Fruitful Ministers Led by Active Force
“And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep mine ordinances, and do them.”—Ezek. 36:27, AS.
1. (a) Here what course is designated as being dishonoring to Jehovah and fatal to the individual? (b) In what respect are millions deceived?
Do you feel that this is a time for true Christians to conform to the old world, or do you feel that now, more than ever, with the increase that Jehovah is bringing, this is the time to push forward and work hard for further increase by his blessing? Perhaps you are one of .Jehovah’s witnesses and have been engaging in the ministry of the Kingdom message from house to house and otherwise participating in the activities of the Christian congregation. What a fatal thing it would be for you, and what a dishonor to Jehovah God, were your profession of faith to become a mere empty formalism, you relinquishing your glorious treasure of service and degenerating into merely a sort of “churchgoer”! That is unthinkable! Yet there is the danger. This happens to people. Practically speaking, it has happened to an entire world of millions upon millions of formalistic practitioners of religion of all types and kinds who have been deceived and who have deceived themselves into thinking that they can violate the righteous requirements of Jehovah God, be out-and-out materialistic, follow selfish pursuits of the old world, conform to the old-world standards, beliefs and practices and yet, because they engage in some religious formalism, be Scripturally discharging their duty and responsibility to God and to man.
2. Uneasy consciences may work for what benefits?
2 The consciences of many such persons are not at ease, and their uneasy consciences disturb them and move them in the right direction. To these people thus seeking a good conscience before God the truths of God’s Word, the Bible, must be brought. Again, in the case of you who are one of Jehovah’s witnesses, would your conscience be at rest should you follow this course of conformity and empty religious practice of the old world? No, “never may that happen!”
3. (a) Consideration of what, by whom and for whom is here suggested? (b) State the suggested procedure and its purpose.
3 Perhaps you know of a dedicated person who might be spiritually assisted by the Scriptural warning herein considered. Maybe such person no longer participates regularly in the field service of preaching, even though able to do so. Perhaps such person does not attend the meetings of the congregation regularly or even does not attend the meetings at all. Perhaps such person, while taking The Watchtower, does not study it, perhaps does not read it. Perhaps he no longer even receives it regularly. Do you know of any such? Are there some such in your congregation? Consider this matter. Congregation servants, with the help of the other servants in the congregation, and with the help of mature, active, spiritually strong publishers in the congregation, carry this issue of The Watchtower to such persons, talk to them about it, get them to read it, or read it together with them, and see what can be done for such persons, who have conformed and quit preaching, to arouse them to their spiritual obligations and responsibilities and wonderful New World privileges; because those of the New World society must keep the law of Jehovah God.
4. On the point of keeping God’s law, what does Jehovah say?
4 Upon this point we read the words of Jehovah addressed to the expanding New World society of true Christianity: “And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep mine ordinances, and do them.” (Ezek. 36:27, AS) This shows that fruitful ministers must be led by Jehovah’s spirit or active force and must constantly respond and go forward under the leading of Jehovah’s spirit. It shows too that, as an organization and as individuals therein, those of the New World society must walk in God’s statutes, keep his ordinances, doing the things that he outlines for them to do. These requirements they cannot meet by conforming to the old world and by relinquishing their privileges of ministering. Now is not the time to take on old worldliness. Now is the time to progress in new worldliness.
5. Increase, present and future, depends upon what?
5 Let us observe some of the statutes of Jehovah, some of the Scriptural ordinances or requirements he has laid down in his Word, the keeping of which is necessary for increase. It is the keeping of these requirements that has brought Jehovah’s blessing and increase until now. It is the keeping of these requirements in the days ahead that will continue his blessing and prosperity.
6. What theocratic principle of increase is first?
6 Foremost is the theocratic principle of truth that it is Jehovah who gives the increase and we as his servants merely serve obediently in love. “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.”—1 Cor. 3:6-9.
7. Give Scriptural authority for the governing direction of the Christian ministry.
7 Furthermore, the immediate direction of the activities of Christians upon earth has come and must continue to come through the established governing body, as was the case in the apostolic church, which is the model for today’s primitive Christian organization. Concerning the first-century church we read: “Now as [Paul and Barnabas] traveled on through the cities they would deliver to those there for observance the decrees that had been decided upon by the apostles and older men who were in Jerusalem. Therefore, indeed, the congregations continued to be made firm in the faith and to increase in number from day to day.” (Acts 16:4, 5) Concerning the primitive Christian organization today we read Jesus’ prophecy: “Who really is the faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his domestics to give them their food at the proper time? Happy is that slave if his master on arriving finds him doing so. Truly I say to you, He will appoint him over all his belongings.”—Matt. 24:45-47.
