Knock, Knock

                “So we have this street?” I asked.

                “Uh, yes,” Steve replied.

                “Well, these two houses are for sale,” I said. “And they both look empty. And Elder Nathan said that we’re to avoid house number 114, which is that one.”

                “Well, let’s try this one,” Steve said. We walked to the door and I rang the doorbell.

                “Good evening, sir,” Steve said. “We were in your neighborhood and thought we’d stop by.”

                “Well, it’s good to see you,” the man replied. “My name’s Collin Martin and yours is?”

                “Steve Johnson,” Steve replied.

                “Richard Davidson,” I replied, shaking his hand.

                “Anyways,” Steve continued, “we came to offer you our latest Watchtower magazine. This one has an interesting article about ‘Maintaining Your Marriage.’ We’d like to leave this with you and also offer you a free home Bible study.”

                “Well I’d be happy to take this magazine in a minute,” Collin replied. “But can I ask you a few questions first?”

                “Alright,” Steve replied hesitantly, looking at me.

                “Who is your final authority?” Collin asked.

                “Well, it’d be the Bible,” I answered.

                “If I could prove, from the Bible, that Jesus is, indeed, God, and not Michael the Archangel, would you believe it?”

                “You can’t,” Steve challenged. I, for one, was eager to see if someone could, since Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus is Michael the Archangel, not God.

                “Well, let’s turn to Isaiah 9:6,” Collin said, “and let’s read it:

                For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

                “Well,” Steve countered, “it says ‘Mighty God’; not ‘Almighty God.’”

                “No,” Collin replied firmly, “it says ‘The Mighty God’. Your Society agrees with the King James Version; they still use it today. The King James says ‘The Mighty God’.

                “Turn to Isaiah 7:14,” Collin continued. He turned to the passage and read:

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

                “Look at Matthew 1:23,” Collin said. “Steve, will you please read it?”

                Steve looked at his Bible and read:

“‘Look! The virgin will become pregnant and will give birth to a son, and they will name him Immanuel,” which means, when translated, “With Us Is God’.”

                “With us is God,” Collin repeated. “Look at that: even the New World Translation calls Jesus God.”

                “Well—” Steve began.

                “Turn to John 5:17-18,” Collin said, “and let’s read it:

But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.”

                “We have to go,” Steve interjected. “Have a good day.”

                We turned and took several steps away from his house. “Don’t be late for your next appointment!” Collin called after us. “For eternity in Hell is a long time to be wrong.”

                I paused briefly, then continued walking. What did he mean?

                “He must be one of those born-agains,” Steve told me a little while later.

                “Maybe,” I replied.

                A couple of weeks passed. I kept reading those verses over and over, pondering what Collin said. “Don’t be late…long time to be wrong.” What did he mean? I knew we would use “another appointment” when we could see that the person was not listening during a Bible study. Is that what Collin was referring to?

                “Brother Davidson, good to see you,” John Tyler greeted me after a meeting. “I suppose you heard Rachel Bevins was disfellowshipped?”

                “Rachel Bevins,” I repeated, trying to recollect who John was talking about.

                “You remember,” John said, “the girl who got pregnant—“

                “Oh her,” I said, remembering. “Disfellowshipped, huh? Poor girl, she has no money.”

                “That’s her fault,” John said. “If she’d kept in line, she’d still be here.”

                “True,” I said. “Well John, I’d better be going.”

                “Alright. See you next time,” John replied.

                As I drove home, I thought about the disfellowshipping process. The person was brought before three elders, faced the charges, and then punished accordingly. Disfellowshipped ones were not to be spoken to, helped, or contacted in any way. “And people like Rachel, I don’t think it will take long for her to get back in line,” I said to myself. Those who repented were often welcomed back into the organization sometime later. I had faced that committee of three elders once myself: until I finally dropped all contact with my born-again uncle. He had been a JW, but was converted…

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Eins Zwei Drei

(Originally Three People)

“Well,” I stated as we pulled up to the church that evening, “look at that: We’re the only ones here except for the Pastor and his family and David and his wife.”  

