Keep Safe as Part of God’s Organization
“The name of Jehovah is a strong tower. Into it the righteous runs and is given protection.”—PROVERBS 18:10.
1. According to Jesus’ prayer, what difficult situation are Christians in?
SHORTLY before he died, Jesus prayed to his heavenly Father in behalf of his followers. With loving concern, he said: “I have given your word to them, but the world has hated them, because they are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world. I request you, not to take them out of the world, but to watch over them because of the wicked one.” (John 17:14, 15) Jesus knew that the world would be a dangerous place for Christians. It would show its hatred of them by lying about them and persecuting them. (Matthew 5:11, 12; 10:16, 17) It would also be a source of corruption.—2 Timothy 4:10; 1 John 2:15, 16.
2. Where can Christians find a place of spiritual safety?
2 The world that would hate Christians is made up of those who are alienated from God and who are under the control of Satan. (1 John 5:19) This world is far bigger than the Christian congregation, and Satan himself is far more powerful than any human. Hence, the world’s hatred is a real threat. Where can Jesus’ followers find spiritual safety? A statement in the December 1, 1922, issue of The Watchtower suggested the answer: “We are now in the evil day. The fight is on between Satan’s organization and God’s organization. It is a desperate fight.” In this conflict, God’s organization is a place of spiritual safety. The word “organization” does not appear in the Bible, and back in the 1920’s, “God’s organization” was a new expression. What, then, is this organization? And how may we find protection in it?
3, 4. (a) According to one dictionary and The Watchtower, what is an organization? (b) In what sense can the international fellowship of Jehovah’s Witnesses be called an organization?
3 An organization is “an organized body,” according to the Concise Oxford Dictionary. With that in mind, we understand that because the apostles organized first-century Christians into local congregations under the oversight of a governing body in Jerusalem, it is proper to speak of that “association of brothers” as an organization. (1 Peter 2:17) Jehovah’s Witnesses today have a similar organizational structure. The unity of the first-century body was strengthened by “gifts in men,” such as “shepherds and teachers.” Some of these traveled from congregation to congregation, while others were elders in local congregations. (Ephesians 4:8, 11, 12; Acts 20:28) Similar “gifts” strengthen the unity of Jehovah’s Witnesses today.
4 The November 1, 1922, issue of The Watchtower said about the word “organization”: “An organization is an association of persons for the purpose of carrying out a formed design.” The Watchtower went on to explain that to call Jehovah’s Witnesses an organization did not make them “a sect in the sense that that term is used, but it means merely that the Bible Students [Jehovah’s Witnesses] are endeavoring to carry out God’s purposes and doing it as the Lord does everything, in an orderly manner.” (1 Corinthians 14:33) The apostle Paul showed that Christians in his day likewise acted in an orderly fashion. He compared the anointed Christian fellowship to the human body, which has many parts, each fulfilling its assigned role so that the body can function properly. (1 Corinthians 12:12-26) That is an excellent illustration of an organization! Why were Christians organized? To serve “God’s purposes,” to do Jehovah’s will.
5. What is God’s visible organization?
5 The Bible foretold that true Christians today would be united, brought together into one “land” as one “nation,” where they would be “shining as illuminators in the world.” (Isaiah 66:8; Philippians 2:15) This organized “nation” now numbers more than five and a half million. (Isaiah 60:8-10, 22) However, that is not the full extent of God’s organization. Angels are also involved.
6. In its widest sense, who make up God’s organization?
6 There are many instances of angels working together with God’s human servants. (Genesis 28:12; Daniel 10:12-14; 12:1; Hebrews 1:13, 14; Revelation 14:14-16) Fittingly, then, the May 15, 1925, issue of The Watchtower said: “All holy angels are a part of God’s organization.” Additionally, it said: “At the head of God’s organization, possessing all power and authority, [is] the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Matthew 28:18) Hence, in its broadest sense, God’s organization is made up of all those in heaven and on earth who work together to do God’s will. (See box.) What a wonderful privilege it is to be a part of this! And what a joy to look forward to the time when all living creatures, heavenly and earthly, will be organized to praise Jehovah God in unity! (Revelation 5:13, 14) What, though, is the protection that God’s organization supplies today?
Protected in God’s Organization—How?
7. In what way does God’s organization protect us?
7 God’s organization can help to guard us against Satan and his wiles. (Ephesians 6:11) Satan pressures, persecutes, and tempts Jehovah’s worshipers with just one goal in mind: to draw them away from ‘the way in which they should walk.’ (Isaiah 48:17; compare Matthew 4:1-11.) We can never completely avoid those attacks in this system of things. However, our close relationship with God and his organization strengthens and protects us and thus helps us to stay in “the way.” As a result, we do not lose out with regard to our hope.
