Watchtower 1954 October 15 pp.638-9 Questions from Readers
Questions from Readers
• How does Jehovah's spirit help the "faithful and discreet slave" arrive at the truth of a matter? The Society does not claim infallibility or inspiration. How much is dependent upon the written Word? How can we be sure that this is the organization Jehovah is using when some things are published and later changed?—C. P., United States.
In regard to how the truth is brought forth through Jehovah's organization, please note that if the Watch Tower Society were infallible there would be no need for future correction of viewpoints held; but because it is not infallible and has never claimed to be, from time to time corrections are necessary. If Jehovah's spirit operated in the way it did upon Bible writers, inspiring them to write according to Jehovah's thoughts, then no future corrections in matters would ever be necessary. But because the spirit does not operate in this way today some corrections are made from time to time.
Jehovah God, in fact, foretold or indicated that such would be the case. At Proverbs 4:18 (AS) it states: "The path of the righteous is as the dawning light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day." While the light is still dim the broad outline of an object may be visible but the details of it are not always distinct, and as the light increases these details may be seen with more clarity and a corrected view is obtained. Full dependence is placed upon Jehovah's Word in the formulation of truth and it is from his Word that proof should be forthcoming. However, with greater clarity and understanding, new truths are discerned and something that previously appeared very logical may require revision.
Jehovah did not say that the entire matter would be seen in crystal clarity instantaneously. With these last days in mind, Jesus spoke of the "faithful and discreet slave" that would be appointed to bring forth "food at the proper time." (Matt. 24:45, NW) This is a progressive process, food being continually provided, and as we advance in the stream of time and observe further fulfillment of prophecy new truths are discerned and brought forth and constitute fresh and nourishing food for our day. Some truths were not essential for us prior to the time of their discernment, otherwise Jehovah would have caused them to become known earlier.
Even the erroneous viewpoints held by Jehovah's witnesses during the first world war served their purpose in contributing to the fulfillment of prophecy, for Jehovah had long ago foretold a condition of spiritual uncleanness upon his people at that particular time and the cleansing work that would be done. Hence such things are to be expected according to prophecy and their occurrence is a confirmation that this is Jehovah's organization, rather than a cause for raising question concerning Jehovah's use of the organization.
Jehovah uses this organization because it is meek and teachable and is not set and bound in its viewpoints. It is an organization that looks to Jehovah for guidance and direction and watches his maneuvering of matters on the world scene and the outworking of events that fulfill prophecy and it lines up its views in accord with these things. It is willing to change and keep up with the developing conditions, to keep up with the light as the light is revealed brighter and brighter. That is why Jehovah can use this organization, and certainly the facts show that he has been using it and is continuing to use it. He is bringing the increase. He is using this organization to preach the good news of the established Kingdom in all the inhabited earth. Prophecies are being fulfilled upon this group. We are counseled to remain close to the organization, for even if the organization does have views that are later changed, our safety lies in remaining within the organization and changing with it when the light increases and new truths are discerned.
No other organization has shown this flexibility to alter its views, to keep up with the changing times, to be alert to the increased light that comes from Jehovah from the temple, for other groups are bound by their centuries-old creeds. Rather than a stumbling stone, the Society's readiness to alter its views when necessary should be a source of comfort and encouragement, an assurance that there will be continual advancement and increase in learning, an ever-brightening light as we approach closer to the perfect day with its noonday brightness. A false religion may have some truth in it, but it never gets rid of its many falsehoods and the truth it does have continues to be contaminated. With Jehovah's organization the beliefs can be established from the Bible, and when some erroneous view does creep in it is soon ferreted out and discarded.
An analogy might be drawn between the first and the second presence of Christ Jesus. At his first advent certainly the apostles at first thought he would be an entirely earthly King and that the kingdom would be earthly. Only after Pentecost did they learn that it was to be a heavenly kingdom. Prior to that time they could not discern this truth, and they entertained a false idea, as shown by Acts 1:6-8 (NW): "When, now, they had assembled, they went to asking him: 'Master, are you restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?' He said to them: 'It does not belong to you to get knowledge of the times or seasons which the Father has placed in his own jurisdiction; but you will receive power when the holy spirit arrives upon you.'" Likewise it was some time until they saw clearly that they were no longer under the Mosaic law as such, as shown by Acts chapter 15. But that did not mean that they were not Jehovah's servants and his channel for bringing the truth to the people. So we should not stumble because the same is true today.
