“Make sure of all things; hold fast to what is fine.”—1 THESS. 5:21.
SONG 142 Holding Fast to Our Hope
1. Why are many people confused?
THERE may be tens of thousands of so-called Christian denominations that claim to worship God acceptably. No wonder many people are confused! They ask, “Is there one true religion, or do all religions please God?” Are we strongly convinced in our own mind that what we are teaching is the truth and that the pattern of worship that Jehovah’s Witnesses are following today is the one that is acceptable to Jehovah? Is it really possible to have such conviction? Let us consider the evidence.
2. According to 1 Thessalonians 1:5, why was the apostle Paul convinced of the truth?
2 The apostle Paul was strongly convinced of the truth. (Read 1 Thessalonians 1:5.) That conviction was not based on emotion. Paul was a diligent student of God’s Word. He believed that “all Scripture is inspired of God.” (2 Tim. 3:16) What did his studies reveal? In the Scriptures, Paul found undeniable proof that Jesus was the promised Messiah—evidence that the Jewish religious leaders chose to ignore. Those religious hypocrites claimed to represent God but denied him by their works. (Titus 1:16) Unlike them, Paul did not pick and choose which parts of God’s Word he would believe. He was ready to teach and apply “all the counsel of God.”—Acts 20:27.
3. To have strong conviction, must we have the answers to all our questions? (See also the box “Jehovah’s Works and Thoughts—‘Too Numerous to Recount.’”)
3 Some feel that the true religion should be able to answer every question, even questions that are not specifically addressed in the Bible. Is that a realistic expectation? Consider Paul’s example. He encouraged fellow believers to “make sure of all things,” but he also admitted that there were many things he did not understand. (1 Thess. 5:21) “We have partial knowledge,” he wrote, adding, “we see in hazy outline by means of a metal mirror.” (1 Cor. 13:9, 12) Paul did not understand everything; nor do we. But Paul did see the general outline of Jehovah’s purposes. He knew enough to be convinced that he had the truth!
4. How can we strengthen our conviction that we have found the truth, and what will we consider about true Christians?
4 One way we can strengthen our conviction that we have found the truth is by comparing the pattern of worship set by Jesus with what Jehovah’s Witnesses are doing today. In this article, we will see that true Christians (1) reject idolatry, (2) respect Jehovah’s name, (3) love the truth, and (4) love one another intensely.
WE REJECT IDOLATRY
5. What do we learn from Jesus about the proper way to worship God, and how can we apply what he taught?
5 Moved by his deep love for God, Jesus worshipped Jehovah exclusively, both when he was in heaven and when he was on earth. (Luke 4:8) He taught his disciples to do likewise. Neither Jesus nor his faithful disciples ever used images in worship. Since God is a Spirit, nothing that man could possibly conceive could even come close to representing Jehovah’s glory! (Isa. 46:5) But what about making images of so-called saints and praying to them? In the second of the Ten Commandments, Jehovah said: “You must not make for yourself a carved image or a form like anything that is in the heavens above or on the earth below . . . You must not bow down to them.” (Ex. 20:4, 5) Those words are clear to those who desire to please God.
6. What pattern of worship do Jehovah’s Witnesses follow today?
6 Secular historians have acknowledged that the early Christians gave exclusive devotion to God. For instance, the book History of the Christian Church states that the early Christians “would have looked with horror” at the suggestion of having images in places of worship. Today, Jehovah’s Witnesses follow the pattern set by the first-century Christians. We do not pray to images of “saints” or angels; we do not even pray to Jesus. And we do not perform acts of worship to symbols of the State. Come what may, we are determined to obey Jesus’ words: “It is Jehovah your God you must worship.”—Matt. 4:10.
7. What clear distinctions exist between Jehovah’s Witnesses and other religions?
7 Today many follow charismatic church leaders. Enthusiasm for such men sometimes borders on idolatry. People pack their churches, buy their books, and donate heavily to the causes these leaders promote. Some individuals hang on to their every word. It is hard to imagine that these churchgoers could be more excited if Jesus himself were to appear to them! In contrast, true worshippers of Jehovah have no clergy. Although we respect those who are taking the lead, we accept Jesus’ clear teaching: “All of you are brothers.” (Matt. 23:8-10) We do not idolize men, whether they are religious leaders or political rulers. And we do not support their causes. Rather, we remain neutral and separate from the world. In these areas, we stand out as different from the many groups of professed Christians.—John 18:36.
WE RESPECT JEHOVAH’S NAME
8. How do we know that Jehovah wants his name to be glorified and widely known?
8 On one occasion, Jesus prayed: “Father, glorify your name.” Jehovah himself answered that prayer with a thunderous voice from heaven, promising that he would glorify his name. (John 12:28) Throughout his ministry, Jesus glorified his Father’s name. (John 17:26) So it is reasonable to expect that true Christians would be proud to use God’s name and to make it known to others.
9. How did the first-century Christians prove that they respected God’s name?
9 In the first century C.E., shortly after the Christian congregation was established, Jehovah “turned his attention to the nations to take out of them a people for his name.” (Acts 15:14) Those first-century Christians were proud to use God’s name and to make it known to others. They used the divine name prominently in their ministry and in their writings.b They proved themselves to be a people for God’s name.—Acts 2:14, 21.
