1. What fact of history enjoins steadfastness on us?
“FIRMLY fixed in place” or “fixed in direction”—that is the meaning of steadfast. Steadfastness certainly is required in successfully facing the world’s Armageddon. Peter considered the dissolution of “all these things” of Satan’s world, his heaven and earth, and after doing so he stated to his Christian brothers: “You, therefore, beloved ones, having this advance knowledge, be on your guard that you may not . . . fall from your own steadfastness.” (2 Pet. 3:11-17) To finish the journey to eternal life and to continue in Jehovah’s worship, conducting ourselves in the way that pleases God, disciplined steadfastness is required because integrity is at issue.—Heb. 10:38, 39.
2. What is the place in which we desire to be fixed fast?
2 Our place in the Christian course that leads to life is a place in Jehovah’s work and worship—his ministry. Those forces that oppose Jehovah’s kingdom and worship are obstacles on the way to life and they must be overcome. Overcome they can be, through our steadfast integrity, by the loving-kindness of Jehovah God. Would you like to note some of the efforts made under conditions and circumstances that often confront Jehovah’s witnesses, testing their steadfastness, and how they view such obstacles?
STEADFASTNESS IN RESISTING MATERIALISM
3. What is materialism?
3 While the self-indulgence of materialism is a menace to Christians and constitutes a worldwide affliction of humankind, steadfastness in resisting it shows that one is leading a life in which Jehovah and his worship come first. It should be remembered that being materialistic does not mean that one is necessarily rich materially. The matter is one of where affections are centered. If one loves Jehovah God and puts first his worship and the Kingdom interests, ‘seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,’ he is going to reflect this in his life. If he gives the greater part of his time and attention to satisfying the desires of his flesh, clearly he is sowing to his flesh.—Matt. 6:33.
4. By what is everlasting life assured?
4 That catering to this flesh will not preserve life is proved Scripturally: “Do not be misled: God is not one to be mocked. For whatever a man is sowing, this he will also reap; because he who is sowing with a view to his flesh will reap corruption from his flesh, but he who is sowing with a view to the spirit will reap everlasting life from the spirit. So let us not give up in doing what is fine, for in due season we shall reap if we do not tire out.”—Gal. 6:7-9.
5. To what vital question is the issue of materialism resolved?
5 So in respect to materialism and the problem with which it confronts a Christian, the issue resolves itself to this: For what world is one living? We can answer that question with everlasting benefit if we heed the inspired advice given concerning this old world and if, in doing so, we live for the new world of righteousness: “Do not be loving either the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him; because everything in the world—the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the showy display of one’s means of life—does not originate with the Father, but originates with the world. Furthermore, the world is passing away and so is its desire, but he that does the will of God remains forever.” (1 John 2:15-17) What a contrast with the passing world: Remaining forever!
FIRM UNDER PERSECUTION AND BANS
6. What is certain regarding persecution today and in the future?
6 Today there are a number of countries where the governments are very much opposed to Jehovah’s witnesses because they are preaching the good news of God’s kingdom. When you refer to the 1963 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses you will find that in the English edition on page 289 there is a report from places where Jehovah’s witnesses work under great difficulties today. Tomorrow? We can say with certainty that increase and extension of persecution and bans will come upon those who do not worship the State and do not herald it as their savior. Wherever there is totalitarian rule it is an easy matter for government officials to arrest Jehovah’s witnesses, throw them into concentration camps and prisons, ban their work, seize their homes, their assembly places and literature, and even burn their Bibles.
7. Jehovah has provided what, to the benefit of our mental attitude toward persecution and bans?
7 Under such circumstances what can be done to bear up and not be diverted to so-called self-preservation? Primarily it is a matter of maintaining the right mental attitude. How is this possible? It is possible because of the clear insight received from Jehovah through his Word. Jehovah’s witnesses are not in doubt as to the situation. They are alerted so that even the great attack by Gog does not come upon them as a surprise without foreknowledge, forewarning and forearming on their part. (Ezekiel, chaps. 38 and 39) Even now in advance, and during that attack, blameless ones who are steadfast under vicious persecution may know that their future will be peaceful. “Watch the blameless one and keep the upright one in sight, for the future of that man will be peaceful. But the transgressors themselves will certainly be annihilated together; the future of wicked people will indeed be cut off.”—Ps. 37:37, 38.
8. (a) Explain the fundamental charge to each individual servant of God, applying in all circumstances. (b) In what does it result?
8 Jehovah’s servants under ban and persecution recognize that, regardless of the pressure that is applied, each one does retain an individual responsibility to God’s faithful ministry. Each one knows that God’s Word says: “Preach the Word, be at it urgently in favorable season, in troublesome season, reprove, reprimand, exhort, with all long-suffering and art of teaching.” (2 Tim. 4:2) Discharging the responsibility that each individual knows he has in conforming to the solemn charge to preach “in troublesome season,” his plans are made carefully. Under ban smaller groups of preachers are less conspicuous. Individual activity is sometimes hardly noticed.
9. Show the viewpoint of witnesses under ban toward “incidental” witnessing.
9 If limitations upon the preaching work are so restricting due to Caesar’s resorting to totalitarian methods to hinder, it may even be wise for all preachers to do “incidental” witnessing. To assist in this, overseers can keep ministers informed on effective ways for starting conversations with strangers, tactfully finding out if they are sheeplike. By this means, even under ban, search out who is worthy. Those who are proved to be interested can be called on regularly, and thus the backcall work be continued. In this way in various lands Bible studies are established and held, and people are helped even to the point of dedication to God and baptism despite bans.
10. Do reports of field ministry have a place under ban?
10 Ministry performed even under difficulties is faithfully reported. Reporting aids one to sense contact with Jehovah’s earthly organization. Group and congregation reports stimulate faithfulness as all Kingdom publishers see that something is being accomplished and that others are carrying on preaching despite difficulties. Reports that reach the Society will, when published, be an encouragement to those in other lands. You will realize this when you read the Society’s Yearbook. Responsible servants of congregations can collect reports at meetings and when visiting the homes of the Kingdom publishers.
11. To what extent are meetings affected by laws and persecution?
11 But will there be meetings when under ban? Yes, such continue. They are necessarily of small groups, but they are needed to build up and strengthen spiritually. Those attending so value these secret meetings that they space their arrival and their departures over a considerable period of time so that no undue attention by the neighborhood is attracted to any location used for assembly.
12. Matthew 10:16-22 is of what help to Christians under ban?
12 Bold in the face of danger, but, nevertheless, cautious as serpents—so Jehovah’s witnesses are. Jesus said to be on guard against wicked men. That surely included staying out of the hands of such men. Jesus anticipated persecutors’ resorting to the totalitarian tactic of having people become informers for the State even against their own family members: “Look! I am sending you forth as sheep amidst wolves; therefore prove yourselves cautious as serpents and yet innocent as doves. Be on your guard against men; for they will deliver you up to local courts, and they will scourge you in their synagogues. Why, you will be haled before governors and kings for my sake, for a witness to them and the nations. . . . Further, brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise up against parents and will have them put to death. And you will be objects of hatred by all people on account of my name; but he that has endured to the end is the one that will be saved.”—Matt. 10:16-22.
STEADFASTNESS IN ALL KINDS OF TERRITORY
13. What territory does not call for exercising steadfastness?
13 Not all territory is in countries where the work is under ban, yet all territory calls for the exercise of steadfastness. The field of Kingdom ministry is the world. (Matt. 13:38) Their steadfastness in all kinds of territory proves that Jehovah’s witnesses have love for the “sheep” who are still being found in all parts of the field.
14. As to all territory in general, what is the objective?
14 To do the best work they can, Jehovah’s witnesses carefully organize the assigning of territory, keeping close check on the coverage of it by preaching. Publishers bring back reports on what was done. Good records are kept by house-to-house publishers of those who are not at home and who are busy. Then when next witnessing in such territory, before doing any new sections, the ministers first call on those persons who were absent from home at the time of the last call or busy at that time. This ensures a more thorough witness’ being given and it takes full advantage of the territory available. Calls on busy people later the same day or at other agreed time almost invariably turn out well.
15. Group witnessing calls for what?
15 When publishers are witnessing in groups, it is considered important for the group conductor to assign enough territory to keep the group busy the entire time. This makes it unnecessary for ministers to look up the conductor during the course of the field service period to get more territory. After working a few times around the territory, the conductor knows about how much of it a group will require.
16. A faithful witness is furthered in what way by (a) literature choice? (b) back-calls?
16 Close attention to the matter of alternating the coverage of territory with both The Watchtower and Awake! and with the other literature offers also helps the placing of Bible literature. Publishers can call more often with magazines because they always have something new and fresh to offer to the people. On other occasions the other Bible-study aids can be carried to the same territory, with the best and most thorough witness being given in this manner. Then, too, as the back-call work is organized and new ones are trained for this and all interested persons are revisited, large areas for house-to-house ministry will not be required.
17. In “difficult” territory, what challenge is seen and what is to be considered?
17 To Jehovah’s witnesses so-called “difficult” territory presents a challenge. It combines with other factors to present a test of their steadfastness. “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, as we look intently at the Chief Agent and Perfecter of our faith, Jesus. For the joy that was set before him he endured a torture stake . . . Indeed, consider closely the one who has endured such contrary talk by sinners against their own interests, that you may not get tired and give out in your souls.”—Heb. 12:2, 3.
18. If a section has certain difficult peculiarities, what are the many things a publisher can do?
18 If a section or territory has certain peculiarities, then the Kingdom publisher should be aware of such and become familiar with them. He should ask, What do the people believe? Why do they react the way they do? Is there some version of the Bible that they will accept? What do the newspapers show their clergy advocate and stand for? What are they interested in? The answers to such questions will aid the Kingdom publisher to get the Kingdom message to the people. In this there is the good example of the apostle Paul, who informed himself concerning the people and their beliefs in carrying on his missionary activity. He was so observant in his territory that he was able to tell the men of Athens that he had seen an altar “To an Unknown God” in their city. He spoke to them of their religious zeal and then used this as a basis for the sermon he gave them. He was not discouraged by the flagrant idolatry he saw there. He made use of what he found in his assignment. He even quoted some of their writers whom the people would recognize. He was really a model of a foresighted and prepared minister when going into his territory. In meeting the challenge of “difficult” territory, Jehovah’s witnesses take the proper view, being thoroughly prepared to witness skillfully in such sections, knowing that those ‘skilled at their work will stand approved before kings.’—Prov. 22:29; Acts 17:23, 28, 29.
19. Explain a development in some territories, and show how it is an advantage in the ministry.
19 A development respecting some territory, which is a splendid advantage in the ministry of Jehovah’s witnesses, is that of frequent coverage of certain areas. Frequent coverage is not a disadvantage, but it is an advantage as the work of the ministers is done well. It enables God’s ministers and the people on whom calls are made to become acquainted with one another. Witnessing with all humility and kindness, with friendliness and warmth, never returning evil for evil, leaving even a few words of comfort, enables the people to realize that frequent visits are for their good. Jehovah’s witnesses assure people that they are happy to speak to them. Do you not agree that the Kingdom message is really worthwhile and certainly not bad news? It is hoped that you do, because Jehovah’s witnesses look forward to speaking to all people repeatedly on such beneficial matters as soon as there is an opportunity to call again. So you can see that “coming back” is part of today’s work of Bible education.
20. (a) What is of first concern in regard to a territory? (b) State the helps to high-quality ministry therein.
