Transcript for the talk "Trust the Faithful and Discreet Slave" talk given at the Kingdom Ministry Schools:
Trust the Faithful and Discreet Slave
Have we ever had to meet up with somebody with whom we've not seen before? Now I'm not talking about a blind date... but perhaps we've contacted someone in the ministry, perhaps it's telephone work, or perhaps we were given an S-43 and we contacted the person by telephone, and we've arranged to meet. Perhaps they're a bit timid that we come to their house, so perhaps a public place, a coffee shop. So how are we going to determine the person we're looking for, the person we're going to meet. Well, usually we'll talk about the location and the time. The coffee shop on the corner, four o'clock. I'm the good looking guy in the suit, you'll easily recognize me. So, a description, and then perhaps we'll give some other sort of characteristics, maybe something we'll be doing. I'll be on the corner, I'll have a magazine on the corner, the Watchtower magazine or something else, I'll be doing some reading. So then, we will be, through these different things to look for, we will be easily recognizable.
Well let's take a look, think about that illustration, and we're going to take a look at Matthew 24:45-47. Regarding the faithful and discreet slave. Matthew 24:45-47 and that reads: “Who really is the faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his domestics, to give them their food at the proper time? Happy is that slave if his master on arriving finds him doing so. Truly I say to YOU, He will appoint him over all his belongings”. So, of course, we're looking at trying to identify the faithful and discreet slave. Now we're going to examine these verses. Who is the faithful slave? So we're looking for the faithful slave. And it says, first of all, let's think about the location and the time. The master on arriving. Well we know Jesus Christ came to power in 1914, that's when he came to begin his presence as the enthroned king. In 1918, according to the Watchtower, he came as the messenger of the covenant specifically to judge those who claim to serve Jehovah. That was his purpose. So at the time, he came to examine those claiming to serve God in the proper way. Who was that? Well, there was at that time many different religions, as there are right now, it doesn't narrow it down.
However if we think about the description it says “Who is the faithful and discreet slave?”. So, of course, we know someone faithful, faithful in God's eyes, would be someone holding firmly to the truth in God's word. Ones who were breaking free from false religious beliefs, false religious traditions, examining the scriptures to find the truth. That narrows it down. Who was that? Well, we know the Bible Students were doing that, at the time in 1914 and 1918. Well what was the activity? Well, at the time there were 5,000 domestics who were busy spreading Bible truth and they were using different technologies of the time. Of course there was the color slide and the motion picture, Photo-Drama of Creation, they were using newspapers, printed literature, and the Watchtower of the time had been, there were 50,000 copies of the Watchtower that had been made. And so the Bible students of the time were conscientiously feeding the domestics, and included in that of course is the commission at Matthew 28:19,20 to preach the good news. So, who was doing that? Well, as mentioned, the Bible Students. Was there anybody else who fit that description? No. And then it says that they were, that they would be appointed over all the belongings. Well, what are the belongings of God? Well, anointed Christians as a whole are part of that, members of the great crowd are also part of the belongings, the physical things related to the commission, Matthew 28, and of course the things dedicated to the Kingdom, so property, things like that, Kingdom Halls, Assembly Halls. These are part of the belongings. And according to our “Organized to do Jehovah's Will” book that includes our commission to preach as part of those belongings. So, in 1919 after the examination was complete, the faithful slave was appointed over all of these things.
Now, for us, identifying and trusting in this slave are necessary to know Jehovah and to do Jehovah's will, to serve him properly. Why? Why is that? Why do I say that? Well, because this is Jehovah's arrangement. Jehovah has said this is the way in which I'm going to deal with my people. This is how I'm going to care for my sheep and feed them properly. He has deemed this organization necessary and who are we to doubt Jehovah's decision?
Now, in Pentecost 33 CE and onward, the Apostles took the lead as a governing body in providing direction for Christians everywhere. In our “Organized to do Jehovah's Will” book it talks about how they use representatives from the different congregations because it was not reasonable or practical to gather all the elders together to make decisions regarding the congregation. And of course nowadays we that even more so around the world, it's wouldn't be practical to do that. So by about 49 CE the governing body was enlarged to include other older men in Jerusalem. And by letters, by decisions, decrees, they helped to strengthen and unify the congregations in thought and in action. In Acts 16:4, I'll just quote that, it says: “Now as they traveled on through the cities they would deliver to those there for observance the decrees that had been decided upon by the apostles and older men who were in Jerusalem.”
And what was the effect of this? Well let's turn to Acts 16 and we'll read verse 5: “Therefore [now we know therefore is like a conjunctive word, it's connecting the previous thought to the following thought. So what is it connecting? Well, with the brothers delivering these decrees, delivering the decisions by the Apostles]... Therefore, indeed, the congregations continued to be made firm in the faith and to increase in number from day to day.”
