Finding Joy for Everlasting Life
1. (a) Does the administration of the present world hold out hope of life? (b) What does the Bible show concerning the present system?
IS EVERLASTING life on earth possible? Looking at the state of affairs on this earth today, one might be excused for thinking that the everlasting extinction of the human race is a possibility. While world leaders rotate from country to country talking “peace,” their arms arsenals continue to roll out more and more horrible secret weapons. They are caught in the mesh of this loveless nuclear age, and each one strives to outdo the others in preparing the instruments of death. All lovers of life with joy must conclude that the administration of this present world is death-dealing and corrupt. The Bible shows that it is Satan’s system of things, controlled by “the one having the means to cause death, that is, the Devil.” (Heb. 2:14) This world system is in its time of judgment and is about to meet up with the execution of that judgment, its “sudden destruction” at the hands of Jehovah God.—1 Thess. 5:2, 3.
2. What invitation does Jehovah extend to lovers of life, and why may they rejoice?
2 With Satan’s death-dealing administration gone, will everlasting life then be possible on this earth? The Bible answers, Yes! Moreover, it shows that a new administration for life will bring blessings as yet untold to all men who love righteousness. Concerning this new administration, the eternal God, Jehovah himself, declares: “For here I am creating new heavens and a new earth, and the former things will not be called to mind, neither will they come up into the heart. But exult, you people, and be joyful forever in what I am creating. For here I am creating Jerusalem a cause for joyfulness and her people a cause for exultation. And I will be joyful in Jerusalem and exult in my people; and no more will there be heard in her the sound of weeping or the sound of a plaintive cry.”—Isa. 65:17-19.
3. What are the “new heavens” and the “new earth,” and when do they become a cause for joy?
3 The typical Jerusalem of ancient Palestine has long since ceased to be “the exultation of the whole earth,” and certainly Jehovah finds no joy in the strife-torn Jerusalem of modern Jordan, which banned the activity of His witnesses. However, Jehovah finds joy without measure in the “New Jerusalem,” his administrative “new heavens” of a peaceful new world, through which he gathers “all things together again . . . , the things in the heavens and the things on the earth” under “the kingdom of the Son of his love.” (Eph. 1:7-10; Col. 1:13) Under this kingdom of the heavens Jehovah has now planted a “new earth” organization, the New World society of his witnesses, embracing lovers of righteousness “out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues.” (Rev. 7:9) Since A.D. 1914 in the heavens and A.D. 1919 on earth, this glorious creation of God has been a source of joy and refreshment to all who reside within its boundaries.
4. What blessing does Jehovah command, and how will he administer it?
4 The demonic “heavens” of Satan, as well as his earthly rule by corrupt politicians and greedy dictators, will soon be swept into oblivion by the “war of the great day of God the Almighty.” (Rev. 16:14-16; 19:11-21) Then the “New Jerusalem” of God’s “heavens” will come down to earth in the sense that it will shower blessings without number upon obedient mankind. How joyful that new-world relationship between God and man! For, “look! the tent of God is with humankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his peoples. And God himself will be with them. And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more.” (Rev. 21:1-5) Eternal deathlessness for God’s own children! Through the administration of his “new heavens” Jehovah has commanded this blessing, “even life for evermore.”—Ps. 133:3, AS.
5. (a) Where do Jehovah’s witnesses now find joy? (b) How does their condition contrast with that of sectarian religions?
5 Nourished by these grand Bible truths, the united worshipers of Jehovah joyfully bear witness to the ends of the earth, comforting millions with the hope of life in God’s new world. What joy they find in ministering God’s message to others! How strikingly their spiritual prosperity contrasts with the spiritual famine among the sectarian religions of this modern world! It is just as the Lord Jehovah foretold: “Look! My own servants will rejoice, but you yourselves will suffer shame. Look! My own servants will cry out joyfully because of the good condition of the heart, but you yourselves will make outcries because of the pain of heart and you will howl because of sheer breakdown of spirit.” (Isa. 65:13, 14) How true of world religion today! It finds no joy in its multitude of sects, and it refuses to place itself under the unifying rule of the “happy God” and Supreme Sovereign of the universe, Jehovah. It rejects the original religion of the eternal God.—1 Tim. 1:11, 17.
