Unified In Publishing the Word of Jehovah
“Have among yourselves the same mental attitude that Christ Jesus had, that with one accord you may with one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”—ROMANS 15:5, 6.
1. (a) What is Jehovah’s arrangement for unifying his people? (b) What do the Scriptures indicate as to the order of this unification?
JEHOVAH has gathered his witnesses into a precious global unity. This is in line with God’s household arrangement that the apostle Paul describes at Ephesians 1:10: “An administration at the full limit of the appointed times, namely, to gather all things together again in the Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth.” First to be gathered are those of the “little flock” of anointed heaven-bound Christians and afterward those of the “great crowd . . . out of all nations” who look forward to surviving into the righteous “new earth” of God’s promise.—Luke 12:32; Revelation 7:3, 4, 9, 13-17; 21:1, 5.
2. What makes it possible for Jehovah’s Witnesses to speak “with one accord”?
2 “With one accord”—that is the way these witnesses of Jehovah speak forth his Kingdom message. Why are they able to do this? It is because, around our globe, they display “the same mental attitude that Christ Jesus had” while on earth. He was no part of this proud world. Rather, he humbled himself in doing God’s will and in building up a warm, loving unity among his disciples. This was the start of a global unification that distinguished true Christians during the centuries to follow.—Philippians 2:5-8; John 13:34, 35; 17:14.
3. (a) What sharp contrast is to be seen on earth today? (b) How do the Scriptures help in identifying the global society of true Christians?
3 This unity of organization has reached its most wonderful expression during these “last days,” standing out in sharp contrast with the divisions afflicting Satan’s system of things, where hatred and lawlessness are rampant. (2 Timothy 3:1-5, 13; Matthew 24:3, 12) Never before in the history of mankind has there existed around our earth, in 203 lands, an organization that is in full accord as to belief, purpose and activity. This global society of Jesus’ disciples may be recognized by the fruit that it bears.—John 15:8; Hebrews 13:15; Galatians 5:22, 23.
Unity of Action
4. (a) What controversy arose in the first-century congregation? (b) According to Acts 15:1-6, what theocratic action was initiated?
4 Unity of action in Jehovah’s organization is illustrated for us at Acts chapter 15. Picture in your mind’s eye a gathering of mature witnesses of Jehovah—the 11 apostles, other older men of the Jerusalem congregation and Paul and Barnabas, elders from the Antioch congregation. In Antioch, and also in Jerusalem, some converts from among the Jews have been insisting that people of the nations must be circumcised and must observe the Law of Moses in order to be saved. So the apostles and the older men have “gathered together to see about this affair.”—Acts 15:1-6.
5-7. (a) In what sense was there “much disputing”? (b) What testimony was presented? (c) How were the Scriptures brought to bear on the matter? (d) What mature determination did James make, leading to what final decision? (e) What kind of action followed?
5 There is open-minded discussion of the problem, with those devoted men airing all the pros and cons. They do not have their minds made up ahead of time. They are willing to examine the matter from all angles. There is “much disputing,” but obviously they maintain good order and listen respectfully to one another’s views. The apostle Peter bears witness to the fact that God has given holy spirit to uncircumcised people of the nations—surely powerful testimony that physical circumcision is no longer a requirement for those being saved. Barnabas and Paul add to this testimony, describing the many wonderful things that God has accomplished through their ministry to the nations.—Acts 15:7-12.
6 Next, James quotes the Scriptures in support of the argument that has just been presented. He explains that Amos 9:11, 12 points forward to the restoration of divine favor under the Greater David, Jesus Christ, and to Jehovah’s extending undeserved kindness to “all the nations upon whom [his] name has been called.” James sees no need to trouble converts from the nations by insisting that they be circumcised and observe all the rules embodied in the Law of Moses. However, a few things are necessary: They must abstain from idolatry, from partaking of blood in any form and from sexual immorality.—Acts 15:13-21.
7 The governing body in Jerusalem comes to a unanimous decision. It dispatches messengers to the Antioch congregation with a letter that concludes with the encouragement: “If you carefully keep yourselves from these things, you will prosper. Good health to you!”—Acts 15:22-29.
8. (a) How is the modern-day Governing Body guided in making decisions? (b) What are some matters that have been clarified recently?
8 In modern times, the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, representing the Master’s “faithful and discreet slave” on earth, follows the same apostolic pattern. (Matthew 24:45-47) Thus, Christian experience, guidance from the Bible, and the leadings of Jehovah’s spirit direct this group of anointed Witnesses to theocratic conclusions on matters of great concern to the congregation. For example, in recent years the Governing Body has followed the Scriptural procedure in clarifying such matters as the Bible’s view of “ministers,” the God-given conscience, the carrying of lethal weapons, and the extent to which features of Isaiah’s prophecy apply to the future Paradise on earth.—Compare John 14:26; 1 Corinthians 2:10.
9. What procedure must elders follow in handling problems today?
9 The procedure of Acts chapter 15 must be followed also by congregation elders in handling problems today. First, let the problem and related facts be plainly stated. Next, let reliable witnesses give clear, factual evidence bearing on the matter. Search the Scriptures to get Jehovah’s viewpoint, making use also of help that may be available in the Watch Tower Society’s publications. Prayerfully work toward reaching a unanimous solution, in harmony with the teaching of Jehovah’s Word, that will benefit the congregation.—Isaiah 48:17; 1 Corinthians 14:33.
Rejoicing—Then and Now
10. (a) As in the first-century congregation, how should theocratic decisions affect us today? (b) How have modern developments led to strengthening and increasing God’s people?
10 When they heard of the governing body’s decision, members of the congregation in Antioch “rejoiced over the encouragement.” Similarly today, Jehovah’s Witnesses rejoice to learn of organizational decisions and clarifications of doctrine that promote the spiritual health of God’s people and the advancement of Jehovah’s work. (Compare Titus 2:1.) But it is no longer necessary for the Governing Body to write letters of instruction by hand and to circulate these by messengers traveling on foot. Modern means of communication and printing facilities in more than 30 Watch Tower branches around the earth have made it possible to convey “the good news of the word of Jehovah” to the millions of God’s people in a minimum of time. This is done principally through the Watchtower magazine. Thus, the congregations worldwide continue “to be made firm in the faith and to increase in number from day to day.”—Acts 15:30–16:5.
11. How has Jehovah used The Watchtower in fulfilling Isaiah 30:18-21?
11 Those who have read The Watchtower over the years have rejoiced also to see its increasing circulation. In 105 years of publication, this expanded from 6,000 copies in English once a month to 11,150,000 copies in 102 languages, all major editions being semimonthly. Unquestionably, The Watchtower has been used mightily by our Grand Instructor, Jehovah God, in fulfilling the promise: “Happy are all those keeping in expectation of him. . . . Your own ears will hear a word behind you saying: ‘This is the way. Walk in it, you people,’ in case you people should go to the right or in case you should go to the left.”—Isaiah 30:18-21.
12. (a) Why do we now have further cause for rejoicing? (b) How should this new arrangement benefit us?
12 Now there is further reason to rejoice. Starting into the year 1985, The Watchtower is being published simultaneously, as to contents, in 23 languages!* All these editions have the same cover design. They contain the same series of opening articles and the same articles for study. This provides for a simultaneous “feeding” program that will unite Jehovah’s people in growing spiritually “until we all attain to the oneness in the faith.” It should stimulate us the more, that ‘with one accord we may with one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.’—Ephesians 4:13; Romans 15:6.
13. (a) How extensive is this program? (b) What application of 1 Corinthians 1:10 may therefore be made?
13 When you hold this magazine in your hand at the weekly congregation study of The Watchtower, does it not thrill you to know that most of your brothers worldwide will be unified in partaking of this same spiritual food on the same day? Yes, this will be happening in all of North and South America, in most of Europe, in Japan and in many places in southern Africa! It is estimated that already more than 90 percent of those attending the Watchtower study around the earth—some 2,500,000 persons each week—are now sharing in this simultaneous “feeding” arrangement. Together, these are being “fitly united in the same mind and in the same line of thought.” (1 Corinthians 1:10) As circumstances permit, other languages will be added.
14. How will families be benefited?
14 Hitherto, because of language differences, members of one family may have been months apart in studying particular Watchtower articles. But now they can be united in this respect. For example, immigrant parents better acquainted with another language may sit down with their English-speaking children to prepare together the same week’s Watchtower lesson in both languages. In bilingual families, parents will be better equipped to carry out the instruction of Ephesians 6:4 and; 2 Timothy 3:14, 15.
15. (a) In our public ministry, what can we now do in line with Isaiah 52:8, 9? (b) What is made possible for early 1985, and for the future?
15 Consider, too, our public ministry with the magazines. In this additional way, Kingdom publishers around the globe can now “cry out joyfully in unison” as they present identical information to the world public at the same time. (Isaiah 52:8, 9) In doing magazine street witnessing in multilanguage territories, publishers can display magazines with the same cover theme in two or more languages. Think of it! During the early part of 1985, Kingdom publishers all over the earth will be giving a rousing, united testimony concerning Armageddon! In due time, Jehovah may direct his people to make other powerful, unified declarations worldwide as they serve “side by side for the faith of the good news.” (Philippians 1:27) The simultaneous publication of The Watchtower in many languages will make possible such pronouncements.—Compare Daniel 11:44.
