Divine Education Bears Good Fruit
“The wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, forbearing, conciliatory, full of mercy and wholesome fruit.”—Jas. 3:17 Moffatt.
1. How does Jehovah rank as an educator, and why?
JEHOVAH God ranks first in the field of up-to-date education. Not that his inspired instruction has changed to keep pace with the times, for he completed the key textbook of his study course more than eighteen centuries ago. Rather than his instruction catching up to the times, the times are just now reaching the point where his prophetic wisdom has all along been concentrated. The divine wisdom long ago stored up in the Bible’s pages is only now being fully understood by Jehovah’s servants, for the prophecies centered on the turbulent times of the last days, and now that man has reached this period he links the observed fulfillments with the prophecies, and understanding flashes into his enlightened mind. “Jehovah giveth wisdom; out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding: he layeth up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to them that walk in integrity.” “They were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages are come.” (Prov. 2:6, 7; 1 Cor. 10:11; Rom. 15:4, Am. Stan. Ver.) So now, finally, man has reached the point in time when Jehovah’s up-to-date education unfolds in full bloom for humanity’s comprehension.
2. Do all heed Jehovah’s provided education? What shows this?
2 But not all persons heed Jehovah’s provided education. They look upon it as old-fashioned, and instead turn to the wisdom of this modern world. With pride they point to the advances of scientific knowledge in the fields of chemistry and physics and medicine. They peer into their telescopes and microscopes, study the structure of the earth, read the record in the rocks, and bring forth theories in waves. Studies in human relations run the gamut from the family circle to the international front. They have developed their cultures in music and literature and art. Moreover, their religions have evolved with the times, grown materially richer, embraced social problems, entered political fields, and been added to and subtracted from to make them able to live with supposed scientific advances in education. And to teach all this worldly wisdom they have set up intricate school systems that grab the individual’s mind at childhood and indoctrinate it till he reaches adulthood. The world considers such educational program the vital one, and pushes it forward while pushing back old-fashioned Bible instruction.
3. What fruit has the world’s educational program produced?
3 Has the world’s educational program brought forth good fruit? Has it brought the peace, happiness, health and life mankind wants? Has it erased greed and selfishness, racial barriers and religious prejudices from the human mind and heart? Has not war rather than peace had first call on man’s scientific knowledge? Do not many measure happiness in terms of money? Has not health been sacrificed on the altar of so-called civilization, with its unnatural ways of living? Has not life become artificial, filled with social and other vanities? Has man’s knowledge of medicine delivered him from the ill effects of disease and harmful habits and immoral practices? Mankind’s ailments have increased with its education. Knowledge has forwarded man’s destruction. Worldly wisdom is not awake to the times, and its educational program is not up-to-date with these last days. Even its religious systems have failed to feed the people on the divine education they are thirsting and starving for: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: and they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.”—Amos 8:11, 12.
4. Why is no spiritual food to be found in Christendom’s programs?
4 Travel the length and breadth of Christendom’s religious realm though they may, searching persons will not find spiritual food in her religious or secular educational programs. Why? Because these worldly systems have either watered down or abandoned Jehovah God’s chief textbook, the Bible. The modern professed people of God have blundered in the same way as did the Israelites of old: “My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” (Jer. 2:13) The clergymen have allowed their watering-places to become cracked and riddled by human theories of evolution and scientific doubtings, as well as contaminated by pagan religious philosophies. Their new theories will not hold water, and their old pagan teachings are quickly punctured by the Bible truths they have forsaken. Their wisdom rates no higher than any of the other wisdom of this present old evil world, and which Jehovah’s Word evaluates as follows: “The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.”—1 Cor. 3:19; 1:17-29; Isa. 29:14.
5. How do Christendom’s systems and God’s witnesses compare on zeal?
5 Because of spiritual starvation, the orthodox congregations are wasting away and are too weak to fight off the inroads of materialism and atheism. This condition is being noted by worldly observers, and they note something else, also. Consider the following, published in England’s Illustrated Leicester Chronicle, September 10, 1949: “All over the country congregations in churches and chapels have dwindled to an alarming degree. Thousands of children are being brought up with little or no religious background. The man in the street shows small interest in the old established faiths. Yet a religious convention in Leicester last week-end attracted 8,500 adherents of a creed which inspires its members with overwhelming fervour. The burning enthusiasm of the Jehovah’s witnesses is something to make clergymen and their depleted congregations think—and think hard. Why is this movement so powerful a magnet? Why are its members filled with such ardour? One answer is that Jehovah’s witnesses believe in taking religion to the people. They believe in preaching from door to door. They are fully aware of the value of publicity, and enterprising in their use of it. They shout their religion from the house-tops. Whatever any church or chapel-goer may think of their beliefs or methods, their intense eagerness is a challenge to bishops and clergymen in every diocese, and to every chapel in the land. Will they answer this challenge by sweeping away old-fashioned ideas?”
6. What accounts for this difference as to zeal?
6 What such candid observers fail to understand is why Jehovah’s witnesses are so zealous and the orthodox church-goers so apathetic. Even the clergy note the difference, and of this Catholic bishop Thomas J. McDonnell of New York complained: “The average Catholic often lacks any sense of a lay apostolate. Too often he is content with just a passive membership. He regards his religion as something between himself and God and is not interested in sharing his faith with others. Faith without good works is dead.” Then the bishop cited Jehovah’s witnesses as “the last word in zeal for propagating their faith”. (New York Times, November 15, 1948) But why the difference? It is not that Jehovah’s witnesses as people are any different. Most of them were at one time apathetic and listless members of orthodox religious congregations. The key point is that they changed their spiritual diet, or, more accurately, broke the spiritual fast forced upon them in Christendom’s congregations. Not getting spiritual food, they had no spiritual strength for Christian labors. But when they broke from the parched and famine-stricken religious pastures of Christendom and began to feed upon the rich and nourishing spiritual food of God’s Word, the Bible, they became strengthened and energized and spiritually bubbled over. And continued feeding renews strength for continuous bubbling over in fervent and zealous Christian preaching.
SPIRITUAL FOOD MADE AVAILABLE
7. How have many of good-will ceased from starving amid plenty?
7 Through the gospel-preaching of Jehovah’s witnesses thousands of persons of good-will are discovering bounteous supplies of spiritual food. They cease their foolish starving in the midst of plenty. They are learning of the program of divine education offered by Jehovah God. Not from the “doctors of divinity” who can flourish a diploma from some theological seminary do they learn, nor is the Bible knowledge gained by regular attendance at some besteepled edifice. Their education frequently begins at home, and without charge by either stipulated tuition or collection-plate solicitation. “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat.” “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”—Isa. 55:1; Rev. 22:17.
8. To whose teaching methods do we cling today? In what way?
8 Christ Jesus is closely associated with Jehovah God in the teaching work, and he taught in the homes of the people when he was on earth. Following in Jesus’ footsteps his early disciples ‘ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ in every house’. The apostle Paul taught the people “from house to house”. (Acts 5:42; 20:20) True Christians today cling to the methods established by their Exemplar, Christ Jesus. They call at the homes of the people, presenting the gospel message. When they stand on the streets displaying Bible magazines and a passer-by shows interest, they offer to call at that person’s home to conduct Bible studies.—Prov. 1:20, 21; 8:1-3.
9. What do many find a practical way to get up-to-date education?
9 Many persons of good-will are finding that a practical way to get the divine education is to set aside an hour once a week for Bible study with such Christians, Jehovah’s witnesses. With the Bible and Bible helps one can carefully examine and discuss the primary teachings of God’s Word. That does not mean the creed-bound doctrines of the orthodox religions, for the learner soon discovers that such teachings as trinity, hell-fire, immortal soul and others are not Scriptural. What he does learn are truths concerning Christ’s kingdom, the blessings it will bring in a new earth, the signs now visible proving that we are living in the last days, the evidences that Christ’s kingdom is established in the heavens and is scheduled to soon move explosively against this wicked world in the battle known as Armageddon, and many other vital instructions that will enable the learner to survive these troublous days and ultimately live in Jehovah God’s new world without end. (Matt. 24:3-39; 2 Tim. 3:1-5) This is education that is up-to-date with these perilous times, and not lagging behind the times as does the worldly education that scoffs and says that these things in fulfillment of Bible prophecy are yet far off, if they ever come at all.—2 Pet. 3:3, 4.
10. By whom are such home Bible studies blessed? How and why?
10 Jehovah God blesses the home Bible study, and Christ Jesus prospers even such a small gathering. Did he not promise, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them”? (Matt. 18:20) Hence as the zealous witness conducts the home study in an orderly manner, the real Teachers, Jehovah God and Christ Jesus, enlighten the eyes of understanding of the meek student and cause the divine purpose to unfold for the learner. (Isa. 30:20; 54:13; Eph. 1:18) Faithfully each week the witness will go to the home for several months, and sometimes for more than a year, freely giving his time and energy to obey Christ’s command to ‘feed the sheep’, not with one but with many, many spiritual meals.—John 21:15-17.
