God’s Word Is Truth
“Sanctify them by means of the truth; your word is truth.”—JOHN 17:17.
1. How did the Hebrew psalmist view the Bible, but how do many view it today?
“YOUR word is a lamp to my foot, and a light to my roadway.” (Psalm 119:105) So said the Hebrew psalmist. Only a minority today have respect like that for God’s Word. In this 20th century, God’s Word exists in written form as the Holy Bible. It has been translated into more languages and distributed more widely than any other book in history. Yet, most refuse to accept it as a lamp for their feet. Even those who claim to be Christians prefer, for the most part, to follow their own ideas rather than let the Bible light their roadway.—2 Timothy 3:5.
2, 3. How do Jehovah’s Witnesses view the Bible, and what benefits has this brought them?
2 In sharp contrast, we who are Jehovah’s Witnesses agree with the psalmist. For us, the Bible is a God-given guide. We know that “all Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16) Unlike many today, we do not want to experiment in matters of morality and conduct. We know what is right because the Bible tells us.
3 This has brought us great benefits. We have come to know Jehovah, and we have learned his magnificent purposes for the earth and mankind, so we are confident that a bright future is possible for us and our families. We agree wholeheartedly with the psalmist who said: “How I do love your law! All day long it is my concern. Wiser than my enemies your commandment makes me, because to time indefinite it is mine.”—Psalm 119:97, 98.
Witnessing by Conduct
4. Recognizing the Bible as God’s Word puts what obligation upon us?
4 We have, therefore, every reason to agree with Jesus’ words addressed to his Father: “Your word is truth.” (John 17:17) But recognizing this fact puts an obligation upon us. We must help others to realize that God’s Word is the truth. In this way they too will be able to enjoy the blessings we experience. How can we help them in that way? For one thing, we must make every effort to apply Bible principles in our everyday lives. In that way, righthearted ones will see that the Bible’s way really is the best.
5. What counsel did Peter give about witnessing by our conduct?
5 This was the gist of the apostle Peter’s counsel to Christian women whose husbands were unbelievers. He said to them: “You wives, be in subjection to your own husbands, in order that, if any are not obedient to the word, they may be won without a word through the conduct of their wives.” (1 Peter 3:1) It was also the principle behind his counsel to all Christians—men, women, and children—when he said: “Maintain your conduct fine among the nations, that, in the thing in which they are speaking against you as evildoers, they may as a result of your fine works of which they are eyewitnesses glorify God in the day for his inspection.”—1 Peter 2:12; 3:16.
The Bible’s Superior Wisdom
6. How does Peter help us to see that we should assist others to appreciate the Bible?
6 Further, Christians can help others to appreciate the Bible if they do as Peter also counsels: “Sanctify the Christ as Lord in your hearts, always ready to make a defense before everyone that demands of you a reason for the hope in you, but doing so together with a mild temper and deep respect.” (1 Peter 3:15) Christian ministers should be able to defend the Bible and explain to others that it is God’s Word. How can they do that?
7. What fact about the Bible demonstrates that it must be God’s Word?
7 One persuasive line of reasoning is found in the book of Proverbs. There we read: “My son, if you will receive my sayings and treasure up my own commandments with yourself, so as to pay attention to wisdom . . . , you will find the very knowledge of God. For Jehovah himself gives wisdom; out of his mouth there are knowledge and discernment.” (Proverbs 2:1-6) God’s own wisdom is found in the pages of the Bible. When a sincere person sees that profound wisdom, he cannot fail to realize that the Bible is more than merely the word of man.
8, 9. How has the Bible’s counsel about keeping a balanced view of acquiring wealth been shown to be correct?
8 Consider a few examples. Today, success in life is usually measured in financial terms. The more a person earns, the more successful he is thought to be. The Bible, however, warns against putting too much emphasis on material things. The apostle Paul wrote: “Those who are determined to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and many senseless and hurtful desires, which plunge men into destruction and ruin. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of injurious things, and by reaching out for this love some have been led astray from the faith and have stabbed themselves all over with many pains.”—1 Timothy 6:9, 10; compare Matthew 6:24.
