The Purpose of Our Ministry
“For this purpose I have been born and for this purpose I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth.”—John 18:37
1, 2. (a) What has Jehovah used in times past to accomplish his will? (b) What has Jehovah purposed to be done before the end of this wicked world, and by whom?
WHEN Jehovah, the living God, sets out to fulfill his purposes he is never at a loss for means to carry them out. In his infinite wisdom he has used many forces and creatures to carry out his eternal purposes and to accomplish the specific tasks in his divine will. In ages past he has used raging flames of fire, storm-tossed seas, great fish, beasts of the field, fowl of the air, insects, angels and human creatures. All, in turn, have served or ministered to the divine purpose of their Creator.—Gen. 19:1, 24; Jonah 1:4, 17; 2 Ki. 2:24; Num. 11:31-33; Ex. 8:16, 17.
2 Today the time is rapidly approaching when Jehovah purposes that this wicked world see its complete consummation. But before this old system under Satan the Devil comes to its end in order to make way for Jehovah’s permanent new world, Jehovah has purposed a most urgent and important work to be performed. To accomplish this urgent work will Jehovah God call upon fire, storms? Will he summon the beasts of the fields and the fowl of the air? No! Nor will this unique privilege be extended to the angels in heaven. He has reserved this work for God-fearing humans on earth, faithful men, women and children who will forsake this wicked old world and become his ministers.—Matt. 24:14.
3. What has been the primary objective of all Jehovah’s servants, and what evidence is there that Jehovah is blessing their ministry today?
3 From the time of Abel, his first human witness, Jehovah has always had his servants on earth, and although they received various service assignments at different times, they all had one primary purpose in common, to share in the vindication of Jehovah’s name by making his name and purposes known. That was the aim of Christ Jesus when he was here on earth. That was the aim of the faithful apostles. It is the aim of thousands upon thousands of Jehovah’s dedicated ministers today who make up the New World society. It is for his great and holy name that Jehovah God has established this New World society on earth, and its members are proving themselves productive ministers. Today the ever-increasing numbers of people of good will who are responding to this lifesaving work of Jehovah’s people and associating with the New World society are positive evidence that Jehovah is truly blessing the ministry of his people.—Prov. 14:25.
4. How does Jehovah view his ministers, and how are they reflecting light?
4 To help us appreciate how Jehovah views his ministers from his exalted position, Peter wrote: “You are . . . a people for special possession, that you should declare abroad the excellencies of the one that called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Pet. 2:9) It is the Christian ministry that reflects this light of the good news of God’s kingdom far and wide so that “anyone that calls upon the name of Jehovah will be saved.”—Rom. 10:13.
VINDICATION OF JEHOVAH OF PRIME IMPORTANCE
5, 6. (a) Who is the chief opponent of life? (b) How are the false religious shepherds keeping people in darkness and advocating friendship with the world?
5 For centuries Satan, the adversary of God, has desperately tried to shut out and extinguish this marvelous light and confine the people of the earth to darkness. Nearly six thousand years ago in the garden of Eden when that ambitious creature challenged the rightful sovereignty of Jehovah God, he set about in his iniquitous way to turn all mankind against their Creator. He has used many wicked schemes to accomplish this. The most effective of all of these has been false religion, with its shepherds taking the lead. Although these religious leaders have called themselves God’s ministers and have earned their living by such pretense, the facts show that instead of bringing honor to Jehovah’s name, they have hidden and blasphemed his name, removing it from their modern Bible translations. Like the dishonest merchants of ancient times who watered down the wine to make it go farther and thus bring in more money, the clergy have become false religious merchants, watering down and adulterating God’s Word, mixing a little Bible truth with huge quantities of human traditions, pagan doctrines and scientific philosophies. They have substituted a hodgepodge of pagan purgatories and trinities, heathen hells and immortal souls; and for dishing out this religious mixture they receive material support from their flock.
6 These religious leaders also advocate to people friendship with this wicked old world. For more than forty years they have backed the League of Nations and its successor the United Nations. Instead of bowing to God’s enthroned king, Christ Jesus, whose name their lips repeat over and over again, they support and vote into office their own candidates and then pray for God to make them a success, completely ignoring God’s warning by James: “Adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?” (Jas. 4:4) Jesus condemned the false shepherds of his day, as well as those in this day, quoting God’s words through the prophet Isaiah: “This people honors me with their lips, yet their hearts are far removed from me.” (Matt. 15:8) Because of the clergy’s misguidance, today’s form of worship is worse than in the day when the apostle Paul walked into the city of Athens and found the people believing in many gods, but the true God, Jehovah, was unknown to them.—Acts 17:23.
7. What false gods are people worshiping, and who will come to know the true God?
7 As we look around us today, what substitute gods do we see people worshiping and serving? Human leaders, war, materialism; but the true God, Jehovah, remains to this world the unknown God. This will not always be, however. Jehovah’s expressed purpose is that all will know him, whether to their own good or to their everlasting destruction. Speaking through the prophet Ezekiel, he declares: “I shall certainly magnify myself and sanctify myself and make myself known before the eyes of many nations; and they will have to know that I am Jehovah.”—Ezek. 38:23.
8. What did Jesus say his purpose and commission were in coming to the earth, and who has a like commission today?
8 In harmony with Jehovah’s purpose Jesus showed that his primary reason for coming to the earth was to vindicate his Father’s name and sovereignty. When brought to trial before Pilate, he boldly declared: “For this purpose I have been born and for this purpose I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone that is on the side of the truth listens to my voice.” (John 18:37) Jesus acknowledged his God-given commission and publicly declared it in the synagogue when he read from the prophecy of Isaiah: “Jehovah’s spirit is upon me, because he anointed me to declare good news to the poor, he sent me forth to preach a release to the captives and a recovery of sight to the blind, to send the crushed ones away with a release, to preach Jehovah’s acceptable year.” (Luke 4:18, 19) Jehovah’s witnesses today have the same commission to preach and to bear witness to the name of Jehovah God. Of them, Jehovah declares: “You are my witnesses.”—Isa. 43:10.
OTHER SHEEP GATHERED BY WORLD-WIDE BIBLE EDUCATIONAL WORK
9. What was the result of Paul’s preaching on Mars Hill, and what can we learn from this?
9 When the apostle Paul was in Greece he recognized the great opportunity afforded him to give a witness concerning the only true God, who was unknown to the Athenians. When he had finished that memorable speech in the Greek Areopagus, many called him a chatterer and began to mock him, showing their stubborn, unreasoning, goatlike attitude. But there were others who did not show this attitude: “Some men joined themselves to him and became believers, among whom also were Dionysius, a judge of the court of the Areopagus, and a woman named Damaris, and others besides them.” (Acts 17:33, 34) These were the people for whom Paul was seeking. Like Paul, God’s ministers must take advantage of every opportunity to give a witness to the truth, and they will find themselves carrying on their ministry among many opposers in order to find the Lord’s other sheep. They will have to talk to their neighbors, their friends, their relatives and those with whom they work in order to find Jehovah’s sheep, persons of good will who will respond to the voice of the Right Shepherd, Christ Jesus, expressed through the lips of Jehovah’s ministers.
10. Why is it so urgent to declare the Kingdom message at this time, and in fulfillment of what prophecy?
10 This locating and separating of the sheep from the goats, which is a purpose of our Christian ministry, was positively identified as one of the events that must take place during the great judgment period now upon this world. Before Jehovah brings Satan’s wicked system to its shattering smashup at Armageddon, the message of the Kingdom must be sounded by his Christian ministers so that the prophecy of Jesus can be fulfilled: “When the Son of man arrives in his glory and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.”—Matt. 25:31, 32; Rev. 16:16.
11. What can be said as to whether our ministry ends with finding the good-will people?
11 From this prophecy can be seen another great purpose of our ministry, the gathering of the “desirable things of all the nations” into Jehovah’s New World society. (Hag. 2:7) It is not our purpose just to gather these other sheeplike people. They must be taught to know and to observe the divine will in order to receive the blessings of life. Christ Jesus revealed to John in the Revelation that there would be a great crowd who would want to know and serve Jehovah God: “After these things I saw, and, look! a great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues.”—Rev. 7:9; John 17:3.
12. What is the great need today, and what indicates that not all of the Lord’s sheep have been found?
12 The ministers today qualified to teach and help these life seekers are few, just as they were in the days of Jesus. In his day Jesus felt tender affection for the crowds that listened attentively to his teachings, for he saw that “they were skinned and knocked about like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples: ‘Yes, the harvest is great, but the workers are few. Therefore, beg the Master of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.”’ (Matt. 9:36-38) There is an urgent need now for many more to share in this great work of gathering in the Lord’s other sheep. It does not appear that all of them have been gathered yet. In the republic of Guinea, the 1961 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses shows that there is only one witness for every 312,500 people. In Afghanistan the ratio is one to every 1,714,286 people. In Iraq it is one for every 3,269,055 persons. The people in these countries, as in other parts of the world, must have the opportunity to hear this Kingdom message that is being declared by God’s faithful ministers.
