Keeping Up with the Truth
“You were running well. Who hindered you from keeping on obeying the truth?”—Gal. 5:7, NW.
1. Why is a continuous meeting of minds and hearts between God and man necessary, and what has been provided toward that end?
JEHOVAH as man’s loving Creator and Benefactor has made ample provision for his servants to worship him with their whole mind and heart. In fact, the close, warm relationship that Jehovah establishes between himself and his true worshipers requires the building up of the mind and heart. This is best done by keeping up with the truth. When keeping up with the flow of new truth there is a continual meeting of the minds and hearts between God and man. The giving of money and offering of material sacrifices now bring a measure of delight to the living God. But he especially seeks the “fruit of lips” of those who serve him and praise him from the heart. (Heb. 13:15, NW) When rejecting the materialistically-minded, cold-hearted, unprogressive King Saul, Samuel said: “Jehovah will certainly find for himself a man agreeable to his heart, and Jehovah will commission him as a leader over his people.” (1 Sam. 13:14; 15:22, NW) That man in harmony with Jehovah’s heart proved to be the beloved David, who later was anointed king. As Jehovah demonstrated throughout David’s theocratic career, God has brought forth an abundant store of truth from which each servant can draw priceless treasures of knowledge and wisdom to feed his eager mind and to fill his receptive heart. “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man out of his good treasure sends out good things, whereas the wicked man out of his wicked treasure sends out wicked things.”—Matt. 12:34, 35, NW.
2. How has the true religion developed?
2 In harmony with this Jesus taught that the true religion was nonmaterialistic, that it was the worshiping of Jehovah God “with spirit and truth.” (John 4:24, NW) Such true religion is actually an ever-expanding intelligent worship of Jehovah as guided by God’s holy spirit. The true religion is based on a series of heaven-originated communications of truth that have been made known and recorded from Adam’s time to that of the apostle John. These communications from heaven make an appeal to the mind and heart of the true worshiper and hence are essentially spiritual. Therefore the one complete religion progressively revealed throughout the entire Bible makes up the true religion today. To be up to date on the true religion one must keep up with the expansion of true religion and be familiar with all its steps of development.
3. What was truth that Enoch kept up with?
3 In Enoch’s time, about 4,994 years ago, the true religion included God’s Edenic heart-stirring promise to send a mighty Seed, a deliverer, who would vindicate Jehovah’s name against Satan by establishing a righteous New World system without end. Doubtless Enoch’s clean worship also included the following of Abel’s pattern by offering animal sacrifices, which pointed forward in spiritual hope toward the great ransom sacrifice necessary for the redemption of man from his disability of sin and death. (Gen. 3:15; 4:4; 5:23, NW) While walking in the ways of the true God Enoch was rewarded by receiving a further revelation from heaven as added truth for the true religion. By vision Enoch was encouraged to maintain integrity by being shown that ungodliness does not pay, because Jehovah will call into operation a vast judgment organization of “holy ten thousands” to bring execution of destruction upon all of Satan’s viperlike organization of wicked ones.—Jude 14, 15, NW, mar.
4. How did Abraham keep up with the truth?
4 Then by Abraham’s day, 3,739 years ago, true religion not only included all that Enoch put faith in but also was enlarged to put reliance in the record of God’s exemplary dealings with Noah before the flood. There a global picture had been made of the preservation of a minority of righteous ones who survived to a cleansed earth while a whole wicked world of unrighteous ones was destroyed. Abraham’s religious diet for the mind and heart further included a recognition of the Noachian rainbow covenant decreeing the sanctity of life on earth after the deluge. (Gen. 6:13, 14; 9:2, 3, 13) As a man of faith, Abraham had his New World hope vastly strengthened by Jehovah’s special covenant word and oath, which became unalterable legal foundations for a new world. Here God assured the minds of his worshipers when he promised that the New World deliverer would descend through Abraham, saying: “By means of your seed all nations of the earth will certainly bless themselves.” (Gen. 22:17, 18, NW) True religion did not lead Abraham to materialism by attempting to build a man-made organization and thus run ahead of Jehovah. No, “he was awaiting the city [New World organization] having real foundations and the builder and creator of which [city] is God.” (Heb. 11:10, NW) To Isaac and Jacob came further revelations of truth. It was revealed to Jacob before his death that the line of the Seed, the King, would come through his fourth son Judah, from whose descendant the New World kingdom scepter would not depart.—Gen. 49:10.
5, 6. (a) How did true religion expand in Moses’ time? (b) What truth was new in David’s time?
5 Moses, the great man of God, died 3,428 years ago. However, during his long ministry true religion advanced greatly due to the many heavenly communications conveyed through him. All these new truths were added to the true religion of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The large amount of legislation of the law covenant through Moses with its more than six hundred laws set out a vast blueprint or pattern of details, casting prophetic shadows of the New World kingdom to be established by the Seed, the King destined to come through Abraham. As part of the expanded true religion there were bound by law upon the Israelites systems of sacrifices, sabbaths, festivals, tithes, priesthood, cleansings and other duties of exclusive devotion of mind and heart toward their invisible King, Jehovah.—Exodus, chapters 19 to 23.
6 On the throne of united Israel 3,020 years ago King David of the tribe of Judah was wielding in a typical way the promised kingdom scepter. Jehovah made a covenant with David, later known as “the loving-kindnesses of David,” where it was promised that the long-foretold Messiah, the Seed, would be of his lineage. (Acts 13:34, NW) Jehovah said: “He is the one that will build me a house [temple] and I shall certainly establish his throne firmly forever. I myself shall become his father and he himself will become my son.” (1 Chron. 17:12, 13, NW) The truth was also revealed that this future Davidic Messiah would serve as a priest-king after the likeness of Melchizedek.—Ps. 110:4.
7. What was added to true religion by 607 B.C.? In Daniel’s time? In Malachi’s time?
7 Finally 2,562 years ago the Davidic dynasty became dormant when King Zedekiah was deposed and the throne was declared unoccupied in 607 B.C. By this time all the prophecy of Isaiah and most of the communications through Ezekiel and Jeremiah and some of the minor prophets had been proclaimed and released for public distribution. This flood of prophetic truths pertained to the fall and restoration of Jerusalem and was spiritual food indeed for the minds and hearts of the faithful minority of Israel. While these prophecies had their miniature fulfillments upon fleshly Israel, yet longer shadows were cast of good to be fulfilled in later times to a far more glorious spiritual Israel of God. Then through the prophet Daniel came heavenly prophetic truths concerning the rise and fall of the Gentile kingdoms leading to the time when the New World kingdom of Messiah would appear on the global scene to break in pieces and consume all these old-world kingdoms. In victorious vindication this kingdom would stand forever. Then 2,397 years ago the last of the Hebrew Scriptures was written, Malachi’s prophecy, setting forth truths as to Jehovah’s coming to the temple for judgment in company with His “angel of the covenant” to arrange for a cleansed priesthood to lead in pure worship for the new world.—Ezek. 21:27; Gal. 6:16; Mal. 3:1, Da.
CHRISTIAN ADVANCE IN TRUTH
8. (a) How were the 400 years of silence as to heavenly revelations broken? (b) What happened to true religion during the first century A.D.?
8 For more than four hundred years the communication line from heaven was silent. Suddenly 1,958 years ago a rush of contacts was established in 3 B.C. and 2 B.C. in connection with the birth of the son of David in Bethlehem who was destined to be the seed of Abraham, the Deliverer-Seed of God’s heavenly womanlike organization. Once again true religion was divinely enriched, this time by messages given through Zechariah, Mary, Elizabeth, Joseph, the shepherds, Simeon and Anna, the prophetess. Thirty years later this one, Jesus, became Jehovah’s Christ when he was anointed as King-designate of the new world. His phenomenal preaching campaign of three and one-half years released a veritable flood of new truths that stirred and filled the minds and hearts of those conscious of their spiritual needs as had nothing theretofore. He vigorously expounded and laid foundations for a spiritual “kingdom of heaven” which was to be the fulfillment of Israel’s hope and fondest dream. Following Jesus’ impalement as man’s ransomer, additional sacred secrets continued to flow through the apostles of Christ. The final revelations were released to John 1,860 years ago in the year 96 (A.D.). Thus a long, strongly woven cord of heavenly revelations over a period of more than four thousand years has been preserved for us in the sixty-six books of the Bible. Therein are contained the sacred oracles or holy words of truth progressively revealed by holy spirit. There on record and available for all is God’s progressive supply of spiritual treasures. From this ever-expanding spiritual banquet table there is food for all to feed the mind and heart richly.—Luke, chapters 1 and 2.
9, 10. (a) Why is the course of Abraham exemplary? (b) What was the position of most of the Jews in Stephen’s time?
9 As we have seen, Abraham, Moses and the faithful prophets were among the many who kept up to date with the truth to fortify their spiritual requirements. They kept up to date as the truth was revealed to them by the holy spirit up to their time. These loyal servants of Jehovah were forward-looking in religious outlook. They did not fall back into a static position, into a rut of tradition. To them the true religion was a dynamic one, one of action, that moved on to newer privileges of understanding and service. They were always alert for new revelations through the holy spirit concerning their great hope of the coming new world. “Hence God is not ashamed of them, to be called upon as their God, for he has made a city [New World organization] ready for them.”—Heb. 11:16, NW.
10 But the Jews of Christian Stephen’s century did not follow the forward example of Abraham and Moses. Rather they were like many of their unfaithful forefathers who did not keep up with the truth, became materialistically-minded and refused to feed their minds and hearts spiritually. Stephen’s Jewish contemporaries had become apostate. They had forsaken the true religion. They had resisted the holy spirit. In his masterful defense before the Jewish Sánhedrin, Stephen describes how the true religion remarkably advanced and expanded as to the divine purposes from Abraham’s day to Solomon’s time by means of the holy spirit. Then in Stephen’s conclusion he denounces the spiritually sick men of his generation for their failure to keep up with the truth by saying: “Obstinate men and uncircumcised in hearts and ears, you are always resisting the holy spirit; as your forefathers did, so you do.”—Acts 7:51, NW.
11, 12. (a) Today how is true religion progressive? (b) Are there any who resist the holy spirit today, and how?
11 Even though Bible writing ceased from the days of the apostles, yet now, with the restoration of pure worship since 1919, true religion continues to be progressive. This is so because there is an ever-expanding spiritual feeding by us upon the fulfillments of the many prophecies recorded in the Bible. These fulfilled prophecies give details concerning the establishment of Jehovah’s new world in this “time of the end.” These modern-day fulfilled evidences richly fill the mind with new facts and strengthen the heart with increased hope and reliance upon Jehovah. But as in Stephen’s day, so today most of the people shut their minds and hearts away from Jehovah’s rich provision. They have fallen away from true Christianity and thus have become spiritually sick. They follow the Catholic and Protestant religions, which are chained to fourth-century pagan creeds. They are unprogressive as to Bible truth and enlightenment. Therefore they too fight against the truth and resist God’s holy spirit. The apostle Paul correctly describes these when he writes: “So these also go on resisting the truth, men completely corrupted in mind, disapproved as regards the faith.” (2 Tim. 3:8, NW) These finally resist the holy spirit to the point where they commit blasphemy, which carries a sentence of spiritual death. From this sentence there is no forgiveness. “Whoever blasphemes against the holy spirit has no forgiveness forever, but is guilty of everlasting sin.”—Mark 3:29, NW.
12 We who are now on the way to spiritual perfect health must not be the kind to shrink back from the forward movement of the truth as directed by the holy spirit. If we should, then we merit Jehovah’s curse of second death. “Now we are not the kind that shrink back to destruction, but the kind that have faith to the preserving alive of the soul.” (Heb. 10:39, NW) Having now pointed out why there is the urgent need for us to fill our minds and hearts with the truth, the next question is, How may this wisely be done?
13, 14. (a) What should Jehovah’s witnesses recognize, now that they are under true religion? (b) Give examples of what is required of ministers.
13 Today, as consistently in the past, the true religion is connected with God’s specially directed people on earth. These people are a theocratically organized people now known as the New World society of Jehovah’s witnesses. They form an international society of ministers to undertake the most important work on earth today, the preaching of the good news of Jehovah’s established kingdom. (Matt. 24:14) Can we afford to be like some who look upon this sacred ministry as though it did not require any particular preparation? Or like others who say there is no need to keep up with God’s communications to his ministers?
14 The angels in heaven are described as God’s ministers. From a study of those angels who appeared on earth to carry out special missions from the heavenly court of Jehovah, all seemed to be fully informed, alert, accurate in their delivery of the divine message, and conducted themselves with a dignity befitting the Almighty One who sent them. (Dan. 7:10) As another example, take even the worldly governments that have strict requirements for their ministers of state. These political ministers are required to be experts, first, as to the basic law of their country; second, as to the operating policies supplied in the dispatches from their governing superiors; and, third, as to maintaining association with fellow ministers of equal rank for beneficial exchange. How much more, then, should we who are God’s earthly ministers need to become expert as to, first, the basic written Word of our God; second, the operating policies supplied in the current communications from Jehovah’s theocratic organization; and, third, maintaining association with our fellow Christian ministers at the meetings for spiritual upbuilding!
15, 16. (a) What is exemplified in the case of Joshua? (b) How should one look upon the Word of God?
15 In connection with the first point note how Joshua, who represented Jehovah in governmental matters in Israel, was told what was a key to success in his ministry to God and where to obtain his basic knowledge of truth. “This book of the law should not depart from your mouth and you must in an undertone read in it day and night in order that you may take care to do according to all that is written in it, for then you will make your way successful and then you will act wisely.” Like Joshua we give attention to this counsel from Jehovah. The Bible is indeed our basic source of truth. It sets forth principles of the government we represent.—Josh. 1:8, NW.