11. How does the one instructed communicate with the instructor?
11 As time goes by the progressing student becomes better able to heed the Scriptural rule: “Let him who is being orally instructed in the word have fellowship with him that is so instructing him, in all good things.” (Gal. 6:6, Roth.) The instructed one contributes to the educational instructiveness of the study by communicating back to the conductor the “good things” being learned. This fixes the newly learned truths in the student’s mind and gives him confidence in expressing them in his own words. He will be better able to tell his neighbors what he is learning.
12. How does he enlarge his study privileges? With what benefit?
12 Now an invitation is extended to him to attend a Bible study with a larger group of persons in a nearby home. This company book study is conducted similarly to the one held in his own home, but more attend and a greater variety of comments stimulates his own mind to activity and remembrance of things previously learned. The experience proves the Bible proverb: “Iron is sharpened by iron: so doth a man sharpen himself on the countenance of his friend.” (Prov. 27:17, Leeser) Sharpened by these contacts with others of Jehovah’s witnesses, the new person is keen on going to the larger congregational meetings of Jehovah’s witnesses held at the Kingdom Hall. Will he not reap additional blessings by heeding the admonition, “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good deeds, not ceasing to meet together, as is the habit of some, but admonishing one another—all the more so, as you see the Day drawing near”?—Heb. 10:24, 25, Moffatt.
13, 14. How does the topical method affect him? Is it Scriptural?
13 At the Kingdom Hall a strong bond of Christian companionship springs up between the learner and others in the company. Their fellowship does stir him to love and good deeds and fortifies him against the mounting evils as time marches on nearer to the day of divine reckoning for this satanic world. The public lectures at the hall cover many of the points previously explained to him, but the different speakers approach from other angles and clarify and broaden his understanding. True, the speakers take texts from scattered parts of the Bible to let them converge on the one subject theme, and the student can remember when his worldly friends and even his former church preacher scoffed at this method and said the witnesses “jumped here and there through the Bible like grasshoppers, and that by such skipping about in the Bible one could prove anything”. But this topical method of study was the reason that he had learned more through the witnesses in a month than he had from his former church organization in twenty years.
14 Moreover, did not the inspired writers of the Greek Scriptures bring together texts scattered throughout the Hebrew Scriptures? And did not that exemplary Teacher, Christ Jesus, in his famous public sermon on the mount make twenty-one Hebrew Scripture quotations, from the books Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, 2 Kings, Psalms, Isaiah and Jeremiah? He was not trying to “prove any old thing” by jumping here and there in his use of texts. By this method and to the people’s pleasant surprise “he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes”, because he backed up his teaching with the authority of God’s written Word.—Matt. 7:29.
15. What privileges of study and training come at Kingdom Hall?
15 At the Kingdom Hall study of the Watchtower magazine he is flashed the “meat in due season” from God’s Word, illuminating the highway to life. He had been reading The Watchtower at home, but now he sees how much of the material he had failed to grasp. And the Kingdom Hall service meetings and Theocratic ministry school! Church-going days had never brought forth anything like those sessions! So this is why Jehovah’s witnesses were so efficient in preaching the gospel. At the service meeting they studied effective ways of presenting the message, demonstrating the methods as well as discoursing on them. And the way they organized so that one would not be duplicating the work of another! As for the school, it taught good speaking, composition, facts about the origin and preservation of the Bible, when the various Bible books were written, by whom, to whom, what they contained, and many additional instructions vital to ministers. Then the ministers enrolled for this training gave classroom talks, and were constructively counseled on their delivery and composition. Surely the witnesses did strive hard to obey the admonition, “Do your best to win God’s approval as a workman who has nothing to be ashamed of, but rightly shapes the message of truth.”—2 Tim. 2:15, An Amer. Trans.
16. How do service meeting and Theocratic school compare with what Jesus gave his disciples?
16 The instruction and training that Jesus gave to the apostles and early Christians compare with the ministry school and service meeting of Jehovah’s witnesses of today. Many of Jesus’ discourses were service talks, urging his followers to let the light shine, to preach the Kingdom gospel, to bear fruit, to baptize the new ones and start them off in the preaching work. He conducted demonstrations for the benefit of his followers, taking the lead in service and showing how the work should be done. “He went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him.” (Luke 8:1) They observed the Master Preacher, and learned from him, and later they gave others cause to recall this superb training. (Acts 4:13) When Jesus sent the twelve apostles out to preach, he gave them specific instruction on how to handle interest and opposition found in door-to-door witnessing. (Matt. 10:1-16) Later on he gave similar Theocratic ministry training for field service to seventy disciples before sending them out to preach, and they returned to report the success of their field service activities.—Luke 10:1-11, 17.
