Keep a Firm Grip on the Word of God
1. (a) How did ancient Israel experience the truthfulness of God’s Word? (b) Why is that of interest to us?
“YOU well know with all your hearts and with all your souls that not one word out of all the good words that Jehovah your God has spoken to you has failed. They have all come true for you.” This was the reminder that Joshua gave the older men of Israel after they were settled in the Promised Land. But in the years that followed they did not consistently take God’s Word to heart and apply it. What was the result? The Bible makes it plain that just as Jehovah’s promises of blessing had proved trustworthy, so, too, he carried out what he said as to the consequences of disobedience. (Josh. 23:14-16) That record, as well as all the rest of the Bible, was preserved for our instruction—so that “we might have hope” and so that we would not do something that would result in our forfeiting that hope.—Rom. 15:4.
2. (a) In what sense is the Bible “inspired of God”? (b) Knowing this, what responsibility do we have?
2 Although some 40 human “secretaries” were used to record the Bible, Jehovah himself is its Author. Does that mean he actively directed the writing of everything in it? Yes. As the apostle Paul truthfully said, “All Scripture is inspired of God.” Being convinced of that, we urge people everywhere to pay heed to it and to build their lives around what it contains, just as we endeavor to do.—2 Tim. 3:16; 1 Thess. 2:13.
What Will Help Others to Appreciate It?
3. What is the best way to help many of those who are not convinced that the Bible is the Word of God?
3 Of course, many to whom we speak do not share our conviction that the Bible really is the Word of God. How can we help them? Often, the very best way is to open the Bible and show them what it contains. “The word of God is alive and exerts power and is sharper than any two-edged sword . . . and is able to discern thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12) “The word of God” is his word of promise, recorded in the Bible. It is not dead history but is alive and irresistibly moves toward fulfillment. As it does so, the true heart motivations of persons who are brought in touch with it become manifest as to meeting the conditions. Its influence is far more powerful than anything that we personally might say.
4. What simple explanations of Bible truths have changed the attitude of some persons toward the Bible? Why?
4 Simply seeing God’s name in the Bible has been the turning point for many persons. Others have decided to study the Bible when shown what it says about the purpose of life, why God permits wickedness, the significance of current events or the realistic hope centered on God’s Kingdom. In lands where religious practices have laid people open to much harassment by evil spirits, the Bible’s explanation of the cause of this and how to gain relief has aroused interest. Why are these points so impressive to them? Because the Bible is the only source of reliable information on these vital matters.—Ps. 119:130.
5. When a person says he does not believe the Bible, what may be the reason? How might we help him?
5 However, what if a person directly tells us that he does not believe the Bible? Should that end the conversation? Not if he is willing to reason. We ought to feel a responsibility to speak up with conviction in behalf of God’s Word. It may be that he views the Bible as Christendom’s book. Her record of hypocrisy and political meddling, as well as her constant solicitations for money, may account for his negative reaction to the Bible. Why not ask if that is so? The Bible’s condemnation of Christendom’s worldly ways, along with points of contrast between Christendom and true Christianity, may arouse his interest.—Compare Matthew 15:7-9; James 4:4; Micah 3:11, 12.
6. (a) What convinces you personally that the Bible is God’s Word? (b) What other lines of reasoning could be used to help people to appreciate that the Bible really is from God?
6 For others, a straightforward discussion of evidences of inspiration is helpful. What clearly proves to you that the Bible is from God? Is it what the Bible itself says as to its origin? (2 Tim. 3:16, 17; Rev. 1:1) Or is it the fact that the Bible contains numerous prophecies reflecting detailed knowledge of the future, which prophecies must therefore have come from a superhuman source? (2 Pet. 1:20, 21; Isa. 42:9) Is it perhaps the Bible’s internal harmony, although written down by many men over a period of 1,610 years? Or its scientific accuracy in contrast with other writings from those times? Or the candor of its writers? Or its preservation in the face of vicious efforts to destroy it? Whatever you have found to be impressive can also be used to help other people.
Our Personal Bible Reading
7, 8. (a) What should we individually be doing with the Bible? (b) What do we need in addition to personal Bible reading, and how does the Bible itself show this? (c) How have you personally gained an understanding of Jehovah’s purposes?
7 In addition to helping others to believe the Bible, we ourselves need to take time to read it regularly. Are you doing that? Of all the books ever produced, this one is the most important. Of course, that does not mean that if we read it we need nothing else. The Scriptures warn against isolating ourselves, thinking that we can figure out everything with independent research. Both personal study and regular meeting attendance are needed if we are to be balanced Christians.—Prov. 18:1; Heb. 10:24, 25.