EXAMINING THE MULTITUDE OF SECTS
6. (a) What study will now be of interest? (b) From what standpoint should the world’s religions be examined?
6 However, do not some of the sectarian religions claim to have the original religion? Do these not point the finger of scorn at Jehovah’s witnesses, and say, “You are a new religion”? It should now be of interest to examine their claims in the light of history and of Bible truth. At the outset one thing is clear: The original religion cannot be a sectarian religion. It cannot be a religion of one family, one community, one tribe or even one nation. A man of God rightly stated a fundamental truth 1,900 years ago, when he said: “For a certainty I perceive that God is not partial, but in every nation the man that fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him.” (Acts 10:34, 35) To appreciate the original religion, man must lift himself out of his local environment, strip himself of the proud traditions that divide mankind and seek the one God and Father who “made out of one man every nation of men, to dwell upon the entire surface of the earth.” (Acts 17:26, 27) With such a broadened outlook, examine now the world’s religious systems.
7. (a) Can Protestantism lay claim to being the original religion? (b) Can Catholicism? (c) Can the Oriental religions?
7 First, there is the Protestant system. This began as new sects, or breakaways from Catholicism. Often the reason for schism was political, matrimonial, or some other secular interest, so that Protestantism still retains much of the doctrine of Catholicism. Though little more than four hundred years old, Protestantism itself has now broken up into over two hundred conflicting sects, several of the leading sects in the United States having again split on doctrinal or organizational issues into as many as twenty or more groups. The eternal God, Jehovah, could not be the author of such confusion! (1 Cor. 14:33, 40) What, then, of the Catholic system? Catholicism boasts of its greater age. However, history shows that the Roman Catholic sect in fact dates back no farther than the year A.D. 312, when Emperor Constantine established it as the official religion of the Roman Empire, with himself as the Pontifex Maximus, or first pope. Thus Roman Catholicism originated as a state religion. It is only one of a number of conflicting Catholic sects, which include the Greek Orthodox, the Coptic, the Armenian Catholic, and others. Moreover, the Catholic sects are young in comparison with the Oriental systems of Confucius, Brahma and Buddha, all of which had their beginnings at least eight hundred years before Catholicism. Are the Oriental systems, then, the original religion? Examination shows that these religions have a confusing pantheon of gods and that they also have broken up into a multiplicity of sects. The Buddhism of Ceylon, Burma and Thailand differs from the Buddhism of China. This, in turn, is entirely different from the Buddhism of Japan, which has a long history of division into warring sects, the number growing to at least 165 in the spiritual vacuum that followed World War II.a
8. (a) What are some of the reasons for sectarian confusion? (b) To what common origin may present-day sectarian religions be traced?
8 Why does this world present such a sorry picture of a multitude of religious sects and a multitude of gods? One reason is that world religion has no firm foundation of truth. It has no solid basis of an inspired written word, such as true Christianity has in the Bible. Its basis is often shifting sands of superstition or the philosophies of worldly-wise men who ignore the Word of the true God. Moreover, the Bible and secular history, as well as similarities of form and doctrine, show that all systems of world religion today have a common ancestress that has spawned division. Whether it be the infant Protestantism, the middle-aged Catholicism or the hoary-headed religion of the Orient—all can be traced back to the “mysteries” of ancient Babylon, the city founded by Nimrod more than 4,000 years ago, shortly after the great flood of Noah’s day. Do you doubt that Babylon is the fountainhead of modern-day sectarian religion? Consider the following example:
