Speech and Salvation
1. What vital opportunity is before men now, as shown by Romans 10:8-10?
MAINTAINING life is the pursuit of all sane men because Jehovah placed in man a desire to live. Now through his Word Jehovah reveals to mankind that everlasting life is available to all who will reach out and take it on God’s conditions. An opportunity is presented to man to learn what is in God’s Word and fill his mind and heart with it and then speak it forth for his own salvation and the salvation of others. “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart; that is, the ‘word’ of faith which we are preaching. For if you publicly declare that ‘word in your mouth’, that Jesus is Lord, and exercise faith in your heart that God raised him up from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one exercises faith for righteousness, but with the mouth one makes public declaration for salvation.”—Rom. 10:8-10.
2. What progressive steps must be made by those pursuing salvation?
2 There is a close relationship shown between obtaining everlasting life and how we use our power of speech. Jehovah’s creation was for his pleasure and to result in praise to his name and the human creatures he made to be praisers of God. When they are busy at it he looks upon them with favor. Although the majority of men are found to be out of harmony with Jehovah, not praising him, yet in mercy he has allowed an opportunity to men to gain knowledge of his purposes and choose life. As one gains more accurate knowledge from God he better appreciates his relationship to the Creator. He learns that it is a privilege to make public declaration with his power of speech to the praise of Jehovah. He becomes a witness of Jehovah, one who speaks out on every opportunity for the honor of his God. He dedicates his life and all he has, including his power of speech, to the praise of Jehovah. He determines, as did the psalmist: “Also my own tongue, all day long, will utter in an undertone your righteousness.” (Ps. 71:24) Such dedicated men God is now using to communicate with the human family and to be his witnesses. Through what the world may consider foolishness, namely, preaching, salvation will come to many.—Isa. 43:8-12; 1 Cor. 1:21; 2 Pet. 3:9.
3. (a) Where did Jesus say his followers must make public declaration for salvation? (b) According to Matthew 10:32, 33, how can silence lead to loss of life?
3 The form of public declaration for salvation referred to by Paul at Romans chapter 10 is speech publicly made, based on one’s strong faith. The knowledge given from God’s Word has been given in trust to be used freely. Jesus reminded the apostles, at Matthew 10:8, that they had received free and so they must give free. He gave them orders to go and preach, entering into the houses and speaking to the people, visiting from house to house and from city to city, and he left no doubt that this would result in their salvation. Some persons may conclude it is a difficult task to go out and speak to people about God’s kingdom and purposes in public places, but this is one of the requirements for salvation or everlasting life. There is only one means for gaining salvation and that is through Christ Jesus, the way God has provided. He is the Mediator between God and men, who showed how public declaration from house to house and city to city results in the preacher’s being reported on well for salvation before the Father. Jesus said: “Everyone, then, that acknowledges his belief in me before men, I will also acknowledge my belief in him before my Father who is in the heavens; but whoever disowns me before men, I will also disown him before my Father who is in the heavens” (Matt. 10:32, 33) If one is not making the public declaration from house to house and before the people, it is the same as disowning his belief in Christ Jesus and Jehovah God, and so one by his silence ‘disowns’ Christ Jesus and will be disowned by Christ before the Father in the heavens, losing salvation.
4. (a) Who must now be teachers? (b) How does the good teacher qualify himself, as shown by Jesus’ example?
