1. How did Christendom’s clergy react during wartime?
IS IT the will of God that true Christians go to war and kill people of a different nationality? During the last 100 years, that has often been done by many who called themselves Christians. Catholic army chaplains have blessed troops and their weapons in wars against Catholics of an opposing nation. The same has been true of Protestant chaplains. World War II is a prime example of the resulting slaughter.
2, 3. What position did Jehovah’s Witnesses take during World War II and later, and why?
2 What did Jehovah’s Witnesses do in that time of war? The historical record shows that they maintained a position of Christian neutrality. What was the basis for their stand? It was primarily the example and teachings of Jesus. He said: “By this all will know that you are my disciples—if you have love among yourselves.” (John 13:35) They also took to heart the extended application of the reasoning that the apostle Paul presented in writing to Christians in Corinth.—Read 2 Corinthians 10:3, 4.
3 Therefore, true Christians, who have their conscience trained by the Bible, do not learn war or participate in warfare. As a result of holding to this Christian position, thousands of Witnesses, young and old, male and female, have been persecuted. Many have suffered in forced-labor camps and prisons. During the Nazi era in Germany, some were even murdered. Regardless of the vicious persecution they faced in Europe, the Witnesses never forgot their commission to preach the good news of Jehovah’s Kingdom. They faithfully did so—in prisons, in concentration camps, and in exile. * Later, Witnesses took no part in the warlike ethnic cleansing in Rwanda in 1994. They also remained neutral during the bloodbaths that more recently occurred in the Balkans conflict during the breakup of the former Yugoslavia.
4. How has the neutrality of Jehovah’s Witnesses affected observers?
4 The strict neutrality of Jehovah’s Witnesses has convinced thousands of observers around the globe that the Witnesses practice genuine love of God and of neighbor. In other words, they are practicing true Christianity. Yet, there are other features of our worship that have convinced many that when they see Jehovah’s Witnesses, they are seeing true Christians.
THE GREATEST EDUCATIONAL WORK IN HISTORY
5. What change did Christ’s early followers face?
5 From the start of his ministry, Jesus stressed the importance of proclaiming the good news of God’s Kingdom. He chose 12 disciples to share in laying the foundation for a global ministry; afterward, he trained a group of 70 disciples. (Luke 6:13; 10:1) These were prepared to take the good news to others, at first to the Jews. Then, a surprise! Jesus’ disciples were going to take it to uncircumcised ones of the nations. What a change that must have been for zealous Jewish disciples!—Acts 1:8.
6. What led Peter to recognize Jehovah’s impartiality?
6 The apostle Peter was sent to the home of Cornelius, an uncircumcised Gentile. Peter then recognized that God is impartial. Cornelius and his household were baptized. Christianity was now expanding into a vast new field; people in all nations could hear the truth and accept it. (Acts 10:9-48) Now the field was the whole world.
7, 8. What initiative has Jehovah’s organization taken? (See opening image.)
7 During the modern-day history of Jehovah’s Witnesses, those taking the lead have zealously promoted the preaching and teaching of the good news around the world. Today, almost eight million zealous Witnesses are doing their utmost to spread Christ’s message in well over 600 languages, with more to come! Jehovah’s Witnesses are clearly identified by their house-to-house ministry and by their preaching on the streets, sometimes using display tables and mobile literature carts.
8 More than 2,900 translators have received specialized training to translate the Bible and Bible literature. Their work is certainly not limited to what might be considered major languages. Their efforts include hundreds of languages that are not widely known but that are, nevertheless, spoken by millions of people. For example, in Spain millions of Catalonians speak their native language, Catalan, on a daily basis. In recent times especially, there has been a resurgence of Catalan and its variations in Andorra, Alicante, the Balearic Islands, and Valencia. Jehovah’s Witnesses now produce Bible literature in Catalan, and Christian meetings are being held in the language that warms the hearts of the Catalonian people.
9, 10. What illustrates that God’s organization is interested in the spiritual needs of all people?
9 This pattern of translation and teaching is being repeated in many cultures. Mexico is a Spanish-speaking country but has sizable indigenous groups speaking other languages. The Maya make up one such group. The branch in Mexico assigned the Maya translation team to reside in a part of the country where they could speak and hear the language on a daily basis. Another example is Nepali, one of the languages spoken in Nepal, which has a population of over 29 million. Some 120 languages are spoken in the country, but well over ten million speak Nepali and many others use it as a second tongue. Our Bible literature is also produced in that language.
10 Jehovah’s organization takes the commission to preach the good news of the Kingdom worldwide very seriously, as shown by the support given to the many translation teams around the world. Millions upon millions of tracts, brochures, and magazines have been distributed in campaigns throughout the world, without charge to the public. The expense has been covered by the voluntary donations of Jehovah’s Witnesses, who have followed Jesus’ instruction: “You received free, give free.”—Matt. 10:8.
11, 12. How has the global preaching work done by Jehovah’s Witnesses had a good effect on others?
