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.” (Joshua 23:14-16) This is what Joshua said to the older men of Israel after they were settled in the Promised Land. Yes, Jehovah’s promises proved trustworthy. That record—and all the rest of the Bible—was preserved for us so that “we might have hope.”—Romans 15:4.
2. (a) In what sense is the Bible “inspired of God”? (b) Knowing that the Bible is divinely inspired, what responsibility do we have?
2 Although some 40 human writers were used to record the Bible, Jehovah himself is its Author. Does this mean that he actively directed the writing of everything in it? Yes. He did this by means of his powerful holy spirit, his active force. The apostle Paul truthfully said: “All Scripture is inspired of God . . . that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work.” People everywhere who are convinced of that pay heed to the Bible and build their lives around what it contains.—2 Timothy 3:16, 17; 1 Thessalonians 2:13.
Help Others to Appreciate It
3. What is the best way to help many who are not convinced that the Bible is the Word of God?
3 Many to whom we speak do not share our conviction that the Bible is the Word of God. How can we help them? Often, the 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.” (Hebrews 4:12) “The word of God” is not dead history; it is alive! The Bible’s promises move irresistibly toward fulfillment. The influence of the Bible’s message on a person’s true heart motivation is more powerful than anything that we might personally say.
4. What explanations of Bible truths have changed the attitude of some people toward the Bible, and why?
4 Seeing God’s name there has caused many to peer deeper into the Bible. 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 hope of eternal life on a paradise earth. In lands where religious practices have exposed people to harassment by evil spirits, the Bible’s explanation of what causes this and how to gain relief has aroused interest. Why do these points impress sincere people? Because the Bible is the only source of reliable information on all such vital matters.—Psalm 119:130.
5. (a) When people say that they do not believe the Bible, what may be the reasons? (b) How might we help such people?
5 However, what if people tell us that they do not believe the Bible? Should that end the conversation? Not if they are willing to reason. It may be that they view the Bible as Christendom’s book. Her record of hypocrisy and political meddling, as well as her constant solicitations for money, may account for their 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 their interest.—Micah 3:11, 12; Matthew 15:7-9; James 4:4.
6. (a) What convinces you personally that the Bible is God’s Word? (b) What other lines of reasoning can be used to help people appreciate that the Bible really is from God?
6 For others, a straightforward discussion of the evidences that the Bible is inspired of God may be helpful. What clearly proves to you that the Bible is from Jehovah God? Is it what the Bible itself says as to its origin? Or is it the fact that the Bible contains numerous prophecies reflecting detailed knowledge of the future, prophecies that must have come from a superhuman source? (2 Peter 1:20, 21) Is it perhaps that the Bible displays wonderful internal harmony, although written down by 40 men over a period of some 1,600 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 personally found to be impressive can also be used to help other people.a
Our Bible Reading
7, 8. (a) What should we be doing with the Bible? (b) What do we need in addition to personal Bible reading? (c) How have you personally gained an understanding of Jehovah’s purposes?
7 In addition to helping others 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, this does not mean that if we read it on our own, we need nothing else. The Scriptures warn against isolating ourselves. We should not think that we can figure out everything by independent research. Both personal study and regular attendance at the meetings of God’s people are needed if we are to be balanced Christians.—Proverbs 18:1; Hebrews 10:24, 25.
8 Regarding this, the Bible tells about an Ethiopian official who was reading from the prophecy of Isaiah. An angel directed the Christian evangelizer Philip to ask 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 gave his opinion on the Scriptures. He maintained close contact with God’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, 26-35) Similarly today, no one arrives at a correct understanding of Jehovah’s purposes on his own. We all need the aid that Jehovah lovingly provides through his visible organization.
9. What program of Bible reading can benefit all of us?
9 To help us understand the Bible, Jehovah’s organization supplies excellent Scriptural material in various publications. In addition, a regular schedule of Bible reading is set out for us in connection with the Theocratic Ministry School held in all the congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses throughout the world. Great benefit can come from personally examining the Holy Scriptures. (Psalm 1:1-3; 19:7, 8) Make a special effort to read the Bible regularly. Even though you do not fully understand everything, your getting an overall view of the Scriptures will be of great value. For example, if you read only four or five pages a day, you can complete the Bible in about a year.
10. (a) When do you do your Bible reading? (b) Who else should be included when reading the Bible, and why is regularity important?
10 When can you do your Bible reading? If you set aside even 10 or 15 minutes a day for it, you will be greatly benefited. If not, at least schedule regular times for it each week, and then hold to that schedule. If you are married, you and your mate can enjoy reading the Bible aloud to each other. If there are children old enough to read, they may take turns reading aloud. Bible reading should be a lifelong habit, like eating food. As you know, if a person’s eating habits are poor, his health will suffer. So, too, our spiritual life, and hence our eternal life, depends on our being regularly nourished on “every utterance coming forth through Jehovah’s mouth.”—Matthew 4:4.
11. What should be our objective in reading the Bible?
11 What should be our objective in reading the Bible? Our goal should not be simply to cover a certain number of pages. Our motive should be to know God better so that we can increase our love for him and 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.”—Psalm 25:4.
12. (a) Why is gaining “accurate knowledge” necessary, and what effort when reading may be needed in order to get that knowledge? (b) By using what four viewpoints might we beneficially analyze what we read in the Bible? (See box on page 30.) (c) Illustrate these points by answering the questions provided in this paragraph. Look up the scriptures cited but not quoted.
12 As we receive teachings from Jehovah, 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? (Colossians 3:10; 2 Timothy 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. Four valuable avenues of thought to explore are highlighted on page 30. Many portions of Scripture can beneficially be analyzed by using one or more of these viewpoints. As you answer the questions on the following pages, you will see how that is so.
(1) Often, the portion of Scripture that you are reading can tell you something about the kind of person Jehovah is. For example, at Psalm 139:13, 14, we learn of God’s great concern for the unborn: “You kept me screened off in the belly of my mother. I shall laud you because in a fear-inspiring way I am wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, as my soul is very well aware.” How marvelous Jehovah’s creative works are! The way humans are made testifies to his great love for us.
In view of what is said at John 14:9, 10, when we read how Jesus dealt with others, we are really seeing how Jehovah himself would act. With that in mind, what can we conclude about Jehovah from the incidents recorded at Luke 5:12, 13 and Luke 7:11-15?
(2) Consider how the account contributes to the Bible’s theme: the vindication of Jehovah’s sovereignty and the sanctification of his name by the Kingdom under Jesus Christ, the promised Seed.
How does the Bible clearly identify Jesus as the promised Seed? (Galatians 3:16)
(3) Ask yourself how you can make personal application of what you are reading. For example, we read in Exodus through Deuteronomy about Israel’s immorality and rebelliousness. We learn that those attitudes and actions brought bad consequences. Thus, we should be moved to please Jehovah by not imitating Israel’s bad example. “These things went on befalling them as examples, and they were written for a warning to us upon whom the ends of the systems of things have arrived.”—1 Corinthians 10:11.
(4) Give thought to how you might use what you are reading to help others. All people are concerned about health problems, so we can read with them what Jesus did to illustrate what he will do on a much larger scale in Kingdom power: “Great crowds approached him, having along with them people that were lame, maimed, blind, dumb, and many otherwise, . . . and he cured them.”—Matthew 15:30.
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 we consider the four points mentioned above! To be sure, reading the Bible is a challenge. But it can benefit us for a lifetime, for as we read the Scriptures, we will grow stronger spiritually. Regular Bible reading will draw us closer to our loving Father, Jehovah, and to our Christian brothers. It will help us in heeding the counsel to keep “a tight grip on the word of life.”—Philippians 2:16.
a For a discussion of why the Bible merits consideration, see the brochure A Book for All People, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
• Why was the Bible written and preserved until our day?
• How can we help others to appreciate the Bible?
• Why is regular personal Bible reading profitable? By using what four viewpoints might we beneficially analyze what we read?
[Box/Picture on page 30]
WHEN YOU READ A PORTION OF THE BIBLE, CONSIDER
What it tells you about Jehovah as a person
How it relates to the overall theme of the Bible
How it should affect your own life
How you can use it to help others