Keep the Right View of Kingdom Preaching
“This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.”—Matt. 24:14.
1. What attitude toward their faith did early Christians have, and what were they therefore moved to do?
EARLY Christians did not simply think of theirs as just another religion, one they personally happened to prefer. Not at all! They firmly believed that they possessed the truth about Jehovah God and his purposes, and that others needed this knowledge for salvation. (John 17:3) Their conviction moved them to vigorous preaching activity. The inspired Bible record says: “Every day in the temple and from house to house they continued without letup teaching and declaring the good news about the Christ, Jesus.” (Acts 5:42) Do you, too, profess to be a Christian? If so, do you exhibit this same zeal and enthusiasm for sharing in the preaching work? Is Kingdom preaching really a required activity for true Christians?
2, 3. How did Jesus show the way he viewed the preaching word?
2 The founder of Christianity, Jesus Christ, viewed the preaching work in this way; in fact, as the primary reason why he came to earth. He explained to his followers: “Let us go somewhere else, into the village towns nearby, that I may preach there also, for it is for this purpose I have gone out.” (Mark 1:38) And showing clearly what message it was that he came to preach, he said: “I must declare the good news of the kingdom of God, because for this I was sent forth.”—Luke 4:43; 8:1.
3 Yes, Kingdom preaching was Jesus’ primary work; it was God’s purpose for him to advertise this heavenly government that will eventually rid the earth of all unrighteousness, and will see that God’s will is done here. (Matt. 6:9, 10) And Jesus always demonstrated the right view of the work his Father gave him to do. On one occasion Jesus illustrated its importance to him by saying: “My food is for me to do the will of him that sent me and to finish his work.”—John 4:34.
4, 5. (a) How did Jesus show clearly that his followers must also be Kingdom preachers? (b) How effective was the preaching of early Christians?
4 Included in Jesus’ work was the training of his followers to share in Kingdom preaching. This, too, was to be their primary work. Jesus indicated this when he instructed twelve of those to whom he had given special training: “As you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.’” The Kingdom could be said to have “drawn near” because the designated king of God’s heavenly kingdom, Jesus Christ, was then in their midst. So Jesus told his disciples to call right at the homes of the people with this vital message. He even explained to them how to greet the household and present the Kingdom message. Later, he sent out seventy trained disciples with similar instructions. (Matt. 10:5-7, 11-14; Luke 10:1-11) Even after his death and resurrection, Jesus appeared to his followers to urge them to carry on the preaching.
5 To “upward of five hundred brothers,” who had apparently gathered at a postresurrection appearance in Galilee, Jesus said: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations . . . teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.” (1 Cor. 15:6; Matt. 28:10, 19, 20) And finally to those disciples who witnessed his departure heavenward, he said: “You will be witnesses of me . . . to the most distant part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) How filled with fervor and enthusiasm were those early Christians after being encouraged by the resurrected Christ! They had the right view of the work, and their zealous Kingdom preaching produced remarkable results. Historian Edward Gibbon, no friend of Christianity, admitted: The “zeal of Christians . . . diffused them through every province in almost every city of the [Roman] empire.”a
KINGDOM PREACHING TODAY
6. What questions are raised in connection with a modern-day preaching work?
6 But what about today? Are Christians who are living now also under obligation to be Kingdom preachers? Is there provision for training them to carry on the preaching work, as there was in the first century? Will God’s kingdom really bring righteous conditions to earth?
7. What are some of the evidences that were to mark Christ’s coming in Kingdom glory?
7 Nineteen centuries ago Jesus Christ pointed forward to his invisible second presence in Kingdom glory, and the “conclusion of the system of things.” Among other things, he foretold: “Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be food shortages and earthquakes in one place after another. All these things are a beginning of pangs of distress.” (Matt. 24:3-13) War unparalleled in scope and magnitude, followed by food shortages, earthquakes, increased lawlessness, and so forth, were among the evidences that would signal Christ’s heavenly second presence and the time of the end of this system of things.
8. (a) What proof is there that we have entered the time of Christ’s second presence and the “last days” of this system? (b) What important work must be done before “the end” comes?
8 Have we entered the momentous time in history of which Jesus spoke? Have we seen in our day the things that he foretold would mark his second presence in Kingdom glory? Yes, we have! The events of the past generation since 1914 are the very ones that Jesus and his disciples prophesied would occur. The coming to pass of all these things in such unprecedented doses proves beyond a doubt that we are now living during Christ’s second presence and the “last days” of this system of things. (2 Tim. 3:1-5; 2 Pet. 3:3, 4) Therefore, an important message concerning God’s kingdom must now be preached, as Jesus foretold: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” And “this good news” is being preached.—Matt. 24:14.