So that was the affect of the congregations following the admonitions and the decisions of the governing body at that time. Now, in modern times, the governing body was, for many years, associated with a board of directors that was elected by those who make up the membership of the legal corporation known as the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. In 1944, the Watchtower began to speak about the governing body of the Christian congregation. So, for a time, it seemed that they were one and the same, it seemed. Well at 1971 in the annual meeting of the legal corporation, the question came up regarding the identify of the governing body and their relationship to the board of directors of this corporation. So, are they the same? Is the governing body the same, exactly the same as this board of directors that are in charge of the legal corporation? Well we see that under the direction of Jehovah and of Jesus Christ, the head of the congregation, that decision had already been made. That was a foregone conclusion because in the first century we know that the governing body functioned without a legal corporation that was chartered by Caesar. And they did so successfully. In in fact we know, in time, the Roman empire started to persecute the Christian congregation and yet the brothers still flourished. So, it does not depend upon Caesar and whether he recognizes the governing body. It's that fact that Jehovah recognizes it and, of course, we do to as part of the congregation.
So, it shows the governing body can also function without the legal, non-profit corporation, known as the Watchtower Bible and Tract society. Perhaps you would like to take note of a reference, Watchtower 1971, December 15, and the title of the article is “A governing body as different from a legal corporation”. But it makes that same point, that, of course, that the governing body does not need recognition from Caesar and in fact the legal corporation is only an administrative agency under the direction of the governing body. So the legal agency is an arm, a tool, of the body. It's not the body nor is it the heart or mind of the body. Well, as was mentioned earlier this morning, the governing body is at seven members presently, and over the years it has varied from seven to eighteen members. In 1976, January the first, all the activities of the congregations worldwide were brought under the supervision of six administrative committees of the governing body. Now these six are: the coordinators committee, they used to be called the chairman's committee, personnel committee, publishing, service, teaching, and writing. We can find that in Watchtower of 08, May 15, page 29. Now, do we know these committees? Do we know what they are and how they function, or the responsibilities of each of these? The next question being: Does it really matter? Is it going to affect me if I can, you know, say well the coordinators committee deals with major emergencies, persecution, disasters, other urgent matters affecting Jehovah's people? Well, you know, it shows that, really, the faithful slave has nothing to hide, and the more that we know of how we are organized as an organization, of course the more confidence we have in our organization. The more faith, it becomes more than just a strong belief, it becomes true faith and we put confidence in the decisions that are made by the governing body, by the faithful slave, for our benefit. We can think of the example of the congregation book study. And now we have the congregation Bible study. Of course, many brothers still say that they miss that arrangement, but we cooperate with it because we trust the faithful slave, we trust the decisions made, we know there is good reason for it and we know that there is benefits to be had by following that direction. So, in view of their God-given assignment, the governing body deserves our full cooperation; Even as the early Christians congregation cooperated with the governing body at that time.
So, we've talked about how this is God's arrangement. And this is the first reason why we should trust the governing body and the faithful slave. By our submission and cooperation, congregations worldwide hold to the governing body, show their loyalty to it. As elders and ministerial servants, we fully cooperate with this body of appointed and anointed men because the governing body is in heart-harmony with the Bible. Now think about that phrase for a minute, “heart-harmony with the Bible.” Well we know our heart is the seat of motivation. We refer to it as the inner person. Harmony, of course, being things synchronized or unified together, and the Bible, of course, is God's word. The product of holy spirit, the Bible itself has no personal ambition, it's purpose, it's theme, is God's kingdom and, of course it helps us to develop a relationship with God. So, the governing body being in heart-harmony with the Bible, it shows that these brothers have no personal ambition. Their desire is to further the kingdom preaching work, to honor Jehovah, to worship him, to support his sovereignty, and of course, prove Satan to be a liar. Now the congregations worldwide hold to the governing body, not because of personalities, because we know the personalities or the personnel of the governing body have changed over the years because of circumstances and owing to death. In the March 1st 1925 issue of the Watchtower, on page 71, in the article “Birth of a Nation” it makes this reference, and I quote, “The personnel makes no difference. The question is 'does the Lord use them?' He must use someone. God sets the members of the body as it pleases him. When one is set in the body, that one's personality accounts for nothing. It is the office in the body, or the place, that is to be considered. And the representative capacity in which the Lord may use the one in that office or place.”
Now the second reason why we trust this spokesman for the faithful slave is that we know who the real leader is, Jesus Christ. And we know Jesus well. And that's one personality to which we can adhere to. Through our congregation Bible study we've really begun to examine Jesus, his personality, how he treated people, his objective. So we know him well. We don't need to speculate to his agenda because we know what his agenda is. And we have seen proof, and we have felt proof ourselves, haven't we, that Jesus is using the faithful slave and the governing body.