4 Daily use of the power of speech in the service of God has many facets. The tongue of the dedicated servant of God is used to preach and teach. Jesus clearly commanded before his ascension to heaven: “Go . . . teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.” (Matt. 28:19, 20) This meant that a great teaching campaign would be carried on. The basis for this teaching is found in the Bible. To be proper teachers, the instructors must be familiar with their Textbook. The great Master or Teacher, Christ Jesus, was thoroughly familiar with the Textbook in his day, as we see, from the report in Luke 4:17, that he stood up in the synagogue and was able to open the scroll quickly to what we now call Isaiah chapter 61. Throughout his ministry he quoted from the prophets, the writings of Moses, and the Psalms; and before his ascension to heaven, as Luke 24:27 tells us, he commenced with Moses and all the prophets and interpreted all the things pertaining to himself in all the Scriptures. Lu 24 Verse 45 shows that he opened up minds to grasp the meaning of the Scriptures. Thus Jesus set the example of teaching by making sure that the ones he was instructing grasped the meaning of what he was teaching from God’s Word. This brought honor to Jehovah God and opened up the way for salvation to those who were listening.
5. Who benefits by Christian teaching, and how must it be done?
5 That is the lifesaving teaching method used by true servants of Jehovah God. The apostles used it and true Christians to this day use it. Paul advised the young overseer Timothy: “Pay constant attention to yourself and to your teaching. Stay by these things, for by doing this you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.” (1 Tim. 4:16) Timothy had learned from the study of God’s Word and instruction given him by his mother and the apostle Paul. In Paul’s final admonition to Timothy he said: “A slave of the Lord . . . needs to be tactful toward all, qualified to teach, keeping himself restrained under evil, instructing with mildness those not favorably disposed, as perhaps God may give them repentance leading to an accurate knowledge of truth, and they may come back to their proper senses.” (2 Tim. 2:24-26) “Preach the word, be at it urgently in favorable season, in troublesome season, reprove, reprimand, exhort, with all longsuffering and art of teaching.” (2 Tim. 4:2) To another overseer, Titus, he wrote similar advice involving right speaking. (Titus 2:1, 6-8) That is the work that leads to saving both teacher and disciple.
6. What is the example of the apostle Paul on speaking for salvation?
6 Paul not only gave advice, but he set the example himself, by faithful teaching, not for selfish gain nor personal profit of a following in men, but for the purpose of building others up in the knowledge of God so they too would be able to speak out for salvation in praise of Jehovah and worship him with spirit and truth. The use of the tongue by the apostle Paul and his associates in the ministry was always for the good of others, and the record is preserved in the Scriptures as an example to us of how Christians imitate Jesus Christ in the teaching work to the glory of God. Not only may we ourselves make this public declaration for salvation from house to house and when teaching on return calls, but we can be busy in the work of training others on how to speak and to present the message of God’s kingdom convincingly at the doorstep. It is part of the work of building up and helping fellow men who desire to serve Jehovah and gain salvation.—2 Tim. 2:2.
OTHER PUBLIC DECLARATION
7, 8. (a) Where is another place for public declaration, and what motive prompts such speaking? (b) How must one prepare himself for this form of public declaration, and who will benefit by it?
7 Love moves one to speak out publicly in congregation study meetings. The Christian thinks not only of himself but of those assembled. He wants to build them up. It is desirable to benefit others. Paul wrote of such speaking: “Pursue love, yet keep striving after the spiritual gifts, but preferably that you may prophesy. . . . he that prophesies upbuilds and encourages and consoles men by his speech. . . . he that prophesies upbuilds a congregation.”—1 Cor. 14:1, 3, 4.
8 The system of things among true Christians is not one that requires always sitting quietly and listening, but there is a sharing of good things. The same apostle wrote the Hebrews: “Let us hold fast the public declaration of our hope without wavering . . . And let us consider one another to incite to love and right works, not forsaking the gathering of ourselves together.” (Heb. 10:23-25) In the public gatherings there must be a consideration of spiritual things by all present and all must share together the things they have learned from God. The hope that God has built up in the hearts of his servants is strengthened by their publicly speaking out in the congregation meetings, and other persons are benefited too. They are incited to exercise love and perform right works. This privilege of speaking good things in the congregation must not be forsaken, for to be silent would be very unloving and inconsiderate of others. Knowing this, one is impressed with the necessity of preparing himself beforehand to share in speaking on spiritual matters. He does not wait to speak as if by sudden inspiration, but prepares his mind and heart through studying ahead of time, according to the announced program of activity for the congregation. He learns to open the Bible and refer to it publicly to upbuild others in spiritual strength. All this congregation speaking is for salvation.—Gal. 6:6.
