The Place of God’s Word in Our Lives
1. How and why has God given us his Word, and so what question arises regarding us and it?
JEHOVAH God has given us his Word in writing. More than four thousand years in producing that Word, he finished the last of its sixty-six books in the first century A.D. Certainly he did not spend all that time to produce something that would be of no value for all mankind, especially today in this highly critical period. He meant it to accomplish a worthy purpose of his. In this it cannot fail. (Isa. 55:10, 11) The big question is, Is his Word accomplishing its purpose with each one of us?
2. How is the telling effect the Bible has on mankind shown, and why does Christendom’s condition not disprove this?
2 God’s written Word, the Holy Bible, has had a telling effect on mankind. Powerful religious hierarchies that have influence with the political authorities have had hundreds of thousands of copies of the Holy Bible burned, ground into paper pulp, or otherwise destroyed and made unreadable and inaccessible. Such action is an indirect confession that this Word does have an effect on its hearers and readers. There must be some compelling power issuing from that sacred Book when it causes those who love it to print and circulate it to the number of hundreds of millions of copies in over eleven hundred languages and in all parts of the earth. The distribution of it is, of course, greatest within the realm of Christendom. From this men might conclude that Christendom today is what the Bible has produced. The actual fact is, Christendom is what her ignoring of the Bible or her failure to heed it has produced. Her possession of the Bible has not made Christendom Christian. Christendom has only a form of godliness but is not Christian. The reason is that she has proved false to the Bible which she claims to follow; she has proved false to the real power of the Bible. Hence Christendom has not kept her path pure, but is spotted all over with the uncleanness of this corrupt world. Being Christian in name only, she is guilty of religious hypocrisy. For all the reproach she has brought upon true Christianity she will shortly be destroyed by the true God of Christianity, Jehovah.
3, 4. To determine what must we examine the Bible, and how is the importance of doing this shown?
3 We have reached the development in world conditions foretold by the founder of Christianity, Jesus Christ. He said: “Also there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth anguish of nations, not knowing the way out because of the roaring of the sea and its agitation.” (Luke 21:25, NW) The nations of Christendom are feeling this anguish most keenly. What her religious clergy palm off as God’s will does not turn out to have his blessing. She misrepresents the will of God, and the people are left in the dark as to what his will is. In this dark day it is very important to know God’s will, for his Word says: “The world is passing away and so is its desire, but he that does the will of God remains forever.” (1 John 2:17, NW) It is only by examining what is written in his Word that we can arrive at what his will is. That this is the way to determine God’s will Jesus Christ his Son indicated, for we read: “Hence when he comes into the world he says: . . . ‘Then I said, “Look! I am come (in the roll of the book it is written about me) to do your will, O God.”’” (Heb. 10:5-7, NW; Ps. 40:6-8) When he was fasting from material food for forty days in the wilderness, he was feasting upon the written Word of God. This fact is made plain in that when Satan the adversary came to tempt him into going contrary to God’s will Jesus repelled each wrong suggestion of the Tempter, saying, “It is written,” and then quoting what was written concerning God’s will for him.—Matt. 4:1-11.
4 To become a true Christian you cannot follow what Christendom teaches. You must learn direct from the Bible itself and heed its instructions. You must read what Jesus himself said and what his inspired disciples wrote. A Christian approaches God through Christ and devotes himself to do God’s will as Jesus set him the example. Sincerely the Christian prays in the words of the psalmist David: “Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me in the land of uprightness.”—Ps. 143:10, AS.
5. Why do problems enter a Christian’s life, and what questions may present themselves?
5 Many problems enter a Christian’s life in this world, especially as he now finds that the world is hostile to him and yet he must do what God wants him to do. Many personal matters give him trouble and he gets perplexed as to what the divine will is for him. The difficulty oftentimes is this: Heavenly wisdom marks out for him a certain path which assures him blessings and privileges, but he has some selfish considerations in his heart and he wants to take another course that is not for the best. The question for him might be, Shall I get married or stay single? Shall I quit my secular employment and enter into field work as a full-time publisher of the good news of God’s kingdom or shall I continue to give the greater part of my time and the best part of my strength to earning a comfortable living? Or, even, Shall I quit one branch of service in God’s organization and leave its opportunities and privileges and take up another branch of the work? The Bible was not written to him personally to mark out each step he takes, and so how is he to determine what God’s will is for him?
6. How might some wrongly expect to get an answer for their problem?
6 The inquiring person may take his problem to God in prayer. How, now, will he get his answer? By just opening the Bible after prayer to wherever it happens to open and putting his finger blindly on a text, and then taking that text to be the answer indicating God’s will for him? No; that is leaving the matter to chance, not handling God’s Word rightly; whereas Second Timothy 2:15 (NW) says: “Do your utmost to present yourself approved to God, a workman with nothing to be ashamed of, handling the word of the truth aright.” Well, then, should he listen for some voice to whisper from the unseen world into his ear and tell him the way to go or the choice to make? No; that would be clairaudience, a form of spiritualism. It would subject him to the deceptions of the demons, the angels of Satan the Devil. Ah, then, he is to look for some angel from heaven to appear and give him direct advice to keep him from making a mistake. Did not angels appear to faithful men of old and convey messages to them, and intervene in the lives of Christ’s disciples in the first century? So why not now?
7. What instances are given of where God’s servants in the first century enjoyed the intervention of angels and visions?
7 We cannot deny it. There are many instances of where angels appeared to the early Christians and informed them of what God’s will was for them then and there. While we have no case of where an angel appeared to Jesus to tell him what to do, we do read that, immediately after Jesus was baptized in water and God’s spirit came upon him, “then Jesus was led by the spirit up into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil.” He told his disciples: “You will see heaven opened up and the angels of God ascending and descending to the Son of man.” This was that these angels might serve him, rather than make God’s will known to him. (Matt. 4:1, 11, and John 1:51, NW) But when Jesus’ apostles were arrested for carrying on their Christian work in Jerusalem and were imprisoned, Jehovah’s angel brought them out and said: “Be on your way and take a position in the temple and keep on speaking to the people all the sayings about this life.” Later an angel directed the disciple Philip to where the chariot of the Ethiopian government officer would pass, and said: “Approach and join yourself to this chariot.” After Philip had preached and baptized this Ethiopian, “Jehovah’s spirit quickly led Philip away,” and Philip was next found in Ashdod. Then an angel directed the Gentile centurion Cornelius to send to Joppa for Peter, and God sent a vision to Peter to go with Cornelius’ messengers and preach to the uncircumcised non-Jews or Gentiles. Besides these cases, the apostle Paul had visions to direct him, and the holy spirit operated to guide him in his preaching and to assure him he had God’s backing.a
8. In between such visions and angelic appearances how did they determine God’s will concerning their ordinary affairs?
8 But we ask, In the interval between such visions or appearances of angels to them what did those same early disciples of Christ do to make certain of God’s will in their day-to-day affairs? Those cases of sending visions or angels were special, because the general interests of God’s people were then concerned. The course that the proclamation of God’s message was to take was involved, and those men were representative men who were to be used in connection with these momentous matters. But in strictly personal matters and in everyday matters they had to determine God’s will just the same as we have to do now. The time for these open angelic appearances and these audible directions of God’s holy spirit is past, just as the time for the miraculous gifts of the spirit has passed. (1 Cor. 13:1, 2, 8-11) Happily, though, we still have God’s holy spirit or active force with us, and we still have the ministrations of his holy angels to depend on though they do not become visible.
9. What are we not to expect from these angels, and yet what assurances have we of their services now?
9 We are not to expect the unseen angels of God to be constantly hovering at the side of each one of us and directing us in every step we take lest we go the wrong way or meet an accident. Yet we have the comforting assurance that God’s angels are rendering an important service in our behalf. We can still draw individual comfort from Jesus’ words: “Keep watching that you men do not despise one of these little ones, for I tell you that their angels in heaven always have access to my Father who is in heaven.” These angels are now subject to the glorified Jesus and we know he uses them to help and serve his faithful followers on earth, that they may gain salvation in the coming new world. “Are they not all spirits for public service, sent forth to minister for those who are going to inherit salvation?” The answer to that question of the apostle is Yes. (Matt. 18:10 and Heb. 1:14, NW) We are living at the time of the presence of Christ Jesus in his glorious kingdom, and one of the visible evidences of this is his separating of the people of all nations into two classes, sheep and goats, symbolically speaking. Mighty angels attend this separation work, for Jesus predicted respecting this time: “When the Son of man arrives in his glory and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne.” Those angels are not just ornaments, but are with Jesus for some service in the work to be done.—Matt. 25:31, NW.
10, 11. How are we assured of angelic co-operation at this time of harvest of wheat and tares?
10 We are living in the consummation of this system of things. So the angels are concerned not alone with gathering the sheep to the King’s right hand of approval but also with keeping the organization of true Christians clean from all frauds. With the immediate participation of his angels the King has been gathering out of God’s visible organization all who fraudulently pose as being heirs of God’s heavenly kingdom but who are in reality sons of the wicked one the Devil and who have no proper place among the Kingdom heirs. Illustrating how these are cleared out like weeds plucked out from the field of wheat before harvesting, Jesus said:
11 “The harvest is a consummation of a system of things, and the reapers are angels. Therefore, just as the weeds are collected and burned with fire, so it will be in the consummation of the system of things. The Son of man will send forth his angels, and they will collect out from his kingdom all things that cause stumbling and persons who are doing lawlessness, and they will pitch them into the fiery furnace. There is where their weeping and the gnashing of their teeth will be. At that time the righteous ones will shine as brightly as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” (Matt. 13:39-43, NW) If, now, we are active in letting the light of the good news of God’s kingdom shine out and have its separating effect between lovers of light and lovers of darkness, the angels under command of the King Jesus Christ will co-operate with us.
12, 13. Why is ours a time of particular peril, and how is it pictured that we have suitable superhuman care?
12 Ours is a time of great peril, particularly so since the war in heaven dislodged Satan and his demons from their position up there and they have been confined to this earth. Infuriated at his abasement and knowing that the short time left to him till the battle of Armageddon forces him into the abyss for a thousand years is continually dwindling, Satan the Devil is bent on destroying those who give their allegiance to God and the kingdom of his Christ.