9. What is the “good news” concerning God’s kingdom that must now be preached?
9 The present-day “good news” concerning God’s kingdom is that it has been established in heaven in this very generation; yes, that Jesus Christ has been enthroned there and is ruling in the midst of his enemies. This means that Satan the Devil has been cast from heaven to the vicinity of the earth, and that he will soon be abyssed and his entire wicked system of things destroyed. What good news! (Ps. 110:1, 2; Rev. 12:7-12; 20:1-3) Included in the “good news” is also the fact that those who serve God will survive this system’s end and will enjoy eternal life and peace under the Kingdom rule. (1 John 2:17; Ps. 37:9-11, 29) Happily, we have reached the days of which the Bible prophecy speaks: “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. . . . It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite.”—Dan. 2:44.
10. (a) What is the right view toward Kingdom preaching? (b) How have Jehovah’s witnesses demonstrated this right view?
10 Do you believe that we have reached the day for the fulfillment of these Bible prophecies? Do you really believe that the end of wickedness and the ushering in of a new system of things under God’s kingdom is near at hand? Do you confidently look forward to the fulfillment of the Bible promises concerning the end of sickness, suffering and death? (Rev. 21:3, 4) You do? Well, surely, then, you will want to tell “this good news” to others! Really, the right view is that there is not a more important work on earth that a person could do. Kingdom preaching is the work Jehovah God, man’s Creator, has commanded to be done. For this reason Jehovah’s witnesses are devoted to this activity; more than 1,250,000 of them now regularly sharing in telling “this good news” in 203 lands. And like the early Christians, they are prepared to train and assist others to preach the Kingdom message. Their congregation meetings are designed for this very purpose.
OBSTACLES TO KEEPING RIGHT VIEW
11, 12. (a) Why have some found it difficult to continue in the preaching work? (b) After our considering the response of many to Jesus’ preaching, should we be discouraged when receiving an unreceptive response?
11 However, some of those who have started out in the Kingdom preaching have found it difficult to continue. Obstacles have interfered with their keeping a right view. ‘What is the use?’ some have felt. ‘No one wants to listen to the message of God’s kingdom.’ The indifference of people toward the “good news” discourages them. Do you, too, ever become discouraged because householders are unresponsive to the Kingdom message? But, then, should you expect it to be otherwise? Is it customary for the majority to respond favorably to the message carried by God’s ministers?
12 For example, what was the attitude of people toward the Kingdom message in Jesus’ day? Why, the vast majority were unresponsive even though Jesus himself spoke the good news to them. In fact, Jesus said: “For the heart of this people has grown thick, and with their ears they have heard with annoyance, and they have shut their eyes; that they might never see with their eyes and hear with their ears and get the sense of it with their hearts and turn back, and I heal them.” (Matt. 13:15) Yet, despite the unreceptive response of most, Jesus maintained his zeal for the work his Father assigned to him. It was God’s will that he preach the Kingdom message; so Jesus was determined to carry on regardless of how people responded. We need to cultivate the same right view that Jesus demonstrated. Even if no one to whom we preach becomes a true disciple, it does not mean that our ministry is a failure or that God is displeased with us.
13. How did Jeremiah demonstrate the right view toward his preaching assignment, and what can we learn from his example?
13 Consider the ministry of the prophet Jeremiah. Jehovah God had commissioned him to preach to his rebellious, stiff-necked countrymen who had turned from the true worship of God. Jehovah said: “You must speak to them all these words, but they will not listen to you; and you must call to them, but they will not answer you.” (Jer. 7:27) Really, could any people to whom we might preach be more unreceptive? Yet, even though those Israelites were extremely cold toward God, Jeremiah faithfully continued preaching to them for some forty years. True, he got discouraged. (Jer. 20:9) Nevertheless, he maintained a right view of the importance of preaching, and Jehovah was pleased with his faithful endurance. Jehovah God now purposes that “a witness to all the nations” be given before the end comes, and so He also is pleased if we continue preaching in obedience to His command.
14, 15. (a) What other obstacle can interfere with keeping a right view of Kingdom preaching, and, as a result, what might one wrongly think is God’s view of his service? (b) What does God require from his servants, and therefore what is the right view?
14 However, a cold, unreceptive response is not the only thing that causes some who have started out in the work to slow down or even cease preaching “this good news of the kingdom.” Other obstacles also can interfere with keeping a right view of the importance of Kingdom preaching. One of them may simply be the increasing burden of what Jesus called the “anxieties of life.”—Luke 21:34.
15 In today’s highly competitive society you may experience increased responsibilities and more and more demands on your time. Perhaps added pressure is exerted upon you by your employer. Also, there may be unexpected expenses, and the anxiety of trying to meet them all. Perhaps reduced health and energy accentuate the pressures. So, in view of all this, you may think that God is not pleased with the little time and effort you have left to devote to God’s service. However, this is not the case. Jehovah God does not require more from his servants than they are able to give. He is greatly pleased even with the ‘widow’s mite’ when this is all one is able to offer. (Luke 21:1-4; Matt. 11:28, 29) So the right view is that a Christian should do what he can in the preaching work. This is all that God requires.
16. What are still other obstacles that have interfered with persons’ keeping a right view of Kingdom preaching?
16 Kingdom preaching is the most vital work on earth today, yet there are still other obstacles that can interfere with keeping this right view. For example, materialistic desires or pursuits can prove a real hindrance. This was so with the apostle Paul’s missionary companion Demas, who left Paul “because he loved the present system of things.” (2 Tim. 4:10) Perhaps, too, something, or someone, has come into your life with an appeal so strong that you feel that you just cannot resist. (1 John 2:15-17) On the other hand, the obstacle to keeping a right view may be opposition from relatives or friends in the form of ridicule or ostracism. (Matt. 10:33-38) Or, maybe the threat of severe physical abuse and persecution is causing you to lose sight of the importance of faithfully continuing in the preaching work. (2 Tim. 3:12) Or the obstacle to keeping a right view may be that one has taken personal offense at something someone has said or done. Instead of straightening out the trouble in the Scripturally prescribed way, the offended one allows the matter to become such a big issue in his mind that he fails to keep a proper view of Kingdom preaching.—Matt. 18:15-17; Ps. 119:165.
SOURCE OF WRONG VIEWS
17. Why is it so difficult to keep a right view of the preaching work?
17 Why are there so many hindrances to keeping a right view of this most important work on earth? A prominent factor is our inborn imperfections and weaknesses. These work against our obediently doing the will of God. (Ps. 51:5; Rom. 7:18-21) Also, however, there are very real and powerful forces whose purpose is to cause us to develop a wrong view and to quit preaching about God’s kingdom. Describing these enemies, the apostle Paul wrote to Christians: “Stand firm against the machinations of the Devil; because we have a fight, not against blood and flesh, but against . . . the world rulers of this darkness, against the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:11, 12) These are real spirit persons! What is more, they have been cast from heaven by God’s king Jesus Christ in this very generation since 1914, and they are now in a last-ditch vengeful struggle against us. The Bible prophecy points forward to this very generation and says: “Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger knowing he has a short period of time.”—Rev. 12:9, 12.
18. What attitude should we properly have toward the Devil’s efforts to stop us from preaching?
18 So what are you going to do? Give up and quit? Will you succumb to the efforts of the Devil and his demons to stop you from preaching? Or will you fight against them with everything you have, letting nothing deter you from continuing in the most important work on earth today? The apostle Paul said that Christians must wage strenuous spiritual warfare, “overturning reasonings and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God.” (2 Cor. 10:3-5) We cannot let any wrong views that the Devil might sponsor slow us up or stop us from doing God’s will.
19. How should we be affected by the knowledge that our brothers are remaining faithful despite all that the Devil brings against them?
19 The apostle Peter also pointed to the Devil as a real enemy, and said: “Take your stand against him, 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) How are you affected by this knowledge that your brothers throughout the world are facing the very same difficulties you are, and are remaining faithful? Is it not a real encouragement? Is it not a reassurance that you, too, can faithfully continue preaching despite the obstacles you may face? Yes, if they can remain faithful under test, so can you!
HOW TO KEEP THE RIGHT VIEW
20, 21. Even though one experiences trials and difficulties, how will a proper view of dedication to God help one find happiness in preaching?
20 But, you may ask, how can one find happiness and contentment in the preaching work when experiencing trials and difficulties? Oh, it may not be that there is much actual opposition, but just a lot of apathy in the territory where you are working, and you feel discouraged. Under such circumstances, how can one keep the right view?
21 What will help is to consider why you are doing the preaching. Did you dedicate your life to a work, undergoing water baptism as a symbol of your dedication to the work of Kingdom preaching? Or, rather, did you dedicate your life to a person, The Person, Jehovah God, to do his will, whatever that may prove to be? Why, of course, you dedicated your life to Jehovah, and you preach because it is God’s will that the message of his established kingdom now be proclaimed earth wide. (Matt. 24:14) Does this not help to draw matters into proper focus? Yes, for by keeping closely in mind our precious relationship with Jehovah we can find real pleasure in doing whatever He says. It is natural to enjoy doing what pleases and benefits a loved one, and since Jehovah God is the one whom we dearly love, we can find delight in preaching about the kingdom that will vindicate his name and purposes.