9. What is another way speech can be controlled for the benefit of others?
9 Speech is used in many other ways for the good of others. It is used to counsel and guide. “The tongue of wise ones does good with knowledge, but the mouth of the stupid ones bubbles forth with foolishness.” (Prov. 15:2) When a person does not know how to deal with a problem or which course to take to go in the right way, he can go to one who is instructed in the Word of God, and through the power of speech the individual can be told the procedure to follow that will result in his salvation. “When there is no skillful direction the people fall, but there is salvation in the multitude of counselors.” (Prov. 11:14) Overseers in the congregations must give good advice.—1 Tim. 4:6.
10. (a) What method of skillful speech is demonstrated at 2 Samuel 12:7-13 for dealing with an offense against God’s law? (b) What lessons can be learned from David’s reaction to the words spoken by an appointed servant of God?
10 There are times when dedicated servants of God need counsel, but it is not necessary even when one makes a mistake to lay on harsh criticism. A Bible example of skillful use of speech in solving a matter is recorded in 2 Samuel 12:7-13. The prophet Nathan was sent by God to counsel King David and impress upon him the wrong he had done in connection with the death of Uriah. Counsel to one of good heart does good and provides a healing and helps one put himself right with Jehovah God. When David was spoken to by Nathan about his wrong he did not fly up in a rage and then denounce Nathan and order his death at the hands of the King’s guards, but, rather, he humbly admitted his sin, for he knew he had done wrong. His words showed what was in his good heart. He did not try to justify himself. This is right and acceptable before God and should be an example to all offenders against God’s righteous law who are taken to account by Jehovah through his visible representatives on the earth. David was able to return to God’s favor before his death because his heart was right.
11. How does the speech of the wise heal and lead to salvation?
11 Indeed, we see how the tongue of the wise one when used in harmony with God’s Word provides a spiritual healing. The Bible contrasts healing speech with that of thoughtless persons. “There exists the one speaking thoughtlessly as with the stabs of a sword, but the tongue of the wise ones is a healing.” (Prov. 12:18) The interests of others should be kept in mind. Speech should be used to encourage them and commend them. “Pleasant sayings are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and a healing to the bones.” (Prov. 16:24) Those who are servants of God are speaking to one another continually, edifying one another, building one another up, and this is pleasing before God. Those who build up each other through speaking of spiritual things are remembered by God for salvation, as foretold in Malachi 3:16, 17.
COPYING THE RIGHT SPEAKERS
12. (a) What kind of speech is timely? (b) To what example does Paul draw attention?
12 The existing need for more preachers and teachers in every community impresses on us the fact that there is no time for idle speech, jesting or obscene talk and gossip. Time is valuable; lives are at stake. So Paul counseled: “Let a rotten saying not proceed out of your mouth, but whatever saying is good for building up as the need may be, that it may impart what is favorable to the hearers.” (Eph. 4:29) And after concluding the fourth chapter on good use of speech, Paul connects these words: “Therefore, become imitators of God, as beloved children, and go on walking in love, just as the Christ also loved you and delivered himself up for you.” (Eph. 5:1, 2) Here he draws our attention to the greatest examples, Almighty God and Christ Jesus.
13, 14. (a) What has Jehovah always spoken? (b) What are some examples of things Jehovah has spoken in which we should be imitating him?
13 What has Jehovah always spoken? The truth and wisdom. What God has spoken that has been made known to men has always been edifying and good. He who is so high and powerful sees our imperfections but does not continually criticize and find fault with us. He counsels on how to overcome sinful tendencies of the flesh and gives a portion of his spirit to help men who try to serve him. He speaks in mercy and kindness and with much love and long-suffering. His words are so good they are like nourishment to the hungry soul. Indeed, men do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. Christians are co-workers with him as public announcers of good news now and must therefore seek to imitate the example of God in every way, particularly now in the use of the power of speech.—Matt. 4:4; 2 Cor. 2:17.
