Read God’s Word and Serve Him in Truth
“Instruct me, O Jehovah, about your way. I shall walk in your truth.”—PSALM 86:11.
1. In essence, what did the first issue of this magazine say about truth?
JEHOVAH sends out light and truth. (Psalm 43:3) He also gives us the capacity to read his Word, the Bible, and learn the truth. This journal’s first issue—July 1879—said: “Truth, like a modest little flower in the wilderness of life, is surrounded and almost choked by the luxuriant growth of the weeds of error. If you would find it you must be ever on the lookout. If you would see its beauty you must brush aside the weeds of error and the brambles of bigotry. If you would possess it you must stoop to get it. Be not content with one flower of truth. Had one been sufficient there would have been no more. Gather ever, seek for more.” Reading and studying God’s Word enables us to acquire accurate knowledge and walk in his truth.—Psalm 86:11.
2. What resulted when Ezra and others read God’s Law to the Jews in ancient Jerusalem?
2 After Jerusalem’s walls were rebuilt in 455 B.C.E., the priest Ezra and others read God’s Law to the Jews. This was followed by a joyful Festival of Booths, confession of sins, and concluding “a trustworthy arrangement.” (Nehemiah 8:1–9:38) We read: “They continued reading aloud from the book, from the law of the true God, it being expounded, and there being a putting of meaning into it; and they continued giving understanding in the reading.” (Nehemiah 8:8) Some suggest that the Jews did not understand Hebrew well and that Aramaic paraphrasing was done. But the text does not indicate mere clarification of linguistic terms. Ezra and the others expounded the Law so that the people could grasp its principles and apply them. Christian publications and meetings also serve to ‘put meaning into’ God’s Word. So do appointed elders, who are “qualified to teach.”—1 Timothy 3:1, 2; 2 Timothy 2:24.
3. What are some benefits gleaned from Bible reading?
3 When Christian families read the Bible together, they are likely to experience lasting benefits. They become acquainted with God’s laws and learn the truth about doctrines, prophetic matters, and other subjects. After a portion of the Bible has been read, the head of the household might ask: How should this affect us? In what way does this relate to other Bible teachings? How can we use these points in preaching the good news? A family gains greater insight when reading the Bible if they do research by using the Watch Tower Publications Index or other indexes. The two volumes of Insight on the Scriptures can be consulted with benefits.
4. How was Joshua to apply the instruction recorded at Joshua 1:8?
4 Principles drawn from the Scriptures can guide us in life. Moreover, reading and studying ‘the holy writings can make us wise for salvation.’ (2 Timothy 3:15) If we let God’s Word guide us, we will keep on walking in his truth and our righteous desires will be realized. (Psalm 26:3; 119:130) However, we need to seek understanding, as did Moses’ successor, Joshua. The “book of the law” was not to depart from his mouth, and he was to read in it day and night. (Joshua 1:8) Not to let the “book of the law” depart from his mouth meant that Joshua was not to quit telling others the enlightening things it said. Reading in the Law day and night meant that Joshua was to meditate on it, was to study it. The apostle Paul similarly urged Timothy to “ponder over”—meditate on—his conduct, ministry, and teaching. As a Christian elder, Timothy needed to be especially careful that his life was exemplary and that he taught Scriptural truth.—1 Timothy 4:15.
5. What is needed if we are to find God’s truth?
5 God’s truth is a priceless treasure. Finding it requires digging, persistent searching of the Scriptures. Only as childlike pupils of the Grand Instructor do we gain wisdom and come to understand the reverential fear of Jehovah. (Proverbs 1:7; Isaiah 30:20, 21) Of course, we should prove things Scripturally. (1 Peter 2:1, 2) Jews in Beroea “were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with the greatest eagerness of mind, carefully examining the Scriptures daily as to whether these things [said by Paul] were so.” The Beroeans were commended rather than rebuked for doing this.—Acts 17:10, 11.
6. Why could Jesus indicate that it did certain Jews no good to search the Scriptures?
6 Jesus told certain Jews: “You are searching the Scriptures, because you think that by means of them you will have everlasting life; and these are the very ones that bear witness about me. And yet you do not want to come to me that you may have life.” (John 5:39, 40) They searched the Scriptures with the right idea—that these could guide them to life. Indeed, the Scriptures contained Messianic prophecies that pointed to Jesus as the means of life. But the Jews rejected him. Searching the Scriptures, therefore, did them no good.
