Manifesting Loyalty Toward Jehovah and His Word
1. How are the expressed views of church members concerning the Bible often inconsistent, and why does this situation exist?
IN THIS modern, materialistic world it is not at all uncommon to hear doubts expressed concerning the reliability of the Bible. When church members are asked if they recognize the Bible to be God’s Word, they may readily say that they do. But oftentimes these same persons, in the very next breath, state that there are things in the Bible that they just do not believe. The problem may be that they lack knowledge, or they may have been influenced by the comments of skeptics. But, regardless of the cause, their attitude does not reflect loyalty toward God and his Word.
2. What attitude toward Bible accounts do many clergymen express? Illustrate.
2 The clergy themselves, in increasing numbers, make public statements expressing disbelief in the Bible. A target of frequent attack is the miracles reported on in the Scriptures. And one of these that is most often held up to ridicule is the virgin birth of Jesus. Concerning it, a Church of England clergyman said: “Could any intelligent twentieth-century man believe . . . that Jesus was born of a Virgin without the agency of a human father? If everyone who didn’t believe in the Virgin Birth were asked to leave the Church of England there would be an acute shortage of clergy and hardly any professors left in our theological colleges.”—The Sunday Express, August 6, 1967.
3. Why is the fact that virgin births are not taking place in our day not a sound argument against belief in the virgin birth of Jesus?
3 But why would anyone who professes to have faith in God find it difficult to believe the Bible account that by God’s holy spirit the Jewish virgin Mary was made pregnant and gave birth to Jesus? (Luke 1:30-35; Matt. 1:18-25) It is true that virgin births are not taking place among womankind in our day. But is this a sound reason for not believing? Do these clergymen believe only in those events that they have personally witnessed? Do they refuse to believe that the earth itself had a beginning, simply because they were not on hand to see it happen? Do they also reject the idea that earthly life had a beginning?
4. Why is it not unreasonable that the Creator could cause a virgin to give birth?
4 Really, which would be more difficult: for God to cause a child to be conceived in the womb of a living virgin, or for him to create the first living human from lifeless matter? It is only reasonable that the Almighty Creator, who designed woman and gave her the ability to produce children, could also cause a woman to become pregnant by means of his invisible active force, his holy spirit. True, no man can explain in detail how Mary as a virgin conceived in her womb, but that should not surprise us. No man fully understands how a child is conceived and develops in its mother’s womb even under normal circumstances. The very idea that the “blueprints” for the growth of an entire human, with all the needed organs, can be contained in a single fertilized cell staggers the imagination. (Ps. 139:14-16) Yet who would deny that conception does take place and that children are born?
5. By rejecting the virgin birth of Jesus, what other fundamental Bible teaching do the clergy shove aside, and why is this so?
5 Furthermore, anyone who rejects the virgin birth of Jesus also shoves aside the ransom sacrifice as the basis for salvation. Why is that? Because the life of a perfect human, corresponding to that of perfect Adam, was needed in order to redeem mankind. (1 Tim. 2:5, 6) Had Jesus been simply a materialized spirit, he would not have qualified. If a human father had been responsible for his life, he would have inherited the imperfection of Adam. (Job 14:4) But because God was his father, his perfection was assured; and since he was brought to birth by a human mother, he himself was human. Also, his virgin birth had been foretold centuries in advance by the prophet Isaiah (7:14). It is clear, then, that what the Bible says about Jesus’ virgin birth is in harmony with the rest of God’s Word. So, a little sound reasoning shows that there is every reason to believe what the Bible says about the birth of Jesus and to encourage others to do the same.
6. What is the real reason why these clergymen do not believe in the virgin birth of Jesus, and how do the facts show this to be so?
