Continue to “Stand Firm in the Faith”
“Stay awake, stand firm in the faith.”—1 Cor. 16:13.
1. (a) What is the message conveyed by the “Victorious Faith” conventions? (b) What kind of faith did Jesus advocate?
VICTORIOUS faith is flourishing in the earth! That is the message conveyed by the “Victorious Faith” International Convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses, held in the northern hemisphere this past summer, and as it now moves into many lands south of the equator. For Jehovah’s Witnesses, faith is not something merely to profess. Rather, it must be alive, active and accompanied by works. Jesus described its fruitage in his Sermon on the Mount: “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your fine works and give glory to your Father who is in the heavens.” And he told his intimate companions on his last momentous evening with them: “My Father is glorified in this, that you keep bearing much fruit and prove yourselves my disciples.”—Matt. 5:16; John 15:8.
2. What shows that faith is a “possession” of Jehovah’s Witnesses?
2 It is true in these critical times that “faith is not a possession of all people.” (2 Thess. 3:2) But it is very much a possession of the Christian witnesses of Jehovah. It is our living faith that motivates us to continue telling forth the “good news” publicly in field service. What a grand witness has been given in this way on the third day of the international conventions! It is this same faith that strengthens us to continue giving the witness, even in most difficult territories, and to stand firm in the face of bitter trials and persecutions. It enables us even to rejoice in times of trial, as we look forward with keen anticipation to the revelation of Jesus Christ in Kingdom glory.—1 Pet. 4:12, 13.
3. (a) Why can it be said that our faith is real? (b) How should faith stimulate old and new ones alike?
3 Our faith is something real. It is firmly founded on the Lord Jesus Christ, the Head of the Christian congregation, the members of which serve in union with him. To these, the apostle Paul gives the admonition: “As you have accepted Christ Jesus the Lord, go on walking in union with him, rooted and being built up in him and being stabilized in the faith, just as you were taught, overflowing with faith in thanksgiving.” (Col. 2:6, 7) And as older ones in the truth go on walking in this victorious faith, so it is our prayer also that new ones, including those recently baptized, will become stabilized in the faith, yes, overflow with faith. It is faith that stimulates all of us to make “public declaration for salvation,” telling others the good news.—Rom. 10:10.
4. (a) What connection does faith have with conduct? (b) What prompted the statement, “Your conduct is your best sermon”?
4 This faith also prompts Christians to fine conduct, which reflects favorably on the precious name of Jehovah our God. (1 Pet. 2:12) During the “Victorious Faith” Convention, the Montreal La Presse of July 8 quoted this pertinent comment about Jehovah’s Witnesses:
“They have remarkable moral values . . . on a personal level, promoting family values, and opposing divorce and abortion. They have a great concern about the religious instruction of their children.”a
Exemplary conduct, based on this appreciation of moral values, has been much in evidence at these conventions. A professor from Russia, who works as a journalist, was heard to say at the Munich convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses: “Your conduct is your best sermon.” And in the same city the Münchner Merkur of July 25, 1978, commented:
“They are the most honest and the most punctual tax payers in the Federal Republic. Their obedience to the laws can be seen in the way they drive as well as in crime statistics. . . . They obey those in authority (parents, teachers, government). . . . The Bible, basis for all their actions, is their support. . . . But no one should imagine Jehovah’s Witnesses to be day-dreamers or sanctimonious persons. In a gigantic cleaning campaign they were able to clean all the seats and toilets in the [Olympic] stadium within a period of three hours. The camping area looked as though it had been ‘licked clean.’ They are realists who master every situation voluntarily—because that is what the Bible wants.”
5. How has Matthew 7:16 applied to Jehovah’s Witnesses in convention?
5 Around the world, similar expressions have been heard. The Corriere della Sera of Milan, Italy, even spoke of a contrast in its issue of August 7, 1978:
“They [are] supported by an organization so perfect, it is the envy of all other organizations. . . . What else can one say about these Jehovah’s Witnesses? They have shown themselves to be a well-mannered civil people, to the point that their conduct seems almost a reproof to the incivility manifested at times by certain Catholic groups.”
Did not Jesus say: “By their fruits you will recognize them”?—Matt. 7:16.
6. In recent months, how have the Witnesses become an outstanding example of true Christianity?
6 It has been due to the large attendances at these conventions that the Witnesses’ fine conduct has been drawn impressively to the attention of the world. In the three countries mentioned above, a combined total of 140,590 assembled at Montreal, Winnipeg, Vancouver and Edmonton, 108,901 at Munich and Düsseldorf, and 111,320 at Milan and Rome. For all of 68 international conventions completed by September, 1978, the total attendance topped 1,700,000. The Christian personalities of these servants of Jehovah have been displayed around the earth in such a way as to make them an outstanding example of true Christianity.
A TIME TO “STAND FIRM”
7. Why are trials of faith certain to increase in the future?
7 Trials of our faith are certain to increase in the days just ahead. And why? It is because, since the birth of “the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ” in 1914 C.E., the Devil has been “hurled down to the earth.” He knows he has only “a short period of time.” Hence, his wrath increases toward those servants of Jehovah on earth “who observe the commandments of God and have the work of bearing witness to Jesus” as the mighty, enthroned King who now prepares forever to vindicate Jehovah’s sovereignty. (Rev. 12:9-12, 17) The great adversary stirs up troubles and tensions in the world, particularly to the end of slowing down, or even stopping this “work of bearing witness.” As witnesses for God and Christ we have a real fight on our hands—against invisible foes that are bent on destroying our faith and work.
8. How may we now stand firm in our faith?
8 This is no time to be passive or indifferent. The apostle Paul admonishes: “Stand firm against the machinations of the Devil. . . . Take up the complete suit of armor from God, that you may be able . . . to stand firm. Stand firm, therefore. . . . 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. 6:11-16) The Devil’s attacks may come at any time, and from many different directions. What are some of his devices?
THE SCOURGE OF IMMORALITY
9. (a) What corrupting influence has the Devil used throughout history? (b) Hence, how does Jude counsel Christians?
9 From the beginnings of human history, the Devil has used immorality as a means of corrupting humans. (Gen. 6:2-5; 18:20; Num. 25:1-3) Sexual degradation was rampant in early Christian times, even becoming a major threat to the purity of the congregation. Hence, Jesus’ half brother Jude, though desirous of writing his Christian brothers an encouraging letter about their common salvation, was compelled, instead, to exhort them “to put up a hard fight for the faith that was once for all time delivered to the holy ones.” Ungodly men, with their loose conduct, had slipped into the congregation. These ones were like the angels that sinned before the Flood, the filthy inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah and the Israelites that were corrupted by the immoral daughters of Moab and Midian. They were defiling the flesh and bringing animalistic influences in among God’s people. So Jude counseled clean-minded Christians: “You, beloved ones, by building up yourselves on your most holy faith, and praying with holy spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love, while you are waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ with everlasting life in view.”—Jude 3-7, 19-21.
10, 11. (a) Why is the admonition of Ephesians 5:3-5 so important to Christians? (b) What warning should we heed concerning “that woman Jezebel,” and why?
10 It is only by putting up this “hard fight for the faith” that we can expect to remain free from contamination by worldly “uncleanness.” (Eph. 5:3-5) In his message to the congregation in Thyatira, Jesus “the Son of God” says: “I know your deeds, and your love and faith and ministry and endurance, and that your deeds of late are more than those formerly. Nevertheless, I do hold this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and misleads my slaves to commit fornication and to eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time to repent, but she is not willing to repent of her fornication.”—Rev. 2:19-21.
11 The pre-Christian idolatrous Jezebel, wife of King Ahab of Israel, was notorious for her immorality. When her son Jehoram asked the anointed King Jehu whether it was peace with the house of Ahab, he responded: “What peace could there be as long as there are the fornications of Jezebel your mother and her many sorceries?” And after disposing of Kings Jehoram and Ahaziah (of Judah), Jehu proceeded to execute Jezebel, 70 sons of Ahab and all others who remained of his house, as well as all practitioners of the immoral Baal religion. (2 Ki 9:22–10:28) May we heed this warning example today, so that we do not step out of the way of righteousness to probe into the “deep things of Satan.”—Rev. 2:24.
FLEE FROM ‘PURSUING RICHES’
12. What is “the love of money,” and why is it to be avoided?
12 There are other pressures that the Devil brings on Jehovah’s faithful servants, all of which are aimed at turning us away from God’s kingdom and his righteousness. (Matt. 6:33) The apostle Paul warned about the subtle influence that “the love of money” can have in leading a person astray from the faith. This “love” can cover a wide range of things, not only money itself, but all the material riches, pleasures and entanglements that money can buy. This “love of money” can become time-consuming and make everyday life complicated and destructive of Christian faith. As a result, a person can get stabbed “all over with many pains.”—1 Tim. 6:10.
