Keep Pace with the New World Society
“We have left all things and followed you.”—Matt. 19:27, NW.
1. What is the New World society, and why is it imperative that lovers of righteousness keep pace with it?
THE New World society is an expanding society of ministers, extending its influence to the ends of the inhabited earth. It is a living, moving, breathing organization, whose spiritual prosperity is unequaled in the history of Christianity. Everywhere it turns, its influence exerted inspires the attention of honest-hearted people. It is a beacon light in this dark world, holding forth words of hope and life to all who come within its borders. It is imperative today that those who wish to live in the new world of righteousness keep pace with the New World society. Why? Because, soon now, it will usher all its members safely through the greatest of all tribulations, the war of Armageddon, and bring them into a bright new world of God’s making, where mankind will enjoy everlasting peace, prosperity and happiness.—Matt. 24:21, NW.
2. (a) Why can we say that Jehovah is behind the New World society? (b) In what way does the New World society reflect the mind of Jehovah?
2 Behind the success of this wonder-working organization is its Builder and Maker, Jehovah God. He alone could conceive such a marvelous arrangement for the preservation of his people. He alone has the power to sustain so great an undertaking during these perilous times. And he alone has the wisdom and spirit to direct it to accomplish his purpose according to his divine will. Therefore Jehovah is the One responsible for its being, its phenomenal growth and its success. Rightly then, all praise and honor go to him. As the apostle Paul so aptly stated: “What, then, is Apollos? Yes, what is Paul? Ministers through whom you became believers, even as the Lord granted each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God kept making it grow; so that neither is he that plants anything nor is he that waters, but God who makes it grow. Now he that plants and he that waters are one, but each person will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You people are God’s field under cultivation, God’s building.” Being God’s building, his “field under cultivation,” the New World society reflects the mind of Jehovah toward mankind, by expanding true worship in the earth, by moving ahead with increased knowledge, by providing for the spiritual growth and prosperity, by keeping step with its head, Christ Jesus, who is showing the way unto the perfect day.—1 Cor. 3:5-9, NW; Ps. 127:1.
3. How has Jehovah inspired hope in the new world, and how has this hope influenced men?
3 Before man could ever expect a new world, Jehovah God began to build its foundations and inspire hope in it. He moved men to write and to utter prophecies concerning the world to come wherein righteousness is to dwell. These prophecies became a source of immeasurable joy, hope and courage to men of good will in every generation. They gave men the needed impetus to move ahead in faith and to look forward to their ultimate fulfillment. When Jehovah commanded Abram: “Go your way out of your country and from your relatives and from the house of your father to the country that I shall show you,” Abram unhesitatingly obeyed, because he believed God’s promise of a new world. Paul tells us that Abraham obeyed God “in going out into a place which he was going to receive as an inheritance, and he went out although not knowing where he was going. By faith he resided temporarily in the land of the promise as in a foreign land, and dwelt in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the very same promise. For he was awaiting the city having real foundations and the builder and creator of which is God.” It was Abraham’s great desire to live in Jehovah’s new world of promise that enabled him to leave his homeland and content himself with life as a temporary resident, in tents, so that he could inherit the promise. Sarah, his wife, willingly joined him in his sojourns, thus displaying her faith in God’s promise. Through faith they walked ahead to a new land with hope in a new world.—Gen. 12:1-3; Heb. 11:8-10, NW.
4-6. (a) Who were others that regarded this promise of a new world? (b) How did Jesus demonstrate his willingness to share in Jehovah’s promise?
4 The question remains, Are we willing to do the same, that is, to exercise the same faith and willingness in God’s promise as did Abraham and his wife Sarah? The fact that Abraham did not inherit the promise in his lifetime did not deter Isaac or Jacob from following Abraham’s footsteps in exercising faith in God and from recommending the same course to their children. Jesus said of Abraham: “Abraham your father rejoiced greatly in the prospect of seeing my day, and he saw it and rejoiced.” So great was the faith of these patriarchs in God’s promise that they were willing to give all things, even their very lives, that they might inherit the promise of the new world.—John 8:56; Heb. 11:39, NW.
5 Moses exercised the same faith in God’s promise. He who had been reared in the courts of Pharaoh “esteemed the reproach of the Christ as riches greater than the treasures of Egypt.” Moses responded to God’s call when eighty years of age, leaving the life of a shepherd behind to become Jehovah’s witness to Pharaoh and a leader of the nation of Israel. In Israel we have an example of how a whole nation found hope in Jehovah’s promise of a new world. Paul speaks of a great “cloud of witnesses” putting aside every weight so that they could become sharers in the promise.—Heb. 11:26, 27; 12:1, NW.
