“Continue in the things that you learned and were persuaded to believe.”—2 TIM. 3:14.
SONG 56 Make the Truth Your Own
1. What do we mean by the term “the truth”?
“HOW did you find the truth?” “Were you raised in the truth?” “How long have you been in the truth?” You have likely been asked such questions—or maybe you have asked them of others. What do we mean by the term “the truth”? Generally, we use it to describe our beliefs, our way of worship, and our way of life. People who are “in the truth” know what the Bible teaches, and they live according to its principles. As a result, they are set free from religious falsehood and they enjoy the best life possible for imperfect humans.—John 8:32.
2. According to John 13:34, 35, what might initially attract a person to the truth?
2 What initially attracted you to the truth? Maybe it was the good conduct of Jehovah’s people. (1 Pet. 2:12) Or perhaps it was the love they showed. Many took note of it at the first meeting they attended, and more than anything that was said from the platform, that love made a lasting impression on them. This is not surprising because Jesus said that his disciples would be identified by their love for one another. (Read John 13:34, 35.) But more is needed if we are to have strong faith.
3. What may happen if our faith in God is based only on the Christlike love shown by our brothers and sisters?
3 Our faith has to be based on more than just the Christlike love of God’s people. Why? Suppose a fellow believer—even an elder or a pioneer—commits a serious sin. Or what if a brother or a sister hurts you in some way? Or perhaps someone becomes an apostate, asserting that we do not have the truth. If such things happen, will you be stumbled and stop serving Jehovah? The lesson is this: If you were to build your faith in God purely on the way that other people act instead of on your relationship with Jehovah himself, your faith would not be solid. In your house of faith, you should use not only such soft materials as feelings and emotions but also hard facts and solid logic. You need to prove to yourself that the Bible contains the truth about Jehovah.—Rom. 12:2.
4 Jesus said that some would accept the truth “with joy,” but their faith would wither when tested. (Read Matthew 13:3-6, 20, 21.) Perhaps they did not realize that following Jesus would involve challenges and hardship. (Matt. 16:24) Or maybe they thought that being a Christian meant living a trouble-free life—one with only blessings, no challenges. But in this imperfect world, there will be challenges. Circumstances can change, causing our joy to diminish for a time.—Ps. 6:6; Eccl. 9:11.
5. How are the majority of our brothers and sisters proving that they are convinced that they have the truth?
5 The vast majority of our brothers and sisters prove that they are convinced that they have the truth. How? Their conviction does not waver even if a fellow believer hurts them or gets involved in unchristian conduct. (Ps. 119:165) With each test, their faith grows stronger, not weaker. (Jas. 1:2-4) How can you build that type of strong faith?
GAIN “THE ACCURATE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD”
6. On what did the first-century disciples build their faith?
6 The first-century disciples built their faith on their knowledge of the Scriptures and the teachings of Jesus Christ, that is, “the truth of the good news.” (Gal. 2:5) This truth consists of the whole body of Christian teachings, including the facts about Jesus’ ransom sacrifice and his resurrection. The apostle Paul was convinced that these teachings were true. Why? Because he used the Scriptures to prove “by references that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead.” (Acts 17:2, 3) The first-century disciples accepted those teachings and relied on the holy spirit to help them understand God’s Word. They proved to themselves that these teachings were based on the Scriptures. (Acts 17:11, 12; Heb. 5:14) They did not build their faith on feelings and emotions alone, and they did not serve Jehovah simply because they felt good when they associated with fellow believers. Instead, their faith was built on “the accurate knowledge of God.”—Col. 1:9, 10.
7. What will our faith in Bible truths do for us?
7 The truths of God’s Word remain constant. (Ps. 119:160) For example, they do not change if a fellow believer offends us or commits a serious sin. And they do not change when we face adversity. So we need to be thoroughly familiar with Bible teachings and convinced that they are truthful. Our firm faith built on Bible truths will steady us in times of test, just as an anchor can steady a boat during a turbulent storm. How can you strengthen your conviction that you have the truth?
BE “PERSUADED TO BELIEVE”
8. As shown at 2 Timothy 3:14, 15, how did Timothy become convinced that he had the truth?
8 Timothy was convinced that he had the truth. How did he arrive at that conclusion? (Read 2 Timothy 3:14, 15.) His mother and his grandmother introduced him to the teachings of “the holy writings.” But no doubt he himself also spent time and energy studying those writings. As a result, he was “persuaded to believe” that they contained the truth. Later, Timothy, his mother, and his grandmother came in contact with Christianity. Timothy was no doubt impressed by the love shown by Jesus’ followers, and he had a strong desire to associate with and care for his spiritual brothers and sisters. (Phil. 2:19, 20) However, his faith was built, not on his feelings for fellow humans, but on facts that drew him closer to Jehovah. You too must logically reason on what you have learned about Jehovah from reading the Bible.
9. What three basic truths do you need to prove to yourself?
9 To start with, you need to prove to yourself at least three basic truths. First, you need to be convinced that Jehovah God is the Creator of all things. (Ex. 3:14, 15; Heb. 3:4; Rev. 4:11) Second, you must prove to yourself that the Bible is God’s inspired message to mankind. (2 Tim. 3:16, 17) And third, you need to confirm that Jehovah has an organized group of people who are worshipping him under Christ’s headship and that Jehovah’s Witnesses are that group. (Isa. 43:10-12; John 14:6; Acts 15:14) Proving to yourself those basic truths does not require that you become a walking encyclopedia of Bible knowledge. Your goal should be to use your “power of reason” to strengthen your conviction that you have the truth.—Rom. 12:1.
BE PREPARED TO CONVINCE OTHERS
10. In addition to knowing the truth, what do we need to be able to do?
10 Once you have established the three basic truths regarding God, the Bible, and God’s people, you need to be able to use the Scriptures to prove these truths to others. Why? Because as Christians, we have a responsibility to teach the truths that we learn to those who will listen to us. * (1 Tim. 4:16) And as we try to convince others about Bible truths, we strengthen our own conviction about those truths.
11. What example did the apostle Paul set as a teacher?
11 When the apostle Paul taught people, he would “persuade them about Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets.” (Acts 28:23) How can we imitate Paul when teaching others the truth? We must do more than recite facts. We must help our Bible students to reason on the Scriptures as they draw close to Jehovah. We want them to accept the truth, not because they admire us, but because they have proved to themselves that what they are learning is the truth about our loving God.
12-13. How can parents help their children to remain in the truth?
12 Parents, no doubt you want your children to remain in the truth. You may feel that if they have good associates in the congregation, they will make good spiritual progress. However, if your children are to be convinced that they have the truth, they need something more than wholesome friends. They need to have a personal relationship with God and to be convinced of the truthfulness of what the Bible teaches.
13 If parents are to teach their children the truth about God, they must set the example by being good students of the Bible. They must take time to meditate on what they learn. Then they will be able to teach their children to do the same. They need to teach their children to use our Bible study tools, just as they teach one of their Bible students. In doing so, they will help their children to appreciate Jehovah and the channel he uses to dispense spiritual food—“the faithful and discreet slave.” (Matt. 24:45-47) Parents, do not settle for teaching your children only basic Bible truths. Help them develop strong faith by teaching them about “the deep things of God” to an extent that is appropriate to their age and ability.—1 Cor. 2:10.
STUDY BIBLE PROPHECY
14. Why should we study Bible prophecy? (See also the box “Can You Explain These Prophecies?”)
14 Bible prophecy is an important part of God’s Word that helps us build strong faith in Jehovah. What prophecies have strengthened your faith? You might point to the prophecies about “the last days.” (2 Tim. 3:1-5; Matt. 24:3, 7) But what other fulfilled prophecies can strengthen your conviction? For example, can you explain how the prophecies recorded in Daniel chapter 2 or in Daniel chapter 11 have been and are being fulfilled? * When you have faith that is solidly based on the Bible, that faith will become unbreakable. Consider the example of our brothers who suffered severe persecution in Germany during World War II. While they did not completely understand Bible prophecies relating to the last days, they had strong faith in God’s Word.
15-17. How did studying the Bible strengthen our brothers who were persecuted by the Nazis?
15 Under the rule of Nazi Germany, thousands of our brothers and sisters were sent to concentration camps. Hitler and SS Chief Heinrich Himmler hated Jehovah’s Witnesses. According to one sister, Himmler said to a group of our sisters in one concentration camp: “Your Jehovah may reign in heaven, but here upon earth it is we who rule! We’ll show you who will endure longer, you or we!” What helped Jehovah’s people remain faithful?
16 Those Bible Students knew that God’s Kingdom had begun ruling in 1914. They were not surprised at the intense opposition they faced. However, Jehovah’s people were convinced that no human government could stop God’s purpose from succeeding. Hitler could not wipe out true worship or set up a government that would shove aside God’s Kingdom. Our brothers were convinced that one way or another, Hitler’s rule would end.
17 The conviction of those brothers and sisters was not misplaced. Before long, the Nazi regime collapsed, and Heinrich Himmler—the man who said “here upon earth it is we who rule”—was running for his life. While doing so, he encountered Brother Lübke, a former prisoner whom he recognized. Thoroughly defeated, Himmler asked Brother Lübke: “Well, Bible Student, what happens now?” Brother Lübke explained to Himmler that Jehovah’s Witnesses knew all along that the Nazi regime would fail and that they would be delivered. Himmler—the man who previously had so much to say about Jehovah’s Witnesses—was finally speechless. Shortly thereafter, he committed suicide. The point? Our study of the Bible, including its prophecies, can build unbreakable faith in God and give us confidence during times of trial.—2 Pet. 1:19-21.
18. As indicated at John 6:67, 68, why do we need the “accurate knowledge and full discernment” that Paul wrote of?
18 Each one of us should show love—the identifying mark of true Christians. But we also need “accurate knowledge and full discernment.” (Phil. 1:9) Otherwise, we could be influenced “by every wind of teaching by means of the trickery of men,” including apostates. (Eph. 4:14) When many disciples in the first century C.E. stopped following Jesus, the apostle Peter expressed his firm conviction that Jesus had “sayings of everlasting life.” (Read John 6:67, 68.) Even though Peter at that time did not understand all the details of those sayings, he remained loyal because he had discerned the truth about Christ. You too can strengthen your conviction in what the Bible teaches. If you do, your faith will stand the test of time, and you will help to build strong faith in others.—2 John 1, 2.
SONG 72 Making Known the Kingdom Truth
^ par. 5 This article will help us to appreciate the truthful teachings of God’s Word. It will also discuss ways in which we can strengthen our conviction that what we believe in is the truth.
^ par. 10 To help you reason with others on basic Bible teachings, see the series “A Conversation With a Neighbor,” which appeared in The Watchtower from 2010 to 2015. Topics include “Is Jesus God?,” “When Did God’s Kingdom Begin Ruling?,” and “Does God Punish People in Hellfire?”