8. For increase, what about the requirements met by congregational overseers?
8 Orthodox clergymen in charge of various religious congregations have a variety of sectarian standards, which they meet to varying degrees. In the true Christian congregation, however, the standards and requirements to be met by those who have the loving oversight of local congregations are outlined extensively in the Bible, and these include such obligations as those of appreciating the truth, working hard and loving the Lord’s “other sheep.” For instance, Paul said: “For to this end we are working hard and exerting ourselves, because we have rested our hope on a living God, who is a Savior of all kinds of men, especially of faithful ones.” (1 Tim. 4:10) And: “An overseer must be . . . a lover of strangers, a lover of goodness, sound in mind, righteous, having loving-kindness, self-controlled, holding firmly to the faithful word as respects his art of teaching, that he may be able both to exhort by the teaching that is healthful and to reprove those who contradict.”—Titus 1:7-9.
NEED OF GOD’S SPIRIT
9. In what degree is Jehovah’s active force necessary?
9 The prophecy from Ezekiel before quoted shows the necessity of Christians’ having Jehovah’s spirit; and Acts 20:28 shows strikingly that those Christians having oversight of local congregations receive their appointment through the holy spirit. “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].” (Acts 20:28) Because the appointment comes to Christian men who have met and continue to meet the requirements laid down in God’s Word, which Word was provided by holy spirit of Jehovah, in meeting these requirements that are God-ordained, not man-ordained, the servant or congregational overseer receives his appointment through the holy spirit of God. The free-working of Jehovah’s spirit on all his servants, that is, on all who worship him and serve him, is further shown at Zechariah 4:6, speaking prophetically: “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith Jehovah of hosts.”—AS.
10, 11. (a) State another Jehovah-ordained provision for increase. (b) Is attention to individual and congregational detail of ministry Scripturally justified? (c) How does Isaiah 2:2-4 confirm a peaceful, theocratic organization?
10 Another Jehovah-ordained provision for increase in true Christianity is that the ministerial activity of his servants must not be haphazard, but must be organized. Therefore, it is proper that Jehovah’s witnesses give so much attention as they do to the details of their ministerial activity. Even as an individual Christian minister, the apostle Paul did not want to waste or dissipate his efforts and resources and so, setting a proper example, he said: “The way I am running is not uncertainly; the way I am directing my blows is so as not to be striking the air.” (1 Cor. 9:26) The thrilling prophecy of Isaiah 2:2-4 shows, among other things, that the expansion of Jehovah’s worship among peoples of all nations would be organized, orderly and specific, stating: “And it shall come to pass in the latter days, that the mountain of Jehovah’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many peoples shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of Jehovah from Jerusalem. And he will judge between the nations, and will decide concerning many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”—AS.
11 Effective organization is shown by this prophecy, stating that people of all nations are going to flow to an organization for worship of Jehovah. What could that possibly be except the theocratic Christian organization? They say among themselves that they are going to be taught of Jehovah’s ways, walk in his paths, which necessarily means keeping his Biblical ordinances and requirements. Furthermore, they are shown devoting their efforts, not to pursuits of war, but to pursuits of peace. This is exactly what those of the New World society all over the earth are doing at the present time.
12. What orders are given to the rich? To those who believe?
12 Showing that we must be, not fat, but lean in Christian activity; not lazy, but productive in Christian ministry, in contrast with the old world with which we do not conform, we have the apostle Paul’s instructions at 1 Timothy 6:17-19, directed to his Christian associate: “Give orders to those who are rich in the present system of things not to be arrogant, and to rest their hope, not on uncertain riches, but on God, who furnishes us all things richly for our enjoyment; to work at good, to be rich in right works, to be liberal, ready to share, safely treasuring up for themselves a right foundation for the future, in order that they may get a firm hold on the real life.” Not only to non-Christians are the foregoing words helpful, but they are directly pertinent to the dedicated servants of Jehovah God. This is shown in the words of Paul to Titus, where Paul says, in effect, that even though we are one of Jehovah’s witnesses we still have to keep our minds on maintaining right works and not quit the ministry: “Trustworthy is the saying, and concerning these things I desire you to make firm assertions constantly, in order that those who have believed God may keep their minds on maintaining right works. These things are right and beneficial to men.”—Titus 3:8, 14.
13. (a) The result of meeting God’s requirements must be what? (b) For effectiveness, what two things are required?
