God’s Visible Organization
1. What does the Bible say about God’s invisible organization?
WHY CAN WE be certain that God has a visible organization? One reason is that he has an invisible organization. Jehovah created cherubs, seraphs and many other angels to do his will in the heavens. (Genesis 3:24; Isaiah 6:2, 3; Psalm 103:20) Jesus Christ is the Archangel over and above all of these. (1 Thessalonians 4:16; Jude 9; Revelation 12:7) The Bible describes the angels as being organized into “thrones or lordships or governments or authorities.” (Colossians 1:16; Ephesians 1:21) All of them serve at Jehovah’s command, unitedly doing the work he has for them to do.—Daniel 7:9, 10; Job 1:6; 2:1.
2. How does the way that God created our material universe show that he puts great importance on organization?
2 We also get an idea of the importance God puts on organization when we consider his material creations. For example, there are thousands of billions of stars in the universe that are arranged in huge groups called galaxies. These galaxies travel through space in an orderly way, and so do the individual stars and planets within these galaxies. Our planet Earth, for instance, each year makes a trip around the sun, which is our nearest star, in exactly 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 45.51 seconds. Yes, the material universe is highly organized!
3. What does the fine organization among God’s invisible creations and in his material universe teach us?
3 Does this marvelous organization among God’s invisible creations and in his material universe teach us something? Yes, it teaches us that Jehovah is a God of organization. Surely, then, such a God would not leave humans on earth who really love him without guidance and organization.
GOD’S VISIBLE ORGANIZATION—PAST AND PRESENT
4, 5. How do we know that God led his people in an organized way in the days of Abraham and of the nation of Israel?
4 The Bible shows that Jehovah has always guided his servants in an organized way. For example, men of faith such as Abraham led their families and servants in worshiping Jehovah. Jehovah made known his will for Abraham by speaking with him. (Genesis 12:1) And God instructed him to pass this information on to others, saying: “I have become acquainted with [Abraham] in order that he may command his sons and his household after him so that they shall keep Jehovah’s way.” (Genesis 18:19) Here was an orderly arrangement for a group of people to worship Jehovah properly.
5 Later, when the Israelites increased in numbers and became millions, Jehovah did not let each one worship in his own way, separate from any organized arrangement. No, the Israelites were formed into a nation of organized worshipers. The nation of Israel was called “Jehovah’s congregation.” (Numbers 20:4; 1 Chronicles 28:8) If you were a true worshiper of Jehovah back then, you had to be part of that congregation of worshipers, not separate from it.—Psalm 147:19, 20.
6. (a) How did God show that his favor was on Christ’s followers? (b) What evidence is there that Christians were organized for worship?
6 What was the situation in the first century? The Bible shows that Jehovah’s favor was upon the followers of his Son Jesus Christ. Jehovah poured out his holy spirit upon them. To show that he was now using this Christian organization rather than the nation of Israel, he gave certain early Christians power to heal the sick, raise the dead and to perform other miracles. You cannot read the Christian Greek Scriptures without being impressed by the fact that Christians were organized for worship. In fact, they were commanded to meet together for this purpose. (Hebrews 10:24, 25) So if you were a true worshiper of Jehovah in the first century, you had to be a part of his Christian organization.
7. How do we know that Jehovah did not use more than one organization in any particular period?
7 Did Jehovah ever use more than one organization during any period of time? In Noah’s day only Noah and those with him inside the ark had God’s protection and survived the floodwaters. (1 Peter 3:20) Also, in the first century there were not two or more Christian organizations. God dealt with just the one. There was just the “one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” (Ephesians 4:5) Likewise in our day Jesus Christ foretold that there would be only one source of spiritual instruction for God’s people.
8. How did Jesus show that there would be just one visible organization of God on earth in our day?
8 When telling of his presence in Kingdom power, Jesus said: “Who really is the faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his domestics, to give them their food at the proper time? Happy is that slave if his master on arriving finds him doing so. Truly I say to you, He will appoint him over all his belongings.” (Matthew 24:45-47) On his return in Kingdom power in the year 1914, did Christ find a “faithful and discreet slave” class providing spiritual “food,” or information? Yes, he found such a “slave” made up of the remaining ones on earth of his 144,000 “brothers.” (Revelation 12:10; 14:1, 3) And since 1914 millions of persons have accepted the “food” they provide, and have begun practicing true religion along with them. This organization of God’s servants is known as Jehovah’s Witnesses.
9. (a) Why do God’s servants bear the name Jehovah’s Witnesses? (b) Why do they call their places of worship Kingdom Halls?
9 Jehovah’s Witnesses look to God and his Word for direction in all that they do. Their very name Jehovah’s Witnesses shows that their main activity is to witness about the name and kingdom of Jehovah God, even as Christ did. (John 17:6; Revelation 1:5) Also, they call the place where they meet for worship the Kingdom Hall because God’s kingdom by the Messiah, or Christ, is the theme of the entire Bible. Since it is clear that first-century Christianity had God’s approval, Jehovah’s Witnesses pattern their organization after it. Let us look briefly at that early Christian organization and then note the similarities with God’s visible organization today.
THE FIRST-CENTURY PATTERN
10. What were some features of the first-century Christian organization?
10 Wherever there were Christians in the first century, they gathered together in groups for worship. These congregations met regularly for fellowship and study. (Hebrews 10:24, 25) Their main activity was to preach and teach about God’s kingdom, even as Christ did. (Matthew 4:17; 28:19, 20) If a member of the congregation turned to a bad way of life, he was put out of the congregation.—1 Corinthians 5:9-13; 2 John 10, 11.
11, 12. (a) What proves that early Christian congregations received guidance and direction from the apostles and “older men” in Jerusalem? (b) What is meant by “theocratic” direction? (c) What was the result of the congregations’ accepting such direction?
11 Were those Christian congregations in the first century independent of one another, with each making its own decisions on matters? No, the Bible shows that they were united in the one Christian faith. All the congregations received guidance and direction from the same source. Thus, when a dispute arose over the matter of circumcision, congregations or individuals did not decide for themselves what to do. No, but, instead, the apostle Paul, Barnabas and others were directed to “go up to the apostles and older men in Jerusalem regarding this dispute.” When these mature men, with help from God’s Word and his “holy spirit,” made their decision, they sent out faithful men to inform the congregations.—Acts 15:2, 27-29.
12 What resulted from the congregations’ receiving this theocratic, or God-given, guidance and direction? The Bible says: “Now as they [the apostle Paul and his companions] traveled on through the cities they would deliver to those there for observance the decrees that had been decided upon by the apostles and older men who were in Jerusalem. Therefore, indeed, the congregations continued to be made firm in the faith and to increase in number from day to day.” (Acts 16:4, 5) Yes, all the congregations cooperated with what that body of older men in Jerusalem had decided, and they grew stronger in the faith.
THEOCRATIC DIRECTION TODAY
13. (a) From what place on earth and through what body of men does God’s visible organization today receive guidance? (b) What relationship does the governing body have to “the faithful and discreet slave”?
13 God’s visible organization today also receives theocratic guidance and direction. At the headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Brooklyn, New York, there is a governing body of older Christian men from various parts of the earth who give the needed oversight to the worldwide activities of God’s people. This governing body is made up of members of “the faithful and discreet slave.” It serves as a spokesman for that faithful “slave.”
14. Upon what does the governing body of God’s people rely in making its decisions?
14 The men of that governing body, like the apostles and older men in Jerusalem, have many years of experience in God’s service. But they do not rely on human wisdom in making decisions. No, being governed theocratically, they follow the example of the early governing body in Jerusalem, whose decisions were based on God’s Word and were made under the direction of holy spirit.—Acts 15:13-17, 28, 29.
DIRECTING A WORLDWIDE ORGANIZATION
15. Why do Jesus’ words at Matthew 24:14 show that God would have a large organization on earth during the time of the end?
15 Jesus Christ gave an idea of the size of the organization that God would have on earth during this time of the end when he said: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14) Think of the tremendous amount of work needed to tell earth’s thousands of millions of people about the established kingdom of God. Is the modern-day Christian organization, which looks to its governing body for guidance and direction, equipped to do this great work?
16. (a) Why have Jehovah’s Witnesses established many large printing factories? (b) What is produced in these factories?
16 Jehovah’s Witnesses are now preaching the Kingdom message in over 200 lands and islands of the sea throughout the earth. To help the more than 3,500,000 Kingdom publishers (in 1988) to accomplish this work, large printing factories have been established in many countries. Here Bibles and Bible literature are produced in very large quantities. Every working day, on the average, over two million Watchtower and Awake! magazines are printed and shipped from these factories.
17. (a) Why is this Bible literature prepared? (b) What are you invited to do?
17 All this Bible literature is prepared in order to help persons to grow in knowledge of Jehovah’s grand purposes. In fact, the words “Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom” are part of the title of the magazine The Watchtower. You are invited to share in distributing this Bible literature and to explain to others the Bible truths it contains. For example, is there someone with whom you can share the vital information that you have learned from this book, You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth?
18. (a) What kind of organization is God’s organization today? (b) Why do God’s people now need much encouragement?
18 As in the first century, God’s organization today is an organization of dedicated and baptized Kingdom preachers. And it is set up to help all its members to share in this preaching activity. These persons need a great deal of encouragement and spiritual strengthening, since Satan and those whom he is able to influence oppose the Kingdom message. Such opposers had Jesus killed for preaching it, and the Bible warns that his followers would be persecuted too.—John 15:19, 20; 2 Timothy 3:12.
19. (a) Who are provided now to help and to strengthen God’s people? (b) How is the congregation protected from bad influences that could corrupt it?
19 As in the first century so today “older men,” or elders, are appointed to help and strengthen each congregation. They can help you also with Bible counsel to cope with various problems. These elders also protect “the flock of God.” Thus, if a member of the congregation turns to a bad way of life and refuses to change, the “older men” see to it that such a one is put out, or disfellowshipped, from the congregation. Thus a healthy, spiritually clean congregation is maintained.—Titus 1:5; 1 Peter 5:1-3; Isaiah 32:1, 2; 1 Corinthians 5:13.
20. (a) Who in the first century were sent out by the governing body in Jerusalem, and for what reason? (b) Who are sent out by the governing body today?
20 Likewise, just as the governing body in Jerusalem sent out special representatives, such as Paul and Silas, to deliver instructions and give encouragement to God’s people, so today’s governing body does in this time of the end. (Acts 15:24-27, 30-32) About twice a year an experienced minister, called a circuit overseer, is directed to spend a week with each congregation in his circuit.
21. How does the circuit overseer help the congregations of God’s people?
21 There are over 60,000 congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses throughout the world, and these are divided into circuits made up of about 20 congregations each. When visiting the congregations in his circuit, the circuit overseer builds up the Kingdom witnesses by going right along with them in their preaching and teaching activity. Besides stimulating them in this way, he offers suggestions to help them to improve in their ministry.—Acts 20:20, 21.
22. (a) What further arrangement for strengthening God’s people is made twice a year? (b) What invitation is extended to you?
22 Further encouragement and strengthening are provided as, usually twice a year, the congregations in each circuit meet together for a one- or two-day assembly. On these occasions there may be anywhere from two or three hundred up to 2,000 or more persons present. You are invited to attend the next one in your area. We feel sure that you will find the assembly spiritually refreshing and personally beneficial.
23. (a) What other gatherings are held once each year? (b) What was the size of one of these conventions?
23 Then, once a year, a much larger gathering called a district convention may be held for several days. Why not make a real effort to attend and see for yourself how pleasant and spiritually rewarding such a convention can be? Some years, instead of district conventions, there have been larger national or international conventions. The largest ever held in one location was in New York City’s Yankee Stadium and Polo Grounds for eight days in 1958. On that occasion 253,922 persons were present for the public talk “God’s Kingdom Rules—Is the World’s End Near?” Since then no place has been big enough to handle such huge crowds, so arrangements have been made for facilities in many principal cities to be used for large conventions.
MEETINGS WITHIN THE CONGREGATIONS
24. What five weekly meetings are held by the congregations of God’s people?
24 The governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses also arranges for the unified program of Bible instruction that is held in all the congregations of Jehovah’s people. Each congregation has five meetings a week. These are the Theocratic Ministry School, Service Meeting, Public Meeting, Watchtower study and congregation book study. Since you may not as yet have become acquainted with these meetings, we will briefly describe them.