6 Why is it, then, that these clergymen say they do not believe in the virgin birth of Jesus? Could it be that they do not believe in God and so reject the idea of any divine intervention in human affairs? In answer to that question, note what a Canadian clergyman states in his book A Church Without God: “Werner Pelz, who entitled a book God Is No More, is a Church of England vicar; . . . Father Jackson, who says, ‘If there is a God, we can’t speak of him as a supreme being,’ is a university chaplain; Thomas Altizer, who wrote The Gospel of Christian Atheism, is an Associate Professor of Bible Studies at an American university; I am on the staff of an Anglican parish in Toronto. I claim to be a Christian and an Anglican; yet I can say, in all seriousness, that there is no God.” (Page 39) This attitude is not rare among the clergy. A report in the National Observer states: “A ‘God is dead’ mood pervades the thought of 90 percent of the Protestant theologians under 40.” Thus it becomes evident that outright disloyalty toward God and his Word prevails in the ranks of the clergy. But you do not have to share their views.
RECOGNIZING OUR LIMITATIONS
7, 8. (a) How only can we prove ourselves to be truly loyal toward Jehovah and his Word? (b) Should we expect to understand everything about Jehovah and how and why he did all the things credited to him in the Bible?
7 In order to show yourself truly loyal toward Jehovah and his Word, you need to know what the Bible contains. You need to be convinced that the Bible truly is inspired of God. You need to see in it evidence of God’s superlative wisdom and love, and these are clearly set out in language that even a child can understand. (Matt. 5:44, 45; 1 John 4:8-10) But is it reasonable to expect to understand everything about Jehovah and how and why he did all the things that the Bible credits to him? No; there are matters that our minds, with human limitations, just do not fully comprehend. As recorded at Romans 11:33, an apostle of Jesus Christ wisely acknowledged: “O the depth of God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How unsearchable his judgments are and past tracing out his ways are!” Yet, while the apostle Paul did not profess to fathom all God’s judgments, he loyally acknowledged God’s right as Creator to do according to his own will, because, as Paul wrote in Ro 11 verse 36, “from him and by him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever.”—See also Revelation 4:11.
8 So this inspired Bible writer urges us to offer ourselves to God for his sacred service, not doing so blindly, without understanding, but, as the first verse of chapter twelve of Romans says, “with your power of reason.” However, that power of reason must be used in a right way.
9. Why will we encounter difficulty if we expect the Bible to conform to our personal viewpoint?
9 There are persons who approach a study of the Bible with the idea that it ought to conform to their own personal viewpoint. This, of course, makes it difficult for them to appreciate what it says. Why? Because, as the Bible shows, ‘God’s ways are higher than our ways, and his thoughts are higher than our thoughts.’ (Isa. 55:9) We are all imperfect, subject to error. King Solomon, one of the wisest men who ever lived, acknowledged that fact, saying: “There is no man that does not sin.” (1 Ki. 8:46) Human experience demonstrates the truthfulness of this. So, if a person views matters from the standpoint of imperfect human reasoning, God’s judgments may seem strange. But if the Bible conformed to our own limited human viewpoint, would that prove it to be from God? No!—Ezek. 18:29, 30.
10. How should we approach a study of Jehovah’s ways?
10 As we learn Jehovah’s ways we should expect to make adjustments in our thinking. Instead of arguing about how we think God should have decided certain matters, it should be our desire to learn from what he did. If we show a proper disposition, he will help us. “He will cause the meek ones to walk in his judicial decision, and he will teach the meek ones his way.”—Ps. 25:9.
LEARNING FROM GOD’S JUDICIAL DECISIONS
11. When the matter is properly viewed, how may one benefit from a study of Jehovah’s judgment against the Canaanites?
11 As an example, consider what there is to be learned from Jehovah’s judicial decision concerning the destruction of the Canaanites. The instruction contained there can broaden a person’s outlook, strengthen his faith and give him an appreciation of his responsibilities that he may not have had before. Together, let us review that Bible account.
