[Quotes from the Watchtower, including their New World Translation, are in blue.]
In the April 15, 1999 article, The Only Way to Everlasting Life, the WT asks “what.. is the only way to everlasting life?” and answers by quoting Rom. 6:23, “The gift God gives is everlasting life by Christ Jesus our Lord”, and John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” Sounds good! Yet in the same paragraph the WT makes the following understatement, “Jesus has an important role relative to [the] way.” Didn’t Jesus say, “I AM the way”?
The article goes on, “This provision of God should make us so happy! Are you not thrilled that a Savior has been provided?” And then it holds forth paradise on earth, the only option available to Witnesses today. There are several unbiblical doctrines in this article and, as usual, one of them is the doctrine of salvation by works. The title of this article should really be, “When a Gift is Not a Gift”! Listen to the WT:
“Would you expect to receive God’s grand gift of everlasting life in Paradise without any effort on your part? Is it not reasonable that God would require something? Surely it is.” The reader thinks, “Well, I thought a gift was free but… hmm.. I suppose it is reasonable God would require something…”
Notice, the WT’s criteria is human reason, “is it not reasonable …”? As a matter of fact, it is reasonable, according to human reason. The whole human race works on the merit system. What is so astounding about the Christian Gospel is that it is not based on the merit system! And what is so amazing about it is that it is based on “grace” [“God’s riches at Christ’s expense”]. Even the WT translates “grace”, “undeserved kindness” but if God “requires” something for the gift it is not “undeserved”, is it? It isn’t a gift at all! (“Sweetheart, I have a gift for you; now get your wallet, dear.”)
The WT continues in this article, “God does not, in effect, just throw the gift at us.... effort is involved.”
So when the WT asks the reader [above], “Are you not thrilled that a Savior has been provided?” the poor reader feels guilty, knowing he should be ‘thrilled’ yet he isn’t, and he doesn’t understand why. Dear reader, let me tell you why you don’t feel “thrilled”. All the good things God showers on you in the Scriptures they quote, the WT has taken away!
But let us set aside the WT’s human-based reasoning and see what is biblical, rather than what is “reasonable”. What does God’s Word say? The WT quotes some of these references and then goes on and ignores them, as though they mean nothing, as though God needed the WT to edit them.
This is God’s Word:
Romans 3:23-24, “for all .. are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
Ephesians 1:7, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace.”
2 Timothy 1:9-10, “who has saved us and called us to a holy life-- not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.”
Romans 10:20, "I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me." God is the initiator.
Revelation 22:17, “whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.”
Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Romans 4:4-5, “Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.”
The WT says, “You may ask the same question the rich young ruler asked Jesus: ‘What good must I do in order to get everlasting life?’ or that the Philippian jailer asked Paul, ‘What must I do to get saved?’” (The WT means to imply by this that you certainly must “do” something to “earn” everlasting life. The WT fails to recognize that the problem was precisely that, asking what they must do. In the case of the rich young ruler Jesus used the Law to show him his sin that he might recognize his inability to keep the Law. As for the Philippian jailer Paul told him one thing, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved”.
To support their idea of human effort in salvation, the WT’s Bible says “taking in knowledge” when the Bible says, “that they may know [you]” and “exercising faith” when the Bible says “believe”. Check that in the WT’s Kingdom Interlinear translation of the Greek Scriptures.
The WT’s article continues adding one requirement after another. “Taking such steps is completely reasonable... Staying on this cramped road takes real effort!”, says the WT. Little by little the promised gift disappears and the despairing sinner has no hope of everlasting life.
Here’s the problem: The WT puts the cart before the horse. Sinners who are spiritually dead cannot offer God anything! They are dead. It is God who “made us alive [past tense]” (Eph. 2:4,5). Only after a person receives faith, and with it everlasting life, as a gift is there any possibility of good works flowing from that faith. And those works are by the Holy Spirit’s operation in and through believers. They are not meritorious toward salvation but are the fruit of it. Paul was adamant, Rom 3:28 - “we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.”
Everlasting life is a gift, conditioned on only one thing, faith. And faith comes by hearing the Word of God, Rom. 10:17.
“The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Rom. 6:23.
That is the Good News: Everlasting life based on God’s grace in Christ. It goes against all human reason, and the merit system so ingrained in fallen mankind.
Rom. 11:6 “And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.”
To the WT’s question, “Is it not reasonable that God would require something?” the Bible’s answer is, Yes, God does require something - he requires a sacrifice, and he gave that sacrifice Himself, in His Son. Since God has paid for it, you receive it as a gift!
“The gift of God is everlasting life”! It is yours by faith in Christ.
Written by Greta Olsoe