Finding True Enlightenment
IT WAS December 18, 1810. Night was falling. In stormy seas somewhere off the southeast coast of Scotland, the British Navy frigate HMS Pallas had lost its bearings. Growing darkness and driving snow were making it more and more difficult for the crew to locate the beacons they needed to guide their ship to safety. Imagine their relief when they finally saw lights and steered their ship toward them! Sadly, though, these were not the guiding lights they needed. They were, in fact, workmen’s fires burning near the coast. The Pallas was driven onto the rocks and completely wrecked. Eleven sailors drowned. What a tragedy!
In the case of the Pallas, an error led to the disaster. At other times, however, sailors faced an even greater danger—false beacon lights. Such lights were put up to lure ships onto rocky shores so that the wrecks could be plundered, according to the book Wrecks, Wreckers and Rescuers.
‘Sacred Writings That Can Lead You to Salvation’
In your search for enlightenment, you face dangers that are similar to the ones encountered by those sailors. You might follow misleading information, or you might even become a victim of deliberate deception. Either path can lead to tragedy. What can you do to protect yourself? Make sure that your source of enlightenment is genuine and trustworthy. For more than 125 years, this magazine has championed God’s inspired Word, the Bible, as the most dependable source of enlightenment because it contains “sacred writings which have power to make you wise and lead you to salvation.”—2 Timothy 3:15-17, New English Bible.
Of course, for you to have confidence in the Bible as a trustworthy guiding light, it is reasonable that you check its credentials. (Psalm 119:105; Proverbs 14:15) Feel free to write to the publishers of this magazine to obtain information that has helped convince millions that the Bible truly is inspired by God. Read, for example, the brochure entitled A Book for All People.* It presents much information that shows that the Bible is accurate, authentic, and inspired.
What, then, are some of the fundamental truths that these “sacred writings” contain? Consider the following examples.
There is one Almighty God and Creator who made all things. (Genesis 1:1) We exist only “because [God] created all things” and gave us life. (Revelation 4:11) That is why he alone deserves our worship. The Creator is the ultimate Source of all enlightenment. (Psalm 36:9; Isaiah 30:20, 21; 48:17, 18) He has a personal name that he wants us to use. (Exodus 3:15) That name, written in Hebrew characters and transliterated YHWH, appears some 7,000 times in the Bible. For centuries, it has been used in English in the form “Jehovah.”—Psalm 83:18.
Jehovah made men and women to live forever in Paradise conditions right here on earth. He endowed humans with spiritual qualities that mirrored his own. He gave them talents and abilities that would allow them to enjoy endless, satisfying human life on earth. (Genesis 1:26-28) He never purposed for the earth to be some kind of testing ground for men and women—a stepping-stone to a spirit life in heaven, as if only there could they enjoy a relationship with God.
There was nothing evil in God’s human creation. Evil came about only when some of God’s creations—both human and spirit—misused their freedom of choice and rebelled against God. (Deuteronomy 32:5) Our original parents assumed the right to determine for themselves what was good and what was bad. (Genesis 2:17; 3:1-5) That brought death to the human family. (Genesis 3:19; Romans 5:12) To settle the issues raised by the rebellion, Jehovah decided on a temporary toleration of wickedness. But his purpose for the earth and for the human family has remained unchanged. (Isaiah 45:18) Men and women will yet live forever in Paradise conditions on a cleansed earth.—Matthew 6:10; Revelation 21:1-5.
Jesus Christ is, not Almighty God, but the Son of God. Jesus Christ himself taught his followers to pray: “Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified.” (Matthew 6:9) He never claimed equality with God. Rather, he said: “The Father is greater than I am.”—John 14:28.
Jesus plays a vital part in the outworking of God’s purpose. God sent him “as a light into the world, in order that everyone putting faith in [him] may not remain in the darkness.” (John 12:46) According to the apostle Peter, “there is no salvation in anyone else.” (Acts 4:12) This is true because our salvation depends on the precious blood of Christ. (1 Peter 1:18, 19) Jesus Christ gave his life as a ransom sacrifice to redeem mankind from the sin that our original parents, Adam and Eve, introduced into the human family. (Matthew 20:28; 1 Timothy 2:6) Also, Jesus was used by God to reveal His will and purpose.—John 8:12, 32, 46, 47; 14:6; Acts 26:23.
God has set up a heavenly Kingdom, or government, made up of Jesus Christ and those chosen from among mankind. This recurring theme is found throughout the Bible. God has entrusted this government with the task of making sure that his will is done on earth as in heaven. (Matthew 6:10) It was not part of God’s original purpose for any from among mankind to go to heaven. Their home was to be the earth. But following man’s fall into sin, God purposed something new. He arranged to choose people “out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation . . . to rule as kings” with Christ in a heavenly government. (Revelation 5:9, 10) That Kingdom government will soon “crush and put an end” to all forms of human rulership, which have brought so much misery and pain to the human family.—Daniel 2:44.
The soul is mortal. This fundamental Bible truth clarifies much about man and his life prospects. It also removes the misunderstanding and misinformation that have confused people about the condition of the dead.
The very first book of the Bible tells us: “Jehovah God proceeded to form the man out of dust from the ground and to blow into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man came to be a living soul.” (Genesis 2:7) Do you see what that means? The soul is not a shadowy entity that exists within the human frame. Man does not have a soul. He is a soul—a combination of elements found in the “dust from the ground” and a life force that comes from God. The soul is not immortal. When man dies, the soul dies.—Genesis 3:19; Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10.
Those who have died can be restored to life through a resurrection. When the time that God has temporarily permitted wickedness is over, “all those in the memorial tombs will hear [Jesus’] voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.” (John 5:28, 29; Acts 24:15) The resurrection will restore people to human life on a paradise earth, to the kind of life that God originally purposed for his human family.
Carefully Examine the Scriptures Daily
Do you see how a knowledge of such fundamental truths can help you? In these critical, stormy times, such knowledge can protect you from “the falsely called ‘knowledge’” propagated by Satan the Devil. He pretends to be “an angel of light,” and his agents pose as “ministers of righteousness.” (1 Timothy 6:20; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15) Accurate Bible knowledge can protect you from so-called enlightenment based on the philosophies of worldly “wise and intellectual ones,” who “have rejected the very word of Jehovah.”—Matthew 11:25; Jeremiah 8:9.
Because there were so many misleading teachings and philosophies in his day, the apostle John warned first-century Christians: “Do not believe every inspired expression.” He said: “Test the inspired expressions to see whether they originate with God.” (1 John 4:1) Think of it this way. If you received a message that could have a profound effect on your life, would you accept it at face value simply because it appeared to come from a good source? Of course not. You would check its source and test out its contents before you acted on it.
By providing an inspired written record that contains fundamental truths, God has made it possible for you to do just that—to “make sure” that the guiding lights, or beacons, that you follow are genuine. (1 Thessalonians 5:21) Noble-minded people in the first century were commended for “carefully examining the Scriptures daily” to make sure that what they learned really was the truth. (Acts 17:11) You can do the same. Let the Bible, like “a lamp shining in a dark place,” guide you to safety. (2 Peter 1:19-21) If you do, “you will find the very knowledge of God,” which brings true enlightenment.—Proverbs 2:5.
Published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
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God’s Word is like a lamp
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What is God’s name?
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What is mankind’s future?
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Is Jesus Almighty God?
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Where are the dead?
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The resurrection of the dead is one of the fundamental truths taught in the Bible