Building Disciples Having the Quality of Endurance
“Let us exult while in tribulations, since we know that tribulation produces endurance; endurance, in turn, an approved condition; the approved condition, in turn, hope, and the hope does not lead to disappointment.”—Rom. 5:3-5.
1. Why are the giant sequoia trees of California of interest to Christians?
ONE of the most renowned wonders of the modern world is the endurance of the giant sequoia trees of California. Practically exempt from disease and endowed with an almost endless life, some have been judged by their annular rings to have been thousands of years old. The oldest tree ever cut down for lumber is recorded to have lived for 3,148 years. Truly a record of endurance! Those sequoia trees had been created by Jehovah, the same One who can endow man with the quality of endurance for his eternal benefit.
2. Why are survival qualities urgently needed at this time, and what is one of them?
2 Since mankind is entering a most crucial period of history, qualities for survival are most urgently needed. We are fifty-five years into the Biblically foretold “time of the end” for this system of things, and the world stands at the very threshold of a “great tribulation” culminating in Armageddon, “the war of the great day of God the Almighty.” (Rev. 16:14, 16; 19:11-21) Endurance will be needed to survive this system of things and the war of Armageddon.
3. What else must the Christian take under consideration, and why?
3 Another factor for Christians to consider is their commission. The resurrected Jesus Christ commanded that they “go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, . . . teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.” (Matt. 28:19, 20) This means that Christians must instruct the disciple thoroughly. He must be told what to expect when he becomes a witness for the true God Jehovah; that the way to salvation is narrow, cramped and difficult, that as we get nearer to the “great tribulation” we can expect greater opposition and persecution from Satan and his wicked organization. (Matt. 24:21, 22) To endure in the face of increasing opposition will not be easy. But to be forewarned is to be forearmed. The Holy Scriptures warn: “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 . . . Prove yourself faithful even to death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Rev. 2:10) The crown of life is to the faithful endurer.
4. What other incentive motivates the Christian to acquire the quality of endurance, and with what end in view?
4 The servant of God also looks at this subject of acquiring the quality of endurance from another point of view. It is the desire of the Christian to be Christlike, that is, approved of God. To Christ, Jehovah said: “I have approved you.” (Luke 3:22) The disciple wants that same stamp of approval. The apostle Paul counsels that “tribulation produces endurance; endurance, in turn, an approved condition.” (Rom. 5:3, 4) The disciple James wrote similarly: “Happy is the man that keeps on enduring trial, because on becoming approved he will receive the crown of life, which Jehovah promised to those who continue loving him.” (Jas. 1:12) Endurance is, therefore, evidence of the disciple’s love for God, which love leads to God’s approval and life everlasting.—Rom. 5:5.
ART OF TEACHING REQUIRED
5. (a) In making disciples what are some things that must be kept in mind? (b) What questions might we ask ourselves, and why?
5 To build Bible students so as to become dedicated, baptized disciples of Christ having endurance we must not only have the proper building materials but also employ “all . . . art of teaching.” (2 Tim. 4:2) Since members of the Christian congregation are “God’s fellow workers” and those with whom they study the Bible may soon become “God’s field under cultivation, God’s building,” it is necessary that they build wisely, that they be concerned about the type of Christians they are making, whether they are building people having endurance. This means that the builder should ask himself from time to time probing questions, such as, What sort of disciples am I making? Am I truly building Christian personalities that will endure? How is my building program proceeding? Am I employing the art of teaching? Am I reaching the people with Christian truths? Are they believing and accepting the things taught? Are they demonstrating faith? Am I reaching their hearts? Am I building in them, not only appreciation for right doctrine and Bible principles, but a deep devotion to them? Am I developing in them, not only awareness of the importance of integrity, but a deep appreciation for it? Am I instilling in them a love of God and his purposes, and appreciation of what it means to be a servant of God? Each Christian quality must be taught in such a way that the disciple will see its need and function in everyday life. Are you building in this way?—1 Cor. 3:9.
GODLY QUALITIES OF HEAVENLY WISDOM
6. What qualities are indispensable to a disciple of Christ, and how may we aid the Bible student to become aware of them? Give an example.
