Letter to a Jehova Witness friend over their denial of the physical resurrection

Dear Cliff,

Thanks for taking the time to write and answer me.  One thing I appreciate is that your handwriting is more legible than mine. Also, I enjoyed reading your arguments.  Though I didn’t agree with them, they were put together well and your usage of scripture was not lacking.  I would like to reply by presenting a few arguments from the scriptures, and then I’ll deal with any scripture left over.  I’ll try to keep it short (Ha Ha).

About the photo copies, whenever I read or hear someone make a claim against any group of people, be it Mormons, Methodists, Catholics, or whoever, I always try to write for documentation. I don’t want to be called a false accuser any more than I want to be called a false prophet.  To me, there is no way disseminating false information can bring glory to God.

First, a quick historical note that I think you might find interesting.  Historically the only groups that have denied the physical resurrection of Christ, were the Gnostics, such as Marc ion and liberal “Christian” groups such as deny the reliability of the Bible itself.  I know you are a Bible believer; therefore, I don’t think you would have much to do with those who deny God’s Word.  I also don’t think you have much in common with the early Gnostics.  They were clearly heretics, denying the virgin birth, believing that God of the New Testament, was a different God than the God of the Old Testament, and on and on.  That is why I think the 1874 date of Russell and Barbour is important.

I believe Russell and Barbour first prophesied a visible return of Jesus, and when that didn’t take place, then they discovered the invisible return of Jesus.  Remember, an invisible return necessitated an invisible resurrection.  A similar event happened in 1840.  The Adventists predicted a visible return of Christ. When Christ didn’t show the second time they had predicted it, they went into despair.  However, a short time later one of them came up with the idea that Jesus hadn’t come to earth on that date, but instead He had come into the “Heavenly Tabernacle” and was now investigating His Church from there.  That was 150 years ago, but their still holding to that belief. (in other words, they invented their theology to disguise their failed prophecy, and Pastor Russed appears to have done the same thing) But enough history.

One of the problems I have is that Jesus Himself clearly states in the scriptures that the sign of His authority would be the resurrection of His body.  In John 2:18-22, the Jews asked Jesus, “What sign do you show us, seeing that you do these things?” Jesus answered, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.”  The Jews thought He was talking about the temple buildings, but John himself informs us, “He spoke of the temple of His body.”  In other words, the body would be crucified than buried for three days than raised again (resurrection).

Similarly, Jesus said in John 10:12-19 that He would surrender His soul or physical life that He might take it up again.  In Acts 2; 25, Peter preached that Jesus could not be kept dead, and that His “flesh rested in hope” of resurrection. My question is this:  if the flesh of Jesus was going to be disposed of or dissolved in gases, in what hope did it rest? Also, if Jesus said His body would be destroyed and then raised in three days and that didn’t happen, wouldn’t that make Him a false prophet?

First Corinthians 15 does not state that the “natural body” is going to be disposed of, but rather changed.  “This Perishable (body) must put on the imperishable, and this mortal (body) must put on immortality” verse 51, 52, 53.  As Paul states in Philippians 3:21, Jesus “will transform the body of our humble state…”  That is to say, our mortal, natural bodies of perishable flesh and blood must be transformed into bodies of supernatural, immortal “flesh and bones” like Jesus had in Luke 24:39.  This chapter states that mortal must become immortal, and furthermore, perishable become imperishable etc..  It does not say that the material must become immaterial or the visible become invisible.

Paul the Apostle clearly believed that the man Jesus was alive in “The Heavenlies” as He states in 1 Timothy 2:5 and in Acts 17:31. Also, he told spirit begotten believers that the Spirit “would give life to your mortal bodies.”

Paul believed in a physical resurrection; see Romans 8:11 and Romans 8:23.  Of course, you could interpret these verses in a way that would cause Paul to contradict himself and make himself, and make David (Psalms 16:9) a false prophet.  This would lead us to believe that Jesus was both a false prophet (John 2:19) and a deceiver (Luke 24:39).  This would hardly be considered good Bible exegesis, especially when in the two other places Paul uses the term “flesh and blood,” he seems to use it as a euphemism or figure of speech for “mortal” or “natural man” (see Galatians 1:16 and Ephesians 6:12).

