What Has Christendom Done for You?
1. After Paul’s conversion to Christianity, what became his custom?’
IN THE two previous articles in our review of the life of Christ Jesus, the Founder of Christianity, and of Paul, a follower and apostle of Christ Jesus, we learned that it was their custom to go to the “house of our God” on every sabbath. There they would worship Jehovah and preach about God’s kingdom and how to gain everlasting life. Paul had to make a big change in his life so as to become a Christian, and he was the first to admit it. In writing to the congregation in Galatia he said: “You, of course, heard about my conduct formerly in Judaism, that to the point of excess I kept on persecuting the congregation of God and devastating it, and I was making greater progress in Judaism than many of my own age in my race, as I was far more zealous for the traditions of my fathers.” (Gal. 1:13, 14) Luke records that as this persecutor was approaching Damascus a brilliant light suddenly flashed around him and he fell to the ground, and Jesus spoke to him, saying: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:4) Saul was converted to Christianity, and he never lost his zeal for the ministry and preaching in synagogues. “So according to Paul’s custom he went inside to them, and for three sabbaths he reasoned with them from the Scriptures. . . . As a result some of them became believers and associated themselves with Paul and Silas, and a great multitude of the Greeks who worshiped God and not a few of the principal women did so.”—Acts 17:2-4.
2. What can true Christianity do today for people?
2 There is a difference between Christianity and Christendom, which was established in the fourth century C.E. So the teaching of true Christianity today can do the same for people as Paul’s teaching did to people in his day. It can make true Christians out of Jews, Catholics, Protestants, Hindus, Moslems, Buddhists and others if they hear and believe. Paul made Christians out of Greeks, Romans and other pagan worshipers. Paul’s Christian ministry had an effect on all kinds of people—men, women, young and old, bond and free, Jews and Greeks. Christianity does not narrow itself down to any special group of people, but the invitation is so inclusive that it reaches out to all kinds of men. If accepted and followed through to its full blessing, it will change a person’s way of life. The change made will be due to love.
3, 4. What is one called on to do if Christianity is to affect his life, and what quality especially is necessary?
3 As all kinds of people study the Word of God and associate with Christians who have been studying the Word of God and live by its teaching, they will see their own personalities change. Paul saw the change a Christian had to make. He made it! That is why he wrote: “You should put away the old personality which conforms to your former course of conduct and which is being corrupted according to his deceptive desires; but that you should be made new in the force actuating your mind, and should put on the new personality which was created according to God’s will in true righteousness and loyalty.”—Eph. 4:22-24.
4 This new personality had to be real. It was not just a veneer, something you could show off like a new piece of clothing. This new personality had to be developed by showing love, the kind that Jesus spoke about, loving your God with your heart, mind, soul and strength and loving your neighbor as yourself. (Matt. 22:37-39) Paul pointed out that, even when in the ministry, if you were gifted in languages and could ‘speak in the tongues of men and angels but did not have love, you have become like a sounding piece of brass or a clashing cymbal.’—1 Cor. 13:1.
5. (a) What motive is often lacking on the part of those who give of their material means to help others? (b) What motive do such givers often have?
5 Paul emphasized that this principle of love is very essential in a Christian’s life, because love must be the governing factor or motive in everything a person does after dedicating his life to do God’s will and becoming a Christian. Many philanthropists of Paul’s day were very much like wealthy men today who give to the poor. Even great nations, calling themselves Christian, take of their wealth, usually their surplus of food, and give it to the poor people of other nations that are starving. This is a kind and generous thing to do, but of what benefit is it to the giver nation if these things are not given because of love for that poorer nation? It is just as Paul says: “If I give all my belongings to feed others, . . . but do not have love, I am not profited at all.” (1 Cor. 13:3) How true! Many men and nations have given out of their plenty for selfish reasons, for political reasons, for personal power, or for influence they gain over others; but if it is not done out of love, what does it profit them? Nothing! For all the good that nations do for other nations they still remain ununited nations. Why? No love! Love is essential for unity.
6. To what extent has the love of God for mankind been shown?
6 So what has Christianity done for you? Have you changed? Have you learned to love people or whole nations? If you have ‘not neglected the house of our God’ (Neh. 10:39), then you have come to realize by now that Jehovah “God is love.” (1 John 4:8) You should have learned that even though the first man, Adam, rebelled against his Maker and brought sin and death to mankind, the love of God never changed. Jehovah’s personality would not be upset by someone else’s lack of love. Jehovah’s high principles governing life anywhere in the universe were not interfered with by man’s developing a hatred or lack of love for God, or by man’s dislike for other human creatures. Rather, by going to God’s house you would have learned that “God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) Is this statement hard for you to believe? Any individual who will attend meetings in a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s witnesses will certainly learn about God and how he loved the world of mankind so much that he sent his very first creation, the Word, and arranged for this one, “his only-begotten Son,” to be born of the virgin Mary so that he could take away the sin of the world. (John 1:1; Rev. 3:14; 19:13) This was showing love! John wrote: “By this the love of God was made manifest in our case, because God sent forth his only-begotten Son into the world that we might gain life through him.”—1 John 4:9.
THE NEED OF FAITH
7. In speaking with Martha, how did Jesus stress the importance of faith?
7 True Christianity can help you to know that God’s love has reached out so far that it can take hold of you. God’s Son laid down his life willingly to redeem mankind. That would include you if you exercise faith. (John 3:16) With regard to faith, Jesus said to Martha at the time her brother Lazarus died: “‘Your brother will rise.’ Martha said to him: ‘I know he will rise in the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said to her: ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He that exercises faith in me, even though he dies, will come to life; and everyone that is living and exercises faith in me will never die at all. Do you believe this?’”—John 11:23-26.
8, 9. What great power did Jesus exhibit in behalf of Lazarus, and how was this an act of love on Jesus’ part?
8 Lazarus was raised from the dead, and Jesus accomplished this wonderful miracle by the power of God before a great crowd. Jesus said to Martha at Lazarus’ tomb: “Did I not tell you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” “Therefore they took the stone away. Now Jesus raised his eyes heavenward and said: ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me. True, I knew that you always hear me; but on account of the crowd standing around I spoke, in order that they might believe that you sent me forth.’ And when he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice: ‘Lazarus, come on out!’ The man that had been dead came out with his feet and hands bound with wrappings, and his countenance was bound about with a cloth. Jesus said to them: ‘Loose him and let him go.’ Therefore many of the Jews that had come to Mary and that beheld what he did put faith in him; but some of them went off to the Pharisees and told them the things Jesus did.”—John 11:40-46.
9 Jesus had previously said that “the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.” (John 5:28, 29) Jesus actually proved that this statement would come true by what he accomplished in the resurrection of Lazarus. This one act of the resurrection of Lazarus certainly showed Jesus’ love. Jesus did not expect any favor from Lazarus because of this good deed. In performing this miracle he brought glory to his Father in heaven, to show mankind what wonderful things God would accomplish through his kingdom by the restoration of the human family to perfect life here upon the earth, the dead being brought forth to life and then on to perfection on this earth, which will blossom like a rose. Would you call that love?
10. If you have doubts about God’s love for mankind, where may the trouble lie?
10 Do you believe Jehovah God loves mankind that much? If you have any doubts, very likely the reason is that you do not go to the “house of our God” regularly and read the Word of God, or talk these Scriptural things over with others so that your faith in God’s Word can be built up. Maybe you think like some of the clergy in Christendom who say that many of the things told in the Bible are not true and never did happen. Who started these doubts in your mind? Not you yourself because of studying God’s Word, but very likely it was the very ones who profess to be the teachers in Christendom. In Jesus’ day he said of the religious leaders: “You are from your father the Devil, and you wish to do the desires of your father.”—John 8:44.
11. Again, what thought-provoking questions come to mind?
11 What has Christendom done for you? Put doubts in your mind? Or do you believe God’s written Word? Is Christ Jesus a reality to you? Do you believe he died for mankind? Do you believe that God loved you so much that he provided his only-begotten Son and that he has the power to resurrect those who die? If your faith is so strong and your love so great, will you tell others what you believe? A Christian will!
IMPROVING IN LOVE
12. How can one improve one’s ability to practice Christian love?
12 The only way to improve your love is by putting what love you have to work. It takes time, but it can be done if you appreciate that love is based on principle. Love seems to be the pinnacle or goal in the progress made by a Christian in putting on “the new personality which was created according to God’s will in true righteousness and loyalty.”—Eph. 4:24.