BLESSED CHANGE FOR THE DIVINELY EDUCATED
17. What change for the better does such divine education bring?
17 Now, the new learner pauses to reflect on what he had gained through the divine education offered by God through His witnesses. Before, his life had been a routine of work and a rather desperate effort to capture what he once considered “fun”, which frequently involved late hours and dissipation that added to the burdensomeness of his secular work. Worry over the perplexing world problems with war fears always hovering close by, and anxiety for his family because of financial burdens and juvenile delinquency dangers, kept peace from his mind. But how different now! He knew the sure remedy of God’s kingdom, that it was near, that present woes were only forerunners of eternal joys in a new world, that the dark clouds had the most silvery of linings when viewed through the prophetic vision of God’s Word.—Luke 21:28-32.
18. What change of associates occurs? Does the learner mind it?
18 Of course, many of his former friends do not come to associate with him as they used to. It seems they no longer speak the same language. He no longer wishes to do the things he did with the old gang, feels that he has wasted too much time on that in the past, and does not even mind the ridicule his former friends now aim at him. He is comforted to read: “You have spent time enough in the past in doing as the heathen like to do, indulging in sensuality, passion, drunkenness, carousing, dissipation, and detestable idolatry. They are amazed that you no longer join them in plunging into the flood of dissipation, and they abuse you for it; but they will have to answer for it to him who is ready to judge living and dead.” (1 Pet. 4:3-5, An Amer. Trans.) He does not mind their loss, for he has gained many more and better friends.—Matt. 19:29.
19. What peace does he enjoy, and for what reason?
19 Moreover, he now has the “peace of God, which passeth all understanding”. (Phil. 4:7) Not peace just because he knows what the future holds and is no longer anxious about conditions and his family. Not peace just because he has found spiritual food and is no longer awed by this world’s foolish wisdom that is so often turned to destructive purposes, or because he has found better and cleaner friends. His peace is of God, because he has been educated by God with God’s wisdom, and he shares the benefits of that divine wisdom. As it is written: “The wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, forbearing, conciliatory, full of mercy and wholesome fruit, unambiguous, straightforward; and the peacemakers who sow in peace reap righteousness.”—Jas. 3:17, 18, Moffatt.
20. Why must he become fruitful? By what mental change?
20 He shares in these blessings to the full, even to the extent of bringing forth “wholesome fruit”. The one-time learner has now become a teaching instrument by reason of his diligent study, for now he is “able to teach others also”. (2 Tim. 2:2) “Freely ye have received, freely give,” he remembers. (Matt. 10:8) According to the Scripture rule he has found it true, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35) By his study of God’s Word, and by instruction gained at the ministry school and service meeting, and by observing the good examples of zealous witnesses, his mental outlook has changed over from old-world to new-world thinking. “You must not adopt the customs of this world but by your new attitude of mind be transformed so that you can find out what God’s will is—what is good, pleasing, and perfect.” (Rom. 12:2, An Amer. Trans.) Purged of past bad habits of thinking and conduct by God’s Word, he is fruitful in Kingdom service, as commanded: “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.”—John 15:2, 3, 8.
21. How does the practical use of his education benefit him?
21 Peace that passes human understanding is his now because he is at peace with God, in harmony with God, doing God’s will, sharing in God’s vindication. He proves that he has wisdom and understanding by obeying the commands to preach. (Ps. 111:10) By using the divine education in field service, by repeating Bible truths at the doors of the people, he fixes them in his mind and prevents them from slipping his memory when needed. Continued study refills the imperfect mind that lets the truth waters escape as if from a leaky vessel. (Heb. 2:1; margin) Diligent use of his mental faculties in study exercises and strengthens them till they can digest not only the milk but the strong meat of God’s Word, and the strength gained thereby equips him to withstand persecution and other satanic snares that abound in this world. He advances to perfection of maturity, as the scripture counsels: “Full-grown men have a right to solid food, for their faculties are trained by practice to distinguish right and wrong. Let us therefore leave elementary Christian teaching alone and advance toward maturity.”—Heb. 5:14; 6:1, An Amer. Trans.
22. To what large privilege of service may he advance?
22 Perhaps as this Christian continues his course in divine education and bears more and more good fruit he may advance to the very mature ministry of full-time service, known to Jehovah’s witnesses today as pioneering.