Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom
IMMEDIATELY prior to his ascension into heaven Jesus Christ indelibly impressed upon the minds of his disciples their responsibility to bear witness to others. He made clear to them that preaching about God’s kingdom was an all-essential part of true worship. “You will receive power when the holy spirit arrives upon you,” he promised, “and you will be witnesses of me both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the most distant part of the earth.”—Acts 1:8; Matt. 28:19, 20.
But to bear witness about God’s kingdom in an enemy world would not be an easy task. Jesus knew this. He had warned his disciples that, “if they have persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” (John 15:20) So how could his followers endure this worldwide opposition and still care properly for those sheeplike persons that responded favorably to their preaching? They could do so only if they had intense love for God and the one he appointed as master of the “sheep,” Jesus Christ.
Notice how Jesus emphasized the part love plays in doing this preaching. The occasion was a morning following his resurrection. Seven of his disciples were gathered on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, where they had just finished breakfast. Just some days before, his apostle, Simon Peter, had denied Jesus during a moment of weakness. So before them all the resurrected Jesus asked: “‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him: ‘Yes, Lord, you know I have affection for you.’ He said to him: ‘Feed my lambs.’”—John 21:15.
Jesus realized that Peter was truly sorry, but he wanted to impress upon him and the other disciples the importance of preaching and caring for the sheeplike persons that listened. So he asked the second time: “‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He said to him: ‘Yes, Lord, you know I have affection for you.’ He said to him: ‘Shepherd my little sheep.’”—John 21:16.
How could Jesus have stressed more strongly that it was their responsibility to look after the spiritual interests of others? Actually Jesus was using Peter as a sounding board, to impress the importance of preaching, not only upon his disciples there present, but also upon all his followers living today. Do you love the master Jesus? If so, you must prove it by doing the will of his Father. “Not everyone saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of the heavens,” Jesus said, “but the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will.”—Matt. 7:21.
Jesus left no doubt in the minds of those disciples on the shore of Galilee that morning what the will of God was. It was for them to care for the “sheep”! This meant they must preach. So as to fix this in their minds Jesus asked Peter for the third time: “Do you have affection for me?” As you can well imagine, “Peter became grieved that he said to him the third time: ‘Do you have affection for me?’ So he said to him: ‘Lord, you know all things; you are aware that I have affection for you.’ Jesus said to him: ‘Feed my little sheep.’”—John 21:17.
After reading this Bible account, is there any doubt in your mind that Jesus wanted Peter and all the disciples to continue the Kingdom preaching that he had started? Does it not also indicate that it is your Christian responsibility to assist sheeplike persons to learn about God’s kingdom? Jesus said that, just prior to the end of this wicked system of things, “this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations.” (Matt. 24:14) Since the evidence points to the fact that we are now living in the time of the end, will you share in this proclamation of God’s kingdom?
QUALIFYING TO SHARE
Perhaps your first reaction is that you are incapable of explaining to others about the “good news of the kingdom.” If that is so, take courage! “Do not be afraid,” Jehovah comforts, “for I am with you. . . . I will really help you.” Time and time again God has fulfilled this promise and has helped his servants to carry out their assignments. He will help you too, but you must prove your desire to do the will of God by making an effort.—Isa. 41:10.
So if your problem is that you feel inadequate and ill-prepared to do this Kingdom preaching, you should ask for help. Turn to God in prayer and ask for knowledge and understanding. “Keep on asking,” Jesus said, “and it will be given you.” The inspired Bible writer said that if “you keep seeking for it as for silver, and as for hid treasures you keep searching for it, in that case you will understand the fear of Jehovah, and you will find the very knowledge of God.”—Matt. 7:7; Prov. 2:4, 5.
This means that, in keeping with your prayers, you will make Bible study a habit, studying with the purpose in mind of helping others to learn about God’s kingdom. Therefore, as you study you will ask yourself questions: When did God first make arrangements for a Kingdom? What type of government is it? Whom has God appointed as king of his kingdom? Is the Kingdom heavenly or earthly? Who will be its subjects? When will it cleanse the earth of all wickedness? What is required to gain life under that kingdom?
To become better acquainted with the answers to such questions, most persons find that they need a home Bible study with one familiar with the Scriptural teachings regarding the Kingdom. Do not hesitate to ask Jehovah’s witnesses to study with you, for they are happy to help those who desire to become proclaimers of God’s kingdom. They do not charge for this service. Jesus Christ recommended such Bible discussion when he said: “Where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there I am in their midst.”—Matt. 18:20.
But perhaps you already have a weekly Bible study with Jehovah’s witnesses, and still do not feel qualified to preach. Then the thing to do is to continue the Bible study in your home, because it is just one of the vital steps in equipping you in course of time to approach the people and speak with them as did Jesus and his apostles. The Bible informs us that Jesus also spent much time instructing his apostles on how to do the preaching, and that it was as a result of this extensive training program that they became qualified to go “from house to house . . . declaring the good news.”—Acts 5:42; 20:20; Matt. 10:5-11:1; Luke 8:1.
In addition to instruction in a home Bible study, you can also receive training free of charge at the Service Meeting and Theocratic Ministry School conducted weekly, perhaps in your own community, at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s witnesses. The Service Meeting is designed to give instruction on how to introduce the Kingdom message to people, how to stimulate their interest in God’s Word and how to make return visits and conduct Bible studies with them in their homes. At the Theocratic Ministry School practical training is received in public speaking. Over a period of weeks each student is given opportunity to give a prepared six-or seven-minute talk before the congregation, and then is given counsel for improvement by a qualified minister. If you regularly attend these meetings and take an active part in them, you will become well equipped to share in proclaiming God’s kingdom to others. And when you are ready to start witnessing to others from house to house, a mature minister will work along with you to help you to get started.
However, the ability to explain Bible truths is not all that is necessary to qualify you to share in the Kingdom proclamation. You must also bring your life into conformity with Scriptural requirements relative to proper morals. The Bible is very explicit: “Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men kept for unnatural purposes, nor men who lie with men, nor thieves, nor greedy persons, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit God’s kingdom.” Neither are persons of such kind welcomed to serve as proclaimers of God’s kingdom. To qualify, one must be living a morally clean life, in harmony with the requirements set down in the Bible.—1 Cor. 6:9, 10.
WHAT IS INVOLVED
Do not conclude that there is too much involved to become a proclaimer of God’s kingdom. Even though you may be a mother with children to care for, or a family head with a household to support, you also can share in assisting sheeplike persons to learn about God’s kingdom. First of all, there are the members of your own household to consider. (1 Tim. 5:8) You will want to make sure that these understand what the Scriptures teach relative to the Kingdom. It was due to the early instruction received from his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice that the youngster Timothy, referred to in the Bible, grew up to be such a fine young man of faith. Your goal should be to train your own children as well as Timothy was trained.—2 Tim. 1:5; 3:14, 15.
Because of caring for your Scriptural responsibilities to provide for members of your own household, you may find that your time is limited to assist those outside your own household. This is understandable. However, Jehovah’s witnesses who have family responsibilities try to spend at least ten hours each month speaking with others about God’s kingdom, conducting Bible studies in their homes if possible. Of course, those who are in position to devote more time to the ministry do so, and some spend 100 to 150 hours a month directly in the ministry. Each one must examine his own circumstances and then arrange his affairs so as to render acceptable service to God.—Rom. 12:1.
While a life centered around the worship of God is a very active one, it is also a very rich and satisfying life if you have a proper motive in serving. You will not be happy if your purpose is merely to put in so many hours to appear righteous before others. But if you are a proclaimer of God’s kingdom because you love God and are sincerely interested in helping people to gain the knowledge that is necessary for their salvation, how happy you will be!—Matt. 22:37-39.