13. How does Webster’s Dictionary define the Greek word a·gápe, and how did God show such kind of love?
13 Peter in writing to Christians of his day showed what progress can be expected when one has faith. He said this: “Supply to your faith virtue, to your virtue knowledge, to your knowledge self-control, to your self-control endurance, to your endurance godly devotion, to your godly devotion brotherly affection, to your brotherly affection love.” (2 Pet. 1:5-7) The word love is a·gaʹpe in the Greek language. According to Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, a·gaʹpe is “spontaneous, self-giving love expressed freely with. out calculation of cost or gain to the giver or merit on the part of the receiver.” This is the kind of love that Jehovah showed for the sinful world of mankind. It was a love freely expressed without calculation of cost or gain. The love expressed was not something owed to the receiver of it. Arranging to take away the sin of the world was not something God had to do. It was something that mankind gets, but it is undeserved. Is that the kind of love we show to one another and to God?
14. What did Jesus say about showing love?
14 Jesus showed that kind of love based on principle. If a Christian walks in Jesus’ footsteps he should show some kind of progress in love. Then Christianity is doing something for him. In Jesus’ sermon on the mount he made this very astonishing statement: “You heard that it was said, ‘You must love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ However, I say to you: Continue to love your enemies and to pray for those persecuting you; that you may prove yourselves sons of your Father who is in the heavens, since he makes his sun rise upon wicked people and good and makes it rain upon righteous people and unrighteous. For if you love those loving you, what reward do you have? Are not also the tax collectors doing the same thing? And if you greet your brothers only, what extraordinary thing are you doing? Are not also the people of the nations doing the thing? You must accordingly be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”—Matt. 5:43-48.
15. How can a Christian display this quality of love?
15 Jehovah is perfect in expressing his love! He gave his only-begotten Son. God was self-giving, mankind got all the benefit. How can a Christian be perfect in his love just as the heavenly Father is perfect? If a Christian can love and pray for his enemies and those who persecute him, then he is beginning to manifest the same kind of love that his heavenly Father has. Jehovah the Creator of our earth and all the universe allows the sun to rise upon the wicked people as well as on those who are good. There is no distinction. He allows the rain to fall on the righteous people’s land as well as the unrighteous people’s land. He does not show any partiality. His love is far-reaching. Has your study of the Word of God, has your living among Christian people, changed your personality so much that you have this kind of love?
16. How does one acquire the kind of love that a Christian should have?
16 It is essential that Christians have love like this if they are going to gain everlasting life. Has your “Christianity” made you love your enemy, made you love those persecuting you and made you love your neighbor? If it is not doing that, maybe you are lacking in faith, virtue, knowledge and some other things spoken of in God’s Word. Maybe you need to know more about his principles of truth and righteousness. That is why Paul in writing to the Philippians said this: “This is what I continue praying, that your love may abound yet more and more with accurate knowledge and full discernment; that you may make sure of the more important things, so that you may be flawless and not be stumbling others up to the day of Christ, and may be filled with righteous fruit, which is through Jesus Christ, to God’s glory and praise.” (Phil. 1:9-11) Paul’s argument shows that love grows. It expands, becomes more plentiful. Knowledge and insight of every kind increase with the practice of love. The New English Bible states the matter this way: “This is my prayer, that your love may grow ever richer and richer in knowledge and insight of every kind, and may thus bring you the gift of true discrimination. Then on the Day of Christ you will be flawless and without blame, reaping the full harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” The footnote on the word “discrimination” in The New English Bible says: “Or may teach you by experience what things are most worth while.”
17. What else will love help you to recognize?
17 So accurate knowledge of the Word of God will help you to grow in love. This love will help you to see how wonderful it is of God to allow it to rain upon the righteous and the unrighteous. You will be glad the sun shines and the rain falls on the crops of all mankind so they can eat. If God can do these good things, what should a Christian do? Has your “Christianity” sent you out to declare the good news of God’s kingdom in all the world? Has it made you a minister of God? Have you tried to disciple some people, teaching them the commandments Christ Jesus taught you?
LOVE’S ACCOMPLISHMENTS IN 1965
18, 19. How have Jehovah’s witnesses tried to practice love, and what increase have they enjoyed as a result?
18 With the Bible in their hand Jehovah’s witnesses have gone to the ends of the earth in enemy countries, in friendly countries, during their 1965 service year. With love in their hearts they preached the good news of God’s kingdom in 197 different lands, under the direction of 92 branch organizations of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society.
