Do You Seek Hidden Treasures?
“May undeserved kindness and peace be increased to you by an accurate knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”—2 PETER 1:2.
1, 2. What factors make gold valuable and expensive?
WHY is gold so expensive? It is only a soft metal, yet its value goes into hundreds of dollars per ounce. True, it is malleable and makes an attractive adornment in the form of a ring or a bracelet. (1 Timothy 2:9; James 2:2) Yet, if you were lost in a desert, dying of hunger and thirst, you could not eat it or drink it. In that circumstance a loaf of bread or a plate of rice with a drink of water would be worth far more than gold.
2 Why, then, is gold so highly valued? For one thing, it is scarce and difficult to obtain. For example, when the Empire gold mine in northern California closed down in 1957 because it was no longer profitable, miners were digging at a vertical depth of over 5,000 feet [1,500 m] but had to descend two miles [3 km] diagonally to reach the gold. Up to that point, the high price of gold had made it worth the huge effort to keep on searching for it.
3. What treasure can we seek?
3 We, though, can dig for something far more valuable than gold. What is it? Wise King Solomon gave an answer some 3,000 years ago: “If, moreover, you call out for understanding itself and you give forth your voice for discernment itself, if you keep seeking for it as for silver, and as for hid treasures you keep searching for it, in that case you will understand the fear of Jehovah, and you will find the very knowledge of God.” Imagine puny humans being able to find “the very knowledge of God”!—Proverbs 2:3-5.*
Why All Need Accurate Knowledge
4. What should be included in a Christian’s accurate knowledge?
4 Since the time of Christ, that essential knowledge has expanded to include much more than what was available to the faithful Hebrew men and women of old. As Paul expressed it: “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the accurate knowledge of him; the eyes of your heart having been enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he called you, what the glorious riches are which he holds as an inheritance for the holy ones.”—Ephesians 1:17, 18.
5. Why do the anointed need to pay constant attention to their knowledge of God’s will?
5 Back then, this was direct counsel for the holy anointed brothers of Christ, and it still is today. As the secondary part of the “seed” of promise, such ones are special targets for Satan’s spiritual subversion. (Galatians 3:26-29; Ephesians 6:11, 12) Anointed ones, especially, must make their calling sure by not neglecting the free gift of God’s undeserved kindness. That is why they must constantly strengthen their spiritual resources by refurbishing their accurate knowledge of God’s will and Word.—Ephesians 3:7; Hebrews 6:4-6; 2 Peter 1:9-12.
6. (a) Why do all of us need accurate knowledge, regardless of whether our hope is heavenly or earthly? (b) What is required to obtain accurate knowledge?
6 What about those whose hope is everlasting life on earth? Why is accurate knowledge vital for them? Because there are no degrees of Christian integrity, as if there were a higher standard for the anointed, who have a heavenly hope, than for the other sheep, who have an earthly hope. (John 10:16; 2 Peter 3:13) Christian principles apply equally to all. For that reason, all of us need to recharge our spiritual batteries with accurate knowledge on a regular basis. But time and effort are involved. We must engage in spiritual digging, as if for hidden treasures.—Psalm 105:4, 5.
Buying Out Time to Dig
7. (a) What difficulties exist that might impede our obtaining accurate knowledge? (b) What may be the consequences of spiritual neglect?
7 Most people today lead busy lives, and as Christians we seem to be even busier than most with our schedules for Bible meetings, field service, secular work, housework, schoolwork, and so forth. Yet, just as we schedule time each day to eat, so we must set aside time to feed our mind and our spirituality. It was no idle remark that Jesus made when he quoted Deuteronomy 8:3: “It is written, ‘Man must live, not on bread alone, but on every utterance coming forth through Jehovah’s mouth.’” (Matthew 4:4) If we neglect our spirituality, we neglect our spiritual values and our hope for the future. Then we may begin to slip and waver. So how can we make time for regular personal Bible study?
