Responsibility Goes With Knowing the Right Religion
“Happy are those hearing the word of God and keeping it!”—LUKE 11:28.
1. Once they identify the right religion, what kind of people build their lives around it?
IT IS not sufficient simply to identify the right religion. If we are lovers of what is right and true, once we have found it, we will build our lives around it. The true religion is not merely a mental philosophy; it is a way of life.—Psalm 119:105; Isaiah 2:3; compare Acts 9:2.
2, 3. (a) How did Jesus emphasize the importance of doing God’s will? (b) What responsibility rests upon everyone who knows the right religion?
2 Jesus Christ emphasized the importance of doing what God has shown to be His will. In concluding what has come to be known as the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus made known that not all who addressed him as Lord (thus professing to be Christians) would enter the Kingdom; only those doing the will of his Father would. Others, he said, would be rejected as “workers of lawlessness.” Why lawlessness? Because as the Bible states, failure to do God’s will is sin, and all sin is lawlessness. (Matthew 7:21-23; 1 John 3:4; compare Romans 10:2, 3.) A person may know the right religion, he may commend those who teach it, and he may speak well of those who practice it, but he also has the responsibility to apply it in his own life. (James 4:17) If he accepts that responsibility, he will find that his life will be enriched, and he will experience joy that can come in no other way.
3 In the preceding article, we considered six of the identifying marks of true religion. Each of those not only helps us to identify the right religion but also presents us personally with challenges and opportunities. How so?
How Do You Respond to God’s Word?
4. (a) As newer ones begin to associate with Jehovah’s Witnesses, what do they soon observe as to the Witnesses’ use of the Bible? (b) How does being well fed spiritually affect Jehovah’s servants?
4 As Jehovah’s Witnesses study the Bible with newly interested ones, many of these newer ones quickly discern that what is being taught is from the Bible. In answer to their questions, they are not referred to church creeds, to human traditions, or to the opinions of prominent people. God’s own Word is the authority. When they go to the Kingdom Hall, they observe that there too the Bible is the principal textbook. It does not take sincere seekers of truth long to realize that a major factor in the joy that they see among Jehovah’s Witnesses is the fact that they are well fed spiritually from God’s Word.—Isaiah 65:13, 14.
5. (a) What challenge is presented to those who observe Jehovah’s Witnesses? (b) How can they share in the joy of the Witnesses?
5 If you recognize this, how do you react to it? If you get the sense of it, you cannot rightly be simply a passive observer, nor should you want to be. The Bible shows that those who are “hearers only” but not “doers of the word” are ‘deceiving themselves with false reasoning.’ (James 1:22) They deceive themselves because they fail to recognize that regardless of what they may say, their failure to obey God shows that they do not really love him. A profession of faith that is not backed up by works is a dead faith. (James 2:18-26; 1 John 5:3) In contrast, the one who is moved by love for Jehovah to be “a doer of the work” will be “happy in his doing it.” Yes, as Jesus Christ explained, “happy are those hearing the word of God and keeping it!”—James 1:25; Luke 11:28; John 13:17.
6. If we truly appreciate God’s Word, what opportunities will we personally endeavor to take hold of?
6 That joy will deepen as you grow in knowledge of God’s will and apply the further things that you learn. How much effort will you put forth to study God’s Word? Tens of thousands of individuals who were illiterate have worked hard to learn to read, doing this specifically so that they could read the Scriptures and teach them to other people. Others get up early every morning so that they can spend some time each day reading the Bible and Bible-study helps, such as The Watchtower. As you personally do consecutive reading of the Bible or look up scriptures cited in other study material, take careful note of Jehovah’s laws and commandments, and seek to discern the many principles that are there for our guidance. Meditate on what each portion reveals about God, his purpose, and his dealings with humankind. Allow time for this to mold your heart. Consider whether there are ways in which you can apply the Bible’s counsel more fully in your own life.—Psalm 1:1, 2; 19:7-11; 1 Thessalonians 4:1.
Is Your Devotion to Jehovah Complete?
7. (a) How has the Trinity doctrine influenced people’s efforts to worship God? (b) What may happen when a person learns the truth about Jehovah?
