Fellow Victors over the World
1. Jesus’ victory over the world set a pattern for whom, and how was the aged apostle John an illustration of this?
JESUS’ victory over the world without engaging in a conflict with it by the use of military arms stands as a pattern for his disciples. His faithful apostles of the first century C.E. copied that pattern. All the world’s hatred over decades of time failed to break their unswerving devotion to God’s Messianic kingdom and to silence their preaching of it world wide. Just a few years before the end of that century the Christian apostle John, likely the last of the apostles to survive, wrote to fellow Christians and said: “I John, your brother and a sharer with you in the tribulation and kingdom and endurance in company with Jesus, came to be in the isle that is called Patmos for speaking about God and bearing witness to Jesus.” (Rev. 1:9) Like those faithful apostles, the true disciples of Jesus are copying his pattern to gain victory over this twentieth-century world.
2. How, according to Jesus’ prophecy concerning the hardships of his followers, is he an object of hatred by the world?
2 Although he is no longer on the earthly scene, Jesus Christ is an object of world hatred even today. This statement may be objected to by the nearly one thousand million church members of Christendom, who will insist, “We do not hate him!” And yet there is a test by which we can know whether we hate Jesus today. In a prophecy concerning what his disciples would undergo, Jesus said these words of advance warning to them: “You will be objects of hatred by all people on account of my name; but he that has endured to the end is the one that will be saved.” “Then people will deliver you up to tribulation and will kill you, and you will be objects of hatred by all the nations on account of my name.” (Matt. 10:22; 24:9) Logically, then, the hating of the disciples of Christ on account of his name means the hating of Christ himself at the same time.
3. To remain a genuine follower of Jesus, what victory must one likewise gain, and with what reward therefor?
3 There is no dodging the naked truth: the genuine disciples of Jesus Christ have to face and endure the world’s hatred just the same as he did. So, for a disciple to remain such in a real sense, it means that he has to gain victory over the world. Not by means of any violence, but without armed conflict, as in Jesus’ own case. The question for a disciple is, Will the world defeat him, or will he defeat it? If he suffers defeat, he must also suffer the sad consequences of defeat. If, however, he defeats the world, he will be rewarded with the grand prize of victory—at God’s hand.
4. What proves that, today, one’s being hated by all nations and peoples on account of Christ’s name does not mean being hated merely for being called a Christian?
4 This being hated by all people and nations on account of Christ’s name, what does it mean? Does it signify being hated by people and nations just for being called a Christian? No, not today. Today there are hundreds of millions of religious people who are called “Christian” and who are in good standing with the rest of the world of mankind and in friendly relations with them. Who are these so-called Christians who enjoy world friendship and are not undergoing world hatred? According to all observations, these are the members of the religious sects of Christendom. They are not undergoing persecution as a class, are they? They are not banned or proscribed as a class and driven underground, are they? Oh, they do fight among themselves, not over being called Christian, but over belonging to different religious sects of Christendom. The issue of which religious authority they want to be ruled by is involved.
5. So, then, Jesus’ expression “on account of my name” means on account of what?
5 Jesus’ expression “on account of my name” means on account of adhering to Jesus for what he officially is, the Messianic King appointed by Jehovah God. It means on account of our confessing and obeying him as a real Lord, our heavenly Lord whose commands we carry out as being ahead of those of any earthly ruler. It means sticking to the Messianic government that he represents and not dividing one’s loyalties by mixing in the affairs of any earthly man-made government. It means viewing oneself and acting as the slave of Jesus Christ, a slave not belonging to oneself but owned by Jesus Christ at the cost of his own lifeblood. Yes, it also means being a witness of the God and Father of Jesus Christ, namely, Jehovah, the Source of the Messianic kingdom.
6. Hence, being called by Christ’s name means what, and living up to his name obligates us in what way?
6 Hence, being called by Christ’s name means far more than merely clean living. It requires one to identify oneself as not belonging to the worldwide system of things of which Christendom is the most prominent and powerful part, but as belonging to God’s clean, new system that he has in reserve for earth’s inhabitants. It places one in the position of being an alien resident, temporary dweller in this passing worldly system of things. (1 Pet. 2:11) This debars a true Christian from being one with the people of the world and conforming to their ways, being emotionally stirred and controlled by worldly nationalism, pride of earthly country. Concerning himself, Jesus said to nationalistic Jews: “You are from the realms below; I am from the realms above. You are from this world; I am not from this world.” (John 8:23) Jesus thus made himself no part of this world with its selfish aspirations. Living up to his name obligates his disciple likewise to be no part of this world.—John 17:14, 16.
7. What is the normal reaction of worldlings to nonparticipation of true Christians in favorite worldly affairs, and how did Jesus explain this?
7 Does such a position stir up resentment or cause a flush of heat of indignation to rise up in the person friendly to this world? This hostile sentiment is a normal reaction toward the nonparticipation of the true disciple of Christ in the favorite affairs of this world. Worldlings are not fond of such a Christian stand. As Jesus told his apostles: “If you were part of the world, the world would be fond of what is its own. Now because you are no part of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, on this account the world hates you.” (John 15:19) Christ’s name stands for separateness from this world. Being hated on account of Christ’s name means being hated because one is no integrated part of this world, inasmuch as Christ has chosen such one out of this world.
HATED BECAUSE OF WHAT IS PREACHED
8. The preaching of God’s kingdom by Christ will incline the world in what way toward the Kingdom preacher, and why?
8 Before Governor Pontius Pilate, Jesus said: “My kingdom is no part of this world. . . . But, as it is, my kingdom is not from this source.” (John 18:36) How, then, could one who is a real Christian be a part of this world and at the same time be in favor of God’s kingdom by Christ, which is no part of this world and does not have its source in this world? A true Christian could not do so, for Jesus said that Satan the Devil is the “ruler of this world.” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11) For this reason the preaching of the nonworldly kingdom of Jesus the Messiah will bring the world’s hatred upon the preacher; it will line up the world against the preacher. It did so in the case of Jesus himself; it has done so and will do so in the case of his true disciples.
9. For what reason must the Kingdom preacher endure to the end in order to win victory over the world?
9 And yet, after telling of the world hatred coming upon his disciples, Jesus said: “He that has endured to the end is the one that will be saved. And this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations.” (Matt. 24:13, 14) The preaching of this kingdom, although it is good news, will incur the hatred of the world. Why so? Because God’s Messianic kingdom and the political kingdoms of the world are enemies. For God’s kingdom by Christ to take over the complete control of the earth, it requires the bringing of the man-made kingdoms of this world to their everlasting end. (Dan. 2:44) Here, then, is where the true-blue Christian must gain the victory over the world.
10. To gain victory, the Christian must challenge the world’s hatred in order to do what, and the example of whom must they imitate?
10 How so? Not by carrying a Bible in one hand and a sword, grenade or rapid-fire gun in the other! But by challenging the world’s hatred and peacefully going forward, unarmed, in preaching “this good news of the kingdom” world wide for a witness to all nations with no exceptions, before the end of this system of things comes. The Kingdom preacher must not let the world’s hatred, hostility and opposition defeat him. He is under the superior orders of the one who commissioned him to preach this good news, Jesus Christ, who is his Lord. He must be like his Lord and Master. This Jesus Christ was the greatest Preacher of good news from God ever on earth. Those called by his name do as he did; they must do as he both said and did. First when he had finished his Kingdom preaching despite world hatred and opposition did he say: “I have won the victory over the world.” (John 16:33, Weymouth) In this he set the example for us.
11. What work is there yet to be done, and only when can complete victory be claimed?
11 There is yet preaching of “this good news of the kingdom” to be done world wide. From the postwar year of 1919, this good news has been preached by Jehovah’s Christian witnesses uninterruptedly clear through World War II and down till now. They are under divine command through Christ not to stop this bearing of witness to God’s Messianic kingdom world wide until the end of this system of things comes. Only when they have preached “this good news” to the finish and the victorious Kingdom has brought this worldly system to its complete end will they be able to say, each one for himself: “I have won the victory over the world.”
12. In order to win such a victory, what kind of courage is needed, as stated by the apostle John?
12 Such a victory is possible for us! Jesus Christ will have fellow victors over this world. The victory will be hard-won, but it can be won as Jesus’ own victory proves to us. “Take courage,” said Jesus. And the winning of the victory will take courage. It must be a courage born of faith in the Almighty God. On this the apostle John, who recorded the triumphant words of Jesus, said, shortly before his own victory at death: “To love God is to keep his commands; and they are not burdensome, because every child of God is victor over the godless world. The victory that defeats the world is our faith, for who is victor over the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”—1 John 5:3-5, NE.
