“Give Us More Faith”
“But the righteous one—by means of faith he will live.”—Rom. 1:17.
1. What does man need, but how is it often viewed?
IT IS the nature of men to put faith in something, even if only themselves. Though world problems and tensions keep piling up, men still retain hope that things will work out for the best. But is an assured faith in the future possible? Where can such faith be found? For centuries the people have been taught to put their confidence in religion. While church attendance remains high in some Western countries, it is not because the people feel that the teachings of the church offer the solution to the day’s problems. In fact, even church leaders discount fundamental Bible teachings as simply being superstitions and myths. In atheistic countries science and military might are held up as the savior of the people, while religious instruction is discounted as old wives’ fables.
2. How deep is the faith many today?
2 Religious “faith” today seems to be more a form of worship than a mark of any positive assurance. Thus Christendom prays for God’s kingdom to come, but discounts it by saying it is only a condition of the heart, or, if it is real, it will not come in our time. People talk about their faith in God and quote the sermon on the mount, where Jesus explained that God feeds the birds and clothes the vegetation and would certainly provide for his people; but still they do not rest easy until their insurance policy is paid and they have money in the bank. This kind of faith is only a veneer, not the kind that would move mountains or let a man walk on water.
3. How have some had their faith shaken, but on what should it be established?
3 But perhaps you ask, Is there any real and valid reason for religions faith in this enlightened age? Is not faith akin to credulity, blind trust? Faith not just be a matter of believing what we are brought up to accept religiously, or we may be disappointed. A generation of people in Japan were taught to consider the emperor as a god. But in 1946 Emperor Hirohito publicly announced that this belief was only a “myth and legend,” and the people had to change their viewpoint. No doubt many of the people in Italy who rushed out when Vesuvius erupted to put their religious statues in the path of the flowing lava wondered if their faith were misplaced when the lava rolled on to swallow up the villages that lay in its path. Is your religious faith a solid faith based on your personal investigation; or do you believe as you do simply because that is the way you were raised?—Matt. 15:14.
4. Is seeing believing?
4 It is easy to say, I will believe when I see it. So a Moscow radio broadcast, as quoted by the Reader’s Digest, said: “Our rocket has by-passed the moon. It is nearing the sun, and we have not discovered God . . . Let us go forth, and Christ shall be relegated to mythology.” Is this a faith-shattering conclusion? Hardly. As scientist Lecomte du Noüy stated: “Any effort to visualize God reveals a surprising childishness. We can no more conceive Him than we can conceive an electron. Yet many people do not believe in God, simply because they cannot visualize Him. They forget that this incapacity is not, in itself, a proof of nonexistence, considering that they firmly believe in the electron.”
5. Is it unscientific to believe in God?
5 It takes effort to establish a sound and reasonable basis for faith in something you cannot see. Many scientists of note have testified to their faith in God. Professor Zimmerman of Harvard, once an atheist, comments: “Great scientists were supposed . . . to believe less and less in God as they progressed toward greatness . . . It was fashionable to make fun of religion because its meaning was not understood by immature scholars.” Victor Hess of Fordham University, Nobel Prize winner, said: “Can a good scientist believe in God? I think the answer is: Yes . . . I must confess that in all my years of research in physics and geophysics I have never found one instance in which scientific discovery was in conflict with religious Faith.”
FOUNDATION FOR FAITH
6. How can faith be defined, and what assurance of faith did Paul give?
6 Although many contend that faith is based on emotion or personal philosophy, still a noted law student of ancient times, the apostle Paul, said: “Faith is the assured expectation of things hoped for, the evident demonstration of realities though not beheld.” Paul was a logical, reasonable man, as shown by his writings, and it was his conclusion that a basis for faith could be demonstrated, being based on reality. If faith is to be assured there must be some proof for it; it must be founded on logic and knowledge. On this point Paul stated: “What may be known about God is manifest among them, for God made it manifest to them. For his invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship, so that they are inexcusable.”—Heb. 11:1; Rom. 1:19, 20.