7 To millions of people, it has been a relief to learn that the true God is not a Trinity. The explanation “it is a mystery” never satisfied them. How could they draw close to a God who was incomprehensible? As a result of that teaching, they tended to ignore the Father (whose name they never heard in church) and to worship Jesus as God or to direct their worship to Mary (whom they were taught was the “Mother of God”). But their hearts responded with pleasure when one of Jehovah’s Witnesses opened the Bible and showed them God’s personal name, Jehovah. (Psalm 83:18) A Venezuelan woman was so elated at being shown the divine name that she literally hugged the young Witness who shared that precious truth with her and agreed to have a home Bible study. When such people learn that Jesus spoke of his Father as “my God and your God” and that Jesus addressed his Father as “the only true God,” they realize that what the Bible teaches about God is not incomprehensible. (John 17:3; 20:17) As they come to know Jehovah’s qualities, they feel drawn to him, begin to pray to him, and want to please him. What is the result?
8. (a) Because of their love for Jehovah and their desire to please him, what have millions of persons done? (b) Why is Christian baptism vitally important?
8 During the past ten years, 2,528,524 persons on six continents and on scores of islands have dedicated their lives to Jehovah and then symbolized this dedication by water baptism. Were you one of them, or are you now preparing to be baptized? Baptism is an important milestone in the life of every true Christian. Jesus commissioned his followers to make disciples of people of all the nations and to baptize them. (Matthew 28:19, 20) It is also noteworthy that it was immediately following Jesus’ own baptism that Jehovah himself spoke from the heavens, saying: “You are my Son, the beloved; I have approved you.”—Luke 3:21, 22.
9. To maintain an approved relationship with Jehovah, what is required on our part?
9 An approved relationship with Jehovah is something to be cherished. If you have entered into such a relationship by dedication and baptism, avoid anything that would impair it. Do not allow anxieties of life and concern over material things to push it into a secondary place. (1 Timothy 6:8-12) Truly live in harmony with the counsel of Proverbs 3:6: “In all your ways take notice of [Jehovah], and he himself will make your paths straight.”
How Deeply Does Christ’s Love Affect You?
10. Why does our worshiping Jehovah not cause us to ignore Jesus?
10 Proper appreciation for Jehovah as the only true God, of course, does not cause a person to ignore Jesus Christ. On the contrary, Revelation 19:10 says: “The bearing witness to Jesus is what inspires prophesying.” From Genesis to Revelation, the inspired prophecies provide details regarding the role of Jesus Christ in Jehovah’s purpose. As a person becomes acquainted with those details, a fascinating picture emerges that is free from the distortions and misconceptions that have resulted from Christendom’s false teachings.
11. How did learning what the Bible really teaches about God’s Son affect one woman in Poland?
11 Grasping the truth about God’s Son can have a profound effect on a person. That was the case with Danuta, a woman in Poland. She had been in touch with Jehovah’s Witnesses for eight years, enjoyed what they taught, but was not making true worship her way of life. Then she received a copy of the book The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived, which presents the life of Christ in an easy-to-understand manner.* Late in the evening, she opened the book, intending to read just one chapter. Not until dawn, however, when she had completed the book, did she put it down. She burst into tears. “Jehovah, forgive me,” she implored. As a result of what she had read, she saw more clearly than ever before the love shown by Jehovah and his Son. She realized that for eight years she had been ungratefully turning away from the help that God had been patiently extending to her. In 1993 she was baptized in symbol of her dedication to Jehovah on the basis of faith in Jesus Christ.
12. How does accurate knowledge of Jesus Christ affect our lives?
12 “Accurate knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” is associated with being an active and fruitful Christian. (2 Peter 1:8) To what extent will you have a part in such activity, sharing the Kingdom message with others? The amount that individuals are able to do is affected by many circumstances. (Matthew 13:18-23) Some circumstances we cannot change; others we can. What will motivate us to identify and make the changes that can be made? The apostle Paul wrote: “The love the Christ has compels us”; in other words, the love that he showed in laying down his life in our behalf is so outstanding that as our appreciation for it grows, our own hearts will be deeply moved. As a result, we realize that it would be most unfitting for us to keep on pursuing selfish goals and living largely to gratify self. Instead, we adjust our affairs to give first place to the work that Christ taught his disciples to do.—2 Corinthians 5:14, 15.
Separate From the World —To What Extent?
13. Why should we want no part of a religion that has made itself part of the world?
13 It is not difficult to see the record made by Christendom and other religions because they want to be part of the world. Church funds have been used to finance revolutionary activity. Priests have become guerrilla fighters. Day after day, newspapers feature reports about religious factions in various parts of the earth that are fighting one another. Their hands are dripping with blood. (Isaiah 1:15) And worldwide the clergy continue to try to manipulate the political scene. True worshipers have no part in this.—James 4:1-4.
14. (a) What must we personally avoid if we are going to keep separate from the world? (b) What can help us to avoid being ensnared by worldly attitudes and practices?
14 But separateness from the world involves more than that. The world is characterized by the love of money and what money can buy, the desire for personal prominence, and an incessant pursuit of pleasure, along with such things as lack of genuine concern for others, lying and abusive speech, rebellion against authority, and failure to exercise self-control. (2 Timothy 3:2-5; 1 John 2:15, 16) Because of our own imperfection, we may at times in some way reflect certain of those traits. What can help us in our struggle to avoid such snares? We need to remind ourselves who is behind all of it. “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” (1 John 5:19) No matter how enticing a certain course may appear, no matter how many other people live that way, when we see Jehovah’s chief adversary, Satan the Devil, back of it, we realize how ugly it really is.—Psalm 97:10.
How Far Does Your Love Reach?
15. How did unselfish love that you observed help you to identify the right religion?
15 When you first began to associate with Jehovah’s Witnesses, the love manifest among them no doubt appealed to you because of its contrast to the spirit of the world. Emphasis on unselfish love sets the pure worship of Jehovah apart from all other forms of worship. It may be that this is what convinced you that Jehovah’s Witnesses are indeed practicing the right religion. Jesus Christ himself said: “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.”—John 13:35.
16. What opportunities may there be for us individually to widen out in our love?
16 Does that quality also identify you as one of Christ’s disciples? Are there ways in which you can widen out in your showing of love? Without a doubt all of us can. There is more to it than friendliness to others at the Kingdom Hall. And if we were to extend love only to those loving us, how different would we be from the world? “Above all things, have intense love for one another,” the Bible urges. (1 Peter 4:8) Toward whom might we show greater love? Is it a Christian brother or sister whose background is different from ours and whose way of doing certain things irritates us? Is it someone who, as a result of illness or old age, has not been able to attend the meetings regularly? Is it our marriage mate? Or is it, perhaps, our aging parents? Some who were doing well in manifesting the fruits of the spirit, including love, felt as if they were learning these all over again when they were confronted with the very difficult situations that can arise in giving almost total care to a family member who had become severely disabled. Even when faced with these circumstances, of course, our love should also reach beyond our own household.
Kingdom Witnessing—How Important to You?
17. If we have personally benefited from visits by Jehovah’s Witnesses, what should we now feel moved to do?
17 An important way in which we show love for our fellowmen is by witnessing to them about God’s Kingdom. Only one group of people is doing this work that Jesus foretold. (Mark 13:10) These are Jehovah’s Witnesses. We have personally benefited by it. Now it is our privilege to help others. If we share God’s view of the matter, this work will be prominent in our lives.
18. How might our reading of the book Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom influence our own share in Kingdom witnessing?
18 The thrilling account of how the Kingdom message has been carried to the most remote parts of the earth during these last days is told in the book Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom. If it is available in your language, do not fail to read it. And as you do, take special note of all the ways in which individuals have shared in giving a witness about the Kingdom. Are there some whose example you can imitate? There are many opportunities open to all of us. May our love for Jehovah move us to make good use of them.
19. How are we benefited when we accept the responsibility that goes with knowing the right religion?
19 When we thus apply ourselves to the doing of Jehovah’s will, we find the answer to the question, What is the meaning of life? (Revelation 4:11) No longer are we groping, left with a feeling of emptiness. There is no career to which you can devote yourself that will bring greater contentment than will the wholehearted applying of yourself to the service of Jehovah God. And what a grand future it holds out! An eternity of satisfying life in his new world, where we will be able to use our faculties to the full in harmony with the loving purpose for which God created humankind.
Published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
How Would You Answer?
□ Why is it vital for a religion to accept the Bible as God’s Word and honor Jehovah as the true God?
□ What does true religion teach as to Jesus’ role as Ransomer?
□ Why should Christians keep separate from the world and practice unselfish love?
□ What role does Kingdom witnessing have in right religion?
[Pictures on page 16]
Baptism is a vital step in accepting the responsibilities of true worship. Each month, some 25,000 worldwide take that step
Papua New Guinea
[Pictures on page 17]
Sharing Bible truth with others is part of true worship