Thrilling Conventions Promote Divine Teaching
TODAY, the world is experiencing an information explosion. On television and radio, in book form or through computers, there is an almost limitless supply of knowledge on practically any subject imaginable. Still, people fall sick and die. Crime, hunger, and poverty exist all around the earth, and emotional disorders take a bigger toll than ever. All the available knowledge has failed to correct matters. Why? Because mankind has turned its back on God’s wisdom.
How fitting, then, that “Divine Teaching” was the theme chosen for the recent conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses! The program reminded those present that it is only the teaching found in God’s Word, the Bible, that has real, lifesaving value.
The first convention started on Thursday, June 3, in Uniondale, New York, U.S.A. From then on, the program was presented in different cities in one country after another, ending on the continents of Africa and South America.
Afternoon of the First Day
Each day had a theme that stressed an aspect of divine teaching. For example, the program for the first day was based on the theme “Knowing the Teaching That Is From God.” (John 7:17) This thought was well developed as the day progressed.
After a song and prayer, the convention chairman opened the program with the talk entitled “Divine Teaching Brings Us Together.” He showed that Jehovah’s people are united by learning His ways and walking in His paths. (Micah 4:1-5) Divine teaching strengthens their unity. Conventioners were encouraged to rejoice in their united fellowship.—Psalm 133:1-3.
A little later in the afternoon, regular congregation meetings were discussed in a symposium entitled “Meetings That Instruct Us About Jehovah’s Ways.” The first speaker reminded conventioners that when we meet together, we honor Jehovah and thus receive His blessing. The following speaker stressed the need to participate in meetings. In doing so, we praise Jehovah publicly, demonstrate our faith, and strengthen the faith of others. The third speaker in the symposium showed the need to put into practice what we learn at meetings. We have to be “doers of the word, and not hearers only.”—James 1:22.
Next came a fine discussion of the singing of praises to Jehovah. Heartfelt song is a significant part of our worship. This talk was followed by the keynote address, “Divine Teaching Triumphs.” What an excellent theme! “Jehovah is the Source of the best teaching anyone can receive,” said the speaker. Then, after a short discussion of the miracle of the human brain, he said: “We should use our thinking faculties primarily to receive divine teaching. It alone results in genuine wisdom.” How true!
The Second Morning
“Keep Adorning the Teaching of Our Savior, God” was the theme of the second day of the convention. (Titus 2:10) This principle came to the fore in the talk “Divine Teaching Versus Teachings of Demons.” Yes, the demons have their teachings. (1 Timothy 4:1) As the speaker explained, divine teaching triumphs over Satan’s “wisdom” by exposing false teachings and the cunning ways of the Devil. Because of this, some 4,500,000 righthearted Christians are no longer slaves in Satan’s darkness.—John 8:32.
Still, we have to keep on resisting Satan. This was emphasized by the talk “Are You Resisting the Spirit of the World?” This world’s spirit is deadly. It encourages debased morality, a rebellious view of authority, and an acquisitive desire for material things. A Christian has to examine himself constantly. Does he still have elevated standards when it comes to what he watches, listens to, or reads? Encouragingly, the speaker said: “We commend you, brothers, sisters, and young ones, for the earnest effort you are already exerting in this regard.”—1 John 2:15-17.
There is a factor that makes it hard to resist the spirit of the world. What is that? All of us are imperfect. True, Jesus died for our sins, but we still have to fight the inclination to sin. This was considered in the talk “Combating Sin’s Grip on Fallen Flesh.” Among other things, the speaker said that we can win our struggle with sin if we put on the new personality and avoid anything that panders to our sinful tendencies.
“Make Healthful Teaching Your Way of Life” was the title of the next talk. Some make a fetish of physical health. In truth, though, spiritual health is far more important. The speaker emphasized the need to take our responsibilities seriously in this regard, and he had an especially encouraging word for Christian women. He said: “We greatly appreciate both the older sisters and the younger sisters who are well balanced in their zeal for the ministry and in their care of personal responsibilities.” Yes, and all of us thank Jehovah for the healthful teaching that separates us from the world.
Concluding the morning program was the talk “Divine Teaching Reveals the Purpose of Life.” The speaker said: “Sooner or later, nearly everybody wonders, ‘What is the purpose of life?’” With powerful arguments, he proved that only the Bible gives a real answer to that question. Then, the speaker showed that God’s wonderful promises effectively give us a purpose in life. Likely, many in the audience were thinking, ‘This is exactly what people in my territory need to hear.’ The Governing Body agreed. A new brochure, entitled What Is the Purpose of Life? was released at the end of this talk. How delighted everyone was! The midday break afforded an opportunity to look through the new publication.
The Second Afternoon
The first talk in the afternoon had the comforting theme “Throw All Your Anxieties Upon Jehovah.” Many things cause anxiety; yet, God’s Word says that we should throw all our anxieties upon him. (1 Peter 5:6, 7) True, some problems persist, and in this regard the speaker urged: ‘Be patient. Wait on Jehovah. Firmly believe that following the Bible is always best. If we keep our hearts fixed on Jehovah, we will come to enjoy “the peace of God” that excels all thought.’—Philippians 4:6, 7.
The next four talks showed that divine teaching applies to family life. The first, “Making Marriage a Lasting Union,” reminded the conventioners that in Jehovah’s eyes marriage is not disposable, as it is viewed by many in the world. However, to make a success of marriage, we have to follow Jehovah’s guidance. He made us. Therefore, his inspired Word contains the best marriage counsel available.
The talk “Work Hard for the Salvation of Your Household” discussed the challenges of caring for a family in these critical times. (2 Timothy 3:1) Parents teach their children physical hygiene, good manners, how to work, and how to be generous and caring toward others. More important, they must teach their offspring to be devoted servants of Jehovah.—Proverbs 22:6.
In the following discussion, “Parents, Your Children Need Specialized Attention,” the speaker reminded conventioners of the need to commend children, while not closing one’s eyes to their weaknesses. Parents must be especially alert for trends toward dishonesty, materialism, or selfishness.
Particularly did younger conventioners listen carefully to the talk “Youths—Whose Teachings Do You Heed?” Things are difficult for young Christians today. To go along with the world is easy, but this leads to death. Though choosing to stick with divine teaching takes courage for a young person, it brings great blessings now and everlasting life to come.—1 Timothy 4:8.
Day two concluded with the heartwarming drama Youths Who Remember Their Creator Now. In the introduction, the director called young people in God’s organization “a theocratic army loyally engaged in devoted service to Jehovah God and his appointed heavenly King, Christ Jesus.” He added: “Our young people are indeed accomplishing something good!” The drama graphically showed that if a parent trains a child well, that will stand the child in good stead when he grows up and serves Jehovah on his own.
Morning of the Third Day
The theme for day three was “Go On Teaching People of All Nations.” (Matthew 28:19, 20) The conventioners doubtless expected timely counsel on the preaching work, and they were not disappointed. A symposium entitled “Joyfully Fulfilling Our Preaching and Teaching Commission” strengthened their determination to keep on sharing in the witnessing work. The opening talk discussed initial calls; the second, return visits; and the third, Bible studies. Missionaries around the world had been invited to return home and attend a convention with their families and friends. In some locations, missionaries shared in this part of the program. It was delightful to receive some insight into the success they are having in their assignments. Next, “Reaching Everyone With the Good News” considered the impact of informal witnessing.
The morning concluded with the baptism talk, always a highlight at large gatherings of Jehovah’s Witnesses. In convention after convention, large groups of newly dedicated ones stood before the assembled crowds and confidently answered yes to the two questions directed to them. They then underwent public baptism. What powerful evidence of the grand effect of divine teaching!
Afternoon of the Third Day
The afternoon program began with a deep Scriptural discussion. Jehovah’s Witnesses are familiar with the words of Matthew chapter 24 and Luke chapter 21. Did some think that nothing new could be said about these Bible chapters? How wrong they were! The talks “What Will Be the Sign of Your Presence?” and “Tell Us, When Will These Things Be?” led the conventioners through a fascinating discussion of sections of those two chapters and offered updated explanations of some verses. There were lively discussions after the session as conventioners compared notes to see if they had understood the points. Doubtless, many questions will be answered when this information is published in The Watchtower.
