Organized to Serve Jehovah
“The reason I left you behind in Crete was for you to get everything organised there.”—TITUS 1:5, The Jerusalem Bible.
1. What did the first president of the United States say about a difference in religious sentiments?
IN A personal letter of October 20, 1792, the first president of the United States, George Washington, wrote: “Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by a difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought most to be deprecated. I was in hopes that the enlightened and liberal policy, which has marked the present age, would at least have reconciled Christians of every denomination so far that we should never again see their religious disputes carried to such a pitch as to endanger the peace of society.”
2. How have some reacted to the profusion of religions?
2 Today, many are similarly distressed by the profusion of religions and have shunned all religious affiliation. Others are church members but speak of their own ‘personal relationship with God.’ What, then, are the facts? Does God deal with people solely on an individual basis? What does the Bible indicate?
Does God Care About Us?
3. Using scriptures, how would you answer the question, Does God care about us as individuals?
3 The Scriptures reveal that Jehovah does show concern for people as individuals. For instance, in the field of human relations, God’s Word makes such statements as these: “He that is holding the one of little means in derision has reproached his Maker.” “He that is defrauding the lowly one has reproached his Maker, but the one showing favor to the poor one is glorifying Him,” that is, Jehovah God. (Proverbs 17:5; 14:31) Actually, “God loved the world [of mankind] so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16, 36) Moreover, the apostle Peter stated: “For a certainty I perceive that God is not partial, but in every nation the man that fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him.” (Acts 10:34, 35) So Jehovah does care about individuals and approves of those who fear him and do what is righteous.
4. What questions arise for our consideration?
4 The Bible also states: “Jehovah knows those who belong to him.” (2 Timothy 2:19) But does this mean that individuals here and there throughout many religious organizations of the world are acceptable to God? Or should it be expected that such persons would be associating with one another, would be organized to serve Jehovah?
Jehovah—A God of Organization
5. How do the holy angels function in relation to Jehovah?
5 God’s inspired Word gives us some insight into his way of doing things. For instance, consider the invisible heavens. Are circumstances chaotic there? No indeed! The myriads of spirit creatures are not functioning independently of Jehovah in some haphazard manner. Rather, we read: “Bless Jehovah, O you angels of his, mighty in power, carrying out his word, by listening to the voice of his word. Bless Jehovah, all you armies of his, you ministers of his, doing his will.” (Psalm 103:20, 21) Clearly, the holy angels are well organized to serve Jehovah.
6. As what did Noah’s family start off after the Flood?
6 But what about the human realm? Well, the Deluge of Noah’s day brought an end to all antediluvian organizations that might have existed on earth—except one. Noah and the seven other Flood survivors emerged from the ark as a family organization. A matter of prime importance to them was the rendering of united worship to God, for we read: “Noah began to build an altar to Jehovah and to take some of all the clean beasts and of all the clean flying creatures and to offer burnt offerings upon the altar.” The Flood survivors did not immediately go their separate ways religiously, but they were all together for this significant event that culminated in blessing, instruction and a covenant originating with God. (Genesis 8:18–9:17) Yes, after the Deluge, Noah’s family started off as an organization that served Jehovah.
7. As regards organization, what do we learn from the book of Exodus?
7 The descendants of Abraham were richly favored by Jehovah, and nobody can reasonably deny that they eventually became a national organization. Why, the Bible book of Exodus alone shows how they were delivered from Egyptian bondage and were organized as a theocracy! The book identifies Jehovah as the God of theocratic organization. When the Israelites obeyed God’s Law, they were able to worship him as an orderly, secure and joyful organization. They were undeniably organized to serve Jehovah.*
8. What evidence of good organization was seen in connection with service at Jehovah’s earthly sanctuary?
8 Evidence of fine organization was seen in connection with service at Jehovah’s earthly sanctuary. For instance, concerning the Levites, we read: “David organized them in divisions corresponding to the sons of Levi: Gershom, Kohath and Merari.” Similarly, “divisions of the sons of Aaron” were set up. With the help of Zadok and Ahimelech, “David organized them according to the appointed duties in their service . . . They organized them by lot.” Of later times, we read: “Jehoiada posted watchmen for the house of the LORD under the direction of the Levitical priests and the Levites whom David had organized to be in charge of the house of the LORD to offer burnt offerings to the LORD, as it is written in the law of Moses, with rejoicing and with singing, according to the order of David.” (1 Chronicles 23:2-6; 24:1-6; 2 Chronicles 23:18, Revised Standard Version) Yes, divisions of priests and Levites were organized to serve Jehovah.
