Having the Truth That Leads to Eternal Life
“If you remain in my word, you are really my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”—John 8:31, 32.
1. As to the present system of things, what is becoming clearer to thinking people?
MORE clearly than ever before we see this system of things breaking down. Daily the evidence of its deterioration mounts. One by one the things in which people have put their trust are proving unable to overcome the distressing conditions. The Bible truthfully foretold of our age: “In the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here.” (2 Tim. 3:1) Jesus Christ also truthfully prophesied of our time: “On the earth anguish of nations, not knowing the way out because of the roaring of the sea and its agitation, while men become faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth.”—Luke 21:25, 26.
2. (a) To whom can honest-hearted persons today be compared? (b) What resulted from having the “mark” and not having it?
2 Jehovah God has permitted sufficient time for this present system of things to come to full fruition. Now there can be no doubt as to its true nature. Persons who are honest-hearted are truly disgusted with conditions. In this they are like those whom the prophet Ezekiel saw in a vision concerning Jerusalem before its destruction in 607 B.C.E. In that vision Jehovah told a man with a secretary’s inkhorn: “Pass through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and you must put a mark on the foreheads of the men that are sighing and groaning over all the detestable things that are being done in the midst of it.” (Ezek. 9:4) Then to the forces of destruction Jehovah said: “Pass through the city after him and strike. Let not your eye feel sorry, and do not feel any compassion. Old man, young man and virgin and little child and women you should kill off—to a ruination. But to any man upon whom there is the mark do not go near.” (Ezek. 9:5, 6) That mark meant life when destruction came.
3. (a) What ‘marking’ work is going on in our time? (b) What is the basis for being marked for eternal life?
3 There is a similar ‘marking’ going on today. In these “last days” individuals are also being identified. Jesus foretold: “When the Son of man arrives in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will put the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left.” (Matt. 25:31-33) Those on the left “will depart into everlasting cutting-off.” Those on the right hand of favor go “into everlasting life.” (Matt. 25:34, 41, 46) What kind of person is marked for eternal life? At 1 John 2:17 we read: “The world is passing away and so is its desire, but he that does the will of God remains forever.” Those to be spared for eternal life are identified as persons who do the will of God. And how do they know what the truth is about God’s will?
4. Why did Jesus have such complete confidence that what he had was the truth?
4 Jesus knew the truth about God’s will. He had complete confidence that what he taught others was the truth. Why was he so sure? Concerning his followers he said to his heavenly Father: “I have given your word to them . . . Sanctify them by means of the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:14, 17) He also said: “I do nothing of my own initiative; but just as the Father taught me I speak these things. And he that sent me is with me; he did not abandon me to myself, because I always do the things pleasing to him.” (John 8:28, 29) Jesus, in his prehuman existence, had been with the heavenly Father for untold ages of time. When on earth he would be able to tell the truth about the Creator’s will and purpose. (John 1:14, 18; 16:28) In addition, throughout his earthly ministry Jesus used the Hebrew Scriptures, which were available in his day. These contained God’s thoughts in written form. So when Jesus referred to God’s word as being the truth, he included the entire Hebrew Scriptures as well as the additional information he had as a result of his intimate association with Jehovah.
5. How can we learn what God’s will is and be marked for survival?
5 Thus when Jesus spoke, he spoke the truth because he spoke God’s thoughts. He knew the truth about Jehovah better than anyone else who had ever walked the earth. The truthful teachings of Jesus, and later those of his faithful followers, were recorded in the Scriptures. Jehovah saw to it that all the information God’s servants needed would be recorded. So today those who sincerely want to learn the truth about God’s will and do it so as to gain eternal life have the entire inspired written Word of God as their guide. (2 Tim. 3:16, 17) By means of the truths it contains, individuals can develop the Christian personality that will mark them for survival.—Rom. 12:2; Col. 3:10.
USED TO DISPENSE TRUTH
6. (a) After Jesus’ death, whom did God use to dispense the truth? (b) What evidence did Jehovah give as to whom he was using?
6 Jesus showed who would be used to dispense the truth to mankind after his death. No, it would not be the hypocritical religious leaders of that time. It would be those humble people who faithfully followed Jesus. They were the ones who were doing God’s will. To them Jesus stated: “I have many things yet to say to you, but you are not able to bear them at present. However, when that one arrives, the spirit of the truth, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak of his own impulse, but what things he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things coming.” (John 16:12, 13) Here Jesus was speaking about God’s powerful holy spirit. It would assist the faithful followers of Jesus to become the Christian congregation, guiding them in the way of the truth. At Pentecost, this spirit from Jehovah was poured out on those followers of Jesus, showing that now Jehovah was using them to dispense the truth to mankind. (Acts 2:1-4, 14-18) God had abandoned the Jewish religious system. (Matt. 23:38) It took place just as Jesus had said to the Jewish religious leaders: “The kingdom of God will be taken from you and be given to a nation producing its fruits.”—Matt. 21:43.
7. What is absolutely essential in order to understand the truth?
7 Later, the apostle Paul said: “We speak God’s wisdom in a sacred secret, the hidden wisdom, which God foreordained before the systems of things for our glory. This wisdom not one of the rulers of this system of things came to know, for if they had known it they would not have impaled the glorious Lord. But just as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen and ear has not heard, neither have there been conceived in the heart of man the things that God has prepared for those who love him.’ For it is to us God has revealed them through his spirit, for the spirit searches into all things, even the deep things of God.”—1 Cor. 2:7-10.
8. Who can expect to be guided by God’s spirit in the way of truth?
8 But who, specifically, get God’s spirit to guide them in the way of the truth? Peter and the other apostles said to the Jewish Sanhedrin: “We must obey God as ruler rather than men.” (Acts 5:29) What could those who obey God as ruler expect in return? The apostles said: “We are witnesses of these matters, and so is the holy spirit, which God has given to those obeying him as ruler.” (Acts 5:32) Yes, those who do God’s will, “obeying him as ruler” in everything, are the ones who can expect to receive his spirit. That spirit will direct them to the proper understanding of the things God wants his servants to know.
GATHERING GOD’S SERVANTS
9. What final separation of God’s servants takes place?
9 After the death of the apostles and other spiritually mature men of the first century, the Christian congregation began to be overgrown with “weeds.” These were men who pretended to serve God, but who would not really obey him as ruler. Jesus foretold this growth of weedlike imitation Christians among wheatlike true Christians, and also the final outcome, saying: “‘Let both grow together until the harvest; and in the harvest season I will tell the reapers, First collect the weeds and bind them in bundles to burn them up, then go to gathering the wheat into my storehouse.’ . . . so it will be in the conclusion of the system of things. The Son of man will send forth his angels, and they will collect out from his kingdom all things that cause stumbling and persons who are doing lawlessness, and they will pitch them into the fiery furnace.”—Matt. 13:30, 40-42.
10. What responsibility would be given God’s servants in the “last days”?
10 All the evidence in fulfillment of Bible prophecy indicates that God’s kingdom was established in the heavens in the year 1914 C.E. At that time the “last days” for Satan’s system of things began. (2 Tim. 3:1-5) Now would come the final gathering of God’s servants to Christ’s right hand of favor. And as they were gathered, they would be given heavy responsibilities, for Jesus had prophesied: “Who really is the faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his domestics, to give them their food at the proper time? Happy is that slave if his master on arriving finds him doing so. Truly I say to you, He will appoint him over all his belongings.” (Matt. 24:45-47) Note carefully that when God’s kingdom was established, those on earth obeying God as ruler would be given the supervision over all the Kingdom interests under the direction of Christ Jesus and his angelic forces in heaven. God would use these whom he likens to “wheat” to dispense his truths to whoever wants them. These latter would be clearly identified and set apart from those who are likened to “weeds” or “goats.”
11. Who make up God’s faithful slave today, and on what basis can this be said?
11 Those who make up the “faithful and discreet slave”—who are they? They are the anointed remnant of Jehovah’s dedicated servants. How can it be said with such certainty that they are the ones God is using to dispense the truth to those who are “sighing and groaning over all the detestable things that are being done” in the religious world? Jesus showed how a person could identify those who had the truth, saying: “Every good tree produces fine fruit, but every rotten tree produces worthless fruit; a good tree cannot bear worthless fruit, neither can a rotten tree produce fine fruit. Every tree not producing fine fruit gets cut down and thrown into the fire. Really, then, by their fruits you will recognize those men. Not everyone saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will.” (Matt. 7:17-21) Those whom God uses must be those who are doing his will, obeying him as ruler in everything.
“LOVE AMONG YOURSELVES”
12. (a) What vital fruit must be evident among those who have the truth? (b) Is it displayed by the churches of Christendom?
