Ignorance of the Word of God marks us as prey.
Bane levels the weapon Neo had brought into the ship's hold at Neo, finger on the trigger.
Neo: "What do you want??"
Agent Smith (as Bane): "I want what *you* want..."
Agent Smith (as Bane): "Yes... that's it, Mr. Anderson. Look past the flesh. Look through the soft gelatin of these dull cow eyes, and see your enemy..."
Agent Smith (as Bane): "Oh yes, Mr. Anderson."
Neo: "It can't be...!"
Agent Smith (as Bane): "There is nowhere I can't go. There is nowhere I can't find you."
Neo: "That's impossible...!"
Agent Smith (as Bane): "Not impossible. Inevitable. Goodbye, Mr. Anderson."
In life, we will encounter those who masquerade as friends long enough to get in range of vital organs and strike, as Smith hoped to do to Neo in The Matrix Revolutions. Of these, some are even unaware of the damage that will be wrought upon those organs, ignorant of even an intention to do any harm. They are ignorant because they wield reinforced lies; dipped liberally in corrupted biblical truth for tensile strength. They then wield their lies with abandon, and have done so for so long and with such efficiency that they can neither distinguish their lies from the truth, nor see how their efforts will cause the unending torment of so many souls.
Today, if he shows up at my door, I will tell one of these enemies of my soul that I both know him for who he is and precisely why. I will tell him that he and all of his ilk are unwelcome in my home, that his cover is completely blown, and I now know him for both who he is and to whom he belongs.
It took years of research to reach this place. What I have learned I will now share with you, that you may never fall victim to these purveyors of lies.
Had I not, in my quest to know the truth, been earnestly praying to God, and *trusting* Him, to allow me to both learn what is true *and* prevent me from being deceived, I may very well have been devoured by these people.
The purpose of this portion of my blog is to arm those who follow Jesus with what is required to ward these people off... people who are successful because their prey is ignorant of God's Word. I will put here the sum total of nearly two years of sojourning with these wolves which masquerade as shepherds, that you may see your enemy who inhabits their clean, polite veneer.
"For such men are false Apostles, workers of deceit, making themselves seem like Apostles of Christ. And it is no wonder; for even Satan himself is able to take the form of an angel of light." 2 Corinthians 11:13-14
Well... Grandma was right, as usual.
I remember, as a young fella of about 10 and later as a teenager, my grandmother admonishing me to stay away from two things like the plague:
1) Stay away from tarot cards.
2) Beware of those who call themselves Jehovah's Witnesses.
The first I disobeyed as a result of peer pressure at a birthday party in 1985. All of my friends, having received no such warnings, gleefully had readings done on them. I, well aware of my admonishment, declined, and after excessive badgering failed to stand my ground. I deeply regretted it. The reading was so horrendous, speaking of the loss I knew I would suffer so accurately, that the tarot reader, remorseful at having ignored my repeated requests to abstain only to reveal disaster, took me into their kitchen alone to attempt to comfort a 14 year old who felt an utter fool and was bitterly angry at the pressured betrayal.
The second... well... when I see her again, Grandma can't say she didn't warn me. She can and *will* likely say she told me so.
For anyone who reads this and never met the woman, permit me a moment to give a few of my grandmother's innumerable qualifications.
1) She was personally responsible for my memorizing the Books of the Bible in order from the age of 4.
2) She was personally responsible for ensuring that I knew and spent time every summer with my cousins, who because of their Islamic faith were estranged from the bulk of the family while her husband had been alive.
3) She stayed after me throughout my young life, checking in on me right when I needed a course correction most, counseling me to keep seeking God's face no matter what situation I found myself in.
In short, this woman defined what love really means. When she went to her rest in 2003, there was no question in the mind of anyone who knew her, from the minister who conducted the funeral to all those assembled, as to where her soul would be found when the Almighty resurrects those who followed God.
"Don't listen to the Jehovah's Witnesses," she said. "They are lost."
Some folks always gotta learn to ice skate uphill, though.
I wasn't trying to go out like that, either.
In the face of being a husband and father of 3, I was faced with an unavoidable dilemma. Having been raised in a church whose doctrine betrayed both the collective souls of all of its followers, and my family in particular (as I have told elsewhere in the chapter entitled Betrayer), I was cast adrift, aware in my heart that I was still wholly responsible for the spiritual development of my family, and would stand before God and account for it someday.