7. What is needed to grow in understanding of the Bible, and why?
7 To grow in our understanding of the Bible, we need the guidance of God’s spirit, or active force. “The spirit searches into all things, even the deep things of God” so as to bring forth their meaning. (1 Corinthians 2:10) Christians in Thessalonica were to “make sure of all things” in any prophecies they heard. (1 Thessalonians 5:20, 21) When Paul wrote to the Thessalonians (about 50 C.E.), the only part of the Greek Scriptures already written was Matthew’s Gospel. So the Thessalonians and the Beroeans could make sure of all things, likely by checking the Greek Septuagint version of the Hebrew Scriptures. They needed to read and study the Scriptures, and so do we.
Vital for All
8. Why should appointed elders excel in Bible knowledge?
8 Appointed elders should excel in Bible knowledge. They must be “qualified to teach” and must ‘hold firmly to the faithful word.’ The overseer Timothy was to ‘handle the word of the truth aright.’ (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:9; 2 Timothy 2:15) His mother, Eunice, and his grandmother Lois had taught him the holy writings from infancy, instilling ‘unhypocritical faith’ in him, though his father was an unbeliever. (2 Timothy 1:5; 3:15) Believing fathers are to bring up their offspring “in the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah,” and especially must elders who are fathers have ‘believing children that are not unruly or under a charge of debauchery.’ (Ephesians 6:4; Titus 1:6) Regardless of our circumstances, then, we should take very seriously the need to read, study, and apply God’s Word.
9. Why study the Bible in association with fellow Christians?
9 We should also study the Bible in association with fellow believers. Paul wanted the Thessalonian Christians to discuss his counsel with one another. (1 Thessalonians 4:18) To sharpen our understanding of the truth, there is nothing better than joining other devoted students in examining the Scriptures. True is the proverb: “By iron, iron itself is sharpened. So one man sharpens the face of another.” (Proverbs 27:17) An iron tool can become rusty if it is not kept in use and sharpened. Similarly, we need to meet regularly and sharpen one another by sharing knowledge we have gained from reading, studying, and meditating on God’s Word of truth. (Hebrews 10:24, 25) Moreover, this is one way to make sure that we benefit from flashes of spiritual light.—Psalm 97:11; Proverbs 4:18.
10. What does it mean to walk in the truth?
10 In our study of the Scriptures, we can appropriately pray to God as did the psalmist: “Send out your light and your truth. May these themselves lead me.” (Psalm 43:3) If we desire to have God’s approval, we must walk in his truth. (3 John 3, 4) This includes abiding by his requirements and serving him in faithfulness and sincerity. (Psalm 25:4, 5; John 4:23, 24) We must serve Jehovah in truth, as revealed in his Word and made clear in the publications of “the faithful and discreet slave.” (Matthew 24:45-47) This calls for accurate knowledge of the Scriptures. How, then, should we read and study God’s Word? Should we start reading it from Genesis chapter 1, verse 1, on through the 66 books? Yes, every Christian who has the complete Bible in his language should read it from Genesis to Revelation. And our objective in reading the Bible and Christian publications should be to increase our comprehension of the great body of Scriptural truth that God has made available through the ‘faithful slave.’
Read God’s Word Aloud
11, 12. Why is it beneficial to have the Bible read aloud at meetings?
11 We may read silently when alone. In ancient times, however, private reading was done aloud. As the Ethiopian eunuch rode in his chariot, the evangelizer Philip therefore heard him read from the prophecy of Isaiah. (Acts 8:27-30) The Hebrew word translated “read” primarily means to “call.” So those initially unable to read silently and get the sense of the reading should not be discouraged from pronouncing each word out loud. The principal thing is to learn the truth by reading God’s written Word.
12 It is beneficial to have the Bible read aloud at Christian meetings. The apostle Paul urged his coworker Timothy: “Continue applying yourself to public reading, to exhortation, to teaching.” (1 Timothy 4:13) Paul told the Colossians: “When this letter has been read among you, arrange that it also be read in the congregation of the Laodiceans and that you also read the one from Laodicea.” (Colossians 4:16) And Revelation 1:3 says: “Happy is he who reads aloud and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and who observe the things written in it; for the appointed time is near.” Therefore, a public speaker should read texts from the Bible to support what he says to a congregation.
Topical Method of Study
13. What is the most progressive method of learning Bible truths, and what can help us to locate scriptures?
13 Topical study is the most progressive method of learning Scriptural truths. Concordances, listing Bible words alphabetically in their context according to book, chapter, and verse, make it easy to locate texts related to a certain subject. And such scriptures can be harmonized with one another because the Bible’s Author does not contradict himself. By holy spirit, he inspired some 40 men to write the Bible over a period of 16 centuries, and studying it topically is a time-tested way of learning the truth.