6 There are a number of qualities that need to be absorbed by the disciple, and to head the list are the godly qualities of heavenly wisdom. There are eight separate aspects that must be cultivated before one can truly appreciate what it means to be a disciple of Christ. At James 3:17 these are listed: “The wisdom from above is first of all chaste, then peaceable, reasonable, ready to obey, full of mercy and good fruits, not making partial distinctions, not hypocritical.” Help the learner to know what these godly qualities are and how he can identify them in his life. For example, you can ask him if he knows what the Bible means by the word “chaste.” Chasteness means to be morally and spiritually clean. Explain these things. If we remain morally and spiritually clean because we know it is God’s will for us to be so, then it can be said that we are being governed by the wisdom of God, by his holy spirit.
7. How can the student acquire other qualities of heavenly wisdom such as: (a) peaceableness, (b) reasonableness and (c) readiness to obey?
7 The disciple James goes on to say that the quality of heavenly wisdom is also peaceable, reasonable and ready to obey. Probe the student of the Bible with questions to see if he understands what it means to be “peaceable.” A peaceable person is not pugnacious, not quarrelsome, faultfinding, bickering, nagging or gossiping. He is peaceable. Help the householder to see that this applies in the family, with sons and daughters, husbands and wives. Help them to feel the power of God’s Word. “For the word of God is alive and exerts power.” (Heb. 4:12) Through your method of studying, you have to see whether he is a reasonable person or not, whether he is moderate in habits, acceptable, sensible, not overly demanding, as a reasonable person should be. Is he ready to obey the commandments of God? This applies both inside the congregation and outside, and to children as well as adults.
8. What other aspects of heavenly wisdom should the student be taught, and how can these be inculcated?
8 Further, we are told that heavenly wisdom is also “full of mercy and good fruits,” without “partial distinctions, not hypocritical.” Dwell on such points that strike the heart. Have the home Bible student examine himself to see if he is full of mercy and whether he has good fruits to show for the days he has lived upon the earth. Partial distinctions divide, and hypocrisy is distasteful. Allow the power of God to examine the heart and to cut it if necessary. This probing action gives the learner a chance to see himself as God sees him. Take one point at a time, however. And take time to see that he understands what the Bible is saying. In this way we will be building in disciples an appreciation for the godly qualities of heavenly wisdom.—Rom. 2:6, 11.
BUILDING TO DEVELOP ENDURANCE
9. (a) As a rule, why is spirituality difficult to inculcate? (b) What is the key to endurance, and how may this be communicated to interested persons?
9 Implanting spiritual discernment in others, getting them to understand and teaching them to think on their own is by no means a simple task. As a rule, people today are just not spiritually minded. They do not discern things spiritually. Still a key to developing endurance is spiritual discernment, understanding and thinking ability. Here, too, the heart of the disciple must be reached by stressing the lasting appreciation one should have for these qualities and their worth to us individually. This is what Jesus did. To stimulate and maintain appreciation for these qualities Jesus drank regularly from the Word of God. Thus he was able to understand Jehovah’s principles completely as they related to him. He was also able to discern clearly the course that should be followed to the praise of Jehovah and to the eternal good of mankind.
10. (a) What else may be necessary for us to do in our teaching work? Give an example of how this may be done. (b) What is accomplished by instructing in this manner?
10 It may be necessary for us to teach those with whom we study the Bible how to reason on Scripture texts. For example, Mark 12:29 might be read: “Hear, O Israel, Jehovah our God is one Jehovah.” Ask the student, “How many Jehovahs are there?” Let him answer. The answer is obvious that there is only one Jehovah. When he discerns this, you have caused him to register an important fact in his mind that he might otherwise have missed. Help him to appreciate further what this means to him. Reason with him, perhaps in this way: “If he is one Jehovah, then could he be three gods, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost, as the Trinitarians teach?” Again, let him answer. “No, Jehovah could not be three gods, for the Bible plainly says he is one God.” Now, you have caused the student to think on a basic Scriptural truth and to understand that Jehovah is but one God. You have also exposed a basic false doctrine—the doctrine of the Trinity. With almost everything we teach, it is profitable to the learner that we follow this pattern. In this way we can determine whether the student is learning, whether he is discerning the truth of God’s Word, whether he understands the points made, whether he is thinking spiritually. When we teach in this manner, the student with whom we study will see how spiritual discernment, understanding and thinking ability surpass all material treasures in value, because their rewards are pleasantness and life.—Prov. 2:4, 5, 9-11; 3:16-18.
THE TESTED QUALITY OF FAITH
11. (a) Why is faith essential? (b) What further must a student appreciate about faith? (c) What quality of faith is more precious than gold and silver?
