Keep in Step With Jehovah’s Organization
“May the God of peace . . . equip you with every good thing to do his will.”—HEBREWS 13:20, 21.
1. What is the world’s population, and how many are counted as members of certain religions?
IN THE year 1999, the earth’s population reached six billion! The World Almanac indicates that of this number some 1,165,000,000 are Muslims; 1,030,000,000 are Roman Catholics; 762,000,000 are Hindus; 354,000,000 are Buddhists; 316,000,000 are Protestants; and 214,000,000 are Orthodox.
2. What can be said about the religious situation that exists today?
2 In view of the religious division and confusion existing today, could all these millions be acting in harmony with God’s will? No, “for God is a God, not of disorder, but of peace.” (1 Corinthians 14:33) On the other hand, what about the international brotherhood of Jehovah’s servants? (1 Peter 2:17) Careful investigation proves that ‘the God of peace equips them with every good thing to do his will.’—Hebrews 13:20, 21.
3. What happened in Jerusalem at Pentecost 33 C.E., and why?
3 Of course, the number of those associated with Jehovah’s Witnesses is not a criterion for determining if they enjoy divine favor; nor do statistics impress God. He did not choose the Israelites because they were “the most populous” of the peoples. They were, in fact, “the least” of them. (Deuteronomy 7:7) But because Israel proved unfaithful, at Pentecost 33 C.E., Jehovah transferred his favor to the new congregation that consisted of Jesus Christ’s followers. They were anointed with Jehovah’s holy spirit and zealously went forth declaring the truth about God and Christ to others.—Acts 2:41, 42.
Constantly Moving Forward
4. Why would you say that the early Christian congregation was constantly moving ahead?
4 In the first century, the Christian congregation was constantly moving forward, opening up new territories, making disciples, and acquiring greater understanding of God’s purposes. The early Christians kept in step with the spiritual enlightenment provided through divinely inspired letters. Spurred on by visits from the apostles and others, they accomplished their ministry. This is well documented in the Christian Greek Scriptures.—Acts 10:21, 22; 13:46, 47; 2 Timothy 1:13; 4:5; Hebrews 6:1-3; 2 Peter 3:17, 18.
5. Why is God’s organization progressing today, and why should we keep in step with it?
5 Like the early Christians, Jehovah’s present-day Witnesses have developed from small beginnings. (Zechariah 4:8-10) Since the late 19th century, there has been clear evidence that God’s spirit rests on his organization. Because we have relied, not on human power, but on guidance by holy spirit, we have continued to progress in our understanding of the Scriptures and in doing God’s will. (Zechariah 4:6) Now that we are in “the last days,” it is vital that we keep in step with Jehovah’s progressive organization. (2 Timothy 3:1-5) Doing so enables us to keep our hope alive and to share in giving a witness about God’s established Kingdom before the final end overtakes this system of things.—Matthew 24:3-14.
6, 7. We will consider what three areas wherein Jehovah’s organization has moved ahead?
6 Within our ranks are those who began their association with Jehovah’s organization in the 1920’s, ’30’s, and ’40’s. During those early years, who among us could have imagined the remarkable growth and the progressive development of the organization up to this day? Think of the milestones that have been reached in our modern-day history! It is spiritually rewarding, indeed, to reflect on what Jehovah has accomplished by means of his theocratically organized people.
7 David of old was deeply impressed when he contemplated Jehovah’s wonderful works. “Were I inclined to tell and speak of them,” he said, “they have become more numerous than I can recount.” (Psalm 40:5) We face the same limitation, being unable to relate the many great and praiseworthy deeds of Jehovah in our day. Nevertheless, let us consider three areas wherein Jehovah’s organization has moved ahead: (1) progressive spiritual enlightenment, (2) an improved and expanded ministry, and (3) timely adjustments in organizational procedures.
Grateful for Spiritual Enlightenment
8. In harmony with Proverbs 4:18, what has spiritual enlightenment enabled us to discern regarding the Kingdom?
8 Regarding progressive spiritual enlightenment, Proverbs 4:18 has proved true. It says: “The path of the righteous ones is like the bright light that is getting lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established.” How thankful we are for the progressive spiritual enlightenment we have experienced! At the Cedar Point, Ohio, convention in 1919, God’s Kingdom was highlighted. Jehovah uses the Kingdom to sanctify his name and vindicate his sovereignty. In fact, spiritual enlightenment has enabled us to discern that from Genesis through Revelation, the Bible testifies to Jehovah’s purpose to sanctify his name by means of the Kingdom ruled by his Son. Therein lies the grand hope of all lovers of righteousness.—Matthew 12:18, 21.
9, 10. In the 1920’s, what was learned about the Kingdom and about two opposing organizations, and how has this been helpful?