8. How does Jehovah’s invisible organization support his earthly servants?
8 How does God’s organization provide this protection? First, we have the unfailing support of Jehovah’s spirit servants. When Jesus was under intense pressure, he was ministered to by an angel. (Luke 22:43) When under threat of death, Peter was miraculously saved by an angel. (Acts 12:6-11) While there are no such miracles today, Jehovah’s people are promised angelic support in their preaching activity. (Revelation 14:6, 7) They often have strength beyond what is normal when facing difficult situations. (2 Corinthians 4:7) Moreover, they are conscious that “the angel of Jehovah is camping all around those fearing him, and he rescues them.”—Psalm 34:7.
9, 10. How can it be said that “the name of Jehovah is a strong tower,” and how does this principle apply to God’s organization as a whole?
9 Jehovah’s visible organization is also a protection. How? At Proverbs 18:10, we read: “The name of Jehovah is a strong tower. Into it the righteous runs and is given protection.” This does not imply that merely repeating God’s name provides protection. Rather, our taking refuge in God’s name signifies that we trust in Jehovah himself. (Psalm 20:1; 122:4) It means supporting his sovereignty, upholding his laws and principles, and having faith in his promises. (Psalm 8:1-9; Isaiah 50:10; Hebrews 11:6) It includes giving Jehovah exclusive devotion. Only those who worship Jehovah in this way can say with the psalmist: “In [Jehovah] our heart rejoices; for in his holy name we have put our trust.”—Psalm 33:21; 124:8.
10 Now all in God’s visible organization say with Micah: “We, for our part, shall walk in the name of Jehovah our God to time indefinite, even forever.” (Micah 4:5) The modern-day organization is gathered around “the Israel of God,” which is called in the Bible “a people for his name.” (Galatians 6:16; Acts 15:14; Isaiah 43:6, 7; 1 Peter 2:17) Hence, to be part of Jehovah’s organization means to be part of a people who seek, and receive, protection in God’s name.
11. In what specific ways does Jehovah’s organization provide protection for those who are part of it?
11 In addition, God’s visible organization is a community of faith, an association of fellow believers who build up and encourage one another. (Proverbs 13:20; Romans 1:12) It is a place where Christian shepherds care for the sheep, encourage the sick and depressed, and seek to restore those who have fallen. (Isaiah 32:1, 2; 1 Peter 5:2-4) “The faithful and discreet slave” provides “food at the proper time” through the organization. (Matthew 24:45) That “slave,” made up of anointed Christians, provides the very best of spiritually good things—accurate, Bible-based knowledge that can lead to everlasting life. (John 17:3) Thanks to guidance from the “slave,” Christians are helped to maintain high moral standards and to be “cautious as serpents and yet innocent as doves” in the dangerous environment that surrounds them. (Matthew 10:16) And they are helped always to have “plenty to do in the work of the Lord,” which is in itself a powerful protection.—1 Corinthians 15:58.
Who Are Part of God’s Organization?
12. Who are identified as part of God’s heavenly organization?
12 Since this protection is available to those who are part of God’s organization, whom does this include? Regarding the heavenly organization, there is no doubt as to the answer to this question. Satan and his angels are no longer in heaven. On the other hand, the faithful angels are still there “in general assembly.” The apostle John saw that during the last days, “the Lamb,” the cherubs (“the four living creatures”), and “many angels” would be in close proximity to God’s throne. With them would be the 24 elders—representing those anointed Christians who have already entered into their glorious heavenly inheritance. (Hebrews 12:22, 23; Revelation 5:6, 11; 12:7-12) All are clearly part of God’s organization. Among humans, though, things are not so simple.
13. How did Jesus identify those who are part of God’s organization and those who are not?
13 Jesus said of some who would claim to follow him: “Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and expel demons in your name, and perform many powerful works in your name?’ And yet then I will confess to them: I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness.” (Matthew 7:22, 23) If someone is a worker of lawlessness, he is certainly no part of God’s organization, no matter what he claims, and no matter where he goes to worship. Jesus also showed how to identify one who is part of God’s organization. He said: “Not everyone saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will.”—Matthew 7:21.
14. What aspects of God’s will are identified as being obligatory upon those who are part of God’s organization?
14 Hence, to be part of God’s organization—of which “the kingdom of the heavens” is the central part—one has to be doing God’s will. What is his will? Paul identified a vital aspect of it when he said: “[God’s] will is that all sorts of men should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4) If a person truly seeks to gain accurate knowledge from the Bible, to apply it in his life, and to disseminate it to “all sorts of men,” he is doing God’s will. (Matthew 28:19, 20; Romans 10:13-15) It is also God’s will that Jehovah’s sheep be fed and cared for. (John 21:15-17) Christian meetings play a vital part in this. A person who is free to attend such meetings but neglects to do so lacks appreciation for his place in God’s organization.—Hebrews 10:23-25.
