The Work of True Religion
RELIGION that God approves conforms to God’s requirements, and does the work he set out for it. Otherwise, it is not true religion.
What, then, is the work of true religion?
Among its outstanding responsibilities is the work that God’s Son Jesus Christ assigned to his followers, saying: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations . . . teaching them.” And showing the particular message that they should preach, Jesus also said: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations.” (Matt. 28:19, 20; 24:14) While doing this work, the Bible shows, those who practice ‘religion that is clean from the standpoint of our God’ must keep themselves “without spot from the world,” not showing the world’s spirit or meddling in its political affairs.—Jas. 1:27.
Are the churches doing that? A tract sponsored by the Foreign Mission Board of the Brazilian Baptist Convention, which could well apply to all world religion, admits:
“When Jesus left his disciples . . . he gave them only one job. That was to evangelize the world. . . . The truth is that we are doing everything else except the one thing that He ordered us to do . . . We have not taken the Gospel to the whole world. We have not carried out His orders.”
This failure of the churches to preach the “Gospel” in all the world is apparent to many. When social historian Will Herberg was asked recently whether the churches were fulfilling the needs of the people, he said: “I don’t think most churches ever did, in the sense of their one legitimate religious function: preaching the Gospel.”—U.S. News and World Report, June 4, 1973.
Why have the churches failed to do the work that God’s Son assigned to his followers? Is it simply a matter of unintended oversight of responsibility? No, for as two ministers pointed out regarding the largest federation of religions in the United States:
“The National Council of Churches does not have as its primary objective the preaching of the gospel . . . It has become an ecclesiastical power bloc, aiming for a powerful super-church.”
Yes, the churches have deliberately failed to carry out God’s will to preach the “good news” of his Kingdom rule. Instead, they have deeply involved themselves in the political affairs of the nations. And they have directed their peoples to put their hopes in the governments of men for lasting peace.
What, then, about the work that Christ said that servants of God would do? Is anyone doing it?
Religion That God Uses
God’s Word never goes unfulfilled. The “good news of the kingdom will be preached,” just as Jesus prophesied. God is today using a religious people to do this worldwide Kingdom preaching. But they are a people separate and distinct from those religions that have identified themselves as part of the world and supporting its aims. Who are they?
Jesus explained one way they could be identified, saying: “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.” (John 13:35) When you think of all the religious groups you know, which one stands out notably because its members have genuine love among themselves?
There is a religion that is noted outstandingly as bearing that fruitage of love. The Sacramento Union of July 9, 1965, editorially commented regarding them: “Suffice it to say that if all the world lived by the creed of the Jehovah[’s] Witnesses there would be an end of bloodshed and hatred, and love would reign as king.”
But are Jehovah’s witnesses doing the work of true religion? Are they making disciples of peoples of all nations in obedience to Christ’s command? Are they preaching the good news of God’s kingdom?
Church of Scotland minister Arthur G. Gunn, writing in his church paper, noted: “Everyone who joins the Jehovah’s Witnesses becomes a minister, and must go from door to door testifying. In this respect they point out,” Gunn acknowledged, “our most glaring weakness, the failure of our rank-and-file to preach the Gospel.”
Yes, the zeal of Jehovah’s witnesses in preaching the Kingdom gospel often amazes others. Leo Pfeffer wrote in the book Church, State & Freedom: “Their aggressive missionary tactics are reminiscent of those employed by the early Christians.” The very purpose of Jehovah’s witnesses, as the charter of their legal corporation declares, is “to preach the gospel of God’s kingdom under Christ Jesus unto all nations as a witness to the name, word and supremacy of Almighty God JEHOVAH.”
That is their aim. But are Jehovah’s witnesses really accomplishing it? Are they preaching the gospel on a scale that is in fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy? How extensive really is their preaching?
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DID YOU KNOW THAT . . .
● Last year Jehovah’s Christian witnesses were active in preaching the good news of God’s kingdom in 208 countries and islands of the sea?
● They devoted 291,894,945 hours talking to other people about the good news, and this without pay?
● They made 135,898,447 return visits on persons who showed interest in Bible truth?
● Regularly each week they conducted free Bible studies in 1,269,277 homes?
● They distributed in their ministry last year 217,109,764 copies of “The Watchtower” and “Awake!”?