25, 26. What purpose do the Theocratic Ministry School and Service Meeting serve?
25 The Theocratic Ministry School is designed to help students to become more effective in speaking to others about God’s kingdom. From time to time, those enrolled give short talks on Bible subjects to the entire group. Then an experienced elder offers suggestions for improvement.
26 Generally on the same evening a Service Meeting is also held. The outline for this meeting is published in Our Kingdom Ministry, a monthly publication of two or more pages edited by the governing body. During this meeting practical suggestions and demonstrations on effective ways of talking to others about the Kingdom message are presented. In like manner, Christ encouraged his followers and gave them instructions on how to carry out their ministry.—John 21:15-17; Matthew 10:5-14.
27, 28. What kind of meetings are the Public Meeting, Watchtower study and congregation book study?
27 The Public Meeting and also the Watchtower study are usually held on Sunday. Special efforts are made to invite newly interested persons to the Public Meeting, which is a Bible talk by a qualified minister. The Watchtower study is a question-and-answer discussion of a Bible article presented in a recent issue of the Watchtower magazine.
28 While the whole congregation may meet at a Kingdom Hall for the meetings outlined above, smaller groups assemble in private homes for the weekly congregation book study. A Bible study aid, such as this book you are reading, is used as the basis for that Bible discussion, which may last up to one hour.
29. (a) What memorial do true Christians observe each year? (b) Who properly partake of the bread and the wine?
29 In addition to these regular meetings, Jehovah’s Witnesses hold a special meeting each year on the anniversary of Jesus’ death. When first arranging for this memorial of his death, Jesus said: “Keep doing this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19, 20) During a simple ceremony Jesus used wine and unleavened bread as symbols of the life that he was about to sacrifice for humankind. So at this yearly Memorial meal the remaining ones on earth of the 144,000 anointed followers of Christ show forth their heavenly hope by partaking of the bread and wine.
30. (a) Who else properly attend the Memorial, and what are their prospects? (b) How are such persons described by Jesus?
30 The millions of others who attend this Memorial in Kingdom Halls around the earth are glad to be observers. They also are reminded of what Jehovah God and Jesus Christ did to make possible their deliverance from sin and death. But instead of looking forward to heavenly life, they rejoice in the prospect of living forever in paradise on earth. They are like John the Baptizer, who spoke of himself as a “friend of the bridegroom” rather than part of Christ’s composite bride of 144,000 members. (John 3:29) These millions of persons are part of the “other sheep” of whom Jesus spoke. They are not members of the “little flock.” However, as Jesus said, they serve unitedly with those of the “little flock,” so that all “become one flock.”—John 10:16; Luke 12:32.
SERVING GOD WITH HIS ORGANIZATION
31. What evidence is there that God does not approve of those who remain a part of false religion and yet also try to be part of his organization?
31 How clear it is that, as in times past, Jehovah God has a visible organization today! He is now using it to train people for life in his righteous new system. However, we cannot be part of God’s organization and, at the same time, be part of false religion. God’s Word says: “Do not become unevenly yoked with unbelievers. For what fellowship do righteousness and lawlessness have? Or what sharing does light have with darkness? . . . Or what portion does a faithful person have with an unbeliever?” So God commands: “Therefore get out from among them, and separate yourselves.”—2 Corinthians 6:14-17.
32. (a) If we are to “get out from among them,” what must we do? (b) What blessing will we receive if we take positive action to serve God with his visible theocratic organization?
32 What does it mean to “get out from among them”? Well, we could not be obeying that command by remaining a part of, or giving support to, a religious organization other than the one Jehovah God is using. So if any of us still belong to such a religious organization, we need to serve notice that we are withdrawing from it. If we now get out from among those who practice false religion and take positive action to serve God with his visible theocratic organization, we will be among those of whom God says: “I shall reside among them and walk among them, and I shall be their God, and they will be my people.”—2 Corinthians 6:16.
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At the time of the Flood, did God have more than one organization?
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WORLD HEADQUARTERS OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES
The EXECUTIVE OFFICES
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SOME OF THE MANY OTHER WATCH TOWER PRINTERIES
Wallkill, New York
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Some of the 253,922 at a convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses in New York
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A program of Bible instruction is enjoyed at meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses