“How Will They Hear?”
“How, in turn, will they hear without someone to preach?”—Rom. 10:14.
1. What pertinent questions may be asked regarding personal visits by ministers at the homes of people in these days?
WHEN was the last time your minister called on you at your home? How long has it been since he made a call on you and your family? If it was a recent visit, did you enjoy what he had to say on this occasion? Were you spiritually uplifted? Were you encouraged by his words? If it has been some time since he has made such a call, have you ever asked yourself why this is so? Why is he so busy? Why does he not find the time to make calls on his parishioners as ministers in past times did?
2. (a) What strange paradox has arisen in the field of religion? (b) Cite some figures regarding the clergy shortage in Protestantism. (c) What results seem likely?
2 Actually, despite the so-called loud cry of a “resurgence of religion” in postwar years, there seems to be one of the most strange and serious paradoxes in modern-day religion occurring before our eyes, namely, a rising church membership roll and a declining ministerial seminary enrollment existing parallel to each other. To illustrate, by 1975, if three Protestant spokesmen are correct in their estimates, North American Protestant churches will experience a clergy shortage of up to 50,000. Moreover, according to the same source of information, “If the churchgoing percentage of the population rises more sharply than the total population gains, as it did in the 1950’s, the shortage will be even more severe. But since the increase has diminished during the past year or two, the estimated shortage may not be quite so serious. Taken on any terms, however, it is obvious that millions of people will soon be sheep without shepherds unless a crash program of ministerial training is undertaken.”—The Christian Century, April 26, 1961, page 509.
3, 4. Describe the clergy shortage in Catholicism.
3 The Roman Catholic Church has its problems too with priests leaving the priesthood. A Vatican official has reportedly said that a “disturbing” number of Italian and French priests have left the church. While no figures are released by Catholic authorities, one Protestant source suggests that 5,000 Italian priests and more than 1,000 French priests have left the Roman Catholic Church during the past fifteen years, that is, more than were ordained in 1959.
4 In Genoa, Italy, the seminary attendance dropped 40 percent in the past twenty years, and 80 percent of the seminarians drop out before completing the twelve-year course. Seminaries in Turin are said to be two-thirds empty. There are also nun shortages. These statistics by no means represent the whole problem but merely serve to show that a serious shortage of manpower exists in Catholicism as well as in Protestantism.
WHY THE SHORTAGE OF MINISTERS?
5, 6. (a) What do some authorities have to say about this shortage of ministers? (b) Describe some of the problems facing ministers of Christendom today.
5 Why this shortage in ministers and priests? Dr. Samuel Blizzard, a sociologist at Pennsylvania State University, stated recently: “In the past the parish clergyman has performed his functions as a general practitioner. Now increasingly he is expected to be a specialist and he is expected to be a specialist not in one or two but in six separate roles: administrator, organizer, pastor, preacher, priest and teacher.” Associate professor of pastoral theology at Yale Divinity School, Wesley Shrader, is of the opinion that too many clergymen are being overworked and underpaid. Dr. Samuel H. Miller, dean of the Harvard Divinity School, called the overworked and underpaid minister “one of the tragedies of our time.”
6 Writing in Christianity Today, George Christian Anderson reported that “more than 10,000 of our Protestant ministers are now receiving some form of individual or hospital psychiatric care.” “There has been a threefold increase of ministers in state and mental hospitals,” he added. “Over the several years as I have worked with clergymen and psychiatrists throughout the country I have been appalled at the number of clergymen who want to discuss their personal problems,” Dr. Anderson said. “Many of their difficulties are tragic. Some of these clergymen are rapidly becoming alcoholics or dope addicts. Others have fallen in love with another woman and are searching the way out of the dilemma through divorce. Many clergymen are unhappy and realize too late that they are in the wrong vocation. Others are burdened with anxiety and guilt because of their inability to play the part of the supernatural, holy saint that the congregation expects of them . . . some clergymen become deeply disturbed when they do not receive an expected promotion. Low salaries, frustrated ambitions and sheer loneliness aggravate a predisposition to serious emotional disturbances that need the help of wise counselors.”
IS CHURCH ATTENDANCE THE ANSWER?
7. Even if sincere people attend the church of their choice, is this any assurance that they will hear a Biblically backed message of comfort and hope? Why do you so answer?
