Proclaiming Good News World Wide
“How comely upon the mountains are the feet of the one bringing good news, the one publishing peace, the one bringing good news of something better, the one publishing salvation, the one saying to Zion: ‘Your God has become king!”’—Isa. 52:7.
1, 2. How does the earth appear to one far out in space, and how did the angels react when God created it?
IN YOUR mind’s eye see the earth as it was photographed for the first time by the Apollo 8 astronauts. See it hanging in the blackness of space with the rays of the sun making it look like a giant multicolored bowling ball. Through bands of fluffy white clouds can be seen the sparkling blue waters of the oceans and the browns and greens of the land areas. What a beautiful planet God created for mankind! For all who dwell on it he has good news. Do you know what it is?
2 When one is looking at the earth from a point far out in space it is not difficult to imagine why the Bible says that the angelic sons of God “began shouting in applause” when God created the earth. (Job 38:7) It is so outstandingly different from all the other planets in our solar system that the angels felt impelled to cry out joyfully together in praise of the Creator, Jehovah God. Then when he populated the earth with living creatures and capped his work on earth by creating man, they had even more reason to shout in applause.
3, 4. What has happened to the earth as a result of man’s efforts to rule himself without God?
3 But what has happened on earth since the time God created man? Because man rebelled and turned his back on his Creator living conditions have been far from ideal. Men have leaned upon their own wisdom and tried to rule the earth without God. This has resulted in a colossal mess. Mankind has become divided into nationalistic groups that are constantly quarreling and fighting among themselves. Vast cities have become asphalt jungles where people prey upon one another, acting like unreasoning wild beasts. Violence, crime, injustice and rebellion are everywhere.
4 Man in his folly is even ruining his earthly environment upon which he depends for life. He is polluting the air and fouling the rivers, lakes and oceans. He has ruined fertile lands by unwise agricultural practices and has ruthlessly slaughtered vast numbers of wild creatures, causing many to become extinct. Indeed, man’s effort to rule himself without God has been a monumental failure.
SOMETHING BETTER IS COMING
5, 6. What is the good news God has for mankind, and how were his actions regarding war foretold?
5 For all who are “sighing and groaning over all the detestable things that are being done” the Creator of this beautiful earth has good news. (Ezek. 9:4) He has set up a kingdom of his making by which he will rule the entire earth in justice and righteousness. Under its rule mankind will no longer be divided into warring national groups but will live in permanent peace.
6 Speaking as if it already has happened, a Bible prophecy says: “Come, you people, behold the activities of Jehovah, how he has set astonishing events on the earth. He is making wars to cease to the extremity of the earth. The bow he breaks apart and does cut the spear in pieces; the wagons he burns in the fire.” (Ps. 46:8, 9) These ancient instruments of war employed at the time when this prophecy was written are used here to symbolize all weapons of war. There will be no need for them under the peaceful and righteous reign of God’s kingdom.
7. Identify the foundation of God’s kingdom, and explain why the people under the Kingdom will act in a straight and truthful manner.
7 The king of that kingdom has already been selected and installed in office. He is none other than the tried and faithful Son of Jehovah God, Jesus Christ. He was spoken of in Bible prophecy as “a tried stone, the precious corner of a sure foundation.” (Isa. 28:16) The whole structure of God’s kingdom is built upon him as its King. This prophecy in Isaiah goes on to foretell that the rule of God’s kingdom under Jesus Christ will be one of justice and righteousness. “And I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the leveling instrument.” (Isa. 28:17) As a plumb line reveals the trueness of a supporting pillar in a building or of a wall so the quality of righteousness that will predominate in God’s kingdom will cause people to act in a straight and truthful manner. How different it is today under the unrighteous rule of imperfect men! Wicked people have “made a lie [their] refuge and in falsehood [they] have concealed [themselves].”—Isa. 28:15.
8. Why will no one under the rule of God’s kingdom need to feel fearful or insecure?
8 With righteous rulers in God’s kingdom ruling the earth in justice, righteousness and peace, there will be no reason for anyone to feel fearful and insecure. The wicked will no longer be present to threaten them with violence and death or to try to steal their possessions. Our Creator has assured us that the “wicked one will be no more.” (Ps. 37:10) Instead of the earth being dominated by violent people who rebelliously violate the laws of God, people who are mild-tempered and obedient to those laws will possess it. Jesus Christ himself foretold this when he said: “Happy are the mild-tempered ones, since they will inherit the earth.” This is certainly good news!—Matt. 5:5; Ps. 37:11.
9. Explain why God’s kingdom, especially its establishment, is good news for mankind.
9 In view of the marvelous purpose God has for the earth his kingdom is good news for mankind. It gives us assurance that the wicked will not dominate the earth indefinitely, and it gives us hope for much better living conditions to come. The fact that God’s kingdom has been established in the heavens and that we are now living in the last days of the present wicked system of things is especially good news. To those putting their trust in that kingdom at this time, Jesus Christ said: “But as these things start to occur, raise yourselves erect and lift your heads up, because your deliverance is getting near.”—Luke 21:28.
BEGAN IN FIRST CENTURY
10. (a) When and how did the proclaiming of the good news begin? (b) Why could the Kingdom be said to be near at that time?
10 The proclaiming of the good news of the kingdom began in the first century of our common era. It was taken up by Jesus Christ, and his followers were instructed to engage in it. “As you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.”’ (Matt. 10:7; 4:12-17) Although the kingdom of God was not yet established at that time, the message was appropriate and the Kingdom could be said to be near because its anointed King, Jesus Christ, was present. He represented it.
11. How did Jesus set an example as to the way the good news ought to be preached?
11 Jesus took the good news of the Kingdom directly to the people by going to them and preaching to them. “Then he went around throughout the whole of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the good news of the kingdom.” (Matt. 4:23) He also preached to people in their private homes. He called at the home of Zacchaeus in Jericho, the home of Matthew and at the home of a ruler whose daughter had died, just to mention a few. (Luke 19:5; Matt. 9:9, 10, 18, 23) He also preached in the mountains, at the seashore and in the marketplaces. It was to all types of people that he preached—rulers, priests, merchants, fishermen, tax collectors, harlots, soldiers, and so forth. Jesus thus set an example for the way his followers should preach the good news of the Kingdom.
12. How did Jesus fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 61:1, 2?
12 As Jesus walked about proclaiming the good news he was fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 61:1, 2: “The spirit of the Lord Jehovah is upon me, for the reason that Jehovah has anointed me to tell good news to the meek ones. He has sent me . . . to proclaim the year of goodwill on the part of Jehovah . . . to comfort all the mourning ones.” To the meek and distressed people of that time his coming among them with the good news of the Kingdom was a pleasing sight indeed. His feet would be a comely or pleasant sight. People would be grateful that he came among them because of the good he did for them. He brought to distressed people comfort, and to downhearted ones hope. They learned from him that God has purposed something better that would come by means of his kingdom.
13. Describe how Jesus’ disciples followed his example of preaching after Pentecost.
13 Following the example Jesus set, his disciples after Pentecost of 33 C.E. preached the good news of the Kingdom wherever they went, even when they were scattered by persecution. “However, those who had been scattered went through the land declaring the good news of the word.” (Acts 8:4) They were used in fulfilling Isaiah 52:7: “How comely upon the mountains are the feet of the one bringing good news, the one publishing peace, the one bringing good news of something better, the one publishing salvation, the one saying to Zion: ‘Your God has become king!”’ Those that went to other lands also preached the good news. The Bible gives detailed information on how the apostle Paul and those traveling with him did this in several lands over a period of many years. Like Jesus they went directly to the people, calling at their homes and talking to them in the marketplaces and in other locations where the public gathered.
14. How did Paul describe his efforts to help people learn of God’s purpose?
14 To a group of persons in Asia Minor who had embraced the hope of God’s kingdom because of his efforts, the apostle Paul said: “You well know how from the first day that I stepped into the district of Asia I was with you the whole time, slaving for the Lord with the greatest lowliness of mind and tears and trials that befell me by the plots of the Jews; while I did not hold back from telling you any of the things that were profitable nor from teaching you publicly and from house to house.” (Acts 20:18-20) See how he expended himself so people could learn the good things that God has purposed for mankind. Were not his feet also “comely” or pleasant in appearance to the many people he comforted with the good news?
15. Why can we be certain that the prophecy at Isaiah 52:7 applies to Jesus’ anointed followers?
15 The anointed followers of Jesus who have the prospect of eventually ruling with him fulfill the prophecy at Isaiah 52:7. This is indicated by Paul himself. They too publish peace, bring “good news of something better” and publish salvation. Pointing out the need for them to preach the good news to others, Paul wrote: “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? How, in turn, will they preach unless they have been sent forth? Just as it is written: ‘How comely are the feet of those who declare good news of good things!’” (Rom. 10:14, 15) See how Paul quoted the prophecy at Isaiah 52:7 and applied it to those following Jesus’ example of proclaiming the good news.