My resulting quest to find a church home was filled with dead ends, and firsthand introduction to truly dangerous men feasting on their congregations. Someday I will discuss my time in Creflo Dollar'$ World Changer$ Mini$trie$. No, my "s" key works just fine.
But I digress...
My grandmother died less than a year before my first child was born. But she had met my wife, and she and I had the chance to talk together at length before she passed. She was a fervent listener to Dr. Charles Stanley's television broadcast, and as his First Baptist Church is located in the city where I live, she suggested that I attend his church. I did, and found his message to be closer to the scriptures than anyone else I had seen who was on display, when his political views and opinions were not lacing the sermons. When they did, I found myself in agreement more times than I was not. So when my daughter was about 2, I began taking her with me.
But my temple was not occupied by the Spirit of the Lord. So I was not worshiping Him with my life, nor was I submitting my entire will to Him. So it was inconsistent, as I had selfish pursuits that demanded my time away from work and sleep, and I permitted those things which satisfied my flesh to hold dominion over me.
So in the end I stopped attending that church. It was too far from the suburb where I lived. It was too much of a nuisance to find Julia a dress that fit her. It was too much to think that the 4 of us at the time would be able to consistently make the trip with our small people. I had too much World of Warcraft gaming to do...
Full of myself. Full of excuses. Full of Pride and all it's dominion.
And full of paranoid fear of dying in my sins. Full of knowing that my attempts to live a good life were going to get the gates of heaven slammed shut in my face like everyone else with the hubris to delude themselves thus. Full of my grandmother's warnings being ignored. Full of preached "Whats" and devoid of any "Hows". I was failing myself, my wife, my children. They deserved better from me.
Excuses, excuses, excuses.
Into the midst of this soup of fear and loathing, the Jehovah's Witnesses showed up at my door.
I had taken pride, in my youth, at being able to gun these people down at my door with one question:
"If only 144,000 people will be saved, and y'all have been around long enough for there to be millions of you, what's the point?"
I remember being 14 and saying this to a couple of ladies at the iron wrought glass doors on Bainbridge Street, and watching them frown, look at each other, and turn around and walk back down the steps.
Nearly 25 years removed from that event, I hit this man (we'll call him Smith...) in the head with the same question.
Smith answered truthfully.
"That isn't the meaning of the 144,000. If you were told that by any other Witnesses, or they could not answer it, they should not have been at your door."
Smith was the first to show that he was serious about speaking to someone who was not a lemming by passing that simple litmus test, and as such had earned the right to hold spiritual conversation with me, as far as I was concerned. He opened his "bible" (lower cased and in quotes for reasons that I will be very clear on here) and showed me what the 144,000 represent.
I was frank with him. I told him of my church history... that I was not someone who had no exposure to the church or the Bible, but the son of a preacher--in fact the son of a long line of preachers. I told him of the grandmother who loved me and showed it in her dedication to her life with Jesus, of her devotion to seeing to it that her grandchildren knew the Books of the Bible and Scripture verses at an age where most people discredit a child's ability to absorb such things.
Smith was patient. He listened to me describe them as villains I was warned to steer clear of, and seized on the fact that I did not know *why* I was to steer clear of them.
"Jesus replied, 'Your mistake is that you don't know the Scriptures, and you don't know the power of God." Mark 12:24
Ignorance of the Word of God marks us as prey. And once a predator smells it on the wind, they will attempt to surround and hem us in with all the tricks they possess, to first fatten us and lull us into a sense of security, before devouring us.
He gave me his issues of the Watchtower and Awake!, and returned the following week to talk some more. He introduced me to his wife and other members of the local Kingdom Hall over the course of the next year; all of them polite, all of them knowledgeable in their faith. They pointed out discrepancies in the doctrines of the church; some of which I knew, many of which I had been completely unaware, casting in iron my growing distrust for the church and its myriad truths exchanged for outright lies.
At every juncture, with each new piece of information, I made Smith stop, at times unable to initially accept much of what he claimed. Some of it was so far outside of the realm of what every other church that claimed to follow Jesus declared in their doctrines that I immediately rejected it. I would tell him that I would research what he said thoroughly, using God's Word and recorded history.
But my ignorance was a known quantity now, and their lies were so well mixed with truth as to be indistinguishable most of the time. They *know* their faith, in a way that church goers by and large never even strive for, let alone reach. They take some of the Bible's precepts on how a church is supposed to conduct itself and truly put it to practice--their children read from their "bible" and from their own more detailed version of the Watchtower right there in the Kingdom Hall along with them. The Halls are small in number, everyone is accountable to one another, and they show love for one another using a format closer to what the Apostles employed in the early church to anything I have seen before or since, so the indoctrination permeates the entire building full of worshipers. They practice spreading their teaching in the same manner, and adhere to real truths within the Word, which makes them well disciplined.
