Build to the Future
“In the house of the righteous one there is an abundant store, but in the produce of the wicked one there is troublesomeness.”—Prov. 15:6.
1. (a) What are some of man’s accomplishments in the field of building? (b) Does this mean he really appreciates his achievements?
BUILDING is a pleasure! Over the centuries man has made great progress in building, and what he is now making in the way of new things is truly amazing. Man has built comfortable homes, mammoth factories, automatic machines, huge bridges, unique skyscrapers, jet airliners, and yet this does not satisfy. Some want to live in outer space! But are all these constructive achievements appreciated by man, or does man prefer to be a destroyer? How often have you picked up your daily paper to read in the headlines—WAR? How many pictures have you seen, how many stories have you read, how many history books have you studied about war? Yes, you have seen the destruction that man has brought upon his own work. Men spend billions of dollars and unnumbered man-hours of work building for their own enjoyment. Then other men, or perhaps even the builders themselves, bring about the destruction of their projects. Is this building to the future?
2. Show why there is great concern with the world situation today.
2 In just the past few years war has leveled many great cities to the ground. Today no one knows if the city in which he lives will be leveled to the ground tomorrow. What is wrong with man, the builder? Has he no sense or reason? Has all the world gone mad? Where is security? How disturbing to observe the great statesmen in the world, assembled in the United Nations, quarreling! Now this one, then that one, vies for power and world domination. Even the great religious systems of Christendom are not able to get together. The powerful political organizations inside the different nations do not see eye to eye. Big business is selfishly grasping for power everywhere. True, they all build, but are they building just to destroy? Are they pursuing the policy, Rule or ruin? How foolish! Solomon wisely wrote: “The truly wise woman has built up her house, but the foolish one tears it down with her own hands.”—Prov. 14:1.
3. (a) What solution for peace did Jesus give? (b) Does Christendom turn to that solution?
3 Jesus Christ, the Leader of Christianity, gave the right and only solution for peace and prosperity and told his followers to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. Does Christendom seek that kingdom today? Certainly not! Their great hope is the United Nations. Jesus, however, taught the first Christians to pray, “Let your kingdom come. Let your will come to pass,” but Christendom’s clergy pray for the United Nations as man’s only hope. The leaders in government and religion are blind guides, just as Jesus said: “Every plant that my heavenly Father did not plant will be uprooted. Let them be. Blind guides is what they are. If, then, a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” (Matt. 15:13, 14) In the pit is where all the foolish ones will find themselves at the battle of Armageddon.
4. What does this world need for a secure future, and how does God’s Word assure such a provision?
4 What this world needs is someone who can build and keep on building into the future. All earthly rulers for the past six thousand years have built nothing lasting. Where are their kingdoms now? Look at the changes since 1914! The facts prove man needs a righteous leader with wisdom who wants to do God’s will, not man’s. With the majority of mankind hungry, poorly housed and not well educated, there must be someone better than anyone we have had who can lead the people. The Word of God says there is, in these words of invitation: “Incline your ear and come to me. Listen, and your soul will keep alive, and I shall readily conclude with you people an indefinitely lasting covenant respecting the loving-kindnesses to David that are faithful. Look! As a witness to the national groups I have given him, as a leader and commander to the national groups.” (Isa. 55:3, 4) That leader is Christ Jesus, the promised One who can and will bless all the families of the earth.
BUILDING THE CHRISTIAN CONGREGATION
5. What building work did Jesus start 1900 years ago?
5 This wisest of all men who ever walked upon this earth said: “Who of you that wants to build a tower does not first sit down and figure out the expense, to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, he might lay its foundation but not have the funds to finish it, and all the onlookers might start to ridicule him, saying: ‘This man started to build but had not the funds to finish.”’ (Luke 14:28-30) Jesus started to build God’s kingdom class, the Christian congregation, 1900 years ago. (Matt. 16:18) Today he is establishing it in the heavens to rule the new world with him. To finish building the new world of righteousness he must soon destroy the Devil, the god of this evil world, and his wicked system of things on this earth. Then will come the paradise new earth. But what building work has been going on under Christ’s direction in proof of this statement?