12 What are some of the major identifying marks of those who are doing God’s will? What “fruit” must they be producing? Among the many identifying marks is this vital one given by Jesus: “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.” (John 13:35) This Christian love must be in evidence among those who have the truth. Those who do not have this kind of love cannot possibly have the truth. Now then, have the church systems of Christendom produced this kind of fruit? What have they done in periods of faith testing, such as during wartime? The facts are beyond dispute: they have violated this requirement and sent their followers to slaughter one another. For example, of the largest religion in Christendom the New York Times of December 29, 1966, reported: “Traditionally Catholics support the nation’s war efforts and leave moral responsibilities for the wars’ conduct to the political authorities. . . . In the past local Catholic hierarchies almost always supported the wars of their nations, blessing troops and offering prayers for victory, while another group of bishops on the other side publicly prayed for the opposite outcome.” Significantly, the report notes: “The contradiction between the Christian spirit and the conduct of war, which was often obscured by theological subtleties, seems increasingly clear to many, as weapons grow more brutal.”
13. What clear identification does God’s Word make of those who are children of God and those who are not?
13 God’s Word of truth makes the identification very clear: “The children of God and the children of the Devil are evident by this fact: Everyone who does not carry on righteousness does not originate with God, neither does he who does not love his brother. For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should have love for one another, not like Cain, who originated with the wicked one and slaughtered his brother.” (1 John 3:10-12) Those who do not obey God as ruler and who ‘slaughter their brother’ could not possibly have the truth. Only those who consistently obey God as ruler by refusing to participate in such mutual slaughter could be identified with the truth.
14. Who today really practice true Christian love?
14 What group has truly obeyed God as ruler in this vital matter wherever they live on this earth? The Sacramento, California, Union commented editorially on July 9, 1965: “Suffice it to say that if all the world lived by the creed of the Jehovah’s Witnesses there would be an end of bloodshed and hatred, and love would reign as king.” Yes, the worldwide bond of genuine Christian love displayed by the more than one million witnesses of Jehovah shows that they have the mark of true Christians. They really do practice the kind of love toward their Christian brothers and sisters that God requires. Regardless of the country in which they live, they refuse to join in the wars of the nations, for that would result in their slaughtering one another.
15. For showing true Christian love, what have God’s servants undergone?
15 Rather than disobey God as ruler in this matter, Jehovah’s witnesses are willing to suffer persecution. In Germany, many were executed in concentration camps for obeying God’s law of love and refusing to participate in the slaughter resulting from Nazi rule. In Communist Russia, they were sent to labor camps in Siberia for the same reason. In the United States, to this very day, they are given jail sentences of up to five years—for obeying God as ruler and showing true Christian love! Similar persecution has taken place in many other countries. But regardless of what the nations may do, Jehovah’s witnesses continue to “obey God as ruler rather than men.” For doing so, what can they rightly expect from Jehovah? “The holy spirit, which God has given to those obeying him as ruler.”
OTHER IDENTIFYING MARKS
16, 17. (a) What attitude toward the Bible must be shown by those who have the truth? (b) Contrast the attitude toward the Bible on the part of the clergy with that of Jehovah’s witnesses.
16 Among other identifying marks, those who have the truth will show respect for God’s Word, the Bible. In this Jesus set the pattern. He accepted the Scriptures of his day as God’s inspired Word. He quoted from them frequently and recommended them to his followers. (Matt. 19:4-6; Luke 24:44, 45) Never did he water down or ridicule the Scriptures. But can we say this about the religious leaders of Christendom today? Are they taking the lead in building respect for God’s Word, upholding it against its enemies? Are they recommending the Bible’s standards of behavior? No, but they belittle the Bible and call parts of it myth. More and more of them flout the Bible’s moral standards and excuse or even condone premarital sex relations, adultery, homosexuality and violence. Truly, instead of defending the Bible against its enemies, they themselves have become its enemies!
17 That the clergy of Christendom have not respected God’s Word or really taught it to their people can be demonstrated by asking persons who go to church to explain God’s purposes and requirements from their own Bibles. So few are able to do so that it is obvious they are not being taught from God’s Word. The Reader’s Digest of May 1966 commented: “Many of the church’s top leaders today—especially in what are called the ‘mainstream’ denominations—are sorely failing its members in two ways: 1) by succumbing to a creeping tendency to downgrade the Bible as the infallible Word of God, and 2) by efforts to shift the church’s main thrust from the spiritual to the secular.” But of Jehovah’s witnesses the French publication France-Soir of August 6, 1969, said: “The doctrines of Jehovah’s witnesses are based on the Bible.” And England’s Weekly News of September 27, 1969, commented: “Perhaps the real secret of the Witnesses’ success is because they know their Bible so well.” Yes, Jehovah’s witnesses accept the entire Bible as the Word of God. They teach it freely to anyone who wants to learn its truths. This is manifest by the fact that they conduct well over a million Bible studies weekly in the homes of interested persons in over 200 lands throughout the world. This is by far the largest home Bible study program in existence. Indeed, it is the largest ever in the history of the world!