7 Now can you see why ministers do not call at your home any more than they do and why the apostle’s words at Romans 10:14, ‘How will they hear?’ become increasingly significant? But that is not all. Even if sincere people attend the church of their choice, is this any assurance that they will hear a message of conviction and hope from the Bible? Ask yourself when it was that you last heard a sermon with real Biblical backing. Are not the words of Paul to Timothy appropriate at this point: “For there will be a period of time when they will not put up with the healthful teaching, but, in accord with their own desires, they will accumulate teachers for themselves to have their ears tickled; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, whereas they will be turned aside to false stories”? (2 Tim. 4:3, 4) Indeed, are such teachers even sent by the true God? Are they qualified to teach? Paul answers, not by pointing to a diploma from any one of the theological schools of his day or to any other human authorization for the proof of his being adequately qualified to teach the truth. He points to something far more meaningful and practical when he says: “Are we starting again to recommend ourselves? Or do we, perhaps, like some men, need letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, inscribed on our hearts and known and being read by all mankind. For you are shown to be a letter of Christ written by us as ministers, inscribed not with ink but with spirit of a living God, not on stone tablets, but on fleshly tablets, on hearts. Now through the Christ we have this sort of confidence toward God. Not that we of ourselves are adequately qualified to reckon anything as issuing from ourselves, but our being adequately qualified issues from God, who has indeed adequately qualified us to be ministers of a new covenant, not of a written code, but of spirit; for the written code condemns to death, but the spirit makes alive.” (2 Cor. 3:1-6) To which “letters” does your minister point for establishing his qualifications for the ministry?
8. How do some ministers feel about their work? With what effect upon the people?
8 Jesus said that men would be known by the fruits they bear. This is true of all those claiming to be ministers. Their works, their fruitage, rather than verbal claims or diplomas, show whether they are true ministers, sent by God, that people might thus hear the message of the Kingdom. Please note what some of these men have to say about their work. Former Methodist clergyman James B. Moore writes, “Some ministers plainly hate their jobs. I have known ministers who have despised people in general and their congregation in particular.” From Ohio a minister reports, “I feel there are a good many ministers who feel rather lost. I am among them. We simply cannot see where we are going in the Church . . . we can’t see that we are making much of a difference in our communities or in the lives of the individual members of our communities. This disturbs me.” Now can you see why the so-called “resurgence of religion” is really meaningless? The spiritual value is not there. True faith is lacking. The lost are not being saved. Nonetheless, the Scriptures state: “‘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?”—Rom. 10:13, 14.
WORKS AND TEACHINGS OF THE TRUE MINISTERS
9-11. In contrast with the ministers of Christendom, show what the Yearbooks of Jehovah’s witnesses say about the activity of these ministers in the different features of their ministerial activity so that people might “hear.”
9 Where, then, is the preacher? How will the people hear? How can those with honest hearts desiring to know the truth of God’s Word find comfort, direction and spiritual encouragement? The 1964 Yearbook of Jehovah’s witnesses, who are described by some as the “fastest growing religion in modern times,” states on page 31, “The modern-day witnesses of Jehovah are trying hard to do the work Jesus said must be done ‘for a witness to all the nations.’” (Matt. 24:14) Despite the opposition that they meet up with as related in the 1965 and 1966 Yearbooks of Jehovah’s witnesses, they boldly move ahead. They must declare the “everlasting good news” in all the inhabited earth again and again. (Rev. 14:6) That is God’s will.
10 Looking back, we see that the joy of Jehovah’s witnesses was great during the year 1965 because 1,109,806 different publishers were boldly preaching the message of God’s kingdom in 197 lands. These Christians were associated with 24,158 congregations of Jehovah’s witnesses. These men and women love to teach God’s Word and proved it by spending 171,247,644 hours going from house to house, conducting home Bible studies and speaking from the public platform. They actually made 59,165,475 return visits on people who had shown interest in Christ’s message and wanted to know more about God’s promises. These millions of people called on did not come to Jehovah’s witnesses’ Kingdom Halls, but the million Kingdom publishers went to the peoples’ homes. Quite a different method from what Christendom uses, but the original one introduced by Jesus and his apostles.