12. Before the Israelites entered the land of Canaan, what instructions did Moses give them?
12 Jehovah had brought the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt and now they were encamped on the border of the new land to which he had led them. His prophet Moses spoke to the people, saying: “When Jehovah your God at last brings you into the land to which you are going so as to take possession of it, he must also clear away populous nations from before you, . . . seven nations more populous and mighty than you are. And Jehovah your God will certainly abandon them to you, and you must defeat them. You should without fail devote them to destruction. You must conclude no covenant with them nor show them any favor.” (Deut. 7:1, 2) But why?
13. What does Jehovah’s giving the land to Israel show as to His truthfulness?
13 Moses explained: “Jehovah your God is driving them away from before you . . . in order to carry out the word that Jehovah swore to your forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” (Deut. 9:5) Over four hundred years earlier Jehovah had made a formal covenant with his faithful servant Abraham, promising this very land to him and to his offspring, and he had renewed that promise to Isaac and Jacob. Now the time had come for the fulfillment of the promise. Jehovah had not forgotten. He did not change his mind because the Canaanites were in the land. God does not lie. (Gen. 15:5-21; Titus 1:2) He does not promise a certain reward and then give something else. His word is trustworthy, and for that we can be grateful.—Hab. 2:3.
14. Did the driving away of the Canaanites result in suffering for innocent people?
14 But did this action bring undeserved suffering to innocent people, the ones then inhabiting the land? Not at all! As Moses said to Israel: “It is for the wickedness of these nations that Jehovah your God is driving them away from before you.” (Deut. 9:5) The Bible, and archaeology as well, shows that they were exceedingly depraved. They practiced adultery, sodomy and bestiality, and they carried on the worship of the idol-god Molech with its rites of child sacrifice. (Lev. 18:3, 20-25) About these people, Professor Merrill Unger observes: “The brutality, lust and abandon of Canaanite mythology is far worse than elsewhere in the Near East at the time. And the astounding characteristic of Canaanite deities, that they had no moral character whatever, must have brought out the worst traits in their devotees and entailed many of the most demoralizing practices of the time, such as sacred prostitution, child sacrifice and snake worship. . . . The character of Canaanite religion as portrayed in the Ugaritic literature furnishes ample background to illustrate the accuracy of . . . Biblical statements in their characterization of the utter moral and religious degeneracy of the inhabitants of Canaan.”
15. In reviewing Jehovah’s judgment against the depraved Canaanites, how do we find both his attitude toward wickedness and his long-suffering with humans reassuring?
15 What do we learn from this? One thing is plain: that while Jehovah is a lover of righteousness, he also hates wickedness. (Ps. 45:7) Also, what took place makes clear that Jehovah does not hastily destroy imperfect people at the first sign of transgression on their part. As shown at Genesis 15:16, God had taken note of the iniquity of the Amorite inhabitants of Canaan over four hundred years earlier, but he did not then destroy them. He manifested extraordinary long-suffering. And even when the time for the execution of judgment against the Canaanites was impending, Jehovah allowed Rahab of Jericho and the inhabitants of Gibeon and its neighboring cities to be spared because they showed faith in Jehovah, and threw in their lot with Israel. This reassures us. It gives us sound reason for believing that Jehovah will not forever tolerate wickedness, but, nevertheless, that he is long-suffering and compassionate toward his creatures.—Ezek. 33:11; 2 Pet. 3:15.
16. What became of the Canaanite children, and, to benefit from the principle there demonstrated, what pitfall must we avoid?
16 There is also something to be learned from what happened to the children of the Canaanites. They were not spared when their wicked parents were executed. This is significant, and, if we do not allow sentimentality to cloud our vision, we can benefit greatly from the principle there demonstrated.
17, 18. (a) As shown in the Bible, upon whom has God conferred full responsibility for minor children? (b) Why would it be inconsistent, then, for God to intervene to shield children from the effects of what their parents do?