13 If you are observing the commandments of God and carrying on the work of bearing witness to Jesus, you can be certain that the dragon Satan the Devil is waging a war of attrition upon you and is maneuvering to change you from being a true Christian or to wipe you out. Take Revelation 12:17 as the absolute truth for it. What a consolation and encouragement it is to realize that we have still mightier angelic protection! Mighty forces of destruction are held in restraint by angels until the last of the spiritual Israelites, the slaves of God, are sealed with his final approval and also until the “great crowd” of fellow worshipers of God are gathered out and brought under the care of the Right Shepherd Jesus Christ. As John foresaw it: “After this I saw four angels standing upon the four extremities of the earth, holding tight the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow upon the earth or upon the sea or upon any tree.” Till when? “Until after we have sealed the slaves of our God in their foreheads.” (Rev. 7:1-4, 9-17, NW) So the remnant of these sealed slaves of God and the great crowd of their fellow witnesses out of all nations are an object of high concern to the angels. We get the benefit of their care.
14. According to the psalmist, who is it that encamps round about us, and why?
14 Now the dragon Satan the Devil is concentrating his bitter warfare upon the remnant and their fellow witnesses. For this time the blessed assurance was written and preserved: “This poor man cried, and Jehovah heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of Jehovah encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.” (Ps. 34:6, 7, AS) True, there is a great encampment of visible enemies round about us, backed by the invisible dragon and his demons. But we have faith to believe we have encamped about us invisibly the angel of Jehovah who defeated the dragon and his demons in the war in heaven and who now holds them underfoot here at the earth before he crushes them at Armageddon. Were it not for this superior angelic protection, the remnant of spiritual Israelites and their faithful fellow worshipers would have been overwhelmed and wiped out before now, in order to halt their bearing witness to Jehovah and his King Jesus Christ.
15. Of what responsibility as to personal welfare does this angelic guardianship not relieve us, and how was this shown in Jesus’ case?
15 We have approached God’s kingdom now established on the heavenly Mount Zion, and also “myriads of angels, in general assembly”. We have the satisfying evidence of their help and protection. In what way? In that the visible organization of Jehovah’s servants is preserved amid an embattled world and our Kingdom witness prospers. (Heb. 12:22, 23, NW) This angelic guardianship, however, does not relieve us of being just as careful as we can, to guard against accidents. We cannot expect the angels to protect us against our own carelessness, rashness and foolhardiness. In the midst of wolves, we are instructed to be as cautious as serpents and to beware of men. We must not test God too far with what is unreasonable. The Devil quoted a Scriptural truth, when he said to Jesus at the temptation in the wilderness: “He will give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.” But this was no basis for the Devil to suggest that Jesus defy the known laws of gravity and hurl himself from the high temple battlement and force God to save his Son by means of the angels. That was unreasonable and contrary to other scriptures. It was a tempting of God or putting him to the test beyond what he had really promised. (Ps. 91:11, 12, AS; Matt. 4:5-7, NW) So with us today, who are God’s children, but not nearly as important as Jesus. While we have angelic protection for the sake of God’s work and cause, yet we dare not put God to the test with irrational actions and carelessness and expect his angels to keep us from harm and accident in spite of it.
A BOOK FOR CONSULTATION AND ADVICE
16. In view of our having what may we not expect miraculous intervention in deciding our problems, and why not?
16 We are therefore not to look for miraculous intervention by these innumerable holy angels to help us decide what is God’s will in personal matters and problems. God has given us his written Word, and he provided it for us to consult. If we do not consult it, it will not serve us as a guide. In his Word he reveals himself to us. He opens up his mind and heart to us, telling us what he thinks, what he has already done and is now doing and will yet do, and informing us what he would like us to do in order to gain his favor and the gift of eternal life in his new world. We need his Word, because in our flesh it is impossible for us to see him. He makes known to us that his name is Jehovah, meaning the One who causes to be; and he shows us his attributes of wisdom, justice, power and love and how all four attributes work together without clash. So the only way we definitely know about him is by his written Word. Getting to know him through the Word we learn to develop confidence in Him and to respect his advice and to see that his commands are authoritative. We build up faith that his Word is right and without mistake or misdirection. This makes us consult it in our problems and take its advice.
17. What, then, is the question with us as to God’s Word? And what may we expect if we heed it, and what if we do not?
17 The question with us is, then, What place does God’s Word occupy in our lives? Do we place it above the word of everybody else, above human philosophies and man-made religious traditions and the commands of men which run contrary to God’s will? If we follow God’s Word and keep his commands through it and pay attention to its advice, we shall have God’s approval and blessing. It will work for our spiritual good, keeping us always in the relationship of children to Him and under his protection by his angels, and guaranteeing to us the gift of everlasting life for our faithfulness. God assures us, as he did the Israelites of old, that if we take heed to his Word we shall avoid much trouble and grief. But if we do not consult and keep familiar with his Word and do what it says, we shall run into personal, private trouble and difficulty and we shall miss the divine approval and blessing.