WHAT can a man believe? A historian observed concerning the days of the French Revolution that it was “the best of times and the worst of times.” This expression quite aptly describes the religious situation In the world today. There has never been more religious freedom than there Is currently In the non- totalitarian world. Devotees of all faiths are allowed to proclaim their understanding of the Bible far and wide—over television, over the radio, by means of the printed page, and through personal witness work among their friends and neighbors.
On the other hand, there has never been So much confusion pertaining to the Christian faith as at the present time. From this standpoint It is undoubtedly “the worst of times” the world has ever experienced.
Certainly we have not yet reached that era when the “path of righteousness” is made So plain that “wayfaring men, though fools,” need not err therein. (Isaiah 35:8) Is there any certain way that a sincere, humble Christian might know with reasonable certainty that what he believes and serves is the truth?
The Apostle Paul gave good advice to the brethren at Thessalonica when he wrote, “Prove all things, hold fast that which Is good,” or as the New World Translation states, “Make sure of all things; hold fast to what Is right.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21) This was wise counsel in Paul’s day, and it is equally appropriate and Important In these “last days,” when our “adversary the Devil” Is still going about as a “roaring lion” seeking whom he may devour by false doctrines and otherwise.
There is only one way to “make sure of all things,” we believe, and that is to prove, or test, them by the Infallible Word of God, the Holy Bible.
Sincere Christians have been saying this for centuries. Teachers of the Bible in all denominations insist that this should be done, but It Is seldom hilly practiced. Each group has its textbooks, Its “quarterlies,” and in these, only those portions of the Holy Bible are cited which it is thought are In agreement with the views of the group In question. Quite generally, however, the students using these helps conclude that they are becoming acquainted with the entire testimony of the Holy Bible with respect to the topics studied.
So If we are to “make sure of all things” a most Important consideration is to “make sure” that we are using the entire Bible, not just those portions which have been Interpreted for us. Recently we came across an example of what we mean In this respect. In a publication designed to be a help to Bible study we noticed that a number of texts from the Holy Bible were quoted in an effort to disprove the restoration of natural Israel to the Promised Land and to favor with God. One of the texts quoted was Romans 11:7,8, which reads, “What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained It, and the rest were blinded (according as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.”
From reading this passage the student was expected to get the impression that the unbelieving Israelites of Jesus’ day were Irrevocably and forever cast off from divine favor. But what a different impression is left in the mind when Paul’s full lesson on the topic is considered! Beginning with verse 25 of the same chapter, we read: “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise In your own conceits; that blindness In part Is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come In. And So all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is my covenant with them when I shall take away their sins. As concerning the Gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. For the gifts and callings of God are without repentance. For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: even So have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they may obtain mercy. For God hath concluded them all in unbelief that he might have mercy upon all.”—Ro 11:25- 32
It is equally important to make sure that the translation of the Scriptures we are asked to use Is true to the Hebrew or Greek text. We know how many have been held In fear of eternal torment through mistranslations of the Hebrew word Sheol, and the Greek words hades and Gehenna. The King James translation of the Holy Bible is not the only faulty one.
We recently saw a translation of Romans 5:18 and of 1 Timothy 2:4 which uses the expression “all kinds of men” In these texts, which, as written by the Apostle Paul, So unequivocally state that Jesus died to ransom all mankind from death. There are no words at all in these Greek texts to warrant the use of the expression “all kinds of men.” A glance at the word- for- word translation In the Emphatic Diaglott will prove this to every earnest seeker after truth.
Yes, it Is important that we prove all things by the pure Word of God, regardless of the source of our information. Almost without exception the contradictory beliefs now being proclaimed to a confused world have one thing in common, which is the use of fear as a method of making converts. It may be fear of eternal torture, fear of death in Armageddon, or fear of something else. The Grace of Jehovah endeavors to exalt the love of God.