Who Really Can Be Saved?
1. Whom do the Scriptures identify to be the “light of the world,” and how does this light affect the judgment of mankind?
THE person that does right and seeks truth will come into the light. John the Baptist introduced the Jews to the one who became the “light of the world.” John the Baptist “came for the purpose of a witness, in order to bear witness about the light, that people of all kinds might believe through him.” (John 1:7) John knew that the light of the world was Christ Jesus. (John 8:12) Jesus, having instructed his disciples concerning truth, said to them: “You are the light of the world.” (Matt. 5:14) So true Christians today are the only light there is. People of all walks of life should examine themselves and ask themselves the questions, “Am I afraid of the light? Am I afraid of truth?” Jesus puts it squarely to everyone: “Now this is the basis for judgment, that the light has come into the world but men have loved the darkness rather than the light, for their works were wicked. For he that practices vile things hates the light and does not come to the light, in order that his works may not be reproved. But he that does what is true comes to the light, in order that his works may be made manifest as having been worked in harmony with God.”—John 3:19-21.
2. How is it possible for men to be saved?
2 The rich man who came to Jesus seeking life was not seeking truth. He turned away from the opportunity of following Jesus and went to look after his riches. One must really love truth and light in order to work in harmony with God. This is what the disciples of Christ were seeking to do, and Jesus said to his disciples: “Truly I say to you that it will be a difficult thing for a rich man to get into the kingdom of the heavens.” “When the disciples heard that, they expressed very great surprise, saying: ‘Who really can be saved?’ Looking them in the face, Jesus said to them: ‘With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’” (Matt. 19:23, 25, 26) One who does the divine will of the heavenly Father will find that it is possible for men to be saved. God makes it possible. He made it possible by sending his only-begotten Son into the world that whosoever believed on him and exercised faith in him might get everlasting life. (John 3:16) If one believes in the Son then he is going to follow his teaching. He is going to walk in his footsteps. He is going to be a minister. It means service, hard work, and keeping at it. Keeping at it means being on the watch continually.
3. What did Jesus’ disciples do after his ascension to heaven?
3 After Jesus left his disciples and ascended to the heavens, the eleven faithful apostles along with other disciples stuck together and stayed on the watch. When Pentecost arrived the holy spirit descended upon them and energized them to further activity. From then on nothing could stop them. They preached. The same holy spirit that energized the disciples then is working on true Christians today. The same active force or holy spirit from God is now stimulating his people to go ahead with the work of preaching the good news. Immediately after Pentecost for three and one half years the disciples traveled throughout Palestine preaching and gathering the remnant of the Jews who were seeking the Messiah. After that the divine will indicated that the message of salvation should go to all nations, kindreds and tongues; and so the disciples went to Asia Minor, Greece, Babylon, Italy and other parts of the world.
4. (a) What things do not deter real Christians from carrying out the responsibility to be teachers? (b) Who are now coming to the mountain of Jehovah, and what motivates them?
4 The command given to Christians was: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.” (Matt. 28:19, 20) Today nothing stops a real Christian from carrying out that responsibility, not even death itself. Even in these last days, when Christians see the gathering together of the great armies of the earth to the battle of Armageddon, they are not fearful, but they stay on the watch, looking after the things that Jehovah God has put in their care. Their big interest is the Kingdom interest, preaching the good news in all the world for a witness to all nations and gathering the other sheep. The “faithful and discreet slave” class is standing upon the mountain of God crying out to all who have an ear to hear to come and to take of the “water of life” freely. Today hundreds of thousands of persons are coming to the “mountain of Jehovah,” there to learn of his laws and his ways. They do appreciate his undeserved kindness, the gift of his beloved Son, for through him salvation is gained. They love the truth, and because of this they come to the light, Christ Jesus, and, having come, they want to do the works in harmony with God.—Isa. 2:2-4; Rev. 22:17.
5. In the face of persecution, what did Jesus’ disciples continue to do, and to what right course should that encourage true Christians in this time?
5 It is not going to be easy for a true Christian to stand out publicly declaring the good news, no more than it was for the early disciples, who stood in the synagogues and in the public forums declaring the good news about the Christ, Jesus. For this, the Bible tells us, the disciples were flogged and frequently they were warned to quit preaching. Did the early Christians quit? No; for concerning the apostles it is reported: “Every day in the temple and from house to house they continued without letup teaching and declaring the good news about the Christ, Jesus.” (Acts 5:42) Those apostles, though imperfect, stayed at their divinely assigned work. They did not pity themselves or make excuses for quitting because the going was hard. They were convinced that what they were doing was the right thing to do. Jesus did it. They had heard their teacher tell them what to do and what to say. They had the holy spirit backing them up now. This was no time for hesitancy, no time for fear. It was a time to keep awake and on the watch. It was then time to preach the good news of God’s kingdom, and it still is the time to preach, yes, now more than ever, because right now we are at the time when Christ Jesus comes as inspector of the guards. Happy is the one who stays awake and keeps his outer garments, so that he may not walk naked and have people look upon his parts of shame. Regardless of what Christendom does—and the evidence shows that Christendom has been asleep as far as looking after Kingdom interests is concerned, and has been stripped naked to Christian eyes—Jehovah’s witnesses must and will stay awake in these last days of the end of this system of things and preach. This is the time to do the divine will of gathering the “other sheep” from all nations, kindreds, tongues, religions and from all walks of life, rich or poor.—John 10:16.
