Keeping Abreast with Revealed Truth
1, 2. Why should we keep abreast with revealed truth?
MOST people keep abreast with clothing styles through the years. They take in knowledge of changes and make the required adjustments so as not to be considered out of date with their fellowman. Yet all this adds nothing to their life-span. How much more important it is to keep abreast with Jehovah and his progressively revealed truths! Here it is not just a matter of being out of date with one’s fellowman, but it is a matter of being out of date with the Supreme Sovereign of the entire universe! Keeping abreast with Jehovah can add eternity to our life-span!
2 To please Jehovah we must do his will. To do Jehovah’s will we must know what it is. Paul admonished: “So keep strict watch that how you walk is not as unwise but as wise persons, buying out the opportune time for yourselves, because the days are wicked. On this account cease becoming unreasonable, but go on perceiving what the will of Jehovah is.” (Eph. 5:15-17) To the Colossians Paul showed what was needed: “Be filled with the accurate knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual discernment, in order to walk worthily of Jehovah to the end of fully pleasing him.”—Col. 1:9, 10.
3. What dangerous courses must we avoid?
3 Since Jehovah’s truths are revealed progressively, we must be progressive in taking them in. Falling behind by neglecting the knowledge Jehovah provides to keep abreast, or pushing ahead with speculations and philosophies beyond what Jehovah has provided puts our lives in jeopardy. Paul cautioned: “That is why it is necessary for us to pay more than the usual attention to the things heard by us, that we may never drift away.” (Heb. 2:1) John warned: “Look out for yourselves, that you do not lose the things we have worked to produce, but that you may obtain a full reward. Everyone that pushes ahead and does not remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God. He that does remain in this teaching is the one that has both the Father and the Son.”—2 John 8, 9.
4, 5. How was life involved in keeping abreast with the new Passover truths?
4 The Bible gives us ample evidence of the need to keep abreast with revealed truth. In the days of Israelite bondage in Egypt Jehovah revealed new truths about their deliverance. After Moses had delivered the warning of the last plague to Pharaoh, Jehovah issued through Moses new instructions to the Israelites, among which was the following: “Draw out and take for yourselves small cattle according to your families, and slaughter the passover victim. And you must take a bunch of hyssop and dip it into the blood in a basin and strike upon the upper part of the doorway and upon the two doorposts some of the blood that is in the basin; and none of you should go out of the entrance of his house until morning. Then when Jehovah does pass through to plague the Egyptians and does see the blood upon the upper part of the doorway and upon the two doorposts, Jehovah will certainly pass over the entrance, and he will not allow the ruination to enter into your houses to plague you.”—Ex. 12:21-23.
5 What would you have done if you had been an Israelite at that time? Would you have missed the meetings held to discuss these instructions? Would you have ignored the injunction to slaughter the Passover victim and sprinkle the blood upon the upper part of the doorway and upon the two doorposts? Of course not! If you had, the life of your firstborn would have been forfeited! The record tells us that the Israelites appreciated this: “Subsequently the sons of Israel went and did just as Jehovah had commanded Moses and Aaron. They did just so.” (Ex. 12:28) How vital it was to keep abreast with those new Passover truths!
6. What new truth was revealed through Jeremiah about Babylon, and what happened when it was neglected?
6 In later times the lives of those in Judah depended on keeping up with a new truth revealed through the prophet Jeremiah. It was at the time when the Babylonians threatened Judah. Jeremiah related Jehovah’s message: “Even to Zedekiah the king of Judah I spoke according to all these words, saying: ‘Bring your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon and serve him and his people and keep on living.’” (Jer. 27:12) That was something new! Would the Jews submit to King Nebuchadnezzar in peace? The inspired history tells us they did not. They refused to keep abreast with this newly revealed truth. As a result Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem. Many were slain by the sword. Others died of famine and pestilence. Those remaining came under the yoke of Babylon anyway.
7. How did life depend on the new truth Jesus revealed about Jerusalem?
7 In the first century the lives of Christians depended on their keeping abreast with a new truth revealed by Jesus when he said: “Furthermore, when you see Jerusalem surrounded by encamped armies, then know that the desolating of her has drawn near. Then let those in Judea begin fleeing to the mountains, and let those in the midst of her withdraw, and let those in the country places not enter into her.” (Luke 21:20, 21) In 66 C.E. Roman armies came down against Jerusalem, but then withdrew. That was the signal! The Christians who had kept abreast with revealed truth fled across the Jordan River, clearing out of Judean territory, and preserved their lives. Jews who did not keep abreast with this new requirement perished or were enslaved when Jerusalem and Judea were devastated by the returning Roman legions under General Titus in 70 C.E.