In fact, this ability to discard the erroneous as the light increases marks the difference between Jehovah's true worshipers and the false religions of Christendom. When it can be clearly shown from the Bible that an idea once held does not have sufficient Scriptural support and that a different viewpoint has the weight of Bible testimony behind it, then the new viewpoint is adopted and the former understanding is set aside. To be too proud to do this is to have a pride that would presage a fall. (Prov. 16:18) Increased understanding of the Bible itself and growing proof from the Bible itself are the basis for altering the viewpoint. This organization is always probing and studying to find solid foundations in the Scriptures for its beliefs and as the light increases the foundations of our beliefs become stronger and stronger. We have ears to hear a clarified truth, not ears that refuse to hear. We have eyes to see the increased light, not eyes that refuse to see. We are anxious for new light and for new "food at the proper time."
This Jehovah supplies, not through individuals, but through his organization. (Prov. 3:5, 6) He has so operated with this group in the past and he is still doing so, as the physical facts abundantly confirm. Past history of the organization has shown that those who split off, thinking themselves smarter than the Society, are soon swallowed up in the seas of humanity. The new ideas they entertain are soon forgotten. They are not preached world-wide to all the inhabited earth, as Jesus said would be done with the truth. These separating, disgruntled ones are not fulfilling the prophecies that Jesus said would be fulfilled by his true people. It is this organization that is enjoying that fulfillment and it is through this organization that Jehovah sends further light and spiritual food that rectifies any erroneous conceptions previously entertained, as well as adding to the rich storehouse of spiritual food available for those devoted to him and willing to exert themselves in his service by telling it to others.
Jesus said: "All the same, wisdom is vindicated by its works." So this organization is vindicated as the one Jehovah is using by its activity in doing the preaching work Jesus foretold and in being used to fulfill many other prophecies.—Matt. 11:19, NW.
Watchtower 1967 June 1 p.335 Move Ahead with Jehovah's Organization
Move Ahead with Jehovah's Organization
EVERYTHING in God's universe is moving. Motion without commotion is the keynote. Planets revolve around the sun, suns revolve in their galaxies, galaxies revolve around clusters, and clusters revolve around still greater clusters, ad infinitum, so far as astronomers can tell. So it should be expected that God's organization on earth would be in motion. And it is true. It has moved ahead with the most astounding progress. What is probably the most recognized phase of its organizational activity, its arrangement of conventions, is often remarked upon in the public press. Since its God is the God of economy, it gets the greatest work accomplished with the least expenditure of energy. A remarkable feature of the organization, in view of all the work it gets done, is the fact that the great mass of its members are part-time preachers, although they are wholeheartedly devoted to Jehovah and serve him full time. But they have families, they have obligations, and most of them work part time at secular work and cannot spend all their time directly in the work of the organization.
WHAT IT MEANS TO MOVE AHEAD
2 In Jehovah's organization, moving ahead is not a matter of going ahead of others. It is not as in worldly organizations, where moving ahead often means replacing someone else and putting him out of a job; it means to move with the organization, to fit in, to fill in the needs, to be able to take on increased responsibilities. For, due to the rapid expansion of the organization, persons of this kind are continually in demand.
3 Moving ahead with the organization does not mean merely to be a hanger-on. Those in the truth should move ahead ever more rapidly as time goes on. Paul told the Hebrew Christians, at Hebrews 5:12: "Although you ought to be teachers in view of the time, you again need someone to teach you from the beginning the elementary things of the sacred pronouncements of God; and you have become such as need milk, not solid food."
4 Paul also likened the organization to a human body: "Nevertheless, God compounded the body, giving honor more abundant to the part which had a lack, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the other members suffer with it; or if a member is glorified, all the other members rejoice with it." (1 Cor. 12:24-26) Each one in the organization has his place and he is to be a useful member in that place. He cannot remain a spiritual baby for long. Parts of the human body do not stay infantile while the rest of the body grows. It is the wrong spirit, the spirit of the world, not to want to move ahead. The world's attitude today is 'Do as little as you can, just enough to get by.' But the apostle says, at 1 Timothy 3:1: "If any man is reaching out for an office of overseer, he is desirous of a fine work." So there is encouragement to move ahead, to prepare for responsibility. There is a need for persons who will take responsibility.