8. What Scriptural counsel gives us a proper perspective on personal study?
8 The apostle Paul’s words are very appropriate: “Keep strict watch that how you walk is not as unwise but as wise persons, buying out the opportune time for yourselves, because the days are wicked. On this account cease becoming unreasonable, but go on perceiving what the will of Jehovah is.” We can perceive what Jehovah’s will is only if we pay attention to his Word by means of our personal study. And that means we must ‘buy out the opportune time’ or ‘make the best use of our time.’—Ephesians 5:15-17; Phillips.
9. Where might we be losing time that can be redeemed for personal study? Give personal experiences.
9 If we analyze our nonessential activities of each day, how do we find that much of our free time is spent? Is it in front of the television set? That hypnotic apparatus can steal anything from two to five hours each evening from our life! How many hours per day do you personally spend watching television? Often, what is presented is, by its emphasis on violence and sex, degrading. And frequently it is designed to appeal to “the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the showy display of one’s means of life.” (1 John 2:15-17) Yet, many lack the willpower to turn the television off. Yes, this modern invention can consume our most precious asset, time.
10. Why is it so important today that we use our time wisely?
10 If we are honest with ourselves, we will recognize that it is usually possible to redeem time for essential activities such as Bible study. And personal Bible study that leads to accurate knowledge is essential for a Christian in these critical times. Yet, with over 41,000 disfellowshipped last year, it is clear that many brothers and sisters have neglected their spirituality. Wearing and maintaining “the complete suit of armor from God” is not just a casual exercise. Even as in the case of a soldier wearing literal armor, it is a daily duty.—Ephesians 6:10-18; Romans 1:28-32; 2 Timothy 3:1.
11. What example does the Bethel family set in being organized for family study?
11 Around the world the more than 9,000 members of the 95 Bethel families at the branch offices of the Watch Tower Society have their family study every Monday evening. They study The Watchtower in preparation for the weekend meeting, and on many occasions they also have a Bible lecture or a classroom session for newer members of the family. Yes, Monday is the worldwide Bethel family study night. When is your personal or family study period?—Hebrews 10:24, 25.
Tools and How to Use Them
12. What are some of the outstanding study features of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures—With References?
12 Just as a miner has tools for his trade, so we have tools with which to dig into the gold mine of God’s Word. Consider, for example, the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures—With References. It is presently published in Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish. Therefore, most of Jehovah’s Witnesses have available a marvelous tool for obtaining accurate knowledge of the true God. This Bible edition incorporates thousands of marginal references and copious footnotes. It also has a 36-page appendix with detailed information on a variety of important Bible questions.*
13. What interesting facts are presented regarding the use of “knowledge” and “accurate knowledge” in the Hebrew Scriptures and the Greek Scriptures?
13 In the back, the Reference Bible has a list of principal “Bible Words Indexed.” How can we use that? If you check your copy for the expression “accurate knowledge,” you will find ten texts listed. But none of these are in the Hebrew Scriptures. Does that mean that the Hebrew Scriptures do not highlight the need for such knowledge? No. For under the word “knowledge,” there are 24 references, including 18 from the Hebrew Scriptures. However, the Hebrew language does not have a special word for “accurate knowledge.” So, as you will see from the references, it sometimes highlights the need for more than just general knowledge by linking “knowledge” with words such as “discernment” and “insight” or speaking of knowledge as being “abundant.”—Daniel 1:4; 12:4; Jeremiah 3:15.
14. What interesting highlights are there under “knowledge” in Insight on the Scriptures?
14 As we learned in the preceding article, Bible Greek conveyed a subtle difference between the two degrees of knowledge. And as we dig, we want to know more about the difference between these two expressions as they apply to Christians. Why are knowledge, gnoʹsis, and accurate knowledge, e·piʹgno·sis, essential for Christians? Where can we find the answer? In the Bible encyclopedia Insight on the Scriptures. What a treasure house these volumes are! Look for the heading “Knowledge.” There you will find a complete article on the terms we are considering and on the related attributes wisdom, understanding, discernment, and thinking ability. And we have found all this “gold,” this information, just by using a few Bible study aids! But there is more.—Psalm 19:9, 10.
