Loyal Advocates of the Word of God
“When you received God’s word, . . . you accepted it, not as the word of men, but, just as it truthfully is, as the word of God, which is also at work in you believers.”—1 Thess. 2:13.
1, 2. What characteristic is pointed to by one Orientalist as distinguishing the Bible from other sacred writings?
THERE are many writings that are held sacred by people living in various parts of the earth. But the Holy Bible has characteristics that put it in a class apart from all others.
2 Concerning one of these traits, Orientalist George Rawlinson said: “Christianity . . . is in nothing more distinguished from the other religions of the world than in its objective or historical character. The religions of Greece and Rome, of Egypt, India, Persia, and the East generally . . . did not even seriously postulate an historical basis. . . . But it is otherwise with the religion of the Bible. There . . . we find a scheme of doctrine which is bound up with facts; which depends absolutely upon them; which is null and void without them; and which may be regarded as for all practical purposes established if they are shown to deserve acceptance.”a
3. Give examples of the historical facts embodied in the Bible accounts.
3 An examination of the evidence shows that the Bible record is built around people who actually lived and places that truly exist. It specifies the time of notable events and names contemporary rulers in other nations existing at the same time. (2 Ki. 25:8, 9; Luke 3:1, 2) The Bible is a book that stands up to careful scrutiny. As the Bible psalmist said to Jehovah God: “The substance of your word is truth.”—Ps. 119:160.
4. Of what significance is the fact that the Bible is a book of prophecy?
4 Even more striking than its historical accuracy, however, is the fact that the Bible is a book of reliable prophecy. This, outstandingly, sets it apart from all other sacred books. Its prophecies are not simply a few incidental comments about the future. From its first book, Genesis, through its final book, The Revelation, it is filled with pronouncements of future events.—Gen. 3:15; Dan. 4:17; Rev. 21:1-5.
5. (a) Did persons who lived at the time that Bible prophecies were first spoken know that they were from God? (b) How does Bible prophecy help us?
5 Many of those prophecies were fulfilled within the lifetime of those who first heard them. Thus persons living then saw for themselves that these were of no mere human origin. (Gen. 18:9-11; 21:1-3; Jer. 28:15-17) But Bible prophecy did not all focus on events now long in the past. It foretold what would happen in this twentieth century. Though the last portion of the Bible was written before the end of the first century of our Common Era, it vividly described the turmoil that would shake human society in our day. It also made clear that these events would mark the “last days” of the present system of things and the time for the establishment of the kingdom of God. (Luke 21:24-31; Rev. 6:1-8) By showing where we are in relationship to the fulfillment of God’s purposes, and the wise course for us to take, the Bible provides guidance that each one of us needs.
6. What is there about the attitude of Bible writers that wins one’s confidence? Illustrate.
6 The Bible record also wins our confidence because of the obvious humility and honesty of its writers. They do not seek to gloss over the facts, to make notable persons among them appear to be more righteous than they really were. In a very frank manner they openly admit their own weaknesses and failings. (Ex. 4:10-14; Matt. 26:31-56) The disciples of Jesus acknowledge that they were looked down upon by the religious leaders of their day as “unlettered and ordinary.” (Acts 4:13) The Bible writers freely tell both of deliverances that God performed on behalf of his people and of times when he expressed his disapproval toward them. (2 Chron. 12:1-9; 20:14-26) This unmistakable evidence of honesty, high ideals, pure motive and intelligent conviction attracts lovers of truth to the Bible.
7. For what other reasons does the Bible recommend itself to us as deserving our earnest attention?
7 It is here in the Bible that one finds answers to questions that otherwise could not be answered. What is the origin of the universe, of our planet Earth and of humankind? Why is mankind plagued with difficulties, disease and death? In easily understandable language the Bible answers those questions. (Gen. 1:1, 2, 26-28; 2:16, 17; 3:1-24; Rom. 5:12) It also outlines what God has done to bring relief to the human family, and it shows what we individually must do in order to avail ourselves of that provision. (John 3:16, 36; Dan. 2:44) For all these reasons the Bible recommends itself to us as a book that deserves our earnest attention.
8. Why should we personally read and study the entire Bible?
8 But what about you as an individual? Have you read the Bible—not just portions of it, but the entire Bible, from cover to cover? Have you studied it carefully to determine how it affects your life? Certainly this is the course of practical wisdom. Why? Because our lives depend upon God, and the Bible plainly says that it is the Word of God.—Ex. 20:1; Eph. 6:17.
REALLY THE “WORD OF GOD”
9. In what sense is the Bible the “Word of God”?
9 To the world in general, even to church members in Christendom, the expression “Word of God” used with reference to the Bible means very little. They may believe that the Bible is a book that devout men wrote about God, but not that it actually originated with God. Yet the Bible itself says that “all Scripture is inspired of God.” Also, that “prophecy was at no time brought by man’s will, but men spoke from God as they were borne along by holy spirit.” (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21) This means that, while various men were used to do most of the actual writing, the Bible has only one Author, Jehovah God. By means of his spirit he conveyed messages or visions to the minds of his prophets, and then they wrote them down. How was this done?
10, 11. (a) Did God actually dictate the words contained in the Bible? (b) What common business practice is helpful in illustrating the matter?
10 In some cases information was conveyed by dictation. Through an angelic representative Jehovah told Moses: “Write down for yourself these words, because it is in accordance with these words that I do conclude a covenant with you and Israel.” (Ex. 34:27; Heb. 2:2) Moses recorded exactly what he was told.
11 However, in other instances it seems evident that the Bible writers were allowed to use a certain amount of personal initiative as to the style of writing. Jehovah’s spirit guided their thoughts, but the mode of expression reflected to some extent the characteristics of the penmen. (Eccl. 12:10; 2 Sam. 23:1, 2) In our own day it is common practice for a business manager to direct his secretary to write a letter, while not necessarily specifying the phraseology to be used. The secretary does the actual writing, following carefully the instructions given and using expressions that he knows, from experience, are in harmony with the manager’s way of doing things. The completed letter, signed by the manager, is acknowledged to be from him.
12, 13. Why should it not be difficult for us to comprehend that God could convey to men messages or visions from the invisible realm?
12 Should it be difficult for us to comprehend that God, though invisible to his servants, could convey messages or visions to their minds? (Acts 28:25; Ezek. 1:1-3) We do not consider it to be unusual to turn on a radio and listen to the voice of someone who may be unseen to us, many miles away. When astronauts orbited the moon, they broadcast both messages and pictures back to earth, and these were received with remarkable clarity. How do men do these things? Simply by using laws that Jehovah himself already put into operation.
13 So, the idea that God can communicate with man out of the invisible realm is not at all unreasonable. Nor does the fact that penmen here on earth did the actual writing prove that what they wrote was not really from God. Still it must be acknowledged that the mere fact that these things could be does not in itself prove that the Bible is from God. What evidence is there that God actually did communicate with those men who wrote the Bible?
EVIDENCE OF DIVINE COMMUNICATION
14. When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, what message did he bring to his fellow Israelites, but what questions could be asked?
14 After the Israelites had been delivered from Egyptian bondage, they gathered in the wilderness of Sinai. Moses went up into the mountain to receive instruction from Jehovah and came back with a message for the people. Moses reported that Jehovah had said: “This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and to tell the sons of Israel, ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, that I might carry you on wings of eagles and bring you to myself. And now if you will strictly obey my voice and will indeed keep my covenant, then you will certainly become my special property out of all other peoples, because the whole earth belongs to me. And you yourselves will become to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”’ (Ex. 19:3-6) That is what Moses told the older men of the people, but was it true? Had God really spoken to him? What reason did they have for believing that Jehovah was dealing with Israel through Moses?—1 John 4:1.
