Preaching the Good News With Strong Conviction
1 Early in the first century, Jesus Christ commissioned his followers to preach the good news of the Kingdom and “make disciples of people of all the nations.” (Matt. 24:14; 28:19, 20) Jehovah’s Witnesses have taken his instruction seriously, so that by the end of the 20th century, our Christian brotherhood has swelled to more than 5,900,000 disciples in 234 lands. What a grand shout of praise to our heavenly Father!
2 We have now entered the 21st century. Our Adversary insidiously tries to interfere with our main work of Kingdom preaching and disciple making. He uses pressures from this system of things in an effort to divert our attention, consume our time, and drain our energies with a host of nonessential cares and interests. Rather than allowing this system to dictate what is important in life, we prove to ourselves from God’s Word what is paramount—doing Jehovah’s will. (Rom. 12:2) That means obeying the Scriptural exhortation to ‘preach the word in favorable and troublesome season and to fully accomplish our ministry.’—2 Tim. 4:2, 5.
3 Develop Firm Conviction: Christians need to “stand complete and with firm conviction in all the will of God.” (Col. 4:12) The word “conviction” is defined as “a strong persuasion or belief; the state of being convinced.” As Christians we must be convinced that God’s prophetic word is certain and that we are now deep into the time of the end. We must have a belief as strong as that of the apostle Paul, who said that the good news “is, in fact, God’s power for salvation to everyone having faith.”—Rom. 1:16.
4 The Devil uses wicked men and impostors, who are themselves misled, to influence and mislead others. (2 Tim. 3:13) Being forewarned of this, we take steps to strengthen our conviction that we have the truth. Rather than letting the anxieties of life dampen our zeal, we keep putting Kingdom interests first. (Matt. 6:33, 34) Nor do we want to lose sight of the urgency of the times, perhaps feeling that the end of this system is far off. It is drawing ever closer. (1 Pet. 4:7) Though we may feel that spreading the good news has little effect in some lands in view of the witness already given, the warning work must continue.—Ezek. 33:7-9.
5 The key questions at this late date are: ‘Do I take seriously Jesus’ commission to make disciples? When I preach the good news, do I manifest strong conviction that the Kingdom is real? Am I determined to have as great a share as possible in this lifesaving ministry?’ Realizing how far along we are in the time of the end, we must pay attention to ourselves and to our preaching and teaching commission. Doing this we will save both ourselves and those who listen to us. (1 Tim. 4:16) How can all of us strengthen our conviction as ministers?
6 Imitate the Thessalonians: The apostle Paul, in recalling the hard work of the brothers in Thessalonica, said to them: “The good news we preach did not turn up among you with speech alone but also with power and with holy spirit and strong conviction, just as you know what sort of men we became to you for your sakes; and you became imitators of us and of the Lord, seeing that you accepted the word under much tribulation with joy of holy spirit.” (1 Thess. 1:5, 6) Yes, Paul commended the congregation of the Thessalonians because despite much tribulation they preached with zeal and strong conviction. What enabled them to do this? To a great extent, the zeal and conviction that they saw in the apostle Paul and his fellow workers had a positive effect on them. How so?
7 The very lives of Paul and his traveling companions testified that they had God’s spirit upon them and that they wholeheartedly believed in what they were preaching. Before coming to Thessalonica, Paul and Silas were insolently treated at Philippi. Without a trial, they were beaten, jailed, and confined in stocks. This trying experience, however, did not dampen their zeal for the good news. Divine intervention effected their release, led to the conversion of the jailer and his household, and made the way for these brothers to continue in their ministry.—Acts 16:19-34.
8 In the strength of God’s spirit, Paul came to Thessalonica. There he labored to procure his own necessities and then expended himself fully in teaching the truth to the Thessalonians. He did not hold back from declaring the good news at every opportunity. (1 Thess. 2:9) Paul’s preaching with strong conviction had such a powerful effect on the local people that some of them forsook their former idolatrous worship and became servants of the true God, Jehovah.—1 Thess. 1:8-10.
9 Persecution did not hinder the new believers from acting on the good news. Prompted by their newfound faith and fully convinced that everlasting blessings would be theirs, the Thessalonians were impelled to proclaim the truth that they had enthusiastically embraced. So active did that congregation become that news of their faith and zeal spread to other parts of Macedonia and even into Achaia. Hence, when Paul wrote his first letter to the Thessalonians, their good works were already well-known. (1 Thess. 1:7) What an outstanding example!
10 Motivated by Love for God and for People: How can we, like the Thessalonians, maintain strong personal conviction when preaching the good news today? Of them, Paul wrote: “We bear incessantly in mind your faithful work and your hard effort due to love.” (1 Thess. 1:3, ftn.) It is obvious that they had a deep, heartfelt love for Jehovah God and for the people to whom they preached. It was this same love that motivated Paul and his companions to impart to the Thessalonians “not only the good news of God, but also [their] own souls.”—1 Thess. 2:8.
11 Similarly, our deep love for Jehovah and for our fellowman moves us to want to participate fully in the preaching work that God has given us to do. With such love, we recognize that it is our personal, God-given responsibility to spread the good news. By meditating positively and appreciatively on all that Jehovah has done for us in directing us toward “the real life,” we are motivated to tell others the same wonderful truths that we believe with all our heart.—1 Tim. 6:19.
12 As we keep busy in the preaching work, our love for Jehovah and for people must continue growing. If it does, we will be stimulated to intensify our share in the door-to-door ministry and to pursue all other forms of witnessing open to us. We will take advantage of opportunities to witness informally to relatives, neighbors, and acquaintances. Although most people may reject the good news that we offer and some will endeavor to interfere with the proclamation of the Kingdom, we experience an inner joy. Why? Because we know that we have done our best to witness about the Kingdom and help people gain salvation. And Jehovah will bless our efforts to find righthearted ones. Even when the pressures of life close in on us and Satan seeks to sap our joy, we are able to maintain our strong conviction and our zeal in witnessing to others. When all of us do our part, this results in strong, zealous congregations like the one in Thessalonica.
13 Never Give Up Under Trial: Conviction is also needed when we meet with various trials. (1 Pet. 1:6, 7) Jesus made clear to his disciples that if they followed him, they would be “objects of hatred by all the nations.” (Matt. 24:9) Paul and Silas experienced this when in Philippi. The account in Acts chapter 16 says that Paul and Silas were thrown into the inner prison and confined in stocks. Generally, the main prison was a kind of court or vestibule around the edge of which were cells that had the advantage of light and air. The inner prison, however, had no provision for light and had limited ventilation. Paul and Silas had to deal with the darkness, heat, and stench of this miserable place of confinement. Can you imagine the pain they must have felt while being confined in stocks for hours with their backs raw and bleeding from the scourging?
14 Despite these trials, Paul and Silas remained faithful. They manifested heartfelt conviction, strengthening them to serve Jehovah regardless of the test. Their conviction is highlighted in verse 25 of Ac chapter 16, where it says that Paul and Silas were “praying and praising God with song.” In fact, although they were in the inner prison, they were so sure of having God’s approval that they sang loud enough to be heard by the other prisoners! We must have similar conviction today when facing tests of our faith.
15 The trials that the Devil thrusts upon us are numerous. For some it may be persecution from family. Many of our brothers face legal challenges. Opposition from apostates may be encountered. There are financial burdens and the anxiety of how to make ends meet. Young ones face peer pressure at school. How can we face these trials successfully? What is needed to manifest conviction?
16 First and foremost, we need to maintain a close personal relationship with Jehovah. When Paul and Silas were in the inner prison, they did not use that time to complain about their lot in life or to feel sorry for themselves. They immediately turned to God in prayer and praised him in song. Why? Because they had a close personal relationship with their heavenly Father. They realized that they were suffering for the sake of righteousness and that their salvation rested in the hands of Jehovah.—Ps. 3:8.
17 When we face trials today, we too must look to Jehovah. Paul encourages us as Christians to ‘let our petitions be made known to God; and the peace of God that excels all thought will guard our hearts and our mental powers.’ (Phil. 4:6, 7) How comforting it is to know that Jehovah will not let us go through trials alone! (Isa. 41:10) He is always with us as long as we serve him with true conviction.—Ps. 46:7.
18 Another vital aid in manifesting conviction is staying busy in Jehovah’s service. (1 Cor. 15:58) Paul and Silas were thrown into prison because they had been busy preaching the good news. Did they cease preaching because of their trials? No, they continued preaching even while in prison, and after they were released, they traveled to Thessalonica and went to the synagogue of the Jews to ‘reason with them from the Scriptures.’ (Acts 17:1-3) When we have a strong persuasion or belief in Jehovah and are convinced that we have the truth, nothing “will be able to separate us from God’s love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”—Rom. 8:35-39.
19 Modern Examples of Strong Conviction: There are many outstanding examples of those in our day who, like Paul and Silas, have demonstrated strong conviction. One sister who survived the Auschwitz concentration camp tells of the unshakable faith and conviction demonstrated by the brothers and sisters there. She relates: “Once during an interrogation, an officer came toward me with clenched fists. ‘What are we going to do with you people?’ he exclaimed. ‘If we arrest you, you don’t care. If we send you to prison, you don’t care one bit. If we send you to the concentration camp, it doesn’t worry you. When we sentence you to death, you just stand there unconcerned. What are we going to do with you?’” How faith strengthening it is to see the faith our brothers had under such harsh circumstances! They constantly looked to Jehovah for help to endure.
20 Surely we remember the conviction of many of our brothers in the face of the ethnic hatred that has manifested itself in recent years. Despite finding themselves in dangerous situations, responsible brothers are intent on seeing that their brothers and sisters are being fed spiritually. All continue faithful with strong conviction that ‘any weapon formed against them will have no success.’—Isa. 54:17.
21 Many of our brothers and sisters with unbelieving mates are also manifesting strong faith and endurance. One brother in Guadeloupe met with strong opposition from his unbelieving wife. To discourage him and interfere with his attending Christian meetings, she would not prepare his meals or wash, iron, and mend his clothes. For days on end, she would not talk to him. But by manifesting heartfelt conviction in serving Jehovah and turning to him in prayer for help, this brother was able to endure it all. For how long? For some 20 years—after which his wife gradually had a change of heart. Eventually, he could truly rejoice because she accepted the hope of God’s Kingdom.
22 Finally, we must not forget the strong conviction of our young brothers and sisters who attend school each day and deal with peer pressure and other challenges. Concerning the pressure to conform in school, one young Witness girl stated: “When you’re in school, everyone’s always encouraging you to be a little rebellious. The kids respect you more if you do something on the edge.” What pressure our young people face! They must be firmly resolved in mind and heart to resist temptation.
23 Many of our young ones are doing well in maintaining their integrity despite trials. One example is that of a young sister who lives in France. One day after lunch, some boys tried to force her to kiss them, but she prayed and resisted strongly, so the boys left her alone. Later, one of them came back and told her that he admired her for her courage. She was able to give him a good witness about the Kingdom, explaining the high standards that Jehovah sets for all who want to share in its blessings. During the school year, she also explained her beliefs to the entire class.
24 What a precious privilege we have to be counted among those whom Jehovah is pleased to use to speak with firm conviction about his will! (Col. 4:12) Additionally, we have the wonderful opportunity of proving our integrity when under attack by our lionlike Adversary, Satan the Devil. (1 Pet. 5:8, 9) Never forget that Jehovah is using the Kingdom message to bring salvation both to us who preach it and to those who listen. May the decisions that we make and our daily way of life prove that we put the Kingdom first. Let us continue preaching the good news with strong conviction!