Spurred On by Our “Living Hope”
“To this end we are working hard and exerting ourselves, because we have rested our hope on a living God, who is a Savior of all sorts of men, especially of faithful ones.”—1 Tim. 4:10.
1. Why should God’s Word motivate us to action?
IT IS in God’s Word, the Bible, that we find “delightful words and the writing of correct words of truth.” (Eccl. 12:10) These words are especially delightful in that they arouse within us a living hope—the hope of everlasting life in the Kingdom arrangement that the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has so lovingly provided through his Son, Jesus Christ. (John 3:16; Rom. 15:12, 13) As the congregator expressed it, “the words of the wise ones are like oxgoads,” spurring their hearers to action. The words of wisdom and hope that we read in God’s Word should thus motivate us to work hard and exert ourselves in serving the interests of his righteous kingdom.—Eccl. 12:11.
2. To what have men of faith been looking forward?
2 From the time that Jehovah gave the Edenic promise, men of faith in God have looked forward to the judgment day when the Messianic Seed would crush the Serpent’s head. (Gen. 3:15; Rom. 16:20) That would be the day of judgment of Satan’s world, to be climaxed by the deliverance of all who have rested their hope in Jehovah’s kingdom by his Christ.—2 Tim. 4:1, 18; Luke 21:28.
AN ASSURED HOPE
3. (a) Why is this an assured hope? (b) What should spur us on to declare our hope publicly?
3 The Bible book of Hebrews, chapter 11, provides a long list of men and women who displayed exemplary faith. They had an “assured expectation of things hoped for.” That hope was real to them, and they acted upon it while they were “awaiting the city having real foundations, the builder and maker of which city is God.” Though they did not get the fulfillment of the promises in their day, “they saw them afar off and welcomed them and publicly declared that they were strangers and temporary residents in the land.” (Heb. 11:1, 10, 13) Today, that hope is no longer “afar off,” for the Kingdom is at hand! How much more reason do we have, then, for making public declaration of our hope!—Matt. 24:14, 33.
4. Of what did Enoch prophesy, and how does this concern us today?
4 Some of those faithful men who held “the assured expectation of things hoped for” lived in a time of God’s judgment, just as we do today. Jehovah used them in warning the wicked. Thus, Enoch prophesied concerning corrupt men, in the days before the Flood: “Look! Jehovah came with his holy myriads, to execute judgment against all, and to convict all the ungodly concerning all their ungodly deeds that they did in an ungodly way, and concerning all the shocking things that ungodly sinners spoke against him.” (Jude 14, 15) That judgment was a type of God’s judgment against the world today, which is shocking in its ungodliness.
5. What example did Noah set for us in works of faith?
5 Also, Noah, who lived through the execution of Jehovah’s judgment on the ungodly world, was “a preacher of righteousness.” (2 Pet. 2:5) He exerted himself in doing works of faith, constructing “an ark for the saving of his household; and through this faith he condemned the world.” (Heb. 11:7) Noah was a fine example for us today. Shortly, “the righteous judgment of God” will be expressed, as those “who do not know God . . . undergo the judicial punishment of everlasting destruction from before the Lord and from the glory of his strength.” As we approach that execution of judgment, it is the time of all times to preach Jehovah’s righteousness in the earth!—2 Thess. 1:5-10.
6. (a) What ancient judgment underlines the certainty of the “great tribulation”? (b) How may we escape that judgement?
6 Among those who “publicly declared” their hope in God’s kingdom were Abraham and Sarah, also Isaac and Jacob. Abraham lived through the time of God’s executing judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah. He was most anxious that Sodom might be spared destruction, even if as few as 10 righteous men (like his nephew Lot) might be found in that city. Finally, God told him, “I shall not bring it to ruin on account of the ten.” Like Abraham, we today might hope that multitudes be spared destruction in the impending “great tribulation.” But no! This ungodly world must be destroyed, as were Sodom and Gomorrah, thus cleansing the earth in preparation for the restored paradise. The only way to survive God’s judgment is to become “no part of the world,” in line with Lot and his family’s fleeing Sodom before its fiery destruction. And it would be disastrous, also, to turn back to the things of the world. “Remember the wife of Lot.”—Luke 17:26-32; Gen. 18:22-32; 19:15-26; Matt. 24:21; John 15:19.