8, 9. (a) What are some of the truths revealed in our time that are essential for worship? (b) How has the flow of truth improved the quality of our ministerial activity?
8 It is likewise urgent to keep up with the flow of truths that have been revealed in our days. Soon after the Kingdom’s establishment in 1914 it became evident that a great work had to be done before the end of this system of things came. In 1922 Jehovah revealed through his visible organization that now was the time to “advertise, advertise, advertise, the King and his kingdom.” Were the lives of life seekers involved in obeying this new truth? Yes! Paul showed at Romans 10:10 that “with the heart one exercises faith for righteousness, but with the mouth one makes public declaration for salvation.” If God’s servants did not bear testimony their salvation would be put in jeopardy! History shows that Jehovah’s faithful servants have kept abreast with that revealed truth. In 1939 the new truth of the neutrality issue was clearly revealed. Just what Jehovah’s servants needed! Just in time to help them to meet that issue and maintain integrity during the turbulent worldwide conflict that began the same year! From the year 1945 especially, truths concerning blood began to be revealed and since then have served as a guide for all who have respect for God’s law on the sanctity of blood. Obedience to these and many more such progressively revealed truths has enabled God’s servants to worship him properly and meet his requirements for life.
9 Observe too how the flow of truth from Jehovah has enabled his witnesses to improve the quality of their ministerial activity. At one time they called on people in their homes with their testimony printed on a small card for the householder to read. Also, phonographs were used to give the witness. From these methods Jehovah’s witnesses have advanced to the point where they now deliver excellent Bible sermons with their own mouths. Constant progress has also been made in the various meetings. Theocratic ministry schools, Kingdom Ministry Schools, Gilead School, public meetings and home Bible studies are just a few of the many progressive steps taken under Jehovah’s guidance to advance the work of bearing witness before the end comes.
10. What timely information was received relative to Gog of Magog?
10 Now, in 1964, we are living in the fiftieth year of Kingdom rule. The assault of Gog of Magog, Satan the Devil, against all Christians is approaching rapidly. Has Jehovah left us unprepared? No! Ten years ago Jehovah’s people were warned of this coming assault. Since that time excellent progress has been made in building the maturity of new and old alike, so when the assault comes God’s servants will be able to stand firm and maintain integrity under test. That preparation continues! We need to keep on building up our faith for the difficult days ahead. This will serve as a large shield with which to quench the wicked one’s burning missiles.—Ezek. 38:14-23; Eph. 6:10-18.
11, 12. Why should we not relax our efforts now?
11 Just beyond Gog’s assault lie the battle of Armageddon, the abyssing of Satan and his demons and Jehovah’s new order, so this is no time to relax our efforts. Paul said: “And this is what I continue praying, that your love may abound yet more and more with accurate knowledge and full discernment; that you may make sure of the more important things, so that you may be flawless and not be stumbling others up to the day of Christ.” (Phil. 1:9, 10) “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) Yes, life is involved! But an even more important and compelling reason to keep abreast with revealed truth is the fact that Jehovah’s name must be magnified and sanctified. That is what Jesus put first when he gave his disciples a model prayer: “Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified.”—Matt. 6:9.
12 To bring honor to Jehovah’s name and to continue delivering his messages against Satan’s world we must keep up to date. Many more hard-hitting truths will yet be delivered to Jehovah’s enemies in the near future. In order to be alert to these and to work in harmony with the visible arrangement of Jehovah, we must continually prepare ourselves. We might compare this preparation to that of a doctor. Would you trust your life in a serious operation to a doctor who had never studied surgery? No, you would want one who possessed the utmost knowledge and skill. We too must progress in knowledge and become skilled in doing Jehovah’s will so we can ‘fully accomplish our ministry.’—2 Tim. 4:5.
HOW TO KEEP ABREAST
13, 14. (a) Why is the Bible not out of date? (b) What must we do to benefit from the spiritual food contained in it?
13 God’s Word the Bible is an inexhaustible source of nourishment. It never grows out of date. Critics may say it is out of date, but that is like saying eating is out of date. We have been eating for thousands of years and it is still very much in style! We would not give it up as old-fashioned and no longer beneficial. The Bible, with its supply of rich spiritual food, is even more necessary and is even more up to date. It sustains us with spiritual food vital for our everlasting welfare.