5 Just think of the efforts that men of the world exert to achieve their goal. We often hear the expression concerning such persons that they are "dedicated men." They study for years; they may spend many years in college; they may start in an organization in a very low position; but they work, and their eyes are constantly on the goals they have set for themselves. They do not allow anything else to sidetrack or hinder them. Even after gaining positions of top responsibility, they do not slack their hand. They are even more energetic than ever—all this for a human goal. How much more zealous, then, should we be to move with an organization that is greater than the greatest corporation or even the greatest nation, an organization formed and blessed by the Creator of the universe, and to be used by him throughout eternity!
6 So we are being trained now for greater things, and the principle applies that he that is faithful in small things will be faithful in greater things. (Luke 16:10; Matt. 25:21) It behooves us to be faithful in all things, to show ourselves truly dedicated ministers of God, to move ahead in the right way, the way that he outlines. This moving ahead does not push oneself at the expense of others, but, rather, it brings others along also. Take as fine examples the works that Jesus did in moving ahead, and the works and writings of Paul. Hundreds of thousands have been helped to move ahead by reason of their advancement.
7 But there are some who do not move ahead. Why is this? Well, some, for fear that it will involve so much, shy away from taking responsibilities. It seems like a mountain to them. But in reality, moving ahead with the organization is simple. In fact, it is more simple to move ahead, if we are going to stay with the organization, than it is to keep trying to evade responsibility. Of course, if we do not move ahead at all, we eventually will find ourselves outside the organization. It is not outstanding ability, or personality, or accomplishment that is required. Satan's challenge to Jehovah God was not that he could not make able creatures, but that he could not find any of his creatures whose heart was fully right toward Him, who would serve wholeheartedly and fully maintain integrity to Him under all kinds of conditions. No, it is not what we have, but how we use what we have, that counts with God.
OBEDIENCE THE BASIC FACTOR
8 Is there a "secret" formula for moving ahead with the organization? No. But there is a basic thing we must have. This might be made clearer by an illustration. When we look at the universe we are amazed at its complexity. It puts us in awe. Yet we see so much orderliness. This led scientists to believe that there is some simple, basic formula underneath it. They found that all matter in the visible universe is composed of energy, and this relationship between energy and matter can be expressed by the simple formula E = mc2. The energy in a given piece of matter is equal to the mass times the speed of light squared. What, can we say, is the basic principle underlying the movement of Jehovah's living organization? It can be expressed in one word: OBEDIENCE. Loving obedience from the heart is all. This is the basic formula upon which the organization rests and operates. The power to move ahead comes by Jehovah's spirit, which he showers on his organization according to its obedience to Him. This is not due to the efficiency of the members of the organization. The Bible gives us many fine examples of this. One is that of Gideon. Gideon was not a man renowned for leadership or outstanding ability. He was a farmer. But he was obedient to Jehovah God, and Jehovah used him in a miraculous way to accomplish a great deliverance for Israel.—Judg. 6:15, 16, 27; 7:20-22.
9 So moving ahead is not a cold, calculated thing. It is a matter of coming closer to Jehovah, perfecting obedience, seeking and receiving Jehovah's spirit. We are dedicated to him, not to the organization. He places us in the organization where we fit, and we can fit ourselves well by obedience.
10 Look at the fine example of Jesus. No one in the heavens except Jehovah himself had greater power and ability to accomplish things. But in obedience "he emptied himself and took a slave's form and came to be in the likeness of men. More than that, when he found himself in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient as far as death, yes, death on a torture stake." (Phil. 2:7, 8) Even on earth he moved ahead, as it is stated: "He learned obedience from the things he suffered."—Heb. 5:8.
EFFORT WITH POSITIVE ATTITUDE NECESSARY
11 Of course, effort is needed. There are four things we must do to perfect obedience that will move us ahead: (1) Study of God's Word; (2) zeal and effort in applying the things learned to our life and ministry; (3) continually seeking and following the lead of Jehovah's holy spirit; (4) receiving help from other brothers in the organization. There are no shortcuts.
12 How will we put these four things into effect? First, study: We may think of study as hard work, as involving heavy research. But in Jehovah's organization it is not necessary to spend a lot of time and energy in research, for there are brothers in the organization who are assigned to do that very thing, to help you who do not have so much time for this, these preparing the good material in The Watchtower and other publications of the Society. But you do not study enough? Take this suggestion: Often the very best and most beneficial studying you do is that done when you read a new Watchtower or Awake! or a new book with the joy of getting the new truths and a fresh view. You remember the points. You talk enthusiastically to others about them. So try this: Pick up each Watchtower or Awake! as it comes and read it, just for the joy and pleasure it gives. Remember, you are not sitting down to study, just to enjoy the information. This will increase your joy of reading and will give you incentive for more definite, organized study. Jehovah wants you to enjoy your study. He does not want it to be drudgery to you. He is the happy God, taking pleasure in providing all this rich spiritual food.—1 Tim. 1:11; Acts 20:35.
13 Second, how will you be successful in applying the things learned to your life and ministry? You may feel that your problem is the big exception. But everyone has obligations and responsibilities. Adopt the positive attitude. Sit down and decide which are your main responsibilities. Then put first things first. This will put your conscience at ease. Now, if you have assignments in the Theocratic Ministry School, public talks, assistance arrangement or others, allow them their proper place. Do not keep putting them off. Count it as a privilege. It is just as important to Jehovah for you to fulfill this privilege as it is for our brothers in concentration camps to be faithful. In fact, this kind of privilege is an opportunity for you, not only to be faithful under test, but, additionally, to build up others to move ahead. Take each assignment as a stepping-stone in moving ahead with Jehovah's organization.
14 Let us say, for example, that you have an assignment in the Theocratic Ministry School. Can you do a really good job in your own strength? Of course not. Here the important third requirement comes in. Pray to Jehovah for his spirit to energize your mind. God is personally interested in your moving ahead. "God . . . will himself finish your training, he will make you firm, he will make you strong." (1 Pet. 5:10) Knowing you have his backing, get down to business. Do it NOW! The present moment is golden. Once lost, it cannot be regained. Start your mind to working. The worry about things not done is much more burdensome than the doing of them. So begin to put down your thoughts on paper, however scattered they may seem to you. Now you have something to work with; you begin to feel that the load is lighter. The subject shapes up in your mind. Many times we have had assignments that we found difficult. We did not know where to start. But we got down to work; we began taking the first steps. Soon, we got into our subject matter and found it, not only easier than we thought, but really enjoyable! God's spirit cooperated with our willing spirit.
15 When you have really applied your mind and effort to any job, if you find that further help is needed, this is the time to call on the fourth provision, the help of others. Following this procedure, you can accomplish any theocratic assignment. The seeming mountain will become a series of small stones.
16 "Those who move ahead are the ones who have an interest in the congregation. Every meeting, every arrangement, has something to promote progress. Attend, listen, associate, participate. As you do, check on yourself and see how you stand. Are you weakening in one or more features of Jehovah's service? Work on this weakness. Do this, and progress; maturity and privileges will increase faster than you ever imagined. Take the discipline of the wise man:
17 "I passed along by the field of the lazy individual and by the vineyard of the man in need of heart. And, look! all of it produced weeds. Nettles covered its very surface, and its stone wall itself had been torn down. So I proceeded to behold, I myself; I began taking it to heart; I saw, I took the discipline: A little sleeping, a little slumbering, a little folding of the hands to lie down, and as a highwayman your poverty will certainly come and your neediness as an armed man."—Prov. 24:30-34.
A STANDARD FOR MOVING AHEAD
18 Paul sets the proper standard for moving ahead, at Philippians 3:13-16: "Forgetting the things behind and stretching forward to the things ahead, I am pursuing down toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God by means of Christ Jesus. Let us, then, as many of us as are mature, be of this mental attitude; and if you are mentally inclined otherwise in any respect, God will reveal the above attitude to you. At any rate, to what extent we have made progress, let us go on walking orderly in this same routine."