STAYING BY THESE THINGS FOR SALVATION
6. Why is it so important to stay by these things, and how will the old world react?
6 It is so necessary for a Christian to stay by these things he was taught in his early Christian life. Paul said to Timothy: “Preach the word, be at it urgently in favorable season, in troublesome season.” (2 Tim. 4:2) Nothing may be allowed to separate a Christian from the love of God no matter how hard the opposition may be. It is no time to be sleepy or to relax or to be eating and drinking and be looking after the anxieties of this life. The persistence on the part of Christ Jesus in preaching God’s kingdom irritated the religious clergy of his day so much that they finally put him to death on the torture stake. They murdered him! The early Christians were just as persistent in their preaching, and by threats and imprisonments the Devil’s crowd of that day tried to get them to stop declaring the good news of Christ Jesus that he had taught them. This failed.
7-9. In what ways has the world tried to break down the faithfulness of Jehovah’s people, but what does a book published in the British Isles in 1957 have to say about the effectiveness of their methods?
7 The same religious crowd has been trying to silence Christians in these last days, influencing the political crowd to take action against Jehovah’s witnesses. The totalitarian rulers have tried brainwashing, concentration camps and Communist prisons. The rulers have tried to break down the faithfulness of some of Jehovah’s witnesses so that they would not continue in their service to God. However, when a Christian is determined to keep faithful and on the watch, all the brainwashing that is done will have no effect.
8 A book published in the British Isles in 1957, called Battle for the Mind, a Physiology of Conversion and Brainwashing, said: “Those reported as among the best able to preserve their standards and beliefs in the German concentration camps during World War two were members of the sect of Jehovah’s witnesses. This pacifist religious group has many strange beliefs, but these were implanted with such strength and certainty by their religious leaders as to remain operative when continued debilitation and psychological degraduation had reduced most other people of the highest ideals, but no specific loyalties, to accept the very lowest conception of individual and group morality. A safeguard against conversion is indeed a burning and obsessive belief in some other creed or way of life. History shows that well indoctrinated and trained soldiers can be just as brave and stubborn as Jehovah’s witnesses.”
9 So must all of Jehovah’s witnesses be today, all Christians, all true followers of Christ Jesus. Through this singleness of devotion to Jehovah through Christ Jesus they can be saved.
10, 11. (a) Where do Jehovah’s witnesses gain the strength needed to maintain exclusive devotion to Jehovah God? (b) Testifying to the fact that they “stay by these things” in the face of severe persecution, where is the largest single group of Jehovah’s witnesses outside the United States located today?
10 Where do Jehovah’s witnesses gain this strength? Not by anything within themselves. It is by acquiring power from God. Paul told Timothy: “You, therefore, my child, keep on acquiring power in the undeserved kindness that is in connection with Christ Jesus, 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. As a right kind of soldier of Christ Jesus take your part in suffering evil.”—2 Tim. 2:1-3.
11 Jehovah’s witnesses must stay alert daily by studying God’s Word, meeting with Jehovah’s people in the congregations, going from house to house preaching the good news. Today the German concentration camps have long been gone, but Jehovah’s witnesses remain, triumphant. The Communist concentration camps are still in operation, but Jehovah’s witnesses are growing rapidly behind the Iron Curtain, as the Yearbook report of Jehovah’s witnesses shows. The greatest single group of Jehovah’s witnesses outside the United States in any one country has been assembled behind the Iron Curtain despite all the brainwashing, propaganda and threats to annihilate and destroy God’s faithful servants.
12, 13. To what must all who will be found faithful pay particular attention, and how?
12 No matter where anyone lives throughout the world, if he is going to remain a Christian and stay on the watch and be found faithful when Christ Jesus comes at Armageddon as a thief, then he must be paying constant attention to himself and to what he is teaching. The only way that he can do this is to stay close to Jehovah’s organization, study the divine will and live according to it, for if he stays by these things and does them he will save himself and those who listen to him.
13 There is the strength of Jehovah’s organization, faith in Jehovah God, in his beloved Son, Christ Jesus, and in his faithful promises. Christian minds must be filled with truth. And those who do the same thing that Timothy, an early Christian, did, ‘paying constant attention to himself and to his teaching, staying by these things, thus saving both himself and those who listened to him,’ will have the same reward as he did. It can be you, if you seek the Light, Christ Jesus, and do the divine will! Endurance brings happiness. Endurance brings reward. Accomplishment through faithful labor brings great joy and boundless happiness.
14. What did Jesus say his “food” was, and so what is the determination of Jehovah’s witnesses now?
14 Christians today work, are awake, really busy preaching. Even though while they are doing this work it means persecution for all, and death to some, still a Christian must always remember that Jesus said: “My food is for me to do the will of him that sent me and to finish his work.” (John 4:34) So right up until the very end, to the finish of the battle of Armageddon, Jehovah’s witnesses will continue to be on the watch, staying awake, keeping their ministerial outer garments. They will stay at their assignment declaring the good news of God’s kingdom.