The third reason why we would trust the slave is that we feel secure under their direction and we see Jehovah's blessing.
So how can we then demonstrate our trust in the faithful and discreet slave and their representative, the governing body? Let's take a look at Acts 20:28. “Pay attention to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the holy spirit has appointed YOU overseers, to shepherd the congregation of God, which he purchased with the blood of his own [Son].”
So, we demonstrate our trust by 1) gladly accepting and faithfully discharging the obligations of our appointment. Now we see here in the verse it says “he purchased with the blood of his own [Son].” Well, the blood of the Christ, of Jesus, could well be called one of the most precious items in the universe. And we see that Jehovah used that, the value of that, for our benefit and, of course, to accomplish his purposes. So how we discharge our duties reflects how much we appreciate the ransom. How we deal with our responsibilities and deal with the brothers and sisters in the congregation shows how much we value Jesus' life, how much we value God's purposes, and how much we value the lives of our brothers and sisters.
Now, related to that, it's been mentioned before, perhaps we've even made comments to this end, that, well, we belong to a volunteer organization. It's a volunteer organization so I shouldn't be pushed, I should be made to feel, you know, that I have to do something. And it's true, it is a volunteer organization. However, brothers, we have to remember that we already volunteered. In fact, we volunteered twice. We volunteered when we dedicated our lives to Jehovah, saying that his will know becomes our will, and our will, previously, is either non-existent, or second place to God's will. And then we've also volunteered when we've accepted our appointment, when we accepted our responsibility. So, when it comes to carrying our our responsibilities, we really want to take that seriously. Of course we need to be balanced, as we've talked about today, with our other responsibilities, family, and so forth. But we really need to really do out utmost that we fulfill and carry out the things that we said we'd do.
Another way we can show our trust is, of course, be a zealous kingdom proclaimer. Romans 12:11, it says “Do not loiter at your business, be aglow with the spirit, slave for Jehovah.” Now, loitering would be like hanging about, having no purpose or having no direction. So it says that we shouldn't loiter at our business. We have a purpose, we have a direction. “Be aglow with the spirit”. Well, we need zeal, we need motivation. And “slave for Jehovah”. Well, a slave doesn't please himself, a slave works at pleasing his master. So, we know what our commission is, Matthew 28:19,20, we need to apply this scripture and do our utmost. And we can apply to even toward our attitude in the ministry because, of course, all of us, we know, yes, the ministry is very important. Yes, we have to be in the ministry with our families. Yes, we have to put first the kingdom. But, what about our attitude and our disposition when we're at the field service groups? 'I'd rather be somewhere else.... but this is important, I have to be here...'. We've all been there, we've all felt that way for various reasons, but if that becomes a constant in our life, where we feel that being in the ministry starts to be a burden, well we need to, perhaps, do some examination and make some changes because the kingdom preaching work is, we know, so very vital, so very important.
A third way to show our trust is, of course, benefit from the rich spiritual food dispensed by the faithful slave. We've already read Matthew 24, that the faithful slave gives the food at the proper time, the question is: are we giving the proper time to the food that's being given to us?
And the fourth way we can show our trust is Proverbs chapter 3 verses 9 and 10. If you'd turn there with me. “Honor Jehovah with your valuable things and with the firstfruits of all your produce. 10 Then your stores of supply will be filled with plenty; and with new wine your own press vats will overflow.” The cross-reference to that scripture refers to 1 Timothy 6:8 where it talks, it encourages us to be rich in fine works, being liberal, ready to share. So, when it comes to other matters such as kingdom hall builds, expansion of facilities, or natural disasters, we want to be generous like Jehovah and give of our material things where we can, our valuable things. Of course, we're already giving much as brothers, our time and our energies. But this is another area, perhaps, we could give some attention to, in a material way, supporting kingdom interests, because can our love for Jehovah be whole-souled if we're holding something back?
[Brief Review of day's program].
Well, Satan is making an all-out effort to disgrace Jehovah's name and his organization. In Revelation 12:17 it says “The dragon grew wrathful”, well, he hasn't subsided, in fact, Satan is ever more wrathful now. And Satan has always tried to prove that Jehovah's way of doing things is not good. So by our attitude, by our actions in regard to the faithful and discreet slave, we show whether we're supporting Satan's claims, that Jehovah's way of doing things is not good, or we show Satan to be a liar. So brothers, let's pray, let's supplicate Jehovah, to bless and guide the brothers on the governing body, the faithful slave, especially in these critical last days. As Satan intensifies his effort, as his wrath gets stronger and more intense, we need to draw closer to Jehovah, we need to draw closer to his organization, and we need to show our implicit trust in Jehovah's faithful and discreet slave. That's the channel that he is using to direct his people today.