We Need Jehovah’s Organization
IT WAS with good reason that Jesus Christ likened the worshipers of Jehovah to gregarious sheep. Like sheep, they need one another and the loving oversight of a shepherd. That it is Jehovah’s will for them to be together in one flock instead of being scattered, having a separate spiritual existence, is made evident by what Jesus said in the tenth chapter of John. In the eleventh verse Joh 10:11 he identifies himself as their shepherd, saying: “I am the fine shepherd; the fine shepherd surrenders his soul in behalf of the sheep.” Then in verse sixteen Joh 10:16 he states: “I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; those also I must bring, and they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock, one shepherd.” This gathering of worshipers of Jehovah into one flock shows that it is his purpose for them to be in close association with one another.
Jesus would not have likened Christians to sheep in one flock and one fold if it were not God’s purpose for them to be together in an organization. His spirit is where the Fine Shepherd and the flock are. How can a person expect to continue under the influence of that spirit if he separates from the flock and seeks to live a solitary spiritual life? It is like separating a coal from a bed of coals. As the coal soon cools because of its being separated from the fire, so the spiritual flame in a dedicated servant of God will soon cool and die out when he willfully separates from the flock where Jehovah’s spirit is.
Regarding straying sheep, Jesus said: “What do you think? If a certain man comes to have a hundred sheep and one of them gets strayed, will he not leave the ninety-nine upon the mountains and set out on a search for the one that is straying? And if he happens to find it, I certainly tell you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that have not strayed. Likewise it is not a desirable thing with my Father who is in heaven for one of these little ones to perish.” (Matt. 18:12-14) With the flock of God’s organization there is safety, but there is grave danger in straying from it.
Being in the Christian flock involves more than just belief in Christian teachings. It also means contact with the organization of Jehovah’s worshipers. When sheep are in a flock, they are in physical association with one another. This also is necessary with Christians. The apostle Paul made that clear when he said: “Let us consider one another to incite to love and fine 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) Is not a person forsaking the gathering with dedicated worshipers of Jehovah when he tries to live a solitary spiritual life, having no physical association with the Christian flock? Jesus would not have given his illustration likening Christians to a flock of sheep if he did not believe that worshipers of Jehovah need the Christian organization.
EARLY CHRISTIAN ORGANIZATION
The apostles became the principal overseers of the early Christian organization. Those who became Christians looked to them as the channel Jehovah was using to instruct them and guide them in true worship. When there was a dispute among them, they would turn to the apostles for a decision. An instance of this was when a dispute arose in the congregation at Syrian Antioch over the question of circumcision. The congregation sent Paul and Barnabas to the headquarters of the Christian organization at Jerusalem for a decision. “But when there had occurred no little dissension and disputing by Paul and Barnabas with them [the men who were disturbing the congregation], they arranged for Paul and Barnabas and some others of them to go up to the apostles and older men in Jerusalem regarding this dispute.” (Acts 15:2) There a ruling was handed down by the governing body and it was carried to all the congregations. “Now as they traveled on through the cities they would deliver to those there for observance the decrees that had been decided upon by the apostles and older men who were in Jerusalem.”—Acts 16:4.
The governing body of the Christian organization in the first century sent out traveling representatives who began new congregations and visited established ones. They had the authority to appoint persons to positions of oversight in the congregations so that the local organization would function smoothly and fulfill its purpose. (Acts 14:23) At 1 Timothy 3:1-13, we read some of the organizational instructions that Paul, a representative of the governing body, gave regarding overseers and ministerial servants. Thus it can be seen that the early Christians were in one fold that formed an organization. That was where they found Jehovah’s spirit, and that was where they received Scriptural knowledge, good counsel, firm discipline and dependable guidance in the way that is pleasing to God.
JEHOVAH’S ORGANIZATION TODAY
In this twentieth century the Lord’s “sheep” need to be together in one fold just as much as in the first century. As Jehovah had an organization then for his worshipers, so we should expect him to have one today. But how can it be identified when there are so many religious organizations that bear the name Christian? The disunity and conflict in teachings among them rule out the thought that God is using all of them. He is not a God of confusion. He used only one organization in the first century, and we can expect him to use only one today. The one that would be doing the work he has commanded to be done would have his spirit.