11 When conducting your Bible studies always have in mind the quality of faith, for “without faith it is impossible to please [God] well.” (Heb. 11:6) And, too, a, Christian ‘lives by reason of his faith.’ (Rom. 1:17) But more is needed than just faith. The student must appreciate the tested quality of faith, that his faith must be tested, that is, refined, even as silver and gold are refined. Faith must be freed from all impurities, and this is done by subjecting it to tests. This refining process is well described for us by the apostle Peter, who said: “For a little while at present, . . . you have been 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) So the faith that counts is the faith that is subjected to trial and survives. This tested quality of faith is what is more precious than gold and silver and is not simply faith alone.
12. Why is it good to forewarn the students concerning trials of faith, and whose example do we have to follow in this?
12 If the student knows ahead of time that he will suffer trials for the course he has chosen, then the tests and trials that befall him because of his faith will no longer be surprises, but the expected and the anticipated thing. Jesus forewarned his disciples; why should we not do the same? At Matthew 10:22, 36-38 Jesus showed that Christians would come under trials from many directions, that they would “be objects of hatred by all people on account of [his] name”; that they would face opposition from family members, “indeed, a man’s enemies will be persons of his own household,” he said. Prepare the student for this inevitable reality.—John 15:20; 16:33; Mark 13:9; Rev. 2:10; Luke 6:22, 23; 2 Cor. 11:21-28.
REASON FOR INTEGRITY
13. (a) What more than integrity must be taught, and why is this important? (b) To what conviction and determination must the student be brought?
13 However, it is not enough to tell the student that the world will hate him and that he will suffer much for being a Christian. He must know, understand and appreciate why he must suffer and why he must remain steadfast. So not simply integrity as to righteousness must be taught, but the reason for integrity. Not only must we teach what integrity is, but we must also build appreciation for it. We must aid those with whom we study the Bible to see that maintaining integrity is not just to be a good example to others or to have a good report from others. The primary reason for integrity is that God’s name is involved in what we do and how we act. It is, therefore, most appropriate that we help others to appreciate the grand privilege of sharing in the vindication of Jehovah’s name by standing up for righteousness, for godly principles, never giving way to the fear of men. (Matt. 10:28; Acts 2:31, 32) Like the ancient patriarch Job, he must prefer to suffer death rather than to compromise his integrity to God. Job said: “Until I expire I shall not take away my integrity from myself!” (Job 27:5) It is to this resolve that the student must be brought.—Jas. 5:11.
DEVOTION TO BIBLE PRINCIPLES
14. Give an example of why devotion to Bible principles must be taught.
14 While it is important for students of the Bible to know the principles contained therein, this in itself is not enough. Additionally, we must teach devotion to Bible principles. It is devotion to Bible principles that prevents one from following a course of expediency. This is well illustrated in the case of Joseph, son of Jacob. When tempted by Potiphar’s wife to have immoral relations with her, Joseph did not yield to temptation and abandon right principles. Instead, he replied: “You are his wife. So how could I commit this great badness and actually sin against God?” (Gen. 39:9) He knew that having relations with another man’s wife is wrong. It is ‘sinning against God’! It is this moral appreciation that must be inculcated in students of the Scriptures. Joseph’s faithful adherence to godly principles at first resulted in unjust suffering, but far grander were the blessings he received from Jehovah because of his depth of devotion to what was right.
RESPECT FOR LAWS AND REQUIREMENTS
15. How does the psalmist show the proper attitude that must be cultivated toward God’s laws and commandments?
15 We cannot hope to be in step with Jehovah’s will and purpose if we are out of step with his laws and requirements for life. Still, not only laws and requirements must be taught, but a deep respect for them. This appreciation must motivate the Christian in the ways of righteousness. The proper respect is reflected by the psalmist who said: “Teach me goodness, sensibleness and knowledge themselves, for in your commandments I have exercised faith. How I do love your law! All day long it is my concern.” (Ps. 119:66, 97) If we are to walk uprightly we must make God’s laws our concern. We must respect what they mean to us. This quality of appreciation must be inculcated if the student is to endure.
CONVINCED THAT THE BIBLE IS GOD’S WORD
16. To what depth of appreciation about the Bible must the student be brought, and how was this expressed by the Thessalonians?
16 Faith and reliance on God’s written Word must be taught. The student must learn to use the Word of God as a sure guide in his life. He must be brought to the conclusion of the psalmist who said: “Your word is a lamp to my foot, and a light to my roadway.” “The substance of your word is truth.” (Ps. 119:105, 160) Is it possible to reach this conviction? Yes. The apostle Paul, writing about the Thessalonians, said that they were a source of praise to God because when they heard the word of God preached by Paul they “accepted it, not as the word of men, but, just as it truthfully is, as the word of God.” (1 Thess. 2:13) It is to this conviction that the student must be brought in his studies of the Bible if he is to endure.
