Taking in Knowledge of God—How?
Some may doubt that God is really interested in revealing himself to humans. If he is, how does he go about doing so?
THE 16th-century Protestant Reformer John Calvin correctly concluded that men cannot of themselves know God except as he reveals himself to mankind. Some, however, may wonder whether God is really interested in revealing himself to humans. And if he is, how does he go about doing so?
Jehovah, the “Grand Creator,” has a reason for everything he does. Also, as “God Almighty,” he is fully able to carry out his purposes. (Ecclesiastes 12:1; Exodus 6:3) We can be certain that he has been willing to reveal his purposes to humans, for his prophet Amos was inspired to write: “The Sovereign Lord Jehovah will not do a thing unless he has revealed his confidential matter to his servants the prophets.” Note, though, that God was said to have revealed his purposes only to his servants, to those who sincerely loved him. Is that not logical? To whom do you reveal your confidential matters? To just anyone or to your closest companions?—Amos 3:7; Isaiah 40:13, 25, 26.
God’s wisdom and knowledge fill humble ones with awe, and properly so. Yet, more than awe is necessary if we are to benefit personally from divine wisdom and knowledge. The Bible stresses that in order to learn God’s thoughts, we need a humble heart: ‘Treasure up my own commandments with yourself. Pay attention to wisdom with your ear. Incline your heart to discernment. Call out for understanding itself and give forth your voice for discernment. Keep seeking for it as for silver.’—Proverbs 2:1-4.
A humble person who puts forth this kind of effort will indeed be able to get to know God. That passage in the book of Proverbs continues: “Jehovah himself gives wisdom; out of his mouth there are knowledge and discernment.” Yes, sincere seekers of truth can “understand righteousness and judgment and uprightness, the entire course of what is good.”—Proverbs 2:6-9.
In Search of the Truth
The Encyclopedia of Religion notes: “Human life is characterized by the need to distinguish between what is real and unreal, powerful and powerless, genuine and deceptive, pure and contaminated, clear and confused, as well as relative degrees of one extreme or the other.” To meet this need, people have long searched for the truth. To the extent that they have directed their search to Jehovah, whom the psalmist calls “the God of truth,” they have made progress in finding it.—Psalm 31:5.
The name Jehovah literally means “He Causes to Become.” (Genesis 2:4, footnote) Thus, the very meaning of God’s name calls attention to his Creatorship and his purpose. In reality, knowing and using the name Jehovah is an earmark of true religion. Jesus clearly recognized that fact. Referring to his followers, he said to God in prayer: “I have made your name known to them and will make it known, in order that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in union with them.”—John 17:26.
Relying on his friendship with God, an ancient Hebrew named Joseph, when faced with the task of revealing the meaning of dreams, said with confidence: “Do not interpretations belong to God?”—Genesis 40:8; 41:15, 16.
Several centuries later, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had a dream that his wise men were unable to interpret. The prophet Daniel said to the king: “There exists a God in the heavens who is a Revealer of secrets, and he has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what is to occur in the final part of the days.”—Daniel 2:28.
The examples of Joseph and Daniel show that the wisdom and knowledge of God are available only to ones serving Jehovah God. Of course, our gaining God’s favor may entail abandoning previously held views. First-century Jews who became Christians had to do just that. Brought up to respect and obey the laws laid down under the Jewish system of things, they needed time to accept Jesus as the Messiah. He came to fulfill the Mosaic Law, which served as “a shadow of the good things to come.” (Hebrews 10:1; Matthew 5:17; Luke 24:44, 45) Taking its place was “the law of the Christ,” which is far superior to the Mosaic Law.—Galatians 6:2; Romans 13:10; James 2:8.
All of us have been born into a world alienated from God. Because of sin inherited from the first human couple, we were born at enmity with God, lacking accurate knowledge of his purposes. We have also come to have a treacherous heart. (Jeremiah 17:9; Ephesians 2:12; 4:18; Colossians 1:21) To gain God’s friendship, we must learn to pattern our thinking after God’s ways. Doing so is far from easy.
It may be difficult to discard false religious ideas or practices, particularly if such were impressed upon us from childhood. But is continuing in the wrong way the intelligent course to take? Hardly! It is certainly wiser to change one’s way of thinking and thereby gain God’s approval.
Identifying God’s Channel of Instruction
Where can we find assistance in understanding the Word of truth and then in living in accord with it? In Israel of old, God provided leadership through trusted and loyal individuals in positions of responsibility. The Head of the Christian congregation today, Christ, likewise guides those who sincerely search for the truth. He does so through his trusted and loyal followers, who make up the channel responsible for directing and protecting earnest seekers of truth. (Matthew 24:45-47; Colossians 1:18) But how can one identify God’s channel of instruction?
True followers of Jesus Christ strive to reflect the same qualities that Jesus manifested as a human. In an increasingly wicked world, their uniqueness in displaying such spiritual qualities makes these followers easy to identify. (See the box on page 6.) Are these qualities reflected in the religion with which you have been affiliated or in the religions of your neighbors? It will be worth your while to investigate this matter in the light of the Bible.
We invite you, our reader, to do so by means of a Bible study course. Last year, on an average, over 6,000,000 individuals or families in 235 lands were taking advantage of this arrangement to study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Gaining the wisdom and knowledge of God is an ongoing, satisfying, and rewarding activity. Why not embark on a journey to gain the wisdom and knowledge of God? It is a journey you will never regret having taken. Yes, we can really get to know God!
[Box on page 6]
THOSE WORKING IN HARMONY WITH GOD . . .
maintain neutrality in political conflicts.—Isaiah 2:4.
produce good fruitage by doing God’s will.—Matthew 7:13-23.
speak everywhere in unison.—Micah 2:12.
do not imitate the wrong attitudes and conduct of the world around them.—John 17:16.
enjoy meeting regularly for mutual encouragement.—Hebrews 10:25.
praise God as an international body.—Revelation 7:9, 10.
[Pictures on page 7]
Knowledge of God is acquired on an individual, a family, and a congregational level