Faith and Determination Needed to Please Jehovah
“Without faith it is impossible to please . . . God.”—Heb. 11:6.
1. In what respect are all normal babies born equal?
WHEN it comes to faith, all babies are born equal. All are without faith. Equal too are all newborn infants in their state of complete faithlessness, in that all have the same mental capacity, if normal, for developing faith later in life. The seed of faith must first be planted, then watered, nourished and cultivated, if it is to grow and flourish. This explains why some acquire faith at an early age, others later in life, while still others die of old age as faithless as the day they were born.
2. What resemblance does faith have with other treasures?
2 In certain respects faith may be likened to a treasure, for indeed it is of precious value. It is not, however, a hand-me-down inheritance from one’s parents, but is a treasure one individually accumulates throughout his lifetime, and is in proportion to the effort one puts forth to increase it. And as with other treasures, it can easily be lost or destroyed if not carefully guarded and protected.
3, 4. (a) How do the dictionaries define faith? (b) Upon what authority should your faith be based?
3 How then would you define or describe faith? What is this mental quality that all normal persons have an equal ability of acquiring, this substance that must be cultivated, this treasure that is precious beyond monetary comparison, this sacred possession that can be lost or destroyed, this spiritual condition of the heart that is required of all who will receive everlasting life?
4 Dictionaries define faith as the mental acceptance of a proposition as true, based on the authority of another, rather than upon one’s own knowledge, reasoning or experience. Thus one may be said to have faith in Jehovah God, faith in his Son Jesus Christ, and faith in God’s Holy Word the Bible. The child that has faith at first rests such on what its parents and others teach it. Later, the child learns that its parents and teachers are not always right, and so it seeks higher authority upon which to base its faith. Indeed, if anyone is to have a strong unshakable faith it must be founded on that which is higher than human authority.
5. (a) What is the apostle Paul’s definition of faith? (b) Explain how the Greek word hy·poʹsta·sis fittingly describes faith.
5 The apostle Paul defined faith as “the assured expectation [Gr., hy·poʹsta·sis] of things hoped for, the evident demonstration [Gr., eʹleg·khos] of realities though not beheld.” (Heb. 11:1) Jehovah has made many promises of things yet to occur. One may hope that such things will come to pass, but such expression may only be a whimsical wish, not real faith. Faith is more than just an expectation. It is expectation that is assured to such a degree that it is able to support, uphold and guarantee that what is hoped for will become a reality. This is the meaning of hy·poʹsta·sis, a word common in ancient papyrus business documents in reference to guarantees placed on the transactions.
6. Show how faith may also be defined by the Greek word eʹleg·khos.
6 Or stated in another way, faith is “the evident demonstration of realities though not beheld.” The human eye at present sees no evidence of global paradisaic conditions here on earth. However, those with faith that such will shortly be a reality, have proof or evidence that can be demonstrated (eʹleg·khos) to back up their belief in such a promised global paradise soon to come. So with them it is not just a childish wish, a hypothetical or philosophical dream. The evidence these with faith have is so powerful that it is able to refute what appears to be to the contrary. It brings to light and makes evident what is not openly discerned. It is able to stand the pressure of antagonists and the test of skeptical cross-examination, for it cannot successfully be overthrown or proved wrong.
7. How does one commentator view the apostle’s definition of faith?
7 Commenting on this first verse, chapter eleven, of Hebrews 11:1, Marcus Dods says: “Substantially the words [hy·poʹsta·sis and eʹleg·khos] mean that faith gives to things future, which as yet are only hoped for, all the reality of actual present existence; and irresistibly convinces us of the reality of things unseen and brings us into their presence.”—The Expositor’s Greek Testament, Vol. IV, page 352.
8, 9. (a) For what special reason is there a lack of faith on the part of many today? (b) Nevertheless, what divine direction is given for mankind?
8 But “faith is not a possession of all people,” as the facts presented in the previous article amply prove. (2 Thess. 3:2) Especially is this so since the historic year 1914. The prime reason, the last book of the Bible says, is because Satan and his demons have been cast out of heaven down to the vicinity of the earth. (Rev. 12:10-12) However, in this “time of the end” Jehovah does not abandon mankind to these Satanic forces without providing divine direction for the right course to follow. Two chapters farther on in this series of visions in Revelation, John says:
9 “And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, and he had everlasting good news to declare as glad tidings to those who dwell on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people, saying in a loud voice: ‘Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of the judgment by him has arrived, and so worship the One who made the heaven and the earth and sea and fountains of waters.’”—Rev. 14:6, 7.
10. How does a great crowd, in response to this angelic proclamation, demonstrate their faith?
10 The book of Revelation also assures us there would be a “great crowd” out of all these national groups who would respond to this proclamation of good news. These would prove they had faith in God by fearing and worshiping him, even amid a world without faith. We read: “And, look! a great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb . . . And they keep on crying with a loud voice, saying: ‘Salvation we owe to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb.’”—Rev. 7:9, 10.
11, 12. Rather than cold statistics, what does the increase in those demonstrating faith during the past 50 years show?
11 The historical facts of this Twentieth Century show that especially since the proclamation of the good news of God’s kingdom from and after the year 1919 the number of faithful praisers of Jehovah has multiplied many times over. This phenomenal increase is graphically portrayed in the following tabulation.
12 These are not the cold statistical figures of a lifeless computer. To the contrary, this growth from a few thousand Kingdom publishers in 1918 to a monthly average well over one million in 1968 is a historic drama throbbing with great emotion and action. Just think of the faith and determination displayed by each one of this great crowd as they separated themselves from this old world, dedicated their lives to Jehovah, and then joined in publishing the Kingdom message in spite of the violence and persecution that came upon them as a consequence!
WHERE ARE THE 200,000?
13. But what other figures are of special concern to us?
13 Notwithstanding these impressive figures, there are other sobering facts that must not be overlooked. The increase of Kingdom publishers for the past twenty service years (1949 to 1968) was over 925,000, from 230,532 to 1,155,826. But in the same period there were 1,262,187 new ones baptized in symbol of their dedication to Jehovah. This difference between the number of those baptized and the total of those regularly reporting as publishers is 336,893. If we allow a generous 1 percent as replacements each year, based on the annual number reporting, there would be a total of more than 137,000 during those twenty years who faithfully finished their course in death. (Rev. 2:10) This then leaves an enormous figure of over 199,000 unaccounted for, nearly 200,000 who professed to have had enough faith in God that they dedicated their lives to his service, but who somewhere along the line lost their faith and quit preaching.
14, 15. (a) Though we are concerned, why are we not surprised that many would fall away from the faith? Why do such ones fall away?
14 It should not surprise us, however, bombarded as we are by a worldwide barrage of demon-inspired propaganda, to find the faith of some destroyed. That such casualties would occur, the Scripture warns: “The inspired utterance says definitely that in later periods of time some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to misleading inspired utterances and teachings of demons.”—1 Tim. 4:1.
15 To “fall away from the faith” means that such ones once had the faith. And for what reason did they fall away? Because of listening to, giving heed to, “paying attention to” the misleading inspired utterances and teachings of the demons. These casualties may be divided into two general classes.
16. Cite some of the reasons, as illustrated in Jesus’ parable, why some lost their faith.
16 First, there are those who were comparatively new in the truth. These may have made a hasty dedication, based upon a rather limited amount of knowledge, and then, for any one of a number of reasons, quickly fell away. As Jesus’ illustration shows, the seeds of faith were gulped down by birds because the heart was too hard for them to take root. Or the faith of some may have wilted when the first hot breeze of opposition hit them. Or, perhaps, thorns of anxiety and deceptive materialism sprang up in their lives and choked out what little faith they had.—Matt. 13:3-9, 18-23.
17. For what reasons did another class abandon their faith?
17 The second class of casualties, the records show, were not newborn babes as it were, but were fully mature in the truth with an active record of five, ten or twenty and more years. These also fell away for a number of reasons. Some were disfellowshiped for moral wrongdoing, while others became high-minded, self-opinionated, and, joining forces with the “evil slave” class or the “man of lawlessness” class, they rebelled against the Lord and his organization and began smiting their brothers.—1 Cor. 5:1, 11-13; Matt. 24:45-51; 2 Thess. 2:3, 4.
