Will You Be a Witness for the True God?
“‘You are my witnesses,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘and I am God.’”—ISAIAH 43:12.
1. Why should we honor the true God?
SHORTLY before Jesus died, he ‘raised his eyes to heaven’ to pray. He addressed the One to whom he was praying as “the only true God.” (John 17:1, 3) Reasonably, there can be only one living and true God, the Sovereign of the universe, the Creator. Since we owe our existence to the true God, we should render him the honor that he deserves. As Revelation 4:11 expresses it: “You are worthy, Jehovah, even our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power, because you created all things, and because of your will they existed and were created.”
2. (a) What is it logical to believe about the true God? (b) How does he communicate with those who want to worship him?
2 It would be logical to expect that the true God would not forever tolerate the bad conditions that have marred his earthly creations. And it would also be logical to believe that he would keep his worshipers informed as to what he will do and what he wants them to do before he executes his judgments. (Amos 3:7) How does he communicate with truth seekers? He uses willing humans as his spokesmen. “‘You are my witnesses,’ is the utterance of Jehovah . . . ‘Before me there was no God formed, and after me there continued to be none. I—I am Jehovah, and besides me there is no savior.’” (Isaiah 43:10, 11) But how can a person identify those whom the true God uses as his witnesses? How do they, and their message, contrast with worshipers of other gods?
A Challenge to Other Gods
3. What challenge does Jehovah issue to all other gods?
3 Jehovah inspired Isaiah to record this challenge to all other gods: “Who is there among them [the gods of the nations and peoples] that can tell this [accurate prophecy]? Or can they cause us to hear even the first things [that will happen in the future]? Let them [as gods] furnish their witnesses, that they [as gods] may be declared righteous, or let them [the peoples of the nations] hear and say, ‘It is the truth!’” (Isaiah 43:9) Thus Jehovah challenges all the gods that people worship to prove that they are gods. Their witnesses should produce evidence that their gods are reliable and worthy of being worshiped.
4. How do we know that the gods of ancient nations were valueless?
4 But what have those gods and their worshipers produced? Have they led us to genuine peace, prosperity, health, and life? History testifies that the many gods of ancient nations proved valueless and powerless. They could not even survive as objects of worship, since they are not in existence today. The many gods of ancient Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, and other nations proved false. They exist only in history books or in museums where statues of them are mere objects of curiosity.
5. What may we ask about the gods of modern times?
5 Yet, are the modern gods and their worshipers any better than the ancient ones? The Hindu religion alone has millions of gods. Buddhists, Catholics, Confucianists, Jews, Protestants, Shintoists, Taoists, and many others have their own gods. In Africa, Asia, and elsewhere, the forces of nature, animals, and objects are worshiped as gods. Nationalism and materialism, and even a person’s self, have become gods, in that many people give them their main devotion. Which way of worship actually represents the one who declares: “I am Jehovah, and there is no one else. With the exception of me there is no God”?—Isaiah 45:5.
“By Their Fruits You Will Recognize Them”
6. How can we distinguish true worship from false worship?
6 Jesus laid down a dependable rule for identifying what is true or false in regard to religion. He said: “By their fruits you will recognize them. . . . Every good tree produces fine fruit, but every rotten tree produces worthless fruit . . . Every tree not producing fine fruit gets cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Matthew 7:16-19) Thus, to determine the true God from false ones, and true worshipers from false ones, we need to examine what they produce. Is their fruitage “fine,” or is it “worthless”?
7. What does the history of this century tell us about the religions of this world?
7 For example, which of the world’s religions has established genuine peace among its adherents earth wide? Surely, members of the true religion, spiritual brothers, should not be killing one another. But a hundred million people have been killed in the wars of this 20th century, and all those wars have been supported by the religions of this world. As a result, religious people have killed other religious people. Much of the time, they have killed people of their own religion. Catholics have killed Catholics, Protestants have killed Protestants, Muslims have killed Muslims, and those of other religions have followed the same course.
8. How do observers comment on religious failure in our time?
8 In an editorial entitled “The Violence Done in God’s Name,” Mike Royko, as if addressing God, said of this world’s religions: “They are expressing their devotion to you by killing each other by the hundreds. I guess they figure that if one side can wipe the other side out, it will prove that their way of worshiping you is correct.” He said that while the pope portrays himself as a peaceful man, “his followers have been known to shed a few million gallons of blood when their tempers are up.” Too, when former United States President Carter observed that “the world has gone mad,” he said: “Deep religious conviction, which should bind people in love, seems often to be part of the madness and murder.”
9. Why should we not follow “valueless gods”?
9 Such worthless fruitage is the opposite of what must be produced by those who worship the true God. (Galatians 5:19-23) Hence, those who support warring religions and philosophies are part of false worship as surely as were the ancient Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, and others who looked to “valueless gods that are speechless.” (Habakkuk 2:18) And just as the true God’s prophetic word was fulfilled on ancient false worship, so it will be in our time: “The valueless gods themselves will pass away completely.” (Isaiah 2:18) Trustworthy is his warning: “Do not turn yourselves to valueless gods.”—Leviticus 19:4.
Who Are Witnessing for Jehovah?
10. Are the adherents of this world’s religions witnesses for the true God?
10 A witness for the true God should be one who bears testimony about Him. Do the adherents of this world’s religions bear such testimony? How often do people of these religions talk to you about their worship? When have they called at your home to bear witness about their god? The challenge that the true God has issued to false ones to produce witnesses goes unheeded. The people of this world’s religions do not bear such witness. They cannot tell you who the true God is or what his purposes are. Their clergy have failed to teach them the truth. “Blind guides is what they are. If, then, a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”—Matthew 15:14.
11. Who only are bearing witness to the name of the true God?
11 Who are willing to sacrifice time, material resources, even their lives, to witness for the true God? Who tell people that the true God declares: “I am Jehovah. That is my name”? (Isaiah 42:8) Who teach that “you, whose name is Jehovah, you alone are the Most High over all the earth”? (Psalm 83:18) In his time, Jesus could say to the true God: “I have made your name manifest.” (John 17:6) In our time, only Jehovah’s Witnesses can say that. How appropriate their name is—Jehovah’s Witnesses!
Witnessing About the Kingdom
12. What vital teaching must true witnesses be telling others?
12 In addition to making known the true God’s name, what, especially, would his witnesses be saying about his purposes? Jesus set the example by teaching his followers to pray to the true God: “Let your kingdom come.” (Matthew 6:10) God’s heavenly Kingdom is the government that will ultimately rule the entire earth. (Daniel 2:44) It was the theme of Jesus’ teaching. (Matthew 4:23) Because the Kingdom is the only solution for mankind’s troubles, he urged: “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness.”—Matthew 6:33.
13. (a) What do the facts show about the preaching of Jehovah’s Witnesses regarding God’s Kingdom? (b) How is the Kingdom preaching an evidence that Jehovah is the only God of true prophecy?
13 Who today bear testimony for God’s Kingdom? Professor C. S. Braden, a keen student of the world’s religions, said: “Jehovah’s Witnesses have literally covered the earth with their witnessing. . . . It may be truly said that no single religious group in the world displayed more zeal and persistence in the attempt to spread the good news of the Kingdom than Jehovah’s Witnesses.” But he wrote that nearly 40 years ago! Today a far greater Kingdom witness is being accomplished, for there are more than ten times as many Witnesses now! Some three-and-a-half million of them, in over 54,900 congregations earth wide, are testifying for the Kingdom, and their numbers are rapidly growing. This fine fruitage is evidence that Jehovah is the God of true prophecy. He it was who inspired his Son, Jesus, to foretell concerning our time: “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.”—Matthew 24:14; John 8:28.
Imitating God’s Love
14. What quality must God’s true witnesses imitate, and what does it mean if they do not?
14 The true witnesses of God must imitate his foremost quality—love. “He that does not love has not come to know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8) Indeed, “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. . . . 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.
15. Why can we say that Jehovah’s Witnesses manifest genuine love?
15 Jehovah’s Witnesses alone have that kind of love. They do not submit to the gods of war, nationalism, and racism. They do not support any wars of this world and so are never in a situation where they would support the killing of their spiritual brothers in other parts of the world. They are, as Jesus said, “no part of the world” and have ‘put down the sword.’—John 17:14; Matthew 26:52.
16. How do others help identify the true witnesses of God?
16 A study entitled “More About Justifying Violence” said: “Jehovah’s Witnesses have consistently maintained their stand of nonviolent ‘Christian neutrality’ . . . Their continuing stand against national service of any form, military or civilian, and their refusal to honor symbols of national identity have resulted in periods of prosecution, imprisonment, and mob action in many countries . . . The Witnesses, however, have never responded with violence.” The Brazilian newspaper O Tempo said of them: “Although there are many imposing religions with their propaganda in all parts of the globe, there does not exist a single one on the face of the earth today that shows the same love.” This genuine love, Jesus declared, identifies the true witnesses of God. “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.”—John 13:35.
Persecution Increases Witness
17, 18. What recent example shows how persecution can add to the Kingdom witness?
17 Persecution can even result in a wider Kingdom witness. For example, in India there are only some 8,000 witnesses of Jehovah. Yet, recently Jehovah’s name and purposes were given extensive publicity in that land by what 11 Witness children did in imitation of first-century Christians who said to a court: “We must obey God as ruler rather than men.” (Acts 5:29) The Indian children had been expelled from school for not singing the national anthem. But India’s Supreme Court ruled, as reported in the Deccan Herald of Bangalore, that “there is no obligation in this country to sing the National Anthem.” The Court noted that the children “had shown proper respect” and that their not singing “did not in any way amount to insubordination.” The Court ordered that the children be readmitted to school.
18 The same newspaper also observed: “These children refused to sing the National Anthem because Jehovah’s Witnesses consider themselves to be Christians and devoted entirely to the Kingdom of God. . . . They therefore do not participate in any of the political activity of the State.” Also, The Telegraph of Calcutta reported: “The schoolchildren’s action has also brought into the limelight . . . Jehovah’s Witnesses, which had remained largely obscure in our country till recently.” Yes, ‘this good news of the kingdom will be preached for a witness to all the nations’ before the end comes.—Matthew 24:14.
Ingathering of Witnesses for the True God
19. What do honesthearted persons need to do if they want to worship the true God?
19 Today, the true God, Jehovah, is having his people bear witness to his sovereignty and purposes. As they proclaim his message with ever greater force, he gathers increasing numbers of honesthearted people from all nations into association with his worshipers. (Isaiah 2:2-4) They abandon their false gods and turn to the worship of the true God, just as those who wanted to worship Jehovah were released from captivity to ancient Babylon, where the worship of false gods was rampant.—Isaiah 43:14.
20, 21. Why is it urgent to abandon false gods now and not be mere bystanders?
20 Will you be a witness for the true God? Will you take your stand for true worship and avoid sharing the bloodguilt and moral culpability of this world and its false gods? God’s Word urges: “Get out of her [Babylonish false worship], my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues.” (Revelation 18:4) Yes, “get out,” take action before it is too late! Do not be like the man who, when asked about his religious preference by a Catholic magazine, said: “I guess I’m a Jehovah’s Bystander. I believe pretty much what Jehovah’s Witnesses believe—but I don’t want to get involved.”
21 However, every person on earth will soon be involved when Jehovah executes the false gods of this world and their worshipers: “The gods that did not make the very heavens and the earth are the ones who will perish from the earth and from under these heavens.” (Jeremiah 10:11) There will be no bystanders then. There will only be those who are witnesses for the true God and those who are not. (Matthew 24:37-39; 2 Peter 2:5; Revelation 7:9-15) Will you be a witness for the true God? You should be, for “the true God is for us a God of saving acts; and to Jehovah the Sovereign Lord belong the ways out from death.”—Psalm 68:20.
□ What challenge does the true God issue to false gods?
□ By what dependable rule can we distinguish true worship from false worship?
□ What fruitage shows the gods of this world to be as valueless as ancient ones?
□ What fine fruitage must witnesses for the true God be producing, and who is manifesting it?
□ Why is it urgent to take action now to abandon false worship?
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The valueless gods of ancient nations have ceased to exist as objects of worship
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In our century about a hundred million people have been killed in wars supported by the religions of this world
U.S. Army photo
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Jesus said that true witnesses would be known by the love they have among themselves