Stirred by “the Magnificent Things of God”
“We hear them speaking in our tongues about the magnificent things of God.”—Acts 2:11.
1, 2. What amazing thing occurred in Jerusalem at Pentecost 33 C.E.?
ONE late spring morning in the year 33 C.E., an amazing thing happened to a group of men and women, disciples of Jesus Christ who were gathered in a private home in Jerusalem. “Suddenly there occurred from heaven a noise just like that of a rushing stiff breeze, and it filled the whole house in which they were sitting. And tongues as if of fire became visible to them . . . , and they all became filled with holy spirit and started to speak with different tongues.”—Acts 2:2-4, 15.
2 A large crowd gathered in front of the house. Among them were foreign-born Jews, “reverent men” who had come to Jerusalem to celebrate the festival of Pentecost. They were astonished because each of them heard the disciples speak in his native tongue “about the magnificent things of God.” How could that be when those speaking were all Galileans?—Acts 2:5-8, 11.
3. What message did the apostle Peter deliver to the crowd at Pentecost?
3 One of those Galileans was the apostle Peter. He explained that a few weeks earlier, Jesus Christ had been murdered by unrighteous men. However, God had raised his Son from the dead. Thereafter, Jesus appeared to many of his disciples, including Peter and others who were now present. Just ten days earlier, Jesus had ascended to heaven. He it was who had poured out the holy spirit upon his disciples. Did this have any implications for those celebrants of Pentecost? Yes, indeed. Jesus’ death laid the groundwork for them to obtain forgiveness of their sins and to receive “the free gift of the holy spirit” if they exercised faith in him. (Acts 2:22-24, 32, 33, 38) So how did those onlookers respond to “the magnificent things of God” that they heard? And how can this account help us to evaluate our own service to Jehovah?
Moved to Action!
4. What prophecy of Joel was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost 33 C.E.?
4 Having received the holy spirit, the disciples in Jerusalem lost no time in sharing the good news of salvation with others, beginning with the crowd who had gathered that morning. Their preaching fulfilled a remarkable prophecy, recorded eight centuries earlier by Joel, the son of Pethuel: “I shall pour out my spirit on every sort of flesh, and your sons and your daughters will certainly prophesy. As for your old men, dreams they will dream. As for your young men, visions they will see. And even on the menservants and on the maidservants in those days I shall pour out my spirit . . . before the coming of the great and fear-inspiring day of Jehovah.”—Joel 1:1; 2:28, 29, 31; Acts 2:17, 18, 20.
5. In what sense did first-century Christians prophesy? (See footnote.)
5 Did this mean that God was going to raise up a whole generation of prophets, both male and female, in the manner of David, Joel, and Deborah, and use them to foretell future events? No. Christian ‘sons and daughters, menservants and maidservants’ would prophesy in the sense that they would be impelled by Jehovah’s spirit to declare “the magnificent things” that Jehovah had done and would still do. So they would serve as spokesmen for the Most High.* How, though, did the crowd react?—Hebrews 1:1, 2.
6. Upon hearing Peter’s discourse, what were many of the crowd moved to do?
6 After the crowd heard Peter’s explanation, many of them were moved to action. They “embraced his word heartily” and “were baptized, and on that day about three thousand souls were added.” (Acts 2:41) As natural Jews and Jewish proselytes, they already had a basic knowledge of the Scriptures. That, coupled with faith in what they learned from Peter, provided the basis for them to be baptized “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit.” (Matthew 28:19) After their baptism “they continued devoting themselves to the teaching of the apostles.” At the same time, they began sharing their newfound faith with others. Indeed, “day after day they were in constant attendance at the temple with one accord, . . . praising God and finding favor with all the people.” As a result of this witnessing activity, “Jehovah continued to join to them daily those being saved.” (Acts 2:42, 46, 47) Christian congregations sprang up in many of the lands where these new believers lived. No doubt this increase was, at least in part, due to their zealous efforts to preach the “good news” when they returned home.—Colossians 1:23.
The Word of God Exerts Power
7. (a) What attracts people of all nations to Jehovah’s organization today? (b) What potential for further increase do you see in the worldwide field and locally? (See footnote.)
7 What of those who are desirous of becoming servants of God today? They too need to study God’s Word carefully. As they do, they come to know Jehovah as a God who is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness and truth.” (Exodus 34:6; Acts 13:48) They learn of Jehovah’s kind provision of the ransom through Jesus Christ, whose shed blood can cleanse them from all sin. (1 John 1:7) They also come to appreciate God’s purpose to have “a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Acts 24:15) Love for the Source of these “magnificent things” wells up in them, and they are moved to preach these precious truths. They then become dedicated, baptized servants of God and continue “increasing in the accurate knowledge of God.”*—Colossians 1:10b; 2 Corinthians 5:14.
8-10. (a) How does the experience of one Christian woman prove that God’s Word “exerts power”? (b) What has this experience taught you about Jehovah and his dealings with his servants? (Exodus 4:12)
8 The knowledge that God’s servants acquire from their Bible study is not superficial. Such knowledge stirs their heart, changes their way of thinking, and becomes part of them. (Hebrews 4:12) For example, a woman named Camille was employed as a caregiver to the elderly. One of her clients was Martha, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Since Martha was severely affected by dementia, she was in need of constant supervision. She had to be reminded to eat—even to swallow her food. However, one thing was indelibly impressed upon Martha’s mind, as we shall see.
9 One day, Martha saw Camille weeping because of distress over some personal problems. Martha put her arms around Camille and invited her to study the Bible with her. But could a person in Martha’s condition conduct a Bible study? Yes, she could! Although she had lost much of her memory, Martha had not forgotten her magnificent God; nor had she forgotten the precious truths that she had learned from the Bible. During the study, Martha instructed Camille to read each paragraph, look up the cited Scriptures, read the question at the bottom of the page, and then answer it. This went on for some time, and despite Martha’s limitations, Camille progressed in Bible knowledge. Martha realized that Camille needed to associate with others who were interested in serving God. With that in mind, she gave her student a dress and a pair of shoes, so that Camille would have something appropriate to wear when she attended her first meeting at the Kingdom Hall.
10 Camille was moved by Martha’s loving interest, example, and conviction. She concluded that what Martha was trying to teach her from the Bible was of vital importance, since Martha had forgotten almost everything but what she had learned from the Scriptures. Later, when Camille was transferred to another facility, she realized that it was time for her to take action. At the first opportunity, she walked into a Kingdom Hall, wearing the dress and shoes that Martha had given her, and asked for a Bible study. Camille made fine progress and was baptized.
Stirred to Reflect Jehovah’s Standards
11. In addition to being zealous in the preaching work, how can we demonstrate that we have been stirred by the Kingdom message?
11 Today, there are more than six million Witnesses of Jehovah who, like Martha and now Camille, are preaching the “good news of the kingdom” worldwide. (Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20) Like the first-century Christians, they are deeply moved by “the magnificent things of God.” They appreciate that they are privileged to bear Jehovah’s name and that he has poured out his spirit upon them. Consequently, they make every effort “to walk worthily of Jehovah to the end of fully pleasing him,” applying his standards in every aspect of their lives. Among other things, this includes respecting God’s standards in dress and grooming.—Colossians 1:10a; Titus 2:10.
12. What specific counsel on dress and grooming do we find recorded at 1 Timothy 2:9, 10?
12 Yes, Jehovah has set standards with regard to our personal appearance. The apostle Paul outlined some of God’s requirements in this regard. “I desire the women to adorn themselves in well-arranged dress, with modesty and soundness of mind, not with styles of hair braiding and gold or pearls or very expensive garb, but in the way that befits women professing to reverence God, namely, through good works.”* What do we learn from these words?—1 Timothy 2:9, 10.
13. (a) What is meant by “well-arranged dress”? (b) Why can we say that Jehovah’s standards are reasonable?
13 Paul’s words show that Christians should “adorn themselves in well-arranged dress.” They are not to be sloppy, untidy, or unkempt in their appearance. Virtually anyone, even those of modest means, can meet such reasonable standards by ensuring that their clothing is neat, clean, and presentable. For example, every year Witnesses in one South American country walk for miles through the jungle and then travel for hours by canoe in order to attend their district convention. It is not uncommon for someone to fall into the river or to snag his garments on a bush in the course of the journey. So when the conventioners arrive in the area where the convention is to be held, their appearance is often somewhat disheveled. They therefore take time to sew on buttons, repair zippers, and wash and iron the clothes they are going to wear to the convention. They cherish their invitation to feed at Jehovah’s table, and they want to dress appropriately.
14. (a) What does it mean to dress with “modesty and soundness of mind”? (b) What is involved for us to dress ‘as people who profess to reverence God’?
