A Closer Walk
Written by John Carson
Can we draw close to God? The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (WT) published a book called, “Draw Close to Jehovah”. In it they teach:
“Jehovah invites us to draw near to him. He is ready and willing to receive us into his favor as friends. At the same time, he promises that if we take steps to draw close to him, he will take corresponding action. He will draw close to us. Thus we may enter into something truly precious—“intimacy with Jehovah.” ....“Intimacy” conveys the idea of confidential talk with a special friend.” (Pages 16-17)
When the WT uses the word “intimacy” in this context, are they using it to mean “a close, familiar, and usually affectionate or loving personal relationship with another person”? (Definition taken from Dictionary.com). It certainly appears this is what they are trying to convey. What a wonderful thought... that we can have a loving personal relationship with our Creator God! But let’s not jump too quickly to the conclusion that this is what they mean. What does the WT mean when they say God will “take corresponding action” if people “take steps to draw close to him”? Does the WT teach they can truly have a loving relationship with Jehovah God through their works, or are they talking about something entirely different when it comes to having “intimacy with Jehovah”?
When I think of intimacy, sometimes I picture those times when my wife and I would hold hands on a date, or when I walk alongside a close friend while sharing things that are dear to our hearts. Intimacy involves connection. The WT however, is not talking about these same types of close relationships I just described when they speak of intimacy with God.
A JW might interject with, “I love Jehovah, and he loves me! Look, it says, “Intimacy conveys the idea of confidential talk with a special friend.” How can that not be the same type of closeness you described?!”
I want to be sensitive here. I would never try to trample on another person’s feelings, but many of us know people who have “fantasy relationships” with others they really do not know. The feelings may seem very real, but they are based on something that is not true to reality. If you are a JW reading this, my hope is that you place those emotions to the side for now, and examine whether you truly have a relationship with your Creator. Why am I saying this? Because there is no comparison between a bond based on a relationship that can truly exist, and one that can never actually exist. You cannot experience real genuine intimacy with someone who can never actually be with you.
The god of the WT can never actually draw close to anyone here since (according to their teachings) his presence is elsewhere (see also: Jehovah Lives Where? to learn more about what the WT taught). This is one of the biggest divides between Biblical Christianity and the WT. Biblical Christianity teaches God can actually be with you... the WT teaches God cannot be with you in a real sense. In WT theology God’s presence is limited. They teach God is not omnipresent (everywhere present); that his actual presence is elsewhere in a particular location .... not here. So they teach God uses an impersonal active force to allow his will to be known here on Earth, and through it he has knowledge of what goes on here as well. (More can be said about this “impersonal active force”. See: That's The Spirit!) But what about this “confidential talk with a special friend” they are describing? Isn’t that intimacy with God? No.
Perhaps this analogy will help. Social media, such as Facebook, is a way to “connect” with others. But is this really a great way for people to connect intimately? Let’s make a comparison. Which one of these demonstrates intimacy?
Someone reading, liking and commenting on a “friend’s” Facebook post....
.... taking a trip to see a friend or relative and embracing each other.
Obviously the second conveys actual intimacy. Why am I making these comparisons between social media and personal contact with God? Because actual intimacy requires actual connection. To JWs, God is not here, nor can He ever actually dwell here. Here are a few WT quotes that may help:
“Jehovah God is a real person and that he dwells, not everywhere, but only in heaven.” (From: Bible Questions Answered - Does God Live in a Specific Location?)
“God is able to see everything and to act anywhere he chooses. (Proverbs 15:3; Hebrews 4:13) However, the Bible does not teach that God is omnipresent—that is, present everywhere, in all things. Instead, it shows that he is a person and that he resides in a dwelling place.” (From: WT’s Bible Questions Answered - Is God Everywhere, Omnipresent?)
“But is he omnipresent? Is God everywhere, or is he a person with a specific dwelling place? ... he has a literal place of dwelling, and.... he is a person, not simply an indefinable force that resides everywhere.... he is an individual, with a specific place of dwelling...” (From: Awake! (March 8, 2005) Page 20)
How can JWs believe their god has a specific place of dwelling? Didn’t Jesus say, “God is spirit” (John 4:24)? Yes. It is very important that you do not confuse the god of the WT with the God of the Bible. Biblical Christianity teaches God in His essence is without form (see for example: Luke 24:39; Romans 1:20; Colossians 1:15; 1 Timothy 1:17). However, the WT teaches their god does possess a form... a spiritual body:
“It is true that “no man has seen God at any time” and that “God is a Spirit.” (John 1:18;4:24) But this does not mean that he is without any type of body or form. The Bible tells us: “If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual one.” (1 Corinthians 15:44). So does Jehovah have a spiritual body? Yes.” (From: The Watchtower (February 1, 2009) - Is God a Real Person?)
Note: 1 Corinthians 15:44 is talking about the believers’ future resurrected glorified body. There is no reference to Almighty God‘s nature in this verse.
This god that possesses a spiritual body JWs believe in, has a literal specific place of dwelling.... and it’s not here. Why then is it important for JWs to win their god’s favour through their own efforts if they can never enjoy his actual presence? They believe this world is all they’ve got. They believe they cannot go to be with God, nor can God actually come here to be with them. But if they prove to be worthy, they believe they can continue living on Earth when God changes it to be a “Paradise Earth”. They believe they can enjoy intimacy with others who also prove themselves worthy to dwell on a replenished Earth. Their efforts of obedience therefore, are not so they can dwell with God, but so they can be with others who are also obedient.
This is a great tragedy! The greatest relationship of all is missing.... actual fellowship with the Almighty God! If God’s presence can never actually be here, how could Earth ever be called a Paradise? It is not a Paradise where God does not dwell.
The Bible is replete with Scripture passages that clearly show you can actually draw close to God. God is not limited in any sense. He is so much closer than what the WT would have you believe. The God of the Bible created you so you can experience an actual intimate relationship with Himself.... forever!
Read these beautiful Scripture verses:
“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).” (Matthew 1:23)
When Jesus was on earth, it was God actually dwelling with us!
“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me.” (Psalms 139:7-10)
God is indeed omnipresent! God is not limited to one place. No! He is right there with you while you are reading these words. You can know Him intimately. How?
“Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”” (Luke 23:42-43)
Where our Lord is, is Paradise! Jesus was sent to Earth, not just so the thief hanging on the cross beside Him can enjoy intimacy with God, but so you can too!
“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” (John 17:24)
Jesus prayed that those who belong to Him will be with Him to enjoy His presence! We, who belong to Christ, will see His glory! How can you belong to Jesus?
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,” (John 1:12) “but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31)
In Genesis 3:3, God said the day that Adam and Eve would eat of the forbidden fruit, would be the day they would surely die. They ate of the fruit and death did occur that day. How? God no longer walked with them. They were dead in regards to their relationship with God. Jesus came here to die so we may have life... so that the broken fellowship may be restored to those who believe in Jesus’ name. Those who receive Jesus have the authority to become God’s children. It’s all because of Jesus!
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
This life with God is eternal. Yes, you can experience true intimacy with God! But this life can only come through a relationship with Jesus Christ.
“And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:11-12)
Yes, you can have a closer walk with God! God created this day so you can enjoy His presence. This abundant life is in His Son. Intimacy with your Almighty Creator God is only a prayer away. Ask Jesus to reveal Himself to you so you can receive Him and walk intimately with God.
“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” (Hebrews 4:7)
From early Watchtower writings, the location of where God lives was taught. See Jehovah Lives Where? for more information.
For information on the difference between the Jesus of the Watchtower and the Jesus of the Bible, go to our Watchtower page: Jesus