14 Jehovah is forceful too when it comes to denouncing wickedness and telling of his judgments against Satan and the wicked system of things. At the same time he tells his purposes, showing how good will come to obedient creatures through the destruction of those who practice wickedness. The choice is made plain: remain in the ways of the world in association with Satan and perish, or come over to the side of God and Christ and win everlasting life. (Deut. 30:19, 20) If the world of Satan is to be destroyed, why be a supporter of it? God counsels: “Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues.”—Rev. 18:4.
15. How has Jehovah given us an example of himself as a teacher?
15 God is a Teacher of his will to others, even as he taught Jesus. Jesus gave attention to the teaching of Jehovah, and it was prophetically written of him: “The Lord Jehovah himself has given me the tongue of the taught ones, that I may know how to answer the weary one with a word. He awakens morning by morning; he awakens my ear to hear like the taught ones. The Lord Jehovah himself has opened my ear, and I myself was not rebellious. I did not turn in the opposite direction.” (Isa. 50:4, 5) Jehovah’s teaching of Jesus filled his mind and heart and made him able to use his power of speech beautifully.
16. (a) What kind of speech did Jesus use? (b) In his teaching methods how is Jesus our example?
16 The example of Jesus in speaking shows us one who lovingly and patiently gave instruction. He did not merely tell his followers on earth, but he explained and taught. Many are the examples of his parables and illustrations. Matthew chapter 13 contains illustrations on sowing seed. These were explained so deserving men not only heard him tell something, but understood the meaning. Jesus made certain his speech did good to his disciples, his taught ones. All his words were said with good reasons. He thought first and then spoke. Moved by love, he did not gossip or slander. He was dedicated to Jehovah’s work and had a commission to perform in a short time. He went about his Father’s business, using his speech for the salvation of those who would listen. It was conversation that always built up those around him for salvation. He revealed Jehovah’s judgments against the wicked and was fearless in speech even before his enemies. He knew how to be tactful and when to speak. So he reflected his learning from Jehovah, showing us how Jehovah had taught him to speak and teach, and revealing what was abundant in his good heart each time he opened his mouth. Here is the pattern to follow. Become imitators of God and Christ Jesus!
17. (a) What should occupy our speaking time now? (b) Why must our goal be controlled speech always, and what do we learn from Moses’ experience at Meribah?
17 There are so many good things to tell about Jehovah God and the blessings of his new world. Jehovah is telling us these good things through his Word and by his visible organization. Truly there is never enough time to learn all we should wish to know. Then how can any Christian find time to get tangled up in worldly talk or unprofitable speech and waste his time that way? (Col. 4:5, 6) There must be self-control; Jehovah is listening. (Ps. 59:7, 12, 13) Even when we are going about Jehovah’s business we must speak with care, to God’s praise. Moses did not get to enter the Promised Land and to enjoy life there because he erred in his speech at Meribah.—Num. 20:10-12.
18. For salvation, what will we try to do with the help of Jehovah?
18 It is time to keep check on thoughts and to govern our speech so we will not have a tongue like a runaway horse with the bridle dragging on the ground. We will not have a fiery tool of gossip that is like a burning match in a tinder-dry forest. Rather, we shall be careful not to lose sight of the important preaching and teaching work. Our goal will be to imitate Jehovah and Christ in the use of our powers of thought and speech for the salvation of others. For this we ask Jehovah’s help in an effort to please the Life-giver, for we cannot accomplish everything by ourselves. Make this your prayer: “Let the sayings of my mouth and the meditation of my heart become pleasurable before you, O Jehovah my Rock and my Redeemer.”—Ps. 19:14.