Tested Quality of Faith
1. How are we forearmed against trouble?
THE faith of Jehovah’s witnesses will never be destroyed by times of trouble. We know that the servant is not greater than the Master, and just as Jesus was persecuted and his faith put to the proof, so with his followers today. (John 15:20) We expect trouble from the old-world systems, but our faith is confirmed by it, not destroyed. Satan, who is prophetically referred to as Gog of Magog, is ready to reach out and make war against God’s servants on earth. His forces are pictured as encamped around the open and unarmed city of Jehovah’s people to which men of good will are flocking. Therefore, “beloved ones, do not be puzzled at the burning among you which is happening to you for a trial, as though a strange thing were befalling you. On the contrary, go on rejoicing forasmuch as you are sharers in the sufferings of the Christ.” (1 Pet. 4:12-14, NW) Instead of being intimidated by such satanic attempts, Peter urges: “Take your stand against him, solid in the faith, knowing that the same things in the way of sufferings are being accomplished in the entire association of your brothers in the world.”—1 Pet. 5:8-10, NW.
2. (a) What action will Satan take against the New World society? (b) What assurances and counsel do we have?
2 We know Satan will keep on trying to break down those of little faith. But Revelation 2:10 (NW) says: “Do not be afraid of the things you are destined to suffer. Look! the Devil will keep on throwing some of you into prison that you may be fully put to the test, and that you may have tribulation ten days. Prove yourselves faithful even with the danger of death, and I will give you the crown of life.” The Scripture record is full of demonic opposition to Jehovah’s servants down to the present time. In recent years many have been imprisoned, tortured and separated from their families because of their faithfulness to Jehovah; but nothing can break the faith of the true servant of Jehovah God. We are reminded of Jesus’ words: “Do not become fearful of those who kill the body but can not kill the soul.” (Matt. 10:16-23, 28, NW) No matter what comes upon Jehovah’s servants, we know that he will not allow his servants to be tested beyond what they are able to endure. Zechariah 2:5 shows that God will be as a wall of fire around those who serve him and look to him for their protection and safety. In our trial of faith we have the assurance of God’s Word and know that we are backed by his spirit. We do not shrink back from persecution, but we know that, as metal is tempered by heat, so faith is tried and proved by persecution.
3, 4. (a) How have Jehovah’s witnesses, past and present, stood up under persecution? (b) Why are they persecuted?
3 For encouragement we have wonderful Scriptural records of the unshakable faith of God’s servants in the past. Their unbreakable faith under mockings, scourgings, bonds and imprisonment is a pattern for Jehovah’s people today. “They were stoned, they were tried, they were sawn asunder, they died by slaughter with the sword, they went about in sheep skins, in goat skins, while they were in want, in tribulation, under ill-treatment; and the world was not worthy of them.” (Heb. 11:35-38, NW) Soon after the days of the apostles more persecution came upon the Christian congregation and those who refused to renounce their God died by wild beasts, burning and sadistic tortures in Roman arenas. Such examples of faith not only are found in history but are reflected in our time as God’s servants show the same unbreakable devotion to the One who has the power of life.
4 Today in many countries throughout the world Jehovah’s witnesses are experiencing persecution, not for wrongdoing or breaking the just requirements of the nations, but rather because of preaching the truth and holding fast their integrity to the righteous principles of God’s law and Word. (1 Pet. 4:15, 16) In fact, this very hatred of God’s servants is a part of the sign of the times foretold by Jesus. (Mark 13:9) In some places maltreatment has come because of ill-advised government action; in others because of religious intolerance. Once again the old world is showing that it has no love for true Christians. In Portuguese East Africa native witnesses are often pointed out by their religious enemies and pressed into government work details for months at a time. In the Belgian Congo Christian literature is not permitted entry for study by Jehovah’s witnesses, nor can they meet together for worship. In Taiwan the worship of Jehovah is not sanctioned in spite of repeated attempts to get government approval. Bibles have been confiscated, meetings broken up and missionaries deported as officials harass those who stand firm for their faith.
5. How is the trial of faith continuing?
5 Similar conditions exist in many other countries of the world. Particularly in Communist-controlled lands the suppression of truth continues. The brothers in Czechoslovakia have been putting their faithfulness to the proof. One letter stated: “The brothers have the right understanding of the injunction to pay back to God what belongs to God. Not for one moment would they allow the thought to arise in their minds that a ban issued by a human power could disannul the Creator’s commission to preach the gospel.” From East Germany comes word of continued trouble, and of lightning attacks on various congregations, with large numbers being arrested. The total to date shows 1,346 sentenced to 9,071 years in prison for an average of six years and nine months for maintaining their integrity to Jehovah. One witness released from prison said: “God’s spirit has worked upon us giving us strength and increasing our faith.” Another brother, after continual torture and imprisonment, told his tormentors: “I have vowed faithfulness to Jehovah God. You can take me out of this building as a corpse but not as a traitor.” Throughout the world the trial of faith has not stopped, but we can expect it to increase until the complete end. We should be armed for it with the shield of faith, ready to ward off the fiery darts of Satan by putting our trust and confidence in Jehovah.
6. What is necessary for our faith to be pleasing to God?
6 True faith is not blind faith. In centuries past hundreds of thousands have died in the name of religion, yet without honor to God. They have died with his Word on their lips, at the same time breaking his commandments and without accurate knowledge of his purposes. In order to have faith well pleasing to God, we must know what his will is and what his Word directs, and then serve him accordingly. If we serve as Jesus did, as a Kingdom ambassador faithful even to death, then we are certain to receive the reward. In this way Jesus proved his faith and devotion, and he learned obedience by the things he suffered. For that reason Paul wrote the Hebrews to “look intently at the leader and perfecter of our faith, Jesus. For the joy that was set before him he endured the torture stake, despising shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Indeed, consider closely the one who has endured such contrary talk by sinners against their own interests, that you may not get tired and give out in your souls.”—Heb. 12:2, 3, NW.
7. (a) How is our faith confirmed by the ingathering work? (b) What people today have a living faith?
7 Today our faith is established ever firmer as we witness the grand fulfillment of Bible prophecies in the harvest ingathering-work that is being done. The New World society is growing world-wide, as it was foretold centuries ago through the Scriptures. This is an evident demonstration of the reality—the unseen establishment of the heavenly kingdom of God. Men of all kinds are taking their stand for the truth and dedicating themselves to Jehovah. In itself this gives us faith in the outcome of God’s purposes that the meek shall inherit the earth and delight themselves in the enjoyment of peace. Even the assemblies of Jehovah’s witnesses today serve to confirm the faith of many people of good will who attend. Why? Because they listen to the truth presented. They witness its effect in the lives of others. Then they are moved by God’s spirit to share in this great ingathering work. They see his organization in action, and the unity and harmony that the truth brings to these people. All this gives faith. They know, if others have such faith, so can they. If others stand up under fiery trial of their faith, so can they. By their faith they condemn the world, which lacks faith. (Heb. 11:7) God certainly is not dead for them, but their former misplaced faith in false worship is. Now they have an enduring and true faith. No wonder Maclean’s Magazine of December 15, 1953, said: “If an individual says he is one of Jehovah’s witnesses . . . the chances are strong he is a faithful one”; and, “Today the greatest gains by far are being made by Jehovah’s witnesses . . . there are nearly five in Canada for every one the census shows for 1941.”—Isa. 60:22.
8. How can we be victorious in the contest of faith?
8 Jehovah’s witnesses are putting their faithfulness to the proof. They know that Satan is out to get everyone who shows true faith; he is working on each individual to try to make him fall. Nevertheless, we must prove our faithfulness by continuing “in the faith, established on the foundation and steadfast and not being shifted away from the hope of that good news which you heard.” (Col. 1:23, NW) Paul wrote a similar thought to Timothy, at 1 Timothy 6:12: “Contend for victory in the right contest of the faith, get a firm hold on the everlasting life for which you were called and you declared the right confession publicly before many witnesses.” The Scriptures constantly exhort us to such faithfulness: “Let us hold fast the public declaration of our hope without wavering, for he is faithful that promised. . . . For you have need of endurance, in order that, after you have done the will of God, you may receive the fulfillment of the promise. . . . ‘But my righteous one will live by reason of faith,’ and, ‘if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.’ Now we are not the kind that shrink back to destruction, but the kind that have faith to the preserving alive of the soul.”—Heb. 10:22, 23, 32-39, NW.
9. Why should we be courageous, and in what must we have faith?
9 We can take courage from these facts, seeing not only the record of faithfulness in ancient times, but also the courage and steadfastness of our brothers in all parts of the world in their fiery trials today. Despite all the Devil and his organization can bring against us, “Jehovah knows how to deliver people of godly devotion out of trial.” (2 Pet. 2:9, NW) Furthermore, “God is faithful and he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear, but along with the temptation he will also make the way out in order for you to be able to endure it.” (1 Cor. 10:13, NW) Yes, a trial of faith can be expected in this clash between the old and new-world systems. Jehovah’s witnesses, instead of shrinking under the fire, rejoice to find themselves privileged to demonstrate their faith in God’s name. This is the day to put your faithfulness to the proof. It is the right combination, of faith with works, that meets with approval. This is faith that is shown in favorable season and troublesome season, in persecution or peace—faith in big things or little things. It is faith in Jehovah, his Word and his organization.
10. Why is it desirable to put our faithfulness to the proof?
10 Christians throughout the world today may take joy in reading the words of Peter as they continue putting their faithfulness to the proof. He wrote: “You . . . are being safeguarded by God’s power through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last period of time. In this fact you are greatly rejoicing, though for a little while at present, if it must be, you have been grieved by various trials, in order that the tested quality of your faith, of much greater value than gold that perishes despite its being proved by fire, may be found a cause for praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you never saw him, you love him. Though you are not looking upon him at present, yet you exercise faith in him and are greatly rejoicing with an unspeakable and glorified joy, as you receive the accomplished end of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”—1 Pet. 1:4-9, NW.
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