Helping Others to Learn God’s Requirements
“Necessity is laid upon me. Really, woe is me if I did not declare the good news!”—1 CORINTHIANS 9:16.
1, 2. (a) In what twofold work does Jehovah require us to share? (b) What must honesthearted people learn in order to become subjects of God’s Kingdom?
JEHOVAH has good news for mankind. He has a Kingdom, and he wants people everywhere to hear about it! Once we learn this good news, God requires that we share it with others. This is a twofold work. First, we must proclaim the good news of God’s Kingdom. In his prophecy about “the conclusion of the system of things,” Jesus said: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.”—Matthew 24:3, 14.
2 The second aspect of this work involves teaching those who respond favorably to the Kingdom proclamation. After his resurrection, Jesus told a large group of his disciples: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you. And, look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.” (Matthew 28:19, 20) The ‘things Christ had commanded’ did not originate with him; he taught others to observe God’s commandments, or requirements. (John 14:23, 24; 15:10) Teaching others to ‘observe the things Christ has commanded’ thus involves helping them to learn God’s requirements. Honesthearted people must meet God’s requirements in order to become subjects of his Kingdom.
3. What is God’s Kingdom, and what will it accomplish that makes the Kingdom message such good news?
3 What is God’s Kingdom? And what will it accomplish that makes the Kingdom message such good news? God’s Kingdom is a heavenly government. It is very dear to Jehovah’s heart, for it is the means by which he will sanctify his name, clearing it of all reproach. The Kingdom is the instrument that Jehovah will use to cause his will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. That is why Jesus taught us to pray for God’s Kingdom to come and urged us to put it first in our lives. (Matthew 6:9, 10, 33) Do you see why it is so important to Jehovah that we teach others about his Kingdom?
A Challenge but Not a Burden
4. How can it be illustrated that our obligation to preach the good news is not a burden?
4 Is it a burden to preach this good news? Absolutely not! To illustrate: A father has an obligation to provide for his family materially. Failure to do so is tantamount to rejecting the Christian faith. The apostle Paul wrote: “Certainly if anyone does not provide for those who are his own, and especially for those who are members of his household, he has disowned the faith and is worse than a person without faith.” (1 Timothy 5:8) But is that obligation a burden for the Christian man? Not if he loves his family, for in that case he wants to provide for them.
5. Although the preaching and disciple-making work is an obligation, why should we be delighted to share in it?
5 Similarly, the work of preaching and disciple making is an obligation, a requirement, on which our very lives depend. Paul put it this way: “Necessity is laid upon me. Really, woe is me if I did not declare the good news!” (1 Corinthians 9:16; compare Ezekiel 33:7-9.) However, our motive for preaching is love, not mere duty. Primarily we love God, but we also love our neighbors, and we know how important it is for them to hear the good news. (Matthew 22:37-39) It gives them a hope for the future. God’s Kingdom will soon correct injustices, remove all oppression, and restore peace and unity—all to the everlasting blessing of those who submit to its righteous rule. Are we not delighted, yes thrilled, to share such good news with others?—Psalm 110:3.
6. Why does the preaching and disciple-making work present a real challenge?
6 At the same time, this preaching and disciple-making work presents a real challenge. People differ. All do not have the same interests or abilities. Some are well educated, while others have very little education. Reading—once a favorite pastime—is now often viewed as a chore. Aliteracy, which is defined as “the quality or state of being able to read but uninterested in doing so,” is a growing problem, even in countries that boast a high literacy rate. How, then, can we help people with such diverse backgrounds and interests to learn what God requires?—Compare 1 Corinthians 9:20-23.
Properly Equipped to Help Others
7. How has “the faithful and discreet slave” equipped us to help others learn God’s requirements?
7 A challenging task is easier to perform if you have the proper tools or equipment. A tool that is appropriate for a particular job today may be modified or even replaced tomorrow because of changing needs. It is similar with our commission to proclaim the message about God’s Kingdom. Over the years, “the faithful and discreet slave” has provided us with just the right tools, publications specially designed for use in conducting home Bible studies. (Matthew 24:45) We thus have been equipped to help people of “all nations and tribes and . . . tongues” to learn God’s requirements. (Revelation 7:9) From time to time, fresh instruments have been provided to keep up with the changing needs in the world field. Let us consider a few examples.