9 At the Cedar Point convention in 1922, the principal speaker, J. F. Rutherford, urged God’s people to “advertise, advertise, advertise, the King and his kingdom.” In the article “Birth of the Nation,” published in The Watch Tower of March 1, 1925, attention was drawn to spiritual insight concerning prophecies that had pointed forward to the setting up of God’s Kingdom in 1914. It was also discerned in the 1920’s that there are two opposing organizations—Jehovah’s and Satan’s. The fight is on between them, and we will be on the winning side only if we keep in step with Jehovah’s organization.
10 How has such spiritual enlightenment helped us? Since God’s Kingdom and the King Jesus Christ are no part of the world, neither can we be part of it. By keeping separate from the world, we show that we are on the side of the truth. (John 17:16; 18:37) When we observe the complex problems plaguing this wicked system, how thankful we are to be no part of Satan’s organization! And how favored we are to have spiritual security within Jehovah’s organization!
11. What Scriptural name was adopted by God’s people in 1931?
11 At the Columbus, Ohio, convention in 1931, fitting application was made of Isaiah 43:10-12. The Bible Students adopted the distinctive name Jehovah’s Witnesses. What a grand privilege it is to make known God’s name so that others may call upon it in order to be saved!—Psalm 83:18; Romans 10:13.
12. What spiritual enlightenment concerning the great crowd was provided in 1935?
12 Prior to the 1930’s, many of God’s people were somewhat uncertain about their hope for future life. Some had thoughts about heavenly life but were fascinated by Bible teachings about a paradise earth. At the Washington, D.C., convention in 1935, it was thrilling to learn that the great multitude, or great crowd, of Revelation chapter 7 is a class with an earthly hope. Since then, the gathering of the great crowd has moved ahead with ever greater momentum. Are we not thankful that the identity of the great crowd is no mystery to us? The reality of people being gathered in great numbers from all nations, tribes, and tongues motivates us to quicken our step as we keep pace with Jehovah’s organization.
13. What big issue was highlighted at the St. Louis convention in 1941?
13 The big issue that should concern human society was highlighted at the St. Louis, Missouri, convention in 1941. It is universal domination, or sovereignty. This is the issue that must be settled soon, and the great and fear-inspiring day for that to be done comes on apace! Also brought to the fore in 1941 was the related issue of integrity, which allows us to show where we individually stand with regard to God’s sovereignty.
14. At the international convention in 1950, what was learned about the princes mentioned at Psalm 45:16?
14 At the 1950 international convention in New York City, the princes of Psalm 45:16 were precisely identified. It was an electrifying moment when Brother Frederick Franz spoke on this subject and explained that princes of the new earth were among us. At that convention and at subsequent ones, there have been numerous flashes of spiritual light. (Psalm 97:11) How grateful we are that our path “is like the bright light that is getting lighter and lighter”!
Moving Ahead in Our Ministry
15, 16. (a) How did we move ahead in our ministry during the 1920’s and 1930’s? (b) What publications have given impetus to the Christian ministry in recent decades?
15 A second way that Jehovah’s organization has moved ahead has to do with our main work—Kingdom preaching and disciple making. (Matthew 28:19, 20; Mark 13:10) To accomplish this work, the organization has kept before us the importance of expanding our ministry. In 1922 all Christians were urged to share in the preaching work. It was up to each one to let his light shine and thus have a personal share in bearing witness to the truth. (Matthew 5:14-16) In 1927 steps were taken to set Sunday aside as a day for the field ministry. Beginning in February 1940, it became common to see Witnesses on the streets in business districts offering The Watchtower and Consolation (now Awake!).
16 The year 1937 saw the introduction of the booklet Model Study, emphasizing the need to make return visits in order to teach others Bible truth. In the years thereafter, Bible study activity was greatly emphasized. Impetus was given to this feature of the ministry with the publication of the book “Let God Be True” in 1946 and The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life in 1968. Currently, we use the book Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life. Coverage of such material lays a sound Scriptural foundation for making disciples.
Moving Ahead With Organizational Refinements
17. In keeping with Isaiah 60:17, how has Jehovah’s organization moved ahead?
17 A third way in which Jehovah’s organization has moved ahead has to do with organizational refinements. According to Isaiah 60:17, Jehovah promised: “Instead of the copper I shall bring in gold, and instead of the iron I shall bring in silver, and instead of the wood, copper, and instead of the stones, iron; and I will appoint peace as your overseers and righteousness as your task assigners.” In keeping with this prophecy, steps have been taken to improve the oversight of the Kingdom-preaching work and the shepherding of the flock.
18, 19. What organizational refinements have there been through the years?