11 As devoted Christian preachers and teachers, Jehovah’s Witnesses are so convinced that they have found the truth that they make great sacrifices in order to share the message with people of other nations and ethnic groups. Many have simplified their life, learned another language, and adapted to a different culture in order to share in this vital Christian work. This international preaching and teaching work is another factor that convinces many people that Jehovah’s Witnesses are the true followers of Christ Jesus.
12 Witnesses do all of this because they are convinced that they have found the truth. But what else has convinced millions of people that Jehovah’s Witnesses have the truth?—Read Romans 14:17, 18.
WHY THEY BELIEVE
13. How have the Witnesses kept the organization clean?
13 We can benefit from comments by devoted Christians of our time, who are convinced that they have the truth. One longtime servant of Jehovah expressed his feelings this way: “Every effort is made to keep Jehovah’s organization morally clean and undefiled, regardless of who has to be counseled or disciplined.” How is this high moral standard achieved? By following the standards set out in God’s Word and the pattern that Jesus and his disciples provided. Thus, during the modern-day history of Jehovah’s Witnesses, relatively few have had to be expelled from the Christian fellowship because they would not conform to God’s standards. The vast majority—including some who formerly lived in a way that God did not approve of but who changed—maintain a clean and exemplary lifestyle.—Read 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
14. What have many disfellowshipped ones done, and with what result?
14 What about those who had to be put out of the congregation, in obedience to Scriptural direction? Thousands have repented of their unchristian actions and have been welcomed back into the congregation. (Read 2 Corinthians 2:6-8.) Holding to the Bible’s high code of conduct has resulted in a clean Christian congregation that inspires confidence and trust. That Jehovah’s Witnesses hold to God’s standards—in stark contrast with the permissiveness common in many churches—has in itself convinced many that this is a people who practice the truth.
15. What convinced one brother that he has the truth?
15 Why do other experienced Witnesses believe that they have found the truth? One brother in his 50’s explained: “I have believed since I was a teenager that my faith rested on three basic pillars or premises: (1) that God exists; (2) that he inspired the Bible; and (3) that he is using and blessing the Christian congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses today. As I have studied over the years, I have always tried to test those pillars and have asked myself if they were on truly solid ground. The evidence for each has grown substantially year after year, strengthening my faith and deepening my conviction that we do, indeed, have the truth.”
16. What was it about the truth that impressed one sister?
16 A married sister who is serving at the world headquarters in New York commented about Jehovah’s organization: “It is the only one that unwaveringly proclaims Jehovah’s name. How logical that is when we recall that the divine name appears some 7,000 times in the Bible! I appreciate the encouragement found at 2 Chronicles 16:9: ‘The eyes of Jehovah are roving about through all the earth to show his strength in behalf of those whose heart is complete toward him.’” She continues: “The truth has shown me how to have a complete heart so that Jehovah can freely show his strength toward me. My relationship with Jehovah is most precious to me. And I appreciate Jesus’ role in providing intimate knowledge of God that sustains me.”
17. Of what is a former atheist convinced, and why?
17 A former atheist confessed: “The creation convinces me that God wants mankind to enjoy life and therefore he will not allow suffering to go on forever. Also, as the world descends further into ungodliness, Jehovah’s people are progressing in faith, zeal, and love. Only Jehovah’s spirit could produce this modern-day miracle.”—Read 1 Peter 4:1-4.
18. How do you feel about the sentiments expressed by two other brothers?
18 Another longtime Witness gave his reasons for believing the truth that we preach: “My study over the years has convinced me that the Witnesses have made serious efforts to return to the model of first-century Christianity. I have seen for myself the global unity of Jehovah’s Witnesses as I have traveled the world. The truth from the Bible has given me satisfaction and happiness.” When a brother who is over 60 was asked why he was convinced that he had found the truth, he focused on Jesus Christ, explaining: “We have carefully studied the life and ministry of Jesus and have come to appreciate his example. We have made adjustments in our lifestyle to draw nearer to God through Christ Jesus. We have recognized Christ’s ransom sacrifice as the basis for salvation. And we know that he was resurrected from the dead. We have the testimony of reliable eyewitnesses to that fact.”—Read 1 Corinthians 15:3-8.
WHAT MUST WE DO WITH THE TRUTH?
19, 20. (a) What responsibility did Paul emphasize to the congregation in Rome? (b) As dedicated Christians, what is our privilege?
19 As Christians who love our neighbor, we cannot keep our precious knowledge of the truth to ourselves. Paul reasoned with his brothers in the congregation in Rome: “If you publicly declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and exercise faith in your heart that God raised him up from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one exercises faith for righteousness, but with the mouth one makes public declaration for salvation.”—Rom. 10:9, 10.
20 As dedicated Witnesses of Jehovah, we are convinced that we have the truth and are aware of our privilege to teach others the good news of God’s Kingdom rule. As we go about our preaching assignment, may others become impressed not only with what we teach from the Bible but also with our glowing conviction.
^ par. 3 See Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom, pages 191-198, 448-454.
THE WATCHTOWER—STUDY EDITION