Go! Make Disciples
1, 2. (a) How would the expression “the most distant part of the earth” take on new scope as time went by? (b) How did Jesus show that the Christian commission to witness would not end with the first-century Christians?
BOTH timewise and geographywise, Jesus’ parting commission to be witnesses to the ends of the earth, as recorded in Acts 1:8, did not end with the early Christians. They did a fine job telling out the “good news” as far as they could go “in all the world” or ‘in all creation under heaven’ in their day. (Col. 1:5, 6, 23) But as time went by those expressions would take on new scope, as the ever-increasing population sprawled out over six continents and countless islands, literally “to the most distant part of the earth.”
2 Jesus was well aware of this. For the benefit of all his disciples—not only the first-century Christians but all Christians down through the years, and especially those Christians living on earth during “the conclusion of the system of things”—the resurrected Christ stated:
“All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth. 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.”—Matt. 28:18-20.
3. According to one scholar, what work would anointed Christians have to accomplish?
3 Here is proof for any who need it that the commission Christ gave his disciples on the day of his ascension was not completely fulfilled in the first century C.E. It would go on being fulfilled right up to the “conclusion of the system of things.” By whom? Interestingly, regarding Acts 1:8, Rylands Professor F. F. Bruce writes: “As Jesus Himself had been anointed at His baptism with the Holy Spirit and power, so His followers were now to be similarly anointed and enabled to carry on His work. This work would be a work of witness-bearing—a theme which is prominent in the apostolic preaching throughout Acts (cf. Chs. Ac 2:32; 3:15; 5:32; 10:39; 13:31; 22:15, etc.). An OT [Old Testament] prophet had called Israel to be God’s witnesses in the world (Isa. 43:10; 44:8); the task which Israel as a nation had not fulfilled was taken up by Jesus, as the perfect Servant of the Lord, and passed on by Him to His disciples.”
4. Since when have the remnant been fulfilling this commission, and why did this take tremendous faith?
4 Yes, the commission to be witnesses to the ends of the earth and to make disciples of people of all the nations at this “conclusion of the system of things” has been passed on to the anointed remnant of spiritual Israel, who are collectively Jehovah’s “servant” and his “witnesses.” (Isa. 43:10-12) They have been faithfully fulfilling this commission particularly since 1919. But how could these few thousand spirit-begotten Christians reach the billions of humans scattered “to the most distant part of the earth”? What tremendous faith it took even to envisage undertaking such a task!
5. What means has helped modern-day Christians to spread the witness to the ends of the earth?
5 Reread the modern history of Jehovah’s Witnessesa and you will see that one of the principal means used to spread the Kingdom message far and wide has been by the distribution of magazines, namely, The Watchtower and its companion magazine Awake! (formerly The Golden Age, then Consolation). These Bible-based periodicals have been distributed literally by the billionsb in over 100 languages and to the four corners of the earth.
“ARMIES OF CAVALRY”
6, 7. (a) How are the anointed remnant symbolized in Revelation, chapter 9, and what do they have at their disposal? (b) What do these picture? (c) What comment did the book “Then Is Finished the Mystery of God” make on this prophecy?
6 In Revelation, chapter 9, the anointed remnant are symbolized by “four angels,” or messengers, released from captivity to Babylon the Great, “at the great river Euphrates.” (Re 9 Verses 14, 15) These liberated messengers have at their disposal “armies of cavalry” numbering “two myriads of myriads,” or 200,000,000, used for, symbolically speaking, ‘killing’ a large fraction of humanity. (Re 9 Verses 16-19) The “horses” in this vision picture the means used by the anointed remnant to publicize Jehovah’s judgment messages directed particularly against Christendom, the most reprehensible part of “Babylon the Great” (the world empire of false religion).
7 Explaining this fascinating vision, the book “Then Is Finished the Mystery of God” states: “The charging of these symbolic ‘horses’ increased greatly when the Watch Tower’s magazines began to be offered on the streets, from house to house, from store to store.” (Pages 246, 247) So, while these symbolic “horses” include books, booklets and tracts, undoubtedly the magazines have played, and are still playing, an important part in spreading the Kingdom witness “to the most distant part of the earth.”c
8. How have the anointed remnant also obeyed Christ’s command to ‘go make disciples’?
8 Not only have the anointed remnant zealously and courageously led such symbolic cavalry against the bastions of false religion, but they have also heeded Christ’s command to ‘go make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them.’ Since 1935 an increasing number of persons have read the judgment messages published against the world empire of false religion and have obeyed the divine order to ‘get out of “Babylon the Great.” ’ (Rev. 18:1-4) They have dedicated themselves to Jehovah God and have been baptized “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit.” Having themselves been helped by The Watchtower and Awake!, they have joined the anointed remnant in disseminating these fine magazines far and wide, yes, “to the extremity of the earth.”—Isa. 49:6.
ARE YOU AN ACTIVE PROCLAIMER OF THE “GOOD NEWS”?