18. How does Jehovah view those who are unfaithful to their vows?
18 Regardless of the causes for the falling away, Jehovah is not pleased with those who make vows and then break them. It does not matter whether they break their vows in the first or the twentieth year. Better, Jehovah says, not to make vows of dedication than to make such solemn commitments and then prove unfaithful. “This is the word that Jehovah has commanded: In case a man makes a vow to Jehovah . . . he must not violate his word. According to all that has gone out of his mouth he should do.” “Whenever you vow a vow to God, do not hesitate to pay it, for there is no delight in the stupid ones. What you vow, pay. . . . Do not allow your mouth to cause your flesh to sin, neither say before the angel that it was a mistake. . . . Fear the true God.” (Num. 30:1, 2; Eccl. 5:4-7) The apostle Paul in Romans 1:31, 32 goes so far as to say that those who willfully, deliberately play false to their commitments to Jehovah are deserving of death. Of a truth, it is not the quitters but those that have faith and determination to stick to their vow of dedication who are pleasing to Jehovah!
HOW TO BUILD FAITH AND DETERMINATION
19. Upon what must faith be built?
19 First of all, you need knowledge. In addition to doctrinal knowledge of salvation, which, of course, is very important, you need knowledge of the snares and pitfalls that cause one to break faith in Jehovah and turn away from the truth.
20. Who is our greatest opponent, yet how may we protect ourselves against him?
20 Know this, your adversary is the Devil, and he has a mighty organization bent on destroying all faith in God. The whole world lies under the power of the Devil. He is the god of this system of things. (1 John 5:19; 2 Cor. 4:4; John 14:30; Eph. 2:2) “Your adversary, the Devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone,” Peter says. That “someone” is someone like you, someone devoted to Jehovah, someone in relationship with Jehovah. So listen closely to what Peter says in the next verse: “But take your stand against him [the Devil], solid in the faith, knowing that the same things in the way of sufferings are being accomplished in the entire association of your brothers in the world.” (1 Pet. 5:8, 9) You are therefore not alone in your stand against the Devil and his demons. Remember, for every 200,000 that may quit there are a million of your faithful brothers that are standing solid in the faith, determined that nothing the Devil and his world organization do will cause them to turn tail and run! “This is the conquest that has conquered the world, our faith.”—1 John 5:4.
21. As in times of old, what has continued to lure many to break faith with Jehovah?
21 Know your adversary’s tactics too. One of the most seductive devices used by the Devil and his demons to draw the Lord’s dedicated people away from the faith has been and is to play upon their sex impulses by tempting them to have illicit relations. Recall how once 24,000 Israelites fell in one day because of wrong sex conduct. (Num. 25:9) So also in modern times, loose conduct, fornication and adultery have caused many thousands to fall away from the faith. How true Peter’s vivid description of these persons is: “The saying of the true proverb [Pr 26:11] has happened to them: ‘The dog has returned to its own vomit, and the sow that was bathed to rolling in the mire.’”—2 Pet. 2:22.
22. By heeding what Scriptural counsel could many others avoid falling away from the faith?
22 Another demon-inspired tactic is materialism. This has led many of the 200,000 to fall away from the faith. If only they had heeded the divine warning there in the Scriptures: “Having sustenance and covering, we shall be content with these things. However, those who are determined to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and many senseless and hurtful desires, which plunge men into destruction and ruin. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of injurious things, and by reaching out for this love some have been led astray from the faith and have stabbed themselves all over with many pains.”—1 Tim. 6:8-10.
23. How can we protect ourselves in this fight for the faith?
23 Yes, indeed, you are in a real fight and, as Jude says, you must “put up a hard fight for the faith.” (Jude 3) Do not think you can win in your own strength, for your opponents are chiefly superhuman forces. Therefore, “go on acquiring power in the Lord and in the mightiness of his strength. Put on the complete suit of armor from God that you may be able to stand firm against the machinations of the Devil . . . Above all things, take up the large shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the wicked one’s burning missiles.”—Eph. 6:10-16.
24. What association should be avoided, and why?
24 Remember this too: Bad association will destroy your faith. It was bad association in the first place on the part of the 24,000 Israelites that started them down the road toward immorality and death. Similar association can also mean your death. And, if you associate with the “God-is-dead” crowd, not only will your faith soon be as dead as theirs, but you may shortly share with them an everlasting physical cutting-off.
25. Why is association with Jehovah’s witnesses good?
25 On the other hand, good association will build up your faith. It is faith-strengthening to study the Bible in your home with Jehovah’s faithful witnesses. It is faith-strengthening to go regularly to their Kingdom Halls, for at these meeting places you hear faith-building talks based on the solid truth of the Bible. This is good association. It is also the Scriptural thing to do, especially in this “time of the end,” as Paul counseled: ‘Let us not forsake the gathering of ourselves together, and all the more so as you behold the day drawing near.’ (Heb. 10:25) It is a most excellent way to upbuild yourself, as Jude recommends, “on your most holy faith.”—Jude 20.
