Is Your Faith Dead or Alive?
James said, “Faith, if it does not have works, is dead in itself.” (Jas. 2:17) Having now read the Yearbook, can you say that Jehovah’s Christian witnesses world wide have faith that led them into action? Their faith is certainly not a lifeless thing. All true Christians must show that their faith is a live faith, because “faith without works is dead.” (Jas. 2:26) One’s faith must show up through work in some way. How? Look at the results with 193,990 persons being baptized last year. Jehovah’s witnesses were doing what Christ Jesus directed his disciples to do, make more disciples! So their faith shown by works has been productive.
It is very interesting to note that in the last seven years 949,842 persons were baptized; and in the last 26 years, 2,084,398. These figures say something to us. At the close of the year 1966 there were 1,118,665 publishers who were sharing in the Kingdom service, and since then there have been another 949,842 persons baptized. So today, if we make allowance for those who have died, which normally runs to about one percent per year, still we should have nearly two million persons who could be preaching the good news.
The Yearbook report shows there was a peak in publishers of 1,758,429 out in the field in 1973. So that is approximately 250,000 short of two million. Think of James’ words again: “Of what benefit is it, my brothers, if a certain one says he has faith but he does not have works?” (Jas. 2:14) Remember, he is talking to those who have dedicated their lives to God and are baptized. He is addressing his words to “my brothers.” Are we to assume that about 250,000 of our brothers and sisters are trying to show faith without any works? It is something to ponder over.
The Society’s records show that 2,084,398 persons were baptized in the last 26 years. Add to that the publishers who were in the field service the previous year, 1947, namely, 207,552, and that gives you a total of 2,291,950 persons. Allowing for the death of about 225,000 persons, at the usual rate of one percent each year, are we to say that since 1947 there have been over three hundred thousand brothers and sisters who have gone out in the field service at some time or other since their dedication and baptism and are now trying to show Jehovah and others their faith without works? James says: “Faith divorced from deeds is lifeless as a corpse.”—Jas. 2:26, NE.
We would very much like to help those who are still living and who at one time were associated with Jehovah’s witnesses as our brothers and sisters and rebuild and strengthen their faith so it will be a live faith, not a dead one. They are always welcome to come to the Kingdom Halls of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The only way that their faith can be made a living faith is by taking in spiritual food and then recognizing the importance of the ministry, following in Christ Jesus’ footsteps.
It is most encouraging, though, in these “last days” to see so many people fleeing from Babylon the Great, taking their stand on Jehovah’s side, walking in integrity and proclaiming the good news. Those serving as congregation publishers certainly did a fine work, and it is also interesting to see that, on an average, 94,604 individuals spent their full time in the pioneer work each month, as compared with 92,026 the year before. It is a pleasure to report that from among the congregation publishers there were many that spent a month or two in the temporary pioneer service and they averaged around ninety hours of field service when they entered that field for a short period. Excellent!
Then, too, the field service report shows that, on an average, there were 1,105 missionaries, 12,521 special pioneers, 1,747 circuit overseers and 189 district overseers in the full-time service in various parts of the world. Due to the generosity of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses everywhere and their contributions to the Society in all countries, we have been able to help these brothers and sisters to the extent of $7,718,242.10, covering their housing, food and travel expenses. In addition to these full-time workers that were assisted, we have 2,733 members of the Bethel family working in 95 branch offices.
Of these 95 branches, 35 do local magazine printing. The printeries in the United States, Germany and Finland, and in a few other places where we have to have books, booklets and magazines made outside our own plants, all together produced 33,354,118 bound books, 10,533,838 booklets, 198,177,981 copies of The Watchtower and 202,520,820 of Awake! The Bethel families everywhere are pleased that they are able to serve you in this way, and they also go from house to house and conduct Bible studies on weekends and during evening hours, as other congregation publishers do.
All the branches have sent in some very excellent reports and field experiences. During the year probably some of these stories can be printed in the Watchtower and Awake! magazines. One thing I would like to say, though, in closing, is that missionaries in all parts of the world expressed their deep appreciation and are thankful for your generous help in arranging for them to travel home during the year 1973 so as to attend one of the “Divine Victory” International Assemblies and visit with their relatives and friends. They love you for it. This generous gift of yours was in addition to the expenditures mentioned above.
And, furthermore, all the branch overseers have requested that the warm love and greetings from their branches and all the brothers in their countries be sent to all of you brothers too. One might try to convey this brotherly love in words similar to those of Paul, saying: ‘But now the branch overseers have just now come to us from you and given us the good news about your faithfulness and love.’ “Moreover, may the Lord cause you to increase, yes, make you abound, in love to one another and to all.”—1 Thess. 3:6, 12.
How wonderful and true this is. In addition to the love conveyed by the branch overseers, over 25,000 of our brothers traveled from one country to another because of the international assemblies, bringing love and greetings. What joy it is for us today to look forward to the divine victory and to be able to show our faith in Jehovah God by our works.
Be assured of my warm love and best wishes too.
Your brother and fellow servant, President
Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania