“Faith is . . . the evident demonstration of realities that are not seen.”—HEB. 11:1.
1, 2. What pressure may young ones today feel, and what steps can they take to deal with this?
“YOU seem to be too clever to believe in God,” said a fellow student to a young sister in Britain. A brother in Germany wrote: “My teachers view the Bible account of creation as a myth. And they take it for granted that the students believe in evolution.” A young sister in France said: “Teachers in my school are quite astonished that there are students who still believe in the Bible.”
2 As a young servant of Jehovah or as someone learning about Him, do you feel under pressure to conform to popular beliefs, such as evolution, rather than believe in a Creator? If so, there are steps you can take to strengthen your faith and keep it strong. One step is for you to use your God-given thinking ability, which “will keep watch over you.” It will protect you from secular philosophies that could destroy your faith.—Read Proverbs 2:10-12.
3. What will we discuss in this article?
3 Genuine faith is based on accurate knowledge about God. (1 Tim. 2:4) So as you study God’s Word and our Christian publications, do not just skim over the material. Use your thinking ability so that you ‘get the sense’ of what you read. (Matt. 13:23) Let us see how doing so can help you to strengthen your faith in God as the Creator and in the Bible—topics on which there is no shortage of “convincing evidence.”—Heb. 11:1, ftn.
HOW TO STRENGTHEN YOUR FAITH
4. Why do beliefs about God and the origin of life always involve some type of faith, and what sound approach should we take?
4 Have people said to you that they believe in evolution because it is based on science whereas belief in God is based on faith? Many hold this view. But it is good for us to keep this in mind: No matter what someone believes about God or about evolution, some type of faith is involved. How so? None of us have seen God or observed something being created. (John 1:18) And no human—whether he is a scientist or not—has observed one kind of life evolve into another kind. No one has watched a reptile evolve into a mammal, for example. (Job 38:1, 4) Hence, all of us must examine the evidence and use our thinking ability to reach sound conclusions. Regarding creation, the apostle Paul wrote: “[God’s] invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship, so that they are inexcusable.”—Rom. 1:20.
5. How have we as God’s people been equipped to use our perceptive powers?
5 “To perceive” means to recognize something that may not be immediately visible or obvious. (Heb. 11:3) Perceptive people, therefore, use their mind, not just their eyes and ears. Jehovah’s organization has supplied many well-researched aids to help us. These can enable us ‘to see’ our Creator through our eyes of faith. (Heb. 11:27) These aids include the video The Wonders of Creation Reveal God’s Glory, the brochures Was Life Created? and The Origin of Life—Five Questions Worth Asking, and the book Is There a Creator Who Cares About You? We also receive excellent food for thought in our magazines. Awake! has often presented interviews with scientists and others who have explained why they now believe in God. The series of articles called “Was It Designed?” has highlighted examples of the amazing design that we see in nature. Scientists often strive to imitate those wonderful designs.
6. What are some benefits from using the tools that are available, and how have you benefited?
6 About the two brochures just mentioned, a 19-year-old brother in the United States said: “These have been invaluable to me. I’ve studied those brochures about a dozen times.” A sister in France wrote: “The ‘Was It Designed?’ articles amaze me! They show that the greatest engineers may imitate but will never equal the complex designs in nature.” The parents of a 15-year-old in South Africa said: “The first thing that our daughter usually reads in Awake! is the ‘Interview’ article.” What about you? Do you take full advantage of these provisions? They can help your faith to become like a tree with deep roots. In that way your faith will enable you to withstand what might be like the winds of false teachings.—Jer. 17:5-8.
YOUR FAITH IN THE BIBLE
7. Why does God want you to use your power of reason?
7 Is it wrong to ask sincere questions about the Bible? By no means! Jehovah wants you to use “your power of reason” to prove the truth to yourself. He does not want you to believe just because others do. So use your thinking ability to gain accurate knowledge. That knowledge can then become the firm foundation for genuine faith. (Read Romans 12:1, 2; 1 Timothy 2:4.) One way to gain such knowledge is through the study projects that you choose to pursue.
8, 9. (a) What sort of study projects might some enjoy? (b) How have some benefited from meditating on what they study?
8 Some have chosen study projects that involved studying Bible prophecy or the Bible’s historical, archaeological, and scientific accuracy. One fascinating prophecy to consider is Genesis 3:15. That verse introduces the Bible’s primary theme, which is the vindication of God’s sovereignty and the sanctification of his name by means of the Kingdom. That one verse, using figurative language, sets out how Jehovah will solve all the suffering that humans have experienced since Eden. How might you study Genesis 3:15? One way would be to prepare a time line. It could list key scriptures that show how God bit by bit shed light on the individuals and arrangement referred to in this verse and that prove that the prophecy will be fulfilled. As you see the scriptures form a harmonious unit, you will surely conclude that the Bible prophets and writers must have been “moved by holy spirit.”—2 Pet. 1:21.