7. Mention other reasons for faith in God and his creative activity.
7 What manifest evidence could Paul have reference to? Psalm 19:1 reminds: “The heavens are declaring the glory of God; and of the work of his hands the expanse is telling.” But does this really prove the existence of God, or did not all this just happen by evolution? The Scriptural account plainly says: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Gen. 1:1) Can this be confirmed? The New York Times reports that data gathered from a recent satellite indicates that there was a central starting point for the universe and that the universe has been expanding ever since: “Now Explorer XI has supplied indirect evidence supporting the theory that the universe all started with a great primeval explosion billions of years ago.” This would appear to corroborate the Genesis account of God as beginning creation. This thought is also confirmed by A. R. Short in his publication Why Believe? He states: “As Sir J. Jeans, the eminent astronomer, once wrote, ‘The universe is like a clock which is running down, a clock which, so far as science knows, no one ever winds up . . . which must at some time in the past have been wound up in some manner unknown to us . . . Everything points with overwhelming force to a definite event, or series of events, of creation at some time or other, not indefinitely remote.’” If anything, the scientific research of our generation causes man to stand in awe before the wisdom of his Creator. As scientist J. Jeans, commenting on the orderly progression of atomic weights existing in the elements, said: “The universe appears to be designed by a pure mathematician.” So we have added reason to believe in the existence of God and in the Scripture record as being inspired.—Rom. 11:33, 34.
8. Give reasons for saying the Bible is God’s inspired record.
8 Why should the Creator not provide an inspired written record of his creative works and purposes? God knew that man would be able to understand a record of his origin and come to have faith in the statement of his Creator’s purposes. (Rom. 15:4) Several Bible writers confirm the authenticity of the record, including the apostle Peter, who stated: “No, it was not by following artfully contrived false stories that we acquainted you with the power and presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, but it was by having become eyewitnesses of his magnificence.” What did he mean by this? Peter here referred to the transfiguration, when he, together with the two brothers James and John, saw Jesus in a vision with Moses and Elijah. This was not just a dream by Peter, for there were three witnesses, and the unusual experience was testified to and documented by those present. Therefore Peter stated: “Consequently we have the prophetic word made more sure; and you are doing well in paying attention to it.”—2 Pet. 1:16-19.
9. (a) How did Daniel’s testimony indicate inspiration? (b) How can prophecies be understood, and by whom?
9 Was the Bible divinely inspired as Peter attested? Bible writer Daniel admitted he did not understand the significance of the things he wrote when recording them at God’s direction. He wrote: “I heard, but I could not understand.” However, Daniel was advised to seal up the writings until the time of the end, at which time those having insight would be able to understand. (Dan. 12:8-10) This understanding, as Peter pointed out, would not be by any private interpretation, but since the prophecies were inspired and recorded at God’s direction, the understanding and fulfillment of prophecy would also be at God’s direction and by the guidance of his spirit. It surely was not the intent of the author of the Scriptures to obscure his Word or hide the thought from even the humblest person who sincerely desires to understand it at this time.—Matt. 11:25.
PROPHECY ESTABLISHES FAITH
10. Mention some fulfilled prophecies showing Bible inspiration.
10 One of the most powerful reasons for faith in the Bible as the inspired word of God is the fact that Bible prophecies have been and are being fulfilled. Because the people had become “haters of what is good and lovers of badness,” the account in Micah 3:2, 12 warned: “Zion will be plowed up as a mere field, and Jerusalem herself will become mere heaps of ruins.” One hundred years passed, and then Jerusalem was desolated, as foretold, by Nebuchadnezzar’s armies. Shortly before this Isaiah had correctly predicted that powerful Sennacherib of Assyria would fail to capture Jerusalem, and the prophecy proved true. (Isaiah 37) Both Isaiah and Jeremiah foretold the return of the Jews from captivity to Babylon, though it seemed impossible at the time, Isaiah foretelling that the releasing would be by Cyrus, and Jeremiah prophesying under inspiration that it would be after a 70-year period of captivity. (Isa. 45:1; Jer. 25:11) In another great prophecy Daniel foretold the year of Jesus’ anointing with holy spirit and also his death.—Dan. 9:25-27.
11. What are some of the prophecies pertaining to Jesus?
11 Remarkable prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures pointing forward to the Messiah were fulfilled in complete detail by Jesus. Bear in mind that many of these prophecies were things over which he had no control, such as his being born of the tribe of Judah, born in Bethlehem of a virgin, called out of Egypt, betrayed for thirty pieces of silver, lots being cast for his garments, his being buried with the rich, and countless other details, many of which are strikingly recorded in Isaiah, chapter 53.
12. What promises for the future does the Bible contain?
12 Thus when this greatest of all prophets appeared on the scene, we would again expect accurate long-range forecasts under divine inspiration. In his oft-repeated prayer Jesus said prophetically: “Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.” Other scriptures indicate that the “kingdom” here refers to God’s government, his heavenly “princely rule” with Christ as King. There will be no end to the world rule of this kingdom or of the peace it will bring. (Matt. 6:9, 10; Isa. 9:6, 7; Dan. 4:34) This rulership by God’s direction shall accomplish his will on earth everlastingly. The wonderfully changed conditions this rule will bring to the earth were foretold by Isaiah, Peter and John in confirming prophecies. (Isa. 66:22; 2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1, 3, 4) These Bible writers were in absolute agreement in describing the Kingdom arrangement that we now look forward to enjoying in the near future. Thus Jehovah’s Word itself gives us the understanding of prophecy, and we can have confidence and faith that what Jehovah has stated he will accomplish. (Isa. 55:11) Just because some today have no faith does not mean God’s purposes and the establishment of his new earth will not come true.—Rom. 3:4.