16. What was the result of the preaching done by the early Christian organization?
16 As a result of the zealous and diligent preaching effort of the early Christian organization people in many lands heard the good news and became believers. Reporting the results of the first missionary tour by Paul and Barnabas through Cyprus and Asia Minor, the Bible says: “When they had arrived and had gathered the congregation together, they proceeded to relate the many things God had done by means of them, and that he had opened to the nations the door to faith.” (Acts 14:27) The people in these other lands who listened and responded in faith to what they heard were most grateful that Paul and Barnabas had come to them. They certainly regarded the feet of these publishers of good news as “comely.” Thus the good news spread throughout the Roman Empire, and a great many people became part of God’s organization. But that was just the beginning.
“PREACHED IN ALL THE INHABITED EARTH”
17, 18. What happened to the Christian organization after the death of the apostles?
17 After the death of the apostles the Christian organization began to deteriorate because of corrupting beliefs brought into it from false religions. Also individuals began promoting their own ideas, causing divisions in the congregations. These self-important persons gathered to themselves members of the congregation and went off on their own course. All this was foretold by the apostle Paul. “I know that after my going away oppressive wolves will enter in among you and will not treat the flock with tenderness, and from among you yourselves men will rise and speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves.”—Acts 20:29, 30.
18 From this corrupting of the Christian organization came a fusion religion that appeared outwardly to be Christian but actually was fused with falsities of paganism. Because of being filled with pagan beliefs and practices it became less objectionable in the Roman Empire, eventually being made to dominate it. As might be expected, this corrupted organization did not carry on the preaching of the good news of the Kingdom and did not encourage the people to do so. Its people became spiritually dead.
19. Can God’s Christian organization be blamed for conversions by the sword?
19 In view of this, we can see that it was not the true Christian organization but one that even used military arms to force people throughout Europe to become so-called Christians. This was not the way Jesus instructed his followers to make disciples. Such forced conversions were the result of twisted thinking by men who thought more of their own ideas than of God’s Word of truth. Such men had become a clergy class that preached the religious philosophies of men to church members who formed an inactive and inferior laity class. This was not God’s way, and the religious organization that prompted it was not his. Although the preaching of the good news stopped, it was not God’s will that it should cease permanently. It was his will that it should be preached in all the inhabited earth.
20. Explain how the preaching of the good news was revived.
20 After a lapse of many centuries God revived the preaching of the good news in the latter part of the nineteenth century. This revival started with a small group of Bible students in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. It had become evident to them that the churches of Christendom were not fulfilling the commission that Jesus Christ gave to his followers. Instead, they were engrossed in politics, social activities, human philosophy, unscriptural teachings and human traditions. Seeing the need for proclaiming the good news, these modern-day followers of Jesus Christ expressed their willingness to serve as did Isaiah. That prophet said: “I began to hear the voice of Jehovah saying: ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ And I proceeded to say: ‘Here I am! Send me.’” (Isa. 6:8) So this group of faithful Christians under the leadership of Charles Taze Russell began taking up the long-neglected work of proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom. God’s Christian organization began to reappear.
21, 22. (a) To what extent has the number of proclaimers of the good news grown since the 1870’s? (b) How have they been fulfilling Jesus’ prophecy for the “last days,” and how have they followed Jesus’ example?
21 From that small beginning back in the 1870’s the body of proclaimers of the good news has grown to an organization of more than a million active Christian witnesses of Jehovah today. This is God’s active organization, and it has been doing what Jesus foretold would be done in the last days of the present worldly system of things—preaching the good news of the Kingdom “in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations.”—Matt. 24:14.
22 Every dedicated, baptized person in this Christian organization is a preacher. All are spiritually active and are continually being encouraged by Jehovah’s organization to continue being active in the ministry. This is the way his organization was in the first century while the apostles were still living. Like Jesus they have been going to the homes of the people and to every other place where they can find people who are willing to listen. To grateful people who have been comforted by the good news they have brought, they are a pleasant sight.
23. Show how God’s organization today is indeed preaching the good news in all the inhabited earth.
23 In the first century the preaching of the good news was directed considerably to the lands bordering the Mediterranean Sea, but today we see it being done throughout the inhabited earth as Jesus foretold. In 1970, Jehovah’s witnesses were busy preaching it in 206 lands, spending more than 267 million hours at it and distributing approximately 232 million pieces of literature about God’s Word and purposes. Certainly this is the scale of preaching of the good news that Jesus foresaw over 1900 years ago as taking place in the last days of the earth-encompassing system of wicked men.