11 Again the question might be asked, How many times has your clergyman or minister visited you in your home in 1965? In contrast with the lack of personal visitations by the ministers of Christendom the fact is that every week of the year Jehovah’s witnesses conducted 770,595 home Bible studies during 1965, and this conducting of home Bible studies was not being carried on by just the presiding minister of a congregation alone. Rather, this work was being done by all those who make up the congregation, for all the witnesses of Jehovah are ordained Christian ministers.—Isa. 61:1-3.
12. Why is there still a call for more ministers in the New World society?
12 These persons from all walks of life take seriously the statement of the apostle that furnishes the focal point of our discussion, ‘How Will They Hear?’ Note what Paul really said on this occasion: “How, in turn, will they hear without someone to preach? How, in turn, will they preach unless they have been sent forth?” (Rom. 10:14, 15) And “sent forth” these Christian witnesses of Jehovah are, with the specific command: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you. And, look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.” (Matt. 28:19, 20) Yet with all the flourishing spiritual paradise in the modern organization of Jehovah’s witnesses, still there is a call for ministers in order that more may hear. Why? Jesus himself provided the answer when he said to his disciples: “Yes, the harvest is great, but the workers are few. Therefore, beg the Master of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.” (Matt. 9:37, 38) The “harvest” is truly great, for obviously there are many people who want answers to their Bible questions and who want comfort and help from the greatest source of encouragement in the universe. Is not this the way you personally feel about it? Do you not appreciate it when someone genuinely takes an interest in you and when he is willing to share the best of news available today with you? Such a one is truly a friend having your best spiritual interests at heart.
13. Why are many attracted to the message of the ministers of the New World society?
13 Observing the zealous public ministry of Jehovah’s witnesses, many persons have been moved to ask in all sincerity, “Why are so many people attracted to the message of these Christians whose growth in modern times is nothing short of phenomenal?” For one reason, their message is clear and understandable. It contains simple Bible truths made so plain that anyone with an honest heart can have his Bible questions answered. Even the so-called “difficult” questions can be successfully answered, for intelligent answers can be given to such questions as, What is our destiny? Will there ever come a time when man will live at peace with his fellowman? What is going to happen to the earth? Will it be a radioactive cinder devoid of humanity following a nuclear third world war?
14. How do Jehovah’s witnesses feel about the Bible and its value as compared with tradition?
14 Simply stated, the message that these Christians bear is the message of the Kingdom. (Matt. 24:14) It is a message that is based on the Bible, and Jehovah’s witnesses believe that the Bible is God’s Word and that it is truth and that the Bible is more reliable than tradition.—2 Tim. 3:16, 17; 2 Pet. 1:21; John 17:17; Matt. 15:3; Col. 2:8.
15-17. What fundamental Bible truths are taught by Jehovah’s witnesses about (a) Christ and his role in God’s purposes? (b) the Kingdom and its blessings, and (c) the earth and its future?
15 Simple, doctrinal truths are sharply enunciated by these ministers as they prove from the Bible, among other things, that Christ was the first of God’s creation; that Christ died on a stake, not a cross; that his human life was paid as a ransom for obedient humans and that that one sacrifice was sufficient. Further, that Christ was raised from the dead as an immortal spirit creature and that his second coming and presence are in spirit.—Col. 1:15; Rev. 3:14; Gal. 3:13; Acts 5:30; Matt. 20:28; 1 Tim. 2:5; Rom. 6:10; Heb. 9:25-28; 1 Pet. 3:18; John 14:19; Matt. 24:3.
16 As to the Kingdom, which is the paramount doctrine of the Bible and the theme of the message Jehovah’s witnesses bear, they show from the Bible that the Kingdom under Christ will rule the earth in peace and righteousness and that the Kingdom will bring ideal living conditions to the earth.—Isa. 9:6, 7; 11:1-5; Ps. 46:8, 9; Matt. 6:10; Isa. 11:6-9; 32:16-18; 33:24; 65:17-25.
17 Further, they enable their hearers to learn from the Bible that the earth will never be destroyed or depopulated but that God will destroy this present system of things at the battle of Armageddon and that the wicked will be eternally destroyed.—Eccl. 1:4; Isa. 45:18; Ps. 78:69; Rev. 16:14, 16; Zeph. 3:8; Isa. 34:2.
18. (a) Prove that the vocation of these persons is the ministry rather than any other work they might engage in during the day. (b) What motivates these ministers in their work?