16 The Word of God was written under the inspiring power of Jehovah’s holy spirit. On this matter Paul wrote: “For it is to us God has revealed them through his spirit, for the spirit searches into all things, even the deep things of God.” This means that by reading from the Sacred Scriptures our minds dwell upon knowledge that is spiritual, from a supernatural source. By our minds’ taking in this spiritual information we become spiritually-minded and guided. It might be said that between the covers of our Bibles in many languages we have translations of the captured sayings of the holy spirit. Truly, what an amazing treasure we hold in our hands when we take up the Holy Scriptures!—1 Cor. 2:10, NW.
17, 18. (a) Is it unreasonable to seek to read the Bible daily? (b) What is one suggestion as to Bible reading?
17 Was it unreasonable for Jehovah to require his minister Joshua to read from the Biblical law every day? Surely not. Jesus repeated the words of Moses when he said: “Man must live, not on bread alone, but on every utterance coming forth through Jehovah’s mouth.” Truly, then, it is well for each of us to feed daily upon God’s spiritual word of truth that we may maintain a wholesome level of spiritual-mindedness. Like Joshua we should adopt a personal practice of reading from the divine Word every day.—Matt. 4:4, NW.
18 A few practical suggestions are now presented for such a personal Bible-reading program. Why not read each morning from the Bible the entire chapter surrounding the day’s text in the Yearbook or in the non-English issues of The Watchtower? This will supply you immediately with rich supporting material for a stimulating study of the morning’s text and comments. Reading a chapter each day would mean that one would get to read 365 chapters a year or about a third of the entire Bible. Try to epitomize each chapter as you finish reading it. See whether you can find the central theme of the chapter.
19, 20. What are set forth as a second and a third suggestion?
19 A second suggestion would be to set aside half an hour a day for straight Bible reading. Either a half hour before breakfast when one’s mind is fresh or in the evening before going to bed. In doing such consecutive Bible reading the primary object should be not just to cover a given budget of pages. Rather try to absorb something of lasting value from what is read. Seek to retain one or more basic principles or points of divine counsel each day. Memorize those points and repeat them the next day.
20 For a third suggested program, why not read each day a group of related scriptures on a given Bible subject from the book “Make Sure of All Things”? This practice enables the mastering of Bible proofs for ministerial use in the field service. By such practice small Bible sermons may thus be worked up daily for use in the door-to-door ministry.
21, 22. (a) What is a fourth suggestion for Bible reading? (b) What is accomplished by this suggested program?
21 A fourth suggested practice has as its objective the eventual mastering of the entire Bible. This program requires the consecutive reading of one or two chapters daily. When the chapter has been carefully read try to sum up the entire chapter in the expression of one leading thought. See whether this leading thought is contained in one of the verses in the chapter, which you might mark as the ‘theme verse’ for that chapter. Always try to reduce that leading thought to just a few words that it would be well to write down and hold in memory. When a given Bible book has thus been outlined try to summarize the entire Bible book by means of one leading thought, theme or subject. Take as an example the book of Philippians, which one might outline as follows:
Theme of Philippians: Loving encouragement to faithfulness.
Chapter ‘Theme Verse’ Leading Thought
1 Php 1:7 Defending the good news.
2 Php 2:5 Keep the right mental attitude.
3 Php 3:14 Pursuing for the prize.
4 Php 4:7 Guard heart and mental powers.
22 When at other times outstanding scriptures are desired to be remembered always associate them with the ‘theme verse’ or leading thought you have already established for that chapter. Thus file them away in your mental filing faculty under the right theme headings. In this manner you will obtain an amazingly tight grip on the Word of life. Instead of having to memorize the 773,696 words of the King James Bible in its 31,102 verses to say that one knows the Bible, one merely has to remember a few theme words for each of the 1,189 chapters of the Bible to become a master of it for practical ministerial use.
23-25. (a) What provision has been made for a minister of Jehovah to keep up with communications from His organization? (b) How should one seek to build an ever-brightening objective picture of the new world?
23 Having now considered a daily Bible reading program to maintain an ever-fresh spiritual familiarity with the Scriptures, the minister must also arrange to keep abreast with the communications through Jehovah’s theocratic organization. For this service Jehovah God, the Great Interpreter of prophecy, again uses his holy spirit to unlock the sacred secrets and to communicate these to his ministers. Jesus, speaking to his disciples, said: “I have many things yet to say to you, but you are not able to bear them at present. However, when that one arrives, the spirit of the truth, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak of his own impulse, but what things he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things coming.”—John 16:12, 13, NW.