The confusion of multitudinous religious organizations claiming to be Christian began appearing after the death of the apostles when there was a falling away from the early Christian organization. Many sects began to appear. The apostle Paul foretold this when he said: “I know that after my going away oppressive wolves will enter in among you and will not treat the flock with tenderness, and from among you yourselves men will rise and speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves.” (Acts 20:29, 30) Even before he died there were persons who began to cause divisions. “Now I exhort you, brothers, to keep your eye on those who cause divisions and occasions for stumbling contrary to the teaching that you have learned, and avoid them.” (Rom. 16:17) Jude also spoke about such persons. In the tenth verse of his letter he said: “These men are speaking abusively of all the things they really do not know.” And then in the sixteenth verse he observed that “their mouths speak swelling things, while they are admiring personalities for the sake of their own benefit.”
God certainly did not use the splinter groups that were formed back there by the dissident individuals who lost sight of their need for Jehovah’s organization. His spirit was not with them but stayed with the flock made up of persons who were putting his interests first rather than personalities. Paul condemned the practice of following men when he said: “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.”—1 Cor. 3:6, 7.
The careful searcher can find Jehovah’s organization today by looking for its identifying marks. One of them is its separation from the world. James said: “Whoever, therefore, wants to be a friend of the world is constituting himself an enemy of God.” (Jas. 4:4) The Christian organization of the first century did not involve itself in the politics and wars of the Roman world but kept separate from it as Jesus did.—John 17:16.
It is a common practice for religious organizations in Christendom to be deeply involved in political affairs, even to the point where members of the same organization will kill one another in political wars. This the early Christians never did, and neither do those who form Jehovah’s worldwide organization today.
Another mark of Jehovah’s organization is the magnifying of his name, making it known to the peoples of the world. Jesus showed the importance of this name by putting the sanctifying of it first in his model prayer. (Matt. 6:9) Only one organization today is making Jehovah’s name known throughout the world. It alone is upholding it and is proclaiming the importance of its being vindicated. That organization is well known as the bearers of the name.
Jesus foretold that the preaching of the good news of the Kingdom would be done by his followers. (Matt. 24:14) In 189 lands Jehovah’s witnesses are doing that very thing. Theirs is the only organization that concentrates on this important work that Jesus began in the first century. It alone is pushing this preaching work and training all who come within it to participate in it. As activity in the Christian ministry was important among Jehovah’s servants of the first century, so it is important today. Paul said: “With the heart one exercises faith for righteousness, but with the mouth one makes public declaration for salvation.” (Rom. 10:10) Since preaching is important for salvation, God’s organization should be expected to stress it. This is what Jehovah’s witnesses are doing.
Under the supervision of the remnant of Christ’s anointed followers, the organization of Jehovah’s worshipers today is geared to preach and to teach the good things in God’s Word. In obedience to Jesus’ command, it is “seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness.” (Matt. 6:33) The world over it is helping to transform people so that they become integrity-keeping Christian ministers who are peaceful, honest and morally clean. It is turning multitudes to Jehovah God and building up their faith in his Word.
It organizes congregations and sends representatives to them to build up the Lord’s “sheep” and to give them assistance in making “public declaration for salvation.” It does its utmost to help them walk in the way of obedience to God. It encourages, instructs, counsels and disciplines, as did the Christian organization of the first century. It devotes its resources entirely to fulfilling the Christian commission to preach the good news of the Kingdom. The good fruits it has produced to Jehovah’s honor and praise as well as its spiritual prosperity testify to the fact that his spirit has been operating upon this one organization. It is doing his will.
LOYALTY TO THE ORGANIZATION
In the first century there were “sheep” that began to stray from the Christian organization, losing sight of the fact that God’s spirit was operating upon it. To such ones among the Galatians the apostle Paul said: “You were running well. Who hindered you from keeping on obeying the truth? This sort of persuasion is not from the One calling you.” (Gal. 5:7, 8) So today “sheep” can be expected to stray.
There are persons who have been closely associated with Jehovah’s organization but who begin to lose sight of it and to think that they can get along without it. Some have been in close contact with the overseers of the organization. Because they personally know these men and the work they do in directing the preaching activities of the organization, they come to see only these men when they think of the organization rather than seeing the organization as a whole. They allow personalities to stumble them, forgetting that it is God who is causing the organization to grow and to prosper, not the men who serve in it. This mistake was made by the people of Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth.
The townspeople of Nazareth did not see Jesus as an instrument in the hands of God who was doing God’s work. They saw him only as the son of Joseph, a mere carpenter. “‘Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary, and his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Where, then, did this man get all these things?’ So they began to stumble at him.” (Matt. 13:55-57) Today a person should have his eyes on what Jehovah’s organization is doing to further Jehovah’s interests rather than on personalities who are giving their service to God and his organization.
The care of God’s organization today is not in the hands of men who are inspired by God. They can make mistakes as any imperfect man can. Even the apostle Peter, who unquestionably had God’s spirit, made mistakes. On one occasion he denied Jesus Christ. On another he had to be rebuked by Paul for “not walking straight according to the truth of the good news.” (Gal. 2:14) God’s spirit inspired him to write Scripture, but it did not prevent him from being a free moral agent capable of making mistakes when he was not under inspiration. His mistake in the matter of applying Christian doctrine in his relationship with non-Jews does not argue that he did not have God’s spirit at all. The same is true today.
The men in Jehovah’s organization who prepare spiritual instruction for the Lord’s “sheep” diligently study the Scriptures to learn what God has put there for the instruction and guidance of his people. They make no claim of inspiration—only that they are Bible students. Since their comments on the Scriptures are not inspired, they can at times make mistakes. Does this make them false prophets? Not at all! A false prophet does not correct himself. He persists in proclaiming a wrong view even when he knows that it is wrong. But these students of God’s Word correct misunderstandings when they discover them. They are interested in the truth, not in self-justification. Their mistakes do not mean God’s spirit does not operate upon them; it does, just as it did upon Peter despite his mistakes.
Over the years the anointed remnant have published many things through the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society that they have learned from their ceaseless searching of God’s Word. Some of these things have made Jehovah’s witnesses distinctive from the religious organizations of Christendom that refuse to correct mistaken views, and they have proved to be basic Scriptural truths. Some others have, by further study, been revealed to be mistaken conclusions due to an unclear view of certain scriptures. As understanding of these scriptures became clearer the mistakes were corrected. Such corrections show their honesty and love for truth.
This sincere desire to search out accurate understanding of the things in God’s Word and this willingness to make changes when Scriptural evidence accumulates to indicate a need for them should instill confidence in the organization. It assures the Lord’s “sheep” that the organization will never knowingly misinform them.
God’s spirit operates upon his dedicated servants today, not to inspire them, but to move them gently in the direction of increased understanding. It permits them to make mistakes as they grow in understanding of God’s Word, but in time it helps them to see their mistakes, which they gladly correct. In this manner they progress along the path of the righteous ones, with the light of Scriptural understanding steadily getting “lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established.” (Prov. 4:18) This progress in Scriptural knowledge might be likened to an overcast sky that is gradually breaking up. As the openings between the clouds grow, more and more light comes through. Sometimes a truth is seen but then is obscured by a misunderstanding, just as a passing cloud momentarily obscures some rays of the sun. Later this truth returns in greater clarity when the misunderstanding is removed. God’s spirit is evident upon the organization from the progress it is making along the path of Scriptural truth.
The person who permits a seed of discontent against Jehovah’s organization to grow until it becomes a poisonous root puts himself in a dangerous position. (Heb. 12:15) If he leaves the flock, where can he go? He knows that the Devil’s world and its religious organizations do not have words of life. He knows the folly of joining with deserters who now fight the organization. If he leaves, he puts himself in the position of those about whom John spoke when he said: “They went out from us, but they were not of our sort; for if they had been of our sort, they would have remained with us.”—1 John 2:19.
Those who remain loyal to Jehovah’s organization take the view the apostles did when many of Jesus’ disciples stopped following him. Peter expressed their feelings by saying: “Lord, whom shall we go away to? You have sayings of everlasting life.” (John 6:68) The loyal “sheep” see that the way to life is with Jehovah’s faithful organization.
Like gregarious sheep that stay together in one flock and find shelter and protection in one fold, Jehovah’s worshipers today find shelter, protection and an abundant supply of spiritual nourishment in his organization of witnesses. Under its direction they are doing what is fine in the eyes of God, and his spirit is prospering them. To such ones the apostle Paul said: “Let us not give up in doing what is fine, for in due season we shall reap if we do not tire out.”—Gal. 6:9.