6. (a) How had Moses foretold the coming of Jesus? (b) To aid Jesus in his building work, what did John the Baptist do?
6 Moses, the prophet of Israel, was a great leader and an organizer of a nation whose God was Jehovah. There was one, though, even greater than Moses. “In fact, Moses said: ‘Jehovah God will produce for you from among your brothers a prophet like me. You must listen to him according to all the things he speaks to you. Indeed, any soul that does not listen to that Prophet will be completely destroyed from among the people.”’ (Acts 3:22, 23) That one was Christ Jesus. Moses had led an organization of millions of people out of the land of Egypt. God had prepared this people and made them into a nation and then appointed Moses to be their leader and mediator. But when Jesus came to earth he had to start building a new organization. He was sent to the lost sheep of Israel. He preached to them that the kingdom of the heavens was at hand. In advance of him, his forerunner John the Baptist had got “ready for Jehovah a prepared people.” (Luke 1:17) Jesus Christ was to lead these to begin building a new organization. When he started his Christian ministry he went to John the Baptist. John directed his followers to Jesus. Jesus had to build something new, because the old was just a picture or a shadow of the new. Jesus was to build a spiritual house with those who had faith in the true God. He had a big task. Would he be successful? Success meant life for men and women of faith.
7. (a) What steps did Jesus take in gathering people to himself? (b) How did this fulfill Micah 2:12?
7 Life is interesting and to be enjoyed. Life is what man wants to hold on to. Without life man can do nothing. Now the way of everlasting life was to be opened up to mankind through Christ Jesus, because God gave his Son “in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) It was this Son of God who said: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) Jesus really opened up the way of life for all faithful followers. He called twelve, taught them and sent them out to preach just as he did. He gathered around himself men who loved truth and righteousness, and with these he began to build a new organization. There was a small number, or a remnant, of the Jews in Jesus’ days, lovers of righteousness, who accepted God’s way of getting eternal life. Long before then Micah, as God’s spokesman, wrote: “I shall without fail collect the remaining ones of Israel together. In unity I shall set them, like a flock in the pen, like a drove in the midst of its pasture; they will be noisy because of men.” (Mic. 2:12) Jesus Christ, a good shepherd, gathered the men of faith and wisdom and brought them together “like a flock in the pen.” There they would be secure, under the guidance of the Master, and especially under the protection of their God, Jehovah. Having brought them together, he was here able to teach them and feed them with spiritual food, building them up so that they, too, could go out into the world and be ministers themselves and still be at unity or together like a drove in a pasture or a flock in a pen. They would always be one flock no matter where each individual would be.
AN ENDURING, UNIFIED ORGANIZATION
8, 9. (a) What questions about Jesus’ building work might arise due to the fact that he died? (b) What did happen to his building work?
8 Jesus finished his earthly work. He died upon the torture stake at the hands of those opposed to God’s kingdom, both the religious and political rulers. On the third day after his death he was raised from the dead by Jehovah’s power as an immortal heavenly creature. What would happen to this new organization that he had built up around himself? They had been invited into a new covenant. They would be the first ones of a little flock of whom Jesus said: “Have no fear, little flock, because your Father has approved of giving you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32) Would they stay together now, as it were, in a pen, feeling the same security as they did when Christ Jesus was with them? Would they continue building what Jesus had started?
9 The facts show that at Pentecost these same faithful followers of Christ Jesus were still together, and then God’s holy spirit descended upon them and they “started to speak in different tongues”; and from then on the preaching of the good news of God’s kingdom took on a new impetus. On that occasion Peter spoke to a great crowd of people, and the historian says: “Those who embraced his word heartily were baptized, and on that day about three thousand souls were added.” (Acts 2:41) Now what did these newly converted Jews do when they dedicated themselves to this Christian way of worshiping God? “They continued devoting themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to association together.” (Acts 2:42) Here we see the congregation of God, the new spiritual Israel, being built up and trained for bigger work.
10. How did Paul show he was following Jesus in carrying on the building work, and to whom did he give credit for new ones added to the congregation, to God’s building?
