*** w96 1/15 pp. 10-14 Mankind Needs the Knowledge of God ***

(Published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society)


Mankind Needs the Knowledge of God

“You will understand the fear of Jehovah, and you will find the very knowledge of God.”—PROVERBS 2:5.

SOME 5,600,000,000 human hearts are beating on earth right now. Every day, your own heart beats 100,000 times and pumps the equivalent of 2,000 gallons [7,600 L.] of blood through your body’s 60,000-mile [100,000 km] cardiovascular system. No other muscle works harder than this masterpiece of divine engineering.

2 There are also 5,600,000,000 figurative hearts at work on earth. In the figurative heart dwell our emotions, our motivations, our desires. It is the seat of our thought, our understanding, our will. The figurative heart can be proud or humble, gloomy or cheerful, darkened or enlightened.—Nehemiah 2:2; Proverbs 16:5; Matthew 11:29; Acts 14:17; 2 Corinthians 4:6; Ephesians 1:16-18.

3 Jehovah God can read the human heart. Says Proverbs 17:3: “The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, but Jehovah is the examiner of hearts.” Instead of merely reading each heart and pronouncing judgment, though, Jehovah is using his Witnesses to reach human hearts with the good news. This is in harmony with the apostle Paul’s words: “‘Everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.’ However, how will they call on him in whom they have not put faith? How, in turn, will they put faith in him of whom they have not heard? How, in turn, will they hear without someone to preach? How, in  turn, will they preach unless they have been sent forth? Just as it is written: ‘How comely are the feet of those who declare good news of good things!’”—Romans 10:13-15.

4 It has pleased Jehovah to send his Witnesses to the ends of the earth to “declare good news of good things” and to find those having receptive hearts. We now number over 5,000,000—a ratio of 1 Witness to some 1,200 people on earth. Reaching earth’s billions with the good news is not easy. But God is directing this work through Jesus Christ and is drawing the honest-hearted. Thus, the prophecy recorded at Isaiah 60:22 is proving true: “The little one himself will become a thousand, and the small one a mighty nation. I myself, Jehovah, shall speed it up in its own time.”

5 That time is now, and one thing is clear—earth’s billions need knowledge. Basically, knowledge is familiarity with facts acquired by experience, observation, or study. The world has accumulated much knowledge. Progress has been made in such fields as transportation, health care, and communication. But is it worldly knowledge that mankind really needs? Hardly! Warfare, oppression, disease, and death continue to plague mankind. The world’s wisdom has often proved to be much like shifting sands in a desert storm.

6 To illustrate: A couple of centuries ago, it was customary to resort to bloodletting as a supposed cure. George Washington, the first president of the United States, was bled repeatedly in the final hours of his life. At one point he said: “Let me go off quietly; I cannot last long.” He was right, for he died that very day—December 14, 1799. Instead of bloodletting, today there is emphasis on transfusing blood into the human body. Both procedures have been fraught with death-dealing problems. All along, however, God’s Word has said: “Keep abstaining . . . from blood.” (Acts 15:29) The knowledge of God is always right, reliable, up-to-date.

7 Consider another example of unreliable worldly wisdom. For years psychologists advocated permissive child rearing, but one of its advocates later admitted that this was a mistake. The German Philological Association once said that permissiveness is “at least indirectly responsible for the problems we now have with young people.” Worldly wisdom may sway to and fro as though buffeted by winds, but accurate Scriptural knowledge has been unshakable. The Bible gives balanced counsel on child training. “Chastise your son and he will bring you rest and give much pleasure to your soul,” says Proverbs 29:17. Such discipline is to be administered with love, for Paul wrote: “Fathers, do not be irritating your children, but go on bringing them up in the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah.”—Ephesians 6:4.

“The Very Knowledge of God”

8 Though Paul was an educated man, he said: “If anyone among you thinks he is wise in this system of things, let him become a fool, that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.” (1 Corinthians 3:18, 19) Only God can supply the knowledge that mankind really needs. Concerning it, Proverbs 2:1-6 says: “My son, if you will receive my sayings and treasure up my own commandments with yourself, so as to pay attention to wisdom with your ear, that you may incline your heart to discernment; if, moreover, you call out for understanding itself and you give forth your voice for discernment itself, if you keep seeking for it as for silver, and as for hid treasures you keep searching for it, in that case you will understand the fear of Jehovah, and you will find the very knowledge of God. For Jehovah himself gives wisdom; out of his mouth there are knowledge and discernment.”

9 Those motivated by good hearts pay attention to wisdom by putting God-given knowledge to proper use. They incline their hearts to discernment, carefully weighing the facts they are learning. In effect, they call out for understanding, or the ability to see how the aspects of a subject relate to one another. Righthearted ones work as though they are digging for silver and searching for hidden treasures. But what great treasure is found by those with receptive hearts? It is “the very knowledge of God.” What is that? Put simply, it is the knowledge found in God’s Word, the Bible.

10 The knowledge of God is sound, stable, life-giving. It promotes spiritual health. Paul urged Timothy: “Keep holding the pattern of healthful words that you heard from me with the faith and love that are in connection with Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 1:13) A language has a pattern of words. Similarly, the “pure language” of Scriptural truth has “the pattern of healthful words,” based mainly on the Bible’s theme of the vindication of Jehovah’s sovereignty by means of the Kingdom. (Zephaniah 3:9) We need to keep this pattern of healthful words in mind and heart. If we are to avoid figurative heart trouble and remain spiritually healthy, we must apply the Bible in life and put to full use the spiritual provisions God is making through “the faithful and discreet slave.” (Matthew 24:45-47; Titus 2:2) Let us always remember that for good spiritual health, we need the knowledge of God.