13, 14. (a) How do world conditions support Matthew 24:34? (b) How have many responded to fulfillment of prophecy?
13 Even the conditions on earth today give strong indication of an imminent change. World leaders speak constantly of the possibility of a world catastrophe by war, saying it may not come this year or next, but it is likely within this generation. They are concerned about the population explosion and the possibility that the needs of the people will soon surpass the supplies of food. Then, too, if the radioactive fallout continues and increases during the months ahead, what are the prospects for future life on this planet? These questions make us give serious thought to Jesus’ words at Matthew 24:34: “Truly I say to you that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur.” No, instead of letting man make a radioactive void out of this beautiful planet on which we live, Jehovah has served warning that he will “bring to ruin those ruining the earth.”—Rev. 11:18.
14 So when the striking prophecy of Jesus at Matthew, chapter 24, began to have its fulfillment in 1914 with the outbreak of World War I, the faith that the accurate fulfillment of this prophecy engendered in the hearts of men around the world resulted in their taking up the work he had predicted: “And this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.”—Matt. 24:14.
SHOWING FAITH BY WORKS
15. What demonstration of faith do we have today?
15 Among Jehovah’s witnesses are now found people of all religious backgrounds, races and social standings who are working together unitedly to announce the wonderful hope of God’s kingdom. This is an ‘evident demonstration of the reality, though not beheld as yet.’ Worldwide a growing crowd of people with this conviction are demonstrating their faith by their ministerial activity, teaching God’s Word to people of all kinds. (Ps. 110:3) In answer to those who say that as long as there are people on earth there will always be wars, factions and disagreements, the unity of faith and brotherhood evidenced by Jehovah’s witnesses is a powerful confirmation of the unity and harmony of action that will exist under the Kingdom rule of Christ Jesus.—2 Cor. 10:5; John 13:35; 1 Cor. 1:10.
16. What must accompany faith to gain life? What illustration can you give?
16 After giving explicit details of the sign marking the last days of this system of things, covering at least 29 points in all, Jesus foretold the effect of the announcement in causing a division among the people of the nations, the sheeplike ones being brought to the right hand of the King, while the “goats” would go to the left, a position of disfavor and rejection. Note that the “goat” class were not condemned due to their opposition to the messengers of the Kingdom, nor because of gross immorality, or even because they lacked faith, but, rather, because they did not act on the knowledge they had. They recognized Jesus as Lord, saying, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty . . . and did not minister to you?” He answered, “Truly I say to you, To the extent that you did not do it to one of these least ones, you did not do it to me.” (Matt. 25:44, 45) So the question arises, Is our faith moving us to service and a position at the right hand of favor? Are we doing the work assigned for this day, announcing the good news of the Kingdom? Or is our faith as dead, without motivating force, as a body without breath?—Jas. 2:20, 26.
17. (a) Is there basis for faith in the Flood account? (b) Why is it of interest to us today?
17 The fact that over 968,000 men, women and children around the world are devoting their time and energies to ministerial service as Jehovah’s witnesses should be faith-inspiring. Furthermore, the Scriptural account shows that a similar work was performed at the time of the Flood. Noah served as a preacher of righteousness, but the people ignored the warning God had given until it was too late and the flood came and swept them away. Bear in mind that this flood is not mythology; it is the inspired Scripture record, and it is corroborated by archaeological and geological findings. (See The Deluge Story in Stone, by B. C. Nelson.) As B. Silliman, formerly head of the geology department at Yale University, said: “Respecting the Deluge there can be but one opinion: geology fully confirms the Scriptural history of the event.” Jesus, realizing that the Flood was a historical event, said prophetically: “Just as the days of Noah were, so the presence of the Son of man will be.” Thus from many sources our faith is confirmed.—Matt. 24:37.