14. Why study the Hebrew and Christian Greek Scriptures together?
14 Our appreciation for Bible truth should motivate us to read and study the Christian Greek Scriptures along with the Hebrew Scriptures. This will show how the Greek Scriptures are linked with God’s purpose and will shed light on Hebrew Scripture prophecies. (Romans 16:25-27; Ephesians 3:4-6; Colossians 1:26) Very helpful in this regard is the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures. It was prepared by dedicated servants of God who took advantage of the increased knowledge available concerning the original Bible text as well as its background and idiomatic expressions. Vital, too, are the Bible study aids Jehovah has provided by means of “the faithful and discreet slave.”
15. How would you prove that it is appropriate to quote from here and there in the Bible?
15 Some may say, ‘Your publications make thousands of quotations from the Bible, but why do you take these from here and there?’ By quoting from here and there in the Bible’s 66 books, the publications draw upon several inspired witnesses to prove the truthfulness of a teaching. Jesus himself used this method of instruction. When he gave his Sermon on the Mount, he made 21 quotations from the Hebrew Scriptures. That discourse contains three quotations from Exodus, two from Leviticus, one from Numbers, six from Deuteronomy, one from Second Kings, four from Psalms, three from Isaiah, and one from Jeremiah. By doing this, was Jesus ‘trying to prove just anything’? No, for ‘he taught as a person having authority, and not as the scribes.’ That was so because Jesus backed up his teaching with the authority of God’s written Word. (Matthew 7:29) So did the apostle Paul.
16. What Scriptural quotations did Paul make at Romans 15:7-13?
16 In the scripture passage found at Romans 15:7-13, Paul quoted from three Hebrew Scripture sections—the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms. He showed that Jews and Gentiles would glorify God, and Christians should thus welcome people of all nations. Paul said: “Welcome one another, just as the Christ also welcomed us, with glory to God in view. For I say that Christ actually became a minister of those who are circumcised in behalf of God’s truthfulness, so as to verify the promises He made to their forefathers, and that the nations might glorify God for his mercy. Just as it is written [at Psalm 18:49]: ‘That is why I will openly acknowledge you among the nations and to your name I will make melody.’ And again he says [at Deuteronomy 32:43]: ‘Be glad, you nations, with his people.’ And again [at Psalm 117:1]: ‘Praise Jehovah, all you nations, and let all the peoples praise him.’ And again Isaiah [11:1, 10] says: ‘There will be the root of Jesse, and there will be one arising to rule nations; on him nations will rest their hope.’ May the God who gives hope fill you with all joy and peace by your believing, that you may abound in hope with power of holy spirit.” By this topical method, Paul showed how to quote scriptures to establish Bible truths.
17. In harmony with what precedent do Christians quote from here and there in the whole Bible?
17 The apostle Peter’s first inspired letter contains 34 quotations from ten books in the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms. In his second letter, Peter quotes six times from three books. Matthew’s Gospel has 122 quotations from Genesis to Malachi. In the 27 books of the Greek Scriptures, there are 320 direct quotations from Genesis to Malachi as well as hundreds of other references to the Hebrew Scriptures. In harmony with the precedent set by Jesus and followed by his apostles, when modern-day Christians make a topical study of a Scriptural subject, they quote from here and there in the whole Bible. This is especially fitting in these “last days,” when most of the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures are being fulfilled. (2 Timothy 3:1) The ‘faithful slave’ makes such use of the Bible in its publications, but never does it add to God’s Word or take away from it.—Proverbs 30:5, 6; Revelation 22:18, 19.
Always Walk in the Truth
18. Why ‘walk in the truth’?
18 We must not take anything away from the Bible, for the whole body of Christian teachings in God’s Word is “the truth” or “the truth of the good news.” Adherence to this truth—“walking” in it—is vital for salvation. (Galatians 2:5; 2 John 4; 1 Timothy 2:3, 4) Since Christianity is “the way of the truth,” by assisting others in furthering its interests, we become “fellow workers in the truth.”—2 Peter 2:2; 3 John 8.
19. How can we “go on walking in the truth”?
19 If we are to “go on walking in the truth,” we must read the Bible and avail ourselves of the spiritual help that God provides through the ‘faithful slave.’ (3 John 4) May we do this for our own good and so as to be in a position to teach others about Jehovah God, Jesus Christ, and the divine purpose. And let us be thankful that Jehovah’s spirit helps us to understand his Word and succeed in serving him in truth.
What Are Your Answers?
□ What are some lasting benefits of Bible reading?
□ Why study the Bible in association with fellow believers?
□ Why is it proper to quote from various places throughout the Bible?
□ What does it mean to ‘walk in the truth,’ and how can we do so?
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Parents, teach your children the Scriptures
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In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus quoted from various parts of the Hebrew Scriptures