11 Consider other reasons why earth’s billions need the knowledge of God. Do all of them know how the earth and humans came into existence? No, they do not. Does all mankind know the true God and his Son? Is everyone aware of the issues that Satan has raised regarding divine sovereignty and human integrity? No again. Do people in general know why we grow old and die? Once more we must say no. Do all of earth’s inhabitants realize that God’s Kingdom is now ruling and that we are living in the last days? Are they aware of wicked spirit forces? Do all humans have reliable knowledge about how to have a happy family life? And do the masses know that joyous life in Paradise is our Creator’s purpose for obedient mankind? To these questions too the answer is no. Clearly, then, mankind needs the knowledge of God.

12 Mankind also needs the knowledge of God because of what Jesus said in prayer on the last night of his earthly life. His apostles must have been deeply moved to hear him say: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.” (John 17:3) Applying such knowledge is the only way to worship God acceptably. “God is a Spirit, and those worshiping him must worship with spirit and truth,” said Jesus. (John 4:24) We worship God “with spirit” when we are moved by hearts filled with faith and love. How do we worship him ‘with truth’? By studying his Word and worshiping him according to his revealed truth—“the very knowledge of God.”

13 Thousands begin to worship Jehovah each year. Yet, must Bible studies be conducted with interested people for a long time, or is it possible for honesthearted ones to come to the point of baptism more quickly? Well, consider what happened in the case of the jailer and his household mentioned at Acts 16:25-34. Paul and Silas had been imprisoned at Philippi, but in the middle of the night, a great earthquake opened the prison doors. Thinking that all the prisoners had escaped and that he would be severely punished, the jailer was about to commit suicide when Paul told him that they were all there. Paul and Silas “spoke the word of Jehovah to him together with all those in his house.” That jailer and his family were Gentiles who had no background in the Holy Scriptures. Yet, in that one night, they became believers. More than that, “one and all, he and his were baptized.” Those were unusual circumstances, but new ones were taught basic truths and then learned other things at congregation meetings. Something similar should be possible today.

The Harvest Is Great!

14 It would be fine if Jehovah’s Witnesses could conduct a greater number of effective Bible studies in a shorter period of time. There is a real need for this. In lands of Eastern Europe, for instance, people have to get on a waiting list for Bible studies. That is also the case elsewhere. In one town in the Dominican Republic, five Witnesses had so many requests that they could not conduct all the studies. What did they do? They encouraged interested ones to attend meetings at the Kingdom Hall and get on a waiting list for Bible studies. The same situation exists in many places around the earth.

15 Vast territories—great fields for harvesting—are opening up to God’s people. Though Jehovah, “the Master of the Harvest,” is sending out more workers, there is still much to do. (Matthew 9:37, 38) To spread the knowledge of God more quickly, therefore, the ‘faithful slave’ has provided something that concisely furnishes specific information so that Bible students can make spiritual progress with each lesson. It is a new publication that can be covered on home Bible studies rather quickly—perhaps in a few months. And it can easily be carried in our briefcases, our purses, or even our pockets! The hundreds of thousands assembled at the “Joyful Praisers” District Conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses were delighted to receive this new 192-page book entitled Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life.

16 Writers in various lands prepared material that was carefully put in final form for the Knowledge book. It should therefore have international appeal. But will it be long before this new publication is released in the languages of people around the world? No, because a 192-page book can be translated more quickly than larger books. By October 1995, the Writing Committee of the Governing Body had approved the translation of this book from English into over 130 languages.

17 Specifics in each chapter of the Knowledge book should enable students to make fairly rapid spiritual progress. The book presents Scriptural truths in an up-building way. It does not dwell on false doctrines. Clarity of language and logical development should make it easy to use the book to conduct Bible studies and help people to get a grasp of the knowledge of God. Besides quoted scriptures, there are cited Bible texts that the student can look up in preparation for the discussion. These may be read during the study as time permits, although it would be unwise to bring in additional material that could becloud the main points. Rather, those conducting Bible studies should try to discern and convey to the student what the book is proving in each chapter. This means that the teacher must study diligently, so that the main thoughts are very clear in his mind.

18 How can the book Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life speed up the disciple-making work? This 192-page book can be studied in a comparatively short time, and those “rightly disposed for everlasting life” should be able to learn enough through a study of it to make a dedication to Jehovah and get baptized. (Acts 13:48) So let us put the Knowledge book to good use in the ministry. If a Bible student is well along in studying another book, it may be practical to complete it. Otherwise, it is suggested that Bible studies be switched to the Knowledge book. After completing this new publication, it is not suggested that a study be conducted with the same student in a second book. Those who embrace the truth can round out their knowledge by attending meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses as well as by reading the Bible and various Christian publications on their own.—2 John 1.

19 The Knowledge book was written with the objective of helping a person to answer all the questions that the elders review with un-baptized publishers desiring to get baptized as Jehovah’s Witnesses. Hence, before you switch your present Bible studies to this new publication, it is recommended that you spend a few hours reviewing the questions on pages 175 to 218 of the book Organized to Accomplish Our Ministry. This will help you to stress the answers to such questions during Bible studies in the Knowledge book.

20 People everywhere should hear the good news. Yes, mankind needs the knowledge of God, and Jehovah has his Witnesses to make it known. Now we have a new book provided by our loving heavenly Father through the faithful and discreet slave. Will you use it to teach the truth and bring honor to Jehovah’s holy name? Jehovah will surely bless you as you put forth every effort to make available to many the knowledge that leads to everlasting life.