Can You Trust the Counsel of the Bible?
‘Should I believe what this person is telling me?’ You may ask yourself that question when a salesman tries to sell you a used car or when a politician makes promises in an election campaign. You do not want to waste money or time on products and information that have little value.
YOU may likewise wonder: ‘Does the Bible contain anything worthwhile for me to learn? If I read and study that book, can I trust that my time and effort will be rewarded?’ The key to answering those questions lies in a verse in the Bible itself: “Wisdom stands or falls by her results.” (Matthew 11:19, Phillips) Yes, the results that people obtain from applying a certain kind of counsel, or “wisdom,” prove whether that counsel is worthwhile. The following are the personal expressions of people who took time to learn from the Bible. Their words will help you to determine if you should read and study that unique book.
Questions About Death and the Afterlife
Some time ago, Karen’s mother died. From childhood Karen, who lives in the United States, had believed that at death all good people go to heaven. This belief brought her little comfort. She wondered: ‘What does my mother look like, now that she is up in heaven? How will I find her when I get there, if I get there? When I die, could I end up somewhere else?’
Karen began a careful study of the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. She learned that the dead are not in heaven but are as if in a deep sleep. “They are conscious of nothing at all,” states Ecclesiastes 9:5. What, though, about seeing her mother again?
The following clear statement from the Bible gave her comfort and hope: “Do not marvel at this, because the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear [Christ’s] voice and come out.” (John 5:28, 29) Karen learned that by means of his Son, the God of the Bible is going to bring the dead back to life right here on earth. “Bible teachings on death and the resurrection make so much sense,” she said.
What Way of Worship Is Correct?
When Angela, a Romanian girl, was 14 years old, a Pentecostal minister prayed for her to receive holy spirit, and she began speaking in tongues. Her parents, however, felt that Pentecostal teachings do not agree with the Bible. The family stopped attending services and began to study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Disappointed at first, Angela soon saw differences between the practices of her former religion and the teachings of the Bible. For example, she read John 17:3, which states: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.” Angela saw that those who receive God’s favor must first have knowledge of him. “How could I have received God’s spirit in such a special way if I knew almost nothing about him?” she asked. Angela says, “I thank Jehovah for helping me to find the way of true worship by means of his inspired Word.”
Counsel That Changes Lives
“I had a very hot temper,” says Gabriel, a man in India. “When provoked, I would scream, throw things, and even assault people. Bible study helped me to control my temper. Even in tense situations, I now remain calm.”
Gabriel had read texts such as Proverbs 16:32, which states: “He that is slow to anger is better than a mighty man, and he that is controlling his spirit than the one capturing a city.” Dhiraj, another man who overcame a bad temper, comments, “That same text helped me to see that losing my temper is a sign of weakness, whereas controlling it is evidence of strength.”
Philip was a gangster in South Africa. Fighting, robbery, and rough language were part of his way of life. He spent time in jail for his crimes. But despite his lifestyle, Philip longed to know God. After he began a Bible study with Jehovah’s Witnesses, he developed the desire to serve God and decided to clean up his life. He stopped his bad practices and cut off contact with his criminal associates. What Bible truths motivated him to make such changes?
Jehovah’s Witnesses showed him Jesus’ words found at John 6:44. They read: “No man can come to me unless the Father, who sent me, draws him.” Philip says, “Jehovah saw something good in me and drew me to his people, this wonderful brotherhood.” Philip also took to heart Biblical accounts about Jehovah’s mercy toward contrite wrongdoers. “These accounts,” says Philip, “helped me to see Jehovah’s reasonableness in dealing with imperfect humans who are repentant.”—2 Samuel 12:1-14; Psalm 51.
A young Australian man named Wade abused alcohol and drugs, gambled, and had many immoral relationships. Happiness, though, eluded him. One day he had a conversation with Jehovah’s Witnesses and accepted a free home Bible study. What did Wade learn?
“I was deeply impressed with the way Jesus treated others,” says Wade. “He showed kindness, compassion, and love to all, including children. The more I learned, the more I wanted to be like him. The Bible taught me how to be a real man and how to change my personality for the better.” But what about all the bad things he had done? Wade continues: “The Bible taught me that if I repented of my sins and changed my conduct, God would forgive me. In fact, I could live forever on a paradise earth. Finally, I had a future!” (Matthew 5:5) Wade cleaned up his life and now worships Jehovah with a clean conscience.
The expressions that you have just read come from people who wanted to improve their life. They looked into the Bible to see if its teachings could help them with their problems and answer their questions. The good results they have obtained have convinced them that they can trust the Bible’s practical guidance. So can you.
An inspired statement from long ago reads: “Happy is the man that has found wisdom, and the man that gets discernment, for having it as gain is better than having silver as gain and having it as produce than gold itself. It is more precious than corals, and all other delights of yours cannot be made equal to it. Length of days is in its right hand; in its left hand there are riches and glory. Its ways are ways of pleasantness, and all its roadways are peace. It is a tree of life to those taking hold of it, and those keeping fast hold of it are to be called happy.”—Proverbs 3:13-18.
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HOW THE BIBLE HELPED A PRISONER
A man named Bill was very happily married. But before his first wedding anniversary, he went to prison for wrongdoing that he had committed years earlier.
After the shock of losing his freedom had passed, Bill decided to use the long days ahead fruitfully. “I stayed on my bunk reading and studying the Bible,” he says. He also applied what he was learning. “I was kind and friendly to my cell mates, who saw that I did not want to do the bad things they did. They would say about me: ‘Bill wants to do his time his way, to get to know God and the Bible. He is not going to cause trouble for anyone.’
“Because of my reputation, the other prisoners kept me out of disputes and other unpleasant situations. The guards came to see that I would not give them a hard time. They ended up recommending me for jobs that allowed me to work away from the main body of prisoners for most of the day. Applying the Bible in my life was a great protection.”
Bill attended meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses held in the prison and actively told other prisoners about the things he was learning. He was baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses while serving his sentence. Reminiscing, he says: “I had wasted almost 50 years of my life, and I wanted to make improvements. I am convinced that the only way a prisoner can do that is by applying the Bible’s teachings. And the way to learn the Bible accurately is by studying with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Theirs is the only religion that teaches the truth of the Bible. It is that simple.”
Now out of prison, Bill is actively serving in a congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the United States. He and his wife continue to study God’s Word and to live by its teachings. They deeply appreciate the thought found at Isaiah 48:17, 18: “I, Jehovah, am your God, the One teaching you to benefit yourself, the One causing you to tread in the way in which you should walk. O if only you would actually pay attention to my commandments! Then your peace would become just like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.”
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Philip and his family, South Africa
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