                We climbed out of the car and headed for the church.  

                “Good evening, Amos,” Pastor greeted us as he opened the door.

                “Good evening,” I replied.

                “Amos,” David stated. “Mr. Short-hand.”

                “I guess that’s my conference name now, eh?” I asked.

                “Well, it fits, don’t it?” David asked.

                “Perhaps,” I replied.

                We talked for several minutes, while others began arriving. Then, as six o’clock neared, the pianist began the prelude.

                “Good evening,” Pastor Mast opened the service. “Let’s open with a word of prayer.”

                Everyone bowed his head.

                “Father we thank You for this day and for the safety we’ve had today. We thank You for allowing us to meet here tonight, and we pray You will bless  this service. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

                We carried on much the same as the morning, and then Peter Burkholder stood up to preach.

                “Well good evening again,” Peter began. “Let’s take our Bibles to 1st Corinthians 10:32. 1st Corinthians 10:32:

                “‘Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:

                “My topic tonight is ‘Three People’,” Peter announced. “Today in the Church, there is another theological view called Replacement Theology. This theological position often trails along with these twisted views of eschatology that we’ve been looking at.

                “Replacement Theology states that the Church has replaced Israel, and all the promises of blessing made to Israel are now for the Church.

                “Replacement theologians will take you to Matthew 23:38 for example and tell you, ‘Jesus told the Jews their house is left desolate. You see? That means that Israel is done!’ Or they’ll tell you that all denunciations of the Pharisees and rulers of Israel is automatically a denunciation of all of Israel. They will take you to Matthew 21:31, where Jesus tells the Pharisees that the publicans and harlots enter the kingdom of God before them. Or they will take you to Matthew 21:43 where Jesus says, ‘Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof’ and say this proves God is done with Israel. Or, they’ll even take you to Romans 11:17-36 where Paul discusses being grafted in, and they’ll say, “You see? We have been grafted in! The Bible literally says we’re the spiritual Israel.’”

                Several laughed.

                “Yes, we are literally the spiritual Israel,” Peter replied. “I have heard people say it, perhaps not in that simple of language, but that’s the basic point of what they say. And then they’ll say, ‘God’s Words—not mine.’

                “But let’s take a look at the Bible and see what ‘God’s Words’ really say,” Peter stated.

                “Let’s begin here in 1st Corinthians. Paul says, ‘Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:’. Offend ‘neither…the Jews, nor…the Gentiles’—if you’re not a Jew you’re a Gentile—nor…the church of God.’ Now, you’d have to be blind to not see these three divisions: Jews, Gentiles, and church of God. Paul didn’t say, ‘the Church and the unsaved’; he said ‘Jews…Gentiles…church of God’. Sounds like Israel and the Church are two separate people to me.”

                “Amen!” someone shouted.

                “Turn over to Genesis 17,” Peter continued. “Here God talks to Abram, changes his name to Abraham, and promises to give him a son. Then in verse seven, God says, ‘And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.’ Verse thirteen, ‘He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.’ And verse nineteen, ‘And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.’ ‘Everlasting covenant’. Folks, everlasting means everlasting; not ‘I’m establishing this covenant with you until I DECIDE WHEN TO QUIT IT!’

                “Let’s turn to Exodus 3:15,” Peter stated. “‘And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.’ If this is God’s Name forever and His memorial unto all generations, I’d guess that God’s Name is still ‘the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’.

                “Turn to Psalm 105:10,”  Peter stated. “Here David writes, ‘And confirmed the same unto Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant:’. I’m just skipping around, giving you a sample. David describes the covenant God made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (who is Israel, you know) as an everlasting covenant. It isn’t very everlasting if God now gives the promises to the Church.

                “Oh, by the way,” Peter began, “have you ever noticed Replacement theologians always want to take the blessing and never the curses? Just a thought.”

                Several laughed.

                “Turn back to Ezra 3:11,” Peter resumed. “Ezra 3:11, ‘And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.’ God’s ‘mercy endureth forever toward Israel?’ How does this work?   

