Helping People to Draw Close to Jehovah
“No one comes to the Father except through me.”—JOHN 14:6.
1. What commandment did the resurrected Jesus give to his disciples, and what has resulted as Jehovah’s Witnesses have obeyed it?
JESUS CHRIST commanded his followers to “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.” (Matthew 28:19) In the last ten years, Jehovah’s Witnesses have helped well over three million people to come to God, in time baptizing them in symbol of their dedication to him to do his will. How glad we are to help them to draw close to God!—James 4:8.
2. Though many new ones are being baptized, what has occurred?
2 In some lands where many new disciples have been baptized, however, there has not been a corresponding increase in the number of Kingdom publishers. Of course, allowance must be made for those who died, the annual mortality rate being about 1 percent. Yet, in the last few years, quite a number have fallen away for some reason. Why? This and the next article will examine how people are drawn to Jehovah and possible reasons why some fall away.
The Purpose of Our Preaching
3. (a) How does the mission entrusted to Jesus’ disciples coincide with that of the angel mentioned at Revelation 14:6? (b) What has proved to be an effective way to arouse people’s interest in the Kingdom message, but what problem exists?
3 In this “time of the end,” Jesus’ disciples have the commission to spread “true knowledge” concerning “this good news of the kingdom.” (Daniel 12:4; Matthew 24:14) Their mission coincides with that of the angel who “had everlasting good news to declare as glad tidings to those who dwell on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people.” (Revelation 14:6) In this world that is so preoccupied with mundane matters, generally the most effective way to interest people in God’s Kingdom and help them to draw close to Jehovah is to tell them about the hope of everlasting life on a paradise earth. While this is understandable, those who associate with God’s people solely to gain entrance into Paradise do not have their feet firmly set on the narrow road leading to life.—Matthew 7:13, 14.
4. According to Jesus and the angel flying in midheaven, what is the purpose of our preaching work?
4 Jesus stated: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.” (John 17:3) The angel flying in midheaven declares “everlasting good news” and tells those dwelling on the earth: “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of the judgment by him has arrived, and so worship the One who made the heaven and the earth and sea and fountains of waters.” (Revelation 14:7) It follows that the ultimate purpose of our preaching the good news is to help people to draw close to Jehovah through Christ Jesus.
Our Role in Jehovah’s Work
5. What statements by Paul and Jesus show that we are doing Jehovah’s work, not ours?
5 Writing to fellow anointed Christians, the apostle Paul speaks of “the ministry of the reconciliation” and says that God reconciles people to himself on the basis of Jesus Christ’s ransom sacrifice. Paul says that it is “as though God were making entreaty through us” and that “as substitutes for Christ we beg: ‘Become reconciled to God.’” What a heartwarming thought! Whether we are anointed “ambassadors substituting for Christ” or are envoys with earthly hopes, we should never forget that this is Jehovah’s work, not ours. (2 Corinthians 5:18-20) It is really God who draws people and teaches those who come to Christ. Jesus stated: “No man can come to me unless the Father, who sent me, draws him; and I will resurrect him in the last day. It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by Jehovah.’ Everyone that has heard from the Father and has learned comes to me.”—John 6:44, 45.
6. How is Jehovah rocking the nations in a preliminary way, and at the same time, who are finding security in his “house” of worship?
6 In these last days, how does Jehovah draw people and open to them the “door of faith”? (Acts 14:27, footnote; 2 Timothy 3:1) A key way is by having his Witnesses proclaim his messages of salvation and of judgment against this wicked system of things. (Isaiah 43:12; 61:1, 2) This worldwide proclamation is sending a tremor through the nations—a portent of the judgmental shattering soon to come. At the same time, people who are “precious” in God’s eyes are being drawn out of this system and are finding security in his “house” of true worship. Jehovah is thus fulfilling his prophetic words recorded by Haggai: “I will rock all the nations, and the desirable things of all the nations must come in; and I will fill this house with glory.”—Haggai 2:6, 7, footnote; Revelation 7:9, 15.
7. How does Jehovah open the hearts of people and draw individuals to himself and to his Son?
7 Jehovah opens the hearts of these God-fearers—“the choicest things of all nations”—that they may “pay attention to the things being spoken” by his Witnesses. (Haggai 2:7, Jewish Publication Society; Acts 16:14) As in the first century, Jehovah at times uses his angels to direct his Witnesses to sincere people who have cried out to him for help. (Acts 8:26-31) As individuals learn about the wonderful provisions God has made for them through his Son, Jesus Christ, they are drawn to Jehovah by his love. (1 John 4:9, 10) Yes, God draws people to himself and to his Son by means of His “loving-kindness,” or “loyal love.”—Jeremiah 31:3, footnote.
