Do Not Let the Truth Slip By
PERHAPS Pontius Pilate realized that accepting the truth would cost him something. Becoming a follower of Christ would have meant accepting his kingship and doubtless making an abrupt about-face morally. Nevertheless, said Solomon, the writer of Proverbs 23:23: “Buy truth itself and do not sell it—wisdom and discipline and understanding.”
“Buy truth?” you quizzically ask. Yes, for the Bible here helps us appreciate that one gains truth, wisdom, and understanding only at a cost! However, truth is the most valuable commodity imaginable. Why, Solomon advised, “Do not sell it”! It was as if to say that nothing else could possibly match it in value.
‘But just what is truth?’ ask many, echoing Pilate’s question. For many today, “truth” is a rather elusive concept. Consider, for example, what Albert Einstein once said: “It is difficult even to attach a precise meaning to the term ‘scientific truth.’ Thus the meaning of the word ‘truth’ varies according to whether we deal with a fact of experience, a mathematical proposition, or a scientific theory. ‘Religious truth’ conveys nothing clear to me at all.” (Ideas and Opinions, by Albert Einstein) But does the fact that truth eluded Einstein mean that it must pass you by? Not at all.
Jesus clearly said: “I am the way and the truth and the life.” (John 14:6) Yes, “the truth” centers around Christ Jesus and his place in Jehovah God’s purposes as the Fulfiller of prophecies, Ransomer for sinful mankind, appointed King of God’s Kingdom, High Priest, and Executioner of the wicked. (Romans 15:8; 1 Timothy 2:5, 6; John 3:16; Ephesians 1:20-22; Daniel 7:13, 14; Matthew 6:9, 10; Hebrews 4:14; Revelation 19:11-21; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9) How, though, can one “buy” this truth?
“Taking In Knowledge”
One begins buying truth by following Jesus’ words at John 17:3: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.” This would be a formidable task, indeed, if one had to do it alone. Back in the first century, there was an Ethiopian eunuch, or court official, who tried to do so. But on seeing the eunuch trying to study a difficult Bible prophecy, the evangelist Philip asked, “Do you actually know what you are reading?” To this the man replied, “Really, how could I ever do so, unless someone guided me?” (Acts 8:28-31) Perhaps you feel the same way.
Jehovah’s Witnesses therefore offer to study the Bible with you in your home.a Such sessions are free of charge. “You received free, give free,” said Jesus. (Matthew 10:8) But buying truth will cost you in another way—it will require your time and effort. Remember, though, that Jesus Christ—alive and active in the heavens—wants to help you learn the truth. (Compare Luke 5:13.) He promised his first disciples that God’s spirit would guide them “into all the truth.” (John 16:13) By extension, this can apply also to you. So do not feel that learning the truth will be too difficult for you.
Serious study of the Bible has also been made much easier by means of Bible study aids produced by Jehovah’s Witnesses. Just a sampling of the titles of some of these publications whets the appetite of sincere seekers of truth: The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life, You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, Survival Into a New Earth, United in Worship of the Only True God, and Life—How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or by Creation? to name just a few.b
These publications objectively explain the Scriptures in language easily understood, appealing not only to your reason but also to your heart. The ring of truth is evident in them by the candor, research, and practical counsel. As you learn Bible truths with the help of these publications, you will come to appreciate just what Jesus meant when he said: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) Here the word “truth” embraces the entire body of Christian teachings as now found in God’s written Word of truth—the Bible. (2 Timothy 2:15; Ephesians 1:13) Why, though, is learning the truth so liberating?
As an example, consider that the “fear of death” has kept mankind “subject to slavery all through their lives.” (Hebrews 2:15) This is so in spite of the fact that most people claim some vague hope of an afterlife of heavenly bliss. Bible truths, however, free one from such morbid fears. One learns that the dead are not suffering in some fiery place of torment, for “the dead . . . are conscious of nothing at all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10; see also Psalm 146:4 and Ecclesiastes 3:19, 20.) The Bible also shows that man has no inborn urge to die and go to heaven. On the contrary, God has ‘put time indefinite in mankind’s heart’; a normal person desires to live forever!—Ecclesiastes 3:11; see also Romans 5:12; 6:23.
That desire will be fulfilled in what the Bible calls the “new earth.” (2 Peter 3:13; compare Matthew 6:9, 10.) Jesus indicated that those who attain to life in the “new earth” would enjoy “Paradise.” (Luke 23:43) Other scriptures help us appreciate that this will be a world free from pain and tears! (Revelation 21:4; Isaiah 11:6-9) Just think of how this hope could change your life! But first you must take in knowledge.
At Psalm 25:9 the Bible says: “He will cause the meek ones to walk in his judicial decision, and he will teach the meek ones his way.” No, God simply will not give truth to individuals who are proud and haughty. “God opposes the haughty ones, but he gives undeserved kindness to the humble ones.” (1 Peter 5:5) Pontius Pilate was possibly at least curious about the truth. But ancient writers describe Pilate as an arrogant man. To the Romans, the Jews were a despicable people with a strange religion whom they delighted in keeping underfoot! Pride and political ambition appear to have been Pilate’s stumbling blocks.—Proverbs 16:18.
Many today are likewise curious about the message that Jehovah’s Witnesses bear. However, they may note that Jehovah’s Witnesses are often of humble means, that their modest meeting places (Kingdom Halls) in no way compare to the elaborate churches of Christendom, that few of the Witnesses can boast of an advanced education. But note what the Bible says at 1 Corinthians 1:26-29: “For you behold his calling of you, brothers, that not many wise in a fleshly way were called, not many powerful, not many of noble birth; but God chose the foolish things of the world, that he might put the wise men to shame; and God chose the weak things of the world, that he might put the strong things to shame; and God chose the ignoble things of the world and the things looked down upon, the things that are not, that he might bring to nothing the things that are, in order that no flesh might boast in the sight of God.”
Learning from such ‘lowly ones’ may therefore cost you your pride. But is that too high a price to pay for the truth?
Putting Knowledge to Work
Simply absorbing information—even the truth—is not enough. That is why we are urged to ‘buy wisdom.’ (Proverbs 23:23) Wisdom is the application of knowledge! In fact, Solomon said that “wisdom is the prime thing.” (Proverbs 4:5-7) Yes, what good is knowledge if it is not put to work? So after learning God’s ways, commands, laws, reminders, and counsel, learn to apply these in your life. “Wisdom is proved righteous by its works,” said Jesus.—Matthew 11:19.
Pontius Pilate rejected the truth. However, you should not make that mistake. To let the truth slip by you because of pride, ambition, or a love of some unscriptural vice would be foolish indeed. Be like the psalmist who prayed, “Make me understand, that I may keep living.” (Psalm 119:144) Yes, one who is willing to pay the price of gaining truth and wisdom can “keep living,” for one buying them “will certainly find life, and gets goodwill from Jehovah.”—Proverbs 8:35.
Said one man who began studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses: “It is a blessing to say that the truth has changed our lives.” It can change yours too. So do not let the truth slip by! Take this unique chance to buy truth, wisdom, and understanding. You will never regret having done so.
a Feel free to write the publishers of this magazine if you desire such a Bible study. We will be pleased to arrange for a qualified minister to visit your home.
b Published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
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Pride may have caused Pontius Pilate to let the truth slip by