15. How did the Israelites know that Jehovah had communicated with Moses and was using him?
15 Not many months prior to this they had all been in Egypt. There Moses, speaking in the name of Jehovah God, had foretold ten devastating plagues on the land. Each one had come as announced. (Ex. 7:15–12:29) Surely Moses himself had not caused the locust plague or the pestilence that he forecast. He could not control the elements so as to bring about the hailstorm that he had announced in advance. He certainly did not personally make his way into every home and barn of the Egyptians to put to death their firstborn. Without question, this had been the work of God, and since Moses had been able to announce in advance what would happen, it must be God who had communicated with him. Later, when Moses stretched out his hand over the Red Sea, the waters had opened up to make an escape route for them, while a supernatural cloud kept Israel separated from the pursuit forces of Egypt. The Israelites, who were now at Mount Sinai, had been there and seen it; they knew that Jehovah was using Moses to lead them.—Ex. 14:19-22.
16. At Mount Sinai what further signs did Jehovah perform, and why?
16 Now at Mount Sinai Jehovah performed further signs, and the very reason he did it was, as he told Moses, “that the people may hear when I speak with you, and that in you also they may put faith to time indefinite.” (Ex. 19:9) It was an awe-inspiring display of the power of God. “Thunders and lightnings began occurring, and a heavy cloud upon the mountain and a very loud sound of a horn, so that all the people who were in the camp began to tremble. . . . And Mount Sinai smoked all over, due to the fact that Jehovah came down upon it in fire; and its smoke kept ascending like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain was trembling very much. When the sound of the horn became continually louder and louder, Moses began to speak, and the true God began to answer him with a voice.” (Ex. 19:16-19) The millions who witnessed this spectacle had convincing proof that the things that Moses spoke and wrote in the name of Jehovah were really “the word of God.”—Acts 7:35-38.
17. How was it evident that Jehovah also communicated with the later Hebrew prophets whose writings are found in the Bible?
17 During the centuries that followed, Jehovah raised up other prophets: Samuel, Nathan, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, and many more. They, too, spoke in the name of Jehovah, and the fact that they reliably announced in advance the acts of God made it evident that He was communicating with them.—Deut. 13:1-3; 18:21, 22.
18. (a) When Jesus Christ appeared on earth, what evidence was there that he was from God? (b) How did he view the Bible books written down to that time?
18 In the first century of our Common Era, Jesus Christ appeared on the earthly scene. He plainly said that he was God’s Son, and by miraculously calming the sea, healing the sick and raising the dead he proved that he had indeed come forth from God. (John 10:36; Luke 8:22-25; 5:17-26; John 11:39-44) How did he view the Bible books that had been written down to that time? What they said concerning the past he quoted as fact. Their statements about the future he spoke of as certain to be fulfilled. (Matt. 19:1-6; 24:30; Dan. 7:13, 14) When he spoke of “the Scriptures” he included the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms, the entire Hebrew Scriptures. (Luke 24:27, 44-48) He believed them, taught them and guided his life by them. He recognized that they were the inspired Word of his God and Father in heaven.
19. What evidence of divine backing was there in the case of the writers of the Christian Greek Scriptures?
19 Shortly after Jesus’ death and resurrection, at the time of the forming of the Christian congregation, God again demonstrated with supernatural signs whom he was using as spokesmen on earth. (Heb. 2:1-4) He poured out his spirit on the disciples of Jesus Christ who were gathered in Jerusalem, enabling them to speak miraculously in tongues that they had not studied. Representatives of many nations personally witnessed this manifestation of divine backing. (Acts 2:1-12) From among those upon whom God put his spirit, whether then or shortly afterward, he selected men to write the Christian Greek Scriptures. These things were not done in a corner. The powerful works that God performed through their hands were public knowledge. As a result, thousands became believers.—Acts 2:41; 3:1–4:4; 9:40-42.
