Does God Count You Personally Important?
1, 2. How do we know that God does not view people as a mere “faceless” mass, but is interested in every individual?
HOW does God view humankind? As just a mass of persons, or as individuals? Or does he bestow his favor upon a selected and certain group and ignore the rest?
2 To God, every person is important as a distinct individual. (Acts 17:26, 27) He “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4, Revised Standard Version) The apostle Peter, seeing God’s acceptance of Gentiles into the Christian congregation, exclaimed: “For a certainty I perceive that God is not partial, but in every nation the man [the individual person] that fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him.”—Acts 10:34, 35; 15:8, 9.
3. How did Jesus Christ demonstrate that he has the same consideration for every individual as does his Father?
3 Jesus Christ was sent by God to give himself “a corresponding ransom for all.” (1 Timothy 2:6) He ‘tasted death for every man.’ (Hebrews 2:9) Would it then be logical for God’s Son to have an unconcerned attitude, saying, in effect: ‘I gave my lifeblood for everyone, but of what importance is this one person? Whether he loses his life or not makes no difference to me’? Never! Each individual will receive attention, with opportunity for life.
4. What position does Jesus Christ occupy as to the human race, and how did he receive this position?
4 Because of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice, he is mankind’s “repurchaser.” Jehovah God, by reason of his Creatorship, owns the human race. But as children of rebellious Adam, they have been “sold under sin,” as “slaves of sin.” (Romans 7:14; 6:16, 17) As such they need to be reconciled or brought back into good relationship with God. (Romans 5:10) In order to help them, Jesus had to buy them, to become their new family head or father, the “last Adam,” because the first Adam did the selling of them into sin. (1 Corinthians 15:45) This legal transaction was foreshadowed in the law of Moses, at Leviticus 25:47-49.
5. (a) How did Jesus come to have “authority to do judging”? (b) What kind of judgment does he render?
5 Accordingly, God has given Jesus Christ “authority to do judging, because Son of man he is.” (John 5:27) That is, becoming a human on earth in the likeness of men but without sin, Jesus became their near relative with the right and the price to repurchase mankind. (Philippians 2:7; Romans 8:3) His title “Son of man” denotes this. (Hebrews 2:11, 14, 15) As a wholly just judge, he does not slight anyone. He said: “The judgment that I render is righteous, because I seek, not my own will, but the will of him that sent me.” (John 5:30) Therefore he does not judge according to outward appearance nor does he judge people ‘en masse,’ but according to each person’s own circumstances and attitude.—Isaiah 11:3, 4; Hebrews 4:15.
6. How do the apostles Paul and Peter emphasize the individualness of God’s dealings?
6 God’s dealings, particularly his use of Jesus Christ, reveal that he wants all people to come into a position that will enable them to receive his blessing. This includes wrongdoers as individuals. The apostle Paul wrote to those who were practicing wrong things: “Do you despise the riches of his kindness and forbearance and long-suffering, because you do not know that the kindly quality of God is trying to lead you to repentance? . . . And he will render to each one according to his works.” Also, the apostle Peter called attention to the individualness of God’s dealings when he referred to Him as “the Father who judges impartially according to each one’s work.”—Romans 2:4-6; 1 Peter 1:17.
OPPORTUNITY FOR EVERYONE
7. Why is it the wrong viewpoint for a person to say he is too bad to be recovered and to become a servant of God?
7 However, someone may say: ‘There is no use for me to try now to serve God. I am so bad that I can’t be recovered. There’s no hope for me.’ It is a serious mistake to think that way. Of course, no one is worthy, on his own merit, of any consideration from God. (Romans 5:6-10) If perfection were required, everyone would be eliminated. But through his kindness, God has recorded examples to show that he will not reject any repentant person, regardless of his past bad works. He requires only that the person be willing to learn what to do and make sincere effort to come into harmony with Him.—Isaiah 1:18; Revelation 22:17.
8-10. (a) Give two examples that are comforting to persons who have done wrong but who want to turn to God. (b) How do Ezekiel 33:14-16 and Colossians 3:5-8 show that what counts with God is what we are doing now, not what we have done in the past?
8 The apostle Paul was such an example. He was formerly involved in the actual murder of Christians. (Acts 7:58, 59; 9:1, 2) Paul himself says: “Faithful and deserving of full acceptance is the saying that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Of these I am foremost. Nevertheless, the reason why I was shown mercy was that by means of me as the foremost case Christ Jesus might demonstrate all his long-suffering for a sample of those who are going to rest their faith on him for everlasting life.”—1 Timothy 1:15, 16.