18 What encouragement, what good news in these simple, fundamental Bible truths, and no wonder that hundreds of thousands of persons all over the earth in all languages under all circumstances are attracted to these hardworking, unpretentious ministers! These people are not noticeable either by garb or titles. Perhaps one of these ministers lives next door to you and outwardly may appear to be a plumber, farmer, office or factory worker, skilled craftsman or laborer. But have you ever wondered why your neighbor is so devoted to his Christian activity? It is because his real vocation is the ministry. (Luke 4:16-20; John 15:16) His work is motivated by love for his neighbor and a keen desire to communicate the truth, which sets men free and gives hope of a better system of things at the end of this old system. (John 8:32; Mark 13:28-30) Truly, these persons are out, not to impress, but to inspire. They simply want to give people everywhere the opportunity to “hear” the message of the Kingdom.
19. Why is the unity of the New World society so impressive?
19 Furthermore, in a world that is disunited and torn by racial differences, political differences, language differences and many other divisive, nationalistic factors, the unity of Jehovah’s witnesses is outstanding. No matter where you go on earth their message is the same, their love for one another is outstanding and their zeal, determination and persuasiveness are unique. Writing in The Christian Century of April 26, 1961, Samuel H. Miller, dean of the Harvard Divinity School, under the subject of “Man and the Ministry” states: “This world on the march is a mad-house. There is no one direction, no overall pattern, no clear image. Purposes are contradictory, philosophies are in controversy, deals are diverse . . . there is no focus, no center, no unmistakable common ground, and what is worse, religion such as we know it does not provide such a center. Shattered by a vast schism still bitter, splintered by unconscionable explosion of petty and bickering sects. If ever there was an image it is rent in a thousand proud and tedious contentions. It all sounds like an old dream with snatches of the language no longer known. Nothing in that pattern seems to fit anything in this puzzle.” Yes, worldly religion with its vast differences, its conflicting doctrines and theories does not provide a center, a focal point around which people can rally. Not true with Jehovah’s witnesses, however. Regardless of national boundaries, race, color, former religion, whether it is a time of peace or war, these ministers are bound together in a common indivisible worship of the one true God Jehovah. It is as the apostle Paul reasons, “Now I exhort you, brothers, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you should all speak in agreement, and that there should not be divisions among you, but that you may be fitly united in the same mind and in the same line of thought.” (1 Cor. 1:10) Does this unity describe the actual state of affairs in your religion?
PAUL THE TEACHER
20. Why is it of value to consider in some detail the life and ministry of the apostle Paul? When and where was he born?
20 Thus far in our discussion we have made many references to the writings of the apostle Paul. What a dynamic personality he was! Really, though, who was this man who made such an outstanding contribution to the Christian Greek Scriptures and whose very words, ‘How will they hear?’ constitute the focal point of our discussion? By knowing more about him we will undoubtedly come to appreciate his words even more and profit from his example of faith and courage. Though we cannot state with perfect accuracy the date of either his birth or death, in all probability he was born about 3 C.E. Thus Paul was probably born in the same decade as Jesus Christ. About halfway between Jerusalem and Constantinople (or modern-day Istanbul) stood Tarsus, the birthplace of the apostle Paul. This was the early home of that man who, more than any other man, carried Christianity from Judea throughout the Roman Empire, enabling men to “hear” the message of the Kingdom.
21. Describe the early background of the apostle Paul, including his schooling.
21 Tarsus was 515 miles to the north of Jerusalem and situated on the Cydnus River twelve miles from the mouth of the river on the Mediterranean Sea. Tarsus was a city of education and culture. It was ranked with Athens and Alexandria in ancient times. It has been said that the men of Tarsus had a zeal for philosophy and instruction surpassing that of Athens and Alexandria. It was a rich city, where much of the wealth of Asia Minor was accumulated before being dispatched to Greece and Italy. The staple manufacture of the city was weaving, first into ropes and then into tent covers and garments of the hair that was supplied in abundance from the flocks of goats there on the Taurus River. Learning a trade was obligatory for the Jewish youth, and so it was not without reason that Paul learned the art of tentmaking, which made him self-sustaining in later years. Thus he never was any burden on the Christian congregation. Paul’s father sent him off to Jerusalem to the school of Gamaliel when he was no older than thirteen years, and Paul was indeed favored in having this teacher, for the record in Acts depicts Gamaliel as a man of courage and wisdom, a man possessed of a liberal mind.
22. Did the spirit of his teacher rub off on him? Why do you so answer?
22 But it is obvious that the attitude of his able instructor did not rub off on him. In fact, to the contrary, religious zeal made Paul oblivious to his teacher’s spirit of tolerance and he became highly intolerant. Thus as a young man he could witness with approval the murder of the first Christian martyr, Stephen. Commenting on these nefarious acts before his conversion to Christianity, the Bible record states: “Saul, though, began to deal outrageously with the congregation. Invading one house after another and, dragging out both men and women, he would turn them over to prison.”—Acts 7:58–8:3.
23. (a) Describe the conversion of Saul to Christianity. (b) Show from the record of his life whether this apostle enabled men to “hear” the message of the Kingdom or not.
23 Now what caused such a bitter persecutor of Christians to become one himself? A miracle, which at first caused him to be blind physically but then opened his eyes spiritually. For three days Saul neither ate nor drank; then Jehovah sent to Saul one of his representatives, Ananias by name, and upon his visit Saul recovered his sight, was baptized, received the holy spirit, took nourishment and gained strength. (Acts 9:1-19) Saul (later called Paul) then went to Arabia, doubtless to acquaint himself thoroughly with God’s will and purpose for him. Now he was ready for the work that Jehovah had given him to do. Did he perform this work? Did people “hear” as a result of Paul’s ministry? His record impressively answers the question, for Paul made three extensive missionary tours, traveled thousands of miles, established a number of Christian congregations, participated in the work of the governing body, wrote fourteen letters to Christian congregations and individuals, was in prison for the sake of the good news, thus making an indelible impact on the early Christian congregation.
24. What are some of the lessons we can learn from this leader in early Christianity?
24 What a man this Paul was! Once a ruthless persecutor of Christians, now he became as gentle as a nursing mother with her young. Though well educated, he never called attention to himself. While he preached with persuasion, he always gave the credit to Jehovah. Although he was politically and religiously free, he became a slave to the Lord Jehovah, and what a record of endurance he left behind! Never a grumbler or a complainer, Paul always could do things. He believed that it was Jehovah who gave him the strength and the will to do the work. Right down to the very end he held fast to his integrity and faith. What an example, what courage and faith for true Christians to copy today, even as he imitated his Master, Christ Jesus!
COPYING PAUL’S EXAMPLE
25-27. (a) Illustrate Paul’s attitude toward the ministry and compare it with the work being done by members of the New World society today. (b) What questions will be answered in the succeeding article?
25 Paul said that “everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.” Paul himself reasoned, though, that they could not call on the name of Jehovah unless they put faith in him, and how could they put faith in him if they had not heard about Jehovah, and, of course, all of this required preachers, ministers, so they could hear about Jehovah the God of salvation.
26 In these critical days, when there is such a shortage of ministers in the old-world society, there is a marked contrast in the New World society of Jehovah’s witnesses. While the call for more workers still goes out, yet these busy, zealous ministers of God are enabling people everywhere to hear the message of the Kingdom, that they may be saved and learn the way that leads to life. Their attitude toward the ministry is reflected in the following words of Paul: “If, now, I am declaring the good news, it is no reason for me to boast, for necessity is laid upon me. Really, woe is me if I did not declare the good news! If I perform this willingly, I have a reward; but if I do it against my will, all the same I have a stewardship entrusted to me. . . . And so to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain Jews; to those under law I became as under law, though I myself am not under law, that I might gain those under law. To those without law I became as without law, although I am not without law toward God but under law toward Christ, that I might gain those without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might gain the weak. I have become all things to people of all sorts, that I might by all means save some.”—1 Cor. 9:16-22.
27 What was Paul trying to accomplish? The successful preaching of the good news of the Kingdom in order that people might learn the way that leads to life in God’s new system of things. This is identically the same work that Jehovah’s witnesses are doing today. It is a benevolent work, an uplifting work, a work that takes great courage, moral fortitude and determination. As to its rewards, its blessings, and as to how we individually might be the recipients of these things, we leave for the next article to answer.
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A Plumber . . . and a Minister