9. How widespread is the trinity doctrine, and why?
9 The “mysteries” of Babylon proclaimed the unity of the “Only God,” comprising three persons, and this unity in trinity was represented in an equilateral triangle.b Admittedly, such a teaching concerning the Divinity is mysterious and confusing, and, sad to say, this Babylonian confusion has spread throughout the earth. The ancient Egyptians adopted the same teaching, and again a triangle was used in symbol of the “triform divinity.”c To this day, Hinduism honors the triune god, Trimurti, whose three-faced image is found in India’s Elephanta Caves, and a curse is pronounced on all who distinguish between Brahma, Vishnu and Siva, the three gods represented in that image.d Japanese Buddhism has a triune image, San-Po-Kojin, an angry god with three heads and six arms, who guards the “three treasures” of the abstract, triune Buddha, Bu-Po-So.e A “Holy Trinity” of three Gods in one God is also worshiped by most Catholic and Protestant sects, this having first been adopted as Catholic doctrine at the Nicene Council of A.D. 325. Though the “Holy Trinity” is mentioned nowhere in the Bible, The Catholic Encyclopedia describes it as “the central doctrine of the Christian religion.” In support of the trinity doctrine the Catholic church has also used images with three heads on one body, as in the monastery of the Trinitarians, in Madrid, Spain.f
10. What does an eminent Catholic spokesman say concerning the origin of his religion’s teachings and practices?
10 However, the trinity is just one example of many doctrines and practices, found both in Christendom and in the Oriental religions, and which originated in the “mysteries” of Babylon. Cardinal Newman, a spokesman for the Catholic religion, supports this view in his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine: “The use of temples, and these dedicated to particular saints, and ornamented on occasions with branches of trees; incense, lamps, and candles; . . . holydays and seasons, use of calendars, processions, blessings on the fields; sacerdotal vestments, . . . images at a later date, perhaps the ecclesiastical chant, . . . are all of pagan origin, and sanctified by their adoption into the church.” To the cardinal’s list might be added the rosary, repetitious prayers, halos—in fact, the Oriental who visits the West, or the westerner who visits the Orient, cannot fail to be struck by the similarity of the two systems of religion. It all descends from Babylon of old!
11. In what respects does communism resemble the Babylonian religion?
11 Some materialist may now say, “But look at communism—there is one system that has renounced religion.” However, can it really be said that the Communists are godless? Have they not adopted the cult of hero worship, with Marx and Lenin as “gods,” and in 1950 the People’s Assembly in satellite Albania even voted to erect a statue to “the deity, Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin”? Are not Red China’s holy days celebrated beneath towering portraits of Mao Tse-tung and other Communist idols? This is the same kind of worship that marked the founding of Babylon, when the militaristic Nimrod, who “displayed himself a mighty hunter in opposition to Jehovah,” was exalted as “god” and dictator in Babylon. (Gen. 10:9, 10) In the same way modern communism, as the “king of the north” of Bible prophecy, ‘speaks marvelous things against the God of gods’ and honors “the god of fortresses” by amassing a terrible array of nuclear armaments. (Dan. 11:36, 38) The spirit of proud Babylon is perpetuated in the not-so-godless Red religion of communism.
12. (a) Why may the religion of Babylon be termed a religion of the dead? (b) What pronouncement of doom and warning does heaven make concerning her?
12 Does this mean that Babylonish religion, with its branches extending throughout the earth, constitutes the original religion for mankind? Far from it! The religion of Babylon was the original post-Flood sectarian religion, set up in opposition to Almighty God. It is a religion of the dead, and not of the living. To this day the chief duty of many of her priests is to bury the dead and to intone prayers on behalf of the dead. Whether in the West or in the Orient, or in Moscow’s Red Square, she continues to enshrine and glorify the ancestral “greats,” while ignoring Jehovah, the God of life. All who seek life with joy must heed heaven’s pronouncement of doom against modern Babylon: “Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues. And a strong angel lifted up a stone like a great millstone and hurled it into the sea, saying: ‘Thus with a swift pitch will Babylon the great city be hurled down, and she will never be found again.”’—Rev. 18:4, 21; see also Jeremiah 51:6-8.