18. What course should we follow to attain safety, according to the Scriptures?
18 Today we must accept the leadership of the Greater Noah, Christ Jesus, before the cleansing storm of Armageddon sweeps over this old world system to clear the way for the new world of righteousness. (Acts 4:12) If you were in an exposed place and saw a terrible storm coming, you would look for a dependable place of shelter. Seeing such a place of protection you would not stubbornly refuse to enter unless you could go in through the north or the east or the west if the only way of entrance was from the south. So when you find that Jehovah’s Word accurately foretells the events of our time and shows the only way of salvation through Jesus, why reject the provision for security? Do not close your eyes to this provision just because you have been brought up in the religious teachings of the east or west or north or south, but act wisely and consider the evidence and then decide where your faith should be placed. Jehovah is not partial to anyone but invites all exercising faith to come within the modern-day “ark” of security, the new system of things that God builds through Jesus Christ.—John 10:9; Joel 2:32.
LIFE THROUGH FAITH
19. How and why should our faith be exercised?
19 As John 3:16 says: “Everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.” It is important to note that this faith is not just a passive belief, but something that must be exercised by accepting the privilege of ministerial service that Jesus assigned to his disciples. Paul explained this point further to the Philippians, referring to “the sacrifice and public service to which faith has led you.” (Phil. 2:17) This public service is now carried on by Jehovah’s witnesses in their ministerial work in 188 lands throughout the world. The importance of each one’s having a part in it was stressed in Paul’s comments to the Romans. He calls it the “‘word’ of faith, which we are preaching.” He shows that if we exercise our faith by sharing in ministerial activity we shall receive the prize of life, for he says: “With the heart one exercises faith for righteousness, but with the mouth one makes public declaration for salvation.”—Rom. 10:8-10.
20. Through what means does Jehovah satisfy the spiritual needs of his people?
20 Our faith would lead us to expect that, in order that this tremendous worldwide preaching work might be carried out in a systematic and orderly way, Jehovah would have an organization on earth to accomplish his will, just as he did in the early days of the Christian organization. And as Jesus foreknew, the “faithful and discreet slave” class, the anointed witnesses of Jehovah, would still be present to supply the spiritual food needed by his servants. (Matt. 24:45) While atheistic, faith-poisoning theories are being served to the people in many parts of the world, we can be confident that Jehovah’s organization would serve his people the spiritual food they need to keep them spiritually strong. To fill this need The Watchtower now has a circulation of 4,000,000 copies each issue in 64 languages.
21. What does ‘doing the will of the Father’ include?
21 Who will bring this spiritual food to the people? If you are one who has always been taught that all God requires is for one to come to church and sit and listen, being a hearer but not a doer of the word, then consider the words of Jesus at Matthew 7:21: “Not everyone saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will.” This will for Jehovah’s people today is to make disciples of people of all nations by teaching and baptizing them; and this means active ministerial service, not a passive form of pseudo-Christianity. As you study God’s Word, thus building your faith on knowledge, follow out the Scriptural advice to associate with those putting faith in his Word, and then speak out of a full heart the things you have learned and believe. As you do you will begin to experience the joys and blessings that come with the exercise of true faith within Jehovah’s organization.—Heb. 10:25; Jas. 1:22.
22. Why do some lack faith? So what should be our desire?
22 Remember that, when asking for understanding, you must ask in faith. Those who constantly succumb to doubts and are indecisive will never receive the rich spiritual blessing that goes to those who put their trust in Jehovah. (Jas. 1:5-8; Rom. 10:17) At 2 Thessalonians 3:2, 3, Paul clearly states: “Faith is not a possession of all people. But the Lord is faithful, and he will make you firm.” So instead of following the lead of the scoffers who ridicule Jehovah’s wonderful purposes, follow the wise course, standing in awe of the Creator, desiring to carry out his will and to serve him with a full heart. In your prayers to Jehovah make the same request that the disciples made to Jesus: “Give us more faith.”—Luke 17:5.
23. What can faith accomplish?
23 As Jesus so forcefully illustrated, even a little faith, weak though it may be at first, can accomplish great things. He said: “If you had faith the size of a mustard grain, you would say to this black mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea!’ and it would obey you.” Just as Jesus by the power of God’s spirit and through the exercise of faith accomplished miraculous healings and cures of demonized people in his day, so today we can receive the even greater blessing of spiritual healing, which will mean life in God’s new world. But faith is required.—Luke 17:6, 19.
24. What assurance for our faith did Jesus give?
24 The Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered them, saying: “The kingdom of God is not coming with striking observableness.” To wait until we see it would be too late; therefore faith is required now to go ahead with the preaching work. But Jesus assures us: “This generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will by no means pass away.” So just as we have confidence in the permanence of the heavens and earth, we can have confidence in the permanence of God’s Word and in the wonderful prospects for future life under his Kingdom rule of righteousness.—Luke 17:20; Matt. 24:34, 35.