Turn to the New World Society
1. What kind of organization is the Christian congregation?
In the theocratic Christian congregation we have an organization permanently devoted to carrying out Jehovah’s purposes, and the one organization that preserves in the earth the virtues of God. Jesus referred to the Christians as a preservative of human life, of Jehovah’s worship and of virtue, when he stated, “You are the salt of the earth.” (Matt. 5:13, NW) This “salt,” now seen in the New World society, has responsibilities that it cannot avoid, to the end that Jehovah’s righteousness will be upheld, which privilege and obligation fall upon all who engage in Christian worship.
2. In the early Christian congregation what needs were to be filled?
2 Christ Jesus launched the Christian congregation. Following his impalement, resurrection and exaltation to heaven he sent to his associates the spirit and power of his heavenly Father that they might push on with the expansion of true worship as the early Christian congregation. The Christian good news was to be preached, men had to grow spiritually strong to stand against the corruption of the ruling Roman Empire, congregations needed to be organized and the individuals in the congregations taught and trained in the Christian ministry. Christians, novices and experienced alike, must be kept within the bounds of Christian propriety and operating on theocratic principles; otherwise, corruption would interfere with the triumph of the Christian congregation in its God-appointed tasks.
3. Show the provision made to meet the needs and requirements of the Christian congregation.
3 There was, therefore, in the Christian congregation, a delegation of duties, which delegation of duties or assignment to special privileges and responsibilities came to dedicated men who gave evidence of spiritual maturity and of faithfulness to their duties and assignments. Such appointments were made by the governing body of the early Christian congregation as centered in Jerusalem, comprising the apostles and other mature Christian men, and their representatives in their behalf. Such appointees shared the ministry common to all Christians. They had organizational duties to care for in the congregations in which they were located and with which they served. Care and oversight of the respective congregations required the overseer Christians to see that the congregation itself and the individuals therein walked in the paths of virtue.
4. Who could be properly appointed to special ministry?
4 In the third chapter of First Timothy are set out qualifications that must be met by one who would be appointed as an overseer in the Christian congregation. He should not be a reprehensible person, a bigamist, an immoderate man without self-control, unstable of mind and disorderly, a hater of his fellow man, a drunkard, quarrelsome, or a money lover, not a person fostering juvenile delinquency or a novice, or a crook in business matters. Concerning overseers the statement is: “Also let these be tested as to fitness first, then let them serve as ministers, as they are free from accusation.” (1 Tim. 3:10, NW) “And the things you heard from me with the support of many witnesses, these things commit to faithful men who in turn will be adequately qualified to teach others.”—2 Tim. 2:2, NW.
5, 6. How general was this procedure of appointment, and to what extent were the appointees like the clergy of Christendom?
5 This was the uniform arrangement throughout the Christian congregations and the method for appointing responsible men to care for each of the congregational flocks, even as far away as in Antioch, as we read: “Now in Antioch there were prophets and teachers in the local congregation.” (Acts 13:1, NW) Addressing the Philippians Paul says: “Holy ones in union with Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, along with overseers and ministerial servants.” (Phil. 1:1, NW) To these ministerial servants and overseers and assistants in the theocratic Christian organization the members of the clergy class of Christendom bear no resemblance. The theocratic servants neither claim nor attempt to lead their flocks in politics, social reform, psychiatry, gambling or pagan religious doctrines and practices. Instead, such servants are recognized because they have studied and taught the Word of God and the laws of Christ; they have preached Jehovah’s kingdom, Christ’s ransom, the resurrection, the New World and, in it all, they have insisted that the individuals composing the Christian congregation were to be virtuous or be expelled.
6 On these lines, then, the early church was organized and operated, and neither it nor the word of God that it preached is responsible for the conditions that came following the death of the apostles. Then the Christian organization went into captivity to the pagan world and a hybrid emerged, the fusion religion of paganism and false Christianity. Christianity and “Christendom” are not the same, they are on opposite sides of the issue involving clean worship and virtue.
7. (a) Discuss the circumstances and content of Paul’s prophecy of Acts, chapter 20. (b) Was it fulfilled to the extinction of truth and virtue?
7 Having the spirit of his God, aware of the opposition of Satan and the conditions surrounding the Christian organization, with eyes to the future and speaking under inspiration, the apostle Paul from Miletus sent to Ephesus for the mature men of the congregation, and said to them: “And now, look! I know that all of you among whom I went preaching the kingdom will see my face no more. Hence I call you to witness this very day that I am clean from the blood of all men, for I have not held back from telling you all the counsel of God. Pay attention to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the holy spirit has appointed you overseers, to shepherd the congregation of God, which he purchased with the blood of his own [Son]. I know that after my going away oppressive wolves will enter in among you and will not treat the flock with tenderness, and from among you yourselves men will rise and speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves. . . . You must assist those who are weak and must bear in mind the words of the Lord Jesus, when he himself said, ‘There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.’” (Acts 20:18-35, NW) True to Paul’s forecast the flock of God was beset by wolves from within and without and history records how comparatively feebly glowed the light of truth throughout the ages that followed. Yet, in spite of this captivity of the Christian congregation, the principles of Christianity did remain alive and God’s Word, by his power, was preserved throughout the centuries and comes to us pure and dependable today.
TO THIS YOU MAY TURN
8. Today what provision is actually with us?
8 Today there is something else with us, however, in addition to this Word of God, which is likewise made possible by Jehovah’s spirit. That is the New World society, extending throughout the earth, composed of men and women of all nations, each of whom has come to Jehovah God in dedication, giving evidence of having Jehovah’s approval and spirit as each shares in the work of expansion of pure worship. How is it possible that, in a world that has reached a new low in depravity, there can be a society devoted to the new world in which righteousness is to dwell? (2 Pet. 3:13, NW) Is there actually a society or group of Christians upon the earth that insists upon virtue’s being practiced by its members and associates to which you may turn? Yes!
9, 10. What development led up to re-establishment of theocratic rule?
9 As the apostle Paul pointed out in his closing speech to the mature men of the Ephesus congregation, he preached the message of the Kingdom. Those who had faith in the promises of Jehovah had faith in and looked for the establishment of the kingdom of heaven in Jehovah’s due time. As the time approached for the birth of this righteous government Jehovah had a work done in the earth, moving Christians through the understanding of his word of truth to make progress in Christian doctrine, organization and practice. With a beginning, small though not to be despised, in the latter years of the nineteenth century the preparatory work of announcing the kingdom of God over earth began. Christians formed themselves into a nonsectarian society, and into congregations for systematic Bible study and ministry. Having seen the evils of clergy rule, they first organized themselves along democratic lines, with each congregation through democratic vote conducting its own affairs. Later some progress toward theocratic rule was made. Came the year 1931, at which time the official Society that they had formed for the systematic carrying on of their work took a forward step, looking toward the restoration of theocratic rule among Christians upon earth.
10 The following year, 1932, the congregations of Jehovah’s witnesses throughout the world brought themselves under theocratic procedure, with the manifest blessing of Jehovah, until today we find the earth-wide New World society operating as did the early Christian congregation, noncommercially, nonpolitically, voluntarily on the part of each individual in it. There now is, therefore, the proper theocratic control over the Christian congregation, which control had not existed since the captivity of which Paul warned.
11. Who directs the Christian New World society?
11 Who controls the organization, who directs it? Who is at the head? A man? A group of men? A clergy class? A pope? A hierarchy? A council? No, none of these. How is that possible? In any organization is it not necessary that there be a directing head or policy-making part that controls or guides the organization? Yes. Is the living God, Jehovah, the Director of the theocratic Christian organization? Yes!
12. What vital facts prove the foregoing answer?
12 Because of the vital fact that the law that governs the operation of the theocratic New World society is the Word of Jehovah God, and because of the fact that the heaven-enthroned Christ Jesus is Jehovah’s Executive Officer carrying on his work in the earth, and because of the further fact that the spirit of God by Christ Jesus is operating through his Word and upon the hearts and minds of his dedicated servants, the New World society is theocratic, meaning “God-ruled.”
13. (a) How are appointments of ministerial servants made? (b) Prove such appointments are theocratic. (c) Over whom is theocratic control?
13 Does Christ Jesus come to earth and make appointments of the individual ministerial servants, overseers and assistants and other such ministers throughout the congregations in the earth? No. Then how are such appointments made? They are made by the visible governing body associated with the legal agency or Society, which in 1884 witnesses of Jehovah incorporated for that purpose, now named Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. They are theocratic because they act in accordance with the great Theocrat’s written Word and with the model organization of the early Christian church or congregation as launched by Christ Jesus. “Farfetched,” do some say? But let those who contend that Jehovah’s witnesses are not a theocratic organization point out wherein they are not. In word and in deed, in doctrine, organization and practice, the New World society endeavors sincerely to conform to the Word of Jehovah God and to insist on its principles, and therefore it is a Scriptural, Christian, theocratic or God-directed organization. It is through his Word that Jehovah expresses his mind to his people. There is no other organization in Christendom that conforms to the Bible pattern or model. Only the New World society of Jehovah’s witnesses insists that those within its ranks do conform to the Scriptural pattern in matters both personal and congregational. This theocratic control and direction is not over all men; it is not even over all who may come in contact with it, or may be associated with the congregations of Jehovah’s witnesses, or attend their meetings. An individual must willingly submit or bring himself under the beneficent control by his personal dedication to Jehovah God; and so the theocratic control and direction is only over dedicated ones.