Whom Does Jehovah Draw?
8. What kind of people does Jehovah draw?
8 Jehovah draws to himself and to his Son those seeking Him. (Acts 17:27) These include people who “are sighing and groaning over all the detestable things that are being done” in Christendom and, in fact, throughout the world. (Ezekiel 9:4) They are “conscious of their spiritual need.” (Matthew 5:3) Indeed, they are the “meek [“humble,” footnote] ones of the earth,” who will reside on the paradise earth forever.—Zephaniah 2:3.
9. How can Jehovah see if people are “rightly disposed for everlasting life,” and how does he draw these?
9 Jehovah can read a person’s heart. King David told his son Solomon: “All hearts Jehovah is searching, and every inclination of the thoughts he is discerning. If you search for him, he will let himself be found by you.” (1 Chronicles 28:9) On the basis of an individual’s heart condition and spirit, or dominant attitude, Jehovah can see whether he or she is likely to respond to divine provisions for the forgiveness of sins and the hope of everlasting life in God’s righteous new system. (2 Peter 3:13) By means of his Word, preached and taught by his Witnesses, Jehovah draws to himself and to his Son ‘all those who are rightly disposed for everlasting life,’ and these ‘become believers.’—Acts 13:48.
10. What shows that Jehovah’s drawing of some and not others does not involve predestination?
10 Does Jehovah’s drawing of some and not others involve a form of predestination? Absolutely not! God’s drawing of people is contingent on their own aspirations. He respects their free will. Jehovah places before earth’s inhabitants today the same choice as that set before the Israelites over 3,000 years ago, when Moses said: “I do put before you today life and good, and death and bad. . . . I do take the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you today, that I have put life and death before you, the blessing and the malediction; and you must choose life in order that you may keep alive, you and your offspring, by loving Jehovah your God, by listening to his voice and by sticking to him; for he is your life and the length of your days.”—Deuteronomy 30:15-20.
11. How were the Israelites to choose life?
11 Notice that the Israelites were to choose life ‘by loving Jehovah, by listening to his voice, and by sticking to him.’ When those words were spoken, the people of Israel had not yet taken possession of the Promised Land. They were poised on the Plains of Moab, readying themselves to cross the Jordan River and enter Canaan. While it was natural for them to turn their thoughts toward the “good and spacious” land “flowing with milk and honey” that they would soon receive, the realization of their dreams depended on their love for Jehovah, their listening to his voice, and their sticking to him. (Exodus 3:8) Moses made this clear, stating: “If you will listen to the commandments of Jehovah your God, which I am commanding you today, so as to love Jehovah your God, to walk in his ways and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judicial decisions, then you will be bound to keep alive and to multiply, and Jehovah your God must bless you in the land to which you are going to take possession of it.”—Deuteronomy 30:16.
12. What should the example of the Israelites teach us about our preaching and teaching work?
12 Should the foregoing not teach us something about our preaching and teaching work in this time of the end? We think about the coming Paradise earth and talk about it in our ministry. But neither we nor the disciples we make will see the fulfillment of the promise if we or they are serving God for selfish reasons. Like the Israelites, we and those whom we teach must learn to ‘love Jehovah, listen to his voice, and stick to him.’ If we remember this when carrying out our ministry, we will actually be collaborating with God in drawing people to him.
God’s Fellow Workers
13, 14. (a) According to 1 Corinthians 3:5-9, how do we become fellow workers with God? (b) To whom must the honor for any increase go, and why?
13 Paul illustrated collaboration with God by referring to the cultivating of a field. He wrote: “What, then, is Apollos? Yes, what is Paul? Ministers through whom you became believers, even as the Lord granted each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God kept making it grow; so that neither is he that plants anything nor is he that waters, but God who makes it grow. Now he that plants and he that waters are one, but each person will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You people are God’s field under cultivation.”—1 Corinthians 3:5-9.
14 As God’s fellow workers, we must faithfully plant “the word of the kingdom” in the hearts of people, then water any interest shown by well-thought-out return visits and Bible studies. If the soil, the heart, is good, Jehovah will do his part by making the seed of Bible truth grow into a productive plant. (Matthew 13:19, 23) He will draw the person to himself and to his Son. In the final analysis, then, any increase in the number of Kingdom proclaimers is due to Jehovah’s work on the hearts of people, making the seed of truth grow and drawing such ones to himself and to his Son.
