Faith in God’s Son—How Should It Affect You?
“Behave in a manner worthy of the good news about the Christ, . . . standing firm in one spirit, with one soul striving side by side for the faith of the good news.”—Phil. 1:27.
1. (a) What work now nears its climax? (b) What testifies that faith is really to be found on earth today?
FULFILLED prophecy indicates that we are deep into the time of the “conclusion of the system of things.” (Matt. 28:20) It is now over 64 years since the “Son of man,” Jesus Christ, arrived with all the angels to “sit down on his glorious [heavenly] throne.” The judgment and separating of the people into faithful “sheep” and faithless “goats” is nearing its climax. (Matt. 25:31-33) So we ask, Has the “Son of man” really found faith in the earth? The gathering of the international congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses—more than two million strong—clearly testifies that he has.
2. Why are assemblies of God’s people properly describe as “out of this world”?
2 News media have described assemblies of Jehovah’s Witnesses as “out of this world.” And something exceptional they should be! For God’s people are striving for excellence. In fact, this vast congregation is journeying from the present imperfect world to a glorious “new order” where sickness, death and sorrow will be no more. Jehovah’s Word assures us of this! (Rev. 21:1-4) In order to attain that goal, we need to hold firmly to our conquest by faith. How do we do this?
WORLD JUDGMENT BEGINS
3. What changes took place from 1914, signifying what?
3 When the “conclusion of the system of things” began in the year 1914, tremendous changes started to take place on this earth. It was just as Jesus himself had said—international wars, earthquakes, pestilences, famines, increasing of lawlessness and loss of love. (Matt. 24:3-12; Luke 21:10, 11) A time of world judgment had begun.
4, 5. (a) How have Christendom’s religions shown lack of faith? (b) How do these contrast with Jehovah’s Witnesses as to relationship with the world? (c) How is our invincible faith displayed?
4 How would the religions of Christendom respond to the situation? Would they show themselves to be conquerors by faith? Far from it! Instead of accepting the “sign” that God’s kingdom is at hand, the clergy of Christendom gave their support to the dying “system of things.” As world war engulfed Europe, the churches on both sides exhorted Christian to slaughter Christian, thus taking on a terrible bloodguilt. And as the war ended, Christendom’s religions opted, not for the now-reigning King, Jesus Christ, but for a man-made political body that they blasphemously labeled the “political expression of the Kingdom of God on earth.” This was the League of Nations, brought forth in 1919 for the announced purpose of safeguarding world peace and security. The Bible book of Revelation describes it as “a scarlet-colored wild beast . . . full of blasphemous names.”—Rev. 17:3.
5 The churches of Christendom, in their support of total warfare, and then of this man-made makeshift, have clearly shown where they stand—as a part of this world. On the other hand, Jehovah’s Witnesses, in taking a neutral stand toward international violence and toward politics, have shown unequivocally that they are “no part of the world.” (John 15:19) Our faith rests not in the fleshly arm or in war machines of mortal men. But our invincible faith acknowledges “God as ruler rather than men.” And because we “obey God as ruler” in witnessing concerning his Kingdom purposes, we show that we have God’s spirit. (Acts 5:29-32) Thus we have been energized to do the works that Jesus spoke of: “He that exercises faith in me, that one also will do the works that I do; and he will do works greater than these”—in preaching the established kingdom earth wide.—John 14:12.
6. How has holy spirit been in evidence since 1919?
6 This holy spirit of Jehovah was very much in evidence at the international assemblies of Jehovah’s Witnesses held at Cedar Point, Ohio, U.S.A., in 1919 and 1922. It strengthened the faith of the small remnant of anointed Christians and energized them to answer the call: “Advertise, advertise, advertise, the King and his kingdom.” Vigorously they proceeded to proclaim the “good news” far and wide. By the time of the outbreak of the violent second world war, their numbers had grown from some thousands to more than 67,000, preaching in different lands of the earth.
FAITH CONQUERS PERSECUTIONS
7. What examples show that faith is triumphant over persecutions?
7 This expansion was not accomplished without severe persecutions. For example, because Jehovah’s integrity-keeping witnesses refused to worship the Nazi state, they were hunted down and herded into filthy concentration camps. Also, 635 of them died in prison. But their faith could not be broken. One observer described the individual Witness as “a fortress which can be destroyed but never taken.” As an eyewitness commented concerning his own brother, brutally shot by Nazi SS guards in a public execution: “Everyone was impressed by his calmness and composure, like someone who had already won the battle.”
8. (a) During trialsome World War II years, how did Christian faith prosper? (b) But what did religious leaders bless and extol?
8 As already stated, Jehovah’s Witnesses entered the difficult years of the second world war numbering some 67,000, but they emerged from the conflict more than 141,000 strong. Bans, imprisonments and other trials of integrity had not caused them to flinch in their faith. The religions of Christendom, however, gave their blessing to the persecution and slaughter. And even though the “scarlet-colored wild beast” had failed them as the League of Nations, religious leaders were quick to hail it again when it emerged as the United Nations. They pinned their hopes on it. (Rev. 17:3-8) At the time of his visit to U.N. headquarters in New York in 1965, the late Pope Paul VI extolled this body as “that greatest of all international organizations” and “the last hope of concord and peace.”
THE CONTINUING CONQUEST BY FAITH
9. (a) What timely information did Jehovah’s Witnesses make known in 1942? (b) How did God’s people then press on in their conquest?
9 When the United Nations was first suggested by the allied nations in 1942, Jehovah’s Witnesses made known, at their international convention of that year, that this would be simply a reviving of the League. They showed from God’s Word that the U.N. must finally go away into destruction, together with all other political organizations, in the final conflict at Har–Magedon. Surrounded by evidences of “the time of the end,” Jehovah’s people pressed on in their conquest by faith. (Dan. 11:35) The Watchtower Bible School of Gilead was organized in 1943, and missionaries were sent forth to the very ends of the earth. With what result? Whereas in 1945 there were 141,606 Kingdom proclaimers active in 66 lands, in 1978 there were 2,182,341 reporting service in 205 lands. The conquest by faith has been very plain to see, and especially in the 40-and-more countries where Jehovah’s Witnesses are now serving under ban or other restriction.
10. How has the tested quality of faith been displayed in Malawi and other countries under restrictions?
10 Notable among countries where the trial of faith has been hard is the small African nation of Malawi. Up until 1962, Jehovah’s Witnesses enjoyed rapid growth in that land. But, then, in 1964, violent persecution broke out. Because Jehovah’s Witnesses would not worship the Malawi segment of the ‘wild beast out of the sea’ (Rev. 13:1, 4) by buying political party membership cards, they were hounded from their homes, many being raped and killed. Finally, most of them were driven from their homeland. But the tested quality of their faith, proved as though by fire, has been a cause of rejoicing, not alone to themselves but to their Christian brothers throughout the earth. (1 Pet. 1:7) In all the lands where Jehovah’s Witnesses are compelled to serve underground, the same sterling quality of faith is to be observed. All of these Witnesses, and there are more than 200,000 of them in such lands, are succeeding marvelously in their conquest by faith.
11. What shows that we must endure in our conquest by faith?
11 However, what of Jehovah’s Witnesses in countries where the going is easier, where we do not have to live in constant danger of arrest, imprisonment or loss of life? Sad to say, some of these places have not been doing so well. These include many prosperous lands, where enticements to pleasure and immorality abound. But none should ever lose sight of this fact: We must endure in our conquest by faith until we are released from this wicked system of things, whether that be through death or by surviving the “great tribulation.”
12. What words of Jesus’ prophecy should have our urgent attention today, and why?
12 How urgent it is that all have this clear appreciation! The evidence is plain on every side that the world is tottering on the brink of destruction. The “last days” have almost run their course. Hence, the closing words of Jesus’ prophecy on the conclusion of the system of things should ring out in startling clarity to all of Jehovah’s people today: “Pay attention to yourselves that your hearts never become weighed down with overeating and heavy drinking and anxieties of life, and suddenly that day be instantly upon you as a snare. For it will come in upon all those dwelling upon the face of all the earth. Keep awake, then, all the time making supplication that you may succeed in escaping all these things that are destined to occur, and in standing before the Son of man.”—Luke 21:34-36.
THE “APPOINTED TIME” DRAWS NEAR
13. Why is it imperative that we keep in expectation of Jehovah’s judgment?’
13 Though the “great tribulation” may not have come as soon as many of us had expected, that is no reason for discouragement. God does not change. (Mal. 3:6) Nor have his grand purposes changed. Jehovah says concerning the “good news”: “So my word that goes forth from my mouth will prove to be. It will not return to me without results, but it will certainly do that in which I have delighted, and it will have certain success in that for which I have sent it.” (Isa. 55:11) The time for God to execute judgment has not shifted. It draws closer with each day. So let us remember the words of Isaiah 30:18: “Jehovah is a God of judgment. Happy are all those keeping in expectation of him.”
14. (a) Our holding to what confidence will enable us at last to make Joshua’s words our very own? (b) What encouragement may we find in Habakkuk’s prophecy?
14 It is not our dependence on some time period, but our wholehearted confidence in Jehovah as the God who “cannot lie,” that enables us to gain the victory of faith. (Titus 1:2) This confidence will at last bring us to the point where, like Joshua of old, we will be able to say to our companions in this conquest of faith: “You well know with all your hearts and with all your souls that not one word out of all the good words that Jehovah your God has spoken to you has failed. They have all come true for you. Not one word of them has failed.” (Josh. 23:12; 21:45) We can have complete confidence in Habakkuk’s words that “the vision is yet for the appointed time, and it keeps panting on to the end.” May we keep panting along with that vision until our conquest is complete! The prophecy assures us: “It will not tell a lie. Even if it should delay, keep in expectation of it; for it will without fail come true. It will not be late.”—Hab. 2:3.
“JEHOVAH IS NOT SLOW”
15. (a) Why can it be said that “Jehovah is not slow”? (b) How does his day finally come?
15 Nineteen hundred years have passed since the days of the apostles. But in God’s sight this is less than two days. It is even as the apostle Peter put it: “Let this one fact not be escaping your notice, beloved ones, that one day is with Jehovah as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. Jehovah is not slow respecting his promise, as some people consider slowness, but he is patient with you because he does not desire any to be destroyed but desires all to attain to repentance. Yet Jehovah’s day will come as a thief.”—2 Pet. 3:8-10.
16. Why has Jehovah’s day not yet arrived, and so how should we react to the situation?
16 So, what if Jehovah’s day is scheduled for a few more ticks of his time clock? Are we not glad that this has enabled some hundreds of thousands more of his “sheep” to be gathered? While that clock keeps on ticking away, tens of thousands of former Catholics in southern European countries are flocking to the Kingdom, hundreds in isolated islands of the sea are abandoning their idolatry and thousands of Asians are breaking free from Oriental superstitions to embrace the “good news.” The reason that Jehovah’s thieflike day has not yet arrived is that he still has work for us to do in gathering the “other sheep.” Jehovah is not slow. Let us not be slow in seizing every opportunity to share fully in His work.
17. (a) What timely counsel does Peter give for this day? (b) What distinguishes Jehovah’s people, and how do they show forth their faith?