20 We realize that it really is desirable for people to know who we are when they see us coming, often even knowing us by name. From such visits, whether literature is accepted or not, the people are gradually receiving an ever-growing knowledge of basic Bible teachings. Jehovah and Armageddon are no longer terms strange to them. The condition of the dead and the hope of everlasting human life on earth are no longer new ideas to them. The more we talk to people, the better we will know their frame of mind, their outlook on life, their needs. Then we can best help them. Frequently covered territory motivates us to make better preparation and to work up fresh approaches that will attract and hold interest. Never minimize the tremendous effect that the Kingdom message has. And, outstandingly, increases are coming from territories frequently worked. So the thing for first concern is not the frequency with which territory is covered but the thoroughness and good quality of the ministry therein. Jehovah’s witnesses are a distinct people devoted to true worship of Jehovah God. In the Time magazine of February 1, 1963, page 65, under the heading “Believer or Pagan” this is stated: “When I look out into the market place,” complains one Catholic priest, “I can no longer distinguish the believer from the pagan. I can distinguish the Jehovah’s witness . . . —but not the followers of the traditional faiths.” There are millions of people who feel the same way.
STEADFASTNESS IN RIGHT CONDUCT AND BEHAVIOR
21. In respect to conduct and behavior, what choice have we and with what consequences?
21 There must be a determination on our part to be steadfast in moral conduct and good behavior. If morality is not maintained, we will get off the road to life. Do you remember the experience of Israel of old when so near to the land of promise? (Numbers, chap. 25) Uncleanness caused the death of thousands then. We can avoid such deviation of stumbling by keeping our minds off the works that are wicked. Before we heard the good news our minds were on such works, and so we proceeded accordingly and produced bad deeds. But we learned that Christ’s death and resurrection were for him to “present you holy and unblemished and open to no accusation before him, provided, of course, that you continue in the faith, established on the foundation and steadfast and not being shifted away from the hope of that good news which you heard.” (Col. 1:22, 23) May it be our determination to continue in the faith unblemished and to realize the hope of the good news.
STEADFASTNESS IN MEETING ATTENDANCE
22. (a) What other field of Jehovah’s worship demands steadfastness? (b) What is a source of spiritual strength?
22 Spiritual strength comes to us from knowledge. Knowledge is obtained in our congregational meetings and personal study of the Word of God. For us to be energized to run the race to the finish and receive the prize of life eternal requires constancy in attending meetings to get that knowledge. Family study and private study develop the desire to be at such gatherings. Every deviation from meeting attendance leaves us without some knowledge that we could have had. Each such loss will leave us just that much weaker to face the enemy. We have to be deep-rooted in the faith to carry on. Each family should have definite times for preparation for meetings and then be a participating unit in discussions when the congregation gets together. Being with our brothers at meetings has the advantage of keeping us in right associations that help us on the way to life. (1 Cor. 15:33) How miserable has been the failure of those who would try to disprove this divine warning! Then hold on to right associations. There is no need to go backward.
23. Explain some of the blessings and benefits of association with the congregation.
23 Wonderful blessings result now to those who cultivate associations with the New World society, wherein all encourage one another. If one is weak or wobbly, others obey the Scripture command to “straighten up the hands that hang down and the enfeebled knees . . . carefully watching that no one may be deprived of the undeserved kindness of God.” (Heb. 12:12, 15) That is real neighbor love. Take your part in giving this encouragement. “Keep comforting one another and building one another up, just as you are in fact doing.”—1 Thess. 5:11.
24. (a) What will disciplined steadfastness bring? (b) How will the reward of life be used?
24 The course of disciplined steadfastness will bring Jehovah’s lasting approval and blessing. Persevere. Why should we allow our confidence to weaken with the passing of time or because of some expected difficulties? “So 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) The enduring keepers of integrity will have good use for what they get as their reward. Jehovah explains this to them when he says concerning the 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. And it will certainly occur that from new moon to new moon and from sabbath to sabbath all flesh will come in to bow down before me.’” (Isa. 66:22, 23) By maintaining integrity in the Christian course we will be able everlastingly to worship our God and Father, Jehovah. You desire this, do you not? Do not give out in right works. Accept discipline, be steadfast on the way to life, to Jehovah’s praise.