Friendship With the World
15. What warning did James give to congregations of his day?
15 Some 30 years after Jesus died, his half brother James identified some factors that can jeopardize one’s place in God’s organization. He wrote: “Adulteresses, do you not know that the friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever, therefore, wants to be a friend of the world is constituting himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4) An enemy of God is certainly no part of his organization. What, then, is friendship with the world? It has been explained as taking different forms, such as cultivating or becoming involved with bad associations. In addition, James focused on something very specific—wrong mental attitudes that lead to improper conduct.
16. What was the context of James’ warning that friendship with the world is enmity with God?
16 At James 4:1-3, we read: “From what source are there wars and from what source are there fights among you? Are they not from this source, namely, from your cravings for sensual pleasure that carry on a conflict in your members? You desire, and yet you do not have. You go on murdering and coveting, and yet you are not able to obtain. You go on fighting and waging war. You do not have because of your not asking. You do ask, and yet you do not receive, because you are asking for a wrong purpose, that you may expend it upon your cravings for sensual pleasure.” It was after writing these words that James warned against friendship with the world.
17. In what way were there “wars” and “fights” in the first-century Christian congregation?
17 Centuries after James died, false Christians waged war on and murdered one another in a literal sense. However, James was writing to first-century members of “the Israel of God,” prospective heavenly ‘priests and kings.’ (Revelation 20:6) They did not murder one another or kill one another in literal wars. So why did James speak of such things among Christians? Well, the apostle John called anyone hating his brother a manslayer. And Paul spoke of personality conflicts and feuds in the congregations as “fights” and “strife.” (Titus 3:9; 2 Timothy 2:14; 1 John 3:15-17) Along this same line, James apparently had in mind a failure to love fellow Christians. Among themselves, Christians were acting in a manner resembling the way those in the world often deal with one another.
18. What can lead to unloving actions and feelings among Christians?
18 Why did such things happen in Christian congregations? Because of wrong attitudes, such as covetousness and “cravings for sensual pleasure.” Pride, jealousy, and ambition can also rupture the loving Christian fellowship in a congregation. (James 3:6, 14) Such attitudes make one a friend of the world and, hence, an enemy of God. None who harbor attitudes like these can expect to remain a part of God’s organization.
19. (a) Who primarily is to blame if a Christian finds that wrong thinking is taking root in his heart? (b) How can a Christian overcome wrong thinking?
19 Whom can we blame if we find wrong thinking taking root in our heart? Satan? To a degree, yes. He is “the ruler of the authority of the air” of this world, in which such attitudes are widespread. (Ephesians 2:1, 2; Titus 2:12) Usually, though, the roots of wrong thinking lie in our own imperfect flesh. After warning against friendship with the world, James wrote: “Does it seem to you that the scripture says to no purpose: ‘It is with a tendency to envy that the spirit which has taken up residence within us keeps longing’?” (James 4:5) All of us have an inborn tendency to do wrong. (Genesis 8:21; Romans 7:18-20) We can, though, combat that tendency if we admit our weaknesses and rely on Jehovah’s help to overcome them. James says: “The undeserved kindness which [God] gives is greater [than our inborn tendency to envy].” (James 4:6) Thanks to the help of God’s holy spirit and the support of faithful Christian brothers, and through the merit of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice, faithful Christians are not conquered by the weaknesses of their flesh. (Romans 7:24, 25) They are safe in God’s organization, friends of God, not of the world.
20. What rich blessings are enjoyed by those who are part of God’s organization?
20 The Bible promises: “Jehovah himself will give strength indeed to his people. Jehovah himself will bless his people with peace.” (Psalm 29:11) If we are truly part of Jehovah’s modern-day “nation,” his visible organization, we will share in the strength that he gives and enjoy the peace with which he blesses his people. True, Satan’s world is much bigger than Jehovah’s visible organization, and Satan is much stronger than we are. But Jehovah is the Almighty. His active force is invincible. His mighty angels too are united with us in serving God. Thus, despite the hatred that we face, we can stand firm. Like Jesus, we can conquer the world.—John 16:33; 1 John 4:4.
Can You Explain?
◻ What is God’s visible organization?
◻ In what ways does God’s organization provide protection?
◻ Who are part of God’s organization?
◻ How can we avoid being friends of the world?
[Box on page 9]
What Is God’s Organization?
In Jehovah’s Witnesses’ literature, the expression “God’s organization” is used in three ways.
1 Jehovah’s heavenly, invisible organization made up of faithful spirit creatures. This is called “Jerusalem above” in the Bible.—Galatians 4:26.
2 Jehovah’s human, visible organization. Today, this consists of the anointed remnant joined by the great crowd.
3 Jehovah’s universal organization. Today, this consists of Jehovah’s heavenly organization together with his anointed, adopted sons on earth, who have a spiritual hope. In time, it will also include perfected humans on earth.
[Picture on page 10]
The finest spiritual food is supplied through Jehovah’s organization