The Bible study theme was continued in the talk “Informative Answers to Your Bible Questions.” Then the program took a different direction. The year 1993 marked the 50th anniversary of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead. The talk “Fifty Years of Gilead Missionary Training and Activity” showed conventioners what had been accomplished during that period. If there were any missionaries present during the talk “Evangelizing Accomplishments in the Global Field,” they were invited to share some of their experiences with the audience. Hearing the missionaries’ accounts was thrilling!
The following talk, “Why Jehovah’s Witnesses Keep on the Watch,” was another history lesson. It showed that Christians had been on the watch from the first century C.E. up till now. That led to another surprise. Early in the following talk, entitled “Kingdom Proclaimers Active in All the Earth,” the speaker lifted up a large volume (when already available in the local language) and said: “It is a pleasure to announce here today the release of this new book, entitled Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom.” The book contains a detailed account of the modern-day history of Jehovah’s Witnesses. It tells a thrilling story of endurance, determination, and success, giving powerful evidence of Jehovah’s spirit being active upon his servants.
The Fourth Morning
Already it was the final day of the convention. The day’s theme, “Benefiting Ourselves by Divine Teaching,” promised a fine climax to the program. (Isaiah 48:17) In the morning the attention of conventioners was riveted on a symposium of three powerful talks. Entitled “Jeremiah’s Inspired Warning Message—For the Past and the Present,” the symposium contained a verse-by-verse discussion of Jeremiah chapters 23, 24, and Jer 25. What a strong message these chapters contain! Unfaithful Israel of Jeremiah’s day must have shuddered at his frank, divinely inspired warnings. The whole world shuddered even more when those warnings were fulfilled. Are things different today? Not at all. Jehovah’s Witnesses courageously preach God’s messages of judgment. Eventually, this whole system of things will have to face Jehovah’s judgment acts. That will mean total destruction for Satan’s world.
Sunday morning concluded with a second drama, Do Not Be Misled or Mock God. In a graphic way, it showed how divine teaching can protect us from being influenced by debasing videos and music and from a tendency to sow discord among fellow Christians. At the conclusion of the drama, the chairman quoted these thought-provoking words of one of the characters: “We are not immune to the world’s influence. If we don’t resist, the world can subtly corrupt our thinking. And whether we remain faithful or not is going to depend upon what we have been sowing.” How true!
The Final Afternoon
The convention was rapidly drawing to a close as the speaker went to the podium to deliver the public discourse, entitled “Helpful Teaching for Our Critical Times.” In a clear and logical way, he identified key problems that affect us today and pointed out some ways that divine teaching can help us to enjoy a better life. He said that if we are following Scriptural teaching now, we will be able to follow it forever in Jehovah’s new world.
After a summary of the weekly Watchtower lesson, it was time for the final talk. The speaker went rapidly through the high points of the four-day program and reminded the conventioners of the new publications. He also announced that the second videocassette in the series The Bible—A Book of Fact and Prophecy would soon be released. In fact, that videocassette, entitled The Bible—Mankind’s Oldest Modern Book, is now available in English. Touching reports were read from places where there are serious crises, such as Bosnia and Herzegovina. In conclusion, the speaker read the words of Ecclesiastes 12:13: “The conclusion of the matter, everything having been heard, is: Fear the true God and keep his commandments. For this is the whole obligation of man.”
What a fine reminder! Let us live for the day when all mankind will praise our Grand Instructor, Jehovah, and heed his divine teaching.
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The “Divine Teaching” conventions in Moscow and Kiev resulted in great joy
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1. By being baptized, many symbolized their dedication to God
2. A 100-year-old conventioner was thrilled to receive a new publication
3, 4. Thought-provoking dramas were greatly appreciated
5. Missionaries interviewed at conventions highlighted the benefits of divine teaching