9. What is the duty of each and every Christian?
9 The order to be witnesses “to the most distant part of the earth” and to go “make disciples of people of all the nations” applies to all who claim to be Christians. Hence, all dedicated witnesses of Jehovah should have a deep, heartfelt determination to share in fulfilling that blessed commission.
10. (a) What should members of the “great crowd” remember? (b) What, however, has been the attitude of some?
10 If you are now a member of the “great crowd,” described in Revelation 7:9-17, remember that in order to “come out of the great tribulation” you have to “keep on . . . saying: ‘Salvation we owe to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb,’” and you must not stop “rendering him [Jehovah] sacred service day and night in his temple.” Lately, however, some have adopted the attitude that it is sufficient to attend the Memorial of Christ’s death once a year, keep abreast of current Bible knowledge by reading the Watch Tower Society’s publications, attend meetings from time to time and let their light shine merely by leading a good life and giving an occasional witness if and when the opportunity to do so occurs.
11. Can the Christian commission be fulfilled merely by leading a good life, or how else?
11 But is this enough? How could the Christian witness have been given “to the most distant part of the earth” if the early Christians and the modern-day anointed remnant had just stayed where they were, leading good lives? In order to ‘make disciples of people of all nations,’ they first had to “GO”! Yes, they had to get out and witness “from house to house” and “in people’s homes.” (Acts 5:42, New World Translation; Today’s English Version) This public witnessing is an indispensable part of our “sacred service.”
12. What may some have forgotten, and what are these now encouraged to do?
12 Where do you stand? Have you been a Kingdom publisher who found inward joy in making known the “good news” and also Jehovah’s judgments by means of the symbolic “horses,” particularly the Society’s magazines? If you have slowed down or even stopped altogether, is it because you have lost sight of the spiritual significance of such activities, namely, helping the anointed remnant to fulfill their commission to “proclaim the year of goodwill on the part of Jehovah and the day of vengeance on the part of our God”? (Isa. 61:1, 2, 5) Then it is high time for you to rediscover that joy by again busying yourself in Jehovah’s service.
DO YOU HAVE DIFFICULTY IN EXPRESSING YOURSELF?
13, 14. (a) Why may some have held back from witnessing from house to house? (b) What practical suggestions are made to help them to overcome their timidity?
13 Perhaps you have found witnessing from house to house difficult because you are not fluent in expressing yourself. Or maybe you are among the millions who appreciate reading the Society’s magazines and meeting with Jehovah’s Witnesses in their Kingdom Halls, but who have never taken part in house-to-house witnessing because they are afraid they will not know what to say. You are well aware that the witness must be given “to the most distant part of the earth” and that disciples must be made among “people of all the nations,” but you just do not feel capable yourself of facing the people at their doors. You know you should do it, and you meet the Scriptural qualifications, but you feel you cannot. Your heart is full of appreciation for the truth of God’s Word, but your legs just refuse to carry you to that first door because you are afraid that your lips will not find the words you need. What can you do about it?
14 You might start by taking your Bible and rereading Romans 10:8-15. That should set your feet tingling to get out and “declare good news of good things.” Next, pray to Jehovah for strength—yes, to “him who imparts power.” (Phil. 4:13; compare Acts 1:8.) Then, the next time you go to the Kingdom Hall or to your local congregation book study, ask one of the Christian elders to put you in touch with a Witness who has had some experience in telling out the “good news” from house to house. This Kingdom publisher will not expect you to engage the householders in Bible-based conversations right from the start. Most likely he (or she) will suggest that you spend a little time together considering the latest issues of The Watchtower and Awake! before going together from door to door to present these fine magazines to the public.
15. Why is the magazine work an ideal way to gain experience in house-to-house witnessing and in starting home Bible studies?
15 Witnessing with magazines is an ideal way to get started or to get busy again in the work of preaching and making disciples. It is undoubtedly one of the easiest and best ways of getting out among the people and gaining experience in witnessing from house to house. Each issue provides new talking points. In addition, if you call back on all those who accept a magazine, soon you will have a list of people you can call on regularly with the latest issues. You will gradually get to know these people. Such features as the series “Have You Ever Wondered . . . ?” (in Awake!) will enable you to start a conversation and even begin a Bible study. Read the first paragraph to the householder, ask the first printed question (subtitle)—allowing the person to reply—before reading the following paragraph and any scriptures cited. Then go on to the next question (subtitle), and so on for the time the householder has available. Why not try this? You will be amazed at the joy and godly contentment you feel by regularly rendering to Jehovah such “sacred service.”—Rev. 7:15.
YOUNG CHRISTIANS, GET THOSE “HORSES” MOVING!
