The Right Reason for Believing
THE Korean book 31 Reasons Why Young People Leave the Church asserts that many stop going to church because they cannot find satisfying answers to their questions. For instance, they ask, ‘Why do people who believe in God suffer?’ and ‘Why must we accept everything that the churches teach when many of the teachings are confusing and contradictory?’
Disappointed by the answers given by their clergy, many conclude that there is no answer in the Bible. When a clergyman gives an explanation that is based solely on his personal opinion, the result is often a misunderstanding, even a rejection, of God and the Bible.
That was the experience of Abel, who was brought up as a Lutheran in South Africa. He recalls: “The church teaches that everyone who dies is ‘taken’ by God. But I could not understand why a God of love would ‘take’ parents from their children. In rural Africa where I grew up, we would not slaughter a hen until the chicks were grown. If we found that a cow was pregnant, we delayed slaughtering it until the calf was born and weaned. I could not understand why a loving God did not show the same consideration for humans.”
Aram, a Canadian, had similar doubts. “When I was 13 years old, my father died,” he relates. “In the funeral service, a leading clergyman explained that God wanted my father to die so that he could get closer to God in heaven. ‘God takes good people away,’ he said, ‘because God loves the righteous ones.’ I did not understand how God could be so selfish.”
Eventually, both Abel and Aram came in contact with Jehovah’s Witnesses, studied the Bible with them and, at last, found the answers to their questions. They developed love for God and a strong faith in him. Finally, they dedicated their life to Jehovah and became loyal servants of his.
Accurate Knowledge—A Key to Belief in God
What can we learn from these experiences? They tell us that as far as belief in God is concerned, accurate Bible knowledge is essential. The apostle Paul told the Christians in the ancient city of Philippi: “This is what I continue praying, that your love may abound yet more and more with accurate knowledge and full discernment.” (Philippians 1:9) Paul here relates love for God and for fellow believers to accurate knowledge of God and discernment of what his will is.
This is reasonable, since the first requirement for having trust and confidence in someone is knowing that person—the more completely and accurately, the better. Similarly, accurate knowledge is needed for you to be motivated to believe in God. “Faith is the assured expectation of things hoped for, the evident demonstration of realities though not beheld,” Paul said. (Hebrews 11:1) Belief in God without accurate knowledge of the Bible is like a house of cards. A little puff is enough to make it fall.
Studying the Bible can help you to find answers to questions like the one that long puzzled Abel and Aram, Why do people die? The Bible explains that “through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned.” (Romans 5:12) Humans grow old and die, not because God takes them to be with him, but because Adam sinned. (Genesis 2:16, 17; 3:6, 17-19) Furthermore, the Bible reveals the true hope that Jehovah God offers. Through his Son, Jesus Christ, he provides the hope of a resurrection for sinful mankind.—John 5:28, 29; Acts 24:15.
To help us appreciate the truth about the resurrection, the Bible record contains several examples of individuals whom Jesus brought back to life. (Luke 7:11-17; 8:40-56; John 11:17-45) As you read these Bible accounts, note the joy and elation experienced by friends and family of the resurrected ones. Note also that they were moved to praise God and to put faith in Jesus.
Accurate knowledge about God and his purposes can have the same effect on people today. Many were once confused, burdened, and even stumbled by important questions for which they could find no satisfying answers. But as they studied the Bible, they found the answers, and that changed their life completely.
Love for God—Foremost Reason for Serving Him
While accurate knowledge is essential to faith in God, more is needed to move one to obey and to serve him. When asked what is the greatest commandment from God, Jesus said: “You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind and with your whole strength.” (Mark 12:30) If a person loves God the way Jesus indicated, he will be most willing to obey and serve Him. Is that true of you?
Rachel, who has served as a missionary in Korea for several decades, gives this reason for her faith: “I think of Jehovah’s generosity toward his creatures, his forgiveness in dealing with his people, and his desire for us to benefit ourselves by letting us know what he wants from us. All such things make my love for God grow. And that love makes me want to serve him.”
Martha, a widow from Germany, has served Jehovah for 48 years. She says: “Why do I serve Jehovah? Because I love him. Every evening I speak to Jehovah in prayer and tell him how deeply grateful I am for all his blessings, especially for the ransom sacrifice.”