9 A brother in Germany wrote: “The Kingdom theme runs through the Bible like a golden thread. That is so, even though about 40 men wrote the Bible. And many of them lived at different times and did not know one another personally.” An Australian sister was moved by a Watchtower study article in the issue of December 15, 2013, that dealt with the meaning of the Passover. That special observance is closely connected to Genesis 3:15 and the coming of the Messiah. “That study opened my eyes to how wonderful Jehovah is,” she wrote. “For someone to have thought of this arrangement for the Israelites and for it to be fulfilled in Jesus really impressed me. I literally had to stop and contemplate how incredible that prophetic Passover meal was!” Why did this sister feel that way? She thought deeply about what she read and got “the sense of it.” This helped to strengthen her faith and drew her closer to Jehovah.—Matt. 13:23.
10. How does the honesty of Bible writers strengthen our faith in their writings?
10 Another faith-strengthening aspect to consider is the courage and honesty of the men who wrote the Bible. Many ancient writers flattered their leaders and glorified their kingdoms. Jehovah’s prophets, however, always spoke the truth. They were willing to point out the shortcomings of their own people, even their kings. (2 Chron. 16:9, 10; 24:18-22) And they made plain their own failings and those of other servants of God. (2 Sam. 12:1-14; Mark 14:50) “Honesty like that is rare,” said a young brother in Britain. “This adds to our confidence that the Bible truly is from Jehovah.”
11. How can young ones grow in appreciation for the value of Bible principles?
11 Because of its guiding principles, many are convinced that the Bible was inspired by God. (Read Psalm 19:7-11.) A young sister in Japan wrote: “When my family applied Bible teachings, we were truly happy. We experienced peace, unity, and love.” Bible principles protect us from sharing in false worship and from superstitions that enslave many people. (Ps. 115:3-8) Do philosophies that say that there is no God affect people? Such teachings as evolution tend to make nature into a sort of god, giving it powers that belong only to Jehovah. Those who say that there is no God claim that our future is entirely in our own hands. They, however, offer no sure hope for a better future.—Ps. 146:3, 4.
REASONING WITH OTHERS
12, 13. What is an effective way to discuss creation or the Bible with fellow students, teachers, or others?
12 How can you be effective when you reason with others about creation and the Bible? First, do not be quick to assume you know what others believe. Some people say that they believe in evolution, but they also feel that God exists. They think that God used evolution to create different forms of life. Others say that they believe in evolution because they feel that it would not be taught at school were it not a fact. And some stop believing in God because they are disappointed with religion. So when you discuss the origin of life with someone, it is usually wise to ask questions first. Find out what that person believes. If you are reasonable and willing to listen, he may be inclined to listen to you.—Titus 3:2.
13 If someone seems to be attacking your belief in creation, you may tactfully shift the responsibility to him. You might ask him to explain how life could have begun without a Creator. For the first life-form to continue, it had to be able to reproduce, to make copies of itself. One professor of chemistry said that among the things needed would be (1) a protective membrane, (2) the ability to get and process energy, (3) information in the genes, and (4) the ability to make copies of that information. He added: “One is struck by the complexity of even the simplest form of life.”
14. What can you do if you feel that you are not equipped to discuss evolution or creation?
14 If you feel unprepared to discuss evolution or creation, you can try using the basic reasoning that Paul used. He wrote: “Every house is constructed by someone, but the one who constructed all things is God.” (Heb. 3:4) Such logic is very reasonable and effective! Yes, complex designs are the product of an intelligent mind. You might also use a suitable publication. One sister used the two brochures mentioned earlier with a young man who said that he did not believe that there is a God and that he accepted evolution. A week or so later, the young man acknowledged, “Now I believe in God.” This led to a Bible study, and this young man became one of our brothers.
15, 16. How might you adjust the way you discuss the Bible, and with what goal?
15 You can use the same basic principles when you talk with someone who has doubts about the Bible. Find out what he actually believes and what topics may interest him. (Prov. 18:13) If he is interested in scientific things, he might respond when you mention points that show the Bible’s scientific accuracy. Other people might be moved by examples showing that the Bible contains accurate prophecies and accurate history. Or you might point out the Bible’s guiding principles, such as those found in the Sermon on the Mount.
16 Remember, your goal should be to win hearts, not arguments. So be a good listener. Ask sincere questions, and express yourself with mildness and respect, especially when you talk with older ones. They will likely be more inclined to respect your views. They will also see that you have given much thought to your basic beliefs. That is something many young people have not done. Of course, it is good to bear in mind that you are not obligated to answer those who are not reasonable or who just want to make fun of what you believe.—Prov. 26:4.
MAKE THE TRUTH YOUR OWN
17, 18. (a) What can help you to make the truth your own? (b) What question will we consider in the following article?
17 Strong faith rests on more than just basic knowledge of the Bible. So dig deeply into God’s Word, as if you were looking for hidden treasures. (Prov. 2:3-6) Make good use of other tools that may be available in your language, such as Watchtower Library on DVD, Watchtower ONLINE LIBRARY, as well as Watch Tower Publications Index or the Research Guide for Jehovah’s Witnesses. Also, make it your goal to read the entire Bible. You might try to do that over a period of 12 months. Few things build our faith as much as reading God’s Word. Thinking back on his youth, a circuit overseer said: “One thing that helped me to appreciate that the Bible is the Word of God was reading it right through. The Bible stories that I had learned from when I was very young finally made sense to me. This was a turning point in my spiritual growth.”
18 Parents—you play a major role in the spiritual development of your children. How can you help them to build a strong faith? The next article will address this matter.