Digging Deeper Into God’s Word
‘If as for hid treasures you keep searching for it, you will find the very knowledge of God.’—PROVERBS 2:4, 5.
1. What is a true source of happiness, and why?
“HAPPY is the man that has found wisdom, and the man that gets discernment, for having it as gain is better than having silver as gain and having it as produce than gold itself. It is more precious than corals, and all other delights of yours cannot be made equal to it. Length of days is in its right hand . . . It is a tree of life to those taking hold of it, and those keeping fast hold of it are to be called happy.”—Proverbs 3:13-18.
2. Why are Jehovah’s Witnesses happy, but what advice are they given from the time of their baptism?
2 True Christians are happy, indeed, to have found wisdom. That means the ability to use their knowledge of God’s Word in their active worship, in solving their day-to-day problems, and in making decisions concerning their goals in life. Before being accepted for baptism by Jehovah’s Witnesses, each candidate’s basic Bible knowledge is tested by a comprehensive series of pointed questions. One of the concluding questions asks: “Following your baptism in water, why will it be vital for you to maintain a good schedule for personal study and to share regularly in the ministry?” This impresses on the mind of that baptismal candidate the need to continue to study beyond the elementary things and “press on to maturity.” (Hebrews 6:1) But do all heed this advice?
3, 4. (a) What did Paul state about some Christians in Corinth and in Judea? (b) What appears to be the case with some Christians today?
3 In his first letter to the Corinthian Christians, the apostle Paul complained that he was unable to speak to them “as to spiritual men,” but that he needed to speak to them “as to babes in Christ.” (1 Corinthians 3:1) Similarly, he wrote, likely to Christians living in Judea: “Concerning him we have much to say and hard to be explained, since you have become dull in your hearing. For, indeed, although you ought to be teachers in view of the time, you again need someone to teach you from the beginning the elementary things of the sacred pronouncements of God; and you have become such as need milk, not solid food. For everyone that partakes of milk is unacquainted with the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.”—Hebrews 5:11-13.
4 Today, likewise, it would appear that some, when once they have acquired sufficient knowledge to dedicate themselves to Jehovah, with the hope of living forever in Paradise on earth, do not develop serious, long-term study habits. They may feel that they know enough to “get along,” spiritually speaking. They do not go beyond the “milk” stage. Paul states frankly that such ones remain “unacquainted with the word of righteousness,” that is, they are unaccustomed to using “the word of righteousness” to test things out. Paul adds: “But solid food belongs to mature people, to those who through use have their perceptive powers trained to distinguish both right and wrong.”—Hebrews 5:14.
“Solid Food” Needed for Growth
5, 6. (a) What is true of some who have been in the truth for years, and why is this abnormal? (b) What did Paul say to such ones, and so what should they do?
5 How many years have you been a dedicated servant of Jehovah? Reflect on your spiritual growth over those years. Are you able to explain from the Bible only the basic truths, “the elementary things of the sacred pronouncements of God”? A few who have been in the Christian way for 10 or 20 years are still at the “milk” stage. What would people think of a child 10 years old, or of a young man or woman aged 20, who was still being bottle-fed on milk? Would this not be an anomaly? Would not such a milk diet stunt the person’s growth? The individual might survive, but he or she would not grow into a strong and healthy adult. The same is true spiritually.
6 Why are some who have been Christians for years not spiritually strong enough to take an active part in helping the normal “babes,” those who have just taken their stand for Jehovah? These who have not advanced have for years received of the time and attention of Christian elders and other mature ones. Still, as Paul says, they themselves “ought to be teachers in view of the time.” To become teachers, they must progress beyond the “milk” diet and get used to eating “solid food.” How can they do this?—Hebrews 5:12.
7. According to Hebrews 5:14, for whom is “solid food” appropriate, and how does a Christian become one of such?
7 Paul says that “solid food belongs to mature people,” and he defines such as “those who through use have their perceptive powers trained to distinguish both right and wrong.” In other words, those who make a habit of using whatever knowledge of God’s Word they have to distinguish both right and wrong will gradually train their perceptive powers and will attain Christian maturity. They will become accustomed to using “the word of righteousness” to test things out and thus distinguish between what is wholesome and what is hurtful morally, spiritually, and even physically. By applying what they learn, they will no longer be “unacquainted with the word of righteousness.” They will become “mature people,” those to whom “solid food belongs.”—Hebrews 5:13, 14.