Building Work That Will Remain
15. What illustration did Paul use to show how we help others to develop faith?
15 While rejoicing in the increase, we sincerely want to see people continue to love Jehovah, listen to his voice, and stick to him. We are sad when we see some cool off and fall away. Can we do anything to prevent this? In another illustration, Paul shows how we can help others to develop faith. He writes: “No man can lay any other foundation than what is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood materials, hay, stubble, each one’s work will become manifest, for the day will show it up, because it will be revealed by means of fire; and the fire itself will prove what sort of work each one’s is.”—1 Corinthians 3:11-13.
16. (a) How do the two illustrations used by Paul differ in objective? (b) How could our building work turn out to be unsatisfactory and not fire resistant?
16 In Paul’s illustration of the field, growth depends on conscientious planting, regular watering, and God’s blessing. The apostle’s other illustration highlights the Christian minister’s responsibility for what becomes of his building work. Has he built on a sure foundation with quality materials? Paul warns: “Let each one keep watching how he is building.” (1 Corinthians 3:10) Having aroused a person’s interest by telling him or her about the hope of everlasting life in Paradise, do we focus our teaching on just the basics of Scriptural knowledge and then lay emphasis principally on what the person must do to get eternal life? Could our teaching consist solely of this: ‘If you want to live forever in Paradise, you must study, go to meetings, and share in the preaching work’? If so, we are not building the person’s faith on a solid foundation, and what we build may not resist the fire of trials or stand the test of time. Trying to draw people to Jehovah just by the hope of life in Paradise in exchange for a few years spent serving him is like building with “wood materials, hay, stubble.”
Building Love for God and Christ
17, 18. (a) What is indispensable if a person’s faith is to endure? (b) How can we help a person to have Christ dwell in his or her heart?
17 For faith to endure, it must be based on a personal relationship with Jehovah God through Jesus Christ. As imperfect humans, we can attain such a peaceful relationship with God only through his Son. (Romans 5:10) Remember that Jesus said: “No one comes to the Father except through me.” To help others build faith, “no man can lay any other foundation than what is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” What does this involve?—John 14:6; 1 Corinthians 3:11.
18 Building on Christ as the foundation means teaching in such a way that the Bible student develops a deep love for Jesus through full knowledge of His role as Redeemer, Head of the congregation, loving High Priest, and reigning King. (Daniel 7:13, 14; Matthew 20:28; Colossians 1:18-20; Hebrews 4:14-16) It means making Jesus so real to them that he virtually dwells in their hearts. Our prayer for them should be like Paul’s petition in behalf of Christians in Ephesus. He wrote: “I bend my knees to the Father, . . . to the end that he may grant you . . . to have the Christ dwell through your faith in your hearts with love; that you may be rooted and established on the foundation.”—Ephesians 3:14-17.
19. What should be the result of building love for Christ in the hearts of our Bible students, but what must be taught?
19 If we build in such a manner that love for Christ develops in the hearts of our students, this will logically result in building love for Jehovah God. Jesus’ love, feeling, and compassion are a faithful reflection of Jehovah’s qualities. (Matthew 11:28-30; Mark 6:30-34; John 15:13, 14; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3) So as people get to know and love Jesus, they will come to know and love Jehovah.* (1 John 4:14, 16, 19) We need to teach Bible students that Jehovah is behind all that Christ has done for mankind and that we therefore owe Him thanks, praise, and worship as the “God of our salvation.”—Psalm 68:19, 20; Isaiah 12:2-5; John 3:16; 5:19.
20. (a) How can we help people to draw close to God and to his Son? (b) What will be considered in the next article?
20 As God’s fellow workers, let us help people to draw close to him and to his Son, helping them to develop love and faith in their hearts. Jehovah will thus become real to them. (John 7:28) Through Christ, they will be able to establish an intimate relationship with God, and they will love him and stick to him. They will set no time limits on their loving service, exercising faith that Jehovah’s wonderful promises will be fulfilled in his due time. (Lamentations 3:24-26; Hebrews 11:6) While helping others to develop faith, hope, and love, however, we must build our own faith so that it is like a sturdy ship capable of weathering severe storms. This will be considered in the following article.
An excellent aid in getting to know Jesus better and through him, his Father, Jehovah, is the book The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
By Way of Review
□ How do we often arouse people’s interest in the Kingdom message, but what danger exists?
□ What kind of people does Jehovah draw to himself and to his Son?
□ Upon what did Israel’s entry into the Promised Land depend, and what can we learn from this?
□ What role do we play in helping people to draw close to Jehovah and to his Son?
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Although we extend to people the hope of everlasting life in Paradise, our main objective is to draw them to Jehovah
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Our return visits can be very effective if we prepare well