22. What besides faithfully preaching the Kingdom good news is necessary in order to win Jehovah’s pleasure?
22 Considering our dedication to Jehovah also reminds us that much more is involved in pleasing Him than just preaching. It is necessary, too, that we mold our lives to conform to God’s perfect example. This means cultivating the fruits of His spirit, including love, kindness, mildness and self-control, always exercising them in our dealings with others. (Gal. 5:22, 23) Also, we must live moral lives, not committing fornication or adultery, nor getting drunk, or lying or stealing, because Jehovah hates all of such practices. (1 Cor. 6:9, 10) So, although Kingdom preaching is the most important work on earth, we appreciate, as a result of a proper view of our dedication, that sharing in it is valueless in God’s sight unless we preserve our close personal relationship with him by obeying his other requirements as well.
23, 24. How can a consideration of the marriage relationship help us to appreciate the relative importance between the work of Kingdom preaching and our dedicated relationship with Jehovah God?
23 Thus, it is vital to keep in proper perspective the preaching work and our precious dedicated relationship with Jehovah God. An illustration can help us to appreciate the relative importance between relationship and work. Consider: When a mature woman enters the marriage relationship she knows that in the care of the home and the rearing of children there is important work ahead of her and plenty of it. But she finds pleasure in the work, not necessarily because of the work itself, but because she appreciates that the faithful performance of it plays an important part in preserving and building up the close bond between her and her husband.
24 Likewise, we, too, can find pleasure in the work of Kingdom preaching for a similar reason. The pleasure, of course, does not come because of the apathetic, unkind or vicious response at times received in the ministry. Rather, it is because we know that obedience to Jehovah’s command to preach builds up and strengthens our close relationship with Him. So by always cherishing our precious dedicated relationship with Jehovah we will maintain a mature view of the preaching work. We will zealously engage in it with the right motive, because we really love Jehovah and desire to exalt his name.—1 John 5:2, 3.
25. (a) How was Jesus able to find delight in doing God’s will even though doing it involved terrible suffering for him? (b) What grand privilege do we have today?
25 Yes, what will help us to keep a right view of Kingdom preaching is to consider this work as an opportunity to prove our love and devotion to Jehovah God. This is the way Jesus viewed matters. He said: “To do your will, O my God, I have delighted.” (Ps. 40:7, 8; Heb. 10:5-10) Jesus said this even though doing God’s will meant ridicule, reproach and eventual death on a torture stake for him. (Ps. 22:7, 8, 16; Isa. 53:5, 7) He found delight in the preaching work because it provided him opportunity to prove his unbreakable love for God, and also because in doing this work faithfully he could furnish his Father a reply to Satan’s taunt that humans will not willingly serve God because they love Him. (Prov. 27:11; Job chapters 1 and 2) We, too, can find delight in doing God’s will for the same reasons. It is indeed a privilege to share in the vindication of God’s name, and to engage in work that truly makes his heart glad!
26. How can genuine love for fellow humans help us to keep a right view of Kingdom preaching?
26 Another thing that will help us to keep a right view of Kingdom preaching is to maintain a genuine love for our fellow humans, to remember how they can be benefited by our work. Think of it! By faithfully preaching we can be instrumental in rescuing persons heading for certain death at the fast-approaching end of this system of things, even as the Bible proverb encourages: “Deliver those who are being taken away to death; and those staggering to the slaughter, O may you hold them back.” (Prov. 24:11) The apostle Paul, too, emphasized the lifesaving nature of our work, saying: “Pay constant attention to yourself and to your teaching. Stay by these things, for by doing this you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.” (1 Tim. 4:16) To be instrumental in saving fellow humans is certainly a marvelous way to be able to show love!
27. What benefits do we receive, both now and in the future, for faithfully serving God and preaching the good news of His kingdom?
27 Really, to be able to share in Kingdom preaching is the grandest privilege one could enjoy at this time. Keeping busy in it will serve as a real protection to us. Our minds will be focused on God and doing his will, and thus will not be turned aside to activities condemned by God. (Gal. 5:19-21) Furthermore, we will be working closely with God in His work, and what a privilege this is! (1 Cor. 3:5-9) And remember, too, the grand reward with which Jehovah God will bless all of his faithful servants. His promised blessing is survival through the end of this system of things, and everlasting life in perfect health in His righteous new order. (1 John 2:17; 2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:3, 4) Truly, there is every reason to want to serve Jehovah and carry out his will to preach this good news of His kingdom before “the end” comes.—Matt. 24:14.
a The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon, Modern Library Edition, Vol. 1, c. 16, p. 451.
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In 203 lands Jehovah’s witnesses are preaching the good news of God’s kingdom