Surviving Through Faith
“He that approaches God must believe . . . that he becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him.”—Heb. 11:6.
1. Who are promised the reward of survival, and what must they do?
MANY claim to believe in God, but do they believe in him as God, Jehovah? Do they ‘look intently toward the payment of the reward,’ as did that bold champion of Jehovah’s name, the prophet Moses? (Heb. 11:26) It is only the “meek ones of the earth,” those who wholeheartedly “seek Jehovah,” together with righteousness and meekness, that are promised the reward of survival through “the day of Jehovah’s anger” into his new world of peace. (Zeph. 2:3) They must earnestly seek God through his Word, the Bible, and in association with his witnesses. They must realize that, while the creation may stand in proof of the existence of God, it is only the Bible, his revelation to mankind through his prophets, that makes known his eternal Name, the fullness of his abounding love, and his glorious purpose to deliver those who love him, in vindication of his Name.—1 Pet. 1:25.
2. Through whom must men seek Jehovah, and why?
2 Preeminently, God “has at the end of these days spoken to us by means of a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the systems of things.” (Heb. 1:2) This Son is also named the Word and Christ Jesus. Having been Jehovah’s companion worker in the creation, he is well qualified to speak of all the glories of Jehovah’s accomplishments. “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) All who seek the Father, Jehovah, must do so through His Son, for he is the one who shed his own human lifeblood to redeem man from sin, and who is thus able to make intercession with Jehovah on behalf of sinful men.—John 14:6; Heb. 9:11-14.
3. How is he the Prophet like Moses, and why greater than Moses?
3 The Son is not only the Mediator between God and man, but he is also the greatest of all prophets. He is the one of whom Moses spoke: “At that Jehovah said to me, ‘. . . A prophet I shall raise up for them from the midst of their brothers, like you; and I shall indeed put my words in his mouth, and he will certainly speak to them all that I shall command him. And it must occur that the man who will not listen to my words that he will speak in my name, I shall myself require an account from him.’” (Deut. 18:17-19) Peter later identified this prophet typified by Moses as “the Christ appointed for you, Jesus.” (Acts 3:19-24) In whose name did he prophesy? In his own name, Jesus? No, but in the name of the God who sent him, Jehovah. Thus he testified concerning his Father, Jehovah: “I cannot do a single thing of my own initiative; just as I hear, I judge; and the judgment that I render is righteous, because I seek, not my own will, but the will of him that sent me.” (John 5:30) He taught his followers to pray, “Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified,” and he himself prayed in an hour of trial, “Father, glorify your name.” (Matt. 6:9; John 12:28) As the Prophet greater than Moses, Jesus did even more than Moses in declaring and glorifying Jehovah’s name. At the close of his earthly course, he could say in prayer to Jehovah: “I have made your name manifest to the men you gave me out of the world. . . . Sanctify them by means of the truth; your word is truth.”—John 17:6, 17.
4. What great prophecies did Jesus speak that are of vital concern in this nuclear age?
4 In the name of Jehovah God, the prophet Jesus spoke prophecy that is of vital concern to men living on earth in this nuclear age. In Matthew chapters 24 and 25, he foretold the world wars, the famines, the earthquakes, the increase of lawlessness, the preaching of God’s kingdom, the rise to prominence of the UN, the growth of materialism, and many other evidences marking this age as “the conclusion of the system of things.” Culminating this great prophecy, Jesus spoke of himself as coming in Kingdom glory to separate the nations as sheep and goats. To the sheep he says: “Come, you who have my Father’s blessing, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world.” These sheeplike ones are depicted as showing goodwill to Christ’s brothers. (Matt. 24:3, 7, 12, 14, 15, 37-39; 25:31-46) Today, those who earnestly seek Jehovah’s reward through faith do well to associate and serve with the New World society of Jehovah’s witnesses.
5. How did Jesus emphasize joyful endurance, both in word and deed?
5 In connection with this end of the world, Jesus also said: “But he that has endured to the end is the one that will be saved.” (Matt. 24:13) This endurance in faith is important to all who will survive and attain to the reward. Jesus himself is the superlative example of endurance, so that we are all admonished to “look intently at the Chief Agent and Perfecter of our faith, Jesus. For the joy that was set before him he endured the torture stake, despising shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 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) “For the joy that was set before him”! So, too, we may endure all trials, “as seeing the One who is invisible,” and in the glorious prospect of Jehovah’s new-world blessings!—Heb. 11:27.
6. What rewards await the “little flock” and the “great crowd”? Why?
6 What is the reward, for which we are admonished to strive so earnestly? To his joint-heirs in the kingdom of heaven, Jesus said: “Have no fear, little flock, because your Father has approved of giving you the kingdom.” “Seek continually his kingdom.” (Luke 12:32, 31) Again, Paul says: God “will render to each one according to his works: everlasting life to those who are seeking glory and honor and incorruptibleness by endurance in work that is good.” (Rom. 2:6, 7) So the prize for the “little flock” of 144,000 followers of Jesus Christ is Kingdom glory with everlasting life. After describing this flock of spiritual Israel in Revelation 7:4-8, the prophet Jesus goes on to give a vision of “a great crowd, which no man was able to number,” taken from among all tribes of mankind. These also seek God’s reward in faith, by “rendering him sacred service day and night in his temple.” Will they be disappointed? No, for the prophecy goes on to say that “the Lamb, who is in the midst of the throne, will shepherd them, and will guide them to fountains of waters of life. And God will wipe out every tear from their eyes.” (Re 7 Vss. 9-17) Whether the reward is eternal life with the Lamb, Christ Jesus, in his heavenly Kingdom, or eternal life in the earthly realm of that kingdom, how worth-while it is to strive after that reward in strong faith, and with endurance!
TRIALS OF ENDURANCE
7, 8. (a) What results through keeping integrity in faith? (b) What aids immeasurably toward endurance?
7 Viewed properly, the trials that confront men of faith are a cause for rejoicing. Why so? Because, properly met, they will bring satisfaction, and with it the strength that results from keeping integrity. For this reason Peter writes: “In this fact you are greatly rejoicing, though for a little while at present, if it must be, you have been grieved by various trials, in order that the tested quality of your faith, of much greater value than gold that perishes despite its being proved by fire, may be found a cause for praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. 1:6, 7) Like the faithful prophets of old, like Jesus, the great prophet and exemplar, like the courageous modern-day overcomers among Jehovah’s witnesses, let all with rejoicing keep up this battle of faith!
8 As an aid to enduring in strong faith, we should always regard as precious our inestimable privilege of holding high the glorious Name of Jehovah God. (Psalm 145) It is because of Satan’s wicked challenge to Jehovah’s supremacy that he has been permitted to test and persecute God’s servants up until this day. (Ex. 9:16) By enduring in integrity we may share in Jehovah’s vindication. What a deep love do we have for Jehovah’s holy Name! That Name means more to us than any other name in the wide universe! Only by holding integrity to Jehovah can we show our heartfelt appreciation of all that he has created and made, our appreciation of the gift of life, yes, our appreciation of his overwhelming loving-kindness in providing the way of everlasting life through his Son, Christ Jesus. Thus, in exultant faith we respond to the call: “Sing to Jehovah, bless his name. From day to day tell the good news of salvation by him.”—Ps. 96:2.
9, 10. (a) What must be coupled with love for Jehovah? (b) Why is study of such vital importance, and what are some Scriptural examples?
9 Coupled with a love for Jehovah and his righteousness, we must have a deep hatred for what is unrighteousness, that which reproaches or defames Jehovah’s name, or transgresses his righteous principles. In this, we should be like-minded with Christ Jesus, of whom it was prophetically written: “You have loved righteousness and you hate wickedness. That is why God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of exultation more than your partners.” (Ps. 45:7) May we, too, share in that joyful exultation by hating everything that violates Jehovah’s right principles. Not that we will hate individuals as such, but we will certainly not want to company with those who say of Jehovah: “In the knowledge of your ways we have found no delight.” (Job 21:14) Rather, let us spend time with others of like precious faith, and in studying the thoughts of Jehovah. “How great your works are, O Jehovah! Very deep your thoughts are. No unreasoning man himself can know them, and no one stupid can understand this.”—Ps. 92:5, 6.
10 Yes, study! What a help to endurance! What a faith builder, setting hearts on the attainment of the reward! Do we all appreciate, and dig deep down for the full wealth of information contained in each issue of The Watchtower? In most countries today, religion is a mere social convenience, to be called on for christenings, weddings and funerals. There is much ceremonial, but interest in doctrine or prophecy is practically nil. There is no living faith, there is none of the zealous search for Scriptural truth that was so forcefully exemplified by the early Christian witnesses. Why, “day after day they were in constant attendance at the temple with one accord” for Bible instruction, and as they preached to others the grand truths they learned, these also “received the word with the greatest eagerness of mind, carefully examining the Scriptures daily as to whether these things were so.” (Acts 2:46; 17:11) It was a daily matter; it was their very life. So, today, those who seek the rewards of faith must abandon the lazy customs of old-world religion, set eyes in faith on Jehovah’s new world and become whole-souled in daily personal Bible study, as well as in regular meeting attendance with true Christians.
11, 12. (a) What modern-day example illustrates appreciation of Jehovah’s provision? (b) Why are study and association so essential at this particular time?
11 A modern-day example of true Christian zeal for the Bible and its study is found in those witnesses of Jehovah who suffered in the Nazi concentration camps. After her own release from concentration camp, Genevieve de Gaulle, niece of General de Gaulle, the present president of France, had this to say concerning Jehovah’s witnesses in the Ravensbruck Women’s Camp: “Indeed, I have true admiration for them. They belonged to various nationalities: German, Polish, Russian and Czech, and have endured very great sufferings for their beliefs. . . . All of them showed very great courage and their attitude commanded eventually even the respect of the S.S. They could have been immediately freed if they had renounced their faith. But, on the contrary, they did not cease resistance, even succeeding in introducing books and tracts into the camp, which writings caused several among them to be hanged.”*
12 Think! Is our own faith so strong that we would risk being hanged to obtain the latest issue of The Watchtower? Have we built up our faith to the point where we are confident of withstanding any test that the final assault of Gog of Magog may bring upon us? The day may come when it will be very difficult to meet together, even as our brothers met such trials in Nazi concentration camps, and as others are meeting them in Soviet camps today. Now, in this breathing space of comparative freedom of assembly there is the golden opportunity to meet together regularly four or five times a week, and to drink in both Christian association and those precious Bible truths that will fortify our faith to survive into the new world of righteousness. “Look! Now is the especially acceptable time. Look! Now is the day of salvation.”—2 Cor. 6:2.
13. Why should we guard against “lofty eyes”?
13 Other trials of faith are not the direct frontal attack of persecutions. They are the indirect attack, the ambushes that Satan sets along the way, and they may come unexpectedly at any time. Again, it is strong faith and deep appreciation of Jehovah’s righteousness that will win the day. As Proverbs 6:16-19 advises, there are seven things that are detestable to Jehovah’s soul. The first of these is “lofty eyes.” One might study hard, gain a fine knowledge of the Scriptures, and progress to great service privileges in Jehovah’s organization. However, what will all this benefit if he gets puffed up, and starts to think that he is someone? His pride will only preface a great fall. Self-assurance will open him wide to Satan’s attack, and the large shield of faith will be missing when one of the wicked one’s burning missiles strikes through to humble him. (Eph. 6:16) Even the man of faith, Moses, stumbled on one occasion, only to recover himself and remain in God’s favor. (Num. 20:7-13) Despite his glorious privilege as God’s prophet, Moses remained the ‘meekest of men,’ and in this we do well to follow his example.
14. What other hateful things must be guarded against, and why?
14 Living in a corrupt, delinquent world, the man of faith is surrounded by so many evil influences, that he must keep up his guard at all times. There are other “things that Jehovah does hate,” and which we should likewise hate with a godly hatred. They are “a false tongue, and hands that are shedding innocent blood, a heart fabricating hurtful schemes, feet that are in a hurry to run to badness, a false witness that launches forth lies, and anyone sending forth contentions among brothers.” These hurtful things belong in Satan’s world, and they will perish with Satan’s world. In the zeal of true faith, we must guard against their entry into our individual lives and into the Christian congregation. Remember, “Jehovah is righteous; he does love righteous acts. The upright are the ones that will behold his face.”—Ps. 11:7.
15. What wonderful privilege accompanies a living faith?
15 A live faith is not content with receiving. It is the faith that gives! How better can one give of his faith than by regular weekly service to Jehovah, in companionship with others of like faith? Yes, work with a purpose, calling again on goodwill persons, studying with them, and sharing to the full in the happy sequence outlined in Romans 10:13-15: “For ‘everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.’ However, how will they call on him in whom they have not put faith? How, in turn, will they put faith in him of whom they have not heard? How, in turn, will they hear without someone to preach? How, in turn, will they preach unless they be sent forth? Just as it is written: ‘How comely are the feet of those who declare good news of good things!’” Comely indeed in Jehovah’s sight are those whom he sends forth, and who accept this grand privilege of sharing faith with others!
16. What advice applies to the young generation today?
16 Today, there is a new and young generation growing up in the New World society of Jehovah’s witnesses. These, too, need faith. Many who are now coming to associate with Jehovah’s people have not had to endure fiery persecutions such as those of World War II. They have not passed through mobbings, prison camps, jailings, bannings and reproaches that older Witnesses have experienced. Yet, these, too, should study to build the same sterling quality of faith that has characterized Jehovah’s servants in all ages. These, too, should be diligent to equip themselves with faith’s armor, heeding Paul’s admonition to the young man Timothy: “Fight the fine fight of the faith, get a firm hold on the everlasting life for which you were called and you offered the fine public declaration in front of many witnesses.”—1 Tim. 6:12.
17, 18. Why is this the time to “be vigilant with a view to prayers”?
17 Faith in Jehovah will draw one closer to Jehovah, and drawing close to Jehovah means approaching him in prayer. In this connection Peter exhorts: “But the end of all things has drawn close. Be sound in mind, therefore, and be vigilant with a view to prayers. Above all things, have intense love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Pet. 4:7, 8) Keep close to Jehovah in prayer, for it is the prayer of faith, coupled with love, that keeps one’s feet on the path toward the reward of life everlasting in God’s new world.
18 Truly, “the end of all things has drawn close,” and this can be well appreciated by the way the nations of mankind are struggling under the problems of their self-made nuclear crisis. It is the time to be completely vigilant, to keep one’s faith at concert pitch, so as to be ready to follow every leading of Jehovah and his Son, during these climactic days leading to Armageddon. What a tremendous day will that be, and may we then, all of us, be able to show the tested quality of our faith, for praise and glory and honor at the Armageddon “revelation of Jesus Christ”!—1 Pet. 1:7.
19, 20. (a) What glorious promise of protection is contained in the 91st Psalm 91? (b) Why does Jehovah provide such protection?
19 Reverting again to the prophet Moses, we may read in his psalm how great are the rewards for men of faith who earnestly seek after God. These are the ones who come to dwell “in the secret place of the Most High” and “under the very shadow of the Almighty One.” They say to Jehovah, “You are my refuge and my stronghold, my God, in whom I will trust.” To these trusting ones, Jehovah gives assurance: “You will not be afraid of anything dreadful by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in the gloom, nor of the destruction that despoils at midday. A thousand will fall at your very side and ten thousand at your right hand; to you it will not come near. Only with your eyes will you look on and see the retribution itself of the wicked ones. Because you said: ‘Jehovah is my refuge,’ you have made the Most High himself your dwelling; no calamity will befall you, and not even a plague will draw near to your tent. For he will give his own angels a command concerning you, to guard you in all your ways.” What glorious promise of protection during the fastgathering storm of Armageddon!
20 Why does Jehovah promise such protection? The psalm continues: “I shall protect him because he has come to know my name.” It is because the one diligently seeking God has come to know Jehovah, and all that His glorious name stands for. It is because he believes that God, Jehovah, exists, and because he has complete faith in attaining to Jehovah’s promised rewards. It is because he calls upon Jehovah in faith. “He will call upon me, and I shall answer him. I shall be with him in distress. I shall rescue him and glorify him. With length of days I shall satisfy him, and I shall cause him to see salvation by me.”—Ps. 91:1, 2, 5-11, 14-16.
21. (a) In what may Armageddon survivors rejoice? (b) What is the conquest that overcomes the world, and with what reward?
21 As “length of days” extend out into an eternity of joyful service of the Creator-God, Jehovah, the recipients of his blessings in the new world will rejoice that they became men of faith during the closing days of this old world. They will rejoice that they had belief in Jehovah God, and belief in his power to reward them. They will rejoice that their faith became a vibrant, living thing, and that it strengthened them to withstand the buffetings of Satan’s world during its nuclear-age death throes. The rewards of that faith will be the grandest kind, an eternity of rewards, with exultation rising upon exultation, as man peers more and more into the glorious works of Jehovah, and experiences more and more His paternal goodness. Those holding fast the faith of the true religion during the momentary “last days” of this old world will be amply rewarded in the eternity of peaceful, joyful living in the new world to come! “And this is the conquest that has conquered the world, our faith.”—1 John 5:4.
Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Divine Purpose, page 174.