6 Chief of this great “cloud of witnesses” was Christ Jesus: “Who, although he was existing in God’s form, gave no consideration to a seizure, namely, that he should be equal to God. No, but he emptied himself and took a slave’s form and came to be in the likeness of men. More than that, when he found himself in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient as far as death, yes, death on a torture stake. For this very reason also God exalted him to a superior position.” Jesus gave his all, which was more by far than all the human race could possibly give, so that he could share in Jehovah’s promise of a new world. He illustrated his willingness to do this in several parables: “The kingdom of the heavens is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid, and for the joy he has he goes and sells what things he has and buys that field. Again the kingdom of the heavens is like a traveling merchant seeking fine pearls. Upon finding one pearl of high value, away he went and promptly sold all the things he had and bought it.” So completely had Jesus divested himself that he was able to say to a certain scribe that desired to follow him: “Foxes have dens and birds of heaven have roosts, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay down his head.” Rather than bemoaning the loss of “all things” Jesus recommended this course to his followers, if they would make the Kingdom.—Phil. 2:5-9; Matt. 13:44-46; 8:20; Col. 1:15, 16, NW.
7. (a) For attaining the new world, what advice did Jesus give? (b) What does it mean to follow Christ?
7 Jesus knew what it would take to conquer this world; so he said: “If anyone wants to come after me, let him disown himself and pick up his torture stake and follow me continually. For whoever wants to save his soul will lose it; but whoever loses his soul for my sake will find it. For what benefit will it be to a man if he gains the whole world but forfeits his soul? or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man is destined to come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and then he will recompense each one according to his behavior.” Therefore, to follow Jesus Christ means to practice Christianity; it means a disowning of oneself in a life of dedication to the principles of Christianity. It calls for taking up the “torture stake” and partaking of some of the hardships and sufferings Jesus left behind. It means the forsaking of one’s own personal ambitions and desires to accumulate wealth and prestige and power. The prophet Job said: “If I have made gold my hope, and have said to the fine gold, Thou art my confidence . . . I should have denied the God that is above.” So to follow Christ means to give up the old world, the whole world and life, if necessary. It calls for full allegiance and loyalty to Christianity, such as a soldier gives to the cause of independence and freedom. Paul makes this point plain, saying: “No man serving as a soldier involves himself in the commercial businesses of life, in order that he may meet the approval of the one who enrolled him as a soldier.” Christians following Christ must stand ready to respond for duty with the same willingness of the prophet Isaiah, who, when hearing the question: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” replied: “Here am I; send me.” Having no attachments to this old world he was free to respond to Jehovah’s call. This was the enviable lot that faithful men, such as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and others, had through their faith. This must be the lot of all those who keep pace with the New World society.—Matt. 16:24-27, NW; Job 31:24, 28, AS; 2 Tim. 2:4, NW; Isa. 6:8.
CALLED ON TO GIVE ALL
8. What did Jesus call on his followers to do, and how did they respond?
8 When establishing Christianity Jesus Christ called on his followers to exhibit this same faith, the faith of Abraham. And his immediate apostles showed they had this faith. Note particularly with what willingness they responded to Jesus’ call, “Come after me.” The inspired account says of Peter and Andrew, who were fishing with their nets at the time Jesus beckoned to them: “At once abandoning the nets, they followed him.” Of James and John, who were called when repairing their nets, the record says: “At once leaving the boat and their father, they followed him.” When a disciple desired to turn back to bury his father, Jesus replied: “Keep following me, and let the dead bury their dead.” The thought here is that they let nothing stand in their way; occupation, family, friends were not considered all-essentials. These were placed in a secondary position and that more desirable thing, the kingdom of God, was placed first in their lives. There were no months of saving before leaving their jobs, nor a cautious weighing of matters to see whether it would be worth it or not. Nor did the apostles question, What is there in it for me? Rather, their response was immediate, displaying great faith in Jehovah, his Son and the arrangement made for their continued existence.—Matt. 4:18-22; 8:22, NW.
