Identifying the True Religion
1. Who were practicing true religion in the first century?
THERE CAN be no doubt as to who were practicing true religion in the first century. It was the followers of Jesus Christ. These all belonged to the one Christian organization. What about today? How can those practicing true religion be identified?
2. How can those practicing true religion be identified?
2 Explaining how we can do this, Jesus said: “By their fruits you will recognize them. . . . Every good tree produces fine fruit, but every rotten tree produces worthless fruit; . . . Really, then, by their fruits you will recognize those men.” (Matthew 7:16-20) What fine fruits would you expect true worshipers of God to produce? What should they be saying and doing now?
SANCTIFYING GOD’S NAME
3, 4. (a) What was the first request made in Jesus’ Model Prayer? (b) How did Jesus sanctify God’s name?
3 True worshipers of God would act in harmony with the Model Prayer that Jesus gave his followers. The first thing Jesus there mentioned was this: “Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified.” Another Bible version puts these words this way: “May your name be held holy.” (Matthew 6:9, Jerusalem Bible) What does it mean to sanctify, or to hold holy, God’s name? How did Jesus do it?
4 Jesus showed how he did it when he said in prayer to his Father: “I have made your name manifest to the men you gave me out of the world.” (John 17:6) Yes, Jesus made God’s name, Jehovah, known to others. He did not fail to use that name. Jesus knew that it was his Father’s purpose for His name to be glorified in all the earth. So he set the example in proclaiming that name and holding it holy.—John 12:28; Isaiah 12:4, 5.
5. (a) How is the Christian congregation connected with God’s name? (b) What must we do if we are to gain salvation?
5 The Bible shows that the very existence of the true Christian congregation is connected with God’s name. The apostle Peter explained that God “turned his attention to the nations to take out of them a people for his name.” (Acts 15:14) So God’s true people must treat his name as holy and make it known throughout the earth. In fact, knowing that name is necessary for salvation, as the Bible says: “For ‘everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.’”—Romans 10:13, 14.
6. (a) Are the churches in general holding God’s name holy? (b) Are there any who bear witness to the name of God?
6 Now, then, who today treats God’s name as holy and makes it known over all the earth? The churches in general avoid the use of the name Jehovah. Some have even removed it from their translations of the Bible. However, if you were to talk to your neighbors and often refer to Jehovah, using his name, with what organization do you think they would associate you? There is only one people that is really following Jesus’ example in this regard. Their main purpose in life is to serve God and bear witness to his name, just as Jesus did. So they have taken the Scriptural name “Jehovah’s Witnesses.”—Isaiah 43:10-12.
PROCLAIMING GOD’S KINGDOM
7. How did Jesus show the importance of God’s kingdom?
7 In the Model Prayer that Jesus gave, he also showed the importance of God’s kingdom. He taught people to pray: “Let your kingdom come.” (Matthew 6:10) Over and over again Jesus emphasized the Kingdom as the only solution for mankind’s troubles. He and his apostles did this by preaching to people about that kingdom “from village to village” and “from house to house.” (Luke 8:1; Acts 5:42; 20:20) God’s kingdom was the theme of their preaching and teaching.
8. How did Jesus show what the main message of his true followers would be in these “last days”?
8 What about our day? What is the central teaching of God’s true Christian organization? In prophesying of these “last days,” Jesus said: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14) So the Kingdom must be the main message of God’s people today.
9. What people today are preaching the Kingdom message?
9 Ask yourself: If a person comes to your door and he speaks about God’s kingdom as the true hope for humankind, with what organization do you associate that person? Have people of any religion other than Jehovah’s Witnesses talked to you about God’s kingdom? Why, very few of them even know what it is! They are silent about God’s government. Yet that government is world-shaking news. The prophet Daniel foretold that this kingdom ‘would crush and put an end to all other governments and it alone would rule the earth.’—Daniel 2:44.
RESPECT FOR GOD’S WORD
10. How did Jesus show respect for God’s Word?
10 Another way in which those who are practicing true religion can be identified is by their attitude toward the Bible. Jesus at all times showed respect for God’s Word. Time and again he appealed to it as the final authority on matters. (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10; 19:4-6) Jesus also showed respect for the Bible by living in accord with its teachings. Never did he downgrade the Bible. Rather, he condemned those who failed to teach in harmony with the Bible and who tried to weaken the force of its teachings by putting forth their own ideas.—Mark 7:9-13.
11. What attitude toward God’s Word do the churches often show?
11 How do the churches of Christendom measure up to Christ’s example in this regard? Do they have deep respect for the Bible? Many clergymen today do not believe the Bible accounts of Adam’s fall into sin, the flood of Noah’s day, Jonah and the big fish, and others. They also say that man got here by evolution, not by direct creation of God. Are they thereby encouraging respect for God’s Word? Also, some church leaders argue that sex relations outside of marriage are not wrong, or that even homosexuality or polygamy can be proper. Would you say that they are encouraging people to use the Bible as their guide? They certainly are not following the example of God’s Son and his apostles.—Matthew 15:18, 19; Romans 1:24-27.
