The Fight of Faith of the Peaceable
1. Why are Jehovah’s people happy under oppression?
SATAN knows he has but a short time, and he is determined to stop the preaching work. Just as Christ was reviled and persecuted and finally put to death, so men of faith today can expect persecution, knowing that they are no more favored in this regard than their Master. (John 15:20) But Jehovah’s witnesses are undaunted despite bans and imprisonment, confiscation of Bible literature and legal obstacles that have been raised against the preaching work in many countries, recognizing these to be tangible evidences of the war being fought against the remnant of the followers of Christ. In fact, they are happy despite all this, just as Jesus foresaw: “Happy are those who have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake, since the kingdom of the heavens belongs to them. Happy are you when people reproach you and persecute you and lyingly say every kind of wicked thing against you for my sake. Rejoice and leap for joy, since your reward is great in the heavens; for in that way they persecuted the prophets prior to you.” (Matt. 5:10-12, NW) So the preaching work continues with God’s blessing upon it despite all that opposers can do to bring it to a stop.
2. If the truth divides a family, what course should the Christian follow?
2 For many persons the biggest fight to remain faithful in Jehovah’s service comes right at home. (Mic. 7:6) Jesus illustrated this, saying ‘two men would be working together in a field; one would be taken and the other abandoned. Two women would be working at the mill; one would be taken and the other abandoned.’ (Matt. 24:40, 41) Even those working closely together, those of the same family, may be divided because of the truth. One is taken along to life because of maintaining integrity and keeping faithfulness despite the opposition that others very close to him may bring against him.
3. Why is it so dangerous to get involved in the cares of this world?
3 For others the biggest obstacle to having a share in the Kingdom ministry arises because of materialism. They are lured on by the prospect of higher pay and a better job until they have very little time left to themselves or to devote to Jehovah’s service. They forget to apply the counsel of Jesus to put the Kingdom interests first in their lives with the assurance that the other things, the things that they need for living, will be added to them. At Luke 14:16 it is recorded that Jesus gave a parable of a man who invited his friends to attend a big feast. They all had excuses. One had just purchased some land, another had some cattle and another had just got married. Just as in the days of Noah, they were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage and were not concerned enough with God and his service to look after the really important things. In Jesus’ parable these friends missed out on a rich feast. Today we may miss out on a rich spiritual feast, with wonderful privileges of serving God and association with those of like precious faith, if we put other things first in our lives. It is necessary always to keep our vision of the new world clear, not letting it get clouded over with golden dreams, which may prove to be only fool’s gold. (Luke 21:34-36) The happiest people in the world today are those who gain enduring riches by putting spiritual treasures first.
4. What is necessary to gain God’s approval and bear Kingdom fruit?
4 Others miss the happiness of true children of God because of pride. They feel that they could never do the work of telling their faith to others. But Jehovah never requires something of us that we cannot do. Everyone can talk; we do it every day. Paul reminds us that it is with the mouth that confession is made to salvation. It is by our freely speaking the truth and explaining the Scriptures to men of good will that we direct them along the pathway to life. If we have true love for God and for our brothers we shall want to do this peaceable work.
5. Why is faith a requirement for ambassadors of peace, and how is it kept strong?
5 To continue happy in our service to God regardless of opposition requires faith. Faith is built up by hearing and meditating on God’s Word. Everyone can use more faith. That was true even of Peter. At Jesus’ invitation he tried to walk on water, and, for a moment, his faith permitted him, but then he lost confidence and sank. Never do we want to step back and bog down in old-world disbelief, joining with the scoffers who say: “Where is this promised presence of his?” Hold tight to faith and knowledge of God’s Word. Even if the faith is as little as a grain of mustard it will prove sufficient for our needs. Faith must be exercised, however, to be kept alive. We give it this animation by sharing in the Kingdom service. We demonstrate it by confidence and trust and love for our brothers. Though Matthew 24:12 reminds us that the love of the greater number will cool off, still the good news of the Kingdom shall be preached. Will your faith prove to be great enough and strong enough so that you will have a share, remaining faithful in the service right down until Jehovah says, It is enough?
