The Worship of Jehovah Is the Truth
“True worshipers will worship the Father with spirit and truth, for, indeed, . . . those worshiping him must worship with spirit and truth.”—John 4:23, 24.
1. What differentiates true worship from the false?
WHAT should elevate true worship far above all other worship? Is it not TRUTH? It should be founded on reality, be in conformity with the actual state of things, rather than being based on the guesswork or imagination of the worshipers. Would not any other form of worship be just a counterfeit, belittling to One known as the “God of truth”?—Ps. 31:5; Ex. 34:6.
2. Why can a person not worship just as he pleases?
2 Truth is related to knowledge as much as falsehood is to ignorance. Would it be reasonable for the Creator of man’s marvelous mind to allow ‘truth and soundness of mind’ to cease when it comes to worship? (Acts 26:25) Rather, those practicing true worship should be able to say to other worshipers as did Jesus: “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know.” (John 4:22) Of course, finite men cannot know everything about an infinite God, but what they do know should not be in error, or, worse, a lie. “No lie originates with the truth,” says the apostle John. (1 John 2:21) In fact, Jesus went on to say that ‘knowing’ the truth is a must in worship acceptable to God: “True worshipers [“real worshippers,” New English Bible] . . . must worship with spirit and truth.” First-century Christianity was even called the “way of the truth.” Should not acceptable worship today likewise merit being called “the truth”? Do you think of your worship in that way?—John 4:23, 24; 2 Pet. 2:2; Josh. 24:14.
3. How do we know that the truth can indeed be found?
3 When Jesus said those words about the importance of truth in worship, he added that “the Father is looking for suchlike ones to worship him.” (NW) “That is the kind of worshipper the Father wants.” (John 4:23, Jerusalem Bible) If the Father “wants” or “is looking for” those desiring to worship ‘with truth,’ then he would reasonably provide the means to know the truth. The way he does so attracts only ‘such kind’ of sincere persons to true worship. How so?
HOW ‘THE FATHER LOOKS FOR’ TRUE WORSHIPERS
4. What is one way to learn the truth?
4 First, the marvels of creation testify to certain truths, attracting reasonable people to their Creator. (Ps. 111:7; Dan. 4:37) “For all that may be known of God by men lies plain before their eyes . . . His invisible attributes, that is to say his everlasting power and deity, have been visible, ever since the world began, to the eye of reason, in the things he has made.” The “eye of reason,” that inner sense of what is true, can see right there in the obvious wisdom behind creation the evidence of God’s existence and qualities. Even so, as the Bible says, some have “exchanged the truth of God for the lie,” setting up forms of worship that do not recognize the truth about God’s “invisible attributes.”—Rom. 1:19, 20, NE; Ro 1:25, NW.
5, 6. What do creations standards demonstrate about the truth?
5 Even the creation itself gives evidence that truth is inherent and necessary to God’s way of dealing, and therefore necessary in worship. How so? Because of the way it reflects His changeless standards. God’s creations reveal standards in their design that display an essential consistency in their makeup and functioning, while still allowing for a marvelous variety of color and form. The Encyclopædia Britannica says of these marvelous standards:
“Man’s accomplishments [in standardization] . . . pale into insignificance when compared with standards in nature. The constellations, the orbits of the planets, the changeless normal properties . . . in the materials of nature, the orbits of electrons within the atom or the structure of cells, are a few examples of the astounding standardization in nature.”—1959 ed., Vol. 21, pp. 306, 307.
6 Such standardization, then, represents the actual state of things, the truth, as it were, about the things God has made. No guesswork or imagination here. Each created thing follows the established pattern, or truth, set for them. Certainly these sure, dependable standards revealed in creation lead the “eye of reason” to conclude that there are also standards of truth that should govern the conduct of intelligent creatures and their relations with their Creator. But such standards are not “built into” man so as to govern him in the somewhat automatic way that natural laws and instinct govern God’s other creations. We can choose to accept God’s standards of truth or to reject them.
