The Source of Good News—“God”
1. What different kinds of gods do people worship today?
WHAT is meant by “God”? Hundreds of millions of persons profess to believe in the God of the Bible, but instead of worshiping him they worship a mysterious Trinity. Hundreds of millions of Hindus also worship a Trinity, the three-headed Trimurti of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva, among their 330 million gods and goddesses. Hundreds of millions of persons worship various images of Buddha, and Shinto has its pantheon of 800 myriad gods, including the sun-goddess Amaterasu Omikami. Then there are hundreds of millions of persons who say they are atheists. Some of these declare that religion is “the opium of the people,” yet they themselves enshrine and idolize their dead leaders.
2. What should each one of us want to find out with regard to God? (1 Corinthians 8:5, 6)
2 Truly, there is a confusing array of gods in the realm of religion, which extends like a vast empire into every corner of the earth. It should be to our benefit to examine this situation with an open mind, and see whether we can determine what the truth is with regard to God.
3 There are many people who worship their ancestors, and some are very sincere in this. Of course, everyone should honor parents and grandparents who are worthy of such honor. The apostle Paul quoted the fifth of the Ten Commandments as follows: “Honor your father and your mother . . . that it may go well with you and you may endure a long time on the earth.” (Ephesians 6:2, 3) But does that mean we should worship them? If we were to worship our ancestors, and carried this worship back to the beginning of history, we would be worshiping mankind’s first parents, Adam and Eve, whose disobedience in the garden of Eden got mankind started in their troubles and unhappiness! Surely we would not want to worship those ancestors!
4 The practical advantage of giving due honor to older persons while they are alive is illustrated by these reports from the Orient:
In a Japanese family the daughter, who adhered closely to Bible principles, cared lovingly for her Buddhist parents right down to their death. She gave them real comfort. On the other hand, the son did nothing to help his parents while they were alive, but after they died bought them a $300 butsudan (family Buddhist altar) so that they could be worshiped.
In Korea, a young man accepted Bible teaching, but when he returned to his native village he was severely opposed by his ancestor-worshiping parents and the elders. However, when he explained about honoring live parents and not worshiping dead ones, an eighty-one-year-old village elder acknowledged: “We should walk the way of life rather than the way of the dead.”
It is true that in Christendom, as well as in non-Christian lands, much worship centers around masses, chantings and other rites for the dead. However, the God of the Bible is described as “the God, not of the dead, but of the living.” (Matthew 22:32) Even dead persons live in his memory, and in due time he will restore them to life here on earth. So he does not approve of costly, showy funeral rituals. Who, then, is this living God?
“THE HAPPY GOD”
5. What are some qualities of “the happy God”? (Psalm 146:5, 6)
5 The Bible describes him as “the happy God,” who is the Author of “glorious good news” for mankind. (1 Timothy 1:11) He loves the world of mankind, and wants us to be happy too. As the Creator of all the universe, he has the power to make us happy, and as “the Ancient of Days” who lives for all eternity, he has the supreme wisdom needed for bringing about happy conditions on this earth. (Daniel 7:9) As “a lover of justice,” he will see that those who are loyal to him and his right principles “will possess the earth, and . . . reside forever upon it.” (Psalm 37:28, 29) The Bible says of this Creator and God:
“Before the mountains themselves were born, or you proceeded to bring forth . . . the earth and the productive land, even from time indefinite to time indefinite you are God.” “Now to the King of eternity, incorruptible, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever.”—Psalm 90:2; 1 Timothy 1:17.
6 The God of the Bible is the living God, the God of high moral principles, the God who will carry out his grand purpose to make mankind happy. One of the psalm writers says of him:
“Our God is in the heavens; everything that he delighted to do he has done.” (Psalm 115:3)
Hence he could never be compared to lifeless do-nothing idols! Of those who trust in such idols the same psalmist goes on to say:
“Their idols are silver and gold, the work of the hands of earthling man. A mouth they have, but they cannot speak; eyes they have, but they cannot see; ears they have, but they cannot hear. A nose they have, but they cannot smell. Hands are theirs, but they cannot feel. Feet are theirs, but they cannot walk; they utter no sound with their throat. Those making them will become just like them, all those who are trusting in them.” (Psalm 115:4-8)
Rather than worship dead idols, we should worship the living God.
7. Why should we seek after God? (Psalm 34:8)
7 The way to true happiness is for us earnestly to seek to know this happy God, for, as the apostle Paul states, “he becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him.” (Hebrews 11:6) This God is not too difficult to find, nor should we be fearful of him. The same Paul, in talking to a group of idol-worshiping Greeks, explained Him in this way:
“Men of Athens, I behold that in all things you seem to be more given to the fear of the deities than others are. For instance, while passing along and carefully observing your objects of veneration I also found an altar on which had been inscribed ‘To an Unknown God.’ Therefore what you are unknowingly giving godly devotion to, this I am publishing to you. The God that made the world and all the things in it, being, as this One is, Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in handmade temples, neither is he attended to by human hands as if he needed anything, because he himself gives to all persons life and breath and all things. And he made out of one man every nation of men, to dwell upon the entire surface of the earth, and he decreed the appointed times and the set limits of the dwelling of men, for them to seek God, if they might grope for him and really find him, although, in fact, he is not far off from each one of us. For by him we have life and move and exist, even as certain ones of the poets among you have said, ‘For we are also his progeny.’
