They “Keep Following the Lamb”
“These are the ones that keep following the Lamb no matter where he goes.”—REV. 14:4.
ABOUT two and a half years into his ministry, Jesus “was teaching in public assembly at Capernaum.” Finding his speech shocking, “many of his disciples went off to the things behind and would no longer walk with him.” When Jesus asked his 12 apostles if they also wanted to go, Simon Peter replied: “Lord, whom shall we go away to? You have sayings of everlasting life; and we have believed and come to know that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:48, 59, 60, 66-69) True disciples of Jesus refused to quit following him. After being anointed with holy spirit, they continued to submit to Jesus’ direction.—Acts 16:7-10.
2 What can be said about the anointed Christians in modern times? In his prophecy about “the sign of [his] presence and of the conclusion of the system of things,” Jesus referred to the composite body of his spirit-anointed followers on earth as “the faithful and discreet slave,” or “the faithful steward.” (Matt. 24:3, 45; Luke 12:42) As a group, the slave class has established an excellent record of “following the Lamb no matter where he goes.” (Read Revelation 14:4, 5.) Its members remain virgins in a spiritual sense by not defiling themselves with the beliefs and practices of “Babylon the Great,” the world empire of false religion. (Rev. 17:5) No doctrinal falsehood is “found in their mouths,” and they remain “without blemish” from Satan’s world. (John 15:19) In the future, the remaining anointed ones on earth “will follow” the Lamb right into heaven.—John 13:36.
3 Jesus has appointed the faithful and discreet slave “over his domestics,” that is, the individual members of the slave class, “to give them their food at the proper time.” He has also appointed the slave “over all his belongings.” (Matt. 24:45-47) These “belongings” include the growing “great crowd” of “other sheep.” (Rev. 7:9; John 10:16) Should not individual members of the anointed and the “other sheep” trust the slave appointed over them? There are many reasons why the slave class deserves our trust. Two outstanding reasons are: (1) Jehovah trusts the slave class. (2) Jesus also trusts the slave. Let us examine the evidence that both Jehovah God and Jesus Christ have complete confidence in the faithful and discreet slave.
Jehovah Trusts the Slave
4 Consider what makes it possible for the faithful and discreet slave to provide timely, nutritious spiritual food. “I shall make you have insight and instruct you in the way you should go,” says Jehovah. He adds: “I will give advice with my eye upon you.” (Ps. 32:8) Yes, Jehovah provides direction to the slave. We can therefore have full confidence in the Scriptural insight, understanding, and guidance that we receive from the slave.
5 Jehovah also blesses the slave class with his holy spirit. While Jehovah’s spirit is invisible, what it produces in those upon whom it operates is not. Think of what the faithful and discreet slave has been able to accomplish in giving a worldwide witness about Jehovah God, his Son, and the Kingdom. Jehovah’s worshippers are actively proclaiming the Kingdom message in over 230 lands and island groups. Does that not give undeniable evidence that God’s spirit is empowering the slave? (Read Acts 1:8.) In providing timely spiritual food for Jehovah’s people the world over, the slave class must make vital decisions. In making them and putting them into effect, the slave exhibits love, mildness, and other aspects of the spirit’s fruitage.—Gal. 5:22, 23.
6 To appreciate the extent of Jehovah’s trust in the faithful slave, reflect on what he has promised its members. “The trumpet will sound,” wrote the apostle Paul, “and the dead will be raised up incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this which is corruptible must put on incorruption, and this which is mortal must put on immortality.” (1 Cor. 15:52, 53) The anointed followers of Christ, who serve God faithfully and die in corruptible human bodies, are resurrected as something more than spirit creatures having everlasting life. They are given immortality—endlessness and indestructibility. Moreover, they receive incorruption, being given bodies that are beyond decay and apparently are self-sustaining. Revelation 4:4 describes these resurrected ones as seated upon thrones with golden crowns upon their heads. The glory of royalty awaits anointed Christians. But there is more.
7 “The marriage of the Lamb has arrived and his wife has prepared herself. Yes, it has been granted to her to be arrayed in bright, clean, fine linen, for the fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the holy ones,” states Revelation 19:7, 8. Jehovah has chosen the anointed Christians to be the future bride for his Son. Incorruption, immortality, royalty, “the marriage of the Lamb”—what awe-inspiring gifts these are! They are stirring evidence of God’s confidence in the anointed, who “keep following the Lamb no matter where he goes.”
The Slave Is Trusted by Jesus
8 What evidence is there that Jesus completely trusts his spirit-anointed followers? On the last night of his life on earth, Jesus made a promise to his 11 faithful apostles. “You are the ones that have stuck with me in my trials,” he told them, “and I make a covenant with you, just as my Father has made a covenant with me, for a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Luke 22:28-30) The covenant that Jesus then made with the 11 will extend to all 144,000 anointed Christians. (Luke 12:32; Rev. 5:9, 10; 14:1) If he did not trust them, would Jesus make a covenant that meant sharing his Kingdom power with them?
9 Moreover, Jesus Christ has appointed the faithful and discreet slave “over all his belongings”—all Kingdom interests on earth. (Matt. 24:47) Included among these belongings are the facilities at the world headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses, at branch offices in various lands, and at Assembly Halls and Kingdom Halls worldwide. Included too is the work of Kingdom-preaching and disciple-making. Would anyone assign someone he did not trust to keep and use his valuable things?
10 Shortly before he ascended to heaven, the resurrected Jesus appeared to his faithful disciples and made a promise to them, saying: “Look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.” (Matt. 28:20) Has this promise proved reliable? In the last 15 years, the number of congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide has grown from some 70,000 to over 100,000—an increase of over 40 percent. And what about the new disciples added? Nearly 4.5 million disciples were baptized in the last 15 years—an average of more than 800 a day. These spectacular increases are clear evidence that Christ is directing his anointed followers at their congregation meetings and is supporting them in their disciple-making work.