26, 27. (a) Is faith more than belief? (b) How does one show one has faith in God and His promised Kingdom?
26 Faith is more than just a belief. “The demons believe and shudder,” but they certainly have no faith. (Jas. 2:19) Activity in harmony with faith is necessary to demonstrate one’s faith. Walking is a form of activity, but one must be “walking by faith, not by sight.” (2 Cor. 5:7) Walking simply by sight would mean stumbling along in gross darkness with the rest of this world.
27 The Bible writer James emphasized that it is by our activity that we prove our faith, by our “works” he says, for without works faith is as worthless as it is lifeless. (Jas. 2:18-26) If we have faith in Jehovah’s promised kingdom then we must prove it by bearing thorough witness concerning it, by preaching and teaching the good news of that kingdom to others. If we keep silent, Jehovah will make the very stones cry out. (Luke 19:40) To trade places with the stones means they will break their silence to become praising, preaching ministers, while we, because we are stonehearted and stoneheaded, will eventually become stone dead!
ALONG WITH FAITH, HAVE DETERMINATION!
28. Explain what determination is, and why it is a necessary quality?
28 Firm decision on a certain course of action to be taken, is one definition of determination. It also means resoluteness, being persistent against opposition or attempts to dissuade or discourage one in his pursuit. (See Webster’s Third International Dictionary.) Certainly this is a necessary quality that those pleasing Jehovah must have. Persons lacking determination, who are indecisive, wishy-washy, and who are carried about like wandering clouds by every windy idea that blows their way, are repeatedly condemned in the Scriptures. (Eph. 4:14; Jas. 1:8; 4:8) Lacking conviction and determination causes one to hold back instead of moving ahead in the face of opposition. “Now we are not the sort that shrink back to destruction, but the sort that have faith to the preserving alive of the soul.”—Heb. 10:39.
29, 30. Why do all those in the race for the Kingdom need to have determination?
29 If your faith is to continue strong and unshakable you must be fully convinced you have the truth, and you must be fully resolved and determined that, come what may, you will faithfully serve Jehovah. Without such a strong determination you are bound to drop out of the race sooner or later. “Do you not know that the runners in a race all run, but only one receives the prize?” The obvious answer being in the affirmative, the apostle’s conclusion is, “Run in such a way that you may attain it.”—1 Cor. 9:24-26.
30 In a race it takes determination and endurance to win. The victor is not the one who starts off with a burst of speed only to turn aside and quit before the finish line is reached. Rather, the winner is the one that has determination to stick to the course to the end. The swift do not always win the race, King Solomon observed. (Eccl. 9:11) Jesus too declared: “He that has endured to the end [not the quitter] is the one that will be saved.”—Matt. 24:13.
31. Why may we confidently expect that our faith will be tested to the limit?
31 We cannot ignore the present world conditions. We must be realistic and face up to them. As great as the present dangers and pressures are, we may confidently expect they will become even greater in the future. Our faith will be tested to the very limit before this dying devilish system finally breathes its last. As first-century Christians, you too may suffer much and be “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.
32. Yet, why should we never slow down or quit?
32 Some may even be killed by the Devil and his demons. But do not let this frighten you, or cause you to quit. That would be cowardly, even suicidal, for cowards will never live in God’s kingdom. (Rev. 21:8) The wise course is to press forward with full faith and determination, and with complete confidence and reliance on Jehovah, even if it means a violent death. For your encouragement it is written: “Do not be afraid of the things you are about to suffer. Look! The Devil will keep on throwing some of you into prison that you may be fully put to the test . . . [Therefore] prove yourself faithful even to death, and I will give you the crown of life.”—Rev. 2:10.
33. What rewards, now and in the future, are received by those faithful to Jehovah?
33 Faith, strong uncompromising faith proven by works, and, with it, resolute determination to obey his commands, are the things that make Jehovah’s heart rejoice. (Prov. 27:11) In turn, this Great Rewarder richly blesses such faithful ones with many grand privileges in this “time of the end.” Their cup of joy overflows. And what a glorious prize yet awaits them, when the highest, the crowning reward of endless life becomes their everlasting possession! As it is written: “The righteous one will live by reason of faith.”—Gal. 3:11; Rom. 1:17.
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Just as a runner needs determination and endurance to win, so does the Christian. Otherwise one is bound to drop out of the race sooner or later