“Seeing, therefore, that we are the progeny of God, we ought not to imagine that the Divine Being is like gold or silver or stone, like something sculptured by the art and contrivance of man.” (Acts 17:22-29)
Some of Paul’s hearers scoffed, but others were convinced and became believers in the living God.
GOD THE CREATOR
8. What can we learn about God from his works of creation? (Psalm 19:1)
8 There are persons today who deny the existence of God. Some say, “God is dead.” But is their theory right? Speaking of such persons, Paul states in one of his letters:
“[God’s] invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship, so that they are inexcusable.” (Romans 1:20)
The vast universe and all the marvels that it contains are truly an expression of God’s “eternal power.”
9. What have famous scientists acknowledged about man’s position in the universe?
9 Even famous scientists have at times acknowledged their own smallness in comparison with the stupendous power and wisdom apparent in creation. For example, Albert Einstein once testified:
“It is enough for me to . . . reflect upon the marvelous structure of the universe, which we can dimly perceive, and to try humbly to comprehend even an infinitesimal part of the intelligence manifest in nature.”
10. How did Newton convince a friend that the Creator lives?
10 The discoverer of the “law of gravity,” Sir Isaac Newton, was another who was deeply impressed by the evidence of God’s invisible qualities that are to be seen in His creation. The following account relates how Newton testified to his belief in Almighty God:
Newton once had a skilled mechanic make for him a model of the solar system. Balls representing the planets were geared together so as to move realistically in orbit. One day an atheist friend visited Newton. On seeing the model, he operated it, and exclaimed in admiration, “Who made it?” Newton answered, “Nobody!” The atheist replied, “You must think I am a fool! Of course somebody made it, and he is a genius.” Newton then said to his friend, “This thing is but a puny imitation of a much grander system whose laws you know, and I am not able to convince you that this mere toy is without a designer and maker; yet you profess to believe that the great original from which the design is taken has come into being without either designer or maker!”
Newton’s friend came to acknowledge that the great Designer and Maker of all things is God. Surely we, too, as we look on the marvels of creation about us, in the heavens and on earth, must acknowledge that an all-wise Creator made it all! How thankful we should be that this mighty Creator lovingly placed man here on this earth and that he is deeply interested in us!
GOD’S ILLUSTRIOUS NAME
11. (a) Why is it only reasonable that God have a name? (b) What is God’s name? (Isaiah 12:2, 4) (c) How often does it appear in the Bible? (d) How did God make his name known in a special way in the days of Moses? (Exodus 6:3, 7, 8)
11 As human persons we each have a name. As the greatest Personage in the universe, God also has a name. What is that name? God’s great name appears around 7,000 times in the Bible record. For example, Psalm 83:18 speaks of it thus: “You, whose name is Jehovah, you alone are the Most High over all the earth.” When God used Moses in delivering Israel from the cruel Pharaoh of Egypt, He made His name known in a most special way. Pharaoh said defiantly, “Who is Jehovah, so that I should obey his voice to send Israel away?” (Exodus 5:2) Jehovah showed very plainly who he was! After bringing ten devastating plagues upon Egypt, Jehovah God led his people out, miraculously parting the waters of the Red Sea to give them passage. And the cream of Pharaoh’s army perished in those same waters as they came together again.
12. With what purpose is God’s name tied in? (Exodus 3:13-15)
12 Jehovah thus showed that his illustrious name is tied in with his purpose to deliver those who love and obey him, something that we may come to appreciate with thanksgiving when Jehovah acts soon to bring destruction upon the present-day world of ungodly persons. As God himself declares more than sixty times through the prophet Ezekiel, “They will have to know that I am Jehovah.”—Ezekiel 38:23.
13. (a)What did Jehovah tell Moses about His qualities? (b) What is God’s most outstanding quality? (Romans 8:38, 39) (c) How may we find satisfying answers to questions about life?
13 However, many of mankind today are coming to know Jehovah in a way that will be to their blessing. This great God has marvelous qualities, even as he proclaimed to his prophet Moses:
“Jehovah, Jehovah, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness and truth, preserving loving-kindness for thousands, pardoning error and transgression and sin, but by no means will he give exemption from punishment.” (Exodus 34:6, 7)
Throughout the Bible we read of Jehovah’s expressing his abundant loving-kindness toward those who serve him loyally. “God is love.” (1 John 4:8) He is merciful in a large way toward humans who turn from the world’s wickedness and who seek his righteousness. He abounds in truth, and this he expresses through the pages of the Bible. As we search for his truth, we will find satisfying answers to many questions that we may have about life.
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Mankind worships many gods. But who is the living God?
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Worship dead ancestors or lovingly honor living parents—which is beneficial?
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Only the living God could design and make the solar system
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Jehovah magnifies his name by destroying the wicked, while preserving his loyal servants