17 It is a privilege to bring forth children, but with that privilege goes responsibility. The Bible shows that God places full responsibility for minor children on their parents. To his own people, God stated through the prophet Moses: “I have put life and death before you, the blessing and the malediction; and you must choose life in order that you may keep alive, you and your offspring, by loving Jehovah your God, by listening to his voice and by sticking to him.” (Deut. 30:19, 20) By the course that they pursued, the Israelites would choose either life or death for both themselves and their children.
18 We cannot evade the fact that children either benefit or suffer as a result of what their parents do. If a parent is hardworking, loving and devoted to God, the children will benefit greatly. But if he is lazy or a drunkard, can he rightly expect God to shield his children from the effects of his wrong course? Is God obligated to take over the responsibility of the parent or assign it to someone else so that no suffering comes to his offspring? Would it be consistent for God to cooperate with such a man in an evasion of his responsibility? Obviously not.
19. Who really was it that chose death for the Canaanite children? Could they have done otherwise?
19 The Canaanite parents could have chosen life for themselves and their children. Rahab did; so did the inhabitants of Gibeon and three other Canaanite cities. They recognized that the true God was guiding Israel, and so they took their stand with them. For this, they and their children were spared. (Josh. 2:1-21; 6:25; 9:3-21) Others could have done the same, but they refused. In so doing they chose death for themselves and their offspring.
20. How do parents today show whether they really care what will happen to their minor children in the day of Jehovah’s vengeance?
20 Does this have meaning for us today? Yes, indeed. Parents who choose a dissolute course of life have no reason to believe that, when the fast-approaching day of Jehovah’s vengeance strikes, God will spare their minor children simply because of their youth. The responsibility rests on the parents to set the example in right worship and to lead their children in that way. (Eph. 6:4) How much do your children mean to you? Are you living up to your responsibility? Have you dedicated your life to Jehovah God, and are you proving your loyalty to him by doing his will? If so, you show that you understand and loyally uphold the principle so vividly illustrated in what happened to the inhabitants of Canaan.—Prov. 2:7, 8.
LOYALTY UNDER PRESSURE
21. In what way do many Christian youths show loyalty to God’s Word in school even when under pressure?
21 Loyalty or the lack of it becomes particularly manifest when a person is faced with hardship or put under pressure. And that is something that is experienced by everyone who walks in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. (2 Tim. 3:12) It is not difficult to speak in agreement with God’s Word when in the company of those who agree with you. But what do you do when confronted with those who belittle the Scriptures? If you are attending school, for example, what happens when teachers or students make disparaging remarks about the Bible record? Do you demonstrate your loyalty to God’s Word? In all parts of the earth there are Christian youths who do so, seizing these opportunities to speak out in behalf of the truth. Sometimes this brings ridicule from classmates. (1 Pet. 2:19, 20) In other cases it has opened the way to explain at length the reasons for one’s beliefs, resulting in a fine witness concerning Jehovah and his purposes.
22. How did three Hebrew youths in ancient Babylon demonstrate their loyalty to Jehovah and his law?
22 Loyal servants of Jehovah at all times have stood firm in their devotion to him. Hebrew youths in ancient Babylon were put under pressure to violate Jehovah’s law against idolatry. Nebuchadnezzar, ruler of the empire, became enraged at the report that they had not obeyed his imperial edict to bow before the towering image that he had set up. It was not that the king refused to recognize the religion of the Jews at all. (Dan. 2:46-49) But pride now impaired his reason. He demanded that these young men conform to his decree. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were not disrespectful to the king, but they knew Jehovah’s law forbidding the worship of images. They recognized Jehovah as the Supreme Sovereign, so it was to him that they owed loyalty. They showed their loyalty by faithfulness to God’s law even when the king of Babylon threatened them with death.—Dan. 3:13-24.
23, 24. How do Jehovah’s witnesses today prove their loyalty to Jehovah in the face of demands of human governments?