9 King Manasseh of Judah was another example of a very bad man. He took the lead in bringing the nation into extreme idolatry and rebelliousness against God. The nation never recovered. (2 Kings 21:11, 16) But Manasseh himself, in later times, repented and his prayer was accepted by God.—2 Chronicles 33:11-13, 16, 17.
11. Can a person, by his own righteousness, or by living up to the Ten Commandments or the Mosaic law, earn God’s favor and life?
11 On the other hand, no person should think that by his own goodness or righteous acts he will receive God’s favor. (Romans 3:10) He would thereby be denying the fact that he is a sinner. (1 John 1:8-10) Such a misled individual is rejecting Christ’s sacrifice as unnecessary. It is an attempt to be self-righteous by works—to ‘obligate’ God to accept him because of his own personal ‘goodness.’ (Romans 4:2-8) Persons who have this attitude are not really serving God, but are setting their own standard in place of God’s. The futility of this effort was proved by the Jews who tried to get righteousness through the Mosaic law.—Romans 10:1-3; Hebrews 10:1, 2.
12. How did Jesus demonstrate that God does not show partiality, or help only those with money or position?
12 Nor does God favor only a certain class of people. Did not his Son, Jesus, have a feeling for all? Or did he, for example, use his healing power only on his favorites, or on those who could give him money? No, there are many accounts of crowds of people coming to him with all forms of sickness, and he cured them all.—Matthew 14:14.
JEHOVAH’S ‘ATTACHMENT’ TO THOSE SERVING HIM
13. What examples do we have in Abraham and others of the intensity and constancy of God’s love?
13 Jehovah is always willing to grant his help and his love to anyone who will receive it. And the intensity and constancy of his love are far greater than we are able to express toward others. Note God’s love for Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who were imperfect men but who served him wholeheartedly. Centuries later Moses told the nation of Israel: “To your forefathers did Jehovah get attached so as to love them.” (Deuteronomy 10:15) He put up with the nation’s stubbornness for centuries because of this love.—Deuteronomy 7:7, 8.
14. Can an individual who calls on God in sincerity and truth confidently expect God’s help?
14 Jehovah’s love is just as great and lasting for those who serve him today. (Romans 8:38, 39) He is, so to speak, watching for an opportunity to “get attached” to anyone who calls on him in sincerity and truth. (James 4:8) “As regards Jehovah,” says the Bible, “his eyes are roving about through all the earth to show his strength in behalf of those whose heart is complete toward him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9) “His ears are toward their supplication.”—1 Peter 3:12.
15. As Jehovah God views us, what is he looking for?
15 As Jehovah views the earth and sees the many distresses that men undergo, he has a deep feeling for humankind. His desire is to help them. Though he does not ‘turn a blind eye’ to wrongdoing, he is not looking for people’s faults, but for their good points. (Psalm 130:3) He ‘remembers that they are dust.’—Psalm 103:14.
16, 17. (a) How did Jesus show that he really wanted to help people? (b) How do Jehovah and his Son feel toward people today?
16 When on earth, God’s Son was anxious to use his power to help people. When a leper said to him: “If you just want to, you can make me clean,” Jesus “was moved with pity, and he stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him: ‘I want to. Be made clean,’” and so he cured him.—Mark 1:40, 41.
17 Jesus’ healing of people who came to him for help was accompanied by deep feeling. In the same way God and his Son are at this time showing concern and love to anyone who has paused in the affairs of everyday life to give consideration to the good news about God’s purpose. Are you right now looking into God’s Word in a genuinely searching way to find out more about him? If so, this in itself is a proof that he is interested in you. How can this be said with assurance?
WE MUST HAVE GOD’S HELP TO UNDERSTAND
18, 19. (a) If a person sincerely inquires into God’s Word, how will he receive help? (b) Why do we need the help of God’s spirit?
18 This statement is true because God sees some goodness of heart in anyone sincerely inquiring into his Word. As a result, he opens that one’s mind to understanding. Jesus said: “No man can come to me unless the Father, who sent me, draws him.” (John 6:44) You cannot understand the purposes of God without the help of God’s spirit, his invisible active force, which can influence and direct your mind.
19 The apostle Paul wrote: “No one has come to know the things of God, except the spirit of God. [That is, God’s spirit is essential for transmitting God’s thoughts and purposes to us.] Now we received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God, that we might know the things that have been kindly given us by God.” (1 Corinthians 2:11, 12; compare Acts 16:14.) If you did not have this help, then the confusion of this world, its lack of faith and its spirit, which is in opposition to God, would overcome you, for “faith is not a possession of all people.”—1 Corinthians 2:14; 2 Thessalonians 3:2.