7. What is another way to find the truth?
7 This brings us to another way that God “is looking” for true worshipers. He has outlined his standards of truth in conduct and worship in written form in the Bible. Says the psalmist: “The substance of your word is truth.” (Ps. 119:160, 142, 151) What it says appeals to the kind of persons who desire to worship ‘with truth.’ The Bible was inspired “for teaching the truth and refuting error.”—John 4:24; 2 Tim. 3:16, NE; John 17:17.
8, 9. (a) Does claiming to use the Bible mean that one has the truth? (b) What proves that Jehovah “is looking for” true worshipers?
8 The Bible alone presents the worship of the God Jehovah as the truth. Therefore, those who claim to use the Bible, but who fail to promote the worship of Jehovah have missed its purpose—and the truth. (Jer. 10:10, 23-25) Though many have missed the truth in this way, it remains significant that the book that promotes the worship of Jehovah far exceeds all other religious writings in availability to the people. (Compare Philippians 1:15, 18.) It is found in greater quantity, in more languages and in more countries than any other publication in history—by far! Only Jehovah could do this! He is the One that takes the initiative in “looking for” the kind of worshipers who appreciate truth.
9 This is even more evident when we consider that, in connection with the worship of Jehovah, his promised Kingdom rule is now being “preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness” in an unparalleled way. (Matt. 24:14) What other form of worship has two million witnesses bringing it personally and directly to the people, in more than 200 lands and islands? The tremendous scope of all these appeals is not rivaled by any other form of worship. This in itself should cause the kind of people who sincerely desire to worship ‘in truth’ to see Jehovah’s hand at work. However, much else demonstrates the truth of the worship of Jehovah.
“THE TRUTH” IS HISTORICAL, NOT FICTITIOUS
10. What is an identifying mark of the truth?
10 The apostle Peter illustrated the striking contrast between Jehovah’s worship and other forms of worship when he related how he was able to convince others of the truth about Jesus: “No, it was not by following artfully contrived false stories,” or, as the Catholic New American Bible puts it, by “cleverly concocted myths;” rather, “it was by having become eyewitnesses of his magnificence.” That is one identifying mark of true worship. It is regularly supported by historical, witnessed facts and events. Other forms of worship are characteristically full of clever stories or just plain myths concocted by men.—2 Pet. 1:16.
11, 12. (a) What relation is there between the Bible and history? (b) What makes the Bible’s history so certain?
11 Among religious writings, the Bible is uniquely accurate and candid in presenting history. That is why many of the facts and events in it are confirmed by secular history, though they are not dependent on that support. Actually, the Bible is bound up with facts and history and these are the threads that weave the fabric of its message, the message of a God who acts in history. Whenever the Bible’s narrative deals with points of culture, customs, titles of officials, legal and even scientific matters, it is historically accurate in every detail, and cannot be successfully contradicted.
12 The Bible writers’ care in giving detailed genealogies, exact names of people and places, specific ages, dates and amounts, does not smack of being a ‘cleverly concocted myth.’ Specific information of this kind would have been open to dispute by contemporaries if it were not accurate. Writers concocting myths would have avoided specifics; mythology and other religious writings characteristically do so. The reasonable conclusion is that the Bible writers must have been writing what they witnessed or knew to be the truth. Archaeologist G. Ernst Wright was moved by his findings to report: “It is exciting and rewarding to find that the Bible is not merely a testament of faith, but a testament that arose in relation to real people and real events.”
13. Does the fact that men wrote the Bible detract from it? Why?
13 The fact that the actual writing of the Bible was done by mere men who witnessed and shared in those events in no way detracts from its being Jehovah’s word of truth. In fact, this actually enhances the truth of the Bible as God’s word. There we read about persons like David, Jeremiah, Paul and Job. We see how they made mistakes and experienced trials and difficulties, and how life is portrayed with a personal touch as it actually is—with its fears, disappointments, sorrows and joys. Thus we become more convinced than ever that these are people who actually lived and underwent the experiences they tell about. These are not the kind of people who would contrive the historical accounts they tell, nor would they contrive their actual dealings with God. Rather, we are irresistibly drawn to conclude, as did people in Thessalonica, that the Bible’s message must be viewed, “not as the word of men, but, just as it truthfully is, as the word of God.”—1 Thess. 2:13.