6. What goal do Jehovah’s people have in their ministry?
6 Just attending a religious service and saying, ‘I have faith,’ is not sufficient. It must be the true faith. Jesus declared that ‘not all those who say, Master, Master, will enter the Kingdom.’ (Matt. 7:21) We must have accurate knowledge and then live according to it. Then, as we serve in the Christian ministry, we can be of help to liberate those held in religious bondage, setting them free from religious error. Satan has put up a great bulwark of deceit to hold his captives. All we have to counteract it is the water of truth, but this is sufficient if it is properly directed by a skilled workman and is given force and impetus by God’s spirit. Just as a little stream of water can cut into and erode rocky soil, carving out a Grand Canyon, so the Scripture truths open the way to life for men of good will. This is the happy part of Christians today who share as ambassadors of peace by announcing the Kingdom message.
7. Describe the difference between carnal and spiritual warfare.
7 Paul explained the nature of our Christian ministry, likening it to warfare. “Though we walk in the flesh, we do not wage warfare according to what we are in the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but powerful by God for overturning strongly entrenched things. For we are overturning reasonings and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are bringing every thought into captivity to make it obedient to the Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:3-5, NW) If Christians are to be a happy, peaceable people, as Jesus indicated, why does Paul liken this activity to warfare? Obviously he does not here speak of the wars of the nations, but shows that God backs Christian ministers in their spiritual warfare to combat tradition, philosophy and doctrines of demons that are raised up against the Word of God. The opposition from Satan as “god of this world,” with all the temporal forces he commands, makes this a fight to the finish, but a blessed one for those maintaining faith.
8. Why is it necessary to follow a course of neutrality?
8 Jehovah’s witnesses must maintain the position advocated by Christ, that of being in the world but not a part of it. They recognize the need for strict neutrality as far as the world’s political affairs are concerned in order to serve properly the men of all nations as Christian ministers of Jehovah. As true peacemakers their faith is not divided by nationalism, race or politics, but they work unitedly in all parts of the world under the supreme direction of Jehovah and his King Son, Christ Jesus. Heeding the Scriptural admonition, they cannot follow the lead of false religion in friendship with the world. Jehovah’s people world-wide have built up a truly New World society of people of all races and former faiths, who now unitedly put confidence in Jehovah’s unchangeable promise to establish a world government of peace under Christ. They recognize that only by maintaining their faithfulness and sharing in the fight to preach this message of truth to the people will they be able to enjoy the wonderful blessing of life in the righteous new world just ahead.
UPHOLDING THE TRUTH
9. How have Jehovah’s witnesses resisted attacks by false science against God’s Word?
9 Jehovah’s witnesses have upheld Bible truths on many fronts. Authorities that were once held to disprove the Bible have now been forced to support it. When men thought the earth to be flat, the Scriptures spoke of the “circle of the earth.” (Isa. 40:22) Long before physicians understood the human circulatory system, the Bible aptly described it. Thousands of years before the discovery of Mendel’s law of heredity, Jehovah’s Word alluded to its practical application in the case of the herdsman Jacob. (Gen. 30:37 to 31:12) Even today, while men still cling to the evolution theory, the facts support the unchangeable truth in the creation account that Jehovah created each plant and animal species according to its kind. The inspired Scriptural record recognized dangers owing to contagious and animal-borne diseases, such as trichinosis, tularemia and others, long before modern science had any concept of bacteria. Even mathematicians are forced to concede the impossibility that Moses just guessed at the accurate Scriptural order of creation, which science now confirms as true. Thus in many fields modern science has been seen to back up the Bible. Instead of deriding parts as mythical or uninspired, Jehovah’s witnesses fight to vindicate it before the eyes of men of good will, using the latest of modern scientific evidence.
10, 11. Name the attributes of the Creator, and explain how the truth is in harmony with these.
10 On the religious battlefield Jehovah’s witnesses recognize Jehovah as a God of love, justice, power and wisdom. As a God of love he demonstrates from the Bible that the doctrines of purgatory and hellfire, which picture the Creator as a fiend instead of as a loving father, are incompatible with the Scripture accounts. A scripture familiar to many states simply: “The wages sin pays is death, but the gift God gives is everlasting life by Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 6:23, NW) A careful investigation of the Scriptures reveals that God never threatened the human family with an agonizing eternal punishment, but, rather, that eternal sleep in death would be the end of the willfully wicked.—Jer. 51:39.
