What Should We Believe?
THE world is badly in need of reliable direction. Politicians clamoring for public support promise much but leave shattered hopes behind them. Half truths and outright falsehood have become the world’s stock in trade, and it has corroded relations in business and among neighbors and family members. The result is that many become cynical and say they do not believe anyone.
Those who turn to the religions of the world do not find a much brighter prospect. Religious teachers do not agree among themselves, nor do they agree with the Bible, which they say is filled with ‘fables’ and statements that are ‘not historically accurate.’
The question confronts each individual: What should we believe?
How do we know the Bible is true?
The strongest proof is fulfilled prophecy. Man cannot accurately foretell the future. If any book is filled with reliable prophecy it did not originate with man, but with God. Such is true of the Bible.—Jas. 4:13, 14.
The prophets Jeremiah and Isaiah were moved to foretell the downfall of Jerusalem far in advance. Jeremiah said desolation would last just seventy years; Isaiah foretold that Cyrus, not then born, would be the liberator. (Jer. 25:11; Isa. 44:28) Of the Hebrew Scripture prophecies, it has been said that three hundred and thirty-two were literally fulfilled in Christ. Daniel prophetically pointed to the year 1914 (A.D.) as a turning point in world affairs. Over five and a half centuries later Christ foretold the visible occurrences that would mark that change. Not one word of these, nor of all the other promises of God, has failed. They provide only a small sample.
These facts powerfully persuade sincere persons to believe the Bible. If you are sincerely seeking the truth, you will be moved to prove their truthfulness.
Is it not true that science contradicts the Bible?
No, but the Bible does contradict pseudo science, or unprovable scientific theories. Although the Bible is not a textbook of science, when it speaks on scientific matters it is reliable. Isaiah referred to the fact that the earth is round over two thousand years before Columbus tried to sail around the globe. (Isa. 40:22) The Mosaic Law, in use fifteen centuries B.C., incorporates the most modern knowledge of hygiene, with instructions on cleanliness, foods and quarantine.
The Scriptures flatly disagree with theories on evolution of life, and why not! Evolution is only a theory, and not a sound one at that. Said evolutionist Sir Arthur Keith: “Evolution is unproved and unprovable.” Such cannot be said of the Bible account of creation, the order of which is fully corroborated by geology and the marvelous operation of everything that exists, both animate and inanimate.—Genesis, chapter 1.
Other fields of science also raise their voices in confirmation of the Bible record. For example: “Archaeology has not yet said its last word; but the results already achieved confirm what faith would suggest, that the Bible can do nothing but gain from an increase of knowledge.” (The Bible and Archaeology) It is not this statement that proves the reliability of the Bible, but the archaeological discoveries on which it is based are proof.
In view of this brief examination of the tremendous volume of evidence in confirmation of the Bible’s authenticity, what should we believe? The answer is clear: Believe the Bible!
Does the Bible contradict itself, as is often claimed?
No, but it does contradict the religious teachings of many who use the Bible. If it did not contradict the majority of these religious interpreters, then, of necessity, it would contradict itself, because the religious teachers of Christendom do not agree among themselves. One who approaches the study of the Bible with a sincere and inquiring mind will find that it clearly and consistently sets forth God’s purpose regarding man.
Since supposed contradictions are loudly advertised by critics, let us consider an example. Matthew 20:29-34 speaks of Jesus’ healing certain blind beggars as he was leaving Jericho; Luke 18:35-43 says he did it as he entered the city. The first account mentions two beggars, while the other refers to one. Contradictions? No. It could have been two different occasions. But even if not, Jericho in Jesus’ day was a double city, with the old Jewish city about a mile from the Roman city. Thus the event could have happened as Jesus left the one city on his way to the other. As for the number of persons involved, Luke relates the experience of one, but Matthew fills in a detail by telling that another one was also there. Instances such as this are clear evidence that there was no collusion among the Bible writers, otherwise they certainly would have removed such statements that seem to be obvious contradictions. Rather, they stated the facts truthfully.
Jesus said of God’s recorded Word, the Bible: “Your word is truth.” (John 17:17) To be true it must be consistent. It is!
Is it sufficient to have faith?
“Without faith it is impossible to win his good pleasure, for he that approaches God must believe that he is and that he becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him.” Faith is vital, but it is not enough. “If I have all the faith so as to transplant mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”—Heb. 11:6; 1 Cor. 13:2.
Faith is not simply belief. Faith is founded on knowledge. It requires, not only belief, but a reason for believing. “Faith is the assured expectation of things hoped for, the evident demonstration of realities though not beheld.” Faith in God and his purposes is founded on the Bible. One who has not learned what the Bible says cannot exercise faith in it. When he knows what it says, he will do what it says if he has faith in it. If he does not act, he has no faith. “Faith, if it does not have works, is dead in itself.”—Heb. 11:1; Jas. 2:17.
So, along with faith, works are required to make it valid. And if the works are to be acceptable, they must be motivated by love.
Which religion is the right one?
The answer to the question may vary, depending on whom you want to serve. Religion is service. If you want to serve yourself, you will pick the religion that pleases you. If you seek the favor of your neighbors, you will select the religion that pleases them. If, instead, your desire is to serve God, you will want to please him.