10 Paul, an aggressive apostle of Jesus Christ, was a great builder too, and a true, faithful follower of his Master. He gathered together those who dedicated their lives to Jehovah’s service and organized them into congregations. It was he who said: “According to the undeserved kindness of God which was given to me, as a wise director of works I laid a foundation, but someone else is building on it. But let each one keep watching how he is building on it. For no man can lay any other foundation than what is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor. 3:10, 11) Paul built to the future, but always on the true rock Jesus Christ. He knew that he was building new Christians into the structure of the Christian organization, Jehovah’s theocratic organization. He was not trying to build a sect with himself as its foundation. This would cause division and would be a bad example. That is why he stated so positively to the Corinthians: “What, then, is Apollos? Yes, what is Paul? Ministers through whom you became believers, even as the Lord granted each one. 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. 3:5-9.
11. What responsibility came upon each member added to the congregation?
11 Paul had the true perspective of what it meant to be a Christian in the congregation of God. The whole congregation of spiritual Israelites was God’s. The great gathering work taking place after Jesus died upon the torture stake was to be to God’s glory. The spiritual Israelites were taken into the new covenant and commissioned to preach God’s kingdom everywhere. They therefore made disciples of people of all nations, and these people from all national groups were being baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the holy spirit. Jesus had once been Jehovah’s special ambassador here upon the earth, but now all these newly dedicated Christians had to be ambassadors. That is why Paul emphatically told the Corinthians: “We are therefore ambassadors substituting for Christ, as though God were making entreaty through us. As substitutes for Christ we beg: ‘Become reconciled to God.”’ (2 Cor. 5:20) The work of reconciliation must go on! Instead of Christ preaching, all his faithful followers must minister, each one being an ambassador. Each individual was a substitute for Christ. Not just the appointed overseers of the many congregations, but all others associated with the apostles and ministerial servants were such substitutes.
12. Who make up the spiritual house of God, and how do they remain a part of Godˈs building?
12 Peter agreed with Paul as to the organization. There could be only one organization, and that one must be built on Christ and be “God’s building.” Each believing individual begotten by God’s holy spirit comes into Jehovah’s organization as a living stone. Each one becomes part of God’s “spiritual house.” Paul called it “God’s building.” Christ Jesus, of course, was the first true “living stone” of this new building or “spiritual house.” Peter said: “Coming to him as to a living stone, rejected, it is true, by men, but chosen, precious, with God, you yourselves also as living stones are being built up a spiritual house for the purpose of a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. 2:4, 5) Peter, Paul and all the other apostles, along with thousands of others who made up the Christian church of the first century, preached so as to “offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God,” and really proved to be living stones in God’s building, his one congregation. All these Christians together make up God’s building, and they kept building to the future. Their determination was to remain in this “spiritual house” and never be rejected. There is only one way that anyone can remain in this “spiritual house,” and that is by being faithful in doing the will of Jehovah God. One of the ways to prove faithful is to follow Jesus’ admonition: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, . . . teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.”—Matt. 28:19, 20.
13. What has always kept God’s building together?
13 The early church was held in unity because each one had Jehovah’s spirit and put confidence in the written Word of God. God’s spirit and His Word cemented this Christian congregation into one, into “God’s building” or “spiritual house.” Peter, when addressing Christians, showed the importance of the Holy Scriptures. He said: “If anyone speaks, let him speak as it were the sacred pronouncements of God; if anyone ministers, let him minister as dependent on the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. 4:11) From that day to this the Scriptural admonition is the same: use the Holy Scriptures; speak the “sacred pronouncements of God.” The final gathering of those who make up the “spiritual house” of God is now going on in these last days. The Scriptures show there is a remnant of this “spiritual house” still on earth and still doing that great work that Christ Jesus began. They are at unity. As in the days of Jesus, so today Jehovah says through his prophet: “In unity I shall set them, like a flock in the pen, like a drove in the midst of its pasture; they will be noisy because of men.” (Mic. 2:12) World-wide, Jehovah’s witnesses can be heard, in all nations, but still as one voice, declaring the good news of God’s kingdom.