11 Surely it is not in keeping with the Scriptural concept of God as a God of wisdom to believe that he will be forced to destroy the earth in flames because of man’s rebellion. Further, the Scriptures show that Jehovah’s purposes are unchangeable. His original intent that men live on a beautiful earth in peace and happiness, as depicted in the garden of Eden, will be carried to a grand climax in the new world of righteousness. Ecclesiastes 1:4 shows clearly that the earth will abide forever. So while the present world system will pass out of the way, just as the previous one did at the time of the Flood, still men of faith will live through to enjoy the complete fulfillment of Jehovah’s purposes toward the earth as long ago foreseen by the great God of wisdom.
12. How do we acknowledge Jehovah’s justice and power?
12 Jehovah’s justice is manifest in the provision he has made for life for men of all kinds as a free gift through faith. This is not received because of prayers that some can afford to pay for while others cannot. The same Mediator and Intercessor, Christ Jesus, who is also our Redeemer, can be called upon by all who desire to worship Jehovah with spirit and truth. While many persons by their point of view deny the power of God, Jehovah’s witnesses recognize the illimitable power of the Creator of the universe. Instead of saying regarding the Kingdom that if it ever does come it will not be for thousands of years, Jehovah’s witnesses recognize that God has set a time for the final termination of this present system and that by his power it will come. They put confidence in the words of Jesus as Jehovah’s Spokesman that “this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” (Matt. 24:34) Thus by words, doctrine and fruitage Jehovah’s witnesses show themselves to be fighters for the truth and true children of God.
13. What foundation has false religion built for world peace?
13 On the other hand, false religion has not been preaching the true Word of Gad, nor producing the fruits befitting the servants of God. As one national magazine asked, “Is the religious boom a spiritual bust?” Even though church attendances are swelling, the rush for religion has not slowed the increase of crime and immorality. This demonstrates that the faith of many people is superficial and that the religious systems of the world today have not reached the hearts and minds of the people. Even worse, they have given the people tradition instead of the truth, which would motivate them to live in keeping with God’s will. A generation of religious illiterates has grown up. Many times churchgoers will bring out a prayer book or catechism instead of a Bible, thinking they are the same. No wonder the churches have failed to turn the tide in the fight for a better and peaceful world. They have not built on the sound foundation of God’s Word.
14. What warnings do we find in Scripture against religious deceivers?
14 The apostle Paul spoke of the false religious guides, at 2 Corinthians 11:13-15, warning that, though they claim to be ministers of righteousness, their end would be in keeping with their works. The prophecy at Zechariah 13:4-6 shows that God has no use for those who mislead the people through false worship. At the time of the end, when the people realize the extent of the religious deception, they will turn against their false teachers, only to have these clerics rip off their vestments and claim they have been farmers from the days of their youth. These scriptures should alert to watchfulness any who placidly believe that just any religion is all right as long as you have faith in God and that sooner or later the religions will bring world peace for all men. Jehovah never tolerated false worship in the past, nor does he at this time, even though it may be preached in the name of Christ. The divided religious groups of our time are pictured by the crumbling clay in the feet of the image of Satan’s organization, which will be pulverized to clear the way for the rock foundation of Jehovah’s peaceful new heavens and new earth of righteousness.
15. (a) How can the truth be effectively brought to persons of good will? (b) How have messengers of Jehovah been received in the past and in the present?
15 No wonder Jesus and the apostles exposed false worship, as shown at Matthew 23. They were anxious to open the eyes of the honest-hearted people of their day to the way that leads to life. Jehovah’s witnesses likewise desire to help people seeking the truth to a clear understanding of the Scriptures, not to offend them. The apostle Paul explained that tact and love must be used to accomplish this: “And so to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain Jews; . . . To the weak I became weak, that I might gain the weak. I have become all things to people of all kinds, that I might by all means save some. But I do all things for the sake of the good news, that I may become a sharer of it with others.” (1 Cor. 9:20-23, NW) Even though Paul was tactful in his ministry he was persecuted because he would not compromise his beliefs for enemies of truth. He wrote: “In labors more plentifully, in prisons more plentifully, in stripes to an excess, in near-deaths often. By Jews I five times received forty strokes less one, three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I experienced shipwreck, a night and a day I have spent in the deep; in travels often, in dangers from rivers, in dangers from highwaymen, in dangers from my own race.” (2 Cor. 11:23-26, NW) Despite such treatment Paul was mild-tempered, not trusting in carnal weapons, not returning evil for evil. Rather, he rejoiced to serve as a preacher of the good news.