20. How deep is God’s appreciation of the person who is diligently trying to learn of and serve him?
20 In this responding to your effort to get understanding, God is displaying another fine quality toward you. That quality is appreciation. You no doubt have and express appreciation for good things that others do for you. But the appreciation that humans feel is far less deep and heartfelt than God’s appreciation of those who show faith in him and who have respect for his Word. He rejoices in them. Jesus even spoke about joy in heaven over one sinner that repents or forsakes wrong things in order to please God. (Luke 15:10) Why, Jesus said that a person giving just a cup of cold water to one whom he recognized to be a servant of God would by no means fail to be rewarded. (Matthew 10:42) God observes and appreciates each one who respects his name and treats his people kindly. So, his heart and his help go out to that person.—Consider the example recorded at Mark 14:3-9.
21. How did certain Gentile persons in Asia Minor show what our response should be to God’s kindness?
21 We, in turn, should rightly show appreciation for God’s kindness in helping us to know about his purpose and in giving us the opportunity to get everlasting life. A person should be thankful that God has seen fit to allow him to be like the people to whom Paul preached in one city in Asia Minor. There the Jews, who claimed to serve God, opposed the truth. But the record states: “When those of the nations [Gentiles] heard [of the opportunity to be accepted by God], they began to rejoice and to glorify the word of Jehovah, and all those who were rightly disposed for everlasting life became believers.” (Acts 13:48) Those people appreciated God’s kindness. This appreciation helped them to be the kind of people God is pleased to accept.
RESURRECTION, A PROOF OF GOD’S INTEREST
22. How does Jehovah’s provision of a resurrection show that he has a very deep interest in individuals?
22 A strong proof of God’s interest in every individual is his provision of a resurrection for “the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Acts 24:15) In order to resurrect a person, God has to know everything about him. Only with this information can God bring back the same person with the same personality, so that the individual will be himself and recognize himself. This means that God must restore every detail of the person’s makeup. This would include his appearance, his inherited traits, the influence that environment and experience have had on him, along with his complete memory. What interest and care this demonstrates!
23, 24. (a) What remarkable record of a person can puny men make that helps us to see how easily God could resurrect an individual? (b) What about his remembering and resurrecting people who have been dead for thousands of years?
23 Someone may say, ‘That seems impossible.’ But even today men can make a videotape or moving picture of a person. Then, even after he is dead, they can project it on a screen and see the actions and movements of the individual, along with hearing his voice. Hundreds of details are recorded. If men can do this, cannot God, with whom “all things are possible,” have a record of the thousands of details that make up a personality?—Matthew 19:26; Job 42:2.
24 Even we, as imperfect humans, know many details about a close friend so that we can describe him with fair accuracy. Yet, with the passage of time the image grows dim. God, with his far greater insight, knows completely every detail of all persons. He knows what is in the hearts of all. (Hebrews 4:13) Moreover, even if one is dead for centuries, God’s memory of that person does not fade.—Job 14:13-15.
25. Does the resurrection include people who have not been buried in a grave, but have been lost at sea, eaten by animals, and so forth?
25 Consequently, the billions of people in the grave are yet in God’s mind in clear detail. (Proverbs 15:11) Even those who have not been buried, but who have been destroyed in the sea, or by burning and otherwise, are just as vividly in his memory.—Revelation 20:13.
26. What did Jesus mean when he spoke about Jehovah as ‘the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,’ and then said: “He is a God, not of the dead, but of the living, for they are all living to him”? (Luke 20:37, 38)
26 As to those whom God purposes to resurrect, Jesus said: “He is a God, not of the dead, but of the living, for they are all living to him.” (Luke 20:38) His power and wisdom make his purposes so certain that he “makes the dead alive and calls the things that are not as though they were.”—Romans 4:17.
27. How can we be sure that Christ has been given the authority and power to resurrect the dead?
28. (a) How can we respond with appreciation to the things Jehovah has done for us? (b) Should any normal person feel that he is mentally incapable of learning Jehovah’s purposes from the Bible?
28 Could anyone rightly say, then, that God and his Son are not interested in him? Do such care and interest on Jehovah’s part find a response in your heart? You can express appreciation to him by learning more about him and by encouraging others to do so. And your learning about him will be in proportion to the sincere effort you put forth in getting knowledge of him. He will supply you with the “intellectual capacity” to do so.—1 John 5:20.
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Does God view humans simply as a mass of faces? . . .
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. . . Or is God interested in us as individuals?
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Men can make films that preserve the actions and voice of a person long after his death. God remembers even more, and he can resurrect the dead