24 Heretofore we have learned how, since 1918, Jehovah has showered his approval upon the “faithful and discreet slave” class of the anointed remnant and has appointed them “over his domestics to give them their food at the proper time.” (Matt. 24:45, NW) As we know, that “faithful and discreet slave” class uses the Watchtower magazine to bring us, who are God’s “domestics,” the current spiritual communications necessary for our further spiritual upbuilding. For this reason it is highly advisable to set aside a certain time each week for private study and research work in connection with the Watch Tower publications. If we should unwisely put off this personal study, we are in effect closing our ears to messages that the physician Jehovah considers vital for our present spiritual good health.
25 When keeping up with the progressiveness of the true religion by this means of better studying The Watchtower, we should at the same time seek to build an ever-brightening objective picture of the new world. Jehovah’s witnesses are truly a people with a brilliant vision. Keep striving to get this vision ever more vivid. As God’s newly revealed purposes advance to clarity they must be placed in proper relationship to purposes already understood. By fitting every new Watchtower point of information into an over-all picture of purpose, you will experience ability to preach more effectively. The clearer you have in mind the major pattern that is developing as to Jehovah’s great kingdom government, the more clearly you will be able to represent that government.
26, 27. What is a final service now rendered Jehovah’s witnesses by God’s holy spirit?
26 There is yet a final point to consider in our keeping up with the truth. While daily Bible reading of God’s Word is basic, and while keeping up with the spiritual communications discussed in The Watchtower is important, there is yet a third operation of the holy spirit that we must consider. It is where the holy spirit operates as a remarkable organizational agency, as a helper to the congregational whole. Speaking to his disciples collectively, Jesus promised: “But the helper, the holy spirit which the Father will send in my name, that one will teach you all things and bring back to your minds all the things I told you.”—John 14:26, NW.
27 This helper, or “paraclete,” is an invisible active force manifested with guiding aids that come upon an entire assembly of true Christians. This spirit under Jesus’ direction is a means by which he fulfills the promise: “For where there are two or three met together in my name, there I am in their midst.” (Matt. 18:20, NW) It is because of this very promise that God’s holy spirit as a helper is experienced upon every convention of Jehovah’s people. Each and every one present receives a peaceful stimulating effect by attending the official meetings of Jehovah’s ministers. While we are assembled together this same holy spirit enables our minds to absorb spiritual information more readily, and enables us to register united heart reactions of praise to our great Creator and to show love toward our associates all around us. Annoying opposition, too, is overcome.
28, 29. What reasons are there why it is vitally necessary to attend all the official meetings of the local congregation and assemblies arranged by the Society?
28 So whenever the local congregation officially meets for the service meeting, the Watchtower study or the weekly book study, there will be present God’s holy spirit as an organizational helper. That helper is also present at every circuit and district assembly. All national and international conventions of Jehovah’s witnesses likewise have this unique spiritual blessing. It is quite manifest that Jehovah’s holy spirit does not rest upon the denominationally divided gatherings of the spiritually sick people of the false religious organizations. But long experience shows that God’s holy spirit does reside wonderfully with his people! Knowing this to be a fact, then, it means that in order for us to keep up with the truth we must unfailingly be present at every official meeting of God’s people with whom we are actively associated. Can we conceive of a ministerial angel in heaven finding an excuse for not being present when God’s court officially meets in heaven? Certainly not. So likewise we as God’s ministers should not have excuses for being absent from meetings.
29 Fellowship and association at Bible meetings are uplifting, strengthening and encouraging. None of us can afford to do without this provision for mutual spiritual help. How many of us have said: “I have studied my Watchtower at home but I never realized that that point was there until we discussed it at the congregation study!” This proves that God’s helper, the holy spirit, worked upon the congregational whole to emphasize that important point.
30. What all is involved in keeping up with the truth at the present time?
30 Now we truly see that keeping up with the truth actually means keeping up with God’s holy spirit. In this forward surge of God’s spirit in this twentieth century, Christ Jesus as Jehovah’s champion conquers the world. He continues to lead forth to the final conquest at Armageddon. In his triumphal procession he leads us as his happy followers on earth by the unfailing power of God’s holy spirit. Are we keeping up with his victory march? Are we in step with his undefeated organization? That is for each of us to make sure individually. If we keep up with the spirit under Christ Jesus’ direction we shall not die spiritually to be dead forever as the rest of the world, but we shall surely obtain the glorious prize of everlasting life in the new world. “He who is sowing with a view to the spirit will reap everlasting life.”—Gal. 6:8, NW.