13. Who today have the “victorious principle” of faith, and how is this shown with respect to Jesus the son of Mary?
13 It is essential to have that spiritual quality of faith. As the Weymouth translation of 1902 renders John’s words: “For every child of God overcomes the world; and the victorious principle which has overcome the world is our faith. Who but the man that believes that Jesus is the Son of God overcomes the world?” (1 John 5:4, 5) Such a victorious principle of faith is the inward force that moves Jehovah’s Christian witnesses today and holds them true to the Son of God. They believe, not that he was a mere man begotten by a mere man wedded to a wife, but that he was born of a virgin Jewess to whose womb Almighty God transferred the life of his only-begotten Son from heaven, to be born as a human Son of God. They believe that immediately after his baptism in the Jordan River, he was begotten with God’s holy spirit and anointed as the Messiah; but that on the third day of his sacrificial death he “with power was declared God’s Son according to the spirit of holiness by means of resurrection from the dead.”—Rom. 1:3, 4; Acts 13:32, 33.
14. How do Jehovah’s Christian witnesses show that they take heed to John’s warning against antichrists?
14 Taking heed to the warnings by the apostle John concerning the antichrists that were to arise, Jehovah’s Christian witnesses during this “conclusion of the system of things” do not let themselves be deceived and drawn after false Christs, antichrists that present themselves in Christendom or under the sponsorship of Christendom, like the United Nations for world peace and security. They have identified the true Messiah, the true Christ, and they cleave to him and to the God-given Kingdom that he represents. They have the faith that this Messianic kingdom was established in the heavens in the year 1914 C.E., at the end of the Gentile Times. They therefore cannot accept and worship the symbolic “wild beast,” that is, the Devil’s worldwide system of political rulership, as the rightful government of the earth. Neither can they worship and pin their hopes to the political “image” of that “wild beast,” namely, the United Nations that Christendom has sponsored for the perpetuation of imperfect human rulership over all mankind to time indefinite.
15. How do they take their stand with those described in Revelation 15:2-4?
15 Never, no, never can they do such an idolatrous thing. With a faith victorious over the deceptions of this world, they take their stand with those pictured in the fifteenth chapter of the Revelation given to John, verses two through four, where the apostle John says: “I saw what seemed a sea of glass shot with fire, and beside the sea of glass, holding the harps which God had given them, were those who had won the victory over the beast and its image and the number of its name. They were singing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, as they chanted: ‘Great and marvellous are thy deeds, O Lord God, sovereign over all; just and true are thy ways, thou king of the ages. Who shall not revere thee, Lord, and do homage to thy name? For thou alone art holy. All nations shall come and worship in thy presence, for thy just dealings stand revealed.’”—Rev. 15:2-4, NE; Weymouth; NW; Young.
16. From what have Jehovah’s Christian witnesses come off victorious thus far, and only when will their victory be complete?
16 By acting in harmony with their faith in Jehovah God the Almighty and in his Son Jesus Christ, the Christian witnesses of Jehovah have thus far “come off victorious from the wild beast and from its image and from the number of its name.” (NW; An American Translation; Rotherham) This they have done even though this political “wild beast” has waged war upon them and temporarily conquered them during World War I. (Rev. 13:7) But victory over the Devil’s worldwide political system of rulership and its political image (the United Nations) is not yet complete, as long as the Sovereign Lord God permits them to remain on earth. We shall come off victorious completely only when that political “wild beast” with the reproachful number 666 lies destroyed on the battlefield of Har–Magedon. (Rev. 13:18) If we desire to be fellow victors with Jesus Christ the Son of God over that enemy organization, we must continue to keep from being marked like a slave with the numerical name of the “wild beast” and not idolatrously worship its political image.
17. If we have such victorious faith, we will never let ourselves be kept from doing what, and so what is it our determination to do?
17 Do we have the victorious faith with which to do this? If we do, then we shall never let the “wild beast” keep us from preaching “this good news of the kingdom” until the Kingdom witness in all the inhabited earth is finished. Our victory is to be, not merely over the “wild beast” and its “image,” but over the world, just as that of Jesus Christ was. So we shall not let the world’s hatred and the tribulation that it causes us overpower us and force us into rebellion against God. Till he himself gains his own personal victory at Har–Magedon, we will continue to sing his praises in order that individuals out of all nations may come and worship before him through the victorious Son of God, Jesus Christ.