13 The application among sincere dedicated Christians of the foregoing and other requirements of God as set forth in his Bible to govern the Christian congregation can, of course, result in only an effective ministerial society. The real effectiveness of it is the blessing of Jehovah God upon our obedient response to his requirements. The two things, therefore, are necessary and they work together. That is, first, the obedient effort put forth by one who loves Jehovah supremely, and then, above all, the blessing of Jehovah God upon such effort. This is seen on the individual level and on the organizational level. It cannot be denied, because the earth-wide results are proof of it. Even as such has brought the theocratic New World society to its present spiritually prosperous state, so such must continue that the New World society and all in it may continue to progress spiritually to Jehovah’s praise. Such effectiveness of obeying God’s requirements is noticed and often noted. It is a good sign when this is the case. We have, for instance, the following published comment thereon, written, not by one of Jehovah’s witnesses, but by a religious writer, published in a religious magazine, and which is of interest:
14. How does one writer view the secret of effectiveness of Jehovah’s witnesses?
14 “They [Jehovah’s witnesses] are also prepared to supply the time, energy and money needed to study with any homeless and friendless child of God and guide him into the inner fellowship without regard for race, color, social stratum or intellectual level. There is the heart of the matter. Their zeal is their secret. Every Witness is a minister. Every minister is a house-to-house visitor. Every visitor is a trained servant. I dare say that no other religious movement has each state, each county, each city, each block and each street in America as thoroughly graphed as has Jehovah’s Witnesses. No other headquarters knows with such unerring accuracy what its minister members are doing, where and how they are serving . . . They operate as a unit, as an army. In fact, the local group used to be called a company, the person in charge was the captain, and the place of meeting was and still is the ‘Kingdom Hall.’”—The Christian Century, February 13, 1957.
JEHOVAH THE DEPENDABLE INCREASER
15. Above all, what do the facts demonstrate?
15 Above all, these and other facts of the modern-day history of Jehovah’s witnesses prove that our trust in Jehovah has been properly placed. Jehovah is dependable. He is the Dependable Increaser, and unassailable confidence is properly placed in him. Concerning this Psalm 115 continues: “O house of Aaron, put your trust in Jehovah; he is their help and their shield. You that fear Jehovah, trust in Jehovah; he is their help and their shield. Jehovah himself has remembered us; he will bless, he will bless the house of Israel, he will bless the house of Aaron. He will bless those fearing Jehovah, the small ones as well as the great ones.”—Ps. 115:10-13.
16. (a) Give three elements of increase. (b) Apply 1 Peter 1:13-16 to progress in spiritual maturity.
16 As should be expected under the blessing of the God Jehovah, the increase that he brings is not merely in numbers. There is indeed an increase in numbers that is most gratifying, as has been previously referred to, but there is also an increase in activity on the part of the Christian congregation of the New World society, with improved effectiveness. But that is not all. Of equal importance is the third element of increase, which is that of maturity. All these increases are essential for each one of us, that is, the increase of numbers, in activity and in maturity. Especially concerning the latter, 1 Peter 1:13-16 states: “Hence brace up your minds for activity, keep completely balanced and set your hope upon the undeserved kindness that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, quit being fashioned according to the desires you formerly had in your ignorance, but, in accord with the holy one who called you, do you also become holy yourselves in all your conduct, because it is written: ‘You must be holy, because I am holy.’” This enjoins upon true Christians individual progress in spiritual maturity through the study of God’s Word, obedience to it, and application in the individual’s life of the principles contained in the Bible. That makes for a real Christian.
17. In what way does Psalm 115:14-18 show the nature of the organization to which persons of good will are gathered and the location of the gathering work?
17 This should be expected in view of the fact that it is Jehovah who brings the increase, because he would not bring persons of good will and of honest heart to a corrupt and unclean worldly religion, belief, practice or organization. That he does bring an increase right here upon the earth is shown by the further verses of the psalm of praise: “Jehovah will give increase to you, to you and to your sons. You are the ones blessed by Jehovah, the Maker of heaven and earth. As regards the heavens, to Jehovah the heavens belong, but the earth he has given to the sons of men. The dead themselves do not praise Jah, nor do any going down into silence. But we ourselves will bless Jah from now on and to time indefinite. Praise Jah, you people!” (Ps. 115:14-18) It is to his New World society on earth now that Jehovah through Christ Jesus gathers persons of honest heart who love righteousness from every origin of men all over the earth; and he does so by means of their proclamation of the message of his Word, the Bible.
INCREASE IS ON JEHOVAH’S TERMS
18. (a) On what terms does one become a Christian? (b) To continue as such, what is necessary?