LOYALTY TO GOD’S VISIBLE ORGANIZATION
17. What place must loyalty to Jehovah’s organization have in the student’s life, and how is this manifested by the apostle Peter?
17 The student must also come to appreciate the theocratic organization of Jehovah’s people. Loyalty to the theocratic organization will prevent the student from stumbling over an explanation of God’s Word that may be difficult to understand. In the first century many missed out on the grand privilege of being a part of the congregation of God, because they quit when Jesus brought a difficult doctrinal truth to their attention. But how did the well-trained apostles respond when Jesus asked them: “You do not want to go also, do you?” The apostle Peter replied: “Lord, whom shall we go away to? You have sayings of everlasting life.” (John 6:67, 68) True loyalty, like that possessed by Peter, is what we want to build in those with whom we study God’s Word, so that they will stick close to God’s organization at all times, with blessings to themselves.
TENDERLY LOVE THE BROTHERS
18. What love must the disciple cultivate in his heart toward the brothers, and how was this exemplified in the life of Jesus?
18 At 1 Corinthians chapter 13 the apostle Paul emphasizes that without love a Christian is nothing, despite the record of works he may have. “Love,” he says, “never fails.” (1 Cor. 13:8) Yet the student must learn more than to love the brothers. He must learn to love them warmly and tenderly. Paul wrote: “In brotherly love have tender affection for one another.” (Rom. 12:10) The apostle Peter writes: “Love one another intensely from the heart.” (1 Pet. 1:22) This quality of loving one another intensely will be a real source of joy to the student, enabling him to endure many trials. It will draw him close to Jehovah’s organization, for love “is a perfect bond of union.” (Col. 3:12-14) In loving tenderly and intensely from the heart Jesus set a perfect example for us. Let us follow it. (John 10:11-15; 1 John 3:18) It is this love that the student must cultivate if he is to endure unto salvation.
UPHOLD AND PREACH THE KINGDOM OF GOD
19. What important factors about God’s kingdom must the student learn, and how will this be an aid to him?
19 It is necessary to assist the student to appreciate that we are already subjects of God’s established kingdom, and therefore we must form an unbreakable attachment to it and a fearless willingness to bear witness to it. (Matt. 24:14) We as ambassadors and envoys of God’s kingdom are no part of the political governments of this system of things. (2 Cor. 5:20) We promote solely the interests of God’s established Kingdom government in the heavens. We must remain fearless proclaimers of the Kingdom’s establishment. In this we imitate the courageous examples of Jesus and his apostles. (John 18:36; Acts 4:20) Hence there is no room for dividing our loyalties. This appreciation for the Kingdom being instilled in him, the student will remain steadfast as a Kingdom publisher. He will not cower or shrink from his responsibility to declare this good news of the Kingdom, which he represents.
20. (a) In summary, according to Paul, what factors is it well to keep in mind? (b) How can we build wisely, and thus to what end?
20 Therefore in our disciple-making work it is good to bear in mind the words of the apostle Paul, who said: “We are God’s fellow workers. You people are God’s field under cultivation, God’s building. According to the undeserved kindness of God that was given to me, as a wise director of works I laid a foundation, but someone else is building on it. But let each one keep watching how he is building on it. For no man can lay any other foundation than what is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation gold, silver, precious stones [these fine fire-resistant qualities], wood materials, hay, stubble, each one’s work will become manifest, for the day will show it up, because it will be revealed by means of fire; and the fire itself will prove what sort of work each one’s is.” (1 Cor. 3:9-13) So build wisely. Get students of the Bible to see and appreciate the godly qualities of heavenly wisdom. Aid them to a lasting appreciation of spiritual discernment, understanding and thinking ability. Help them to cherish the tested quality of their faith, the reason for integrity, devotion to Bible principles and deep respect for God’s laws and commandments. See that they appreciate the Bible as being God’s Word, the need of sticking close to Jehovah’s organization and the need to cultivate an intense love for the brothers. Lead them to an appreciation of the Kingdom as mankind’s only hope and develop in them an unbreakable attachment to it and a willingness to bear witness to it. If you do this, there is every reason to believe that your work will endure, to God’s praise and glory, for this is his promise.
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Teaching a student to rely on the guidance of God’s Word will help him to develop the quality of endurance