VICTORY TO THE PEACEABLE
16. What is the wise course of life to follow?
16 There is a tremendous contrast between the warfare of the nations and this right fight of faith. In this battle it is possible to emerge victorious and with the crown of life. God does not hold this hope before us as though it were impossible, but as something toward which we should work with hope. We shall attain it if we have the right mental attitude, a courageous heart and sincere determination to serve Jehovah in a way that will be pleasing in his sight. It means putting the Kingdom interests first in our life, serving God in righteousness and with perseverance. We cannot be pleasing if we try to serve two masters, building up treasure in the old world and at the same time keeping one eye on the new. (2 Tim. 2:4) Such ones cry out, “Lord, Lord!” but do not produce the fruits of the Kingdom.
17. (a) Why is the ministry described as a shepherding work? (b) How is Isaiah 2:2-4 now being fulfilled?
17 Although condemned by the clergy and hindered in the preaching work by many nations, Jehovah’s witnesses continue to share in the peaceful ministry that Jehovah has commanded through the Scriptures. They recognize the tremendous work yet to be done in shepherding and gathering together those people of good will who are Scripturally described as the “other sheep.” These sheeplike ones have been scattered and knocked about by false worship, but now they are being gathered into the one flock under the direction of Christ as the Good Shepherd. They are being led to pure waters of refreshing truth, to green pastures of rich spiritual food. They learn to recognize the danger of contaminated water, realizing that the same spiritual fountain does not give forth both bitter and sweet water. The Good Shepherd directs his flock to the stream of water of life, bubbling forth from the throne of Jehovah. Rejoicing is seen among faithful undershepherds on earth over the return even of one lost or strayed sheep to these life-giving waters. They eagerly invite others to join them in the nourishing spiritual food, saying: “Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, . . . and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” People of all nations are now accepting this invitation to join with the peaceable New World society as they beat their swords into plowshares by doing the constructive and spiritually upbuilding work of preaching. This work will last right through the end of the present system under Satan, where conflict is a “universal law of life,” and those who benefit from it will enjoy life in the peaceful new world of Jehovah’s establishment.—Isa. 2:2-4.
18. In what way is the harvesting of the nations being accomplished?
18 The ministerial work of the New World society is also described as a great harvest. Jesus foresaw that the people of good will would be ripe for ingathering at this time. More full-time harvesters are needed to accomplish this tremendous ingathering work before Armageddon. This harvest period is a time of great joy, a happy time. It is a time when we see the results of our labors and of Jehovah’s blessing upon the work. Shepherding and harvesting are both peaceful pursuits and they well illustrate the activity of true peacemakers today. It is a constructive work leading to everlasting life.
19. How will Jehovah himself establish lasting peace? Describe the conditions in the new world.
19 Only a short time yet remains in which this preaching work can be accomplished. We are living in an interim period of Jehovah’s undeserved kindness between the war in heaven and the final culmination of the tribulation at the battle of Armageddon. Then, with a warring action by God, all nations will be swept clean of the last vestiges of Satan’s world organization, to make way for the new heavens and new earth, which will bring blessings to all the God-fearing survivors. These will then beautify the earth, building homes for their families and loved ones, long enjoying the work of their hands. If it is your hope to live in such a peaceful and happy time under the direction of Jehovah as the eternal Sovereign and Christ Jesus as the Prince of Peace, then you must apply now the remedy that God has prescribed for this warring, battle-torn world: to love God with all the heart, mind, soul and strength and your neighbor as yourself. If you do that, then you too will enjoy life in the new world, where the righteous will flourish with an abundance of peace as long as the moon endures. At that time Christ shall have dominion from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth. Those who will be living then will be the meek ones, those who now show themselves to be real peacemakers by announcing the good news of Jehovah’s kingdom.
20. What is the hope of the “sons of God”?
20 What course will you follow? Will it be the way that seems right to men, trusting in the nations and armed might as the only answer, following the uncertain or misleading guide that false religion has held before the people? Or do you have confidence in the Word of Jehovah, that “of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end”? (Isa. 9:7, AS) If that is your hope, then you too will be counted among those of whom Jesus spoke when he said: “Happy are the peaceable, since they will be called the ‘sons of God’.”