The Slave Is Faithful and Discreet
11 Since Jehovah God and Jesus Christ completely trust the faithful and discreet slave, should we not do the same? After all, the slave has shown itself to be faithful in doing its assigned work. For example, the Watchtower magazine has been published for some 130 years. Meetings, assemblies, and conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses continue to build us up spiritually.
12 The faithful slave is also discreet in that it neither acts immodestly, running ahead of Jehovah, nor lags behind when God’s direction on a matter is clear. For example, while false religious leaders tacitly approve or openly condone as normal the selfish, godless conduct of the people of the world, the slave provides warnings against the pitfalls of Satan’s wicked system. The slave is able to provide wise and timely warnings because Jehovah God and Jesus Christ are blessing it. The slave thus deserves our complete trust. How, though, can we demonstrate that we trust the faithful and discreet slave?
“Go With” the Anointed as They Follow the Lamb
13 The Bible book of Zechariah speaks of “ten men” who approach “a man who is a Jew” and say: “We will go with you people.” (Read Zechariah 8:23.) Since “a man who is a Jew” is spoken of as “you people,” he is a composite man. In our time, he represents the remnant of spirit-anointed Christians—part of “the Israel of God.” (Gal. 6:16) The “ten men out of all the languages of the nations” represent the great crowd of other sheep. Just as the anointed Christians follow Jesus no matter where he goes, the great crowd ‘goes with,’ or accompanies, the faithful and discreet slave. Those of the great crowd should never be ashamed to identify themselves as companions of the “partakers of the heavenly calling.” (Heb. 3:1) Jesus is not ashamed to call the anointed ones “brothers.”—Heb. 2:11.
14 Jesus Christ considers the loyal support given to his brothers as being given to him. (Read Matthew 25:40.) In what way, then, can those who have the earthly hope support Christ’s spirit-anointed brothers? Principally by helping them with the Kingdom-preaching work. (Matt. 24:14; John 14:12) While the number of anointed ones on the earth has decreased over the decades, the number of the other sheep has increased. When those who have an earthly hope share in the witness work, serving if possible as full-time evangelizers, they support the spirit-anointed ones in fulfilling the disciple-making assignment. (Matt. 28:19, 20) Not to be overlooked are the opportunities to support this work by making financial contributions in various ways.
15 As individual Christians, how do we view the timely spiritual food that the faithful slave dispenses by means of Bible-based publications and through Christian gatherings? Do we gratefully partake of it and readily apply what we learn? What is our response to organizational decisions made by the slave? Our willing obedience to the direction provided gives evidence of our faith in Jehovah’s arrangement.—Jas. 3:17.
16 “My sheep listen to my voice,” said Jesus, “and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27) That is true of the anointed Christians. What about those who “go with” them? Such ones must listen to Jesus. They must also listen to his brothers. After all, the chief responsibility for caring for the spiritual welfare of God’s people has been entrusted to them. What does listening to the voice of Christ’s brothers involve?
17 The faithful and discreet slave today is represented by the Governing Body, who take the lead and coordinate the Kingdom-preaching work throughout the earth. The members of the Governing Body are experienced, spirit-anointed elders. They in particular can be described as “those who are taking the lead” among us. (Heb. 13:7) In caring for over 7,000,000 Kingdom proclaimers worldwide in over 100,000 congregations, these anointed overseers have “plenty to do in the work of the Lord.” (1 Cor. 15:58) Listening to the slave class means giving our full cooperation to its Governing Body.
Those Who Listen to the Slave Are Blessed
18 Since its appointment, the faithful and discreet slave has been “bringing the many to righteousness.” (Dan. 12:3) These include those who have the hope of surviving the destruction of the present wicked system of things. What a blessing this righteous standing with God is!
19 In the future, when ‘the holy city, New Jerusalem [consisting of 144,000] comes down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband,’ what will those who have listened to the voice of the slave experience? “God himself will be with them,” says the Bible. “And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.” (Rev. 21:2-4) By all means, then, let us listen to the Christ and his trustworthy spirit-anointed brothers.
What Did You Learn?
• What evidence is there that Jehovah trusts the faithful and discreet slave?
• What shows that Jesus Christ completely trusts the slave class?
• Why does the faithful steward deserve our trust?
• How do we demonstrate that we trust the slave?
1. How did true disciples of Jesus feel about following him?
2. (a) Who is “the faithful and discreet slave,” or “the faithful steward”? (b) How has the slave established a fine record of “following the Lamb”?
3. Why is it important for us to trust the slave class?
4. Why can we have confidence in the spiritual food served by the faithful and discreet slave?
5. What shows that God’s spirit is empowering the slave class?
6, 7. To what extent does Jehovah trust the faithful slave?
8. How does Jesus show that he has confidence in his spirit-anointed followers?
9. What are included in “all [Christ’s] belongings”?
10. What shows that Jesus Christ is with his anointed followers?
11, 12. How has the slave shown itself to be faithful and discreet?
13. According to Zechariah’s prophecy, how is it possible to demonstrate trust in the faithful and discreet slave?
14. How can loyal support be given to Christ’s brothers?
15. How should individual Christians respond to timely spiritual food from the slave and organizational decisions made by the slave?
16. Why should all Christians listen to Christ’s brothers?
17. What does listening to the slave class involve?
18, 19. (a) How are those who listen to the faithful and discreet slave blessed? (b) What should be our determination?
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Do you know whom Jehovah has chosen to be the future bride for his Son?
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Jesus Christ has entrusted the faithful and discreet slave with his “belongings”
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When we share in the witness work, we support the spirit-anointed ones