9 Experience has shown how appropriate this warning is. A clinical psychologist notes: “Becoming No. 1 and rich does not make you feel fulfilled, satisfied, authentically respected or loved.” Yes, those who spend all their energies pursuing wealth often end up feeling bitter and frustrated. The Scriptures, while acknowledging the value of money, point to something far more important: “Wisdom is for a protection the same as money is for a protection; but the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom itself preserves alive its owners.”—Ecclesiastes 7:12.
10. Why should we take heed of the Bible’s counsel to watch our associations?
10 The Bible has many such precepts. Another one is: “He that is walking with wise persons will become wise, but he that is having dealings with the stupid ones will fare badly.” (Proverbs 13:20) This has also been proved true by experience. Peer pressure has led young people into drunkenness, drug abuse, and immorality. Any who mix with users of foul language eventually find themselves using similar disgusting speech. Many steal from their employers because ‘everyone is doing it.’ Truly, as the Bible also says: “Bad associations spoil useful habits.”—1 Corinthians 15:33.
11. How did a psychological study show the wisdom of following the Golden Rule?
11 One of the most famous pieces of counsel in the Bible is the so-called Golden Rule: “All things, therefore, that you want men to do to you, you also must likewise do to them.” (Matthew 7:12) If mankind followed this rule, the world would clearly be a better place. But even if humans in general do not follow the rule, it is better for you individually to do so. Why? Because we were made to care for others and be concerned about them. (Acts 20:35) A psychological study conducted in the United States to find out how people reacted when they helped others reached this conclusion: “It appears, then, that caring about others is as much a part of human nature as caring about ourselves.”—Matthew 22:39.
The Bible’s Counsel—Uniquely Wise
12. What is one thing that makes the Bible unique?
12 Today, of course, there are many sources of counsel outside the Bible. Newspapers carry advice columns, and bookstores are full of self-help books. Additionally, there are psychologists, professional counselors, and others who offer advice in different fields. But the Bible is unique in at least three aspects. First, its counsel is always beneficial. It is never mere theory, and it never works to our harm. Anyone who follows the Bible’s counsel has to agree with the psalmist when he said to God in prayer: “Your own reminders have proved very trustworthy.”—Psalm 93:5.
13. What shows the Bible to be vastly superior to human sources of wisdom?
13 Second, the Bible has stood the test of time. (1 Peter 1:25; Isaiah 40:8) Counsel from human sources is notoriously changeable, and what is in fashion one year is often criticized the next. However, although the Bible was completed almost 2,000 years ago, it still contains the wisest counsel available, and its words are universally applicable. They apply with equal effect whether we live in Africa, in Asia, in South or North America, in Europe, or in the isles of the sea.
14. In what way does the counsel of God’s Word excel?
14 Finally, the wide range of the Bible’s counsel is unequalled. A Bible proverb says: “Jehovah himself gives wisdom,” and no matter what problem or decision we face, there is wisdom in the Bible that helps us to solve it. (Proverbs 2:6) Children, teenagers, parents, old folks, employees, employers, people in authority, all find that the wisdom in the Bible applies to them. (Proverbs 4:11) Even when we face situations that were unknown in the time of Jesus and his apostles, the Bible gives us counsel that works. For example, back in the first century, tobacco smoking was unknown in the Middle East. Today, it is widespread. Nevertheless, anyone who takes note of the Bible’s counsel to avoid being “brought under authority [or controlled] by anything” and to keep clean from “every defilement of flesh and spirit” will avoid this habit, which is both addictive and destructive to health.—1 Corinthians 6:12; 2 Corinthians 7:1.
For Our Long-Term Good
15. Why do many claim that the Bible is out-of-date?
15 True, many say that the Bible is out-of-date and irrelevant in this 20th century. However, the reason likely is that the Bible does not say what they want to hear. Following Scriptural counsel works out for our long-term benefit, but it often takes patience, discipline, and self-denial—traits that are not popular in a world that encourages us to seek instant gratification.—Proverbs 1:1-3.
16, 17. What high standards of sexual morality does the Bible set, and how have they been ignored in modern times?