Yes, love for God makes us want to serve him from the heart. But how does one come to have such love? The strongest stimulus to cultivate love for God is deep appreciation for the love that he has shown us. Note this heartwarming reminder from the Bible: “He that does not love has not come to know God, because God is love. By this the love of God was made manifest in our case, because God sent forth his only-begotten Son into the world that we might gain life through him. The love is in this respect, not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent forth his Son as a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins.”—1 John 4:8-10.
Do you appreciate how great this love is? Just imagine that you were drowning in a rushing stream and a man risked his life to save you. Would you forget him, or would you not be extremely grateful to him? Would you not be willing to do everything you could for him? The love that God showed in providing his Son, Jesus Christ, as the ransom sacrifice is incomparably greater. (John 3:16; Romans 8:38, 39) When your heart is touched by God’s love, you will be motivated to love and serve him wholeheartedly.
Blessings Now and in the Future
Although our love for God should be the foremost reason for doing his will, it is heartwarming to know that God rewards those who serve him. The apostle Paul points out: “Without faith it is impossible to please him well, for he that approaches God must believe that he is and that he becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him.”—Hebrews 11:6.
Those who love and obey God are truly blessed by him. Many enjoy better health as a result of following Bible principles. (Proverbs 23:20, 21; 2 Corinthians 7:1) Those who apply Bible principles regarding honesty and diligence are generally trusted by their employers and thus enjoy greater economic security. (Colossians 3:23) By putting their trust in Jehovah, God’s servants are blessed with peace of mind even under trying circumstances. (Proverbs 28:25; Philippians 4:6, 7) Above all, they confidently look forward to the blessing of everlasting life in the coming earthly Paradise.—Psalm 37:11, 29.
How do those who are enjoying such blessings from Jehovah feel about him? Jacqueline, a Christian in Canada, expresses her appreciation for God: “He always gives us such wonderful gifts, and he provides the sure hope of everlasting life.” Abel, whom we heard from earlier, describes his feelings this way: “The prospect of living forever on a paradise earth was something new to me, and I am looking forward to it. However, even if there were no Paradise, it would still be a pleasure for me to show my love for God by serving him.”
You Too Can Have True Faith
“Jehovah of armies is judging with righteousness; he is examining the kidneys and the heart,” says the Bible. (Jeremiah 11:20) Yes, Jehovah is examining what is hidden in the deepest recesses of our being. Each one should examine his own motive for believing in God. Erroneous beliefs and concepts about God may have contributed to wrong actions in the past. But accurate knowledge of the Bible can lead to a right relationship with the Creator, Jehovah God.—1 Timothy 2:3, 4.
Through their free home Bible study arrangement, Jehovah’s Witnesses are helping people to gain an accurate knowledge of God. (Matthew 28:20) Many who have accepted such help have come to love God and have developed genuine faith in him. Through a study of the Bible, they have acquired “practical wisdom and thinking ability,” which help them to “walk in security” in these perilous days. (Proverbs 3:21-23) Above all, they now entertain a hope “both sure and firm” for the future. (Hebrews 6:19) You too can have true faith and enjoy these blessings.
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Troubling Questions That Needed Answers
“While being trained in the hospital as a medical student, I saw good people groaning in pain because of diseases and disasters. If there is a God, why do these things happen? Is religion just a means to gain peace of mind?”—A former Presbyterian in Korea.
“I often wondered whether my father, an alcoholic, had gone to hell or to heaven. I was terrified by the dead and by the idea of hellfire. I could not understand how a loving God could send someone to suffer eternally in hell.”—A former Catholic in Brazil.
“What does the future hold for the earth and for mankind? How would mankind be able to live forever? How is mankind to attain true peace?”—A former Catholic in Germany.
“The teaching of reincarnation did not make sense to me. Animals do not worship, so if for some reason you are reincarnated into an animal to pay for your sins, how do you rectify matters and progress from that state?”—A former Hindu in South Africa.
“I grew up in a Confucian family, and I used to participate in the ceremony for the repose of our ancestors. As I took part in setting the sacrificial table and bowing down, I wondered if the dead ancestors came to eat the food and to see our bowing down to them.”—A former Confucianist in Korea.
All these individuals found answers to their questions when they studied the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses.