Are You a Loyal Subject of God’s Government?
1. What kind of government would you think everyone would like to have?
IF THERE was a nation on earth today that was able to free its citizens completely of disease, heal its cripples, restore the sight of its blind, open the ears of its deaf, and even bring its dead to life again, would not the government of that nation boast of such exploits? And would not everyone on earth immediately do everything within his power to assure for himself a place under that government? You would think so. But history shows a different inclination on the part of many.
2, 3. What caused first-century Jewish rulers, and their subjects, to reject God’s king?
2 Consider the situation in the first century when Jesus Christ, the King-designate of God’s government, was accomplishing such marvelous exploits. How did the people receive him? They were easily influenced by the Jewish rulers, and were divided as to their loyalties. These rulers were more intent on saving their places and positions in human government than they were on looking after the best interests of the people, as the Bible shows:
“The chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the Sanhedrin together and began to say: ‘What are we to do, because this man [Jesus] performs many signs? If we let him alone this way, they will all put faith in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.’ But a certain one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them: ‘You do not know anything at all, and you do not reason out that it is to your benefit for one man to die in behalf of the people and not for the whole nation to be destroyed.’ . . . Therefore from that day on they took counsel to kill him.”—John 11:47-53.
3 Not only did selfish interests of the Jewish rulers prevent them from giving their allegiance to God’s government, but their selfishness moved them to influence the people to reject Jesus. The Bible says that when the Roman governor Pontius Pilate presented Jesus, saying, “See! Your king!” the people shouted: “‘Take him away! Take him away! Impale him!’ Pilate said to them: ‘Shall I impale your king?’ The chief priests answered: ‘We have no king but Caesar.’” So it was the religious leaders who persuaded the people to cast their vote against God’s king and kingdom.—John 19:14, 15.
4. What choice faces each of us today?
4 Whether you realize it or not, you face a similar choice today. And that is: Either to be a loyal subject of God’s government, or to side with those who are opposed to its rule. The fact that Jesus Christ and persons who will rule with him are in heaven and invisible does not make them any less real. The evidence is overwhelming: Christ was raised from the dead, and shortly now he, along with his corulers, will act upon God’s command to get rid of all earthly governments and their supporters. (Dan. 2:44; 2 Thess. 1:6-9; Rev. 2:26, 27) So what is your choice? Is it in favor of rule by humans or of government by God?
KNOWLEDGE NEEDED FOR BECOMING A SUBJECT
5. What is a requirement that one government places on aliens for obtaining citizenship?
5 You cannot simply raise your hand and say: “I want to be a subject of God’s government.” Understandably, more is required. For example, if an alien desired to become a citizen of the United States of America, he would have to meet certain requirements. The World Book Encyclopedia explains: “Officers of the Immigration and Naturalization Service investigate and interview the alien. . . . He must show that he can read, write, and speak simple English . . . The alien must also show that he knows something of the history and the form of government of the United States.”—1973 ed., Vol. 14, p. 52.
6. What “language” must we learn if we are to qualify for being a subject of God’s kingdom?
6 To qualify as a subject of God’s government, you must meet similar requirements. You must first of all learn the “language” of those who will live under the rule of God’s kingdom. In his Word, the Bible, Jehovah says: “For then I shall give to peoples the change to a pure language, in order for them all to call upon the name of Jehovah, in order to serve him shoulder to shoulder.” (Zeph. 3:9) This “pure language” is the truth of God from the Bible, particularly regarding his kingdom that will bring peace to earth. Jesus and his disciples spoke this “pure language” when they were on earth. They bore witness to the truth about the Kingdom, keeping that message to the fore. Today those who would become subjects of God’s kingdom must do the same.—John 18:36; Luke 8:1; 10:8-11.
7. What are some questions a subject of God’s government should be able to answer? Can you answer them?
7 In addition, to qualify as a subject of God’s kingdom, you must know something of its history, as well as its rulers. Can you show that you do by answering such questions as: When did God first make arrangements for his Kingdom government? Who were some of the pre-Christian servants of Jehovah who looked forward to being subjects of his righteous government? How did they demonstrate their faith in that government? How many will serve as rulers in God’s government? Who are some of the persons named in the Bible who proved their qualifications to be corulers with Christ? What did they do to show their faithfulness? How did Jesus Christ fulfill the qualifications to be king? What conditions will exist under God’s Kingdom rule that will show his love for mankind? Our knowing such matters is vital, for, in prayer to his Father, Jesus said: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.”—John 17:3.
RIGHTEOUS CONDUCT REQUIRED
8. What is another requirement that one government places on aliens for obtaining citizenship?
8 As there are other requirements for becoming citizens of earthly governments, so there are for becoming a subject of God’s kingdom. The World Book Encyclopedia says of a person who would qualify for U.S. citizenship: “He must be of good moral character . . . The law states that an alien is not of good moral character if he is a drunkard, has committed adultery, has more than one wife, makes his living by gambling,” and so forth. Those who qualify as subjects of God’s government similarly need to meet moral requirements. These are set out in the Bible.
9. What moral requirements must a person meet in order to qualify as a subject of God’s government?
9 A prospective Kingdom subject, for example, must apply in his life what the Bible says about honesty. He cannot be a liar or a thief. (Eph. 4:25, 28; Rev. 21:8) He must also heed the Bible’s prohibition of drunkenness. (Eph. 5:18; 1 Pet. 4:3, 4) Furthermore, such practices as fornication, adultery or homosexuality are in violation of God’s requirements, and they disqualify practicers of them from life under God’s kingdom. (1 Cor. 6:18; Heb. 13:4; Rom. 1:24-27) However, persons who once engaged in such practices, but have abandoned them, are not disqualified by their former immoral life course. (1 Cor. 6:9-11) The point is: God will not tolerate willful transgression of his laws; persons must conform to the moral requirements in his Word if they are to qualify as subjects of his government.
10. What arrangement for direction do subjects of God’s government need to respect?
10 This means that those who will live under God’s kingdom need to conform willingly to what God’s Word says. But more than that is required. They also need to show respect for the counsel and decisions of those whom God places in positions of responsibility within the Christian congregation. They cannot be persons who are going ‘to do their own thing’ regardless of the direction received from the “faithful and discreet slave,” whom Christ has entrusted with oversight of Kingdom interests on earth. (Matt. 24:45) The apostle Peter wrote of persons who despised authority, speaking of them as “those who go on after flesh with the desire to defile it and who look down on lordship.” Further describing them, the apostle says: “Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble at glorious ones [persons entrusted with oversight within God’s congregation] but speak abusively.”—2 Pet. 2:10.
11. (a) What commands of God’s king is it necessary for all Kingdom subjects to obey? (b) How are these commands followed, and why is obeying them so important?
11 Yet more is required of subjects of God’s government than simply refraining from a disrespectful, immoral way of life. They must also take the initiative in performing kind deeds toward others. They must live by the divine rule given by the King, Jesus Christ: “All things, therefore, that you want men to do to you, you also must likewise do to them.” (Matt. 7:12) Christ set the example in his love for others, even giving his life for humankind. And he commanded his followers: “Love one another; just as I have loved you.” (John 13:34; 1 John 3:16) It is this self-sacrificing love and concern for others that will make living a real delight under the rule of God’s kingdom. Is your conduct qualifying you for life then? Do you really make the effort to do kind deeds for others?
GOD REQUIRES LOYAL SUPPORT
12. What is yet another requirement that one government places on aliens for obtaining citizenship?
12 That Jehovah God would require his subjects loyally to support his Kingdom government should not be surprising, for human governments do the same thing. The World Book Encyclopedia goes on to say of an alien wishing to become a citizen of the United States: “He pledges to support and defend the Constitution and to bear arms on behalf of the United States.” Furthermore, he “takes an oath renouncing all foreign titles and allegiance to any other country.” But in what way does God require persons loyally to support his kingdom?
13. What shows that it is wrong for Christians to fight with physical weapons in behalf of God’s government?
13 This is not done by taking up carnal weapons to fight in behalf of the Kingdom. Jesus explained to the Roman governor Pontius Pilate: “My kingdom is no part of this world. If my kingdom were part of this world, my attendants would have fought that I should not be delivered up to the Jews. But, as it is, my kingdom is not from this source.” (John 18:36) Earlier, when the apostle Peter sought to defend his Master, Jesus told him: “Return your sword to its place, for all those who take the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father to supply me at this moment more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matt. 26:52, 53) Christians will have no share in destroying God’s enemies; that is the work of God’s heavenly armies. The Bible shows that Christians are not to engage in physical, fleshly warfare.—Compare 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; 2 Timothy 2:24.
14. (a) God requires that his Kingdom subjects do what work? (b) How are they to demonstrate their dedication to God?
14 Rather, God requires that his earthly servants be spokesmen in behalf of his government—Kingdom advocates or proclaimers. Thus, ‘with the mouth they make public declaration for salvation.’ (Rom. 10:10) Furthermore, God requires dedication and allegiance to him by his subjects. Jesus Christ presented himself to do God’s will, and he was baptized in symbol of this. (Matt. 3:16, 17; Heb. 10:5-10) Christians must act similarly. After taking in the necessary knowledge and conforming to God’s moral requirements, they must dedicate their lives to him and symbolize this by water baptism. Then they need to share wholeheartedly in the great publicity work that Jehovah wants accomplished.
15, 16. (a) What was Jesus’ primary work on earth, and how did he show his disciples that this was to be their principal activity as well? (b) Following Jesus’ instructions required calling on people where?
15 It is Jehovah’s will that everyone know what his kingdom is and how it will solve mankind’s problems. That government is dear to God’s heart, for it is the means by which he will clear his name of all reproach and bring blessings to his people. Thus the Bible says of the primary activity of God’s Son on earth: “Jesus set out on a tour of all the cities and villages, . . . preaching the good news of the kingdom.” (Matt. 9:35) And on another occasion Jesus said: “Also to other cities I must declare the good news of the kingdom of God, because for this I was sent forth.”—Luke 4:43.
16 Jesus trained his followers to do this same work. First, he sent out his 12 apostles, instructing them: “As you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.’ . . . Into whatever city or village you enter, search out who in it is deserving, and stay there until you leave. When you are entering into the house, greet the household; and if the house is deserving, let the peace you wish it come upon it.” (Matt. 10:5-14) To fulfill these instructions, the apostles called at the homes of the people, and stayed with “deserving” ones, sharing with them the Kingdom message. Later, Jesus instructed 70 of his disciples: “Wherever you enter into a city and they receive you, . . . go on telling them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’” (Luke 10:1-11) Yes, Jesus sent his followers out on Kingdom business.
17. (a) Why did it take courage to do Kingdom preaching? (b) How did early Christians demonstrate their courage in doing the preaching?
17 To share in this activity took real courage. Jesus had been murdered at the instigation of Kingdom opposers, and, in time, his followers Stephen and the apostle James were killed too. (Acts 7:54-60; 12:2) Yet Jesus’ followers were not deterred. Even after the apostles were flogged, the Bible says, “every day in the temple and from house to house they continued without letup teaching and declaring the good news about the Christ, Jesus.” (Acts 5:42) Years later a mob in Thessalonica accusingly said of the apostle Paul and his companions: “These men act in opposition to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king, Jesus.” (Acts 17:7) But that persecution did not stop them from preaching. The Scriptures indicate that Paul did not let up in ‘declaring the good news.’ He went “teaching . . . publicly and from house to house,” bearing thorough witness to Jews and others who needed to repent.—Acts 20:20, 21.
WHERE DO YOU STAND?
18, 19. (a) What is it God’s will now to have done? (b) Remembering what things may help us to share in Kingdom preaching?
18 It takes no less courage today to be a Kingdom advocate. The opposition to the Kingdom message now is every bit as great as it was in the first century. So the question is: Where do you stand? Will you give loyal support to God’s kingdom? His will is that a great Kingdom witness be given before the end comes. Will you have a share in giving it?—Matt. 24:14.
19 You may find it difficult taking the initiative to talk to others about God’s government. But you can do it. Doing so will prove your love for Jehovah. (1 John 5:3) Recall that God gave Abraham the difficult assignment of offering up his son as a sacrifice. When Abraham obeyed, God stopped him from carrying through with the sacrifice, telling him: “For now I do know that you are God-fearing.” Yes, Abraham’s obedience proved that he trusted God implicitly. (Gen. 22:12; Heb. 11:17-19) Similarly, by our zealous Kingdom preaching we show God our loyal support for his government, which support he requires of his subjects. At the same time, we demonstrate our love and concern for people, since the only way they can escape destruction at the fast-approaching “great tribulation” is by hearing the Kingdom message and acting upon it.—Matt. 24:21; 1 John 2:17.
20. How can Moses’ example help us to take a wise stand in connection with God’s moral requirements?
20 Our loyal support of God’s government, however, is also shown by our adherence to God’s moral requirements. Where do we stand in this matter? Some put pleasing themselves first, ‘doing their own thing.’ And it is true that there can be enjoyment in running with a crowd that engages in a pleasure-oriented, loose way of living. But the enjoyment is only temporary. Wisely, Moses did not choose such a course. “By faith Moses, when grown up, refused to be called the son of the daughter of Pharaoh, choosing to be ill-treated with the people of God rather than to have the temporary enjoyment of sin, . . . for he looked intently toward the payment of the reward.” (Heb. 11:24-26) It amounts to what is most important to us. Is it simply satisfying our own selfish inclinations? Or is it doing what pleases our Creator and serving the interests of his Kingdom government?
21. (a) How did Jesus present the choice that we all have to make? (b) What choice are you determined to make?
21 Really, there are but two choices. Christ compared it to the choice of either one of two roads. One road, he said, is “broad and spacious.” On it travelers are permitted freedom ‘to do their own thing.’ The other road, however, is “cramped.” Yes, those on that road are required to adhere to God’s direction. The majority, Jesus noted, are taking the broad road, only a few the narrow one. Which will you choose? In making your choice, keep this in mind: The broad road will abruptly come to a dead end—destruction! On the other hand, the narrow road will lead right through into God’s new system where you can live on forever as a loyal Kingdom subject. (Matt. 7:13, 14) So the choice is yours! What will it be?
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The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were intent on saving their positions in human government. Therefore, they took counsel to kill him
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The “pure language” of Bible truth must be learned by subjects of God’s government
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When Peter sought to defend his Master, Jesus told him: “Return your sword to its place.” Today loyal subjects of God’s kingdom do not engage in physical warfare
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Abraham’s obedience proved he trusted God implicitly. Similarly, we show our loyal support for His government by zealous Kingdom preaching