“The word of God is alive and exerts power.”—HEB. 4:12.
SONGS: 48, 37
1. Why can there be no doubt that God’s Word exerts power? (See opening picture.)
AS Jehovah’s people, we have no doubt that God’s word, his message to humans, “is alive and exerts power.” (Heb. 4:12) Many of us are living proof of the Bible’s power to change lives. Some of our brothers and sisters were formerly thieves, drug addicts, or sexually immoral. Others enjoyed a measure of success in this system of things but felt that something was missing in their life. (Eccl. 2:3-11) Time and again, individuals who seemed hopelessly lost found their way to the path of life by means of the Bible’s transforming power. You have likely read and greatly enjoyed a number of these experiences as published in The Watchtower in the series “The Bible Changes Lives.” And you have seen that even after accepting the truth, Christians continue to make spiritual progress with the help of the Scriptures.
2. How did God’s Word exert power in the first century?
2 Should we be surprised that many in modern times have made remarkable changes as a result of studying God’s Word? Not at all! Such experiences remind us of our first-century brothers and sisters, who had the heavenly hope. (Read 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.) After listing a number of types of people who will not inherit God’s Kingdom, the apostle Paul added: “That is what some of you were.” But they had changed with the help of the Scriptures and of God’s holy spirit. Even after accepting the truth, some had to overcome serious spiritual problems. The Bible mentions one anointed Christian in the first century who had to be disfellowshipped; later, he was reinstated. (1 Cor. 5:1-5; 2 Cor. 2:5-8) Do we not find it encouraging to consider the range of problems that our fellow believers have faced and that they have overcome by means of God’s Word?
3. What will we consider in this article?
3 Because God’s Word is such a powerful tool and we have it at our disposal, we surely want to make the best use of it. (2 Tim. 2:15) In this article, we will therefore consider how we may more fully unleash the power of God’s Word (1) in our personal life, (2) when we share in the ministry, and (3) when we teach from the platform. These reminders will help us to show our love and gratitude to our loving heavenly Father, who teaches us to benefit ourselves.—Isa. 48:17.
IN OUR PERSONAL LIFE
4. (a) What is needed if God’s Word is to have an effect on us? (b) How do you make time for Bible reading?
4 If God’s Word is to have an effect on us, we need to read it regularly—daily if possible. (Josh. 1:8) Of course, most of us lead very busy lives. Still, we cannot afford to let anything—even legitimate responsibilities—disrupt our Bible reading routine. (Read Ephesians 5:15, 16.) Many of Jehovah’s people have found creative ways to make time for daily Bible reading, whether at the start of their day or at the end or somewhere in between. They feel as did the psalmist, who wrote: “How I do love your law! I ponder over it all day long.”—Ps. 119:97.
5, 6. (a) Why is meditation important? (b) How can we meditate effectively? (c) How have you personally benefited from reading God’s Word and meditating on it?
5 In addition to reading the Bible, it is important for us to meditate on what we read. (Ps. 1:1-3) Only then will we be able to make the best personal application of its timeless wisdom. Whether reading God’s Word in printed or electronic form, our goal should be to get it off the page and into our heart.
6 How can we meditate effectively? Many have found it helpful to pause after reading a portion of the Scriptures and consider such questions as the following: ‘What does this tell me about Jehovah? In what ways am I already applying in my life the principle contained in this portion of God’s Word? In what areas could I improve?’ As we prayerfully meditate on God’s Word, we will feel motivated to apply its counsel even more fully. Indeed, we will to a greater extent unleash its power in our own life.—2 Cor. 10:4, 5.
IN THE MINISTRY
7. How should we make good use of God’s Word in our ministry?
7 What can help us to make good use of God’s Word in our ministry? A first step is to use it liberally when we preach and teach. One brother expressed the matter this way, “If you were preaching from house to house with Jehovah himself, would you do all the talking or would you let him speak?” His point was: When we read directly from God’s Word in the ministry, we are letting Jehovah speak to the householder. A well-chosen scripture will likely be much more powerful than anything we might say. (1 Thess. 2:13) Ask yourself, ‘Do I look for every opportunity to share a portion of God’s Word with those to whom I bring the good news?’
