Seek Those Rightly Disposed for Everlasting Life
“All those who were rightly disposed for everlasting life became believers.”—ACTS 13:48.
1. As regards the human heart, what ability does Jehovah have?
JEHOVAH GOD can read the heart. This was made clear when the prophet Samuel went to anoint a son of Jesse as king of Israel. Upon seeing Eliab, Samuel “at once said: ‘Surely his anointed one is before Jehovah.’ But Jehovah said to Samuel: ‘Do not look at his appearance and at the height of his stature, for I have rejected him. For not the way man sees is the way God sees, because mere man sees what appears to the eyes; but as for Jehovah, he sees what the heart is.’” Accordingly, Samuel was directed to anoint David, who proved ‘agreeable to God’s heart.’—1 Samuel 13:13, 14; 16:4-13.
2. What is rooted in a person’s figurative heart, and thus what do we read about this in the Scriptures?
2 A person displays a certain dominant attitude. He has a particular disposition that is rooted in his figurative heart. (Matthew 12:34, 35; 15:18-20) Thus, we read of a person whose “heart is disposed to fight.” (Psalm 55:21) We are told that “anyone disposed to rage has many a transgression.” And we read: “There exist companions disposed to break one another to pieces, but there exists a friend sticking closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24; 29:22) Happily, many prove to be like some Gentiles in ancient Antioch in Pisidia. Upon hearing about Jehovah’s provision for salvation, “they began to rejoice and to glorify the word of Jehovah, and all those who were rightly disposed for everlasting life became believers.”—Acts 13:44-48.
Believers Are “Pure in Heart”
3, 4. (a) Who are the pure in heart? (b) How do those pure in heart see God?
3 Those believers in Antioch became baptized Christians, and the faithful among them could apply to themselves Jesus’ words: “Happy are the pure in heart, since they will see God.” (Matthew 5:8) But who are “the pure in heart”? And how do they “see God”?
4 The pure in heart are inwardly clean. Theirs is a purity of appreciation, affections, desires, and motives. (1 Timothy 1:5) They see God now in that they observe him acting in behalf of integrity keepers. (Compare Exodus 33:20; Job 19:26; 42:5.) The Greek word here rendered “see” also means “to see with the mind, to perceive, know.” Since Jesus perfectly reflected God’s personality, insight into that personality is enjoyed by “the pure in heart,” who exercise faith in Christ and in his sin-atoning sacrifice, gain forgiveness of their sins, and are able to render acceptable worship to God. (John 14:7-9; Ephesians 1:7) For anointed ones, seeing God reaches its apex when they are resurrected to heaven, where they actually see God and Christ. (2 Corinthians 1:21, 22; 1 John 3:2) But seeing God through accurate knowledge and true worship is possible for all those who are pure in heart. (Psalm 24:3, 4; 1 John 3:6; 3 John 11) They are rightly disposed for everlasting life in heaven or on a paradise earth.—Luke 23:43; 1 Corinthians 15:50-57; 1 Peter 1:3-5.
5. How only can one become a believer and true follower of Jesus Christ?
5 Those not rightly disposed for everlasting life will not become believers. It is not possible for them to exercise faith. (2 Thessalonians 3:2) Moreover, nobody can become a true follower of Jesus Christ unless he is teachable and Jehovah, who sees what the heart is, draws that person. (John 6:41-47) Of course, in preaching from house to house, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not prejudge anyone. They cannot read hearts but leave the results in God’s loving hands.
6. (a) What has been said about personal contact in the house-to-house ministry? (b) What provisions have been made to help Jehovah’s Witnesses find those rightly disposed for everlasting life?
6 One scholar has appropriately said: “[Paul] taught the truth publicly and from house to house. Not only from the platform, but in personal contact with individuals he preached Christ. Oftentimes the personal touch is far more effective than any other type or method in reaching souls.” (August Van Ryn) Such publications as the Theocratic Ministry School Guidebook, Reasoning From the Scriptures, and Our Kingdom Ministry help Jehovah’s Witnesses to give talks and to make the most of personal contact in their field service. Helpful, too, are Service Meeting demonstrations and Theocratic Ministry School counsel. Those attending the school receive valuable training in such speech qualities as good introductions, proper use of the Scriptures, logical development, convincing argument, use of illustrations, and effective conclusions. Let us see how the Bible augments this instruction that can make God’s people more effective as they seek those rightly disposed for everlasting life.