16. What scriptures show that young Christians are also involved?
16 The responsibility to be “witnesses . . . to the most distant part of the earth” rests upon all Christians, young and old. The prophetic 110th Psalm says of Christ:
“The rod of your strength Jehovah will send out of Zion, saying.: ‘Go subduing in the midst of your enemies.’ Your people will offer themselves willingly on the day of your military force. In the splendors of holiness, from the womb of the dawn, you have your company of young men just like dewdrops.” (Ps. 110:2, 3)
Another Messianic psalm speaks of “virgins” who would be “companions” of Christ’s bride. (Ps. 45:13, 14) Both of these passages apply to the anointed remnant and to the “great crowd” that literally includes you “young men” and “virgins.” So you, too, must ‘offer yourselves willingly’ and be loyal “companions” to the remaining ones of the anointed bride class still on earth, also symbolized by the “four angels” who are directing the “armies of cavalry” against Satan’s religious world empire.—Rev. 9:15-19; 21:2, 9.
17. How are many fine young men and women performing “sacred service”?
17 Many such young men and women are performing “sacred service” at the Brooklyn headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses and in the 97 branches located throughout the earth. There, they willingly perform various tasks directly connected with the preparation and the shipping of the symbolic “horses”—publications containing judgment messages related to the “day of vengeance on the part of our God” and setting forth also comforting truths about “the year of goodwill on the part of Jehovah.” (Isa. 61:1, 2) All these willing ones not only share in preparing the “horses” for use in the field, but also take part in the actual field service, making extensive use of such “horses,” particularly the magazines.
18. (a) How are other young Christians proving themselves to be zealous companions of the remnant? (b) How do the King and his “brothers” consider their zeal?
18 Other young Christians “offer themselves willingly” and prove themselves to be zealous companions of the anointed remnant by serving as “pioneers,” that is, by devoting at least 1,000 hours a year to the public witnessing work. The zeal of all these young Christians is highly regarded by the King Jesus Christ and his anointed “brothers” still on the earth.—Compare Matthew 25:34-40.
19. What encouragement is given to all other young Christians?
19 But there are many thousands of other “young men” and “virgins” within the congregations of Jehovah’s people. Are you ‘offering yourselves willingly on the day of Christ’s military force’? Or are you letting the symbolic “horses” pile up in your room or lie dormant in your witnessing bag? Get those “horses” moving! Get out into the field during your afterschool hours, your midweek break (where this arrangement exists), weekends and the various vacation periods you have throughout the year. The auxiliary pioneer service gives you a wonderful opportunity to ‘offer yourselves willingly’ for “sacred service.” And the magazine work is a method of Christian witnessing that is especially appropriate for you young ones. It is within your reach and it can produce fine results.
ACTIVE WITNESSES UP UNTIL THE END
20, 21. (a) What commission did Christ give to first-century Christians and to those living in the “last days”? (b) The testimony of a history professor shows what? (c) How have Jehovah’s Witnesses used the magazines to this end?
20 To the early Christians Jesus stated: “You will be witnesses of me . . . to the most distant part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) To Christians living in the “last days,” or the “time of the end,” he stated prophetically: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.”—Matt. 24:14; Dan. 12:4; 2 Tim. 3:1.
21 The Jewish high priest, an archenemy of the early Christians, ruefully admitted: “Look! you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching.” (Acts 5:28) In his book These Also Believe, history professor Charles Braden wrote: “Jehovah’s Witnesses have literally covered the earth with their witnessing. . . . It may be truly said that no single religious group in the world displayed more zeal and persistence in the attempt to spread the good news of the Kingdom than the Jehovah’s Witnesses.” Although numbering only a few thousand in 1919, the anointed remnant accepted the challenge. Through the “power” of the holy spirit and with increasing help from the ever-expanding “great crowd” of their companions, they have indeed “literally covered the earth with their witnessing.” From 1919 to 1980, these Christians have distributed over four and three-quarter billion copies of The Watchtower and its companion magazine (The Golden Age; Consolation; now Awake!).
22. What do the facts show, and so what are we all encouraged to do?
22 These two fine Christian magazines have been and continue to be important means for witnessing to the ends of the earth and making “disciples of people of all the nations.” (Matt. 28:19, 20) The facts show that there is still much witnessing to be done. So to your “horses” all you faithful Christian witnesses! Get them and keep them moving out in the “field,” and may Jehovah continue to bless the intensive use of The Watchtower and Awake! in the days ahead.
a See the books Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Divine Purpose and the 1975 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses, published by the Watch Tower Society.
b Between 1919 and 1980, 4,767,784,340 magazines were distributed throughout the world by Jehovah’s Witnesses, not including the millions of copies sent by mail to Watchtower and Awake! subscribers. This is more than twice the number of tracts and booklets distributed over the same period.
c For a full explanation of this prophecy, see the book “Then Is Finished the Mystery of God,” pages 238-247.
[Chart on page 19]
Distribution Chart of Worldwide Activity
Years Tracts & Pamphlets Magazines Bound Books Total
1917 419,078,170 (Mags. included) 9,894,056 428,972,226
1918 102,775 13,140 256,609 372,524
1980 2,322,888,592 4,767,784,340 450,642,739 7,541,315,671
Totals 2,742,069,537 4,767,797,480 460,793,404 7,970,660,421