8. Why do we need to do more than merely read scriptures when preaching?
8 Of course, more is needed than merely reading Bible texts to those we are conversing with. Why? Because many have little or no understanding of the Bible. That was true in the first century, and it is true today. (Rom. 10:2) So we should not assume that a person will grasp the point of a verse simply because we read it. We need to take time to isolate portions of the verse—perhaps rereading key words—and explain their meaning. Doing so can go a long way in helping the message of God’s Word to reach the mind and heart of our listeners.—Read Luke 24:32.
9. How can we introduce scriptures in a way that engenders respect for the Bible? Give an example.
9 We also do well to introduce scriptures in a way that engenders respect for the Bible. For example, we might say, “Let’s see what our Creator says on this topic.” When speaking with someone from a non-Christian background, we could say, “Notice what the Holy Writings tell us.” Or if we are preaching to someone who is secular-minded, we might ask, “Have you ever heard this ancient proverb?” Yes, we consider each person as an individual and adapt our approach accordingly.—1 Cor. 9:22, 23.
10. (a) Relate the experience one brother had. (b) How have you witnessed the power of God’s Word in your ministry?
10 Many have found that using God’s Word in the ministry can have a profound impact on those to whom they preach. Consider an example. A brother made a return visit on an elderly gentleman who had read our magazines for a number of years. Instead of simply presenting the latest issue of The Watchtower, the brother decided to read a scripture found in that issue. He read 2 Corinthians 1:3, 4, which says: “The Father of tender mercies and the God of all comfort . . . comforts us in all our trials.” The householder was so moved by those words that he asked our brother to read the scripture a second time. The man mentioned how much he and his wife needed comfort, and he now showed interest in the Bible’s message. Would you not agree that God’s Word exerts power in our ministry?—Acts 19:20.
WHEN TEACHING FROM THE PLATFORM
11. What responsibility do brothers who teach from the platform have?
11 We all enjoy attending our Christian meetings as well as assemblies and conventions. Primarily, we attend to worship Jehovah. We also derive great benefit from the spiritual instruction we receive. Brothers who speak from the platform on these occasions enjoy a great privilege. At the same time, they should recognize that they have a weighty responsibility. (Jas. 3:1) They must always make sure that what they teach is solidly based on God’s Word. If you are assigned to teach from the platform, how can you unleash the power of the Bible in your presentation?
12. How can a speaker make sure that the Scriptures form the backbone of his talk?
12 Make sure that the Scriptures form the backbone of your talk. (John 7:16) What does that involve? For one thing, be careful that nothing—experiences, illustrations, or even your manner of delivery—overshadows or draws attention away from the Bible verses you use. Also, remember that simply reading a number of scriptures does not in itself constitute teaching from the Bible. In fact, using too many scriptures could result in none of them standing out in the mind of your listeners. So select your key scriptures carefully, and take time to read, explain, illustrate, and apply them well. (Neh. 8:8) When a talk is based on an outline provided by the organization, study the outline and the scriptures it uses. Try to understand the connection between the statements in the outline and the cited scriptures. Then use selected scriptures to teach the points in the outline. (You can find practical suggestions in studies 21 to 23 of Benefit From Theocratic Ministry School Education.) Above all, prayerfully ask for Jehovah’s help to convey the precious thoughts contained in his Word.—Read Ezra 7:10; Proverbs 3:13, 14.
13. (a) How was one sister affected by the use of scriptures at a Christian meeting? (b) How have you benefited from Scriptural teaching presented at our meetings?
13 A sister in Australia was deeply affected by the use of scriptures at a Christian meeting. Despite having had a tragic upbringing, she had responded to the Bible’s message and had dedicated her life to Jehovah. Even so, she found it a challenge to accept Jehovah’s love for her. In time, though, she became convinced that God loved her. What helped her to reach that conclusion? A turning point came when she meditated on a scripture that was used at one of our meetings and that she connected with other Bible verses. * Have you similarly been affected by the use of God’s Word at meetings, assemblies, and conventions?—Neh. 8:12.
14. How can we show our appreciation for Jehovah’s Word?
14 Are we not grateful to Jehovah for his written Word, the Bible? He not only lovingly provided it for the human family but also fulfilled his promise that it would endure. (1 Pet. 1:24, 25) Surely, we do well to read God’s Word regularly, apply it in our own life, and use it when helping others. We thereby show our love and appreciation not only for this divine treasure but, most important, for its Author, Jehovah God.