Appreciating Jehovah God and Jesus Christ and What They Have Done for Us
“O the depth of God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How unsearchable his judgments are and past tracing out his ways are!”—Rom. 11:33.
1. What must we do in order to get heart appreciation of Jehovah?
THE reason why Jehovah’s Christian witnesses are serving Him and working hard to preach the good news to all nations is because of appreciation—appreciation of what Jehovah God and Jesus Christ have done and are doing for mankind. That is the important thing—heart appreciation. To have such appreciation we must come to know God. Jesus Christ said: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.” (John 17:3) As to taking in of knowledge, we have to keep taking it in; it is not enough to believe that God exists and to know some of the things he has done as Creator. There is much difference between an acquaintance with God and knowing him. So really to know God means much more than just having a surface knowledge. By continually seeking deeper knowledge we come to appreciate from the heart what a friend he is to mankind and how he has expressed his friendship with unparalleled love and patience.
2, 3. What will prevent one’s taking up a practice of sin?
2 The apostle John, after being a Christian servant of God for more than sixty years, wrote: “Everyone remaining in union with him does not practice sin; no one that practices sin has either seen him or come to know him.” (1 John 3:6) Again, he says: “He that does not love has not come to know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8) Individuals who do not come to know God do not see God in all his fine qualities and lofty principles, and their hearts do not feel deep appreciation.
3 John tells us that some fell away. He says: “They were not of our sort; for if they had been of our sort, they would have remained with us.” (1 John 2:19) John demonstrates that those who really have come to know God intimately, as one comes to know a fine friend or a loving, manly father, will remain loyal. They are not going to practice a course of sin and fall away from the truth. We can say, therefore, that not all of those claiming to be servants of God know God in this intimate sense, for some do fall away and some are disfellowshiped from the congregations for carrying on unscriptural practices.
BECOMING LIKE GOD
4. Why was Jesus able to reveal God to men on earth?
4 Jesus, when he was on earth, said that no one fully knows the Father but the Son and the one to whom the Son is willing to reveal him. (Matt. 11:27) The Son was the intimate one of the Father for billions of years prior to his coming to earth; therefore during his ministry on earth he had the fullest knowledge of the Father. He knew God’s qualities so well that he loved him more devotedly than all others and he in turn was able, by speech and by his copying Jehovah God, to reveal Him.
5. What effect does the service of a god have on an individual?
5 A person becomes a copy of the god he serves. If he believes in a hellfire god, a vicious god, in his own mind, his heart will become hardened; he will in time become vicious toward other persons. Jesus said that some, believing falsely, would even kill God’s servants, thinking that they were doing God a service. (John 16:2) But if a person serves the God of love, he will be loving toward others. He will develop the qualities of that God. If he serves Jehovah he will come to imitate him as a son who loves his father in his heart.—Eph. 5:1.
6. How does one get to know God?
6 Therefore, when we serve with our brothers in the faith, the all-important thing is to help them to know God and his viewpoint. (Compare Exodus 18:15, 16.) Getting to know God does not mean merely to study. As the Scriptures say, at Romans 12:2: “Prove to yourselves the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” We do this by working together with him. (2 Cor. 6:1) Then we experience by application God’s good principles and see why he is the happy God and that all who work with him are happy. (1 Tim. 1:11) We become real friends with his loyal friends and find the enjoyment of working together with them.
THE IMPORTANT THINGS
7, 8. (a) How can we come to get full discernment? (b) What should be our attitude toward some point that we may not fully understand?
7 We must have accurate knowledge of God. But the apostle Paul said in this regard: “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) In everything that we learn we want to understand its relationship to God and Christ, and to meditate as to how it magnifies God’s personality and his provisions. We must enhance in our hearts the understanding and appreciation of what they have done for us. Then, if we come across something we do not understand fully, we will not let that upset us and cause us to throw away our faith in all the important things we have learned.
8 As one brother in the truth for many years expressed the matter: “It is fine to learn all we can. We must increase our knowledge to strengthen our faith. But we should never let some small matter cause us to stumble. The way I feel about it is this: I know what Jehovah God and Jesus Christ have done for us, and that’s enough to die for.”
9. Why is it important not to go “beyond the things that are written”?
9 Now, The Watchtower aims at helping us to get God’s mind, his viewpoint, on matters. And God’s servant body, the “faithful and discreet slave,” has the responsibility to set these things before us by declaring God’s Word, and has done so faithfully right up to this year 1971. That is why it is so important to follow the principle that the apostle Paul expressed at 1 Corinthians 4:6: “Do not go beyond the things that are written.” If we hold to that and work within the framework that the Bible has outlined for the Christian congregation, we will help others to know God and Christ and not be looking to us as individuals. (1 Cor. 4:6) We do not want anyone to lean on us, but only on Jehovah. We want them to realize that the entire Christian congregation expresses God’s qualities through its various members. (1 Cor. 12:4, 5, 24, 25) Our own ideas might appear at the moment to be good, but in the long run they do not accomplish the purpose, because if our brothers do not come to know God and Jesus Christ and their qualities, they are missing out on the most important thing.
10. What teaching will help us to know God better?
10 One of the things that will best acquaint us with the marvelous qualities of God is an understanding of the Bible teaching of the ransom. If we fully realize what God and his Son have done for us in thus giving us undeserved help, we cannot help but respond with expressions of love and appreciation to our fellowmen.