9. How were they to evaluate their Kingdom privileges?
9 Jesus had impressed his followers with the value of making the Kingdom. To attain it would be worth all cost. He emphasized the need of self-sacrifice, hard work, endurance and patience to attain the goal of faith, which is the salvation of our souls. He stressed that to follow him continually would mean for one to be free from worldly ties and obligations. Food, clothing, shelter and the other necessities of life were made incidentals. “For all these are the things the nations are eagerly pursuing. For your heavenly Father knows you need all these things. Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you. So, never be anxious about the next day, for the next day will have its own anxieties. Sufficient for each day is its own evil.” The principal thing was the Kingdom; in comparison all other things faded into nothingness. Paul expressed how he felt about it: “On account of him [Christ] I have taken the loss of all things and I consider them as a lot of refuse, that I may gain Christ.” And the apostle John reasoned in this way: “The world is passing away and so is its desire, but he that does the will of God remains forever.” What better reason could be given as to why to abandon this world and dedicate oneself completely and unreservedly for the kingdom of God? If it took absolute faith and trust in Jehovah and Christ Jesus to keep pace with the growing Christian church of the first century, does it require less today?—Matt. 19:27; 6:32-34; Phil. 3:8; 1 John 2:17, NW.
10. What has been the result of faithful response to the command to “make disciples of peoples of all the nations”?
10 Faithful obedience to the commission to go and “make disciples of people of all the nations” has caused the Christian congregation to grow until today it is represented in all the earth by devoted ministers declaring this good news of the established kingdom of God. Particularly in the last thirty-seven years hundreds of millions have come to hear of the divine government of the new world. Out of these millions, hundreds of thousands have recognized this to be God’s life-giving message for this day. These have responded with the same faith and joy as did the prophets of old and the disciples of Jesus, and have dedicated their lives to God through Jesus Christ and have joined in holding aloft this brilliant torch of the Kingdom. All together, these Christian witnesses form a society no part of this old world. They are for God’s new world of righteousness; therefore they form a New World society.—Matt. 28:19, 20; 24:14, NW.
11. Are members of the New World society required to make the same sacrifices as Christian witnesses of the first century?
11 Now as members of the New World society, are they required to make the same sacrifices and display the same faith as those Christian witnesses of the first century? Yes. Because there is no separate set of rules of conduct or of ministry for Christians of any century. They all follow the same Exemplar, Christ Jesus. Peter wrote: “In fact, to this course you were called, because even Christ suffered for you, leaving you a model for you to follow his steps closely.” Paul admonished: “Become imitators of me, even as I am of Christ.” And again: “Be imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” “For all the things that were written aforetime were written for our instruction, that through our endurance and through the comfort from the Scriptures we might have hope.” Therefore, in addition to Christ’s perfect example, we have in writing the example of Abraham and of all the prophets before us as profitable lessons for us to study if we are to keep pace with the New World society.—1 Pet. 2:21; 1 Cor. 11:1; Heb. 6:12; Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11, NW.
12. What must be the mental attitude of those keeping pace with the New World society?
12 It is becoming increasingly clear that for anyone of us to keep pace with the New World society we must respond with the same readiness and willingness to Jehovah’s directions as did the faithful prophets and apostles. We cannot allow ourselves to be tied down to this old world and at the same time think that we can keep step with this Christian society of ministers. We must be free to answer calls as did Abraham and Moses, willing to move and leave behind old-world interests. We must be eager to answer the Master’s call: “Come be my follower,” and answer it in the complete sense that Peter did: “We have left all things and followed you.” To leave behind “all things,” not with a longing, as did Lot’s wife, but rather with no regrets, and with joy that such an opportunity has been extended to us to fulfill. As Paul, who gave up all, said: “I am ready not only to be bound but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” This should be our determination and devotion.—Mark 10:21; Matt. 19:27; Acts 21:13, NW.