14 However, we must take in this spiritual food to have it benefit us. We must plan and set time aside for our spiritual activity as we would for our meals. In this regard, a personal schedule for the week is invaluable. Leaving things for when we have the time usually means that we will never have the time, since the old world makes many demands on us. Time needs to be scheduled and used to keep up with the truth. In planning our schedule for the week, there are three types of activity to take into consideration: (1) The things one must do, (2) the things one would like to do, and (3) the things one will do only if time permits. In the first category, the wise person puts matters pertaining to his spiritual life. Time is life! Those who do not use it wisely now will not have it at all later.
15. How should we view private study?
15 What are some of the vital things we should schedule during the week? A fundamental activity of the Christian is his private study of the Bible and Bible helps. With time scheduled and used for this, perhaps during the evening or in the early morning, we will be doing something that deserves what Jehovah promised at 1 Chronicles 28:9: “If you search for him, he will let himself be found by you.” In our private study, we should not be satisfied with a superficial reading of the material. Learn to analyze not only what, but how, why and when. Build on what you already know. Visualize the setting and details of what you are studying. Make these truths your own to use in the ministry. This will fulfill a basic purpose of study, which is to set the mind upon a subject systematically to learn about it for future use. Diligently search for truth and Jehovah will reward your efforts. “If, moreover, you call out for understanding itself and you give forth your voice for discernment itself, if you keep seeking for it as for silver, and as for hid treasures you keep searching for it, in that case you will understand the fear of Jehovah, and you will find the very knowledge of God.”—Prov. 2:3-5.
16. What additional benefits are provided by the weekly meetings?
16 We can build on this good foundation of private study with regular group study. “A wise person will listen and take in more instruction, and a man of understanding is the one who acquires skillful direction.” (Prov. 1:5) Listening intently to comments given at the five weekly meetings of Jehovah’s witnesses gives us an opportunity to compare what we hear with the information learned from our private study. We will hear discussions of points new to us and will get answers to questions that we have had difficulty with. At these meetings Jehovah’s holy spirit operates as a remarkable organizational agency, helping the congregation as a whole and each of us as individuals. (Matt. 18:20) At meetings we should “hold fast the public declaration of our hope.” (Heb. 10:23) Making public declaration by participating stimulates the mind much more than passive listening. Become involved by commenting when invited, taking notes on paper or in the margins of your study aids, looking up scriptures mentioned and following along in the publications being discussed. The more of our senses we use the more alert we will be and the more likely we are to retain what we learn.
17, 18. How can we learn from mature brothers?
17 A third way to keep abreast is suggested at Proverbs 13:20: “He that is walking with wise persons will become wise.” Discussions with mature brothers after meetings or at other gatherings will add to the wisdom that comes from above. Do not isolate yourself after meetings or hurry out when they are dismissed. Remember the proverb: “One isolating himself will seek his own selfish longing; against all practical wisdom he will break forth.” (Prov. 18:1) By conversing with our brothers we have further opportunity to learn and to be corrected. Also, direct conversation involves us actively and the truths we are discussing will be more deeply impressed on our minds.
18 A fourth way to keep abreast is to observe the faithful course of the brothers who are taking the lead in the ministry and to imitate it. Paul encouraged: “Remember those who are taking the lead among you, who have spoken the word of God to you, and as you contemplate how their conduct turns out imitate their faith.”—Heb. 13:7.
19. How does using what we learn help us to keep abreast?
19 A very important way to keep abreast is by constantly using what we have learned. If a doctor studied medicine but never practiced it, would you feel confident to have him operate on you? Would you feel encouraged if he said: ‘I’ve never operated before but I’d like to try on you’? Here again you no doubt would want someone who was skilled as a result of constant practice. We too will enlarge our perceptive powers by repeating what we have learned. This is where regular participation in the field ministry proves invaluable in impressing knowledge on our minds. The average person remembers more of what he does than what he hears or sees. Paul emphasized the value of using what we learn: “But solid food belongs to mature people, to those who through use have their perceptive powers trained to distinguish both right and wrong.”—Heb. 5:14.