14. For what purposes are theocratic appointments?
14 The present delegation of duties to the servants in the congregation and the other special representatives of the theocratic organization is for specific purposes. These must feed the flock of God, shepherding faithfully and with love. They must help Jehovah’s people everywhere to study the Bible, grow in maturity, be trained in the field ministry, preaching the good news of the Kingdom to others, and they must preserve virtue in the congregation throughout the New World society organization. This is necessary that corruptness, indecency of any kind, not be allowed to creep in and contaminate.
15. In what way is the theocratic principle of cutting off found in the New World society?
15 As we have previously observed, in the nation of typical Israel corruption of pure worship brought death to the wrongdoer. In the Christian congregation the members of the congregation do not take the life of an offender. There is, however, a Christian cutting off or disfellowshiping. This is not a taking of human life, but it is an expulsion from fellowship with the congregation of dedicated servants of Jehovah God, a disfellowshiping from the New World society. This is necessary, following the exhausting of the other provisions of Christian rule for handling such matters, and it is accomplished by the mature judgment and considered action of the appointed servants in the Christian congregation. This is their responsibility. If faithful, they must discharge this responsibility, without passion, for the interests of all concerned and for the honor of Jehovah and the cleanliness of his organization.
ATTITUDE TOWARD DISFELLOWSHIPMENT
16. Enumerate offenses that require cleansing.
16 The offenses that make disfellowshiping necessary include those which brought punishment at the time of the early Christian congregation. Such offenses include persistence in lying, stealing, dishonest practices in business, sexual offenses, teaching of false doctrine, repudiation of Jehovah’s provision by Christ Jesus, rebellion against the theocratic organization, causing dissension, slander, backbiting and other wrongs. These we know are not virtuous and we cannot imagine such things’ being practiced by Jehovah God or by his Son Christ Jesus.
17. In what ways is disfellowshiping an act of love?
17 The Christian law in these matters does not ignore man’s weakness nor does it overlook the ransom provision of Christ Jesus and Jehovah’s forgiveness and mercy. The disfellowshiping procedure takes all of these into consideration and is really a last resort after all other provisions have failed to maintain or to restore cleanliness and virtue. Disfellowshiping is therefore really an act of love, love on the part of Jehovah God and Christ Jesus, on the part of the theocratic organization itself and on the part of the servants in the congregation who properly take the action directly. This is so because it is done not in malice or unkindness but in obedience to the righteous laws of Jehovah. It is an act of faithfulness; failure to keep the organization clean would be unfaithfulness. It has a threefold purpose, (1) that of keeping clean the Christian congregation of the New World society; (2) helping the offender, if possible, through this drastic means, should it be that he can be impressed with his error and duly repent of it before Jehovah God; (3) it is in the interests of those who observe the action taken, both as to assuring them of the correctness of the theocratic organization and as a warning to them of the seriousness of deviation from proper conduct.
18. Compare sexual offenses with other transgressions of Christian law.
18 There are these various offenses, some of which we have named, that serve to weaken the individual and the congregations if persisted in. Most of them we can recognize as being offenses against another person, depriving the other of certain rights and therefore showing a lack of love. But some seem to have difficulty in understanding why the sexual offenses should be so objectionable to the Christian organization and why they are so strongly condemned by God himself in his Word, the Bible. It is the great Creator and Father who has made his provision for the transmission of human life, and this is a very wonderful and sacred thing. We have all received of its benefits, because we are living. If we accept its benefits we, of course, accept God’s method, and the acceptance of the benefit and the method by us makes it encumbent on us to accept God’s regulation of the entire process. Some might argue that sexual offenses do no harm, not even to the willing participants themselves; so wherein is it so wrong? Lying, yes! Stealing, yes! Such things deprive another of what is his due. But an offense such as adultery or fornication, is it not different? Since it is so commonly practiced in the old world, how can it be so bad for the members of the New World society to practice?
