“You are shown to be a letter of Christ written by us as ministers.”—2 COR. 3:3.
[Study 41 from ws 10/20 p.6 December 07 – December 13, 2020]
Over the next 2 weeks, the Watchtower addresses the topic of how a Christian is to go about preparing a bible student to get baptized. How to Conduct a Bible Study That Leads to Baptism—Part One is the first installment.
As we review this Watchtower study article please consider if the criteria outlined in the Watchtower’s article applied to:
- The 3,000 who were present at Pentecost 33CE (Acts 2:41).
- To the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:36).
- Or to those baptized in John’s ministry who had never heard of Holy Spirit or Jesus, who then immediately got baptized in Jesus name, and received holy spirit. (Acts 19:1-6).
Paragraph 3 reads “To address the urgent need to make disciples, branch offices were surveyed to find out how we can help more of our Bible students progress to baptism. In this article and in the one that follows, we will see what we can learn from experienced pioneers, missionaries, and circuit overseers.“.
You will notice that no attention is drawn to biblical examples, instead only to the advice of successful JW’s. There is nothing wrong with sharing best practices from modern-day examples of successful evangelists. However, we must make sure we are not going beyond the inspired examples preserved for us in scripture and adding to the burden of our fellow Christians (Acts 15:28).
Paragraph 5 reads, “On one occasion, Jesus illustrated the cost of becoming his disciple. He spoke about someone wanting to build a tower and about a king wanting to march into war. Jesus said that the builder must “first sit down and calculate the expense” to complete the tower and that the king must “first sit down and take counsel” to see whether his troops can accomplish what they intend to do. (Read Luke 14:27-33) Likewise, Jesus knew that a person who wants to become his disciple should analyze very carefully what it means to follow him. For that reason, we need to encourage prospective disciples to study with us every week. How can we do that?”
The read scripture in paragraph 5 is taken out of context especially by ignoring verse 26. (Luke 14:26-33) Was Jesus talking about taking months or years to make the decision to get baptized? Was he describing a need to study and learn about doctrines and traditions? No, he was illustrating the need to identify what our priorities in life are and then identify the challenges we will face in changing those priorities. He is being direct and upfront about the deep sacrifices ahead of those who choose to become his disciple. That all else including family and possessions would need to be considered a lower priority if they became an obstacle to our faith.
Paragraph 7 reminds us that “As the teacher, you need to prepare well for each Bible study session. You can begin by reading the material and looking up the scriptures. Get the main points clearly in mind. Think about the title of the lesson, the subheadings, the study questions, the “read” scriptures, the artwork, and any videos that may help explain the subject. Then with your student in mind, meditate in advance on how to present the information simply and clearly so that your student can easily understand and apply it.”
What do you notice about the focus of paragraph 7? Is it the Bible or the Organization’s study material? Is the encouragement to review other scriptures relevant to the material or just accept the cherry-picked scriptures cited in the Watchtower material that is used to support their interpretations?
Paragraph 8 continues ”As part of your preparation, pray to Jehovah about the student and his needs. Ask Jehovah to help you teach from the Bible in a way that will reach the person’s heart. (Read Colossians 1:9, 10.) Try to anticipate anything that the student may have difficulty understanding or accepting. Keep in mind that your goal is to help him progress to baptism.”.
Does Colossians 1:9-10 encourage you to pray so that you are able to teach in a way to reach someone’s heart? No. It says to pray that they be filled with knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. These are gifts that God pours out by means of holy spirit (1 Corinthians 12:4-11). God alone can reach our hearts and persuade us of his will (Jeremiah 31:33; Ezekiel 11:19; Hebrews 10:16). Paul makes it clear that he made no attempts to anticipate how to persuade others through logic and reason to become believers. Only after someone was spiritually mature did he engage in deeper doctrinal reasoning (1 Corinthians 2:1-6).
Paragraph 9 tells us “It is our hope that through a regular Bible study, the student will appreciate what Jehovah and Jesus have done and will want to learn more. (Matt. 5:3, 6) To benefit fully from the study, the student needs to concentrate on what he is learning. To that end, impress on him how important it is that he prepare for each study session by reading the lesson beforehand and reflecting on how the material applies to him. How can the teacher help? Prepare a lesson together with the student to show him how this is done. Explain how to find the direct answers to the study questions, and show how highlighting only key words or phrases will help him recall the answer. Then ask him to give the answer in his own words. When he does so, you will be able to determine how well he has understood the material. There is something else, though, that you can encourage your student to do.”