What About Christianity?
9. What evidence is there that Jesus Christ organized his followers for service to Jehovah?
9 When Jesus Christ was on earth, he did not tell all those believing in him to go their separate ways and concentrate only on a ‘personal relationship with God.’ Rather, disciples gathered to Jesus, and from among them he selected 12 men as apostles. Their selection was made after a night in prayer and thus with the help and approval of Jehovah. (Luke 6:12-16) This bespeaks organization that had divine backing. Moreover, Jesus organized his followers into a well-instructed group of Kingdom proclaimers. For instance, he imparted needed instruction to the 70 disciples he sent out in an organized fashion.—Luke 10:1-24.
10. How do the Scriptures show that Jesus’ early followers were well organized?
10 The Christian Greek Scriptures plainly show that Jesus’ early followers were well organized. They did not rely only on personal reading of the Scriptures. Rather, congregations were established and met regularly to study God’s Word. These congregations were not independent, autonomous units, but they worked together in love. For instance, congregations exchanged heartfelt greetings, and organized groups in Macedonia ‘kept begging for the privilege of giving’ something to help needy “holy ones” elsewhere. (1 Corinthians 16:19, 20; 2 Corinthians 8:1-7; Colossians 4:14-16) Yes, the early Christian congregations cooperated with one another under the direction of a governing body comprised of the apostles and older men at Jerusalem.—Acts 15:1–16:5.
11. Why should we expect “God’s congregation” to be well organized?
11 The apostle Paul helped to establish some of the well-organized congregations that came into existence because of God’s blessing upon the preaching work. Furthermore, Paul said that Jehovah “is a God, not of disorder, but of peace.” The apostle also pointed out that “God has organized the body” of Jesus Christ’s anointed followers as it pleases Him. Hence, we should expect “God’s congregation” to be well organized and to function peacefully, harmoniously.—1 Corinthians 14:33; 12:24, The Riverside New Testament; 1 Timothy 3:5.
12, 13. (a) What has been said about the congregations organized by Jesus’ apostles? (b) In harmony with the first-century pattern, who care for congregational matters among Jehovah’s Witnesses?
12 Regarding the organization of Jesus’ followers, historian J. L. von Mosheim wrote: “If . . . what no Christian can doubt, the apostles of Jesus Christ acted by a divine command and guidance, then that form of the primitive churches which they derived from the church of Jerusalem, erected and organized by the apostles themselves, must be accounted divine.”—Institutes of Ecclesiastical History, Ancient and Modern, Volume I, pages 67-8.
13 Jehovah’s Witnesses are convinced that the first-century congregations of Jesus’ followers were organized in accord with the divine will. In harmony with that pattern, therefore, among the Witnesses today overseers and ministerial servants are appointed by holy spirit to care for congregational matters.—Acts 20:28; Philippians 1:1.
14. (a) How were the first-century Christian congregations supervised? (b) Why did the apostle Paul leave Titus in Crete?
14 During the first century, the apostles and older men in Jerusalem had general supervision of the congregations, although certain men exercised oversight in particular areas and might delegate some authority to others. (Acts 14:21-23; 15:1, 2) Accordingly, the apostle Paul assigned the Christian overseer Titus to care for certain matters on the Mediterranean island of Crete. In this regard, Paul told Titus: “The reason I left you behind in Crete was for you to get everything organised there and appoint elders in every town, in the way that I told you.” (Titus 1:5, JB) We can be quite sure that the instructions provided in the letter to Titus helped him to carry out that assignment so that Christians there might be well organized to serve Jehovah.
Why Be Well Organized Today?
15, 16. For what reasons here given can we say that those acceptable to Jehovah cannot merely have ‘a personal relationship with God’ and be scattered throughout the world’s religious bodies?
15 So far, it has been shown Scripturally that good organization was a hallmark of Jehovah’s servants in times past. Therefore, circumstances are the same today. And there are excellent reasons why Jehovah’s modern-day witnesses should be well organized.
16 Those acceptable to Jehovah cannot each have only a ‘personal relationship with God’ and be scattered throughout the world’s religious bodies. Jehovah demands true worship and is about to bring an end to Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion. (John 4:24; James 1:27; Revelation 18:1-8) Furthermore, unity is required of true Christians. Today especially must they be together in one organization so as to comply fully with the apostle Paul’s counsel: “Now I exhort you, brothers, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you should all speak in agreement, and that there should not be divisions among you, but that you may be fitly united in the same mind and in the same line of thought.”—1 Corinthians 1:10.