Develop Good “Eating” Habits
8. How could a Christian limit himself to a “milk” diet, but how can he change his spiritual “eating” habits?
8 Sick people who have been put on a milk diet over a long period of time have to accustom their body to taking in solid food once more. Similarly, those who have developed the habit of “pecking” at the spiritual food served by “the faithful and discreet slave,” leaving on the side of their plate, as it were, those choice morsels that require a little more “chewing” (thought and research), will need to put forth an effort to develop good spiritual “eating” habits. They will need to ‘arouse their clear thinking faculties’ and ‘exert themselves vigorously.’—Matthew 24:45; 2 Peter 3:1, 2; Luke 13:24.
9. What can help someone who has lost his appetite?
9 Three things can help a person who has been sick to recover his appetite for solid, nourishing food: (1) proper motivation, that is, the desire to get well and strong again, (2) appetizing food served at regular intervals, and (3) sufficient fresh air and exercise. How could these points help someone who has lost his appetite for the deeper things of God’s Word?
10. What proper motivation should move us to increase our knowledge of God’s Word?
10 Any person who has dedicated his life to Jehovah should have strong motivation for increasing his knowledge of God’s Word. Our love for Jehovah moves us to become better acquainted with his wonderful qualities, his will, and his purposes. This requires deep study and meditation. (Psalm 1:1, 2; 119:97) Moreover, our hope to live forever in God’s Paradise earth depends upon our continually ‘taking in knowledge of the only true God and of his Son, Jesus Christ.’ (John 17:3) But our desire for everlasting life should not be our primary motive for studying the Scriptures. That was the mistake some faithless Jews made. Our “searching the Scriptures” must be done primarily out of love for God and with the desire to do his will.—John 5:39-42; Psalm 143:10.
11. How are we served appetizing food at regular times?
11 The abundance of appetizing spiritual food served regularly and “at the proper time” by “the faithful and discreet slave” should move all of us to show our appreciation by taking full advantage of the good things provided. (Matthew 24:45) We should develop good spiritual “eating” habits by setting aside sufficient time to read and study all the fine material published in the Watch Tower Society’s books and magazines. Spiritual food is served at regular times at the five weekly meetings organized in the congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses throughout the world. Are you present at all these meetings and well prepared to assimilate the food served?
12. (a) What is another way in which a Christian can build up his spiritual appetite? (b) So, what questions may we ask ourselves?
12 Love for God as well as love for neighbor should move us to study His Word. (Luke 10:27) A person who has lost his physical appetite can benefit from fresh air and exercise. So, too, the Christian who wants to build up an appetite for “solid food” can be helped by getting out in the preaching work and using his knowledge to spread “this good news of the kingdom” and to “make disciples of people of all the nations.” (Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20) Remember, Paul said to those who had “become such as need milk,” or spiritual babes, that they “ought to be teachers in view of the time.” (Hebrews 5:12) Where do you stand, in view of the time you have been a true Christian? If you are a brother, have you advanced to the stage where you can be useful as a “teacher” in the field, and perhaps also as an elder in the congregation? If you are a Christian sister, are you able to conduct upbuilding Bible studies in the homes of people who show interest in God’s truth or perhaps to help your Christian sisters in the witnessing work?
Make Study a Pleasure
13. What is the difference between reading and studying?
13 It has been said that reading is a pleasure whereas studying is work. There is some truth in that. Much upbuilding reading can be done for pleasurable relaxation. What could be more enjoyable than an hour or two spent in a comfortable position reading a report from the Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses or an issue of the Awake! magazine? Study, however, means work. A dictionary states: “Study implies sustained purposeful concentration with such careful attention to details as is likely to reveal the possibilities, applications, variations, or relations of the thing studied.” Yes, study requires effort. But just as any work well done can be satisfying and remunerative, study can be pleasurable and spiritually rewarding. It is in our interest to make it so. How?
14. What may you need to do to make your personal study more pleasurable and beneficial?
14 For study to be enjoyable and really beneficial, it is necessary to devote sufficient time to it. Since “study implies sustained purposeful concentration” and “careful attention to details,” how often can you honestly say that you have studied your Watchtower or the publication used for your Congregation Book Study? Would it not be more accurate to say that oftentimes you skim through the study material and quickly underline the answers to the questions, without really getting down to the details and the reasons for the explanations given? If this is the case with you, probably the first step you should take to improve your spiritual “eating” habits is to ‘buy out the opportune time’ for study. (Ephesians 5:15-17) This may mean making drastic transfers of time from other less essential activities. But you may be surprised how enjoyable study can become when you have the time to do the material justice rather than having to rush through it.