7. The opening words of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount teach what about introductions?
7 From Jesus’ example, those preparing for house-to-house witnessing can learn something about introductions that arouse interest. In opening his Sermon on the Mount, he used the word “happy” nine times. For instance, he said: “Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need, since the kingdom of the heavens belongs to them. . . . Happy are the mild-tempered ones, since they will inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:3-12) The sentences were direct and clear. And that introduction surely aroused interest and got his listeners involved, for who does not want to be happy?
8. In the house-to-house ministry, how should a topic of conversation be introduced?
8 Any topic of conversation used in the house-to-house ministry should be introduced in a positive, pleasant way. But no one should use a shocking introduction, such as, “I have a message for you from outer space.” The good news does have a heavenly source, but such an introduction might well make a householder wonder whether the Witness should be taken seriously or dismissed as quickly as possible.
Handling God’s Word Aright
9. (a) How should scriptures be introduced, read, and applied in the ministry? (b) What example is cited to show how Jesus used questions?
9 In the field ministry, as on the platform, scriptures should be properly introduced, read with suitable emphasis, and applied in a clear, accurate way. Questions that make a householder think about Scriptural points may also be helpful. Again, Jesus’ methods are instructive. On one occasion, a man versed in the Mosaic Law asked him: “Teacher, by doing what shall I inherit everlasting life?” In response Jesus asked: “What is written in the Law? How do you read?” Doubtless, Jesus knew that this was a question the man could answer. He did respond correctly, saying: “‘You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole strength and with your whole mind,’ and, ‘your neighbor as yourself.’” This led Jesus to give commendation, and further discussion ensued.—Luke 10:25-37.
10. What should be kept in mind as far as one’s topic of conversation is concerned, and what should be avoided when asking householders questions?
10 Those witnessing from house to house should emphasize the theme of the topic of conversation and make clear the reason for reading Bible texts that develop that subject. Since the Witness is trying to reach the heart of the householder, he ought to avoid asking embarrassing questions. In using God’s Word, ‘may our utterance always be gracious, seasoned with salt.’—Colossians 4:6.
11. In using the Scriptures to correct wrong views, what example do we have from Jesus’ temptation by Satan?
11 Especially on return visits there may be a need to correct wrong views by showing what the Scriptures actually say or mean. Jesus did something similar in rebuffing Satan, who said: “If you are a son of God, hurl yourself down [from the battlement of the temple, like a potential suicide]; for it is written, ‘He will give his angels a charge concerning you, and they will carry you on their hands, that you may at no time strike your foot against a stone.’” Psalm 91:11, 12, quoted by Satan, does not justify the jeopardizing of life, a gift from God. Realizing that it was wrong to test Jehovah by taking chances with his life, Jesus told Satan: “Again it is written, ‘You must not put Jehovah your God to the test.’” (Matthew 4:5-7) Of course, Satan is not a truth-seeker. But when reasonable people express wrong views that would hinder their spiritual progress, the minister of God’s Word should tactfully show what the Scriptures really say and mean. This is all part of “handling the word of the truth aright”—one of the important lessons taught in the Theocratic Ministry School.—2 Timothy 2:15.
Persuasion Has Its Place
12, 13. Why is it right to use persuasion in the ministry?
12 Persuasion has a proper place in the Christian ministry. For instance, Paul urged his coworker Timothy to continue in the things he had learned and was “persuaded to believe.” (2 Timothy 3:14) In Corinth, Paul “would give a talk in the synagogue every sabbath and would persuade Jews and Greeks.” (Acts 18:1-4) In Ephesus, he successfully ‘gave talks and used persuasion concerning the kingdom of God.’ (Acts 19:8) And when under house arrest in Rome, the apostle called people to him and gave them a witness, “using persuasion,” and some became believers.—Acts 28:23, 24.
13 Regardless of how persuasive the Witness may try to be, of course, only those rightly disposed for everlasting life will become believers. Convincing arguments and clear explanations, tactfully presented, may persuade them to believe. But what else can be helpful in persuading them?
Be Logical and Convincing
14. (a) What does logical, coherent development involve? (b) Convincing argument calls for what?
14 One of the speech qualities emphasized in the Theocratic Ministry School is logical, coherent development. This involves putting all the key ideas and relevant material in reasonable order. Also essential is convincing argument, which requires laying a good foundation and providing sound proof. Akin to this is helping listeners to reason by maintaining a common ground, developing points adequately, and applying them effectively. Again, the Scriptures provide guidelines.
15. (a) How did Paul capture attention and establish a common ground when he spoke on Mars’ Hill? (b) In Paul’s speech, what evidence do we have of logical, coherent development?