For example, in Gal. 3:16, when Paul was called by God to preach Jesus among the Heathen, he says, “I conferred not immediately with “flesh and blood” (mortal or natural man). And in verse 12, “he didn’t receive his Gospel from natural man, but it was revealed to him supernaturally by the revelation of Jesus Christ.”  In Eph. 6:12, Paul warns us that we “wrestle not against ‘flesh and blood’ (Natural Man) but against (supernatural) principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world.” Good scholarship requires recognition of figures of speech and euphemisms in context and doesn’t grab at any word out of context to confuse or mislead people.

In the Watchtower book, You Can Live Forever In Paradise On Earth, page 167, they say “the religious leaders could not stop God’s Son from coming out of the tomb.”  I whole heartedly agree, but there is one problem:  who or what came out of the tomb?  If the man Jesus is dead forever and His body disposed, what came out of the tomb?  If Jesus the man is forever dead; then, He didn’t come out of the tomb.  And if His body was disposed of, it

couldn’t have come out of the tomb either.  Jesus’s spirit wasn’t laid in the tomb.  He had already commended that into the hands of His Father (Luke 23:46).  Besides that, spirits don’t die, nor was a spirit crucified for us–that was the man’s work.  Again I ask, What came out of the tomb?  It is true:  religious leaders of that day couldn’t stop God’s Son from coming out of the tomb, but what did they do?  They concocted a story.  They said “the man Jesus hasn’t risen; someone stole his body!”  They couldn’t stop His resurrection, but they could deny it.  (See Matthew 28:39)

(In essence the Watchtower is saying the same thing, only that God stole the body and disposed of it instead of the Jewish leaders)

 

Here also is the problem of moral deception.  No one can look squarely at Jesus’ resurrection appearances and deny that Jesus tried to convince the skeptical and doubting disciples that He had risen in the same body He had been crucified in.  He said “Look at my hands and my feet, it is I myself.  Touch me and see; a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have” (Luke 24:39).  This would be an odd statement for one who was trying to reinforce the idea that He was a “spirit being.”  Rather, it sounds more like He was trying to reinforce the idea that He is not a spirit being.

Again we see the same thing in John 20:27.  Jesus says, “Put your finger here, see my hands, reach out your hand and put it into my side.  Stop doubting and believe.”  What did he want Thomas to believe?  Did He not say of the others who believed the same thing:  “Blessed are they who did not see and yet believed?”  If Jesus’ resurrection body were only immaterial, than He was knowingly and intentionally misleading His disciples.  In other words, He was lying.

One must admit, if Jesus did produce counterfeit bodies, they were very effective!  The Apostles, actually, bought the idea that Jesus had risen bodily.  They believed the physical proofs He offered them; they had seen Him, they had touched him, and they had even eaten with Him and believed these things to be “many infallible proofs” (Acts 1:3) of his resurrection.  The result was that they began to preach “with great power” the resurrection of the Lord Jesus (Acts 3:33).  The fact they preached a visible bodily resurrection is obvious in the book of Acts.

For example, Peter was preaching in Acts 2:31, “he seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ; that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.  This Jesus hath God raised up, wherefore we are all witnesses.”  Verse 36 says, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know that God hath made that same Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ.” In like manner, Paul says in Acts 13: 29-30, “They took Him down from the cross and laid Him in a sepulcher (tomb), but God raised Him from the dead.” It was his body, Cliff that was nailed to the cross and laid in the tomb, obviously then, it was his body that God raised up again. Are we to believe that these apostles in believing and preaching these “convincing proofs” were being deceived by their Messiah?  They said this man Jesus was raised up and we are his witnesses.

This brings us to the problem of verification.  This is, if His body is not raised visibly, than His return is not visible either, and we are opened to any number of claims of His return. He may have come back in 1840, or 1881, or 1874, or 1914, or 1955, or 1975 for that matter.  Though an invisible return may be difficult to prove, and almost impossible to disprove (after all, He is invisible), a visible return would remove all doubt from everyone’s minds–believers and unbelievers, that He had returned.

Another interesting note is that many scholars think that the present tense participle used in Second John 7 includes not only His coming in the flesh for His earthly ministry, but also His future coining as well.  “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus as coming in the flesh, this is the deceiver and the Antichrist” (2 John 7).