20. So, how do Jehovah’s witnesses view the Bible?
20 To a congregation of such individuals in Macedonia, the apostle Paul wrote, saying: “We also thank God incessantly, because when you received God’s word, which you heard from us, you accepted it, not as the word of men, but, just as it truthfully is, as the word of God, which is also at work in you believers.” (1 Thess. 2:13) Jehovah’s Christian witnesses in this twentieth century believe the same as did those first-century Macedonian Christians. Having read the Bible for themselves and knowing what it contains, they have no doubt that it truly is the Word of God. Do you share that faith?
21. (a) If a person believes that the Bible truly is the Word of God, what privilege and responsibility does he have? (b) To be well-pleasing to God, how far must one’s belief in the Bible go?
21 If so, you have the privilege and the responsibility to aid others. If they have never read the Bible, encourage them to do so. Discuss with them the evidence that it is God’s Word. Acquaint them with what it teaches. Emphasize to them the seriousness of the matter. Then, of course, they must make their own decision as to what they will do. But halfway belief is not enough. If a person is to be well-pleasing to God, he must be wholehearted; he must be a loyal advocate of the Word of God.
‘SACRED SERVICE WITH LOYALTY’
22. How and why does the Bible emphasize loyalty?
22 The Bible itself emphasizes the importance of loyalty. Why so? Because it is one of the noteworthy qualities of Jehovah, the Author of the Bible. To the wayward people of Israel, Jehovah said through his prophet Jeremiah: “I am loyal.” (Jer. 3:12) And the apostle John, when beholding a vision of future events, heard the ones whom God exalts to heavenly glory sing to God: “Great and wonderful are your works, Jehovah God, the Almighty. Righteous and true are your ways, King of eternity. Who will not really fear you, Jehovah, and glorify your name, because you alone are loyal?” (Rev. 15:3, 4) They appreciate that loyalty originates with Jehovah and that it outstandingly characterizes him.
23. Why must our service to Jehovah be rendered “with loyalty,” and what does this imply as to our attitude toward God’s Word?
23 Understandably, then, if humans are to serve God acceptably they must reflect this godly quality. Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, realized this. Filled with holy spirit, he thanked God for “the privilege of fearlessly rendering sacred service to him with loyalty and righteousness before him all our days.” (Luke 1:74, 75) But how can a person be loyal to Jehovah if he is filled with doubts about His Word? If anyone has questions, it is only reasonable to ask them, to examine the evidence presented in answer, and then to make a decision. But we cannot please God if we are halfhearted, continually limping on two opinions. (1 Ki. 18:21) “If any one of you is lacking in wisdom, let him keep on asking God, for he gives generously to all and without reproaching; and it will be given him. But let him keep on asking in faith, not doubting at all, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven by the wind and blown about. In fact, let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from Jehovah; he is an indecisive man, unsteady in all his ways.”—Jas. 1:5-8.
24. (a) How is disloyalty to God manifest in Christendom? (b) What change must such persons make in order to be true followers of Jesus Christ?
24 To please our Creator, we must have confidence in the rightness of his ways. But that is a quality that is notably lacking among many professed Christians. It was foretold in the Bible at Second Timothy chapter 3 that one of the outstanding attitudes prevalent in the “last days” would be disloyalty. Not only disloyalty to marriage mates and employers, but disloyalty to God. Because of this, those whose worship is only a “form of godly devotion” prove “false to its power.” (2 Tim. 3:1, 2, 5) Lacking in personal conviction that the Bible is God’s Word, they do not take it seriously. It is not the guiding force in their lives; it does not motivate them. But a change is required if they are going to be genuine followers of Jesus Christ. At Ephesians 4:23, 24, Christians are admonished: “You should be made new in the force actuating your mind, and should put on the new personality which was created according to God’s will in true righteousness and loyalty.” Have you done that? Are you unshakably loyal to God, and do you manifest this in your attitude toward his Word the Bible? If you do, then you can be a blessing to others by aiding them to put faith in God’s Word.
a The Historical Evidences of the Truth of the Scripture Records, pp. 25, 26.
[Picture on page 76]
At Mt. Sinai Jehovah performed signs. The mountain trembled and smoked all over. Millions saw and heard proof that what Moses made known in God’s name was the word of God