15 These speech qualities are evident in the apostle Paul’s renowned speech on Mars’ Hill in ancient Athens. (Acts 17:22-31) His introduction captured attention and established a common ground, for he said: “Men of Athens, I behold that in all things you seem to be more given to the fear of the deities than others are.” To them, this no doubt seemed to be a compliment. After mentioning an altar dedicated “To an Unknown God,” Paul proceeded with his logical, coherent development and convincing argument. He pointed out that this God that they did not know had “made the world and all the things in it.” Unlike Athena or other Greek deities, ‘he does not dwell in handmade temples, nor does he need to be attended to by human hands.’ The apostle next indicated that this God gave us life and does not make us grope for him blindly. Paul then reasoned that our Creator, who has overlooked times of idolatrous ignorance, ‘is telling mankind everywhere to repent.’ This logically led to the point that ‘God will judge earth’s inhabitants in righteousness by an appointed man whom he resurrected from the dead.’ Since Paul had been “declaring the good news of Jesus and the resurrection,” those Athenians knew that this Judge would be Jesus Christ.—Acts 17:18.
16. How can one’s ministry be affected by Paul’s speech on Mars’ Hill and by training in the Theocratic Ministry School?
16 True, Paul was not witnessing from house to house on Mars’ Hill. But from his talk and the training given in the Theocratic Ministry School, Jehovah’s Witnesses can learn much that can enhance their field ministry. Yes, all of this helps to make them more effective ministers, even as Paul’s logical development and convincing argumentation persuaded some of those Athenians to become believers.—Acts 17:32-34.
Use Instructive Illustrations
17. What kind of illustrations should be used in the ministry?
17 The Theocratic Ministry School also helps God’s ministers to use good illustrations in house-to-house witnessing and other avenues of their ministry. To emphasize important points, simple illustrations that are in good taste should be used. The Witness should draw them from familiar situations and be careful to make their application clear. Jesus’ illustrations met all these requirements.
18. How might Matthew 13:45, 46 prove useful in the ministry?
18 For instance, consider Jesus’ words: “The kingdom of the heavens is like a traveling merchant seeking fine pearls. Upon finding one pearl of high value, away he went and promptly sold all the things he had and bought it.” (Matthew 13:45, 46) Pearls are precious gems found inside the shells of oysters and other mollusks. But only some pearls are “fine.” The merchant had the discernment needed to appreciate the surpassing value of this one pearl and was willing to part with all else to acquire it. Perhaps during a return visit or a home Bible study, this illustration could be used to show that an individual who truly appreciates God’s Kingdom will act like that merchant. Such a person will give the Kingdom priority in life, aware that it is worth any sacrifice.
Conclude With Motivation
19. In the house-to-house ministry, what should conclusions show the householder?
19 In the Theocratic Ministry School, God’s people also learn that the conclusion of a talk or discussion should have a direct relationship to the theme and should show hearers what to do and encourage them to do it. In the house-to-house ministry, the householder needs to be shown definitely what course he is expected to take, such as accepting a Bible publication or agreeing to a return visit.
20. What fine example of a motivating conclusion do we have at Matthew 7:24-27?
20 The conclusion of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount provides a fine example. By means of an easily understood illustration, Jesus showed that it would be the wise course to heed his words. He concluded: “Therefore everyone that hears these sayings of mine and does them will be likened to a discreet man, who built his house upon the rock-mass. And the rain poured down and the floods came and the winds blew and lashed against that house, but it did not cave in, for it had been founded upon the rock-mass. Furthermore, everyone hearing these sayings of mine and not doing them will be likened to a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand. And the rain poured down and the floods came and the winds blew and struck against that house and it caved in, and its collapse was great.” (Matthew 7:24-27) How well this shows that God’s ministers should endeavor to motivate householders!
21. What has our discussion illustrated, but what must be recognized?
21 The foregoing points illustrate how the Theocratic Ministry School can help many to be qualified Kingdom proclaimers. Of course, being adequately qualified issues primarily from God. (2 Corinthians 3:4-6) And regardless of how qualified the minister may be, no one can persuade people to become believers unless they are drawn by God through Christ. (John 14:6) Yet, God’s people should surely take advantage of all the spiritual provisions made by Jehovah as they seek those rightly disposed for everlasting life.
What Are Your Answers?
□ Who are “the pure in heart,” and how do they “see God”?
□ What factors should be considered when introducing the Kingdom message in the house-to-house work?
□ How can God’s Word be handled aright in the ministry?
□ What will help to make logical, convincing presentations in the field service?
□ What should be remembered about illustrations used in the ministry?
□ What should be accomplished by conclusions used in the witnessing work?
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Jesus said that “the pure in heart” would “see God.” What did this mean?
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Scriptures should be properly introduced, read with suitable emphasis, and applied in a clear, accurate manner