Bane and Neo struggle over the weapon. Bane is disarmed. Neo gains the upperhand, grabs Bane by the throat and beats his face with the other. Bane, struggling, reaches for a live electrical conduit, grabs hold of it, and burns it into Neo's face, whereupon Neo screams and covers his eyes in agony. Bane recovers and realizes that the weapon, just at Neo's feet goes ignored. Neo removes his hands to reveal eyes burned and cauterized. Bane smiles and backs away from Neo.
Agent Smith (as Bane): "You should see yourself, Mr. Anderson."
Neo stumbles toward him, completely blind. Disappearing into a dark adjoining room, he is taunted into following.
Agent Smith (as Bane): "Blind Poseidon... You're a symbol for all of your kind, Mr. Anderson. Helpless. Pathetic." Hefting a pipe and brandishing it in preparation to swing at the approaching Neo, he continues, "Just waiting to be put out of your misery..."
But eventually, the ability to use sleight of hand with one who earnestly prayed every day to learn the truth and not be deceived failed Smith, and the lies began to expose themselves, and the facades erected in answer became flimsy, and then non-existent.
Exposed Lie of the Jehovah's Witnesses Number 1: Threefold:
a) The Romans did not crucify Jesus upon a cross, but a stake--a single piece of wood; and
b) that σταυρός (stauros) referred only to one piece of wood in ancient Greek, not the two which form the cross shape.
c) There were no references to a cross at all for the first 3 centuries of Christianity; until Holy Roman Emperor Constantine had his "In Hoc Signo Vinces" ("with this as your standard you shall have victory", or the more well known, "In This Sign, Conquer") vision... a two greek letters Chi and Rho juxtaposed upon one another in what became called the Christogram.
I remembered the "IHS" symbol on the cloths covering every church altar, in both Nazarene and Babylon... I mean, Plymouth UCC, and learning that in confirmation class that the monogram stood for the first three words of In Hoc Signo Vinces. The detail lent credence to their accusation by virtue of my own feelings of betrayal.
But in all things, I prayed for the truth, whatever it was. And not to be deceived.
Then, I read the following:
"Seneca the Younger, who was born around the same time Jesus was, and who died in AD 65, indicates that the word "crux" was applied to crosses with a transom: "I see crosses there, not just of one kind but made in many different ways: some have their victims with head down to the ground; some impale their private parts; others stretch out their arms on the gibbet." The word here translated as "gibbet" is "patibulum", properly speaking, the crossbeam that, at least in Rome, the condemned criminal was forced to carry on his shoulders to the place of execution and to which he was then nailed or bound.
And between 100 and 200 A.D., "Lucian, Celsus, and Origen himself use the verb "ἀνασκολοπίζω", which originally meant "to impale", of the crucifixion of Jesus. It was considered synonymous with "σταυρῶ", which also seems to have originally meant "to impale", and was applied also to the gibbet of Jesus' execution; but the shape of the gibbet is compared by Origen to that of the letter Τ.Pseudo-Lucian too, in the final words of his Trial in the Court of Vowels, identifies the shape of the σταυρός with that of the letter Τ. And, as already mentioned, in Prometheus on Caucasus he describes Prometheus as crucified "with his hands outstretched".
I also read: "The second-century Odes of Solomon, probably by a heterodox Christian, includes the following: "I extended my hands and hallowed my Lord, /For the expansion of my hands is His sign. /And my extension is the upright cross (σταυρός)."
And this: "Like the Epistle of Barnabas, Justin (Martyr (100-165 A.D.) saw the stretched-out hands of Moses in the battle against Amalek as foreshadowing the cross of Jesus: "If he gave up any part of this sign, which was an imitation of the cross (σταυρός), the people were beaten, as is recorded in the writings of Moses; but if he remained in this form, Amalek was proportionally defeated, and he who prevailed prevailed by the cross (σταυρός). For it was not because Moses so prayed that the people were stronger, but because, while one who bore the name of Jesus (Joshua) was in the forefront of the battle, he himself made the sign of the cross (σταυρός)."
All written at most well over 100 years before Constantine was even born, the first by a man born during the reign of Caesar Augustus just as Jesus was, and witness of the Siege of Jerusalem 38 years after the Jesus' death, resurrection, and ascension. All written by Greek scholars well versed in the language of scholars and the meaning of the words they wielded, all very explicit on the shape of the gibbet upon which the Son of God was crucified.