13. What can be said of those still clinging to the old world, and what admonition can be given them?
13 There are, however, still some “Christians” who think it possible to live in the New World society and the old world at the same time. But even these who appear slow to learn are finding the task increasingly difficult. Their dedication has not been complete. They have not truly left “all things” and followed Christ. Their dedication has been one with reservations, with “strings attached.” They still yearn for the luxuries and pleasures of the passing system of things. They know that to keep up with the New World society demands time, and old-world pleasures demand time. Consequently there is a test of one’s affections, a pulling in different directions, with tension and frustration resulting. An unstable person, divided in mind, is displeasing in Jehovah’s sight. “In fact,” says James, “let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from Jehovah; he is an indecisive man, unsteady in all his ways.” “Draw close to God, and he will draw close to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you indecisive ones. Give way to distress and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy into dejection. Humble yourselves in the eyes of Jehovah, and he will exalt you.” Those who insist on leading double lives are not truly humble. They are always found crowding the line of demarcation. They choose to ignore Jehovah’s wise counsel. Reluctant to break clean with the old world, they hang on by the skin of their teeth to the new, until the old world drags them completely away into oblivion. It is dangerous to try to straddle the line, and impossible to be a slave to two masters. “For either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stick to the one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves to God and to Riches.”—Jas. 1:7, 8; 4:8-10; Matt. 6:24, NW.
NO ROOM FOR INDECISION
14, 15. (a) Why is there no room for indecision now? (b) Why does it take determination and courage to keep pace with the New World society?
14 The increased pace now of the New World society allows no place for indecision. Even a slight hesitation means ground lost. And the more and longer we hesitate means only that so much more distance must be gained if we are to keep up with the New World society. It means that greater effort and determination must be put forth. The tragic truth is that distance lost almost always proves disastrous, because the onward march of the New World society is unrelenting, pressing forward to the perfect day. It takes faith, courage and determination to keep pace with it. Especially now, since more and more of our time is demanded. There are pioneer, missionary and Bethel service calls to answer with a “Here am I; send me.” More attention is to be devoted to the house-to-house ministry, the training of new Kingdom publishers, the making of back-calls on those who show interest in the Kingdom message, and home Bible studies to be conducted with people of good will. All of this demands time, our time and vital force. But since it is dedicated time, then it rightly belongs to Jehovah. “You do not belong to yourselves, for you were bought with a price. By all means, glorify God in the body of you people.” “Pay back . . . God’s things to God.”—Isa. 6:8; 1 Cor. 6:19, 20; Matt. 22:21, NW.
15 But that is not all there is to care for. There are congregation studies and meetings to attend and support. These call for thought and preparation in advance. Our personal studies must not be neglected, neither must our family obligations. The least entanglement with the old world can be a hindrance and hamper our progress to the new world. That is why Jesus advised those who would follow him to disown themselves and take up the torture stake and follow him continually. Paul counseled similarly: “Let us also put off every weight and the sin that easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, as we look intently at the leader and perfecter of our faith, Jesus.” If we heed this wise admonition, to keep pace with the New World society will not be nearly so difficult as it is to those burdened down with the things of this life.—Heb. 12:1, 2; Matt. 16:24, NW.
16. What should every member of the New World society ask himself?
16 To be unnecessarily tied down to this old world only tends to dampen our spirit; it impedes our progress and destroys the joy we normally get from serving Jehovah. In fact, if old-world pursuits are not controlled, they will bring us to a dead stop. Every member of the New World society should concern himself with his progress toward the new world. He should ask himself: Where do I stand in relation to the New World society? Am I keeping pace with it? Am I neglecting New World interests for old-world pursuits? Are my responses to theocratic calls like those of the faithful prophets and apostles? Or am I letting secular interests swallow up my time? To a moral rich young man who desired to get everlasting life, Jesus said: “‘One thing is missing about you: Go, sell what things you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven, and come be my follower.’ But he grew sad at the saying and went off grieved, for he was holding many possessions. After looking around Jesus said to his disciples: ‘How difficult a thing it will be for those with money to enter into the kingdom of God!’” Do not let money, materialism, things of this world, keep you from gaining life.—Mark 10:17-30, NW.
17. Does a Christian lose anything by breaking clean from the old world?
17 It was after Jesus’ conversation with the young man that Peter said: “Look! we left all things and have been following you.” Jesus replied in this way: “Truly I say to you men, No one has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for my sake and for the sake of the good news who will not get a hundredfold now in this period of time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and fields, with persecutions, and in the coming system of things everlasting life.” Jesus, in other words, told Peter that the Christian does not lose a thing by giving up the old world, nor does any Christian witness of Jehovah lose a thing by doing the same for the sake of keeping pace with the New World society. We gain a hundredfold of all that we give up, and more. The anointed remnant will gain in addition thereto a glorious life in the heavens as Christ’s bride, and the other sheep of the Lord will gain everlasting life on a paradise new earth. All this for not losing faith, but believingly moving ahead with the New World society in its journey to the new world.