Again, in paragraph 9 you can note that the focus is on the Watchtower commentary without any mention of the Bible when the student prepares. If your goal is to use logic and reason to convince someone of your doctrine, surely you would want to encourage a critical analysis of the scriptures cited and their support of the Watchtower material?
Paragraph 10 states “In addition to studying every week with his teacher, the student would benefit from doing some things every day on his own. He needs to communicate with Jehovah. How? By listening to and talking to Jehovah. He can listen to God by reading the Bible daily. (Joshua 1:8; Psalms 1:1-3) Show him how to use the printable “Bible Reading Schedule” that is posted on jw.org.* Of course, to help him get the most out of his Bible reading, encourage him to meditate on what the Bible is teaching him about Jehovah and how he can apply what he is learning to his personal life.—Acts 17:11; James 1:25.”
It is interesting to note that while Acts 17:11 is cited to support daily reading of the scriptures, no mention is made in the article of the importance of vetting out what they are being taught.
Paragraphs 10-13 highlight important aspects of building a relationship with God. Daily Bible reading, prayer, and meditation all help us develop a love for our God, but a fundamental piece of the puzzle is missing. Reading the bible is not how we listen to God. God speaks to us through holy spirit. Allowing holy spirit to teach us as we read the Bible and guide us as we pray to God in real-time are experiences promised to all believers (1 Corinthians 2:10-13; James 1:5-7; 1 John 2:27, Ephesians 1:17-18; 2 Timothy 2:7; Colossians 1:9). Nowhere in scripture are these promises reserved for a governing body, or another select group. We cannot build a relationship with our heavenly Father by reading about how he interacted with people in the past. We build a relationship with him by interacting with him through prayer and holy spirit throughout each and every day of our lives.
Did you note the doctrinal contradiction in paragraph 12? There it is stated that you are to teach your student to see Jehovah as a Father. This is contradictory because one of the most fundamental doctrines of the Organization is that God will only adopt 144,000 sons before the millennial reign. If this were true it would be impossible for the majority of Christians to develop a father-son relationship with Jehovah until after the 1,000 years? Is this not an intentional bait and switch since most people who spend any time reading the Bible can easily see that all believers become adopted sons of God. It is only after much indoctrination that a student is prepared to accept their second-class status.
Paragraph 14 states “All of us want our students to progress to baptism. One important way we can help them is by encouraging them to attend congregation meetings. Experienced teachers say that students who attend meetings right away make the fastest progress. (Ps. 111:1) Some teachers explain to their students that they will receive half of their Bible education from the study and the other half from the meetings. Read Hebrews 10:24, 25 with your student, and explain to him the benefits that he will receive if he comes to the meetings. Play for him the video “What Happens at a Kingdom Hall?”* Help your student to make weekly meeting attendance an important part of his life.”
Did you notice the glaring omission is any discussion of building a direct relationship with Jesus? The one we must look to (John 3:14-15), and whose name we must call upon for salvation (Romans 10:9-13; Acts 9:14; Acts 22:16). Instead, we are told we must attend the meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses to “qualify” for baptism.
This teaching is a direct example of what Paul condemned in 1 Corinthians 1:11-13 “For some from the house of Chloʹe have informed me regarding you, my brothers, that there are dissensions among you. 12 What I mean is this, that each one of you says: “I belong to Paul,” “But I to A·polʹlos,” “But I to Ceʹphas,” “But I to Christ.” 13 Is the Christ divided? Paul was not executed on the stake for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?”
All religions today are causing divisions among the global body of Christ. If Paul were writing to us today how easily he could update, “I am for the Pope, I am for the prophet, I am for the Governing Body.” These are all examples of Christians being distracted from Jesus’ message by imposing interpretations by specific men above one another and dividing the body of Christians. Of course, we want to gather together to incite to love and fine works (Hebrews 10:24,25). But we do not need to gather exclusively with a group that has submitted to one man’s (or 8 men’s) interpretations of doctrine to be able to learn about Christ and qualify to be a Christian. We are united as a body by our baptism of Holy Spirit, not our conformity of doctrine.
In next week’s review, we will continue to discuss this topic and dig deeper into the stages of Christian maturity before and after baptism.
Article Contributed by Anonymous