19 If we make efforts God is willing to help us and to reveal the proper attitude to us, the attitude that Christ and Paul had. And we can use the apostle's counsel to examine to what extent we have made progress. We can ask ourselves the question: Where have I made progress that I count as real progress? Has it been in the secular world? work I have done? money I have made? Is it a college education? Just where is it? Jehovah's witnesses will answer: 'It is the progress that I have made in Jehovah's service and in the advancement I have made with his organization.' Are you able to give a sermon at the doors? That is advancement. Do you fulfill your assignments in the Theocratic Ministry School or service meeting? Are you a servant or an assistant? Do you give public talks? Any of these things are real advancements. Paul says for us to consider to what extent we made advancement, then to go on walking orderly in this same routine, so as to keep it.
20 In Jehovah's organization you do not push yourself higher. God is the One who promotes. (Ps. 75:6, 7) If you do not feel that you are moving ahead, then look at yourself, check yourself, not someone else. Do not feel that someone else is holding you back, that someone else is to blame, perhaps certain servants. Additionally, be patient. It is not necessarily positions in the congregation that denote progress, but it is the blessings of Jehovah. This is particularly true of the sisters, who are not privileged to hold the positions in the congregation that the brothers may hold, but who receive marvelous blessings in their work of preaching and helping others, including their families. Think of Moses. After forty years of Scriptural and secular training he felt that it was the time for him to deliver Israel from bondage. But God's purpose was to train him yet forty more years. (Acts 7:25, 29, 30) David was anointed king by Samuel when David was but a "cub," a young lad, yet he had years of severe trials ahead before he qualified to take kingship over God's nation Israel. (Gen. 49:9) Jesus, to qualify for the heavenly kingship of the kingdom of God, received the severest training and testing of all. So be patient, be willing to receive Jehovah's training and discipline. (Heb. 12:11) Remember, he knows our formation. (Ps. 103:13, 14) He knows what each of us individually needs; sometimes we do not know we need it. Training now may save us from very serious mistakes later. Allow the training to make over your personality.—Eph. 4:23, 24; Col. 3:9, 10.
YOU CAN HELP OTHERS TO MOVE AHEAD
21 One of the most important things in Christian advancement is that you cannot move ahead if you are not interested in others' moving ahead. Peter tells us: "Have love for the whole association of brothers." (1 Pet. 2:17) So be interested in the progress of the congregation, but not only the congregation—the circuit also and the entire organization; in our love we must "widen out." (2 Cor. 6:12, 13) Keep alive to the worldwide aspect of the organization. Live the truth; it is a way of life. Those interested in others get to know the brothers so well; they know their needs and problems; they develop empathy. They move ahead as they aid others to move ahead with the organization. Strive for a friendly atmosphere at the Kingdom Hall and the book-study meeting places. In speaking about the meetings, the field service, do so with joy. Have the positive, not the negative attitude. At Ephesians 4:29 we are advised to employ "whatever saying is good for building up as the need may be, that it may impart what is favorable to the hearers."
SERVANTS, HELP OTHERS
22 Servants can have a big share in helping others to move ahead. Do everything you can to promote the right spirit in the congregation. At 1 Thessalonians 5:23 we read: "And sound in every respect may the spirit and soul and body of you brothers be preserved in a blameless manner at the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ." So a congregation has a spirit, a mental attitude, a spiritual inclination. You can discern this spirit when you visit a congregation. Help the congregation to develop the attitude of Christ.
23 Some of the ways in which this can be done are: When meeting attendance is good, give the congregation commendation. Speak about the blessings, the joys, the benefits when so many meet together. If commenting is good, express appreciation for the fine participation and the evidence of good preparation. When certain features of service activity are improved, commend the congregation and make appreciative remarks concerning it.
24 Show personal interest in the progress of individuals. Give each one greater privileges as he qualifies. Remember the three kinds of training that the brothers need: First, field service training; second, organizational training; third, training in dealing lovingly and tactfully with the brothers.
25 If we move ahead in Jehovah's appointed way for his organization, we will be pleasing, not men, but the One who counts, our God. His smile means happiness and life. Paul said to the Hebrew Christians: "Now may the God of peace . . . equip you with every good thing to do his will, performing in us through Jesus Christ that which is well-pleasing in his sight."—Heb. 13:20, 21.
26 Doing this, we will build a strong bulwark of maturity for tests and trials to come. A greater witness will be given. We will have a feeling of accomplishment and greater faith in Jehovah for further assignments. We will have abounding joy, the joy of helping others to move ahead, with the glorious hope of life in the new order of things, and usefulness in a far greater capacity, when perfection will be attained.