14. Who is the primary champion of true worship? How do we know?
14 One of the most telling testimonies in behalf of the worship of Jehovah is that of Jesus Christ. The fact that he lived and that his teachings had a profound effect for good on his early disciples is undisputed. This historical reality has left its mark on most of today’s calendars: Jesus’ appearing on earth marks the turning point of history. From heaven, he himself witnessed early events in the Bible’s historical record, during his prehuman existence. He knew that they were no myth. Thus he used those events to illuminate his own teaching on many occasions, as, for example, on the matter of divorce and the coming end of the system of things. (Matt. 19:4; Gen. 1:27; Matt. 24:3, 37-39; Gen. 6 and 7) Jesus was the greatest advocate of the worship of Jehovah, making that name and its meaning known, as a key part of his ‘bearing witness to the truth.’—John 17:4, 6, 26; 18:37.
FALSE WORSHIP AND MYTHOLOGY
15. How does one detect mythology?
15 Even worship that professes to use the Bible is often characterized by its “cleverly concocted myths” rather than its historical accuracy. Of professed Christians, it was prophesied: “They will stop their ears to the truth and turn to mythology.” (2 Tim. 4:4, NE) A dictionary defines the word “mythical” as “1: based on or described in a myth esp[ecially] as contrasted with factual history: IMAGINARY 2a: fabricated, invented or imagined in an arbitrary way or in defiance of facts.” (Italics ours)
16, 17. Give examples of mythology in Catholicism and Protestantism.
16 Christendom has ‘turned to mythology,’ for example, to support the adoration of Mary and of saints. Typical is the little booklet written by a Jesuit and called “When Mary Walked the Earth,” which also bears an archbishop’s imprimatur. The introduction admits: “The episodes related in the following pages do not pretend to be historic. Perhaps they never happened.” Of the Catholic “Saint” Patrick, Dr. Joseph F. Kelly of John Carrol University says: “All the stories about Patrick may not be historically true, but that does not mean they have no value.” Most of the truth-starved people who are fed these “concocted myths” have not even heard all the true accounts in the Bible. How can mythology provide them with any basis for worship ‘in truth’?
17 Protestantism is no less guilty of ‘turning to mythology.’ Any exhaustive encyclopedia will provide ample proof that much of what they teach about the Trinity, hellfire, the soul, Christmas, the cross, Easter and other beliefs is awash in mythology. In the interest of truth, the Bible says to “separate yourselves” and “quit touching the unclean thing.”—2 Cor. 6:14-17.
18. Is Judaism free of mythology? Why do you so answer?
18 Even the Jews, with their Biblical heritage, managed to “turn themselves away from the truth” and contrive their own “Jewish fables.” These they compiled as the “Talmud.” (Titus 1:14) Jewish authority Nathan Ausubel writes in The Book of Jewish Knowledge that the Talmud contains “a large assortment of pointless naïvetés, taboos, superstitions, demonic lore, myths,” and so forth. As if to justify such mythology, Ausubel argues that the things “which mar the Talmud may also be found in the religious and philosophical writings of the Greeks and the Romans, of the Church Fathers and the medieval Christian Schoolmen.” But, rather than justifying Judaism’s mythology, does not his argument condemn all the others as well for having “given up divine truth for a lie”?—Rom. 1:25, JB.
19, 20. (a) What myth affects the majority of false worshipers? (b) Give evidence of mythology in other great religions.
