Counted Worthy to Be Guided to Fountains of Waters of Life
“The Lamb . . . will shepherd them, and will guide them to fountains of waters of life.”—REV. 7:17.
1. How does God’s Word identify anointed Christians, and what responsibility did Jesus give them?
GOD’S WORD identifies anointed Christians who are caring for Christ’s interests on earth as “the faithful and discreet slave.” When Christ inspected the “slave” in 1918, he found those anointed ones on earth to be faithful in providing spiritual “food at the proper time.” Hence, Jesus, the Master, was pleased thereafter to appoint them “over all his belongings.” (Read Matthew 24:45-47.) In this way, before receiving a heavenly inheritance, anointed ones serve other worshippers of Jehovah here on earth.
2. Describe Jesus’ belongings.
2 A master has authority over his belongings, or possessions, and he can use them as he chooses. The belongings of Jesus Christ, Jehovah’s enthroned King, embrace all Kingdom interests on earth. That includes “a great crowd” seen by the apostle John in vision. John describes the great crowd as follows: “Look! a great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes; and there were palm branches in their hands.”—Rev. 7:9.
3, 4. How are those of the great crowd highly privileged?
3 Members of that great crowd are among those referred to by Jesus as his “other sheep.” (John 10:16) Their hope is to live forever on a paradise earth. They are confident that Jesus “will guide them to fountains of waters of life” and that “God will wipe out every tear from their eyes.” With that in mind, they have “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Rev. 7:14, 17) They exercise faith in Jesus’ sacrifice, and thus in God’s eyes they have ‘white robes.’ They are declared righteous as friends of God, like Abraham.
4 Moreover, since the growing great crowd of other sheep are viewed by God as righteous, they can hope to survive the destruction of this system of things at the great tribulation. (Jas. 2:23-26) They can draw close to Jehovah, and as a group, they have the wonderful prospect of surviving Armageddon. (Jas. 4:8; Rev. 7:15) They are not independent but willing to serve under the direction of the heavenly King and his anointed brothers on earth.
5. How do those of the great crowd support Christ’s anointed brothers?
5 Anointed Christians have met and will continue to meet severe opposition from Satan’s world. Nevertheless, they can rely on the support of their companions of the great crowd. While anointed Christians are now few in number, the great crowd yearly increases by hundreds of thousands. The anointed are unable to oversee personally each of the some 100,000 Christian congregations throughout the world. Thus, one aspect of the support that the anointed receive from the other sheep is that qualified men of the great crowd serve as congregation elders. They help care for the millions of Christians now entrusted to “the faithful and discreet slave.”
6. How was the support of anointed Christians by their other sheep companions prophesied?
6 The willing support given to anointed Christians by their companions of the other sheep was foretold by the prophet Isaiah. He wrote: “This is what Jehovah has said: ‘The unpaid laborers of Egypt and the merchants of Ethiopia and the Sabeans, tall men, will themselves come over even to you, and yours they will become. Behind you they will walk.’” (Isa. 45:14) In a symbolic way, Christians with an earthly hope today walk behind the anointed slave class and its Governing Body, following their leadership. As “unpaid laborers,” the other sheep willingly and wholeheartedly expend their strength and their resources in support of the worldwide preaching work that Christ assigned to his anointed followers on earth.—Acts 1:8; Rev. 12:17.
7. For what is the great crowd being trained?
7 As they lend their support to their anointed brothers, members of the great crowd are being trained as the foundation of the new human society that will exist after Armageddon. That foundation must be solid and stable, and its members must be willing and able to carry out the direction of the Master. Each Christian is being given the opportunity to demonstrate that he can be used by the King, Christ Jesus. By exercising faith and displaying loyalty now, he shows that he will respond well when the King gives him directions in the new world.
The Great Crowd Prove Their Faith
8, 9. How are those of the great crowd proving their faith?
8 The other sheep companions of the congregation of anointed Christians prove their faith in various ways. First, they support the anointed in proclaiming the good news of God’s Kingdom. (Matt. 24:14; 28:19, 20) Second, they willingly submit themselves to the direction provided by the Governing Body.—Heb. 13:17; read Zechariah 8:23.
9 Third, members of the great crowd support their anointed brothers by living in harmony with Jehovah’s righteous principles. They strive to cultivate “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control.” (Gal. 5:22, 23) Today, displaying such qualities, rather than producing “the works of the flesh,” may not be popular. Still, members of the great crowd are determined to avoid “fornication, uncleanness, loose conduct, idolatry, practice of spiritism, enmities, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, contentions, divisions, sects, envies, drunken bouts, revelries, and things like these.”—Gal. 5:19-21.
10. What is the determination of members of the great crowd?
10 Since we are imperfect, it can be a challenge to produce spiritual fruitage, avoid the works of the flesh, and resist the pressure exerted by Satan’s world. Nevertheless, we are determined not to allow discouragement resulting from personal weaknesses, temporary failures, or physical limitations to affect the strength of our faith or diminish our love for Jehovah. We know that Jehovah will do as he has promised—preserve the great crowd alive through the great tribulation.
11. What tactics has Satan used in his efforts to weaken the faith of Christians?
11 All the same, we are constantly on guard because we know that our real enemy is the Devil, and he does not give up easily. (Read 1 Peter 5:8.) He has tried to use apostates and others to convince us that the teachings we follow are false. But that tactic has usually failed. Similarly, although persecution has sometimes slowed down the preaching work, often it has served only to strengthen the faith of those persecuted. Hence, Satan increasingly uses a method that he likely feels will offer a greater chance of weakening our faith. He exploits feelings of discouragement. First-century Christians were warned about this danger when they were told: “Consider closely the one [Christ] who has endured such contrary talk by sinners against their own interests.” Why? “That you may not get tired and give out in your souls.”—Heb. 12:3.
12. How does the Bible’s counsel strengthen those who are discouraged?
12 Have you ever felt like giving up? Do you at times feel that you are a failure? If so, do not allow Satan to use those feelings to hinder you from serving Jehovah. In-depth Bible study, fervent prayer, and regular meeting attendance and association with those of like faith will strengthen you and keep you from ‘giving out in your soul.’ Jehovah has promised to help those serving him to regain power, and his promise is sure. (Read Isaiah 40:30, 31.) Keep your eye on Kingdom service. Avoid time-consuming distractions, and focus on helping others. Then you will be strengthened to endure despite discouragement.—Gal. 6:1, 2.
Out of the Tribulation and Into a New World
13. What task awaits those who survive Armageddon?
13 After Armageddon, multitudes of unrighteous resurrected ones will need instruction in Jehovah’s ways. (Acts 24:15) They will need to learn about Jesus’ ransom sacrifice; more than that, they must be taught to exercise faith in that sacrifice in order to receive its benefits. They will need to reject previously held false religious ideas and to abandon their former way of life. They must learn to put on the new personality that identifies true Christians. (Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 3:9, 10) Those of the other sheep who survive to that time will have much work to do. What a joy it will be to perform such service to Jehovah, free of the pressures and distractions of the present wicked world!
14, 15. Describe the interchange that will take place between survivors of the great tribulation and resurrected righteous ones.
14 Faithful servants of Jehovah who died prior to Jesus’ earthly ministry will also have much to learn at that time. They will learn the identity of the promised Messiah, whom they longed for but never got to see. In their former lives, they already indicated their willingness to be instructed by Jehovah. Imagine what a joy and privilege it will be to help them—for example, to explain to Daniel the fulfillment of the prophecies he wrote down but did not understand!—Dan. 12:8, 9.
15 Of course, while the resurrected ones will have much to learn from us, we will have many questions to ask them. They can fill us in on events that are mentioned in the Bible but not described in detail. Think how thrilling it will be to learn personal details about Jesus from his cousin John the Baptist! The things we learn from such faithful witnesses will doubtless give us an even greater appreciation of God’s Word than we have at present. Faithful servants of Jehovah who have died—including those of the great crowd who die during the time of the end—will come forth to “a better resurrection.” They began their service to Jehovah in a world dominated by Satan. What a joy it will be for them to continue their service under the much more favorable circumstances of the new world!—Heb. 11:35; 1 John 5:19.
16. According to prophecy, how will Judgment Day proceed?
16 At some point during Judgment Day, scrolls will be opened. Along with the Bible, they will form the basis for judging all alive as to their worthiness to gain everlasting life. (Read Revelation 20:12, 13.) By the end of Judgment Day, each individual will have had ample opportunity to show where he stands on the issue of universal sovereignty. Will he uphold the Kingdom arrangement and allow the Lamb to guide him to “fountains of waters of life”? Or will he resist, refusing to subject himself to God’s Kingdom? (Rev. 7:17; Isa. 65:20) By then, all on earth will have had an opportunity to make a personal decision, unhampered by inherited sin or a wicked environment. No one will be able to question the rightfulness of Jehovah’s final judgment. Only the wicked will be everlastingly destroyed.—Rev. 20:14, 15.
17, 18. With what joyful anticipation do anointed Christians and the other sheep view Judgment Day?
17 Anointed Christians today, having been counted worthy to receive a Kingdom, eagerly look forward to ruling during Judgment Day. What a grand privilege will be theirs! The very prospect motivates them to follow the counsel that Peter gave to their first-century brothers: “Do your utmost to make the calling and choosing of you sure for yourselves; for if you keep on doing these things you will by no means ever fail. In fact, thus there will be richly supplied to you the entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”—2 Pet. 1:10, 11.
18 The other sheep rejoice with their anointed brothers. They are determined to support them. As friends of God today, they are motivated to do their utmost in God’s service. During Judgment Day, they will be thrilled to support wholeheartedly God’s arrangements as Jesus guides them to fountains of waters of life. Then—at last—they will be counted worthy to be Jehovah’s earthly servants for all eternity!—Rom. 8:20, 21; Rev. 21:1-7.
Do You Remember?
• What do Jesus’ belongings include?
• How do those of the great crowd support their anointed brothers?
• What privileges and prospect do those of the great crowd enjoy?
• How do you view Judgment Day?
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Those of the great crowd have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb
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What do you hope to learn from resurrected faithful ones?