19. How does Paul show religion to be involved?
19 Perhaps the apostle Paul encountered such or similar reasoning. In any event in the sixth chapter of First Corinthians he shows that religion is involved, stating in part: “Flee from fornication. Every other sin which a man may commit is outside his body, but he that practices fornication is sinning against his own body. What! Do you not know that the body of you people is the temple of the holy spirit within you which you have from God? Also, you do not belong to yourselves, for you were bought with a price. By all means, glorify God in the body of you people.”—1 Cor. 6:9-20, NW.
20. Why must the Lord’s “other sheep” abstain from sexual impurities?
20 Here Paul is addressing members of the body of Christ. But does this mean that this commandment to abstain from sexual impurities is not binding upon the Lord’s other sheep, who constitute the great majority of those in the New World society? That could not be the conclusion, but, rather, this injunction to moral cleanliness is equally binding upon all servants dedicated to God. Why? Because his spirit is upon his dedicated people as a group or body and as individuals. These other sins that are condemned, such as lying, stealing, teaching wrong doctrines, and rebellion, are sins outside the body of the individual member of the Lord’s “other sheep” but the sins of adultery and fornication are sins against the individual’s own body, which should be used to glorify God.
21. To glorify God, what must we do?
21 We cannot glorify God in this or in other matters if we refuse to be subject to the regulations that he laid down. Do the members of Jehovah’s other sheep have his spirit on them? They do. Therefore they dare not sin against their own bodies. The times in which we are living, which are critical and hard to deal with, demand exacting preservation of virtue and they demand this not only of the members of the remnant of the “body of Christ” but also of the members of the Lord’s “other sheep,” of all who compose or hope to compose the New World society. Back in his time Paul made reference to what he called the prevalence of fornication. It is no less prevalent now.
22. What about the privilege and responsibility of the entire congregation in this matter of preservation of virtue?
22 What about the privilege and responsibility of the entire congregation in this matter of preservation of virtue? We recall that in the case of typical Israel it was the congregation, the people, who executed the death sentence upon offenders who were worthy of it under the law of Jehovah God. In the Christian congregation all must sincerely wish to preserve Jehovah’s virtues among men. They must respect the decision of the servants in such a matter as disfellowshiping. This is supported by Titus 1:5-16: “Make appointments . . . that he may be able both to exhort by the teaching that is healthful and to reprove those who contradict. . . . unruly men, . . . shut the mouths of these, . . . keep on reproving them with severity, . . . They publicly declare they know God, but they disown him by their works, because they are detestable.” We see from this that unruliness is not to be permitted. Unruliness would be a second violation, and a second violation would not do good nor help the first violation of God’s law constituting the basis for the disfellowshiping action. One’s questioning the decision respecting the disfellowshiping action would be inconsistent with one’s profession of faith in God and his word and one’s profession of the desire to see the word of God operate among his people. It would be inconsistent with our joining in the New World society in its wonderful work of expansion of clean worship. It would show a lack of trust, whereas a co-operation by all in the congregation and a conformance to the disfellowshiping that was done in behalf of all is showing trust by those who are in fellowship. Therefore it is necessary that all in the congregation accept the policy of the congregation. To the Thessalonians, Paul wrote: “Now we request you, brothers, to have regard for those who are working hard among you and presiding over you in the Lord and admonishing you, and to give them more than extraordinary consideration in love because of their work.”—1 Thess. 5:12-27, NW.
23. To what extent must an erring individual be saddened because of his sin?
23 Anger on the part of the disfellowshiped person is not associated with his repentance. A person is not both repentant and angry; therefore there must not be any misplaced pity and misplaced sympathy. Must the heart be made sad then? Yes, disfellowshiping should make the heart sad. On the part of the erring individual, for any violation of God’s laws, small or serious, there must be real repentance, which means sadness of heart. In the case of a disfellowshiped person, in order for the disfellowshiping to work for his good and possibly to reinstatement, the heart must be cut, the mind must be hurt, there must be a real sincere longing for virtue on his part, which longing will lead to repentance.
24. In what action can we show our dependence upon Jehovah and our love of his virtue?
24 For genuine worship and preservation of God’s virtue, the entire congregation is under test. Following the obedient course brings Jehovah’s blessing. Thereby all in the congregation show consistently their dependence on Jehovah through Christ Jesus for everything; for the truth itself, for his spirit enabling us to maintain our integrity and to perform our ministry, and for even the common blessings of life. Where counsel and guidance and even severe discipline are applied and received, ‘whatever virtue there is, whatever praiseworthy thing there is,’ such is from Jehovah God through Christ Jesus. The theocratic New World society, decade after decade, consistently continues to merit our wholehearted support and co-operation as Christians worshiping Jehovah God in the preservation of virtue, in his virtuous triumphant kingdom. Turn to the New World society!