13. (a) In view of the great amount of work yet to be done, what questions should we ask ourselves? (b) What invitation extended to Paul can we accept?
13 Are you qualified to teach and have a share in this lifesaving work of the ministry or perhaps have an even greater share than you are now enjoying? Are you holding back because of some unscriptural reason, waiting until you have enough money in the bank for more security, or putting it off a few more years until you have taken a wife or a husband? Do not wait! Now is the time to make your purpose in life the ministry of Jehovah. Respond to the beseeching invitation of his ministers to “step over into Macedonia and help us,” as the apostle Paul did when the invitation was given to him and Timothy: “Now as soon as he had seen the vision, we sought to go forth into Macedonia, drawing the conclusion that God had summoned us to declare the good news to them.” (Acts 16:9, 10) We need not limit our ministry to our own community, state or country. Jesus said that “this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth.” (Matt. 24:14) So, according to Jesus’ words, the field for our ministry is world-wide. Follow the example of Jesus, Paul and other ministers and go, if possible, where the need is great.
14. What Scriptural method has proved to be the best for finding the sheep, and what ministers follow this method?
14 There is no new, modern, quick way of finding, feeding and training the Lord’s other sheep, even though we live in a world of quick news and fast travel. The method of preaching is still the same as that used in the days of Jesus and the apostles. This same tried and time-tested method has proved year after year to be the most effective. This method is described in the Bible in these words: “And 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) During 1960, 916,332 of Jehovah’s witnesses believed these words and they followed this proved method in their preaching and teaching.
15. In harmony with Proverbs 3:27, what would make our ministry incomplete?
15 The ministry of Jehovah’s witnesses is not limited to going to the homes of the people and placing Bibles and Bible aids with them. These right-hearted people must not just be found, but they must be spiritually fed. This calls for return visits to their homes by God’s ministers to teach them Jehovah’s Word by means of home Bible studies. Without this essential part of the ministry it would be incomplete, because the wise counsel from the Proverbs tells us: “Do not hold back good from those to whom it is owing, when it happens to be in the power of your hands to do it.”—Prov. 3:27; Acts 15:36; 1 Cor. 3:6.
16. After finding and feeding those who love Jehovah, what follows, as outlined by Paul at Acts 20:20, and what have been the results?
16 Nor does the purpose of the ministry end with finding and feeding good-will persons. The next step is to train these life seekers to be ministers just as Christians have always been trained to follow in the footsteps of Christ Jesus. Note how Paul followed this Christlike method in making ministers: “I did not hold back from telling you any of the things that were profitable nor from teaching you publicly and from house to house.” (Acts 20:20) How effective has this method of finding, feeding and training new ministers been? The yearbooks of Jehovah’s witnesses show the following increases in new baptized ministers: In 1957, 59,828; 1958, 62,666; 1959, 86,345; 1960, 69,027.
PROVING THE RIGHT KIND OF MINISTERS
17. What identifies the right kind of ministers?
17 It is true, the world wonders and they are amazed at the growth of Jehovah’s New World society. But God’s ministers do not wonder. They know that the spirit of Jehovah has been with them and has blessed them because they are ministers with a purpose. They have obeyed the divine will and they will continue to do so, assured and confident that Jehovah will continue to bless them and perhaps yet millions will join with them in their ministry and add their voices to the shout of praise that is being heard around the earth. This is the day of fruitfulness and increase for the New World society, as Isaiah prophesied: “The little one himself will become a thousand.” (Isa. 60:22) The thousands and thousands of other sheep that are annually being found, fed and trained for the Kingdom ministry are having a share in the vindication of Jehovah’s name and are conclusive evidence that Jehovah’s witnesses are doing God’s will and are proving themselves the right kind of ministers. As the right kind of doctor is recognized by the number of patients he can cure, as the right kind of lawyer is identified by the court cases he wins, as the right kind of farmer is noted by his bountiful crops; so the right kind of minister proves himself by the results of his ministry. He can introduce those whom he has helped to come to a knowledge of the truth and who have joined him in the ministry. They are his recommendation that he is a minister: “Do we, perhaps, like some men, need letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, inscribed on our hearts and known and being read by all mankind.”—2 Cor. 3:1, 2.