24, 25. Why is an organization necessary among those whom God uses, and what evidence do we have of its existence among the early Christians?
24 To carry on the worldwide preaching of the good news that God has purposed to be done an organization is necessary. It is needed to unify the efforts of the hundreds of thousands of Christians whom God is using to do this preaching work. Its governing body directs the work for the best results and settles differences. Such an organization existed after Pentecost in the year 33 C.E., and its governing body consisted of the twelve apostles along with some other mature Christians in Jerusalem. This group rendered decisions, appointed persons to special service and settled disputes. Its decisions were binding upon the entire organization of Christians in that day as we see in the fifteenth chapter of Acts.
25 When we read the fifteenth chapter of Acts, particularly Acts 15 verses 23-29 twenty-three to twenty-nine, we see the governing body of God’s organization in action. A dispute that had arisen among the Christians in Antioch, Syria, one that could not be resolved locally, was brought before it. After hearing it, the governing body rendered a decision that was dispatched to Antioch.
26. Identify the governing body in God’s organization today.
26 Today the organization that God has raised up for preaching the good news of the Kingdom also has a governing body. It represents the “faithful and discreet slave” class of anointed Christians that Jesus spoke about in an illustration at Matthew 24:45 to 47. These fulfill their responsibility to provide spiritual food “at the proper time,” doing so through the governing body. This governing body is closely associated with the board of anointed directors of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania.
27. Explain how God’s organization is devoted exclusively to serving his interests.
27 Unlike Christendom’s churches that have become involved in politics, social reforms, operating businesses and investing in business corporations, God’s organization of faithful witnesses has concentrated on only one thing—the preaching of the good news of the Kingdom. It has not lost sight of the commission that Jesus gave his followers to “make disciples of people of all the nations” and to teach them “to observe all the things I have commanded you.” (Matt. 28:19, 20) It therefore is fulfilling today Jesus’ prophecy about the worldwide preaching of the good news of the Kingdom.—Matt. 24:14.
28, 29. Whom did Jesus train to be proclaimers of the good news, and how is God’s organization today following his example in this respect?
28 When Jesus was preaching the good news of the Kingdom he taught common people such as fishermen and tax collectors to be preachers and teachers of God’s Word of truth. Unlike the scribes and Pharisees who had been trained in the religious schools of higher learning of those days, these common people had God’s blessing and authorization to preach. They actually did his will, whereas the scribes and Pharisees did not.
29 So today, God’s organization teaches and trains common people of all walks of life to be preachers and teachers of his written Word. They do not have to go to a religious seminary of higher learning to have God’s authorization to preach. It even trains children to preach the good news. Like the fishermen of Jesus’ day, these common people are being taught to do what they probably never dreamed they could do.
30. What training is given to those who are sent to other lands, and what has been the result of their efforts?
30 A special school established by the organization also provides training for those selected to be sent to other countries as missionaries. An intensive five-month course of study is given them in the Bible as well as a foreign language. When they arrive in their foreign assignments they devote 150 hours a month to proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom and teaching the truths of God’s Word to the local people. Graduates of this special school of Gilead have opened up the work of preaching the good news in many lands, territories and islands of the world. They have assisted thousands of persons to take a stand for God’s kingdom.
HOW MUCH LONGER?
31, 32. What is indicated by the worldwide preaching of the good news, and what has God’s organization been doing in fulfillment of Isaiah 52:7?
31 The very fact that the good news is now being preached in all the inhabited earth and on a scale such as never before seen is evidence in itself that we are in the last days of this present wicked system of man-made governments. Jesus made it clear that, when this would be seen along with the other world events he foretold, it would be the “time of the end,” and the final climax would be near.—Luke 21:28.
32 We have been in the “time of the end” since 1914 C.E. During this time Jehovah’s organization of witnesses has been “publishing peace,” “bringing good news of something better” and saying, “Your God has become king!” This is what the prophet Isaiah foretold.—Isa. 52:7; Rev. 11:17, 18.
33. Why is it important for everyone who wants the blessings that come with being part of Jehovah’s organization to preach the good news?
33 The time remaining to proclaim the good news is very short. Much is still to be done, for, as Jesus said, “the harvest is great, but the workers are few.” (Matt. 9:37) If you want the blessings that God has in store for those in his organization, become part of it now. Join in the ingathering work by being an active proclaimer of the good news. Let people know what Jehovah God has purposed for our beautiful earth. Be one of those of whom Isaiah prophesied that they would publish peace and bring good news of something better.