Why Look into the Bible?
CAN you imagine a world of mankind in which the Asiatic, the Negro and the “white man” all delight to call one another “brother”? Can you imagine a world with just one religion? A world with all men united in a loving bond of worship of the one God who created heaven and earth? The most widely distributed and most widely read book of all history tells of this glorious prospect. It is a very ancient book, and at the same time the most up-to-date.
This book of practical wisdom was compiled entirely by Orientals. However, its message is not just for Asiatics of the Near or Far East, but also for Africans, for Europeans, for Americans—for all mankind! As stated in this book: “God is not partial, but in every nation the man that fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him.”* This book is the Holy Bible.
A young man of Hiroshima tells how the religion of the Bible influenced his life:
“In 1963 I was preparing to go to Nara to receive training as a missionary of Tenrikyo [the Religion of Heavenly Wisdom], when one day a missionary of Jehovah’s witnesses called on me, and I accepted a book called ‘From Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained.’ I had had some interest in the Bible, and this visit prompted me to read again the book of Proverbs. The missionary called again, and invited me to attend a public talk, which was followed by a study of the Watchtower magazine article, ‘Inner Harmony—Proof of the Bible’s Divine Authorship,’ and announcements concerning the International Assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses, to be held in Kyoto, August 21-25. So I arranged to attend this assembly before going on to Nara for my Tenrikyo missionary training, which was to commence August 26.
“The Program at the Kyoto Assembly was educational and proved most interesting to me. One after another, the various speakers gave logical, realistic and upbuilding talks—all based on the Bible. Moreover, all in attendance called one another ‘brother’ and ‘sister’ and mingled in a most friendly way. There was none of the gloom and coldness that I had been accustomed to at religious gatherings. Everyone was so kind, and the atmosphere was so bright. Also, overseas visitors of many races and nationalities were in attendance, but without any sign of racial prejudice. Toward the end of the assembly a ‘brother’ invited me to return to Hiroshima with him and study the Bible. . . . I never did make it to Nara and Tenrikyo missionary training. . . . After devoting a full month to Bible study, I began to be trained in the ministry by Jehovah’s witnesses, and after four months I symbolized my dedication to Jehovah by water baptism, being accepted fully into the New World society of Jehovah’s witnesses.”
This young man had wanted to be a missionary. But a missionary of what? This, he did not know—until study of the Bible revealed to him the “one faith” based on the promises of Jehovah God, Creator of heaven and earth.—Eph. 4:5, 6.
This “one faith” should not be confused with the religions of Christendom. Christendom’s sects have long since apostatized from the teachings of the Bible. That is why Christendom’s history is so cruel and violent, with a long record of prosecuting inquisitions, crusades, world wars and vest-pocket wars. During World War II, it was Christendom’s Nazis, bound by concordat to the Vatican, that threw some ten thousand of the Christian witnesses of Jehovah into concentration camps. Hundreds of these true Christians were executed because they refused to support Hitler’s war. They chose death rather than violate the Bible principle stated at Isaiah 2:4: “And they will have to beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears. . . . neither will they learn war any more.”
Christendom today is plagued by increasing crime, racial and other violence, and immorality. Its churches are filled with doubts and strife. The Bible foretold the development of this apostate system that substitutes the superstition and ritual of ancient Babylon for pure Bible teaching. The fruits of its lawlessness toward God are seen everywhere today. They are not the fruits of Christian love.—Matt. 13:37-43; 7:21-23.
CHRISTIANITY IS DIFFERENT
What, then, is true Christianity? It is the unsectarian religion of the Bible. It centers around the worship of the one Almighty God—the living God, Jehovah. When Jesus Christ was here on earth, he made manifest the name and purposes of his Father, Jehovah, and he also gave his own life in sacrifice, so that mankind might be ransomed from the power of death and enter into an eternity of perfect life on a paradise earth.—John 17:3, 6.
Jehovah’s grand purposes include removing wickedness from this earth, and making it a glorious place for man’s habitation. Even now, though selfish men abuse it, earth is beautiful to behold. As one of the astronauts of the Apollo-8 moon flight commented: “In the whole universe, wherever we looked, the only bit of color was back on the earth. There we could see the royal blue of the seas, the tans and browns of the land, and the whites of the clouds. . . . It was the most beautiful thing to see, in all the heavens. People down here don’t realize what they have.”* The miracle of the earth and its life are indeed something for which we should thank Jehovah God!
But true Christians go farther than this. They study God’s Word, the Bible, to find out what God’s purpose is toward this earth. They rejoice in his promise that this earth will soon become a paradise, teeming with a united mankind that enjoys the fullness of life in perfection. They show gratitude by sharing in the urgent work of proclaiming the way of salvation to all nations of mankind before this wicked system ends.—2 Tim. 4:2.
THE RELIGION OF LIFE
The religion of the Bible provides education for joyful, meaningful living, both now and in the future paradise earth. (Eccl. 2:24, 25; Phil. 4:8, 9) But most religious sects today are more concerned with rites for the dead than with care of the living. In this connection, the book Religions in Japan, published in 1959 by the Ministry of Education, Government of Japan, states on page 104:
“Since this time [the Meiji Era, commencing 1868], Buddhism has become a religion which mainly holds funeral rites and memorial services for the dead. These memorial services are held at each Danka (believer’s home), and the ‘Higan Hoyo’ or equinoctial services in the spring and the autumn are observed in grand ceremonies in each temple. This is the main work of Buddhism.”
We might add that funeral rites are also one of the main functions of the religious sects of Christendom.
However, the Bible gives no instructions on rites for the dead. One reason is that the dead are not in gokuraku (the Buddhist “heaven”), nor in jigoku (the Buddhist “hell”), nor in any intermediate place, as many have taught since the days of ancient Babylon. The Bible says plainly concerning the dead: “The living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all.” (Eccl. 9:5, 10) So, of what benefit are rites for the dead?
However, the Bible tells Christians not to “sorrow just as the rest also do who have no hope.” (1 Thess. 4:13) Why is this? It is because of the hope for the dead. All of “the dead, the great and the small,” who are in the common grave of mankind, are to come forth on this earth again by a resurrection. (Rev. 20:11-15) If they exercise faith in Jesus’ sacrifice on their behalf and meet God’s other requirements for living in the paradise earth, they may attain to human perfection and everlasting life. Do you find this hard to believe? Anticipating the wonderment of his hearers, Jesus said: “Do not marvel at this, because the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear [the Son of God’s] voice and come out.”—John 5:28, 29.
The Bible describes also a “great crowd” out of all nations and peoples. These separate from false religion. These do not get involved in demonstrations, in student riots or in tearing down established authority. Instead, they learn to live by Bible principles, leaving it to God to remedy earth’s problems in his own due time. Peaceably and zealously they proclaim God’s kingdom by Christ as the hope for mankind. This “great crowd” expects, by Jehovah’s undeserved kindness, to survive the destruction of the present wicked system and to enter into the abundance of real life in the paradise earth.—Rev. 7:9-17; 21:3-5; John 11:25, 26.
WHY SO MUCH CONFUSION IN RELIGION?
With mankind facing so glorious a future, the wonder is that so few have accepted the Bible hope. Why is this so? The Bible itself answers, at 2 Corinthians 4:3, 4: “If, now, the good news we declare is in fact veiled, it is veiled among those who are perishing, among whom the god of this system of things has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, that the illumination of the glorious good news about the Christ, who is the image of God, might not shine through.” The “god of this system of things” is a very real invisible person. The Bible describes him also as “the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth.” (Rev. 12:9) And what a confused mess has resulted from his misruling this earth!
More than four thousand years ago in ancient Babylon God first scattered mankind because of their apostatizing to false religion. To this day, Satan uses sectarian religion as a principal means of confusing mankind. He makes it appear desirable to settle down in the religion inherited from one’s parents.
But what assurance can a person have that the religion of his parents is the right one? In Japan, for example, Government statistics published in 1957 showed this country to have 379 religious sects, of which 38 belonged to Christendom. With Japan’s population standing at 90,000,000 at that time, the various sects claimed 123,000,000 adherents, indicating that many belonged to more than one religion.* However, since all these sects conflict with one another, this would give each adherent only one or two chances in 379 of belonging to the true religion—if any of them were true.
Adding to modern-day sectarian confusion are the many new religions that have mushroomed since World War II. In Japan, at least 171 of these new sects are listed. However, most of them draw on the superstitions of the older sects. For example, Japan’s Nichiren Buddhism is the forerunner of Reiyukai, Rissho Kosai Kai and Soka Gakkai, all of which subscribe to the sutra of the “Lotus of Truth.” To illustrate the kind of teaching in Lotus Sutra, the following is quoted from its concluding chapter 28:
“The man who brings out the faults and criticizes the devotees of this sutra, shall contract leprosy in this existence. He who scoffs at the devotee of this sutra shall in every existence have his teeth broken and separated, his lips shall be ugly, his nose flat, his feet and hands contorted, his eyes squinting, his body disgusting; he shall have ulcers, pus, and blood shall come from his body, his belly shall swell up with water, he shall be short of breath and suffer from all kinds of malignant and serious diseases. Therefore, if one should see—even from afar—a man who is keeping this sutra, one should rise and show him the same reverence as the Buddha.”*
By way of contrast, it is suggested that you read the Psalms of the Bible or Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, at Matthew chapters five through seven. Which kind of teaching do you prefer? Happy are those who separate themselves from childish superstitions. Of far greater benefit is the “wisdom from above,” Jehovah’s teaching, which is “reasonable, . . . full of mercy and good fruits, . . . not hypocritical.”—Jas. 3:17.
WHICH RELIGION IS GOOD?
It clearly cannot be said that “all religion is good.” There is much that is confusing, much that is misleading, much that is demoralizing in the modern-day world empire of Babylonish religion. The Bible foretold this vast system of sectarian religion as “Babylon the Great, the mother of the harlots and of the disgusting things of the earth.” Religion’s spiritual harlotry in forming political parties and indulging in politics for selfish ends does not have God’s blessing! The urgent call now goes out to all of those still in “Babylon,” but who seek after true religion and life: “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.” For the fast-deteriorating world situation today shows that God’s execution of judgment on false religion is close at hand!—Rev. 17:5, 15-17; 18:4.
But more is required than abandoning false religion. Jehovah God requires of those who will gain everlasting life that they learn and practice true religion. This means studying the Bible and cultivating love for Jehovah God, for his Son, Christ Jesus, and for his kingdom whereby he causes his will to take place upon earth. (Matt. 6:9, 10) The Bible contains more wisdom than in all the encyclopedias and textbooks ever written by men. It provides education for life. Its wise counsel and instruction are essential, if you wish to plan a bright future for yourself and your family. Jehovah’s witnesses will be glad to help you, free of charge, to study the Bible, so that you may find pure religion and the truth that leads to eternal life.
The apostle Peter, at Acts 10:34, 35.
Time, Inc., Radiopress to The Yomiuri, Tokyo, January 17, 1969.
Religions in Japan, Ministry of Education Japan, page 82.
The New Religions of Japan, Harry Thomsen, page 114.