17. How do the words of Hebrews 10:24, 25 show that servants of Jehovah God and Jesus Christ must all be part of one organization?
17 Moreover, true Christians are not to forsake the gathering of themselves together in regular meetings. Especially is that so today, as the end of this system of things draws near. (Hebrews 10:24, 25) Obviously, to follow that inspired counsel genuine servants of Jehovah God and Jesus Christ must all be part of one organization.
18. (a) How does 1 John 1:3 show that all anointed Christians must be together in one organization? (b) Jesus’ spirit-anointed followers have been joined by whom in this “time of the end,” and what are the facts regarding cooperation among all of Jehovah’s Witnesses?
18 The Scriptures call for fellowship among Jesus’ anointed followers. In this regard, the apostle John wrote: “What we have seen and heard we are reporting to you too in order that you too may have solidarity [a sharing; fellowship] with us. And, too, our solidarity is with the Father and with his son Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:3, Byington; New World Translation; Authorized Version) If Jesus’ anointed followers each had only a ‘personal relationship with God’ and were not joined together in a single organization, how could they enjoy this solidarity, fellowship or sharing? This requirement can be met only by being organized. Today, Jesus’ spirit-begotten followers have been joined by a “great crowd” of “other sheep.” According to Jesus’ description of sheeplike ones, we should expect these “other sheep” to cooperate so fully with his anointed followers that all together they would be “one flock” under him as the “one shepherd.” (Revelation 7:9; John 10:16) And that is exactly what we find to be the case among Jehovah’s servants in this “time of the end.” (Daniel 12:4) As one globe-encircling brotherhood, all of Jehovah’s Witnesses are well organized to serve God.—Compare 1 Peter 2:17.
19. Why does fulfilling the preaching commission require cooperation within one spirit-directed organization?
19 Fulfilling the commission to preach and make disciples also requires cooperation within one unified organization. (Matthew 28:19, 20; Acts 1:6-8) If each professing Christian had only a ‘personal relationship with God’ and was associated with just any religious group at all, how could the witnessing commission be carried out? Why, some would, in effect, be saying “Shibboleth” and others “Sibboleth”! (Judges 12:4-6) How would hearers of such diverse messages know what to believe? Anointed Christians must ‘earnestly endeavor to observe the oneness of the spirit in the uniting bond of peace,’ and among them there is to be “one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all.” (Ephesians 4:1-6) There must be agreement among all true Christians, a unified message, if people are to hear what is correct, put genuine faith in the true God and call upon Jehovah’s name with the prospect of being saved. Moreover, one spirit-directed organization must be used in connection with the sending forth of those truthful preachers of the “good news.”—Romans 10:11-15.
20. What single organization is now fulfilling Matthew 24:14, and what evidence is there that God favors such well-organized activity?
20 Then, too, in keeping with Jesus’ prophecy concerning his “presence” and “the conclusion of the system of things,” there has to be one unified organization ‘preaching this good news of the kingdom in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations before the end comes.’ (Matthew 24:3, 14) Today, Jehovah’s Witnesses alone are declaring the good news that the Kingdom has been functioning in the heavens since 1914 with Jesus Christ as King. There are more than 2,650,000 of these well-organized Kingdom proclaimers, and their ranks are swelling rapidly because of God’s blessing.—Isaiah 43:10-12; 60:22.
21. As regards Jehovah’s organization, what will we next consider?
21 In these critical “last days,” what a privilege it is to be among the throngs so well organized to serve Jehovah! (2 Timothy 3:1) There is a sound Scriptural basis for all those wholeheartedly devoted to God to continue serving loyally with his organized people. And as we shall see, there are good reasons for building a secure and happy future with Jehovah’s organization.
Please see The Watchtower of October 15, 1983, pages 28-31.
What Would You Say?
□ How do the holy angels function in relation to Jehovah?
□ What evidence of good organization was there in ancient Israel?
□ How would you prove Scripturally that Jesus Christ’s early followers were well organized?
□ Why does preaching the Kingdom message require cooperation within one organization?
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In David’s day, divisions of priests and Levites were organized to serve Jehovah
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The governing body provided direction for the well-organized first-century congregations