19 Another myth that affects hundreds of millions, both in Christendom and outside, is the claim that images are an aid to true worship. Catholics, Buddhists, Hindus and others use, in all, hundreds of millions of these often very expensive carved figures and pictures in their worship. Yet of these, the Bible says: “Images are nothing but delusion, with no breath in them.” How useful to worship are they in God’s eyes? “They are a Nothing, a laughable production.” (Jer. 10:14, 15, Catholic Jerusalem Bible) Remember, the dictionary defines a myth as something imaginary, a nothing, as it were. Therefore, since the Bible defines images as “a Nothing,” they fall into the same category as “concocted myths.” Thus God views them as an ironically “laughable production.”
20 The fact that legend and myth are also strongly entrenched in most of the world’s other “great” religions is no secret. In fact, “Mythology” or “Myth and Legend” is a main heading under each in the 1974 Encyclopædia Britannica. For example, under “Hinduism,” this heading notes that “There is no aspect of Hindu life that is not entwined in mythology.” Of the related philosophy, Buddhism, it says: “Myth has played an essential and all-pervading role in the history of Buddhism.” And of Islam, this authority notes concerning the early legends about Muhammad and his family that they are “inconsistent with historical reality,” and that though Islam officially disavows such mythology, “Popular legends surrounding the Prophet and the saints are still found among the masses.”
21. (a) How is the Bible’s truth superior to men’s stories? (b) Why do men avoid the truth?
21 When compared with the Bible’s historical eyewitness view of mankind and the Creator’s handiwork, all of men’s mythical inventions are weak and shallow, are they not? They show themselves up for what they are—efforts to avoid facing the real truth about God and man’s responsibility toward him. (John 8:46, 47) On the other hand, the Bible’s straightforward account, showing God to be the Supreme Designer of an orderly creation, makes clear our responsibility to Him. (Gen. 1:1-28; 2:15-17) True worshipers rightly have deep satisfaction in knowing that their worship is solidly founded on this truth. As the psalmist exclaimed: “For all the gods of the peoples are valueless gods; but as for Jehovah, he has made the very heavens. . . . Ascribe to Jehovah the glory belonging to his name.”—Ps. 96:5, 8.
FALSE GODS DEGRADE MANKIND
22. (a) Describe the main characteristic of invented gods. (b) What is their effect on their worshipers?
22 A revealing aspect of the gods devised by men is that they are remarkably like those humans who devised them. Observing this, psychologist William Sargent writes, in his book The Mind Possessed, that man has created gods in his own image, “reflecting his varying imaginings, aspirations and fears.” The apostle Paul goes farther. He says that they have “turned the glory of the incorruptible God into something like the image of corruptible man” and other creatures. (Rom. 1:23) Thus mythical gods often reflect human weaknesses and depraved qualities, a sure evidence of their being the “contrivance of man.” (Acts 17:29) Various Egyptian gods and goddesses, for example, were believed to suffer internal pains and headaches; they were bloodthirsty, and their numbers included drunkards and masturbators. And the book Jews, Gods and History notes that “the Greek gods themselves set the pattern for the unbridled lust and perversion which finally weakened the moral fiber of that people.” Those who worship such gods take on their degraded characteristics.—Rom. 1:18, 25-32.
23. (a) Contrast Jehovah and his worshipers with invented gods and their worshipers. (b) Illustrate the effect of truth on Jehovah’s worshipers.
23 The worship of Jehovah offers a sharp contrast. He is not pictured as weak in any way, nor immoral. He is perfect and everlasting, exercising qualities of principled love, wisdom, power and justice in all his dealings. Thus his faithful worshipers are elevated—never degraded. Even when they were surrounded by the degrading influence of other gods worshiped by all their contemporaries, true worshipers did not succumb. For example, Israel spent much of its history surrounded by degraded pagan mythology as it grew to nationhood. Yet this never influenced the high standards of their sacred writings and of worship of Jehovah God. One authority says: “It is impossible to account for the fact that the history of Israel with more or less the same beginnings as . . . the Moabites, should have such totally different results!” But were the “beginnings” the same? No! Worship in Israel had a different beginning. It was not contrived by men. It was a divinely revealed religion. It was the truth!—Neh. 9:13.
24. How has Christendom fashioned its own god?
24 On the other hand, many today represent themselves as worshipers of the God of the Bible, but they are like the backsliding Jews of later times, for their worship is “not in truth.” (Isa. 48:1) Clergymen have created a god of their own, in their own image. Their pagan Trinity doctrine represents God as a “mystery.” Because of their ‘artfully contrived stories,’ in practice, He comes through to worshipers as weak and vacillating, lacking any real standards, allowing them to engage in all kinds of immoral conduct. (Jude 4) They present him as a war god at the beck and call of politicians and clergymen alike. During wars, their god fights for whatever political leader the clergy happen to be serving. Is it any wonder that his worshipers have become like their god?—2 Thess. 2:10-12; 1 John 4:5, 6.
25, 26. (a) What motivates true worshipers? (b) In what sense does God create those who bear his name?
25 But true worshipers know the truth about their God Jehovah and live by his unchanging standards. They know Him because they have learned the truth about him from their study of his Word, the Bible. (Ps. 86:11) This elevating influence makes them work to imitate their perfect Maker, rather than some weak and corrupt man-made god. In their limited way, they learn to conform to his warm, loving and chaste qualities of truth.—Matt. 5:44-48; Eph. 5:1.
26 In this way, it can be said that God formed or created those who worship him. They are molded by Jehovah’s example and spirit. Therefore Jehovah says at Isaiah 43:7 and 10: “Everyone that is called by my name and that I have created for my own glory, that I have formed, yes, that I have made . . . You are my witnesses.” (Compare James 1:18.) The very existence and way of life of true worshipers ‘called by his name’ is a witness to the truth about the true God. Thus, it can rightly be said that the worship of Jehovah is the truth!
In contrast, true worship does not emphasize ritualistic ceremonies. Though it does involve regular association with other worshipers, it also embraces every other aspect of one’s life. It is a pattern for living, a way of life. That is why the Bible speaks of true Christianity as “The Way” and “the way of the truth.”—Acts 9:2; 19:9; 2 Pet. 2:2.
2. (a) How did Jesus indicate that worship consists of more than ceremony? (b) What does it mean to worship “with spirit”?
2 Jesus also implied that true worship is a way of life when he said to a Samaritan woman: “The true worshipers will worship the Father with spirit and truth . . . those worshiping him must worship with spirit and truth.” (John 4:23, 24) Jesus gave “worship with spirit” emphasis equal to ‘worship with truth,’ indicating another important dimension of worship. What does it mean to “worship with spirit”? In the context of his conversation with the Samaritan woman, Jesus contrasted such worship with the kind that employs visible things as aids, such as a mountain or a city. (Joh 4 Verse 21) Rather than relying on such things, which require sight or touch, a true worshiper exercises faith and, regardless of the place or things around him, maintains a worshipful “spirit,” or worships spiritedly or in the spirit of worship. Thus he worships with spirit, his heart impulses moving him to serve God in harmony with the ever-present truth in his mind that governs all that he does.—2 Cor. 5:7.
3. How did Jehovah desire to be worshiped from the beginning?
3 This agrees with the way God purposed that worship should be from the beginning. He did not prescribe a particular ceremony or ritual by which the first perfect human creatures could approach him in worship. They were to serve or worship their Creator primarily by faithfully doing his will. God revealed this “will” to them so that they could live in harmony with the existing realities, or truth, about life. (Gen. 1:28, 29; 2:16, 17, 19-25; Matt. 19:4, 5) No doubt, as time went on, God would have advised them of additional truths necessary to the proper expansion of their earthly home, their family and their sphere of activity. Their faithful obedience to these instructions would have satisfied the major requirements of true worship. Had the first human pair chosen this course, these truths would have been a way of life for them and their descendants. Their way of life would have been successful; it could not fail, because it was in harmony with truth, the actual state of things, including the fact of Jehovah’s sovereign position and his life-giving power.