7. What privilege, like that of Ezekiel, do we have today, and what should we do about it?
7 Among the faithful “cloud of witnesses” that Paul describes in Hebrews 11 as holding the “assured expectation of things hoped for,” are “Samuel and the other prophets,” and what courage these displayed in making known Jehovah’s word! (Heb. 11:32; 12:1) They included Ezekiel, who prophesied from Babylon concerning Jehovah’s judgment against apostate Jerusalem—a judgment that was executed in 607 B.C.E. The seriousness of Ezekiel’s commission is made clear by the “word of Jehovah” that came to him on a number of occasions. It was: “ ‘Now as regards the watchman, in case he sees the sword coming and he actually does not blow the horn and the people itself gets no warning at all and a sword comes and takes away from them soul, for its own error it itself must be taken away, but its blood I shall ask back from the hand of the watchman himself.’ Now as regards you, O son of man, a watchman is what I have made you to the house of Israel, and at my mouth you must hear the word and give them warning from me.” (Ezek. 33:6, 7; 3:17-21) Do we see “the sword coming” today? Do we appreciate that the present “distress” among nations is leading inexorably to God’s war of Har–Magedon? Then we must sound the ‘warning trumpet,’ showing the people the way to God’s kingdom—their only hope. What a privilege it is to share in this work of warning in this present judgment day, as Ezekiel did back there!—Matt. 24:3-8, 14; 25:31, 32; Rev. 16:13-16.
THE “PERFECTER OF OUR FAITH”
8. With regard to giving warning, what fine example did Jesus set?
8 After describing the great “cloud of witnesses,” many of whom preached a warning message in pre-Christian times, Paul calls attention to “the Chief Agent and Perfecter of our faith, Jesus.” This Son of God also fearlessly proclaimed God’s kingdom during a judgment day—and the execution of judgment came with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. Paul encourages us, who live in another judgment day, to “look intently at” and “consider closely” Jesus’ example when under pressure, that we ourselves “may not get tired and give out in [our] souls.”—Heb. 12:1-3; John 12:31.
9, 10. (a) What food did Jesus regard as most precious? (b)With regard to what did Jesus instruct his disciples?
9 No one has ever worked harder in the interests of Jehovah’s kingdom than the Son of God himself. In this he has followed the example of his Father in heaven, for he said: “My Father has kept working until now, and I keep working.” Kingdom service meant more to Jesus than did material food, for he also said: “My food is for me to do the will of him that sent me and to finish his work. . . . Look! I say to you: Lift up your eyes and view the fields, that they are white for harvesting. Already the reaper is receiving wages and gathering fruit for everlasting life.”—John 5:17; 4:34-36.
10 Jesus was referring to his harvesting of people, those who had been “skinned and thrown about like sheep without a shepherd,” and he set the pattern for this harvest work as he toured the cities and villages, teaching and preaching concerning the hope of the Kingdom. It was also a warning work, for Jesus, in sending out his 12 disciples, instructed them: “Wherever anyone does not take you in or listen to your words, on going out of that house or that city shake the dust off your feet. Truly I say to you, It will be more endurable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on Judgment Day than for that city.”—Matt. 9:35–10:15.
“WORKS GREATER THAN THESE”
11. What unusual comment did Jesus make just before his impalement?
11 On the eve of his impalement, Jesus told his disciples of his close union with his Father in doing works, and added: “Most truly I say to you, He that exercises faith in me, that one also will do the works that I do; and he will do works greater than these, because I am going my way to the Father.” (John 14:9-12) To what works did Jesus refer? How could these be greater than those accomplished by the Son of God himself, who worked in union with his Father?
12. How did Jesus indicate what these “greater works” would comprise?
12 Some days later, following his death and resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples in Galilee, and indicated what these “greater works” would comprise, saying: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you. And, look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.” Throughout 40 days Jesus continued to instruct them about the kingdom of God, and then, just prior to his ascension into heaven, told them: “You will receive power when the holy spirit arrives upon you, and you will be witnesses of me both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the most distant part of the earth.”—Matt. 28:16-20; Acts 1:3-8.
13. What “thorough witness” took place in apostolic days?
13 Thus Jesus spoke of a great work of witnessing and teaching that would reach into every corner of the earth. After holy spirit had been poured out on his disciples at Pentecost, this campaign of preaching got under way, with Jehovah’s blessing. It resulted in a “thorough witness,” as is so often mentioned in the Bible book of Acts. One of those who took the lead in this work was the apostle Paul, who in due course told the elders of the Christian congregation at Ephesus: “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. But I thoroughly bore witness both to Jews and to Greeks about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus.”—Acts 20:20, 21, 24; 2:40; 10:42; 23:11; 28:23.
14. (a) How extensive was the preaching prior to 70 C.E.? (b) How did the workers regard “godly devotion”?
14 Those first-century Christians had taken up the work of warning the people and teaching the “good news,” so that the Jews were fully notified of Jerusalem’s impending destruction—which came with startling suddenness in 70 C.E., just as Jesus had prophesied. (Matt. 23:37, 38; 24:15-22) As the time drew near for that execution of judgment, the apostle Paul could write that the hope of the “good news” had been “preached in all creation that is under heaven.” (Col. 1:23) Truly, this ‘thorough witnessing’ had resulted in “works” even greater than Jesus had accomplished! And who were the workers? They were humble men and women who placed godly devotion first in their lives. With the apostle Paul, they could say: “Godly devotion is beneficial for all things, as it holds promise of the life now and that which is to come. . . . to this end we are working hard and exerting ourselves, because we have rested our hope on a living God, who is a Savior of all sorts of men, especially of faithful ones.” (1 Tim. 4:8-10) Their ‘thorough witnessing’ and sharing in ‘greater works’ in that judgment day was richly blessed by God.
15. How does the activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses differ from that of Christendom’s religions?
15 In this final day of judgment of the ungodly world, which began when the “appointed times of the nations” ran out in 1914 C.E., a great crowd of witnesses has covered the earth in making known Jehovah’s name and kingdom. Their method of witnessing concerning their hope is frowned upon by Christendom, just as the Jewish religious leaders looked down on Jesus and his apostles. (Luke 21:24; John 7:45-52; Acts 5:27-29) Jehovah’s Witnesses do not rely on a few elite clergymen, the product of religious seminaries, to represent them in a pulpit or on television or radio. Rather, they themselves are a society of preachers, more than two million strong, who witness on a person-to-person basis. From house to house, in public places, and informally, they make known the hope of the “good news” that they have taken into their hearts. (Acts 5:42; 20:20, 21; 1 Pet. 3:15) Faithfully, they sound the warning that this world is in its judgment day and faces “great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again.”—Matt. 24:21, 22.
16. What kind of persons has Jehovah chosen to do his work today?
16 Thus, in modern times, the Christian witnesses of Jehovah have accomplished, by the help of God’s spirit, works ‘greater’—more extensive—than Jesus’ works while he was on earth. They take no credit to themselves for this. Rather, they are happy, individually, to be the kind of persons described by Paul: “You behold [God’s] calling of you, brothers, that not many wise in a fleshly way were called, not many powerful, not many of noble birth; but God chose the foolish things of the world, that he might put the wise men to shame; and God chose the weak things of the world, that he might put the strong things to shame; and God chose the ignoble things of the world and the things looked down upon, the things that are not, that he might bring to nothing the things that are, in order that no flesh might boast in the sight of God.” (1 Cor. 1:26-29) Often it is the humble Kingdom Witness, “foolish” by worldly standards but rich in faith, who reaches the hearts of those who pause to listen.
EXPRESSING OUR “LIVING HOPE”
17. (a) In line with Psalm 145:10-14, how has Jehovah blessed his people during their 1979 service year? (b) What are some of the outstanding reports that you note in the accompanying chart?
17 During their 1979 service year, Jehovah has wonderfully blessed the witnessing activity of his people earth wide, helping them again to accomplish ‘greater works’ in the face of bans, persecutions and economic pressures. Again, a grand testimony has been given to Jehovah’s name and kingdom, as the accompanying chart shows.
18. (a) What has happened with regard to baptisms? (b) How has the Kingdom service borne fruit? (c) What was the Memorial report for 1979, and what hope do we hold regarding many of those attending?
18 Outstanding in the report is the number baptized, 113,672—a 19.6-percent increase over the previous year’s baptisms. There were increases, too, in the number of Witnesses in the field, the hours devoted to Kingdom service, the return visits made on interested persons, and the Bible studies conducted in the homes of such sheeplike ones. This study work is bearing fruit, and this is borne out in that the highest number of persons ever attended that most important meeting of the year—the celebration of the Memorial of Jesus’ death—a total of 5,323,766 being present, a 4.4-percent increase over the previous year. It is our hope that the three million non-Witnesses who attended will keep on progressing toward ‘making public declaration for salvation.’—Rom. 10:8-10.
19. (a) What thrilling reports involve pioneer activity? (b) In what ways does pioneer service contribute toward ‘greater works’?
19 It is thrilling to see the continuing growth in the ranks of the full-time “pioneer” proclaimers of the Kingdom, the monthly average of 127,558 being a 10.5-percent increase over 1978. These have made a grand contribution toward the accomplishment of ‘greater works’ in this “time of the end,” and many of them have been blessed and built up for their activity by the Pioneer Service Schools held for two-week periods throughout the earth. (Dan. 12:4) Many others, also, are showing great interest in enrolling as full-time “regular pioneers.” In August alone, 896 applied for this service in the United States, and 777 in Japan. A great many countries also report a peak in the numbers engaging in “auxiliary pioneer” work—extended activity for just a month or several months—and this continues to stimulate congregations to ‘greater works.’
20. (a) What encouragement should we find in the 1979 Year Report? (b) How, then, should we act with regard to our “living hope”?
20 In all, the 1979 Year Report of service activity should give Jehovah’s Witnesses everywhere strong reason for rejoicing. It should spur on one and all to share in the ‘greater works’ to the full, while there is yet time. It should stimulate us to “hold fast the public declaration of our hope without wavering,” that through Jesus we may always “offer to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips which make public declaration to his name.” (Heb. 10:23; 13:15) Yes, may our “living hope” ever be that real to us!
[Chart on page 18-21]
1979 SERVICE YEAR REPORT OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES WORLDWIDE
(See bound volume)