God’s Ministers Prove Their Qualification
“And who is adequately qualified?”—2 CORINTHIANS 2:16.
1. In today’s religiously divided world, what question may be raised in all sincerity?
IN TODAY’S religiously divided world, this question may be asked in all sincerity: Who actually is an authorized minister of God? Similarly, the apostle Paul asked: “Who is adequately qualified for these things?” When challenged, Paul and his colaborers could say, “We are”! (2 Corinthians 2:16, 17) But today, who have a solid basis, the right, and the courage to reply, “We are”?
2. What is the essence of Paul’s words at 2 Corinthians 2:14-17?
2 Before answering that question, let us consider these words of Paul to Christians in Corinth: “But thanks be to God! For . . . wherever we go he uses us to tell others about the Lord and to spread the Gospel like a sweet perfume. As far as God is concerned there is a sweet, wholesome fragrance in our lives. It is the fragrance of Christ within us, an aroma to both the saved and the unsaved all around us. To those who are not being saved, we seem a fearful smell of death and doom, while to those who know Christ we are a life-giving perfume. But who is adequate for such a task as this? Only those who, like ourselves, are men of integrity, sent by God, speaking with Christ’s power, with God’s eye upon us. We are not like those hucksters—and there are many of them—whose idea in getting out the Gospel is to make a good living out of it.”—2 Corinthians 2:14-17, The Living Bible; see The Watchtower, May 1, 1944, pages 133-4.
3. (a) How should we react to the thought of peddling God’s Word for selfish profit? (b) What did Paul do to avoid becoming a financial burden to those to whom he preached?
3 Peddling God’s Word for selfish profit—how repulsive such a thought! Paul did not seek financial gain by preaching that Word so as to live a life of ease, eventually to retire from the ministry and take it easy the rest of his days. He was willing to make tents as sideline work to provide funds for himself and help his associates in Jehovah’s service. (Acts 18:1-4) Paul did not become a financial burden to those to whom he preached the good news. So he could ask the Corinthian Christians: “Did I commit a sin by humbling myself that you might be exalted, because without cost I gladly declared the good news of God to you?” (2 Corinthians 11:7) That question had to be answered with a positive no!
4. How do Jehovah’s Witnesses imitate Paul’s example in connection with God’s Word?
4 Today Jehovah’s Witnesses imitate the apostle’s fine example in not peddling the priceless Word of God but in making it available to all. They do not commercialize such a holy thing. Thus they have no paid clergy, their public speakers do not charge for lectures, and a collection plate is never passed at their meetings. If anyone desires to contribute money for the work, he can drop any amount, even one like the widow’s “two small coins of very little value,” into a contribution box at the Kingdom Hall or elsewhere. (Luke 21:1-4) Such freewill contributions are used to defray expenses and not to enrich any individual. Even private homes are freely opened for meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses.—Philemon 1, 2.
5. Who has qualified Jehovah’s Witnesses for sacred service?
5 But who today has qualified Jehovah’s Witnesses to carry on after such a Scriptural pattern despite all the persecution and opposition they constantly experience? No one can account for this but the Individual that adequately qualified Paul and his companions for sacred service. Please note the purity of Paul’s motive, in contrast with a religious peddler’s motivation, as he explained: “As out of sincerity, yes, as sent from God, under God’s view, in company with Christ, we are speaking.” (2 Corinthians 2:17) This is the way Jehovah’s Witnesses are speaking today. But are we recommending ourselves as ministers? Do we need to publish letters of recommendation from others?
6. (a) Why do Christendom’s clergy think they are “adequately qualified”? (b) But what is the basis for a person’s having adequate qualification for the true Christian ministry?
6 Paul disavowed qualification for his ministry as something he developed. He said: “Our being adequately qualified issues from God, who has indeed adequately qualified us to be ministers of a new covenant.” (2 Corinthians 3:4-6) Unlike Paul, the clergy of Christendom claim to be “adequately qualified” because of having graduated from theological seminaries. So they deny that those who are not seminary graduates are qualified ministers having authority to teach. But Paul’s special schooling in Judaism did not qualify him for the Christian ministry pertaining to the new covenant. Nor did Jesus establish any theological seminary for his 12 apostles or anyone else to attend. No less so today, a person’s being adequately qualified for the true Christian ministry must issue from Jehovah, the greatest Teacher. Of course, such a minister would have to furnish proof beyond all denial.
“Who Gave You This Authority?”