BUILDING WITH THE CHRISTIAN CONGREGATION
14. Who are now joining themselves in great numbers to God’s spiritual building, and why?
14 Being gathered together with this “little flock” we find today a great crowd of Christian people doing the same joyful work. How is this? Because hundreds of thousands of people are today finding the truth in God’s Word and dedicating their lives to God’s service. They come into God’s organization with the remnant of the “little flock” to find a place of security, “like a flock in the pen.” There they find peace and safety from everything that has disturbed them on the outside. In the study of the Scriptures, they see that they will be safe from Jehovah’s anger if they seek Jehovah and come under the Kingdom’s rule. They have hearkened to Jehovah’s words: “Seek Jehovah, all you meek ones of the earth, who have practiced His own judicial decision. Seek righteousness, seek meekness. Probably you may be concealed in the day of Jehovah’s anger.” (Zeph. 2:3) This great crowd believe this and now have a sense of security in the strong Christian organization; and that is most satisfying. They have pleasure in associating with the congregation of Jehovah’s witnesses, for they have come into God’s congregation.
15. What do both the “little flock” of God’s building and the “great crowd” do to keep close to Jehovah and to keep on building on the right foundation?
15 In the more than 20,000 congregations of God’s people throughout the world we see the remnant of the “little flock” and this great crowd fully believing Paul’s words about congregation meetings when he said: “Let us consider one another to incite to love and right works, not forsaking the gathering of ourselves together, as some have the custom, but encouraging one another, and all the more so as you behold the day drawing near.” (Heb. 10:24, 25) These Christians know that congregation meetings are upbuilding. Here the Christian is strengthened. He sees the organization and how it functions. He sees how it is held together by love, love for Jehovah God and love for his brothers. Furthermore, each individual in the congregation of God has the opportunity of expressing himself so as to incite others to love and right works. Besides that, each one in the congregation can keep busy preaching the good news of the kingdom of God. This spirit of telling out the good news permeates the entire organization. All together this great body of Jehovah’s witnesses is building to the future. In their daily lives they show they are seeking meekness and righteousness, and by staying together in the Christian organization they will be concealed in the day of Jehovah’s anger during the battle of the great day of God the Almighty.
16. Show the meaning of Isaiah 2:2-4 in our day.
16 The “great crowd” see themselves in Isaiah’s prophecy: “It must occur in the final part of the days . . . the mountain of the house of Jehovah will become firmly established above the top of the mountains, and it will certainly be lifted up above the hills, and to it all the nations must stream. And many peoples will certainly go and say: ‘Come, you people, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, to the house of the God of Jacob, and he will instruct us about his ways and we will walk in his paths.’ For out of Zion law will go forth, and the word of Jehovah out of Jerusalem. And he will certainly render judgment among the nations and set matters straight respecting many peoples. And they will have to beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn war any more.”—Isa. 2:2-4.
17, 18. How does everyone connected with God’s building maintain his security?
17 Those who “go up to the mountain of Jehovah” must draw away from this old world and its unrighteousness and come to Jehovah’s house and live together in unity, “like a flock in the pen.” They will now rejoice because they have put away “wrath, anger, injuriousness, abusive speech, and obscene talk,” out of their mouth. (Col. 3:8, 9) Having built to the future, they will be instructed in His ways and walk in His paths, and thus enjoy security.
18 How can one maintain this security? By just being associated with the organization of Jehovah’s witnesses? No, each individual must do building in a specific way. The strength of the organization comes according to the strength of each dedicated Christian. The congregation remains strong and devoted to its work according to the individuals who make up that organization or structure. The Christian congregation of God would crumble if there were no unity or oneness in thought and action on the part of all members. Individually each person in Jehovah’s congregation must pay close attention to himself and build properly. He must take heed to Paul’s words when he said: “The fruitage of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control.” (Gal. 5:22, 23) As a Christian are you interested in having these qualities? If you are, then not only as an individual must you stay in association with the congregation of Jehovah God, but building must take place in your own heart and mind. Bringing forth these qualities or fruits is an absolute necessity in addition to your being part of God’s congregation. Prove yourself to be a Christian bearing the fruitage of the spirit.