14 Paul further indicated that we should dress with “modesty and soundness of mind.” This means that our appearance should not be showy, bizarre, provocative, revealing, or faddish. In addition, we should dress in a manner that reflects ‘reverence for God.’ That gives food for thought, does it not? It is not simply a matter of dressing appropriately when attending congregation meetings and then throwing all caution to the wind at other times. Our personal appearance should always reflect a reverent, honorable attitude because we are Christians and ministers 24 hours a day. It goes without saying that our work clothes and school clothes will be appropriate for the nature of the tasks we will be performing. Still, we should dress modestly and with dignity. If our dress always reflects our belief in God, we will never feel obligated to hold back from witnessing informally because of embarrassment over our appearance.—1 Peter 3:15.
‘Do Not Be Loving the World’
15, 16. (a) Why is it important that we avoid imitating the world in matters of dress and grooming? (1 John 5:19) (b) For what practical reason should we avoid fads in dress and grooming?
15 The counsel recorded at 1 John 2:15, 16 also provides guidance in our choice of dress and grooming. We read: “Do not be loving either the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him; because everything in the world—the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the showy display of one’s means of life—does not originate with the Father, but originates with the world.”
16 How timely that counsel is! In an age where peer pressure has never been more intense, we must not allow the world to dictate our dress. Styles of dress and grooming have deteriorated in recent years. Even the dress code of business and professional people does not always provide a reliable standard of what is appropriate for Christians. This is a further reason why we should always be conscious of the need to “quit being fashioned after this system of things” if we are to live according to God’s standards and thus “adorn the teaching of our Savior, God, in all things.”—Romans 12:2; Titus 2:10.
17. (a) What questions could we consider when shopping for clothing or choosing a style? (b) Why should family heads take an interest in the personal appearance of family members?
17 Before deciding whether to purchase an item of clothing, it is wise to ask yourself: ‘Why does this style appeal to me? Is it identified with some well-known entertainer—someone I admire? Has it been adopted by members of a street gang or by a group that promotes an independent, rebellious spirit?’ We should also look closely at the garment. If it is a dress or a skirt, what about the length? The cut? Is the garment modest, appropriate, and dignified, or is it tight-fitting, provocative, or sloppy? Ask yourself, ‘Will my wearing this garment give cause for stumbling?’ (2 Corinthians 6:3, 4) Why should that be of concern to us? Because the Bible says: “Even the Christ did not please himself.” (Romans 15:3) Christian family heads must take an interest in the appearance of family members. Out of respect for the glorious God whom they worship, family heads should not hesitate to offer firm, loving counsel when such is necessary.—James 3:13.
18. What motivates you to give careful attention to your dress and grooming?
18 The message that we bear emanates from Jehovah, who is the very epitome of dignity and holiness. (Isaiah 6:3) The Bible urges us to imitate him “as beloved children.” (Ephesians 5:1) Our dress and grooming can reflect either well or badly on our heavenly Father. Surely we want to make his heart glad!—Proverbs 27:11.
19. What benefits come from making known “the magnificent things of God” to others?
19 How do you feel about “the magnificent things of God” that you have learned? Really, how privileged we are to have learned the truth! Because we exercise faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ, our sins are forgiven. (Acts 2:38) As a result, we have freeness of speech before God. We do not fear death as do those who have no hope. Rather, we have Jesus’ assurance that one day “all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out.” (John 5:28, 29) Jehovah has been gracious in revealing all these things to us. In addition, he has poured out his spirit upon us. Therefore, gratitude for all these good gifts should move us to respect his elevated standards and to praise him with zeal, declaring these “magnificent things” to others.
When Jehovah appointed Moses and Aaron to speak to Pharaoh in behalf of his people, He told Moses: “I have made you God to Pharaoh, and Aaron your own brother will become your prophet.” (Exodus 7:1) Aaron served as a prophet, not in the sense of foretelling future events, but by becoming Moses’ spokesman, or mouthpiece.
Of the great throng that was present for the annual observance of the Lord’s Evening Meal that was held on March 28, 2002, millions are not yet actively serving Jehovah. It is our prayer that the heart of many of these interested ones will soon be moved to reach out for the privilege of being publishers of the good news.
Although Paul’s words were addressed to Christian women, the same principles apply to Christian men and young people.
How Would You Answer?
• What “magnificent things” did the people hear about at Pentecost 33 C.E., and how did they respond?
• How does one become a disciple of Jesus Christ, and what does discipleship include?
• Why is it important for us to pay attention to our dress and grooming?
• What factors should be considered when determining whether a garment or style is suitable?
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Peter announced that Jesus had been raised from the dead
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Does your personal appearance reflect well on the God you worship?
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Christian parents must take an interest in the appearance of family members