The Finest Friendship Endures in an Unfriendly World
“Make friends for yourselves by means of the unrighteous riches, so that, when such fail, they may receive you into the everlasting dwelling places.”—LUKE 16:9.
1. Why did Proverbs 14:20 not apply to Jesus Christ on earth?
“EVEN to his fellowman one who is of little means is an object of hatred, but many are the friends of the rich person.” (Proverbs 14:20) This proverb of King Solomon of Israel did not apply to the greatest man ever on earth, Jesus Christ, the one greater than Solomon. Jesus did not draw Israelites into intimate association with himself by means of material riches; neither did he recognize earthly wealth as the basis for true, enduring friendship.
2. What friendships did Jesus tell his disciples to make, and for what reason?
2 It is true that on one occasion Jesus said: “Make friends for yourselves by means of the unrighteous riches, so that, when such fail, they may receive you into the everlasting dwelling places.” (Luke 16:9) But the “friends” Jesus had in mind were Jehovah God, the Source of all worthwhile possessions, and himself as the Son of his boundlessly rich Father. If we today follow that same counsel, we are brought into the finest friendship that can be enjoyed on earth, that of Jehovah God by means of his self-sacrificing Son, Jesus Christ.
3. Into what “dwelling places” can these heavenly Friends usher us?
3 Because of their immortal life, these heavenly Ones can remain our firm Friends and can usher us into “everlasting dwelling places.” That is so whether these “everlasting dwelling places” are to be in heaven above with all the holy angels or down here on this earth in Paradise restored.—Luke 23:43.
Admittance Into the Finest Friendship
4. (a) What Bible example shows whether God’s friendship can be bought? (b) In what proper way can we use our possessions?
4 The friendship of the Most High God and of his only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, cannot be bought with money. This fact was emphasized in the case of Ananias and Sapphira in the first-century Christian congregation. Without seeking fame and reputation as they did, we can use our earthly possessions in a way approved by Jehovah God and Jesus Christ. (Acts 5:1-11) This is what was meant when Jesus Christ said: “Use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.”—Luke 16:9, New International Version.
5. What course did Zacchaeus pursue, and with what result?
5 When Jesus spoke those words, he was not seeking to gain the favor of the tax collectors of the Roman Empire and other sinners. He was not interested in gaining any material wealth for himself on earth, for he had told his disciples to lay up treasures for themselves in the heavens above. Zacchaeus, a Jewish tax collector for the Roman government, decided to act upon this counsel of the Messiah Jesus and openly declared his purpose to do so. In view of this action in support of Kingdom interests, the most notable guest of Zacchaeus declared: “This day salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man came to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:1-10) “What was lost” included the tax collector Zacchaeus himself.
6. Into what was Zacchaeus admitted, but whose wrong course serves as a warning?
6 Zacchaeus was admitted into the finest friendship in all the universe, that of the God and Father of the special guest he was then entertaining. Whether Zacchaeus saw Jesus after His resurrection from the dead and was one of about 120 disciples gathered together in an upper room in Jerusalem on the momentous day of Pentecost of 33 C.E. is not stated in the Bible record. Doubtless, though, Zacchaeus was to be found among the 5,000 spirit-begotten, anointed disciples that were reported on shortly thereafter. (Acts, chapters 2 and 4; 1 Corinthians 15:1-6) But what a contrast we have in Ananias and Sapphira, mentioned earlier! Those two individuals associated with the Jerusalem congregation tried to enhance their reputation among the disciples by falsifying the amount of the contribution that they had made. The punishment that befell them for their dishonesty cost them the finest friendship and serves as a warning to all Christians today.—Acts 4:34–5:11.
7. Despite the unfriendliness of this world, what rarity do Jehovah’s Witnesses enjoy?
7 In spite of the unfriendliness of this 20th-century world, Jehovah’s Witnesses continue to enjoy the finest friendship in all existence. But why should they be enjoying this rarity whereas the more than a thousand diverse religious systems are not doing so? The evidence shows that it is because the witnesses of Jehovah have done something vital that the religionists of Christendom have not done. For one thing, the Witnesses have come out of false religious systems, for they recognize that these make up the world empire of false religion, designated in the Bible as Babylon the Great. Of course, getting out of some false religion does not automatically put one into Jehovah’s organization, for a person could join some other religious system of the world empire of false religion.
8. To whom is the command to get out of Babylon the Great directly addressed today?
8 We should note that the divine command to get out of Babylon the Great is addressed to “my people.” (Revelation 18:4) According to the Hebrew Scriptures, this divine call is similar to a command given by God to the exiles of Israel in the land of Babylon. (Isaiah 52:11) Hence, the specification “my people” applies directly to the remnant of the spirit-begotten, anointed disciples of Jesus Christ yet on earth. During World War I of 1914-18, Babylon the Great had taken these anointed ones captive by means of the political, military, and judicial elements of this world in order to put this spiritual remnant out of action. Figuratively speaking, the remnant came into a captive condition, losing freedom of movement in Jehovah’s service.
9. To what extent did Jehovah’s Witnesses have to go in getting out of Babylon the Great?
9 In Revelation chapter 17, Babylon the Great is pictured as a harlot riding a wild beast with seven heads and ten horns. That symbolic wild beast that goes down into the abyss and comes up again pictures the present-day organization for world peace, namely, the United Nations, the successor to the League of Nations that went into the abyss at the outbreak of World War II. So when Jehovah’s people, whom he designates as “my people,” obeyed his call to get out of Babylon the Great, what did they do? They got out not only from under the domination and power of that world empire of false religion but also from under the domination of her political associates, the political elements now embodied in the UN.
10. With what international organization today do Jehovah’s Witnesses have nothing to do, and why so?
10 The anointed remnant have adopted and maintained strict neutrality with regard to the political and military matters of this system of things. (John 15:19) They undividedly stand for the Kingdom of God by Jesus Christ, established in the heavens at the close of the Gentile Times in 1914. In defiance of the Kingdom, the League of Nations was set up and endorsed by Babylon the Great after the end of World War I in 1918. Hence, this international man-made organization is abominable, disgusting to Jehovah God and also to the faithful remnant of spiritual Israelites on earth. They trust in Jehovah’s Kingdom itself and not in any supposed earthly substitute for it. (Matthew 24:15, 16) And so does the modern-day “great crowd,” symbolized by the Nethinim and “the sons of the servants of Solomon.”—Revelation 7:9-17; Ezra 2:43-58.
11. (a) Why is it wrong for Jesus’ disciples to be friends of this world? (b) What attitude does this world take toward Jehovah’s Witnesses, but they continue to enjoy what?
11 When Jesus stood on trial for his life before the Roman governor Pontius Pilate, he said: “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) So it would be totally wrong for Jesus’ “attendants,” or disciples, to be friends of this world. Earlier, Jesus had told the first ones of his “attendants,” the 11 faithful apostles, that they were “no part of the world” of which Satan the Devil is “the ruler.” (John 14:30; 15:19; compare 2 Corinthians 4:4.) This was why the world hated them or was unfriendly toward them. No less so, Jesus’ disciples of this 20th century find themselves in an unfriendly world. Despite this, they continue to enjoy the finest friendship in all the universe, that of the God of the righteous world to come, with its “new heavens and a new earth.”—2 Peter 3:13.
12. When a person gets out of Babylon the Great and away from her worldly paramours, on what side only must he take his stand, and what does this entail?
12 When a person gets out of Babylon the Great and away from her worldly partners, Big Business and Politics and Militarism, there can be only one other place to go. That is onto the side of the universal organization of the one living and true God, Jehovah. There is no middle ground. This requires that an individual endure the unfriendliness of this world, a factor that makes it so hard for a person to decide to forsake Babylon the Great and the world of which it is a vital part.
A “New Name” From the Finest Friend
13. In the first century C.E., what were Jesus’ disciples providentially called?
13 Our cherished friendship with God makes us happy to be called Jehovah’s Witnesses. True, Christ’s disciples of the first century had not adopted the name “Jehovah’s Witnesses.” But please consider their relationship with the finest Friend of all. Acts 11:26 reports: “It was first in Antioch [Syria] that the disciples were by divine providence called Christians.” You will note that the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures says that they were “by divine providence called Christians.” The Greek word here rendered “by divine providence called” implies something more than mere random calling. The finest Friend in the universe approved of that name “Christians.”
14. What can be said regarding the term “Christendom,” and what questions require consideration?
14 From the term “Christian” has developed the name Christendom, which is applied to the whole realm of professed Christians with its multiplicity of religious sects and denominations. So the title “Christendom” has not been conferred “by divine providence,” either through the apostles or ‘providentially’ according to God’s will. Thus the situation today is far different from that in the first century. Only genuine Christians can enjoy the finest friendship in this unfriendly world. So the big question today is, Who are the genuine, real Christians conforming to the inspired Scriptures? Another significant question is, Are Jehovah’s Witnesses true Christians having Jehovah God and Jesus Christ as their Friends? In this regard the self-chosen name of God, Jehovah, is at stake.
15. In view of what circumstances has the time come for Jehovah to make a name for himself, and what part are the “people for his name” now having in this connection?
15 How could Christendom, with its many religions, enjoy friendship with Jehovah? Christendom has pushed the name of Jesus Christ to the fore, almost to the exclusion of his heavenly Father’s name, Jehovah. However, in keeping with Bible prophecies, the time has come for Jehovah to make a name for himself. Therefore, his name has to come to the fore. In this behalf, he would use his true witnesses, his chosen people, those enjoying his friendship. At a special first-century meeting held by the apostles and other foremost followers of Jesus Christ, the disciple James said: “Symeon has related thoroughly how God for the first time turned his attention to the nations to take out of them a people for his name.”—Acts 15:14.
16, 17. What has been done about God’s name in Christendom’s Bible translations, but what is true of the New World Translation in this regard?
16 It would be expected that ‘a people for God’s name’ would be his friends and would uphold the divine name. But what has happened in Christendom? In its popular Bible translations, Jehovah’s name has been overshadowed by a title. Why, his name is to be found only four times in the most popular English version of today! (Exodus 6:3; Psalm 83:18; Isaiah 12:2; 26:4, King James Version) Moreover, even in Jewish translations of the Hebrew Scriptures, God’s name has been rendered as “the Lord.” Such attempted suppression of Jehovah’s name is not the work of his friends.
17 In the year 1950, however, the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures began to come on the religious scene, and it has reproduced the divine name every time it occurs in the original Hebrew Bible text. The New World Translation has also restored the divine name to its rightful place in the main text of the Christian Greek Scriptures, the so-called New Testament—yes, 237 times. This is the work of Jehovah’s friends.
18. In the spirit of Isaiah 62:2, what step did God’s people take in 1931, and what responsibility have they been fulfilling?
18 Of interest to Jehovah’s friends are the words of Isaiah 62:2. This verse, addressed to the visible organization of God’s dedicated, baptized, spirit-begotten disciples of the Messiah, reads: “And the nations will certainly see your righteousness, O woman, and all kings your glory. And you will actually be called by a new name, which the very mouth of Jehovah will designate.” That “name” refers to the blessed condition into which these modern-day anointed disciples have been gathered. Further, in order to be ‘a people for God’s name,’ the remnant of the members of his visible organization should rightly have his name called upon them, should bear that name. This fact was realized in due time. So, in the spirit of Isaiah 62:2, God’s spirit-begotten organization, gathered in convention at Columbus, Ohio, in 1931, joyfully adopted the name “Jehovah’s witnesses.” Following that example, all the congregations of Jehovah’s dedicated people adopted that name. And that name has stuck despite worldly predictions to the contrary. At Revelation 3:14 the glorified Jesus Christ called himself “the faithful and true witness.” Fittingly, then, from that memorable year of 1931 onward, the congregations of his disciples on earth have providentially espoused that name. Since then, they have endeavored to fulfill their responsibility to live up to that name and make it known. Consequently, Jehovah’s name—the peerless name of their finest Friend—has been brought to the fore throughout the whole earth. And Jehovah has given outstanding evidence that his friendship toward his witnesses has been enduring down to this late date.
19. (a) Why do Jehovah’s dedicated witnesses not fear the unfriendliness of this world, and with what privilege will integrity keepers be rewarded at Har–Magedon? (b) For what should all our thanks and praise go to Jehovah?
19 Since Jehovah God is for us as his dedicated witnesses, who can really be against us with any success? (Romans 8:31-34) So we do not fear the unfriendliness of this enemy world. Hence, we carry on as ambassadors or as envoys of the Messianic Kingdom, calling upon sheeplike people to become reconciled to Jehovah God through his royal High Priest, Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:20) Although for this reason the animosity of this world continues to mount against the anointed remnant and their companions, the “great crowd,” the finest friendship in all the universe, that of Jehovah God, loyally continues to endure. (Revelation 7:9) It will never be broken off toward us as keepers of integrity toward him. In fact, soon, as at no earlier time, that friendship will be demonstrated during that war of all wars, “the war of the great day of God the Almighty,” at Har–Magedon. (Revelation 16:14, 16) There, face to face with Satan the Devil and his horde of demons and all his visible earthly organization, Jehovah will vindicate His universal sovereignty by His most tremendous victory of all the ages. We, toward whom Jehovah’s fine friendship has endured till now, will then be favored with preservation and with the honor of being eyewitnesses of his superlative triumph by means of the conquering King, Jesus Christ. (Psalm 110:1, 2; Isaiah 66:23, 24) All our heartfelt thanks and praise go to Jehovah God for his enduring friendship!—Psalm 136:1-26.
How Would You Answer?
□ Jesus urged his disciples to make what friendships, and into what “dwelling places” can they thus be ushered?
□ What attitude does the world have toward Jehovah’s Witnesses, but what friendship do they continue to enjoy?
□ The ‘people for God’s name’ have been fulfilling what responsibility regarding his name?
□ Why do Jehovah’s dedicated witnesses not fear this world’s unfriendliness?
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Zacchaeus was taken into the finest friendship in all the universe. Has that been your experience?
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Delighted to have God as their finest Friend, in 1931 Jehovah’s Witnesses resolved to be known by his matchless name