8. (a) What part did the book “Let God Be True” have in furthering Bible education? (b) What instrument for the Bible study work was provided in 1968, and how was it specially designed? (c) How did the Truth book aid in the disciple-making work?
8 From 1946 to 1968, the book “Let God Be True” was used as a powerful instrument for Bible education, and 19,250,000 copies were published in 54 languages. Released in 1968, the book The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life was for many years effectively used in studying the Bible with interested ones. Previously, it was not uncommon for some to study with Jehovah’s Witnesses year after year without getting baptized. But this instrument was designed to involve the student, encouraging him to apply what he was learning. The result? The book Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom states: “For the three service years beginning September 1, 1968, and ending August 31, 1971, a total of 434,906 persons were baptized—more than double the number baptized during the previous three service years!” Since its release, the Truth book has achieved a staggering circulation—over 107,000,000 in 117 languages.
9. What special feature does the Live Forever book have, and what impact did it have on the ranks of Kingdom proclaimers?
9 In 1982 the book You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth became the primary book used in conducting Bible studies. This tool has over 150 visual illustrations, each with well-worded captions that concisely highlight the teaching point of the pictures. The October 1982 issue of Our Kingdom Ministry stated: “In the some 20 years that ‘Let God Be True’ was our primary study book (from 1946 to the mid-1960’s) over 1,000,000 new Kingdom proclaimers were added to our ranks. Then another 1,000,000 publishers were added when The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life became our primary study book following its release in 1968. With the use of our new study book, You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, will we see a similar expansion in the ranks of the Kingdom publishers? Surely, if this be Jehovah’s will!” It evidently was Jehovah’s will, because from 1982 to 1995, over 2,700,000 were added to the ranks of Kingdom proclaimers!
10. What new tool was provided in 1995, and why should it enable Bible students to make fairly rapid spiritual progress?
10 “The harvest is great, but the workers are few,” said Jesus. (Matthew 9:37) The harvest is, indeed, great. There is still much to do. In some lands people have to get on a waiting list for Bible studies. So with a view to spreading the knowledge of God more quickly, in 1995 “the faithful and discreet slave” provided a new tool, the 192-page book entitled Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life. This valuable instrument does not dwell on false doctrines. It presents Bible truths in a positive way. It is hoped that it will enable Bible students to make fairly rapid spiritual progress. The Knowledge book is already having an impact on the world field with 45,500,000 copies printed in 125 languages and with translation into an additional 21 languages under way.
11. What effective tool was provided to help teach those who are illiterate or who read poorly, and how has it made a powerful mark on our global teaching program?
11 From time to time, ‘the faithful slave’ has provided tools designed for a specific, or limited, audience. For example, what about people who might need special help because of their cultural or religious background? How can we assist them to learn God’s requirements? In 1982 we received just what we needed—the 32-page brochure Enjoy Life on Earth Forever! This generously illustrated publication has been an effective tool in teaching those who are illiterate or who read poorly. It contains a very simple and easy-to-understand presentation of basic Scriptural teachings. Since its release, the Life on Earth brochure has made a powerful mark on our global teaching program. Over 105,100,000 copies have been printed in 239 languages, making it the most widely translated publication the Watch Tower Society has produced to date!
12, 13. (a) Since 1990, ‘the faithful slave’ has provided what fresh way to reach a widespread audience? (b) How may we use the Society’s videos in our field ministry? (c) What new tool was recently provided to assist in our disciple-making work?
12 In addition to printed publications, starting in 1990 ‘the faithful slave’ has provided us with a means of instruction that offers a fresh way to reach a widespread audience—videocassettes. In October of that year, the 55-minute video Jehovah’s Witnesses—The Organization Behind the Name was released—the first video ever produced by the Watch Tower Society. The beautiful, informative presentation, available in 35 languages, shows the worldwide organization of Jehovah’s devoted people fulfilling Jesus’ command to proclaim the good news in all the earth. The video is especially designed to assist in our disciple-making work. Kingdom publishers wasted no time in putting this new tool to use in the field ministry. Some carried it in their book bags, ever ready to show or lend it to interested people. Shortly after its release, a traveling overseer wrote: “Videos have become a 21st-century means to reach the minds and hearts of millions of persons, so it is our hope that this video will be only the first in a long line of videos that the Society will use to further the worldwide Kingdom work.” Indeed, more videos have been provided, including the three-part series The Bible—A Book of Fact and Prophecy and Jehovah’s Witnesses Stand Firm Against Nazi Assault. If the Society’s videos are available in your language, have you made use of them in your field ministry?a
13 Recently a new tool, the brochure What Does God Require of Us?, was provided to assist in our disciple-making work. Why was it published? How may it be used?