12. (a) Why is the worship of many who even have the Bible not pleasing to God? (b) If willful wrongdoers are permitted to remain in good standing in a church, what must we conclude?
12 There are church members who have the Bible and even study it, but the way they live their lives shows that they are not following it. Of persons like that, the Bible says: “They publicly declare they know God, but they disown him by their works.” (Titus 1:16; 2 Timothy 3:5) If church members who gamble, get drunk or do other wrongs are permitted to remain in good standing within their church, what does this show? It is evidence that their religious organization is not approved by God.—1 Corinthians 5:11-13.
13. What serious decision must a person make if he has found that the teachings of his church do not all line up with the Bible?
13 If you have given thought to the previous chapters of this book, considering the Bible texts found there, you have come to know the basic teachings of God’s Word. But what if the teachings of the religious organization with which you are associating are not in harmony with those of God’s Word? Then you have a serious problem. It is the problem of deciding whether to accept the truthfulness of the Bible or to reject it in favor of teachings that the Bible does not support. What you do, of course, must be your own decision. However, you should weigh matters carefully. This is because the decision you make will affect your standing with God and your prospects of living forever in paradise on earth.
KEEPING SEPARATE FROM THE WORLD
14. (a) What is another identifying mark of true religion? (b) Why is it so important that true worshipers meet this requirement?
14 Yet another identifying mark of those who practice true religion is that, as Jesus said, “they are no part of the world.” (John 17:14) This means that true worshipers keep separate from the corrupt world and its affairs. Jesus Christ refused to become a political ruler. (John 6:15) You can appreciate why keeping separate from the world is so important when you remember that the Bible says Satan the Devil is the ruler of the world. (John 12:31; 2 Corinthians 4:4) The seriousness of this matter is further seen from the Bible statement: “Whoever, therefore, wants to be a friend of the world is constituting himself an enemy of God.”—James 4:4.
15. (a) Are the churches with which you are acquainted really “no part of the world”? (b) Do you know of a religion that meets this requirement?
15 Do the facts show that the churches in your community take this matter to heart? Are the clergy as well as the members of the congregations really “no part of the world”? Or are they deeply involved in the nationalism, politics and class struggles of the world? These questions are not hard to answer, since the activities of the churches are widely known. On the other hand, it is also easy to check the activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses. By doing so, you will find that they really do follow the example of Christ and his early followers by keeping separate from the world, its political affairs and its selfish, immoral, violent ways.—1 John 2:15-17.
LOVE AMONG THEMSELVES
16. What is an important way that true disciples of Christ can be identified?
16 A most important way in which Christ’s true disciples can be identified is by the love they have among themselves. Jesus said: “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.” (John 13:35) Do the religious organizations with which you are acquainted have this love? What do they do, for example, when the countries in which they live go to war against one another?
17. How do religious organizations and their members measure up in meeting the requirement to show love among themselves?
17 You know what usually happens. At the command of worldly men the members of the various religious organizations go out on the battlefield and slaughter their fellow believers of another country. Thus Catholic kills Catholic, Protestant kills Protestant and Muslim kills Muslim. Do you think such a course is according to God’s Word and really shows the spirit of God?—1 John 3:10-12.
18. How do Jehovah’s Witnesses measure up in this matter of showing love to one another?
18 How do Jehovah’s Witnesses measure up in this matter of showing love to one another? They do not follow the course of worldly religions. They do not slaughter fellow believers on battlefields. They have not been guilty of living a lie by saying, “I love God,” while hating their brother of another nationality, tribe or race. (1 John 4:20, 21) But they also show love in other ways. How? By the way they deal with their neighbors and by their loving efforts to help others to learn about God.—Galatians 6:10.
ONE TRUE RELIGION
19. Why is it both logical and Scriptural to say that there is just one true religion?
19 It is only logical that there would be one true religion. This is in harmony with the fact that the true God is a God, “not of disorder, but of peace.” (1 Corinthians 14:33) The Bible says that actually there is only “one faith.” (Ephesians 4:5) Who, then, are the ones who form the body of true worshipers today?
20. (a) In the light of the evidence, whom does this book point to as the true worshipers today? (b) Is that what you believe? (c) What is the best way to get well acquainted with Jehovah’s Witnesses?
20 We do not hesitate to say that they are Jehovah’s Witnesses. For you to be convinced of this we invite you to become better acquainted with them. The best way to do this is to attend their meetings at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Since the Bible shows that practicing true religion brings great contentment now and opens the way to enjoy everlasting life in paradise on earth, it surely will be worth your while to make such an investigation. (Deuteronomy 30:19, 20) You have our warm invitation to do so. Why not investigate now?
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If you were to talk to someone about Jehovah and his kingdom, with what religion would people associate you?
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Does a person respect God’s Word if he fails to live by it?
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Jesus refused to become a political ruler
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You are warmly invited to attend the meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses