Faith Can Change Your Life
“IT MOST certainly is possible to have good values without a God.” This was the assertion of an agnostic. She said that she had raised her children with high moral values, and they, in turn, had brought up their children with similar high standards—all without faith in God.
Does this mean that faith in God is unnecessary? Evidently, this person thought so. And it is true that everyone who does not believe in God is not necessarily a bad person. The apostle Paul spoke of “people of the nations” who do not know God but “do by nature the things of the law.” (Romans 2:14) All—including agnostics—were born with a conscience. Many try to follow the dictates of their conscience even if they do not believe in the God who gave them that innate sense of right and wrong.
However, a solid faith in God—one that is based on the Bible—is a much more powerful force for good than the unaided guidance of the conscience. A faith based on the Word of God, the Bible, informs the conscience, makes it keener in discerning right from wrong. (Hebrews 5:14) Moreover, faith strengthens people to maintain high standards in the face of enormous pressure. For example, during the 20th century, many countries came under the power of corrupt political regimes, which forced apparently decent people to commit terrible atrocities. However, those with true faith in God refused to compromise their principles, even at the risk of their lives. In addition, a Bible-based faith can change people. It can redeem lives that seem lost and help people avoid serious mistakes. Consider a few examples.
Faith Can Change Family Life
“Through your faith you have achieved the impossible.” So said an English judge when he handed down his decision on the custody of John and Tania’s children. When John and Tania came to the attention of the authorities, they were not married and their homelife was terrible. John, with a drug problem and a gambling habit, had turned to crime to finance his vices. He neglected his children and their mother. So, what “miracle” had occurred?
One day, John heard his young nephew talking about Paradise. Intrigued, he questioned the boy’s parents. The parents are Jehovah’s Witnesses, and they helped John to learn about it from the Bible. Little by little, John and Tania developed a Bible-based faith that changed their lives. They legalized their union in marriage and overcame their vices. The authorities who inspected their household found something that would have seemed impossible a short time before—a happy family in a clean home, an acceptable place in which to bring up children. The judge was correct in crediting this “miracle” to the newfound faith of John and Tania.
Thousands of miles from England, a young wife in the Near East was about to become part of a very sad statistic. She was planning to join the millions each year whose marriages end in divorce. She had a child, but her husband was much older than she was. For this reason, her relatives were urging her to get a divorce, and she had actually started to make arrangements to do so. However, she was studying the Bible with one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. When the Witness learned of the situation, she explained what the Bible says about marriage—for example, that marriage is a gift from God and not something to be thrown away lightly. (Matthew 19:4-6, 9) The woman thought to herself, ‘It is odd that this woman, a stranger, is trying to save our family while those who are close to me want to break it up.’ Her newly acquired faith helped her to preserve her marriage.
A sad statistic affecting family life has to do with abortion. A United Nations report estimated that every year at least 45 million unborn babies are deliberately aborted. Each such event is a tragedy. Bible knowledge helped a woman in the Philippines to avoid contributing to that statistic.
The woman was contacted by Jehovah’s Witnesses, accepted a Bible study brochure entitled What Does God Require of Us?, * and began to study the Bible. Months later, she explained why. The woman was pregnant when the Witnesses first visited her, but she and her husband had decided to abort the baby. However, the picture of the unborn baby on page 24 of the brochure touched the woman’s heart. The accompanying Bible-based explanation that life is sacred because ‘with God is the source of life’ persuaded her to keep her baby. (Psalm 36:9) Now she is the mother of a beautiful, healthy infant.
Faith Helps Those Looked Down Upon
In Ethiopia, two poorly dressed men came to a meeting for worship conducted by Jehovah’s Witnesses. At the end of the meeting, a Witness introduced himself to them in a friendly manner. The men asked for a handout. The Witness gave them, not money, but something better. He encouraged them to develop faith in God, which is “of much greater value than gold.” (1 Peter 1:7) One of them responded and began to study the Bible. This changed his life. As he grew in faith, he gave up smoking, heavy drinking, immorality, and the use of khat (an addictive stimulant). He learned how to support himself instead of begging and now lives a clean, productive life.
In Italy a 47-year-old man had been sentenced to ten years in prison and was detained in a judicial psychiatric hospital. One of Jehovah’s Witnesses who is authorized to enter prison institutions to give spiritual assistance studied the Bible with him. The man made rapid progress. Faith changed his life so much that other prisoners now turn to him for counsel on how to deal with their problems. His Bible-based faith has won him respect, esteem, and the trust of the prison authorities.
In recent years newspapers have reported on civil wars in Africa. Particularly horrifying are accounts of young boys who are trained as soldiers. These children are drugged, brutalized, and forced to engage in dehumanizing behavior against their relatives in order to ensure that their sole loyalty is to the faction for which they are fighting. Is a Bible-based faith strong enough to change the lives of such youngsters? In at least two cases, it was.
In Liberia, Alex served as an altar boy in the Catholic Church. But at the age of 13, he joined a warring faction and became a notorious child soldier. To make himself brave in battle, he turned to witchcraft. Alex saw many of his companions killed, but he survived. In 1997 he met Jehovah’s Witnesses and found that they did not look down on him. Rather, they helped him to learn what the Bible says about violence. Alex left the army. As his faith began to grow, he followed the Bible command: “Let him turn away from what is bad and do what is good; let him seek peace and pursue it.”—1 Peter 3:11.
Meanwhile, a former child soldier named Samson came through the town where Alex now lived. He had been a choirboy but in 1993 became a soldier and got involved in drug abuse, spiritism, and immorality. In 1997 he was demobilized. Samson was heading for Monrovia to join a special security force when a friend persuaded him to study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses, and as a result, he developed a Bible-based faith. This gave him the courage to abandon his warlike ways. Both Alex and Samson now live peaceful and moral lives. Could anything but Bible-based faith make changes in lives that had been so brutalized?
The Right Kind of Faith
These are just a few of the many, many examples that could be cited to illustrate the power of genuine faith based on the Bible. Of course, not everyone who merely claims to believe in God lives up to the Bible’s high standards. Indeed, some atheists may live better lives than some professed Christians. That is because Bible-based faith involves more than merely claiming to believe in God.
The apostle Paul called faith “the assured expectation of things hoped for, the evident demonstration of realities though not beheld.” (Hebrews 11:1) Hence, faith includes a strong belief—based on irrefutable evidence—in unseen things. It especially involves having no doubt whatsoever that God exists, that he is interested in us, and that he will bless those who do his will. The apostle also said: “He that approaches God must believe that he is and that he becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him.”—Hebrews 11:6.
It was this kind of faith that changed the lives of John, Tania, and the others mentioned in this article. It led them to look in full confidence to God’s Word, the Bible, for guidance in making decisions. It helped them to make temporary sacrifices so as not to take a convenient, but wrong, course. Different as each experience was, all began in the same way. One of Jehovah’s Witnesses studied the Bible with these individuals, and they came to experience the truth of what the Bible says: “The word of God is alive and exerts power.” (Hebrews 4:12) The power of God’s Word helped each individual to build the strong faith that changed his life for the better.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are active in more than 230 lands and islands of the sea. They invite you to have a Bible study. Why? Because they are convinced that a Bible-based faith can bring about great improvements in your life too.
^ par. 10 Published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
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A Bible-based faith changes lives for the better
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Title card of Biblia nieświeska by Szymon Budny, 1572