Examining a New Tool
14, 15. For whom is the Require brochure designed, and what does it contain?
14 The new publication What Does God Require of Us? is designed for people who already believe in God and respect the Bible. Traveling overseers as well as Gilead-trained missionaries with many years of experience in developing lands assisted in the preparation of this brochure. It contains a well-rounded study course, covering the basic teachings of the Bible. The wording is warm, simple, and direct. At the same time, the text is not simplistic. It presents not just “milk” but also “solid food” from God’s Word in a way that most people should be able to understand.—Hebrews 5:12-14.
15 In recent years Kingdom publishers in various lands have asked for just such a publication. For example, the Watch Tower Society’s branch in Papua New Guinea wrote: “People are confused by conflicting religious teachings. They need concise statements of truth, supported by a number of Bible texts that they can check in their own Bibles. They need a clear and specific presentation of what God requires of true Christians and which customs and practices are unacceptable to him.” The Require brochure is just what we need to help such ones learn God’s requirements.
16. (a) Who particularly may benefit from the simple explanations in the new brochure? (b) How might those in your territory benefit from the Require brochure?
16 How may you use this new instrument? First, it can be used to study with people who have difficulty reading or who may not be inclined to read.b Such individuals may benefit from the simple explanations in the brochure. After reviewing an advance copy of this publication, Watch Tower branches wrote the following: “The brochure will be very useful in many parts of the country where people are not inclined to read extensively.” (Brazil) “There are quite a number of immigrants who cannot read their native language and who still have some difficulty reading French. This brochure may be used as an aid in studying with such ones.” (France) Can you think of people in your territory who might benefit from the Require brochure?
17. In what way may the new brochure be useful in many lands, and why?
17 Second, in many lands the brochure may be useful in starting Bible studies with God-fearing people regardless of how educated they are. Of course, effort should be made to start a study in the book Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life. But in some cases it may be easier to start a study in a brochure. Then at an appropriate time, the study should be transferred to the Knowledge book, our primary and preferred study aid. Regarding this use of the Require brochure, Watch Tower branches wrote: “Starting Bible studies is difficult, and the chances of starting a study seem to be better when publishers begin with a brochure.” (Germany) “A brochure of this nature will be most effective in starting new Bible studies, which could then be continued with the Knowledge book.” (Italy) “Although the Japanese have a high level of education, most have a very limited knowledge of the Bible and its basic teachings. The brochure should be a fine stepping-stone to the Knowledge book.”—Japan.
18. What should we remember about meeting God’s requirements?
18 The Society’s branches around the world requested this brochure, and approval has been given to translate it into 221 languages. May this new publication prove valuable in helping us to assist others to learn what Jehovah God requires of them. For our part, let us remember that meeting God’s requirements, including the command to preach and make disciples, gives us a precious opportunity to show Jehovah how much we love him. Yes, what God requires of us is no burden. It is the best way to live!—Psalm 19:7-11.
a The book Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom says: “Videocassettes are by no means taking the place of the printed page or personal witnessing. The Society’s publications continue to fill a vital role in spreading the good news. The house-to-house work of Jehovah’s Witnesses remains a solidly based Scriptural feature of their ministry. However, videocassettes now supplement these as valuable tools for cultivating faith in Jehovah’s precious promises and stimulating appreciation for what he is having done on the earth in our day.”
b For an explanation of how to conduct a study in the Require brochure, see the article “A New Tool to Help People Learn God’s Requirements,” on pages 16-17.
Can You Explain?
◻ In what twofold work does Jehovah require his servants to share?
◻ Why is our obligation to preach and make disciples not a burden for us?
◻ “The faithful and discreet slave” has provided what tools for use in our preaching and disciple-making work?
◻ For whom is the Require brochure designed, and how may we use it in our ministry?
[Picture on page 24]
Our preaching and disciple-making work is no burden
[Pictures on page 26]
“Let God Be True” (1946, revised 1952): 19,250,000 in 54 languages
“The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life” (1968): 107,000,000 in 117 languages (French shown)
“You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth” (1982): 80,900,000 in 130 languages (Russian shown)
“Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life” (1995): 45,500,000 in 125 languages (German shown)