16. (a) What does this Watchtower tell us about magazine activity on pages 8, 9, and 25? (b) Why do people need our magazines today?
16 During the year 1984, Jehovah’s Witnesses have given wide distribution to the companion magazines The Watchtower and Awake! This activity has been richly blessed by Jehovah, as can be seen from the statistics published on pages 8, 9, and 25 in this magazine. Worldwide, the field distribution of our magazines during 1984 increased by 11.1 percent to a grand total of 287,358,064, while placements of magazine subscriptions increased by 3.2 percent to 1,812,221. There is no question that more and more people are wanting to know why the nations are in anguish, “not knowing the way out.” (Luke 21:25, 26) Parents want a happy future for their children—something better than an earth roasted in a nuclear war. Our magazines hold out a living hope!—Matthew 12:18, 21; Romans 15:4.
17. How will our magazines help us to resist the Devil?
17 What, then, of 1985? The message in The Watchtower and Awake! is becoming ever more pointed. This is to be expected as the last days for Satan’s world wind down. (Revelation 12:12) Make no mistake! The Devil would like to discourage us from sharing regularly in Jehovah’s service. Yes, Satan would like to separate us from the body of God’s people and its activity, and so devour us. (1 Peter 5:8) But we can resist him by regularly meeting to take in accurate knowledge, and by using this increased knowledge in serving Jehovah.—Ephesians 6:11, 14-16; Colossians 1:9-11.
18 Are you a Kingdom publisher? If so, you hold the key position in the modern-day theocratic society. As a dedicated Christian, you may have other responsibilities in the congregation. Yet, in living up to Jehovah’s name, you must be a zealous minister in the field. United in brotherly love and in having tender affection for one another, let all of us continue to be aglow with the spirit as we “slave for Jehovah.” (Romans 12:10, 11) No matter what pressures we experience from Satan and his world, we must continue as one body, yes, ‘with one accord and with one mouth,’ to glorify Jehovah by making known his Kingdom purposes.
19. (a) How can we successfully contend with persecutions and other problems? (b) What counsel does Zephaniah 3:8, 9 provide for us?
19 Many of us have to contend with persecution or with territories that are unresponsive to our preaching. However, let us continue to show the same mental attitude that Christ Jesus had. (John 16:33; 1 Peter 4:1, 2) As a united body let us manifest true courage—the internal spiritual strength that endures and does not crumble under pressure. (Psalm 27:14; Philippians 1:14) Let us never slack the hand in searching for sheeplike ones. Let us keep ourselves “in expectation” of Jehovah and his day of reckoning, serving him shoulder to shoulder as we call upon his name and speak the “pure language” of truth.—Zephaniah 3:8, 9.
20. (a) How can we find true happiness? (b) Isaiah 11:6-9 has had what remarkable fulfillment?
20 Unitedly, may all who glorify God “put on the new personality which was created according to God’s will in true righteousness and loyalty.” (Ephesians 4:24) This results in true happiness. It is illustrated at Isaiah 11:6-9, which tells of the spiritual paradise now existing among Jehovah’s restored people. What peace and harmony! What absence of greedy, harmful personality traits! As the finale of this paradisaic description, we note these words: “They will not do any harm or cause any ruin in all my holy mountain; because the earth will certainly be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters are covering the very sea.” Jehovah’s “holy mountain” of united worship is firmly established today in all the earth. Why? It is because Jehovah has moved his witnesses to glorify his name ‘with one accord and with one mouth.’ Thus “the earth,” the spiritual estate of His people, has been filled with “the knowledge of Jehovah.”
21. Why should we give our magazines the widest possible distribution?
21 May we, in the strength that Jehovah provides, give The Watchtower and its companion magazine Awake! the widest possible distribution. And may we do so in the hope that all the ends of the earth and all the families of the nations, representatively, “will remember and turn back to Jehovah.”—Psalm 22:27; Revelation 15:4.
These languages are: Afrikaans, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, and Thai; the African dialects: Sepedi, Sesotho, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, and Zulu; and two languages in lands where the work of Jehovah’s Witnesses is restricted.
Reviewing This Article—
□ How did the first-century congregation function?
□ What benefits should result from simultaneous publication of The Watchtower?
□ What fine magazine effort was put forth in 1984?
□ How may we prosper spiritually, even in times of trial?