15. What other research tools do we have, and how can they be used?
15 If you wanted to pursue a more exhaustive study of “knowledge” and related terms, you could use the Indexes of the Watch Tower Society’s publications, which are available in a number of languages. And just as we have traced out the theme of knowledge, you can follow the same procedure for hundreds of other subjects. Imagine the wealth of information under Jehovah’s name! What an abundance of accurate knowledge there is about the Sovereign Lord of the universe!—Psalm 68:19, 20; Acts 4:24.
16. What do the Scriptures say as to searching?
16 With these and other study aids published by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, what beautiful “hid treasures” we can find! Do you want the “gold”? Do you think it is worthwhile? Will you make the time to dig for it?—Proverbs 2:1-5.
Who Takes the Lead in Spiritual Mining?
17. What must we do to obtain knowledge of God and Christ?
17 What is the key to obtaining this precious knowledge of God and Christ? Motivation—a yearning to have an approved standing with Jehovah and his Son and a desire to receive the gift of everlasting life. Jesus put it this way: “Keep on asking, and it will be given you; keep on seeking, and you will find; keep on knocking, and it will be opened to you. For everyone asking receives, and everyone seeking finds, and to everyone knocking it will be opened.” But notice the condition. Jesus said, ‘Keep on asking, seeking, and knocking.’ It is not just a onetime thing. The search for knowledge must be persistent.—Matthew 5:6; 7:7, 8.
18. In a family, who should take the lead in seeking accurate knowledge, and why?
18 In a Christian family, who must take the lead in digging for accurate knowledge? Paul answers: “You, fathers, do not be irritating your children, but go on bringing them up in the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah.” Yes, the parents, especially the father, must take the lead in showing appreciation for spiritual values. And that reminds us again of the need for a regular arrangement that the family can expect and look forward to.—Ephesians 6:4.
19. How can family study periods be made interesting? What is your family’s experience?
19 Family study periods can be made interesting. For example, if you have children, why not have them choose a theme and then assign them to do research in different publications according to their age and ability. Then after half an hour or so, come together and see what each one has discovered on the assigned subject. If a concordance is available, a youngster can count how many times a certain word appears in the Hebrew Scriptures and the Greek Scriptures. Perhaps an older one will locate some gems in the Insight volumes. Parents know their children’s capabilities and their attention span and should build the session around those factors. Be flexible and appreciative. Encourage your family in their spiritual digging—and have the right motive.
Digging With the Right Motive
20. What wrong motive should we avoid in our personal study?
20 Modesty is a Christian virtue. (Proverbs 11:2; 1 Timothy 2:9) Should we, then, be studying in order to boast of what we have learned? Or should we make a public display of our knowledge and perhaps show others up as ignorant? Or should we proclaim our own interpretations or speculations? Paul counseled: “For through the undeserved kindness given to me I tell everyone there among you not to think more of himself than it is necessary to think; but to think so as to have a sound mind, each one as God has distributed to him a measure of faith.”—Romans 12:3.
21, 22. How should our accurate knowledge affect us?
21 Earnest effort and the application of accurate knowledge can lead to faith, virtue, self-control, endurance, godly devotion, brotherly affection, and love. Peter showed the importance of these when he wrote: “For if these things exist in you and overflow, they will prevent you from being either inactive or unfruitful regarding the accurate knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”—2 Peter 1:2-8.
22 Our knowledge should affect the heart. It should move us to show love for God and for neighbor and to become productive Christians in our conduct and ministry. This will result in unity and a fuller understanding of the example of Christ. (Ephesians 4:13) What a fine reward for seeking hidden treasures!
Interestingly, at Proverbs 2:5 the expression “the very knowledge of God” appears in the Greek Septuagint as e·piʹgno·sis, or “accurate knowledge,” one of the eight uses of that Greek word in the Septuagint.
For a detailed explanation of how to get the most out of the Reference Bible, see The Watchtower of November 1, 1985, pages 27-30.
Questions to Ponder
□ According to King Solomon, what is more valuable than hidden treasures?
□ Why is accurate knowledge vital for the anointed and for the other sheep?
□ How can we buy out time for personal study?
□ What special tools do we have for digging for accurate knowledge?
□ Who should take the lead in family study, and with what motive should we study?