18 In 1919 a service director was appointed in each congregation that asked to be organized for field service. This gave impetus to our ministry in the field. The election of elders and deacons was terminated in 1932, marking our departure from democratic methods. Another milestone was reached in 1938 when all servants in the congregation began to be appointed more closely in line with the arrangements for theocratic appointment in the early Christian congregation. (Acts 14:23; 1 Timothy 4:14) In 1972 overseers and ministerial servants were appointed to serve, as such men did among the early Christians. Instead of having just one man serve as the overseer of a congregation, Philippians 1:1 and other scriptures indicate that those meeting Scriptural requirements for overseers constitute a body of elders.—Acts 20:28; Ephesians 4:11, 12.
19 In 1975 an arrangement went into effect for committees of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses to oversee the worldwide activities of God’s organization. Branch Committees were appointed to have oversight of the work in their respective territories. Since then, attention has been given to simplifying the work at headquarters and at the branches of the Watch Tower Society so as to “make sure of the more important things.” (Philippians 1:9, 10) The responsibilities resting on the shoulders of Christ’s undershepherds involve taking the lead in the evangelizing work, teaching in the congregation, and properly shepherding the flock of God.—1 Timothy 4:16; Hebrews 13:7, 17; 1 Peter 5:2, 3.
Jesus’ Active Leadership
20. Keeping in step with Jehovah’s organization requires that we recognize what about Jesus’ position?
20 Keeping in step with Jehovah’s progressive organization requires that we recognize the God-assigned role of Jesus Christ as “head of the congregation.” (Ephesians 5:22, 23) Noteworthy, too, is Isaiah 55:4, where we are told: “Look! As a witness to the national groups I [Jehovah] have given him, as a leader and commander to the national groups.” Jesus certainly knows how to lead. He also knows his sheep and their deeds. In fact, when he inspected the seven congregations in Asia Minor, five times he said: “I know your deeds.” (Revelation 2:2, 19; 3:1, 8, 15) Jesus also knows our needs, as does his Father, Jehovah. Before giving the Model Prayer, Jesus stated: “God your Father knows what things you are needing before ever you ask him.”—Matthew 6:8-13.
21. How is Jesus’ leadership manifested in the Christian congregation?
21 How is Jesus’ leadership manifested? One way is through Christian overseers, the “gifts in men.” (Ephesians 4:8) Revelation 1:16 depicts anointed overseers as being in Christ’s right hand, under his control. Today, Jesus directs the arrangement for elders, whether such men have a heavenly or an earthly hope. As explained in the preceding article, they are appointed by holy spirit in harmony with Scriptural requirements. (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9) In the first century, a group of older men in Jerusalem made up a governing body that had oversight of the congregations and of the Kingdom-preaching activity in general. The same pattern is followed within Jehovah’s organization today.
Keep in Step!
22. What help does the Governing Body provide?
22 Kingdom interests on the earth have been entrusted to “the faithful and discreet slave,” which is represented by the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses. (Matthew 24:45-47) The Governing Body is primarily concerned with providing spiritual instruction and direction for the Christian congregation. (Acts 6:1-6) When fellow worshipers are affected by natural disasters, however, the Governing Body asks one or more legal entities to provide relief and to repair or restore damaged homes and Kingdom Halls. If certain Christians are dealt with harshly or are persecuted, steps are taken to build them up spiritually. And “in troublesome season,” every effort is made to keep the preaching work moving forward.—2 Timothy 4:1, 2.
23, 24. Regardless of what comes upon his people, what does Jehovah constantly provide, and what should be our determination?
23 No matter what comes upon his people, Jehovah constantly provides spiritual food and needed direction. God also gives discernment and insight to responsible brothers to prepare for further advancement and refinements in theocratic organization. (Deuteronomy 34:9; Ephesians 1:16, 17) Without fail, Jehovah provides what we need in order to fulfill our disciple-making commission and to accomplish our ministry worldwide.—2 Timothy 4:5.
24 We have absolute confidence that Jehovah will never abandon his faithful people; he will deliver them through the coming “great tribulation.” (Revelation 7:9-14; Psalm 94:14; 2 Peter 2:9) We have every reason to maintain the confidence we had at first firm right down to the end. (Hebrews 3:14) Let us, therefore, be determined to keep in step with Jehovah’s organization.
How Would You Answer?
• Why can we say that Jehovah’s organization keeps moving ahead?
• What evidence is there that God’s people enjoy progressive spiritual enlightenment?
• How have there been improvements in the Christian ministry?
• What timely adjustments have been made in organizational procedures among Jehovah’s servants?
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Like David, we cannot recount all of Jehovah’s wonderful works
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God’s flock has benefited from timely adjustments in organizational procedures