17 The apostle Peter counsels: “The end of all things has drawn close. Be sound in mind, therefore, and be vigilant with a view to prayers. Above all things, have intense love for one another.” (1 Pet. 4:7, 8) As this wicked “system of things” closes in for its last-ditch effort to destroy God’s people, we truly need to remain unruffled, awake and prayerful, confident in our conquest by faith. We need to be united in that intense love, which is so much a distinguishing mark of Jehovah’s own people throughout the earth. Where, in all human history, has there been a people like Jehovah’s Witnesses today? This is the only brotherhood that has penetrated into the remote corners of the inhabited earth. What force, other than Jehovah’s spirit, could have united two million “out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues” into so marvelous a unity of belief, purpose and activity? Together, we have won the conquest by faith, and together we show forth that faith by witnessing to Jehovah’s kingdom by his Son.—Rev. 7:9.
AS THE END APPROACHES
18, 19. (a) In the apostles’ day, how did events develop in fulfillment of Bible prophecy? (b) What sad mistake might some have made?
18 Jehovah’s people today are like those faithful Christians who eagerly awaited the initial fulfillment of the “sign” back in Jerusalem of the apostles’ day. They watched for the coming of the “disgusting thing” that would stand in the “holy place.” At last, it happened. The Roman army attacked and penetrated as far as to the western wall of the temple area. What must the Christians now do? Jesus had said: “Begin fleeing to the mountains.” When that army unexpectedly withdrew, those Christians seized the opportunity. Flee they did. Into the mountains of Perea they went. But were they now saved? Was their conquest by faith complete? No, not yet.—Matt. 24:15, 16.
19 Eagerly those Christians awaited the next development—Jehovah’s execution of judgment on Jerusalem. They waited one year. Nothing happened. Two years, and nothing happened. Three years, and still nothing happened. Some of those Christians may have wearied of waiting. They may have said, ‘Let us go back to the city and get involved in business and the easy way of life.’ What a sad mistake that would have been!
20. How did faith then work for salvation?
20 For suddenly, in the fourth year, the Roman armies returned. The city and its temple were utterly destroyed, not even one stone remaining upon another. It was exactly as Jesus had prophesied. (Luke 19:41-44; 21:20-24) But God’s people outside Judea had kept active and awake. They had waited on Jehovah. Their faith had worked for their salvation.
21. What notable fulfillment of Bible prophecy took place from 1945?
21 Today, we are in a similar situation. Christendom is the modern-day equivalent of the ancient unfaithful city of Jerusalem. The “disgusting thing” of Jesus’ prophecy is clearly identified by Scripture as the United Nations organization today. It is the same as the “scarlet-colored wild beast” of Revelation chapter 17. When that “beast” came up out of the abyss in 1945, the world empire of false religion, “Babylon the Great,” of which Christendom is the principal part, was able to ride it and exercise some control.
22. What changed situation is now seen in the U.N., signifying what?
22 However, today it is different. Nations that regard religion as “the opium of the people” are gaining great power in the U.N. They stand as a real threat to the realm of operation of Christendom’s religions, and, indeed, of all religion. Very soon we can expect to see the “ten horns” of the “wild beast” turn against world religion, devastating even the religious realm of Christendom. The “great tribulation” will then have started, and it will move quickly to its climax at Har–Magedon.—Rev. 17:12-18; 19:19-21.
23. (a) In view of the critical situation on earth, what must we now do? (b) How may you succeed as a world conqueror by faith?
23 Seeing this critical situation in the earth, what must Jehovah’s Witnesses do? We must make sure that our flight to the protective “mountain” of God’s kingdom is complete. We must be unwavering in pursuing the conquest by our faith. We must be determined to be conquerors through our God who loves us. While there is time for it, we must continue to participate zealously in preaching this good news of the Kingdom in all the earth and in making disciples. Will you, with all of Jehovah’s Witnesses world wide, continue “standing firm in one spirit, with one soul striving side by side for the faith of the good news”? (Phil. 1:27) Will you thus magnify the name of Jehovah and the kingdom of his Son, Jesus Christ? So doing, you too may succeed gloriously as world conquerors by faith.
[Picture on page 24]
Watch that your heart never becomes weighed down with overeating and heavy drinking