifically concerning the disparity differences between my own ‘theology’ and that of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and trying to answer for myself which is true Truth)…and yet, the news of your Leukemia puts the intriguing anticipation of challenging dialog over my favorite subject(s) way down on the scale of importance.

    I did wonder though, what those couple of points of mine that you differed?
    And I was intrigued, the text reader app was interesting. I might try it myself. How do you query to find it on Maybe it would be useful in catching my own blunders & typos (when my mind dictates more urgently that my fingers can transcribe!) How does it handle my oft-used parentheticals, and ampersands, etc.?

    Again, you needn’t respond and/or only in your leisure time. And I’ll drop you an email at your address in the near future (the address itself carries an interesting & weighty connotation).

    Meanwhile Bart, friend, I hope Jehovah God might bless you in battling the Leukemia & grant you many, many years of life yet.

    1. Hi AJ. I will await your contact through email to answer the personal questions, however -- one little "it just now slapped me upside the head" note: As I understood your original concern, it was your understanding that Jehovah's Witnesses are forced to preach. I think a better word would be "compelled." Each of us does what we personally can, giving from our heart to a God that has been so generous to us. For me, in my younger years it was easy for me to engage in the public ministry an average of 30 to 40 hours per month. Now, given my health, if I manage to get 5 to 15 hours a month, I'm doing exceptionally well. No one asks me why. In fact, most commend me for what I'm doing given my personal circumstances. But as I said, it just dawned on me: For all the difference you've taken with us for our perception of serving God, whether you know it or not, you are doing the same thing we are by making every effort to "help" me. I'm pretty sure we are both steadfast in our respective convictions, but just an FYI, I'm a former Catholic -- raised in parochial schooling including 4 years in an all-boys Catholic high school (St. John Bosco, Bellflower, CA), I had hoped to become a priest (actually a Franciscan Monk); defended Catholicism until I started having doubts at which point I checked out Baptists, Lutherans, and other "mainstream" denominations. I argued vehemently with the JW's to disprove them for about 6 to 8 months. So my becoming a JW was far from something I intended to do, nor was it to fulfill some emotional "need." Then, through all the 40+ years of talking with people, I've heard every common issue and belief that has been raised as a challenge. So it is not as if I'm unfamiliar with most items you will raise.

      It has been so long since I installed the text-to-voice app I had forgotten that I actually got it from Microsoft:

      Here is a list of alternative readers that I found on sourceforge:

    2. AJ: This is a comment on your statement: "what of Jesus being my singular ‘source’ of salvation, and He being able to save me completely by His own power & intercession on my behalf, through my faith in Jehovah God & in His son (Heb. 5:9, 7:24-25)?"

      I need to ask first, do you see that faith (belief in) is all that is needed, or do we have to perform works of loyalty? In other words, there are people I know that firmly believe (or at least they say so) that Jesus truly is the Savior, the Messiah, the Christ. Yet their immoral conduct in some cases is so bad, it would land them in prison. Are these people still saved by value of the ransom sacrifice of Jesus' blood? Can they act with unrepentant impunity and still end up approved by God and Christ? In short, is mere faith sufficient?

  4. Hi Bart, it’s been a while…hope all is well these days.

    In as far as amoral conduct of a professing ‘Christian’, in my view there are only two logical possibilities; the first is that it is a false profession/false conversion of the heart & mind (and remains unchanged, unredeemed, unsaved). The second is that they’ve been genuinely converted & submit to God, but are succumbing to temptation & getting snared in sin. While the believer’s bondage to sin has been broken by the power of God’s Spirit in one’s conversion, the power of sin’s temptation is still there and the fallen sin-prone human nature (i.e. the carnal nature, the flesh) is weak against it (revisit Paul’s lament in Romans 7). My own first-hand experience has convinced me that once one has been converted (in heart, mind & spirit), one can plainly still sin (and indeed does), but one can no longer even remotely enjoy it anymore the way one has in the past (and the burden of guilt gets worse). This is the tension that the true believer lives with virtually daily; the human spirit that desires to please & be obedient to God is at war with the sin-nature that craves the sinful pleasure. That’s why Paul harkens us to endeavor to ‘crucify the flesh’ (or the ‘old personality’) and its evil desires.

    And let me qualify my response to faith & works; I believe that the faith by which God justifies the repentant law-breaker is all that is needed. “Good works” are a function & willing by-product of a grateful, redeemed heart. I believe it was Martin Luther that said; “We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone.” Otherwise, they would be merely external & empty works. They are not the means by which we gain God’s favor…it otherwise wouldn’t be grace (unmerited favor/kindness) would it?

    1. Hi AJ. Its has been a while. When you posted your message I had just gotten home from my 3rd bladder surgery. I'm in a lot of pain and catheterized to drain waste & blood. Please give me about a week to reflect on your message. Admittedly, I am in so much pain, it is very difficult to concentrate.

    2. Just one quick note. I've never understood why people think we are espousing loyalty to an organization over loyalty to God. Even Jesus condemned that. Matthew 23:16-24; Mark 7:7

      No, unless specified, I am always writing about our obligation to Jehovah and Jesus Christ. I won't deny that there is communal responsibility within ANY religion that if one truly believes it, they would support it. I hope you are not suggesting otherwise.

  5. “Works of loyalty”? I’m not sure I understand the choice of words here. In any case Bart, what in your estimation is the end-goal of performing these “works of loyalty”? A correlative question would be; to whom are these works of loyalty performed for? Is it for the Watchtower Society, or is it for God Himself? If such works are done to demonstrate one’s loyalty to God, it then implies that the sovereign all-knowing Creator somehow can’t see the true sincerity of our heart for Him. The only other possible explanations for one’s “works of loyalty” outside of this is that (a) they are works required to demonstrate allegiance to a human organization (rather than to God), or (b) are otherwise performed in order to merit God’s approval and earn one’s justification. Both have fatal problems, and the more jarring implications being that the human has come to somehow believe that Jesus’ 33+ years of life of righteous perfection and His substitutionary & willing sacrifice and death in paying the penalty for our sins was efficaciously insufficient, leaving us to do the rest on our own. That is indeed working to earn for ourselves what God’s son fell short in achieving on our behalf. It strikes me as either ignorant or arrogant to imagine we can finish up on what the Son of God Himself couldn’t seem to manage for us.

    If these “works of loyalty” are required, then how you know when you’ve done enough Bart? That’s a rather disconcerting, fretful way to live out the remainder of one’s life that God has allotted. If even our very best righteous works are as filthy menstrual cloths in His eyes, how is it that you aren’t humbled to despair? I certainly was. And that’s precisely why placed the full weight of my trust both in the fact that (a) Christ paid for MY sins, having took the full brunt of God’s wrath in the death penalty (for my sake, because it otherwise should have been me paying for my sins with my own blood), and (b) He earned 100% perfect righteousness (for my sake, as His righteousness alone meets God’s holy Standard). It boggles the mind.
    And that’s the very thing that brings me to my knees in gratitude & daily, and in submission to the King of kings that God has appointed…and He grants me a sound, solid peace that surpasses all human understanding because of my faith in Him. Allegiance to a denomination or religious Organization is quite incapable of bestowing that supernaturally-settling peace onto the human consciousness.

    What about you?

  6. AJ: The length of my reply prohibited my responding here. Please see this post:

    Once again, I urge you to setup a free email acct with some vendor (hotmail, yahoo, google, ureach, etc) and provide that we can talk without plugging up this or other posts. To be sure, except in email, I will not be responding to any correspondence with you in this blog.