“The form of worship that is clean and undefiled from the standpoint of our God and Father” is outlined in the Bible. At Luke 3:22 the Bible tells us that when Jesus was baptized, God said: “You are my Son, the beloved; I have approved you.” The religion Jesus practiced is the right one. He magnified the name of his heavenly Father, Jehovah. He was “no part of this world” and its political movements. He preached that God’s kingdom is man’s only hope. He did not merely profess a religion; he practiced it. Those who practice the right religion today follow in his footsteps.—Jas. 1:27; John 17:6, 16; 18:36.
There are not many religions that are right. “Narrow is the gate and cramped the road leading off into life.” It is not a broad road that allows for many different concepts of God’s requirements. The apostle Paul made this very clear, saying: “Now I exhort you, brothers, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you should all speak in agreement, and that there should not be divisions among you, but that you may be fitly united in the same mind and in the same line of thought.” That is possible when we “let God be found true” by accepting the Bible.—Matt. 7:14; 1 Cor. 1:10; Rom. 3:4.
What happens to us when we die?
Hell-fire makes many shudder; they try to remove the terrible prospect by saying they do not believe in it. Is there an immortal soul that goes to heaven at death? Those who like the idea hope so, so they say they believe it.
What happens to man when he dies is clearly stated at Psalm 146:4 (margin): “His breath goes out, he goes back to his ground, in that day his thoughts do perish.” You have observed this. You know that when a person dies he stops breathing and his thinking processes cease. You have no doubt seen the body of a deceased person being lowered into the ground, and you know it turns to dust again. Did it go to hell-fire or was it whisked away to heaven? You saw no evidence of it, did you? The body was placed back in the dust of the ground; that you know. But was it not possibly the soul that went to another world? No. Ezekiel 18:4 clearly states: “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” (AS) So you do know what happens to man at death; that is, you know if you believe what you see.
There is a prospect for future life, however. It is by a resurrection of the dead who have a prospect of future life on the basis of the ransom sacrifice paid over by Christ Jesus. (Matt. 20:28) “Do not marvel at this, because the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out.” (John 5:28, 29) And how do we know this? Where is the evidence?
Do you believe that George Washington was the first president of the United States or that Alexander the Great was a Greek ruler? Why? Because reliable historical records tell us. Those records may be filled with some discrepancies, but these facts stand out clearly enough that we accept them. Well, even more reliable historical records, records that have no discrepancies and that are found in the Bible, tell us that men have been raised from the dead. The most outstanding of these is Jesus Christ. He is the one who, having experienced it himself, says that a resurrection to future life, either as spirit creatures such as he is or as humans on earth, awaits all those in the memory of God.—Rev. 1:17, 18; 1 Cor. 15:20, 21.
These things we can believe. They appeal to reason. They are founded on evidence that is open for our consideration. They are taught in the Bible.
What is God’s kingdom? When will it come?
For over 1900 years men of faith have prayed, “Let your kingdom come. Let your will come to pass, as in heaven, also upon earth.” Even before that, faithful servants of God were “awaiting the city having real foundations and the builder and creator of which is God.” The kingdom in which Christians hope is the government of God, “one belonging to heaven,” but which will administer the affairs of humankind in righteousness. It is established by God, not by men.—Matt. 6:10; Heb. 11:10, 16.
The establishment of the Kingdom is not a future event. The Kingdom is already established! According to fulfilled Bible prophecy, Christ was enthroned as heavenly King and has been ruling among his enemies since A.D. 1914. Satan and his demons, knowing their time is short, have fomented the bloodshed and calamities distinguishing this generation. Within this generation, at the battle of Armageddon, Christ Jesus will fight victoriously and put the demons and their entire wicked organization out of existence.—Matthew, chapter 24; Rev. 12:7-12.
The subjects of that kingdom ‘will learn war no more.’ Disease and death will be erased from the earth. Under the righteous administration of that New World government corruption, delinquency and broken homes will be a thing of the past.—Isa. 2:4; 11:1-5.
Can we believe such marvelous promises? Yes! It is not reasonable to place confidence in the promises of national or international governments of men to correct the world’s ills. They are only men and are not in position to cope with the cause of it all, Satan the Devil, the “god of this system of things.” (2 Cor. 4:4) But Jehovah is the Almighty God, Creator of the universe, the Source of life. He has purposed the Kingdom for the vindication of his name and the blessing of obedient men, and his word does not return to him void.
Almighty God has made every provision to satisfy the inquiring minds of those who seek the truth. He invites us to ask: “If anyone of you is lacking in wisdom, let him keep on asking God.” And he counsels us to listen when he speaks: “Jehovah is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.” He protects us against falsehood by equipping us with the truth and telling us how to respond to those who may claim to speak in his name. “Do not believe every inspired expression, but test the inspired expressions to see whether they originate with God, because many false prophets have gone forth into the world.” Such teachings should be checked against the Bible.—Jas. 1:5; Hab. 2:20, AS; 1 John 4:1.
It is vital to know and believe the truth. (John 17:3; Hos. 4:6) Do not mistakenly reason that you believe in God and his Word and that is enough. Be sure you know what you believe and why you believe it. Continue to fortify your faith by studying the Bible and following its guidance. It is urgent to do so now. Jehovah’s witnesses will count it a privilege to assist you to gain this knowledge that means your life.