THE RELIGION OF LIFE
13. Who only may choose the true religion for mankind, and where does this religion center?
13 What, then, is the religion of life? Just as it is important to see worldly religion today in its true perspective as a worldwide system of sectarian confusion, so it is necessary to get the right perspective on the true religion. First, let it be noted that this is no man-made religion. It is not the religion of your choice, but the religion that Jehovah God has chosen, not only for mankind, but for all obedient creatures in His vast creation. It is far, far older than Babylon’s brief 4,000 years. The true religion centers in no earthly palace or temple, but in the exalted presence of Jehovah God, the eternal King and the Source of all life and energy in the universe.—Isa. 66:1; Ps. 10:16; 36:9.
14. (a) What reliable record does the Bible provide? (b) Whom did Jehovah first create, and of what did true worship then consist?
14 How do we know this? It is known because it is written in the Bible, which is the oldest and most reliable record, both historical and prophetic, on the vital matter of religion. The opening part of the Bible is “a history of the heavens and the earth in the time of their being created, in the day that Jehovah God made earth and heaven.” (Gen. 1:1–2:4) However, the Bible also shows that Jehovah brought forth a glorious spirit creation of “sons of God” long before he laid the material foundations of this earth. The first of these spirit sons is called “the Word of God.” (Rev. 19:13) He is also described under the figure of “Wisdom” and as saying, at Proverbs 8:22-31: “Jehovah himself produced me as the beginning of his way, the earliest of his achievements of long ago. From time indefinite I was installed, from the start, from times earlier than the earth. . . . Then I came to be beside him as a master worker and I came to be what he was specially fond of day by day, I being glad before him all the time.” With joy of heart the Son worshiped the Father, obediently carrying out the divine will as a master worker.
15. In what did God’s spirit sons find exhilarating joy?
15 In the course of time other spirit sons were created, and these also found exhilarating joy in the worship of Jehovah. These sons were present at the creation of the earth, as Jehovah later explained to his human servant Job: “Where did you happen to be when I founded the earth? . . . When the morning stars joyfully cried out together, and all the sons of God began shouting in applause?” (Job 38:4, 7) Is it to be supposed that these sons of God stood idly by, applauding while Jehovah and his first Son did all the work? Rather, it is certain that all His sons had assignments of work, in harmony with Jehovah’s will and purpose, and that in their obedient, devoted service they gave worship to Jehovah. Productive work in harmony with the divine will is a foundation principle in the original religion of life.—John 5:17; 15:8.
16, 17. (a) When did the true religion first appear on earth, and in what did it consist? (b) How could man then have found everlasting life on earth?
16 With the creation of the first man, Adam, the worship and service of Jehovah came to be the true religion for this earth. The accurate time-record of the Bible shows this to have been a little more than 5,980 years ago. Of what did that original religion for mankind consist? It could not be ancestor worship, for Adam had no ancestors. It was not concerned with rites for the dead, for there were no dead. Nor was man’s original home, the garden of Eden, a place of temples, idols or incense. It was a “paradise of pleasure,” a place of great natural beauty. There God set before the first man, not a mysterious, formalistic religion, but an assignment of service that would bring boundless joy in its accomplishment. Jehovah gave the man a lovely wife and work mate to assist in this assignment.
17 “And God proceeded to create the man in his image, in God’s image he created him; male and female he created them. Further, God blessed them and God said to them: ‘Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth and subdue it, and have in subjection the fish of the sea and the flying creatures of the heavens and every living creature that is creeping upon the earth.”’ Adam was required to carry out this assignment of service in humble recognition of his dependence upon his Creator, and for this reason the further command was given: “From every tree of the garden you may eat to satisfaction. But as for the tree of the knowledge of good and bad you must not eat from it, for in the day you eat from it you will positively die.” (Gen. 1:27, 28; 2:16, 17) Through obedient and joyful service to Jehovah God, Adam could have found everlasting life here upon this earth.
18. (a) How did false religion get started? (b) Did Jehovah’s purpose toward the earth then change, and how was true religion now perpetuated on earth?
18 How, then, did false religion get started? It began when an ambitious spirit son of God rebelled against Jehovah. He persuaded Eve and, through her, Adam to abandon Jehovah’s service for the sectarian religion that he, Satan the Devil, now introduced into the earth. They lost their joyful privilege of service in Eden’s sanctuary. They lost life itself, not only for themselves, but for all their offspring. (Rom. 5:12-14) Does this mean that the original religion, the religion that holds prospect of everlasting life, perished from the earth? Not so! Jehovah has ‘given the earth to the sons of men,’ to be a sanctuary of beauty, peace and joy for all time. That purpose has not changed. (Ps. 115:16; Isa. 55:11) Moreover, Jehovah made promise in Eden that he would bring forth from his wifelike organization in heaven a Seed, a Kingdom heir, who would sweep sectarian worship out of heaven and earth and become the Chief One in God’s “new heavens” for blessing all mankind. (Gen. 3:15; 2 Pet. 3:13) From Eden until now true witnesses of Jehovah have testified to this hope. Witnessing to Jehovah’s name and purpose, and not an empty display of pomp and ritual, constitutes the true religion for mankind down to this day.—Isa. 43:10-12.
19. Concerning what did Jehovah’s early witnesses on earth preach, and what hope did they hold?
19 The line of integrity-keeping witnesses of the true God starts with Adam’s son, Abel. Then it descends through Enoch, who prophesied concerning Jehovah’s judgment against the ungodly, and Noah, the “preacher of righteousness,” who was saved with his family through the great deluge. (Jude 14, 15; 2 Pet. 2:5) Later, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob bore joyful witness, and Jehovah blessed them, promising that the Kingdom heir, or Seed, would come from their family line. “In faith all these died, although they did not get the fulfillment of the promises, but they saw them afar off and hailed them and publicly declared that they were strangers and temporary residents in the land. . . . But now they are reaching out for a better place, that is, one belonging to heaven. Hence God is not ashamed of them, to be called upon as their God, for he has made a city ready for them.”—Heb. 11:4-16.
20. How can it be said that these Witnesses practiced a religion of life?
20 Since these men of faith all died without getting “the fulfillment of the promises,” how can it be said that theirs was the religion of life? It is because Jehovah has promised them a resurrection to life here on the earth, so that they may continue to serve Him joyfully through all the ages to come. “But that the dead are raised up even Moses disclosed, . . . when he calls Jehovah ‘the God of Abraham and God of Isaac and God of Jacob’. He is a God, not of the dead, but of the living, for they are all living from his standpoint.” (Luke 20:37, 38) Jehovah is also the God of Moses, of David, and of all who joyfully witness to his glorious name and concerning his promise of the Seed and Kingdom heir.—Ex. 3:15; Psalm 145.
21. (a) What wonderful thing then happened? (b) How did the Son fulfill God’s purpose in sending him to the earth?
21 Then, after 4,000 troubled years of human history, a wonderful thing happened! Jehovah sent his own Son, his first creation and the chief joy of all his heavenly family, here to this earth. “So the Word became flesh and resided among us, and we had a view of his glory, a glory such as belongs to an only-begotten son from a father, and he was full of undeserved kindness and truth.” (John 1:14) The Son himself 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.” (John 18:37) He taught his followers to walk according to the religion of life, and to find joy in doing the divine will. Concerning these meek, sheeplike persons he said: “I have come that they might have life and might have it in abundance. I am the right shepherd; the right shepherd surrenders his soul in behalf of the sheep.” (John 10:10, 11) His perfect human life he gave as a ransom for all men who love righteousness. Even though this meant death on a torture stake, the Son, Jesus Christ, found an incomparable joy in doing the divine will as Jehovah’s Chief Witness on earth.—John 4:34; Heb. 12:1, 2.