As you mentioned in your letter, it is true that angels materialized and ate as men.  In fact, Yahweh or Jehovah Himself does this in Genesis 18:1-33, but He and the angels alike did this in order to communicate with men, not to prove they had risen from the dead.  Nor had they physical bodies prior to their time of visitation.  Besides, Jesus Himself explicitly denied being a spirit (Luke 24:39).

Peter states that Jesus was ” made alive by the Spirit or in the Spirit” ( 1 Peter 3:18); it can be translated either way.  It does not say he was made alive “as a spirit.”  If this kind of language is to be translated or interpreted that way; then, we would have to believe all the Christians in Rome were spirits, too!  According to Paul, these Christians were not in the flesh, but in the spirit.  “But if by the Spirit you put the deeds of the body to death, you shall live” (Romans 8:13).  Also examine other scripture references of “in the spirit,” such as Revelation 1:10, Galatians 5:25, and Ephesians 6:18.  You will find that “in the spirit” is never translated as ” a spirit being.”  Remember, Jesus’ spirit never died.  He said He would raise Himself from the dead (John 2:19, 10:18).  His spirit never died and therefore needed not to be made alive again.  It was His body that needed to be quickened.

In Revelation 1:7, the ones “which pierced Him” is referring to the Jewish Nation,who, along with the Romans, crucified Him. Here John is making a clear reference to, Zech. 12:10-13, a prophetic Messianic passage speaking of the Lord’s return to Jerusalem when:  “they will look upon me whom they pierced” and “mourn for Him as one mourns for an only son.”  This is speaking of a literal return to a literally regathered nation (See Zech. 10: 8,9).  John tells in John 19: 34-37, that the reason Jesus was pierced with a spear was so that Zech. 12:10 could be fulfilled at the Advent of Christ. Verse 37 quotes the actual Old Testament prophecy of Zech. 12:10.

 To be Honest, I was mildly amused that the writer of the Watchtower used Acts 1:11 as a “proof text” for Jesus’ invisible resurrection and return.  In what “manner” did the disciples see Jesus go into heaven?  He ascended in a physical, visible body form.  According to the Angels, It is exactly in that same manner in which Jesus is going to return.  In fact, Justin Martyr used this scripture verse to prove the resurrection of the flesh almost 1,900 years ago.  He said, “When he (Jesus) had thus shown them that there is truly a resurrection of the flesh, wishing to show them this also, that it is not impossible for flesh to ascend into heaven … He was taken up into heaven while they beheld, as he was in the flesh.”

Justin Martyr (A.D. 110-166) “On the Resurrection” A.N.F., Chapter 9, page 298

Yours truly, Mark

 

 

 

 

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About notmanynoble

woodcutter from Washington State
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3 Responses to Letter to a Jehova Witness friend over their denial of the physical resurrection

  1. Tony J. Bowe says:

    Great letter, Mark! Once again I am inspired by your continual commitment to the Scriptures for all facets of your beliefs. There most certainly is power in the Word!

    Fun read!

    Like

    • markho says:

      Thanks Ton, you’re too kind. Well, since the physical resurrection is one of the two foundational beliefs of the Gospel, it certainly is worthy to be defended. If you don’t believe in the physical resurrection, you don’t believe the Gospel. (Rom.10:9) Paul says “if you confess with the mouth the Lord Jesus Christ, and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you Will be saved.” He then implies that calling on Jesus as Lord is the same as calling on Yaweh or Jehova as Lord which is why he quotes Joel 2:32, “all that call on the name of the LORD will be saved” and Isaiah 28:16 (LXX), ” whoever belives in Him wil not be put to shame”. Awesome, the two rocks of salvation being the physical resurrection and the Diety of Christ Jesus. Sola Scriptura, Sola Dei Gloria. Hey, you might check out Bodie Hodge’s ar ticle at aig on “how to respond to a repeat offender”. In the feedback section. He’s the man.

      Like

  2. Tony J. Bowe says:

    Yes! I sent that link to the Bodie Hodge article to Abby last night! Great stuff! Bodie really is the man….

    Like

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