16 Take the matter of sexual morality. Scriptural standards are very strict. The only place for sexual intimacy is within marriage, and all such intimacy outside marriage is forbidden. We read: “Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men kept for unnatural purposes, nor men who lie with men . . . will inherit God’s kingdom.” (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10) Moreover, for Christians the Bible requires monogamy, one husband for one wife. (1 Timothy 3:2) And while there are extreme cases where divorce or separation might be allowed, the Bible says that in general the marriage bond is for life. Jesus himself said: “He who created them from the beginning made them male and female and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and will stick to his wife, and the two will be one flesh’ . . . So that they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has yoked together let no man put apart.”—Matthew 19:4-6, 9; 1 Corinthians 7:12-16.
17 Today, these standards are widely ignored. Loose sexual practices are tolerated. Sexual relations between dating teenagers are viewed as normal. Living together without the benefit of marriage is accepted. Among married couples, illicit sexual affairs by either partner are not uncommon. And divorce is pandemic in this modern world. These relaxed standards, however, have not brought happiness. The bad results have proved that the Bible was right after all in insisting on strict moral standards.
18, 19. What has resulted from the widespread ignoring of Jehovah’s standards of morality?
18 Ladies’ Home Journal said: “The emphasis upon sex that typified the sixties and seventies has brought not infinite human happiness but some serious human misery.” The “serious human misery” here referred to includes that of children traumatized by their parents’ divorce and that of adults suffering deep emotional pain. It also includes an increase in single-parent families and an epidemic of young single girls who have babies when they are hardly out of childhood themselves. Moreover, it embraces a pandemic of sexually transmitted diseases, such as genital herpes, gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, and AIDS.
19 In view of all of this, a professor of sociology noted: “Perhaps we are grown up enough to consider whether it would not serve us all better to promote premarital abstinence as a policy that is the most responsive to the needs of our citizens and their right to freedom: freedom from disease, freedom from unwanted pregnancy.” The Bible correctly states: “Happy is the able-bodied man that has put Jehovah as his trust and that has not turned his face to defiant people, nor to those falling away to lies.” (Psalm 40:4) Those who trust the Bible’s wisdom are not deceived by the lies of those defying the Bible and saying that a looser moral code brings happiness. The Bible’s wise, if strict, standards are for the best.
Difficult Problems in Life
20. What Bible principles have proved helpful to those who must face severe poverty in their lives?
20 The wisdom of the Bible also helps us to handle the difficult problems we face in life. For example, in a number of lands, there are Christians living in severe, deep poverty. Yet they cope with their poverty and still find happiness. How? By following the inspired Word of God. They take seriously the comforting words of Psalm 55:22: “Throw your burden upon Jehovah himself, and he himself will sustain you.” They rely on God for strength to endure. Then they apply Bible principles and avoid harmful, wasteful habits, such as smoking and drunkenness. They are industrious, as the Bible recommends, and thus often find that they can feed their families when lazy people or those who give in to despair fail. (Proverbs 6:6-11; 10:26) Further, they heed the Bible’s warning: “Do not be envious of those doing unrighteousness.” (Psalm 37:1) They do not resort to gambling or to criminal activities, such as selling drugs. These things may offer a quick “solution” to their problems, but the long-term fruitage is bitter.
21, 22. (a) How did one Christian woman draw help and comfort from the Bible? (b) What further fact about the Bible helps us to realize that it is God’s Word?
21 Does following the Bible really help those who are very poor? Yes, as many, many experiences prove. One Christian widow in Asia writes: “Although I live near the poverty line, I am not resentful or bitter. Bible truth fills me with a positive outlook.” She reports that a notable promise given by Jesus has been fulfilled in her case. Jesus said: “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33) She testifies that by putting her service to God first in her life, she always receives, in one way or another, the material necessities of life. And her Christian service gives her dignity and a goal in life that makes her poverty endurable.
22 Truly, the depth of its wisdom shows that the Bible really is God’s Word. No book produced solely by humans could cover so many different aspects of life and be so deeply discerning and so consistently right. But there is another fact about the Bible that demonstrates its divine origin. It has the power to change people for the better. We will discuss this in the next article.
Can You Explain?
□ In what way are Jehovah’s Witnesses blessed by their acceptance of the Bible as God’s Word?
□ As believers in God’s Word, what obligation do we have, and how can our conduct help us to discharge this obligation?
□ What makes the Bible’s wise counsel superior to mere human advice?
□ What are some examples that show the depth of the Bible’s wisdom?