Using Theocratic Tactfulness
ON A Sunday morning early this fall two witnesses of Jehovah were going from house to house in the beautiful Germantown section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At one door a gracious and rather young mother invited them in, although explaining in one breath that she was busy and was a Roman Catholic. Still she asked them to have a seat and listened to the Bible sermon that one of the Witnesses gave. As the two Witnesses got up to leave she asked one of them, “What do you think of Billy Graham?”
The Witness replied: “In some respects Billy Graham might be likened to Apollos, one of the early disciples. You see here at Acts 18:24-26 it tells that Apollos was an eloquent man and that, being well-versed in the Scriptures, he was ‘speaking and teaching with some correctness the things about Jesus, but being acquainted with only the baptism of John.’ When two Christians, Aquila and Priscilla, heard him in the local synagogue at Ephesus, they invited him ‘into their company and expounded the way of God more correctly to him.’ Now, that is exactly what Billy Graham needs. He is an eloquent man that preaches with some correctness, but he needs to have the way of God expounded to him more correctly by some of Jehovah’s witnesses.
“How important it is not only to have some knowledge of the Bible but to have accurate and correct knowledge of it can be seen by what the Scriptures have to say about the effectiveness of the preaching of Apollos as recorded at Acts 19:1-7. There it tells of the apostle Paul coming to Ephesus, where, you remember, Apollos had held forth, and meeting some of the disciples. When Paul asked them, ‘Did you receive holy spirit when you became believers?’ they replied, ‘Why, we have never heard whether there is a holy spirit.’ That apparently was hard for Paul to comprehend, for he then asked them, ‘In what, then, were you baptized?’ They told him, ‘In John’s baptism.’ Paul then gave them accurate, correct information, telling them about the difference between the two, and as a result they were baptized in Jesus’ name and received the holy spirit.
“So you see,” the Witness continued, “while a fervent and eloquent speaker may be persuasive, without correct and accurate knowledge of the Scriptures he can accomplish little that truly counts with God. In Apollos’ day the important thing was to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ and receive the holy spirit, for only with the pouring out of that spirit at Pentecost did the Christian congregation have its beginning. Yet Apollos knew nothing about it. As a result none of his listeners came in line for the prize of the heavenly calling, which was what the Kingdom gospel at that time was featuring and holding out to all who repented, converted and dedicated themselves to do God’s will.
“The same principle applies today. Popular evangelists, in spite of all their Bible quoting and eloquence know nothing about the importance of Jehovah’s name and its vindication, about God’s kingdom being at hand and Armageddon being imminent. Yet knowing these truths is imperative for all who would survive Armageddon and gain life in God’s new world. Graham should be willing to humble himself to learn these truths, the most important as well as the most timely in our day.” The explanation fully satisfied this admirer of Billy Graham.
It was about the same time that another minister of Jehovah’s witnesses was going from house to house in Brooklyn preaching the good news of God’s kingdom. At one door the lady of the house objected, “I’m a Catholic,” as if that were sufficient reason for his passing on. Instead, however, he kindly pointed out that he was calling on people of all churches for the purpose of building up faith. “More faith in God and his Word are needed,” he went on to say, “as is seen from the steady increase in crime and juvenile delinquency in lands claiming to be Christian. There would be far fewer crimes if there were more real faith in God. A better knowledge of the Bible is necessary for more faith, and that is why I am calling.” As he continued with his sermon she forgot all about her initial objection, and upon its conclusion she obtained the Bible-study aid “Your Will Be Done on Earth” and was glad to arrange to have the minister make a return visit.
No wonder Paul said: “A slave of the Lord . . . needs to be tactful toward all, qualified to teach.”—2 Tim. 2:24.