18. How are God’s servants identified in connection with his name?
18 Jesus said in prayer: “Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified.” (Matt. 6:9) He also prayed: “I have made your name known to them and will make it known.” (John 17:26) The true servants of God would be called out to be “a people for his name.” (Acts 15:14) Thousands of times in the Bible, the name of God—Jehovah in English—is mentioned. But from whom have you heard this name? You know that if it were not for Jehovah’s witnesses you likely would never have heard the name, as the churches of Christendom rarely use it. Only Jehovah’s witnesses today make known the fact “that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth.”—Ps. 83:18, Authorized Version.
19. Who keep themselves “without spot from the world”?
19 Those who have the mark of true Christians must keep themselves “without spot from the world.” (Jas. 1:27) God’s Word clearly warns: “Whoever, therefore, wants to be a friend of the world is constituting himself an enemy of God.” (Jas. 4:4) The reason for this becomes apparent when we consider that Satan the Devil is the “ruler of this world,” the “god of this system of things.” (John 12:31; 2 Cor. 4:4) The clergy have constantly supported this world’s wars and have become involved in its political intrigues. They are definitely part of this world. But what about Jehovah’s witnesses? Chicago’s Today of October 18, 1969, observed: “Their belief pattern, moreover, calls for total noninvolvement with the political society in which they dwell.” Jehovah’s witnesses, obeying God as ruler, are no part of this world.
20. What message must be highlighted by those who obey God as ruler?
20 Another identifying mark would be the fulfilling of this key prophecy given by Jesus for the “last days”: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” (Matt. 24:14) That Kingdom was the theme of Jesus’ teaching. (Matt. 4:17) He taught his followers to pray: “Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.” (Matt. 6:10) This was the kingdom spoken of by Daniel the prophet centuries before when he said: “It will crush and put an end to all these [other] kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite.” (Dan. 2:44) Who today teach people that the only hope for mankind is God’s kingdom? Who teach that this heavenly government is the agency God will use to end wickedness and bring peace and eternal life to obedient mankind? The clergy hardly mention it anymore. But for the more than nine decades of their modern history, Jehovah’s witnesses have forcefully proclaimed Jehovah’s kingdom as mankind’s only hope, as the announcement on the cover of this magazine indicates.
21. Is Jehovah using the church systems of today? Give a reason for your answer.
21 Even this very brief examination of some of the fruitage that must be produced by those whom God uses to dispense the truth makes it obvious that Jehovah certainly is not using the church systems of this world. They are in utter confusion and decay, and “God is a God, not of disorder, but of peace.” (1 Cor. 14:33) To growing numbers of sincere persons it is becoming clear that the clergy of Christendom do not have the truth, that God is not using them. Rather it is becoming more obvious all the time that the clergy are actually the modern counterparts of the religious leaders to whom Jesus declared: “You are from your father the Devil, and you wish to do the desires of your father. . . . If I speak truth, why is it you do not believe me? He that is from God listens to the sayings of God. This is why you do not listen, because you are not from God.”—John 8:44-47.
22. What is an additional way that we can determine whom Jehovah is using today to dispense the truth?
22 There is an additional way, among others, to determine whom Jehovah is using today. Bible prophecy, history written in advance, comes from God. (2 Pet. 1:20, 21) He can foresee future conditions with total accuracy and keep his servants abreast of them. Jehovah is “the One telling from the beginning the finale, and from long ago the things that have not been done.” (Isa. 46:10) These things Jehovah has made known to those who obey him as ruler: “The Sovereign Lord Jehovah will not do a thing unless he has revealed his confidential matter to his servants the prophets.” (Amos 3:7) In this century who has been correctly informed about the future? the clergy? the political leaders? the economic heads? Or has it been the witnesses of Jehovah? The next article will examine this question.
[Pictures on page 464]
During 1970 the Witnesses invited people all over the world to hear 1,103,567 Bible discourses in their Kingdom Halls
Witnesses use every opportunity to share Bible truths, as this one does when the postman calls. They offer Bible publications in 165 languages
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In 1970 Jehovah’s witnesses conducted 1,146,378 regular home Bible studies with people of all nationalities
In 206 lands around the world Jehovah’s Christian witnesses teach people the truths from God’s Word the Bible