20. Why pray for holy spirit?
20 Praying for assistance by the holy spirit is vital, as it helps us to keep abreast with the truth. “The eyes of Jehovah are toward the righteous ones, and his ears are toward their cry for help.” (Ps. 34:15) Jesus said: “Therefore, if you, although being wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more so will the Father in heaven give holy spirit to those asking him!” (Luke 11:13) We are far from being perfect and need help constantly. We should daily petition Jehovah in prayer for wisdom, for understanding and for the spiritual strength necessary to continue in the ministry. James 1:5 promises: “So, if any one of you is lacking in wisdom, let him keep on asking God, for he gives generously to all.”
21. What is the first step we can take to overcome obstacles?
21 What should we do if certain obstacles arise to hinder our schedule for study and service? Because Satan will see to it that such do arise, we must discipline our minds and bodies to stick to our schedule. Imitate Paul when he said: “The way I am directing my blows is so as not to be striking the air; but I browbeat my body and lead it as a slave.” (1 Cor. 9:26, 27) Let us make up our minds in advance that we will overcome these obstacles.
22. How could we cope with unexpected visitors?
22 Sometimes as we prepare to go to meetings, unexpected guests drop in. If we stay at home and entertain them we will miss the meetings where Jehovah’s spirit is. We can, instead, explain that we are occupied that evening. Invite the callers to go to the meeting with you, explaining that it is part of your regular worship. If they do not wish to accompany you, you can ask them to wait until you return, or if this is not practical, you can invite them to return another time. Let them know your schedule so that in the future they can adjust to it. Do not be held back easily because of unscheduled visits by relatives or acquaintances. Those of honest heart will have a high regard for you and for the worship you take so seriously, as shown by your determination to put first things first.
23. How can we combat fatigue after work?
23 Another problem for many is being tired after a hard day’s work. How nice it would be to relax! For some this tiredness can be dispelled by a short 20-or 30-minute nap before the evening meal. For others this would be disastrous as it would mean falling into such a sound sleep that they could not recover in time to keep their schedule. If we are of the latter disposition it would be better to become absorbed in something else, such as preparing for the meeting. This will keep us alert and we will not be overcome by sleep.
24. Should bad weather interfere with our schedule?
24 Does bad weather hinder you from keeping your schedule? Since bad weather does not usually interfere with going to secular work, should it interfere with doing Jehovah’s work? Mail deliverers go out in all types of weather to deliver messages of much lesser importance than the message of life with which Jehovah’s witnesses are entrusted. Bad weather can be countered by determining ahead of time not to let it hinder us and then by dressing properly for it.
25. What should be the attitude of parents in regard to scheduling Christian activities for their children?
25 At times parents hesitate to bring children to meetings during the week because of their homework. Many have solved this by scheduling homework right after school. Meeting and learning with Jehovah’s people is in the field of highest education, leading to life. An additional benefit is that the training and instruction in the ministry enable the child to be a better student and to make faster progress in schoolwork. It develops good thinking and study habits. As one author said: “The more a man thinks, the better adapted he becomes to thinking, and education is nothing if it is not the methodical creation of the habit of thinking.”
26. What can we do if secular work interferes?
26 Does your secular work interfere with your ministerial schedule? If it does, then your spiritual health may be endangered. Perhaps you can speak to your employer about it. Many have arranged to get time off from secular work in order to attend meetings and participate in the ministry. Or have you considered changing your job? If your secular work were a hazard to your physical health and life and your doctor ordered you to make a change or else you might die, would you not respond? Jesus promised that Jehovah would take care of our needs if we do our part. Go to God in prayer and sincerely ask him to provide work that will enable you to pursue the ministry.—Matt. 6:33.
27. How will keeping abreast with revealed truth now help us in the future?
27 True, all of these things require effort, but the benefits are manifold. There is great happiness in keeping abreast with revealed truth. It cultivates in us the right mental attitude, which enables us to respond more quickly to future revelations of Jehovah’s will. This also increases the flow of God’s holy spirit to us and its fruitage through us. The more we learn and train now, the more useful we will be in God’s new order of righteousness. There will be much to do at that time. In addition to global reconstruction work, those who keep up with the truth will have the privilege of training not only the Armageddon survivors, but the resurrected multitudes as well. What a great educational work that will be! What a joy and great privilege it is to prepare now for that wonderful work just ahead! Yes, keep abreast with Jehovah’s revealed truths progressively dispensed through his “faithful and discreet slave” class, because “happy is the man that has found wisdom, and the man that gets discernment, . . . those keeping fast hold of it are to be called happy.”—Prov. 3:13, 18.