Personal Help to Answer Your Bible Questions
“O HOW I wish I could understand the Bible better!” Have you ever said that? Many thousands of sincere Bible readers have, and in this they are much like a prominent man who lived in the first century of our Common Era.
He was a eunuch, a court official, under Candace queen of the Ethiopians. But his busy life did not keep him from reading the Bible. And so, as he traveled along in his chariot after a trip up to Jerusalem to worship as a circumcised Jewish proselyte, he made good use of the time by reading aloud from the Bible prophecy of Isaiah. That was not the most ideal circumstance for undistracted reading, but it certainly reflected earnestness on his part.
The Christian disciple Philip, directed by God’s spirit, ran alongside the moving chariot and endeavored to engage the man in conversation, asking: “Do you actually know what you are reading?” That struck a responsive chord; he wanted to understand. Readily he acknowledged his need for assistance, and he urged Philip to get into the chariot with him and answer some questions he had on what is now known as the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah. At that, Philip proceeded to declare to him “the good news about Jesus,” in whom that prophecy was fulfilled. The Ethiopian official recognized the truthfulness of what he was hearing; he could see clearly his responsibility before God, and, without hesitation, he got baptized.—Acts 8:27-38.
There are hundreds of thousands of persons today who are of a disposition similar to that shown by the Ethiopian eunuch. They too believe that the Bible is God’s inspired Word. From time to time they read portions of it, but they freely admit that they need some aid to understand it fully. Some of them have approached their minister for help, but frequently he is too busy or tells them that they should not be concerned about these things. Yet the inquirer is concerned, and when one of Jehovah’s witnesses approaches him at his home to discuss the Bible, as the disciple Philip approached that Ethiopian official, such a sincere seeker for the truth urges the visiting Witness to come into his home and answer his questions. Jehovah’s witnesses are glad to provide this personal help.
Around the world last year they devoted over 162,000,000 hours to service such as this. Gladly they made nearly 56,000,000 return visits to be of personal help to individuals who had Bible questions. And there were over 741,000 homes to which they made regular visits, in most cases for an hour each week, to help families to gain an accurate knowledge of the Word of God. All this was done free of charge, out of love for God and for their fellowman.
WHAT THERE IS TO LEARN
Just what could a person expect to learn in the course of perhaps a year of such weekly home Bible discussions? An examination of one of the Bible-study aids that is used, along with the Bible, as the basis for such discussions would give you a good idea of the subjects that would be covered. This past summer at their “Word of Truth” District Assemblies Jehovah’s witnesses received a new publication for use in this work. It is the beautifully illustrated 416-page book “Things in Which It Is Impossible for God to Lie.” Already it is being used in many parts of the English-speaking world, and as soon as it can be translated into other languages, it will be put to good use by ministers speaking those languages too.
Using this book and the Bible, Jehovah’s witnesses will consider with interested persons topics such as these: “God Lives! How We Know It,” and “Which Sacred Book of Religion Is the Truth?” Then they will take up a condensed coverage of the entire Bible, from cover to cover, highlighting the principal ideas and showing how it all ties together and how it makes clear the purpose of God.
Having laid this fine foundation, they will focus attention on specific Bible topics and questions that have perplexed people everywhere; for example, How did the universe and living creatures, both human and spirit, come into existence? What does the Bible show the soul to be? What happens to that soul at death? Why must man die? Will it always be this way? Does the Bible’s promise of a resurrection mean that you will actually be able to enjoy the companionship of your deceased loved ones again? Where will they be raised—in heaven or on earth? What conditions will prevail then? How do the prophecies of the Hebrew Scriptures or “Old Testament” and accounts concerning such men as Abraham, Moses and David affect us today? Is God a person or three persons in one God? Are you obligated to keep the Law given through Moses? What about the Ten Commandments? the sabbath day? Why has God permitted wickedness to continue for so long? Will unrighteousness come to an end? When? How can we be sure? This is only a sampling of the stimulating questions that are given satisfying answers.
A REGULAR HOME BIBLE STUDY
The manner in which Jehovah’s witnesses conduct home Bible discussions is in harmony with the principles set out in God’s Word. For example, at Galatians 6:6 it is recommended: “Let anyone who is being orally taught the word share in all good things with the one who gives such oral teaching.” So the minister conducting the discussion does not do all the talking; rather, he guides the members of the household to the information that will help them and encourages them to express themselves on it.
It is suggested that each one who shares in such a home Bible study have his own copy of the Bible and a copy of the publication being used as a Bible-study aid. All are encouraged to read ahead of time the information that is going to be discussed, perhaps even underlining principal ideas in their book. Those who do so usually make the most rapid progress, because, if they have read the lesson and have the basic ideas in mind, the visiting minister can direct attention to more than just these fundamental points.
You see, a home Bible study of this sort is more than just a quick review of what the householder already knows from his reading. In the first place, much of the information is new to the student; so discussing it together helps him to make sure that he has not missed any of the principal ideas. It also aids him to fix these important points firmly in mind so that they will not be lost in a few days, as happens to so many things that people read.
But, more than this, is the information understood? It is one thing to be able to repeat an answer from a book; it is something quite different to have a clear understanding of it. In Proverbs 4:7 the Bible counsels us: “Acquire wisdom; and with all that you acquire, acquire understanding.” If you have done that, you will know, not only the basic ideas, but the reason why they are right. You will be aided to see how they fit in with other truths that you have learned and how they affect your outlook on life. You will be helped to appreciate how to use what you have learned with benefit to yourself and others.
Time is taken during the study to look up the many scriptures cited in the book and to discuss their relation to the topics under consideration. In this way you will soon become well acquainted with your own copy of the Bible, knowing what it says on many subjects and the context in which these statements are made. You will come to know the location of the scriptures so that you can find them again. Having received personal help in formulating comments on the scriptures, you will find it easy to explain them to others.
As your understanding grows, you will also grow in appreciation. Head knowledge is not enough. Heart appreciation is also vital. “More than all else that is to be guarded, safeguard your heart,” says the inspired proverb, “for out of it are the sources of life.” (Prov. 4:23) This is true not only in a physical way, but, more importantly, from a spiritual standpoint. We need strong love for Jehovah God and deep appreciation for his provisions. We must come to love what is good and hate what is bad. This takes time. It is not achieved by hurried reading. But as the truths from God’s Word are discussed together week after week, and as you take time to reflect on them, they will come to be a motivating force in your life. These are some of the benefits that can be derived from a regular home Bible study conducted by one of Jehovah’s witnesses.
Where possible, Jehovah’s witnesses encourage entire families to share in these home Bible studies together. This has a unifying effect, which is greatly needed by families everywhere in these critical times. While it is true that men often do not take interest in religion that puts the emphasis on human traditions, showy rituals and unceasing donations to the church, many of them do find real satisfaction in a reasonable discussion of the Bible. They readily appreciate that what it has to say is consistent with their own experience in life. They respond when they are given sensible Scriptural answers to their questions. When they see that application of Bible principles puts family relations on a more solid foundation, they are oftentimes willing to take the lead in seeing that their household receives such instruction.
Of course, in some cases only one member of a household may be interested in the purposes of God. Even so, there is no reason why such a person cannot enjoy a personal home Bible study at a time that does not interfere with other family activities. Jehovah’s witnesses are glad to assist such persons, and in time it may be that other members of the family will have their interest aroused when they see how beneficial the arrangement has proved to be for the one who first showed interest.
What is the purpose of all this? Why do Jehovah’s witnesses offer to provide this free home Bible study service?
Well, why did the first-century disciples of Jesus Christ respond to his encouragement to “go, preach”? (Matt. 10:7) Because they believed what Jesus taught. They knew that he was the Son of God and that gaining salvation depended on taking in knowledge of him and of his heavenly Father and then acting on it. Out of gratitude to God, they felt moved to share the good news with others. O it is true, many of those to whom they preached had their own religion; some even had a large part of what is today known as the Bible. But the people in general did not really understand the Scriptures; they failed to realize that the prophecies of the Bible were being fulfilled before their very eyes. The same is true today.
Jehovah’s witnesses believe the Bible and recognize its message to be urgent. They know that it means everlasting life to learn it and act in harmony with it. Appreciation for the love that God has shown to all mankind in making this provision available stimulates them to aid others to lay hold of it. This is why they can be found today in over 190 lands offering personal help to all kinds of persons to answer their Bible questions.
If you are one who wants to understand God’s Word, as did that Ethiopian eunuch spoken of in the Bible, show a spirit like his. Welcome Jehovah’s witnesses when they come to your door. Ask them your Bible questions. Request that one of them come for an hour each week, free of charge, to aid you to understand God’s Word.