19 Just ten years ago, in 1955, there were 570,694 ministers of Jehovah’s witnesses preaching from house to house regularly every month. But now, in 1965, there were 1,034,268 declaring the good news all over the world because these additional hundreds of thousands have the love of God, too, in their hearts.
20, 21. What other facts from their 1965 service year report show they practiced love for God and neighbor?
20 Jehovah God has blessed Jehovah’s witnesses for showing love to their enemies and those who persecute them, because many who have been opposed to the work have now listened to their message, and have dedicated their lives to Jehovah God. In fact, during the last service year there were 64,393 baptized, showing that they have dedicated their lives to Jehovah God. By studying the Word of God they are now gaining accurate knowledge of Jehovah, his Son and his work and they are showing the same kind of love that those who have been associated with Jehovah’s witnesses for many years are showing. To show their love for mankind Jehovah’s witnesses in twelve months of the 1965 service year spent 171,247,644 hours going from house to house and visiting with people in their homes conducting Bible studies. They have made 59,165,475 return visits on interested persons, and each week throughout the entire year 770,595 Bible studies were conducted in the homes of interested persons. These studies are being conducted with the Bible and Bible study books.
21 To aid those who do not even have the time to study an hour once a week, millions of copies of books and booklets have been placed with people in 164 different languages, and Jehovah’s witnesses were able to place 4,450,687 bound books, 12,326,060 booklets and 135,397,426 magazines throughout the world. In addition to this they were able to get 1,614,146 subscriptions to the two very fine magazines, The Watchtower and Awake!
22. Besides doing their ministry without pay, what cost have the witnesses of Jehovah borne personally in order to preach?
22 During the 1965 service year it was necessary for the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society to print in its printing establishments 119,238,970 copies of The Watchtower and 110,379,879 Awake! magazines. This makes a total of 229,618,849 magazines printed by the Society and distributed throughout the whole world by subscription and individual-copy distribution. This great witnessing work being done by Jehovah’s witnesses is all voluntary. Jehovah’s witnesses are not paid to go from house to house. Besides that, they spent a lot of money for gasoline, streetcar and bus fares and for other transportation, in order to get to the people everywhere so as to spread the good news. They used a lot of shoe leather in walking country roads through villages, large cities and rural areas, in order to talk to people about the good news of God’s kingdom. God’s love extends to all mankind, and true Christians must show their love too if they would be his Christian witnesses.
23. Why do they keep on preaching even in the face of persecution?
23 Jehovah’s witnesses will continue to do this work, because they love God, they love their fellowman, they love their enemies and those who persecute them. Even though persecution may go so far as to result in the death of some of Jehovah’s people, those remaining alive will keep on preaching the good news of God’s kingdom.
24. How many attended the Memorial on April 16, 1965, and how many confessed to being members of the heavenly “bride” of Christ?
24 To show you the interest that people have in the work that Jehovah’s witnesses are doing, on April 16, 1965, there were 1,933,089 persons who attended the Memorial of the death of Christ Jesus in the Kingdom Halls and other meeting places used by Jehovah’s witnesses on that special occasion. Of this number, only 11,550 partook of the emblems of bread and wine, indicating they are of the “bride” of Christ and expect to be joint heirs with Christ Jesus in heavenly glory and share with him as kings and priests. This is just a remnant of the 144,000 that Christ Jesus indicated in Revelation would be selected from among all mankind to be with him in heavenly glory, and to rule the earth with Christ Jesus for one thousand years. During this time there will be the resurrection of all those in Sheol, and what an educational work that thousand-year period will provide!
25. What are peoples of all religions encouraged to do?
25 What has your religion—be it Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Moslem or any other—done for you? Has it brought out in you true love, love for neighbor, love for your enemies, love for those who persecute you? Has it made you go and disciple people of all nations and teach them the love of God and the love of his Son Christ Jesus? Has your religion developed in you a new personality with love for all mankind? If it has not done so, then do not neglect the worship of Jehovah God with Jehovah’s witnesses in their Kingdom Halls and learn how to love God and how to love all mankind. Then you will see what Christianity, not Christendom, can do for you.
May the God who gives hope fill you with all joy and peace by your believing, that you may abound in hope with power of holy spirit.—Rom. 15:13.
[Chart on page 20-23]
1965 SERVICE YEAR REPORT OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES WORLD WIDE
(See bound volume)