18 From the foregoing scriptures it is seen that the response to the truth of the Bible by individuals results in their becoming worshipers of Jehovah God, and thus it is that the truth is the instrumentality of gathering and of increase. This really means that the increase is on the terms that Jehovah has set out in his Word. That is to say, in order for a person to become a Christian, to become an associate with the New World society and to come in line for Jehovah’s blessings of everlasting life in his new world of righteousness, it is necessary that the individual meet Jehovah’s terms, obey his commandments. Jehovah does not change his requirements or modify, weaken or lessen them to induce people to love and serve him. Orthodox religion does all manner of ungodly things to appeal to the masses, but not so Jehovah God, and not so his Word, the Bible. In view of the fact that it is our response to the truth or our conformity to the Bible that enables us to be Jehovah’s witnesses, or to be in the New World society in the first instance, it follows unquestionably that to continue and progress in this joyful, happy, blessed relationship to Jehovah God we must continue to obey his Word. This we must do respecting all the issues of life. We continue to serve Jehovah on his terms, not on ours.
19. What test demonstrates our conformance to Jehovah’s terms for his worship?
19 There are any number of illustrations of this fact that are really obvious and that show how practical the Bible is in the lives of modern-day Christians. We might list issues that arise constantly in the lives of people who are not Christians and also in the lives of people who are Christians and who, being dedicated to serve and obey Jehovah God, are obligated to conform to his Word. When such issues arise, how do you decide them? Do you have the assistance in making your decision that a knowledge of God’s Word on the subject gives?
20. Comment on the various issues of life here listed.
20 The ordinary issues of life arise daily, some of them every day with some people, and they must be met. For instance, there is the issue of honesty. What do you do when you have to determine whether you will be honest or dishonest? Issues of conduct and of morality arise all the time. Morality includes sexual morality, and it includes more. There are all manner of standards of morality; but there is only one proper standard, and that is the Bible’s requirement. How do you decide issues of morality? And of conduct? Then there are such issues as those involving stealing, lying, killing. Everybody is confronted with them at one time or another. True worship itself is a paramount issue. There is an issue involving blood and its ingestion. Issues of divorce, the raising of children, politics. Christians have issues of their ministry of preaching; dedication presents an issue to everyone as to whether or not the individual is going to devote himself or herself to Jehovah God in dedication. Without exception every individual on earth has to answer this question or face this issue.
21. (a) What are some other issues? (b) In what must we take an interest?
21 Then there are issues of integrity, of neutrality toward worldly conflicts, payment of debts, sound and honest business practices, attending Christian meetings, the exercise of love or of selfishness, issues of the study of God’s Word, the seeking of entertainment, the gaining of education, and others. The list can be greatly lengthened. We must appreciate that the Bible gives helpful counsel and also injunction and commandment respecting the issues of life. Are you interested in what the Bible has to say about these things? The Bible is the Word of the God of life; and if you are going to receive life you must be interested in what he states to be the requirements for life, which is granted on his terms through Christ Jesus our Redeemer.
22. What are present opportunities and future prospects?
22 Those in the New World society, endeavoring in all sincerity to confront the issues of life squarely, honestly and with an assurance based upon their knowledge of the decisions that will please Jehovah God and bring his approval, are endeavoring to live according to New World requirements. By really practicing true Christianity you too can now start to conform to New World living requirements. Ahead are boundless blessings, privileges and joys in our further great advance toward maturity in this respect, an advance that thousands are beginning to comprehend and appreciate.
23. (a) In the light of Isaiah 29:22-24, what may be said about unashamed understanding now? (b) What about instruction to correct erring and murmuring?
23 In being able to confront the issues referred to and to meet them on Bible grounds, Jehovah’s witnesses have obtained from the Bible the right answers to many questions that perplex and distress the people of the old world. That is a great blessing. The 29th chapter of Isaiah prophesies concerning the matter, stating in part: “Therefore thus saith Jehovah, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob: Jacob shall not now be ashamed, neither shall his face now wax pale. But when he seeth his children, the work of my hands, in the midst of him, they shall sanctify my name; yea, they shall sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall stand in awe of the God of Israel. They also that err in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmur shall receive instruction.” (Isa. 29:22-24, AS) The correct answers to problems are a very great blessing, but they are more than that. Those in the New World society have not merely obtained right answers to perplexing questions, but, at the same time, receive blessings that are exclusively those of the New World society. They have received joy, New World joy, privileges, opportunities of serving God and advancing his interests upon earth, and responsibilities, because of the assuming of them through their dedication to do his will. Also, exclusively, there have been laid upon them by Jehovah his requirements, which they must meet and which they are meeting to the very best of their ability by his undeserved kindness toward them through Christ Jesus, their Redeemer and Leader.
24. What is the scope of the operation of Jehovah’s active force, and how lasting is the sign it raises up?
24 Today’s increase in true Christian faith and practice is as great in scope as is the New World society which embraces it; that is, it is world-wide. The wonderful sign of the New World society standing for Jehovah’s supremacy is an everlasting sign and it will never be cut off, but shall remain to Jehovah’s praise. “For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing; and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir-tree; and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle-tree: and it shall be to Jehovah for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”—Isa. 55:12, 13, AS.