                “How about Nehemiah 9:31? Here Nehemiah says, ‘Nevertheless for thy great mercies’ sake thou didst not utterly consume them, nor forsake them; for thou art a gracious and merciful God.’ If God hadn’t forsaken them then, why would He forsake them now?

                “You say, ‘Well, yes, but they’ve rejected the Messiah.’ So what? They had to reject Jesus in order for Him to die, as Daniel 9:26 and Isaiah 53 state. Replacement theologians apparently forgot that small, insignificant detail.”

                Laughter rippled across the room.

                “Let’s take a look at Jeremiah 31 and then we’ll close,” Peter stated. “Jeremiah 31. First the prophet starts off with recording what God says; starting in verse three: ‘The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.’ Oops! There’s that word everlasting again!. ‘Everlasting love’; interesting. God then goes on to describe the restoration of Israel from verse four to verse seven. Then, all of a sudden, God declares—well, some people think Satan brought Israel back in ’48. Satan wouldn’t have anything good to do with Israel, as far as that goes, but at any rate—God says, He will bring them back. ‘He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock.’ God scattered Israel, as Deuteronomy 28 says, and now, God says, HE will gather them.

                “If we continue on in this chapter,” Peter continued, “you’ll see God describes a spiritual restoration; that is, He will restore Israel’s spiritual condition to holiness to the Lord. Oh, by the way: Guess what? God speaks of two restorations, a physical, and a spiritual, and then guess what? He splits it into two separate parts! WOW! Maybe those ‘wicked’ dispensationalists are right after all!”

                The congregation broke into applause.

                “There’s a story told,” Peter continued, “about this chapter. The story is that a preacher was trying to reach the Jews in the area, so he advertised his next sermon would be ‘How to Destroy the Jews’. Well, come Sunday, the Church was crowded: Muslims, Calvinists, Catholics, Protestants, Replacement theologians, etc. And there on the front row, where most people don’t sit, were rabbis, and Jewish reporters, and the Anti-Defamation League and finally, when the pastor got up to preach, he said, ‘Take your Bibles and turn to Jeremiah 31:35-37,’ and began reading. When he got done reading, one rabbi nudged a friend of his and said, ‘I think it’s going to be okay.’”

                Everyone laughed.

                “In conclusion,” Peter stated, “most of you here probably just watch movies; Antoine and I have worked on a couple of films, and here’s something to think about: In any type of drama, whether film or theatrical, you can only do one scene at a time. And sometimes you have to have an actor step away in order for another actor to take over. Then, when the second one has his part done, the first one comes back to work.

                “The same is true here: God, the Director of the film of life, has sent Israel back-stage while the Church carries out her job, and then, when God’s ready, He will send the Church back-stage and Israel will return to the front.

                “So let’s remember Jeremiah 31:35-37,” Peter concluded:

                “‘Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name: If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever. Thus saith the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD.’”

A Knock on My Door

            Knock! Knock! Knock!

I looked up from my chair where I was reading the paper to my door. Sighing to myself, I got up and went to the door.

“Good evening, sir,” the stranger began. “This is my wife, Tracy, and my name is Keith. We’d like to share a truth with you from the Bible.”

My mental red flag shot up into the sky. Jehovah False Witnesses, I thought. Out loud I asked, “Are you from the Kingdom Hall in town?”

“Yes,” Keith answered.

“Well let me ask you,” I replied. “Who is your final authority?”

“The Bible,” Keith promptly answered.

“Well then,” I said, “take your Bible and turn to Isaiah 9:6.”

“Isaiah 9:6,” Tracy muttered.

“Now,” I said, “the Watchtower Society published the King James up until 1949, so they must agree with it, right?”

“Yeah,” Keith reluctantly agreed.

“Okay,” I said. “So since they agree with it, let’s read Isaiah 9:6:

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

“Turn to Isaiah 7:14,” I said, not wanting them to comment. Continue reading