10. What evidence is there that Jehovah’s Witnesses are a people for Jehovah’s name?
10 Are Jehovah’s Witnesses a people for Jehovah’s name? Consider the evidence. Today many religious leaders have done everything in their power to conceal the fact that God has a personal name. They have removed it from their Bible translations and, in some cases, have banned the use of that name in their religious services.c Can anyone deny that Jehovah’s Witnesses are the only ones who give Jehovah’s name the respect and honor it deserves? We are making God’s personal name more widely known than any other religious group! In that regard, we are doing our very best to live up to our name, Jehovah’s Witnesses. (Isa. 43:10-12) We have produced over 240 million copies of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, which uses Jehovah’s name in places where it has been omitted by other Bible translators. And we produce Bible-based publications that promote Jehovah’s name in more than 1,000 languages!
WE LOVE THE TRUTH
11. How did the early Christians manifest their love for truth?
11 Jesus loved the truth, that is, the truth about God and His purposes. Jesus lived in harmony with that truth, and he made that truth known to others. (John 18:37) Jesus’ true followers also deeply loved the truth. (John 4:23, 24) In fact, the apostle Peter referred to Christianity as “the way of the truth.” (2 Pet. 2:2) Because of their strong love for truth, the early Christians rejected religious ideas, cultural traditions, and personal opinions that were out of harmony with the truth. (Col. 2:8) Likewise today, true Christians strive to “go on walking in the truth” by strictly basing all their beliefs and their way of life on Jehovah’s Word.—3 John 3, 4.
12. What happens when those taking the lead realize that our understanding needs to be clarified, and why do they take that action?
12 God’s people today do not claim to have perfect or complete knowledge of the truth. At times, they have made mistakes in doctrinal matters and in organizational direction. That should not surprise us. The Scriptures make it clear that accurate knowledge increases with time. (Col. 1:9, 10) Jehovah reveals the truth gradually, and we must be willing to wait patiently for the light of truth to get brighter. (Prov. 4:18) When those taking the lead realize that our understanding on a certain point of truth needs to be clarified, they do not hesitate to make the needed adjustments. While many denominations in Christendom make changes to please their congregations or to get closer to the world, the changes made by Jehovah’s organization are designed to draw us closer to God and to the pattern of worship established by Jesus. (Jas. 4:4) The adjustments we make are driven, not by modern trends or popular demands, but by a clearer understanding of the Scriptures. We love the truth!—1 Thess. 2:3, 4.
WE LOVE ONE ANOTHER INTENSELY
13. What is the most important quality shown by true Christians, and how is it evident among Jehovah’s Witnesses today?
13 Of all the qualities that defined the first-century Christian congregation, the most important was love. Jesus said: “By this all will know that you are my disciples—if you have love among yourselves.” (John 13:34, 35) Today, Jehovah’s Witnesses enjoy a loving unity on a global scale. Like no other organization, our close-knit brotherhood rises above national, racial, and social boundaries. We see evidence of genuine love at our meetings, assemblies, and conventions. That evidence strengthens our conviction that our form of worship is the one approved by Jehovah.
14. According to Colossians 3:12-14, what is an important way we can show intense love for one another?
14 The Scriptures urge us to “have intense love for one another.” (1 Pet. 4:8) One way we show such love is by forgiving one another and putting up with one another’s imperfections. We also look for opportunities to be generous and hospitable to all in the congregation, even to those who may have offended us. (Read Colossians 3:12-14.) Such a loving bond is truly the foremost identifying mark of true Christians.
15. In what other ways do we follow the pattern of worship set by the first-century Christians?
15 We follow the pattern of worship set by the first-century Christian congregation in other ways as well. For instance, our organizational structure—which includes traveling overseers, elders, and ministerial servants—mirrors the arrangement established by the apostles in the first century. (Phil. 1:1; Titus 1:5) Our view of sex and marriage, our respect for the sacredness of blood, and our desire to protect the congregation from unrepentant wrongdoers are all based on the pattern set in the first century.—Acts 15:28, 29; 1 Cor. 5:11-13; 6:9, 10; Heb. 13:4.
16. What do we learn from the statement found at Ephesians 4:4-6?
16 Jesus said that many would claim to be his disciples but that not all would be genuine. (Matt. 7:21-23) The Scriptures also forewarned that in the last days, many would have only “an appearance of godliness.” (2 Tim. 3:1, 5) Yet, the Bible plainly tells us that there is “one faith” that has God’s approval.—Read Ephesians 4:4-6.
17. Who today are following Jesus and practicing the one true faith?
17 Who are practicing the one true faith today? We have examined the evidence. We have looked at the pattern of worship taught by Jesus and practiced by the first-century Christians. There is only one answer—Jehovah’s Witnesses. What a privilege we have to be one of Jehovah’s people and to know the truth about Jehovah and his purposes! May we continue to hold fast to the truth with strong conviction.
SONG 3 Our Strength, Our Hope, Our Confidence
a In this article, we will look at the pattern of true worship set by Jesus and examine how his early disciples followed it. We will also provide evidence that Jehovah’s Witnesses are following that pattern of true worship today.
c For example, in 2008, Pope Benedict XVI directed that God’s name is “neither to be used [n]or pronounced” in Catholic religious services, hymns, or prayers.
d PICTURE DESCRIPTION: Jehovah’s organization has released the New World Translation in over 200 languages so that people can read in their own tongue a Bible that features God’s name.