All documented proof that their threefold lie was just that; a damnable fabrication!
Exposed Lie of the Jehovah's Witnesses Number 2: Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, was not also God, has no deity, and should not therefore be worshiped, but was merely the first creation of God.
I almost bought their reasoning. Their quoting how Jesus said 'The Father is greater than I" in John 14:28 was used to infer that He supported their view.
That was before I read 6 Chapters previous in the same Book, ""I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!"" John 8:58.
I AM. The same timeless phrase used by the Father when He instructed Moses on what to say to Pharaoh. A breakdown of the Hebrew words in the original text describes this further: "It is important to observe the distinction between the two verbs. Abraham's life was under the conditions of time, and therefore had a temporal beginning. Hence, Abraham came into being, or was born (γενέσθαι). Jesus' life was from and to eternity. Hence the formula for absolute, timeless existence, I am (ἐγώ εἰμι)."
You can not be from eternity to eternity and not be God, because only Almighty God Himself reserves that condition for Himself; "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End." Revelation 22:13 Jesus spoke those words in John Chapter 8 in the temple, and *that* was when the people, who had been called children of the devil already, decided to stone Him. He had declared His identity as God right there in the Temple of Jerusalem. Another lie brought to ruin by the Word of God.
Bane swings for Neo's head when he get's within range... and misses as Neo ducks under it. Stunned, Bane swings again, only to have his arm blocked, the arm twisted and locked in Neo's own. The shocked expression on Bane's face is met with Neo's burned eyesockets staring into him.
"I can see you..."
Whereupon Neo kicks Bane's legs from under him, steals the weapon from his hand, breaking the arm that held it in the process, and aims a sure blow to the kneeling Bane's head.
The Witnesses pull this off because these people have committed a crime worse than that done by Thomas Jefferson with his own Bible, snipping out what he couldn't stomach.
These people simply wrote their own Bible, a project they began in the 1950s and completed the first edition in 1961, and each time they come across a discrepancy with their theology, they just change... THEIR "bible" to fit the theology. The resulting blasphemous collection of pages they call The New World Translation.
The website GotQuestions.org (http://www.gotquestions.org/New-World-Translation.html) addresses this in succinct fashion thusly:
"The New World Translation is unique in one thing – it is the first intentional systematic effort at producing a complete version of the Bible that is edited and revised for the specific purpose of agreeing with a group's doctrine. The Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Watchtower Society realized that their beliefs contradicted Scripture. So, rather than conforming their beliefs to Scripture, they altered Scripture to agree with their beliefs. The “New World Bible Translation Committee” went through the Bible and changed any Scripture that did not agree with Jehovah’s Witness’ theology. This is clearly demonstrated by the fact that as new editions to the New World Translation were published, additional changes were made to the biblical text. As biblical Christians continued to point out, Scriptures that clearly argue for the deity of Christ (for example), the Watchtower Society would publish a new edition of the New World Translation with those Scriptures changed."
The article goes on to cover specifics, with knowledge of the uses of classical Greek and the verses they bastardized. Some they modified tenses, or removed capitalizations. Some words they omitted altogether, as in the case of John 1:1, which in actual Bibles reads, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." In their sodium saccharin New World Translation, this says, "In the beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god."
They added an article that was not in that place in the Greek, and diminished the value of the word "God" to lowercase, ignoring the sentence structure and meaning of the Greek, "kai theos en ho logos" or, "and God was the Word."
Who would check the Greek and verify these people? People don;t even read their Bibles, so why would they do something even harder and check these people's claims? Who would learn the language and the sentence structure?
If a seeker of the truth would truly SEEK it, they would read in 2 Timothy 2:15 that we are to STUDY to show ourselves approved, as a workman that need not to be ashamed, RIGHTLY dividing the word of truth.
But we don't!
THEY KNOW THAT WE ARE JUST AS AGENT SMITH SAID. HELPLESS! PATHETIC! JUST WAITING TO BE PUT OUT OF OUR MISERY!
Through gritted teeth, Agent Smith whispers, "It's not over, Mr. Anderson... it's not over..."
Neo swings the pipe. Bane's skull is shattered. The spirit of Agent Smith inhabiting him scatters into bits of code.
See your enemy.
Post Script: It is Saturday night. The Jehovah's Witness is a no-show. I am Steven's sense of dull surprise.
But I'm patient.