18. Why is it not good to set a time limit on our ministry, and how long did Jehovah say we should preach?
18 We must not place a time limit on our ministry. We must not think: “I will be a minister for two, three, five or ten years. Then Armageddon will be here and I will not have to preach any longer.” Some having these same thoughts in the past are no longer with Jehovah’s advancing organization. Far better to learn the lesson Jehovah taught Isaiah when he asked: “How long, O Jehovah?” “Then he said: ‘Until the cities actually crash in ruins to be without an inhabitant, and the houses be without earthling man, and the ground itself is ruined into a desolation.”’ (Isa. 6:11) Jehovah God knows the time for the completion of the preaching. It was Jehovah who gave the word to start, so wait until Jehovah says it is time to stop.
19. What did Jeremiah and Jesus do that all of God’s ministers today must copy?
19 We are living in the day of Jehovah. The assignment from Jehovah is to preach to the inhabitants of the earth. Whether the people listen or refuse to listen, it is for them to decide. If there is a refusal it will be theirs, and not a refusal on the part of Jehovah’s ministers to go to them with the message of the Kingdom. What was it that Jehovah told Jeremiah to do to the hardheaded, stiff-necked people in his day? Did he say: “Leave them alone, they are goats anyway”? No! Listen to what he said: “And you must speak to them all these words, but they will not listen to you, and you must call to them, but they will not answer you.” (Jer. 7:27) Jesus followed the same pattern with full knowledge that his nation would not accept him as their Messiah. Still he preached to them anyway. In deep sorrow he said: “How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks together under her wings! But you people did not want it.” (Matt. 23:37) Many honesthearted persons did hear Jesus and did pay attention to his preaching, but by far the majority rejected and hated his peaceful message, climaxing their vicious hatred by having him put to death. Jesus was not discouraged by the opposition that he received, nor did he expect to convert the world by his ministry. He warned that his followers would meet with the same reaction: “Then people will deliver you up to tribulation and will kill you, and you will be hated by all the nations on account of my name.”—Matt. 24:9.
20. Why should we not be quick to judge those who oppose our message at first?
20 While the world hates and opposes, do not be too quick to judge individuals who oppose the ministry at first. Remember that as conditions change so do people’s minds change. That was the case with Saul of Tarsus. He changed from one who opposed God and persecuted his faithful ministers to a pleaser of God and became God’s faithful minister to the nations. Many of God’s faithful dedicated ministers today were opposed to the message when they first heard it.—Acts 9:11-15.
BLESSINGS OF THE MINISTRY
21. What was it that impressed the queen of Sheba with Solomon’s kingdom?
21 There are many thousands of sheep yet to be found and brought into the New World society, and that means many joys and blessings are to be received as a result of the ministry. Recall to mind the prosperity, the glory and the splendor of Solomon’s kingdom. When the queen of Sheba came to see for herself she was left speechless, as the record says: “Then there proved to be no more spirit in her. So she said to the king: ‘True has the word proved to be that I heard in my own land about your matters and about your wisdom. And I did not put faith in the words until I had come that my own eyes might see, and, look! I had not been told the half. You have surpassed in wisdom and prosperity the things heard to which I listened. Happy are your men, happy are these servants of yours who are standing before you constantly, listening to your wisdom!”’—1 Ki. 10:5-8.
22. (a) Jehovah’s ministers are witnessing what blessings now? (b) What frame of mine should we never get into, and why?
22 Today those in the service of the greater Solomon, Christ Jesus, are witnessing with their very own eyes the prosperity, joys and the happiness of the New World society in action. They are seeing and hearing men, women and children from every part of the earth holding forth the name of Jehovah God. The glory and splendor of the kingdom of God and his Son can also be seen by the people of good will, and they have been flowing into his organization at the rate of more than 1,000 a week without fail for the last ten years. Knowing the joy of the incoming of the Lord’s other sheep is another blessing of the ministry. Never trade places or privileges of the ministry for all the positions this world has to offer. The ministry should be our chief vocation and our secular occupation should be secondary. It is merely the means of helping us to continue in the ministry. As ministers of God, our concern is to “keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness.” (Matt. 6:33) Realizing that this requirement rests upon every one of Jehovah’s ministers, never should we fall into such a frame of mind that we say: “O, the work will be done without me.” Of course, Jehovah God can have this ministry done without us. He can also bring forth his new world without us. Far better to view it this way: He will use us and continue to use us forever in his new world if we fulfill the purpose of our ministry now. Let the people of the world seek material wealth, power, popularity, prestige and pleasure, but, remember, these goals will last only until Armageddon. But your aim as God’s ministers to share in the vindication of Jehovah’s name, to help other people to know Jehovah God, and to prove yourselves faithful and productive ministers will be a goal that will lead you through Armageddon and on into the new world. May our ministry bring delight to Jehovah God and to each faithful one the reward of everlasting life.