7. In what way did the religious leaders differ from Nicodemus in the way they viewed Jesus’ authority?
7 Religious leaders challenged the right of even God’s Son to preach the good news and perform miracles. In the temple, “the chief priests and the older men of the people came up to him while he was teaching and said: ‘By what authority do you do these things? And who gave you this authority?’” (Matthew 21:23) They refused to draw the conclusion the Jewish ruler Nicodemus reached when he told Jesus: “Rabbi, we know that you as a teacher have come from God; for no one can perform these signs that you perform unless God is with him.”—John 3:1, 2.
8. After more than three years of Jesus’ ministry, how did Jewish leaders react to proof of his identity and authority?
8 Jesus could have told his challengers, ‘Let my works speak for themselves!’ After more than three years of his public career, the chief priests and older men had many signs on which to base a correct conclusion as to Jesus’ identity and right to perform miracles and teach the truth about God’s Kingdom. They simply were too stiff-necked to accept all the evidence Jehovah was furnishing to prove that Jesus was the promised Messiah.
9, 10. (a) Why should it not surprise Jehovah’s Witnesses that their qualification as ministers is questioned today? (b) How did Jesus deal with religious leaders who challenged his authority, and what effect did this have?
9 In view of what happened in Jesus’ case, it does not surprise Jehovah’s Witnesses that their qualification as authorized ministers of his Father is called into question by religious leaders today. Since those who challenged Jesus’ authority ignored his many miraculous works, he raised a question that put them on the spot. And his present-day disciples can do the same thing in the case of those who willfully overlook the works of those disciples.
10 When the chief priests and older men asked Jesus, “Who gave you this authority?” he did not pose an abstract question but said: “I, also, will ask you one thing. If you tell it to me, I also will tell you by what authority I do these things: The baptism by John, from what source was it? From heaven or from men?” The account adds: “But they began to reason among themselves, saying: ‘If we say, “From heaven,” he will say to us, “Why, then, did you not believe him?” If, though, we say, “From men,” we have the crowd to fear, for they all hold John as a prophet.’ So in answer to Jesus they said: ‘We do not know.’ He, in turn, said to them: ‘Neither am I telling you by what authority I do these things.’” (Matthew 21:23-27) Today, Jehovah’s Witnesses can question the clergy Scripturally in a way that has a similar effect.*
11. What work did Jehovah’s people do prior to 1914, and how were their critics silenced?
11 From 1876 onward, Jehovah’s people served notice upon the world, and particularly upon Christendom, that the Gentile Times would end in the fall of 1914. (Luke 21:24, King James Version) The clergy could not ignore this preliminary work of almost 40 years—a work corresponding to that of John the Baptizer. Those clergymen waited eagerly to pounce upon this journal’s editor should 1914 pass without any outstanding events to correspond with those about which he warned. But, oh, how they were silenced when on July 28, 1914, peace was shattered by the outbreak of World War I!
12. What hardships accompanied and followed World War I?
12 The war’s devastation and the withdrawal of many men from agricultural pursuits brought food shortages. Earthquakes shook various parts of the earth, causing much damage and suffering. In 1915 an earthquake at Avezzano, Italy, killed 29,970, and a tremendous quake in 1920 brought death to 200,000 in Kansu Province, China. In 1923, more than 140,000 died in the Great Kanto earthquake in Japan. On the heels of the war came the Spanish flu that in one year killed more victims than had four years of war. Not to be passed over was the persecution of Jehovah’s servants during that first world conflict, climaxed by the unjust nine-month imprisonment of the president and the secretary-treasurer of the Watch Tower Society and six of their co-workers.
13. What have Jehovah’s Witnesses asked Christendom’s clergy, and what would these critics have to admit if they answered honestly?
13 Since the end of World War I, Jehovah’s Witnesses have asked Christendom’s clergy: ‘Are the catastrophic events that have afflicted our earth from 1914 onward a fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy at Matthew 24:3-13?’ If those clerics honestly said yes, they would have to admit that Jesus Christ came into his heavenly Kingdom in 1914. Naturally, since Jesus said that ‘the world would behold him no more’ and he now is an immortal spirit person, his “coming,” or “presence,” is invisible. (John 14:19; Matthew 24:3, KJ; 1 Peter 3:18) But admitting all of this would debar the clergy from arguing that the world-shaking events of 1914-18 were merely a routine flare-up of nations in the course of history.
14. (a) If religious leaders made the right admission, in what work would this oblige them to share? (b) What makeshift for the Kingdom would they have to renounce, but what course have they pursued?
14 Moreover, if the clergy of Christendom admitted that the events of 1914-18 marked the start of the end for the old system of things, they would be obliged to acknowledge the other features of “the sign” of Jesus’ “presence” and would have to take part in the fulfillment of his words: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations.” (Matthew 24:14) That would mean preaching, not the Gospel they have preached for centuries, but the good news of the Kingdom established in heaven at the close of the Gentile Times in 1914. They would have to renounce the League of Nations as “the political expression of the Kingdom of God on earth” and view it and its successor, the United Nations, as ‘the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place.’ (Matthew 24:15, KJ) But down to the year 1985, the clergy of Christendom refuse to brand the League of Nations and the United Nations as that “abomination,” or “disgusting thing.”