15. What else is indispensable for study to be both enjoyable and spiritually beneficial?
15 Not unrelated to the time factor is the matter of prayer. Jehovah’s blessing is essential for study to be spiritually beneficial. We need to pray to him, in the name of Jesus, asking him to open up our minds and hearts and to make them really receptive to the truths to be studied. How often have you had to sit down hurriedly to prepare for a meeting, only to realize later that you forgot to ask Jehovah for his blessing and for wisdom to apply in your daily life the things learned? Why deprive yourself of Jehovah’s help when it is there for the asking?—James 1:5-7.
16. In line with the theme text for this study, what must we do to find knowledge, discernment, and understanding?
16 Proverbs 2:4, 5 states: ‘If as for hid treasures you keep searching for it, you will find the very knowledge of God.’ The context of that passage speaks of the need to seek out Jehovah’s “sayings,” “commandments,” “wisdom,” “discernment,” and “understanding.” Searching for treasures requires effort and perseverance. It calls for much digging. It is not different when searching for “the very knowledge of God,” for “discernment,” and for “understanding.” This also requires much digging, or penetrating below the surface. Do not feel that it is sufficient to skim over the surface of God’s Word.
17. What do the Scriptures say about Jehovah’s thoughts, and so for what should we be thankful?
17 A psalmist exclaimed: “How great your works are, O Jehovah! Very deep your thoughts are.” (Psalm 92:5) The apostle Paul wrote admiringly: “O the depth of God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge!” (Romans 11:33) In another letter, he spoke of “the deep things of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:10) True, as Paul explains, God reveals such deep things “through his spirit,” which active force acts powerfully upon the anointed Christians appointed by Christ Jesus to provide spiritual food. We should be truly thankful for the spiritual digging that the “slave” class does to make clearer and clearer for us “the hidden depths of God’s purposes.”—1 Corinthians 2:10, Today’s English Version.
18. How can each Christian dig deeper into God’s Word, and what special digging tools have been provided?
18 But that does not relieve each individual Christian of the responsibility to dig deeper into God’s Word, for the purpose of getting the full depth of the thoughts explained. This involves looking up the scriptures cited. It means reading the footnotes in Watchtower articles, some of which refer the reader to an older publication that provides a fuller explanation of a certain passage or prophecy. It requires digging deeper, putting forth effort to locate that older publication and then studying the pages referred to. It consists of making full use of specialized Bible study aids that the “slave” class has made available over the years, such as indexes, concordances, Aid to Bible Understanding, and “All Scripture Is Inspired of God and Beneficial.” Yes, Christians have been provided with excellent digging tools, the latest of which is the new English-language Reference Bible, which, in time, will be available in a number of other languages. Let us use these digging tools to good advantage.
Study With a Purpose
19. What word of caution is vital about knowledge?
19 The purpose of our digging deeper into God’s Word is not to make us feel superior to our brothers or to make a show of our knowledge. This is often the case with worldly people. In principle, what Paul wrote is true here: “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” (1 Corinthians 8:1) Love will move us humbly to use our knowledge in the preaching and disciple-making work and in contributing discreetly to the spiritual value of Christian meetings.
20. What exhortations does Paul give in this connection?
20 Let us “no longer be babes,” but “grow up in all things into him who is the head, Christ.” (Ephesians 4:13-15) “Let us press on to maturity.” (Hebrews 6:1) Let us be mature people, able to assimilate “solid food” that will make us spiritually strong and useful within the Christian congregation. However, this involves more than taking in knowledge by study. It requires feeding upon Jehovah’s utterances or published expressions with appreciation, which we will consider in the following article.—Psalm 110:1; Isaiah 56:8; 66:2.
By Way of a Reminder
□ Why do some remain spiritual “babes”?
□ What can help a person to become mature?
□ How can we develop good spiritual “eating” habits?
□ What can make our personal study more pleasurable?
□ Why is it necessary to dig deep into God’s Word?
[Box on page 11]
Factors that can help a person have spiritual health
1. Proper motivation: Develop a strong desire to become better acquainted with Jehovah
2. Regular diet: Take advantage of the spiritual food served regularly by “the faithful and discreet slave”
3. Exercise: Use knowledge to help others, such as by getting out in the preaching work