11. How did Satan raise an issue or controversy with God?
11 The need for the ransom arose in connection with the issue that came about between God and Satan. In Genesis chapter three we find how this issue came up. It was the Devil, using an animal, who spoke to Eve. But notice what he spoke. It helps us to understand what the issue concerns—what it is about. He said to Eve: “Is it really so that God said you must not eat from every tree of the garden?” Or, he said, in effect: ‘Do you mean to tell me that God has told you that? that he would do that to you? and keep something back from you?’ The Devil did not come out at first and say flatly that God was wrong, because he might have met stiff resistance. No, first, he put this selfish thought, this doubt, into Eve’s mind; then he went on to slander God by saying, ‘God knows that this is not right. He knows that if you eat from the forbidden tree you will get more knowledge.’—Gen. 3:1-5.
12. Was the issue over God’s supremacy? Explain.
12 Thus Satan brought up the issue. What was the issue? Was it a challenge of God’s supremacy? We can say No to that, because if a person is supreme in power, who can challenge him on that point with any hope of success? Notice that, later, the Devil did not challenge the Almighty God’s restriction protecting Job’s life.—Job 2:6, 7.
13. What is sovereignty, and was the fact of the existence of God’s sovereignty challenged?
13 Well, then, was it God’s sovereignty? Sovereignty means the right to rule and to delegate authority in government. Did Satan challenge God’s sovereignty? Yes, but not the fact—the existence—of God’s sovereignty, because, again, if a person is supreme and almighty he can rule no matter what anyone says. God’s sovereignty was therefore never in danger.
14. What was it about God’s sovereignty that was challenged, and in what way?
14 So it was not the fact of Jehovah’s sovereignty that was challenged. Well, then, what was it? It did have to do with God’s sovereignty. We can see from what the Devil said that it was the deservedness, rightfulness and righteousness of Jehovah’s sovereignty that was brought into question. God surely was sovereign, but was that sovereignty exercised in a way that was really for the benefit of his creatures? Or was he withholding something from them? When the Devil spoke to God about Job, he craftily put the argument the other way around and said: ‘Look at all Job has. Look at what you have given him. Of course he will serve you, because he gets everything from you.’ So, from another viewpoint, he repeated his challenge of the deservedness or rightfulness of God’s sovereignty.—Job 1:8-12.
15. How was man involved in the issue?
15 Additionally, man was involved in the issue. It brought in the matter of man’s integrity to God. The Devil was saying that Jehovah’s sovereignty was not a good one over his creatures; it was not altogether deserved or right. So the question was raised: Would creatures recognize Jehovah’s sovereignty as altogether merited and hence righteous? Would they love God’s sovereignty more than anything else? Would they prefer to live under that sovereignty rather than any other? Would they truly prefer it, from the heart? And even if they had opportunity to get out from under the sovereignty of God and be completely independent, would they want to? or would they choose to stick with him loyally through everything that might come up to challenge him?a The latter ones are the kind of people that God wants to serve him, because others would not be loyal; they would only bring trouble in the universe. That is what the issue is going to prove about all creatures. It is going to sort out all those who have the selfish viewpoint.
16. Was God doubtful of his sovereignty or that his organization would stand by him?
16 The question might be asked, ‘Was God doubtful of his sovereignty? Did he wonder, Have I been wrong in the way I have governed the universe?’ No, he was satisfied with his own sovereignty. He knew what was within himself, and he knew what his intelligent creatures needed. (Ex. 34:6, 7; Ps. 136:1-9) He knew that his way of rule was for the good and everlasting happiness of his creatures. Was there not, however, a probability that God’s organization of creatures in heaven and earth might think that way in toto and withdraw en masse from him? No. Jehovah let the issue be tried, which proves he did not fear the loss of his organization.
17. Why was God confident that his organization would not forsake him en masse?
17 Jehovah knew that his sovereignty was worthy and right and that his creatures loved and appreciated it. He had given his creatures free will; therefore there could be some who would withdraw if they wanted to take that course, but God knew that this would not take place en masse. Why? Because of the quality he had created within them and because he had given them the potential to develop that quality to a greater degree. That quality was LOVE. The Bible says that love is a “perfect bond of union” and “love never fails.” (Col. 3:14; 1 Cor. 13:8) It is the strongest binding power in the universe. It is one of Jehovah’s own qualities and cannot fail him. He had full confidence that his organization would stick with him. He also knew that there would be those who would come to know him, a thing that Adam never came to do because of his lack of loyalty. Those who would do so would love him and would stay unbreakably and joyfully under his sovereignty.
WHY GOD PERMITTED THE ISSUE TO BE TRIED
18. Did God allow the 6,000 years’ continuance of the issue for his own benefit, or what?
18 Then why did Jehovah allow the testing of the challenge to be an issue carried out for the past 6,000 years? Was it selfishly for his own good? No one could give God anything in the way of material or property, or add to his wealth and power, or his knowledge. (Rom. 11:34-36) And he did not have to have anything proved to him. No, he did it for his name’s sake, at the same time for the benefit of his creatures.
19. Who was slandered by the challenge of the Devil?
19 We can see that this is true if we analyze the matter. Jehovah was slandered—slandered badly about how he ran the universe. But it was not just Jehovah. Every creature in the universe was slandered, because the Devil was saying, in effect: ‘The only reason they are sticking with you is because you have given them everything.’ So, the Devil put a shadow or black mark on the reputation of every intelligent creature that lived.
20. Why did God let others share with him in the clearing away of reproach?
20 Jehovah knew that he had sons who would be anxious to have the opportunity to remove the mark of reproach from His name. This was the primary thing to be done by them. But at the same time they could remove the mark of the slander from their own name and that of their brothers. What son of any worth would not want to go out and defend the family and clear up the father’s name? It would be more thoroughly a vindication of God than if Jehovah did it all himself. As we contemplate reading the following article we ask: Who would be the one chosen as primary vindicator, and why?
a See the book “Then Is Finished the Mystery of God,” p. 309 (published by Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1969).