15. What future awaits the clergy, but what have Jehovah’s Witnesses been doing?
15 So Christendom’s clergy refuse to take a stand for Jehovah’s Kingdom by Jesus Christ. For failing to support it, they will be destroyed in the “great tribulation” just ahead. But unlike them, Jehovah’s Witnesses have abandoned Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion, and are preaching the Kingdom message in 203 lands. This unparalleled work is an outstanding feature of “the sign” proving that in 1914 Jesus was installed as heavenly King, to rule amid his enemies.—Matthew 24:3, 14, 21; Psalm 110:1, 2; Revelation 18:1-5.
Any Need for a Recommendation?
16. What questions arise as to recommendation, and what did Paul have to say about this?
16 Are we baselessly recommending ourselves as Jehovah’s anointed witnesses? Or are we adroitly maneuvering matters so as to establish such a recommendation for Jesus’ “other sheep”? (John 10:16) Paul did not do such a thing but could say to those Corinthians who became Christians due to his tireless efforts: “Are we starting again to recommend ourselves? Or do we, perhaps, like some men, need letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, inscribed on our hearts and known and being read by all mankind. For you are shown to be a letter of Christ written by us as ministers, inscribed not with ink but with spirit of a living God, not on stone tablets, but on fleshly tablets, on hearts.”—2 Corinthians 3:1-3.
17. Why can it be said that Paul was adequately qualified for the ministry, and in this regard, what may be said of Jehovah’s Witnesses?
17 With the help of Jehovah’s spirit, Paul wrote a number of Bible books and made many converts to Christianity. So he certainly proved to be adequately qualified for the Christian ministry. In a modern parallel, especially since this journal was first published in 1879, the anointed remnant of Christ’s disciples, though not inspired as was Paul, have produced much Bible literature. Since 1920, they have published thousands of millions of books, booklets, magazines, and tracts in many languages. This literature has been distributed at reduced cost, much of it being given free to the poor. The Watch Tower Society has also arranged for free Bible lectures and has sent missionaries to unserved territories around the globe. Tens of thousands have responded to the printed and vocal message and have symbolized their dedication to Jehovah God by being baptized, particularly since 1935 when it was first made clear that an unlimited “great crowd” of Jesus’ “other sheep” can look forward to eternal life in a restored paradise on earth.—Revelation 7:9-17; Luke 23:43.
18. If challenged to prove their qualification as ministers, to what can the anointed remnant point?
18 Consequently, what if the clergy challenge the anointed remnant to produce certificates as Doctors of Divinity? Why, these servants of Jehovah can provide far more significant evidence! They can now point to over two and a half million “other sheep” earth wide and can say: ‘There is our letter of support!’ They can take up Paul’s words and declare to members of the “great crowd”: “You yourselves are our letter, inscribed on our hearts and known and being read by all mankind.” (2 Corinthians 3:2) Let Christendom’s clergy read that living letter made up of dedicated, baptized Christians who are serving Jehovah God day and night at his temple and who are helping to ‘preach this good news of the kingdom in all the earth for a witness to all the nations.’ (Matthew 24:14) Like the anointed remnant, they are proving themselves to be adequately qualified for the Christian ministry.
19. What unique letter of recommendation will be preserved through Har–Magedon?
19 This unique letter of recommendation will not be wiped out in the impending “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at the symbolic place called Har–Magedon. (Revelation 16:14-16) Rather, it will be guarded and preserved by the Omnipotent God for display in the post-Har–Magedon system of things under Christ the King. What a powerful letter that “great crowd” will be to the billions of human dead whom Jehovah God, by Jesus Christ, will then resurrect from the memorial tombs all around the earth! So keep on writing, you anointed remnant! And keep on assisting them, you “great crowd” of the Fine Shepherd’s “other sheep”!
See, for example, paragraphs 13 and 14 below.
What Are Your Comments?
□ How do Jehovah’s Witnesses imitate Paul in not peddling God’s Word?
□ What is the basis for a person’s being adequately qualified for the true Christian ministry?
□ If religious leaders made the right admission, in what work would they be obliged to share?
□ The anointed remnant can point to what unique letter proving that they are adequately qualified ministers?
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Jesus taught his disciples to be ministers, but he did not establish any theological seminary
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As qualified ministers, Jehovah’s Witnesses preach the good news of the established Kingdom. Do you?