8 For our benefit the Bible tells about an Ethiopian official to whom an angel directed the Christian evangelizer Philip when the official was reading from the prophecy of Isaiah. Philip asked the man: “Do you actually know what you are reading?” Humbly the Ethiopian replied: “Really, how could I ever do so, unless someone guided me?” He urged Philip to explain the passage of Scripture. Now, Philip was not merely an independent Bible reader who there gave his opinion on the Scriptures. No; the record shows that he had maintained close contact with the apostles in the congregation at Jerusalem and was a member of Jehovah’s visible organization. So he could help the Ethiopian to benefit from the instruction that Jehovah was making available through that organization. (Acts 6:5, 6; 8:5, 14, 15, 26-35) Similarly today, who of us arrived at a clear and correct understanding of Jehovah’s purposes on his own? On the contrary, we needed, and we continue to need, the aid that Jehovah lovingly provides through his visible organization.
9. What programs of Bible reading can benefit all of us?
9 To help us to use and understand the Bible, Jehovah’s organization supplies excellent Scriptural material in The Watchtower and related publications. In addition, a regular schedule of Bible reading is set out for us in connection with the Theocratic Ministry School in the congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Some of Jehovah’s Witnesses do consecutive Bible reading in addition to this. Great benefit can come from time spent in examining the Holy Scriptures. (Ps. 1:1-3; 19:7, 8) Have you personally read the entire Bible? If not, make a special effort to do so. Even though you do not fully understand everything, your having an overall view of it will be of great value. If you were to read only four or five pages a day, you would complete the Bible in about a year.
10. (a) When do you do your Bible reading? (b) Why is regularity important?
10 When can you personally arrange to do this Bible reading? If you are able to set aside even 10 or 15 minutes a day, how beneficial that will be! If not, at least schedule regular times for it each week, and then hold to that schedule. Bible reading should be a lifelong habit, like eating food. As you know, if a person’s eating habits become poor, his health will suffer. So, too, with our spirituality. Our life depends on our being regularly nourished by “every utterance coming forth through Jehovah’s mouth.”—Matt. 4:4.
11. What should be our objective in reading the Bible?
11 What should be our objective in reading the Bible? It would be a mistake if our goal were simply to cover a quota of pages or even solely to gain eternal life. To benefit lastingly, we must have higher motives—love for God, a desire to know him better, to understand his will and to worship him acceptably. (John 5:39-42) Our attitude should be like that of the Bible writer who said: “Make me know your own ways, O Jehovah; teach me your own paths.”—Ps. 25:4.
12. (a) Why is gaining “accurate knowledge” necessary, and what effort when reading may be needed in order to get it? (b) As shown on page 27, from what viewpoints might we beneficially analyze what we read in the Bible? (c) Illustrate these five points, one at a time, by answering the questions provided at the end of this paragraph. Be sure to use your Bible.
12 As we receive that teaching, it should be our desire to gain “accurate knowledge.” Without it, how could we apply God’s Word properly in our own lives or explain it correctly to others? (Col. 3:10; 2 Tim. 2:15) Gaining accurate knowledge requires that we read carefully, and if a portion is deep we may need to read it more than once in order to grasp the sense of it. We will also be benefited if we take time to meditate on the material, thinking about it from various standpoints. Five valuable avenues of thought to explore are highlighted on page 27 of this book. Many portions of Scripture can beneficially be analyzed by using one or more of these. As you answer the questions on the following pages you will see how that is so.
(1) Frequently the portion of Scripture that you are reading gives some indication as to the kind of person Jehovah is.
When we meditate appreciatively on what the Bible tells us about Jehovah’s works of creation, how does that affect our attitude toward him? (Ps. 139:13, 14; from Job chapters 38-42 note especially Job 38:1, 2 and Job 40:2, 8, then Job 42:1-6.)
(2) Consider how the account contributes to development of the Bible’s theme, namely, the vindication of Jehovah’s name by the Kingdom under Jesus Christ the Promised Seed.
How does Gabriel’s announcement to Mary of the coming birth of Jesus fit in? (Luke 1:26-33)
(3) Context has a bearing on the meaning of specific verses.
Does the context indicate that 1 Corinthians 2:9 is commenting about life on earth in God’s New Order? As shown in 1 Co 2 verses 6-8, whose eyes and ears were not comprehending the things about which Paul was writing?
(4) Ask yourself how you can make personal application of what you are reading.
When we read (in Exodus through Deuteronomy) about Israel’s experiences in the wilderness, what personal application should we make? (1 Cor. 10:6-11)
(5) Give thought to how you might use what you are reading to aid others.
13. What results can we expect from a continuing program of Bible reading and study with Jehovah’s organization?
13 How richly rewarding Bible reading becomes when done in this manner! To be sure, reading the Bible is a challenge—a project that we can beneficially work at for a lifetime. But as we do it we will grow spiritually stronger. It will draw us closer to our loving Father, Jehovah, and to our Christian brothers. It will help us to heed the counsel to keep “a tight grip on the word of life.”—Phil. 2:16.
● Why was the Bible written and preserved until our day?
● How can we help others to appreciate it?
● Why is regular personal Bible reading profitable? From what five viewpoints might we beneficially analyze what we read?
[Box/Picture on page 27]
When You Read the Bible Consider—
What each portion tells you about Jehovah as a person
How it relates to the overall theme of the Bible
How context affects the meaning
How it should affect your own life
How you can use it to help others