22. How did Jesus disciples practice their religion, and with what success?
22 After Jesus’ resurrection and ascension into heaven, the joyful witness concerning Jehovah’s kingdom and the hope of eternal life gained further impetus, as Jesus poured out God’s spirit upon his disciples, empowering them to preach “to the most distant part of the earth.” First a few from among the Jews, and then men of all nations accepted the joyful message of life. “When those of the nations heard this, they began to rejoice and to glorify the word of Jehovah, and all those who were rightly disposed for everlasting life became believers. And the disciples continued to be filled with joy and holy spirit.” The religion of life and joy prospered in the earth, as the believers bore “thorough witness concerning the kingdom of God.”—Acts 1:8; 8:25; 10:42; 13:48, 52; 28:23.
23. (a) Why has Christendom failed to perpetuate the true religion? (b) What do prophecy and the facts indicate as to the religion of Jehovah’s witnesses?
23 However, what of this twentieth century, this nuclear space age, when evil men threaten to snuff out all life on earth with their megaton bombs? Is the religion of life to be found in the earth today? Does it hold out hope of survival for humankind? Certainly modern Christendom is proclaiming no such hope. It has become sectarian, and a part of this world, and is described by Christ himself as “weeds” that an enemy oversowed in the true field of witnessing. This same Son and Heir, who is now enthroned as King in Jehovah’s “new heavens,” sends forth his angels to ‘collect the weeds’ and “pitch them into the fiery furnace” of Armageddon destruction. But what of true Bible Christianity? The same prophecy continues: “At that time the righteous ones will shine as brightly as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” (Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43) How wonderfully has this prophecy been fulfilled in the modern-day witnesses of Jehovah! For forty years now the anointed remnant of these Christian witnesses have been letting their light shine to the ends of the earth. With joy, those of good will from among the nations are learning the religion of life, so that they too are becoming zealous witnesses for Jehovah’s name and kingdom. From a few thousand in 1919, there has been a phenomenal growth to 851,378 active Witnesses in 179 lands world-wide in 1960. These continue to teach from door to door, “praising God and finding acceptance with all the people,” and ‘Jehovah continues to join to them daily those being saved.’ Yes, daily! For the past two years more than 180 new ministers were ordained for this service every day of the year!—Acts 2:47.
24. To what extent are men of good will now being served by the religion of life, and with what prospect?
24 Wherever you live on earth today, you may hear the joyous news concerning Jehovah’s “new heavens” and “new earth.” If you should live in any of forty countries of Africa, you may hear it from one of the 119,409 Witnesses who are spreading light in that continent. In sixty-seven countries and islands of the Americas, there are 353,632 zealous Witnesses. In nineteen countries of Europe, 195,295 ministers are preaching this same grand message in many languages. Forty-six countries of Asia and islands of the Pacific are served by another 59,659 ministers. Even where communism casts its dark shadow, in seven Soviet-dominated countries, 123,383 Witnesses refuse to be silenced in the face of cruel persecutions. Men of good will in all the earth are being served with the religion of life! This global witness must go on until all persons of good will on the face of the earth have been gathered as ‘the offspring of God’s people,’ to stand forever in the joy of life eternal in God’s new world. “‘For just as the new heavens and the new earth that I am making are standing before me,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘so the offspring of you people and the name of you people will keep standing.”’—Isa. 66:22.
a Directory of Buddhist Denominations, published by The International Institute for the Study of Religions, Inc., October 1957. (Tokyo, Japan).
b Layard, Babylon and Nineveh, p. 605.
c Maurice, Indian Antiquities Vol. iv, p. 445.
d Kennedy, Hindoo Mythology, p. 211.
e Niimura, Kojien, p. 897.
f Hislop, The Two Babylons, p. 17.