Are You Prepared to Talk on the Bible?
“I BELIEVE the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man,” said Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth president of the United States. Although he never joined a church, Lincoln was a Bible reader from his youth. In fact, during his backwoods school days, the Bible was used for reading lessons. And, reportedly, Lincoln often had an old family Bible in hand during his days as president, in the years 1861-1865.
Abraham Lincoln was just one of many well-known persons who have considered the Bible to be of real value in life. But what about you? Do you really treat the Scriptures as a gift from God? Perhaps you are dedicated to Jehovah God and have the privilege of sharing with others “the glorious good news of the happy God.” (1 Tim. 1:11) If so, can you use the Scriptures effectively? Are you prepared to talk on the Bible?
THE NEED TO SPEAK FROM THE BIBLE
Christians need to know the Bible well in order to fulfill their commission to “make disciples of people of all the nations, . . . teaching them to observe all the things” that Jesus Christ commanded. (Matt. 28:19, 20) Jesus himself was well acquainted with the Scriptures. He used them to beat back the temptations of Satan the Devil. (Matt. 4:1-11) Jesus also read God’s Word to others, as at the synagogue in Nazareth. (Luke 4:16-21) Often, while speaking to the people, he would say, “It is written,” and then would quote the Hebrew Scriptures. (Luke 7:27; 19:46; John 2:17) What a fine example for his followers!
The apostle Paul followed Jesus’ example, using God’s Word in his preaching and teaching work. For instance, at Thessalonica he went to a synagogue of the Jews “and for three sabbaths he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving by references that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead.” (Acts 17:1-3) Evidently, first-century Christians in general were able and eager to talk on the Scriptures.
Those early Christians were aware of the need to speak from the Scriptures. That is why they desired to have God’s Word in the most useful form. Interestingly, writing on the subject “The Earliest Christian Books,” C. C. McCown stated: “The simple, practical, nonliterary character of early Christianity is emphasized by what the recent discoveries have proved regarding their use of the codex. The Christians’ religious books, both the Old Testament and the new writings which were in process of becoming sacred, were not for the leisurely reading of the well-to-do. Hardworking business people wanted as much as they could get into a book. They and the earnest Christian missionaries wished to be able to refer to this or that proof text quickly, without having to unroll many feet of papyrus. They were not dominated by any snobbish literary pretensions.” Hence, they put their Scriptures into book form, the same form that we use until this day.—The Biblical Archaeologist Reader, p. 261.
Among those early Christians who were prepared to talk on the Scriptures was Apollos. When he arrived in Achaia, he was able to help others spiritually, “for with intensity he thoroughly proved the Jews to be wrong publicly, while he demonstrated by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.” (Acts 18:24-28) Certainly, it is satisfying to be able to uphold God and his Word by always being “ready to make a defense before everyone that demands of you a reason for the hope in you.” (1 Pet. 3:15) Yes, it is rewarding to be able to answer sincere inquirers from God’s Word, the Bible. (Col. 4:6) And joy increases as one talks on the Scriptures and observes the spiritual progress a student is making during a personal home Bible study.
HELPING PEOPLE IS OUR OBJECTIVE
Helping people spiritually, not just placing Bible literature with them, is the prime objective of Jehovah’s Witnesses. In many places the homes have been called on often, and the people may not need more literature. Rather, they are in need of Bible discussions that answer their questions, that stimulate them to study the publications with their Bible and that motivate them to do something about worshiping God “with spirit and truth.”—John 4:23, 24.
When you speak from the Bible with sincerity as a Christian witness of Jehovah, this adds a persuasive power to the Kingdom message that the printed page itself does not have, at least as far as many people are concerned. It is important to be sensitive to the needs of others and to be willing to give them spiritual aid based on God’s Word. Even young persons and newer ones can speak from the Bible. They need not be diffident or backward about this, if they regularly read the Scriptures, noting Bible texts to use in speaking God’s truth to others. Daily reading of the Scriptures will enable you to talk on the Bible to persons of every walk of life.
SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE
There is something in the Bible for persons of every background. Hence, as Christians read God’s Word they are able to note information that will help them to talk on the Bible whether they meet scientists, doctors, housewives or others. Consider but a few examples in proof of this.
A scientist, or an individual interested in science, may be quite surprised to learn that, some 2,200 years before men in general accepted the fact that the earth is round, the Hebrew prophet Isaiah wrote: “There is One [God] who is dwelling above the circle of the earth.” (Isa. 40:22) The Hebrew word here rendered “circle” is hhug, which may also be rendered “sphere,” according to Davidson’s Concordance. Moreover, a scientifically inclined person will probably agree with the Bible if he is shown Job 26:7, which says that God is “hanging the earth upon nothing.” After all, scientists know that the earth has no visible means of support.
Suppose a physician is met by a Christian who is witnessing from house to house. Would not the doctor be quite interested in knowing that the Bible recognizes the psychosomatic principle, that is, that there is some connection between an individual’s physical health and his emotional state? Surely he will agree that envy, fear, greed, hatred and the like are injurious to health, whereas good effects are produced through the display of love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness and self-control, the fruitage of God’s spirit. (Gal. 5:22, 23) Attention might be directed also to the proverb that says: “A heart that is joyful does good as a curer, but a spirit that is stricken makes the bones dry.” (Prov. 17:22) Further, a doctor may be interested in learning that one of the Bible writers, Luke, was spoken of in Scripture as “the beloved physician.”—Col. 4:14.
To the housewife there is much to say when you talk on the Bible. Suppose you are returning to visit a woman who has manifested interest in the Scriptures. The conversation may turn to household responsibilities, and she may be quite pleased to learn about “a capable wife,” as described at Proverbs 31:10-31. Such a wife is shown to be concerned about the clothing worn by her family, the providing of wholesome food for her household and the proper management of certain household affairs. She is industrious and capable, generous and a doer of good to individuals outside the family. A modern-day woman may be surprised that the Bible says so much about household matters. And she may also be impressed with the words “charm may be false, and prettiness may be vain; but the woman that fears Jehovah is the one that procures praise for herself.”—Prov. 31:30.
When speaking with children and talking on the Bible, there also is much to say. Perhaps during a Bible discussion with youngsters, you may want to impress upon them the need to avoid arrogance, to do what is good and to be humble. You may know very well that many children’s stories begin with the words, “Once upon a time.” Well, the prophecy of Gideon’s son Jotham began with those very words. “Once upon a time,” said Jotham, “the trees went to anoint a king over them.” But the olive tree, the fig tree and the vine refused a position of rulership, whereas the lowly bramble eagerly accepted it. The valuable plants represented worthy persons who did not seek the position of kingship over their fellow Israelites, while the bramble, useful only for fuel, represented the kingship of Abimelech, an arrogant, murderous man who wanted to dominate others but met an end in fulfillment of Jotham’s prophecy. (Judg. chap. 9) What child would want to grow up and become like a bramble?
‘HANDLING THE WORD ARIGHT’
Indeed, there are interesting—often intriguing—matters presented in God’s Word. In it there is something for everyone. But it takes effort on a Christian’s part to become skillful in using “the sword of the spirit, that is, God’s word.” (Eph. 6:17) With good reason, then, the apostle Paul urged his co-worker Timothy: “Do your utmost to present yourself approved to God, a workman with nothing to be ashamed of, handling the word of the truth aright.”—2 Tim. 2:15.
Prayer to Jehovah God for wisdom to talk on the Bible is sure to be rewarded. The disciple James wrote: “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.” (Jas. 1:5-8) Naturally, among Christians there should be growing acquaintance with the doctrinal truths found in the Scriptures. Yet, as they read God’s Word regularly, they also find in it many accounts, expressions and wise sayings that will appeal to people in every walk of life. Eagerly share with them the good things that you are learning as a Christian and thereby encourage them to read the Bible too. Be assured that Jehovah will be with you as you talk on the Bible.—Acts 11:19-21.