23 The apostles of Jesus Christ were faced with a similar test of loyalty. Haled before the high court in Jerusalem, they were ordered to quit preaching in the name of Jesus. They were not told that they could not read the Scriptures at all, or that they could not talk about these to others. But there was this one matter that the officials found to be offensive. (Acts 4:15-18) Similarly, in some lands today government officials tell Jehovah’s witnesses that they have no objection to their reading the Bible or discussing it among themselves, but they do not like to have them preaching that “it is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service.” (Matt. 4:10) They do not want them to be telling people, as Jesus did, that true Christians are “no part of the world.” (John 17:14) They want their people to be involved in the affairs of the world and to be willing to demonstrate their devotion to the State by prescribed acts of devotion.
24 What should Jehovah’s witnesses do when governments make such demands upon them? Would it be right for them to hide portions of the Bible from public view, in order to please worldly rulers? What would you do? Peter and John, apostles of Jesus Christ, showed the loyal thing to do, when they said to the Jewish court: “Whether it is righteous in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, judge for yourselves. But as for us, we cannot stop speaking about the things we have seen and heard.” And when brought before the court a second time, the apostles again made their position clear: “We must obey God as ruler rather than men.”—Acts 4:19, 20; 5:29.
LOYAL SUPPORT FOR THE BIBLE’S MORAL STANDARD
25-27. What evidence is there that the clergy do not loyally support the Bible’s moral standard?
25 In contrast to the apostles, there were those in Jerusalem who claimed to be priests of God but who were quite willing to substitute the precepts of men for the commandments of God. (Matt. 15:1-9) The modern-day clergy of Christendom show themselves to be of a like disposition. They are frequently heard publicly rejecting what the Bible says on various matters. One topic on which they have been particularly outspoken is sexual morality.
26 Anyone who has studied the Bible knows what it says on this matter: “You must not commit adultery.” (Rom. 13:9) “Flee from fornication.” (1 Cor. 6:18) “Neither . . . men kept for unnatural purposes, nor men who lie with men . . . will inherit God’s kingdom.” (1 Cor. 6:9, 10) There is nothing ambiguous about what those scriptures say: adultery, fornication and homosexuality are condemned by God. But do the clergy uphold what God’s Word says? According to Joseph Fletcher of an Episcopal theological school, when commenting on the so-called “new morality,” “there is nothing against extra-marital sex as such, in this ethic, and in some cases it is good.” (Commonweal, January 14, 1966) Presbyterian minister Gordon Clanton, not content with that, said in the Christian Century magazine (January 8, 1969): “Now we must go further and proclaim that, properly understood and lovingly practiced, sex outside of marriage is indeed a positive good.” And he makes it known that he believes it is the duty of the church to weaken any hold that a more strict morality may still have on society. But the trend does not stop even there.
27 Reporting on British legislation to repeal criminal penalties against homosexual acts by consenting adults, the New York Times (February 12, 1966) stated: “Churches have been in the forefront of the demand for reform. The Church of England and Roman Catholic and Methodist groups have all called for adoption of the [repeal] recommendation.” In 1967 ninety Episcopalian priests meeting in New York declared that the church should recognize that homosexuality “may even be a good thing.” And in the Netherlands two male homosexuals were “married” by a Roman Catholic priest. The disgusting thing is that the men who do these things claim to be Christian ministers!—Titus 1:16.
28. How do we personally prove whether we are loyal supporters of the Bible’s moral standard?
28 People who read the Bible know that what these clergymen are doing is wrong, that they are not acting in harmony with God’s Word and that they stand condemned by it. (Rom. 1:32) But if a person believes that they are wrong, it requires more than words to prove it. Regardless of what a person may say with his mouth, if he himself, out of public view, indulges in fornication, adultery or homosexuality, or in the loose conduct that leads to such things, he too is unclean in God’s sight. No matter what he professes to be, no matter what other people think him to be, a person who indulges in such conduct is not loyal to God.—1 Thess. 4:7, 8; Hos. 4:12.
29, 30. What does one’s heart attitude on morals have to do with one’s loyalty toward Jehovah?