13. How can young people, as well as older ones, succeed in ‘fighting the fine fight of the faith’?
13 The apostle Paul counseled young Timothy that, rather than pursue riches, he should ‘set his sights’ on a spiritually rewarding goal in life: “You, O man of God, flee from these things. But pursue righteousness, godly devotion, faith, love, endurance, mildness of temper. Fight the fine fight of the faith, get a firm hold on the everlasting life for which you were called and you offered the fine public declaration in front of many witnesses.” (1 Tim. 6:11, 12) In reliance on Jehovah, you young people today can succeed likewise in ‘fighting that fine fight of the faith.’ And so can you older ones!
14. (a) What are two ways that we must ‘fight for the faith’? (b) How does Hebrews 13:4-6 bear this out?
14 It is of note that the Scriptures counsel us to put up this fight for the faith in connection both with immorality and with the love of money. In each case, it is strong faith, and holding firmly to our faith, that will mean success in resisting the temptations of the Devil. Paul counsels in like vein at Hebrews 13:4-6: “Let marriage be honorable among all, and the marriage bed be without defilement, for God will judge fornicators and adulterers. Let your manner of life be free of the love of money, while you are content with the present things. For he has said: ‘I will by no means leave you nor by any means forsake you.’ So that we may be of good courage and say: ‘Jehovah is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’” Confident of Jehovah’s help, let us be determined to fight the fight of faith down to the end of this wicked system!
MEETING A CHALLENGE
15, 16. (a) What stimulus have the conventions provided? (b) What encouragement should we derive from Galatians 6:9, 10, and especially in view of last year’s Memorial attendance?
15 The “Victorious Faith” International Conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses have been a milestone in the forward movement of God’s people on earth. They have provided a needed stimulus. The past few years have been a time of readjustment. Many of us had hoped that before now we might see the windup of this wicked system of things. True, we have seen the biggest-ever readjustment in the administrative organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses, but the “wicked system of things” has not ended. Obviously, Jehovah still has a work for us to do. “So let us not give up in doing what is fine, for in due season we shall reap if we do not tire out. Really, then, as long as we have time favorable for it, let us work what is good toward all, but especially toward those related to us in the faith.”—Gal. 6:9, 10.
16 Congregation elders, family heads and others are continuing to exert themselves most commendably in ‘working what is good toward those related to them in the faith,’ and the fine fruitage of this is to be seen in the bond of love and affection that so strongly unites Jehovah’s people throughout the earth. By this they are identified as Jesus’ disciples. (John 13:34, 35) This grand unity in the faith is something that cannot be measured by figures in a report. But the outstanding attendance of 5,095,831 at the March 23, 1978, celebration of the Lord’s Evening Meal world wide indicates that there are millions of persons, as yet not dedicated to Jehovah, who are very much interested in associating with God’s people. May all of these, too, be helped to become conquerors by faith!
17 That these new ones, “the desirable things of all the nations,” are continuing to come in is indicated in that 18,754 persons have been baptized at the “Victorious Faith” conventions held to date. (Hag. 2:7) Also, the chart on pages 18 to 21 shows that 95,052 new Witnesses were baptized throughout the earth during the 12-month period concluding August, 1978. We rejoice that these precious ones “out of all the languages of the nations” are joining with the anointed remnant in Jehovah’s service, and “saying, ‘We will go with you people, for we have heard that God is with you people.’”—Zech. 8:23.
18. (a) How do the great majority continue to show forth faith? (b) As indicated by the chart, what Scriptural warnings are urgent?
18 However, this chart shows something else: That there has been a slackening off on the part of some baptized servants of God. The vast majority continue to show forth victorious faith. A number of countries are increasing enrollments in the full-time pioneer work, and again there are more than two million persons engaging in field service as a peak. But it appears that a considerable percentage have succumbed to the pressures brought on them by the Devil and his system. Worldly immorality, the pursuit of pleasure and of deceptive riches, and a failure to keep awake to the urgency of the times—these have taken their toll despite the clear Scriptural warnings against such pitfalls. (Luke 17:26-30; 1 John 2:15-17) Truly, this is the time of all times for us to “stay awake, stand firm in the faith.”—1 Cor. 16:13.
a From L’Eglise de Montreal, the weekly bulletin of the Catholic Archdiocese of Montreal, Canada.
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Immorality and “the love of money” are two main devices the Devil uses to break Christian faith in these last days