29 Loyalty involves the heart, and the heart represents what a person is deep inside. (Luke 5:22) Jehovah observes, not only what we appear to be on the outside, but also what our hearts are. “Every way of a man is upright in his own eyes, but Jehovah is making an estimate of hearts.”—Prov. 21:2.
30 When God makes an estimate of your heart, what does he find? Is it a good condition? (Isa. 65:14) Does he find a heart that has treasured up his sayings and that takes delight in his law? (Ps. 119:11, 97) Does he find that genuinely, deep down inside, you view immoral conduct in the same way that he does? Do you truly hate what is bad? That is what the Bible psalmist urges us to do, saying: “O you lovers of Jehovah, hate what is bad. He is guarding the souls of his loyal ones.” (Ps. 97:10) If we heed that counsel, it gives evidence of loyalty on our part, and we can be assured that our souls will be precious in the eyes of Jehovah.
TAKING YOUR STAND WITH JEHOVAH’S LOYAL ONES
31. If a person truly believes what the Bible says, how will this be manifest?
31 Now is the time to make one’s position in relation to Jehovah God and his Word unmistakably clear. Do you really believe what God says in his Word the Bible? If so, your speech will reflect it. Your conduct will show it. It will also be evident in your choice of associates. You will make it a point to act in harmony with Psalm 149:1, which says: “Praise Jah, you people! Sing to Jehovah a new song, his praise in the congregation of loyal ones.”
32, 33. When seeking out the congregation of those loyal to Jehovah and his Word, of what facts concerning the churches of Christendom should a person be aware?
32 As we have seen, not all congregations that gather for worship are made up of ones loyal to Jehovah and his Word. Some may carry the Bible to church. Perhaps a Scripture passage is quoted in the sermon. But many church doctrines and practices are not in harmony with God’s Word. In fact, so far has Christendom strayed from the teachings of God’s Word, that the Christian Century magazine (September 5, 1962) said: “If we are really honest, would not a closed Bible, covered with dust and crammed with yellowing obituaries, be a better symbol of the actual state of Protestantism?” And a Catholic newspaper, the Luxemburger Wort (January 16, 1965), commenting on the situation in Luxembourg, stated: “Is it not a sad situation that . . . the overwhelming majority of our Catholics, yes, of our priests, never have completed the reading of the Bible, not even the New Testament?”
33 This situation is not new. Back in 1929, a survey was made of 500 theological students of the Baptist, Congregationalist, Episcopalian, Evangelical, Lutheran, Methodist and Presbyterian churches. The question was asked: “Do you believe that the Bible is wholly free from legend or myth?” Ninety-five percent of those answering said, “No.” Obviously, they do not accept the Bible as the Word of God.
34. How have hundreds of thousands of persons earth wide demonstrated their desire to prove loyal to Jehovah and his Word?
34 If you do not agree with their position it is vital to show it. And there are hundreds of thousands of persons in all parts of the earth who have done just that. They want no part with any religious organization that is disloyal to Jehovah God and his Word the Bible. (2 Cor. 6:14-17; Rev. 18:4) For that reason they have quit the churches, but they have not stopped worshiping God. They regularly gather for worship in the more than 25,000 congregations of Jehovah’s witnesses earth wide. They believe what the Bible says. They uphold its moral standards. In almost any community they can be seen each week calling at the homes of their neighbors to encourage them to look into the Bible. They are glad to present to any sincere person the overwhelming evidence that the Bible truly is the Word of God. And, more than that, they gladly offer a free home Bible-study service to help such persons to get an accurate knowledge of God’s Word so that they can live in harmony with it.
35. What future awaits those proving themselves loyal to Jehovah?
35 What a marvelous future such loyal servants of Jehovah have! For God’s own inspired Word declares: “Jehovah . . . will not leave his loyal ones. To time indefinite they will certainly be guarded; but as for the offspring of the wicked ones, they will indeed be cut off. The righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it.”—Ps. 37:28, 29.