Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Is Jesus Christ God?
In this series:
Who Is Jesus Christ?
Who Is “the Only True God”?
“Those Who Are Called ‘Gods’”
What “the Only True God” Promises
In What Way Are Jesus and His Father One?
Who Is God?
Is the Holy Spirit a Person?
ACCORDING to reliable history, a man named Jesus was born over 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem, a small town in the land of Judea. Herod the Great was king in Jerusalem then, and Caesar Augustus was emperor in Rome. (Matthew 2:1;Luke 2:1-7) Roman historians of the first two centuries generally avoided mentioning Jesus, since Roman rulers at that time were trying to suppress Christianity.
On the other hand, The Historians’ History of the Worldobserves: “The historical result of [Jesus’] activities was more momentous, even from a strictly secular standpoint, than the deeds of any other character of history. A new era, recognised by the chief civilisations of the world, dates from [Jesus’] birth.”
Time magazine reported that more books have been written about Jesus than any other person in history. Many of these books focus on the question of Jesus’ identity, that is, who he really is. There has perhaps been more controversy about this matter than about any other subject in human history.
Early Questions About Identity
When Mary was told that she would have a child and that she was to name him Jesus, she asked: “How is this to be, since I am having no intercourse with a man?” God’s angel Gabriel replied: “Power of the Most High will overshadow you. For that reason also what is born will be called holy,God’s Son.”—Luke 1:30-35.
Later, Jesus performed miracles that caused his apostles to marvel. When a mighty windstorm threatened to sink their boat on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus calmed the waters with the rebuke “Hush! Be quiet!” In astonishment, his apostles exclaimed: “Who really is this?”—Mark 4:35-41; Matthew 8:23-27.
Questions about Jesus’ real identity became common among people of his day, so Jesus asked his apostles who people were saying he was. “Some say John the Baptist,” they replied, “others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets”—all of whom were then dead. Afterward Jesus asked: “‘You, though, who do you say I am?’ In answer Simon Peter said: ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’” Even the demons—wicked angels—said of Jesus: “You are the Son of God.”—Matthew 16:13-16; Luke 4:41.
Who Jesus Said He Was
Although Jesus rarely spoke of himself as God’s Son, he did acknowledge that he was. (Mark 14:61, 62; John 3:18;5:25, 26; 11:4) Almost invariably, however, he said that he was “the Son of man.” By identifying himself this way, he highlighted his human birth—the fact that he was truly a man. Thus he also revealed himself to be that “son of man” whom Daniel had seen in vision appearing before Almighty God—“the Ancient of Days.”—Matthew 20:28; Daniel 7:13.
Rather than proclaim himself to be God’s Son, Jesus allowed others to reach that conclusion. And even people besides his apostles did so, including John the Baptist and Jesus’ friend Martha. (John 1:29-34; 11:27) These believed that Jesus was the promised Messiah. They learned that he had lived in heaven as a mighty spirit person and that his life had been miraculously transferred by God to the womb of the virgin Mary.—Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:20-23.
Similar to the First Man, Adam
In many respects, Jesus was similar to the first man, Adam. For example, both were perfect men who did not have a human father. (Genesis 2:7, 15) So the Bible calls Jesus “the last Adam”—a perfect man who could serve as “a corresponding ransom.” Jesus’ life corresponded to that of “the first man Adam,” whom God created as a perfect human.—1 Corinthians 15:45; 1 Timothy 2:5, 6.
No One Better Known
The account of Jesus’ life was recorded by four of his contemporaries—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—two of whom were intimate associates. Their books, named after them, are commonly called the Gospels, parts of which can be read in over two thousand languages. These small books are usually incorporated with others that make up the Bible. The circulation of the Gospels—either as individual books or as part of the Bible—is greater by far than that of any other writings in history. No wonder that Jesus is better known than any man who has ever lived!
The first Adam is called in the Bible “son of God.” (Luke 3:38) However, that Adam lost his precious relationship as God’s son by willfully disobeying God. On the other hand, Jesus was always faithful to his heavenly Father, and he remained God’s approved Son. (Matthew 3:17; 17:5) The Bible says that all who exercise faith in Jesus, accepting him as their Savior, can receive everlasting life.—John 3:16, 36; Acts 5:31; Romans 5:12, 17-19.
Yet, some argue that Jesus is not simply the Son of God but that he is actually God himself. They say that he and his Father are both Almighty God. Are they correct? Is Jesus somehow part of God? Is that what Jesus, or any of the Bible writers, said? Really, who is the only true God? Who did Jesus say He is? Let us see.
“Who really is this?”
the apostles askedwww.watchtower.org
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
What Does It Mean?
In this series:
- Being Born Again—The Road to Salvation?
- The New Birth—How Important?
- The New Birth—A Personal Decision?
- The New Birth—What Is Its Purpose?
- The New Birth—How Does It Take Place?
- The New Birth—What Does It Accomplish?
- Rulership for Some, Benefits for Many
- God’s Kingdom—What Is It? When Will It Come?
- How Can I Be Saved?
BEING BORN AGAIN
The Road to Salvation?
HOW would you answer the question, “Are you born again?” Millions of believers around the globe would answer with an emphatic, “Yes!” They believe that being born again is a mark of all true Christians and the only way to salvation. They echo the view of such religious leaders as theologian Robert C. Sproul, who wrote: “If a person is not born again, . . . then he is not a Christian.”
Are you among those who believe that being born again puts you on the road to salvation? If so, you no doubt want to help your relatives and friends to find that road and to start walking on it. For them to do so, however, they need to understand the difference between an individual who is born again and someone who is not. How would you explain to them what it means to be born again?
Many believe that the expression “born again” refers to someone who makes a solemn promise to serve God and Christ and, as a result, is changed from being spiritually dead to being spiritually alive. In fact, a current dictionary defines a born-again individual as “a usually Christian person who has made a renewed or confirmed commitment of faith especially after an intense religious experience.”—Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary—Eleventh Edition.
Would you be surprised to learn that the Bible does not agree with that definition? Would you like to know what God’s Word really teaches about being born again? You will surely benefit from taking a closer look at this subject. Why? Because an accurate understanding of what it means to be born again will affect your life and your expectations for the future.
What Does the Bible Teach?
The only place in the entire Bible where the expression “born again” is found is at John 3:1-12, which describes an intriguing conversation that took place between Jesus and a religious leader in Jerusalem. You will find that Bible account quoted in full in the accompanying box. We invite you to read it carefully.
“You People Must Be Born Again”
“Now there was a man of the Pharisees, Nicodemus was his name, a ruler of the Jews. This one came to him in the night and said to him: ‘Rabbi, we know that you as a teacher have come from God; for no one can perform these signs that you perform unless God is with him.’ In answer Jesus said to him: ‘Most truly I say to you, Unless anyone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ Nicodemus said to him: ‘How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter into the womb of his mother a second time and be born, can he?’ Jesus answered: ‘Most truly I say to you, Unless anyone is born from water and spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. What has been born from the flesh is flesh, and what has been born from the spirit is spirit. Do not marvel because I told you, You people must be born again. The wind blows where it wants to, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from and where it is going. So is everyone that has been born from the spirit.’ In answer Nicodemus said to him: ‘How can these things come about?’ In answer Jesus said to him: ‘Are you a teacher of Israel and yet do not know these things? Most truly I say to you, What we know we speak and what we have seen we bear witness of, but you people do not receive the witness we give. If I have told you earthly things and yet you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?’”—John 3:1-12.
In the account, Jesus highlights several aspects of the “new birth.”* In fact, Jesus’ discussion helps us to answer these five vital questions:
- How important is the new birth?
- Is it up to us to decide to experience the new birth?
- What is its purpose?
- By what means does it take place?
- What change of relationship does it bring about?
Let us consider these questions one at a time.
* The term “new birth” is found at 1 Peter 1:3, 23. It is another Biblical term that describes the experience of being “born again.” Both terms are derived from the Greek verb gen·na’o.
Monday, April 25, 2011
17 “Do not think I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I came, not to destroy, but to fulfill; 18 for truly I say to YOU that sooner would heaven and earth pass away than for one smallest letter or one particle of a letter to pass away from the Law by any means and not all things take place. 19 Whoever, therefore, breaks one of these least commandments and teaches mankind to that effect, he will be called ‘least’ in relation to the kingdom of the heavens. As for anyone who does them and teaches them, this one will be called ‘great’ in relation to the kingdom of the heavens. 20 For I say to YOU that if YOUR righteousness does not abound more than that of the scribes and Pharisees, YOU will by no means enter into the kingdom of the heavens.
Sunday, April 24, 2011
A WORLDWIDE MESSAGE
THE END OF
What is false religion?
How will it end?
How will you be affected?
True Teachings—Where Can You Find Them?
Who Is the Antichrist?
What is false religion? Are you distressed about crimes committed in the name of religion? Do the warfare, terrorism, and corruption perpetrated by those who claim to serve God offend your sense of justice? Why does religion seem to be at the root of so many problems?
The fault lies, not with all religion, but with false religion. A widely respected religious figure, Jesus Christ, indicated that false religion produces bad works, just as a “rotten tree produces worthless fruit.” (Matthew 7:15-17) What fruit does false religion yield?
False Religion . . .
MEDDLES IN WAR AND POLITICS: “Across Asia and beyond,” says the journal Asiaweek, “power-hungry leaders are cynically manipulating people’s religious sentiments for their own needs.” As a result, the journal warns: “The world threatens to sink into madness.” A prominent religious leader in the United States declared: “You’ve got to kill the terrorists before the killing stops.” His solution? “Blow them all away in the name of the Lord.” By contrast, the Bible says: “If anyone makes the statement: ‘I love God,’ and yet is hating his brother, he is a liar.” (1 John 4:20) Jesus even said: “Continue to love your enemies.” (Matthew 5:44) How many religions can you think of whose members engage in war?
SPREADS FALSE DOCTRINE: Most religions teach that the soul or spirit is some invisible part of a human that survives the death of the physical body. By means of this teaching, many of these religions exploit their members, charging money to pray for departed souls. However, the Bible teaches a different doctrine. “The soul that is sinning—it itself will die.” (Ezekiel 18:4) “The living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:5) Jesus taught that the dead will be resurrected—an unnecessary action if humans had an immortal soul. (John 11:11-25) Does your religion teach that the soul does not die?
TOLERATES IMMORAL SEX: In Western lands, church groups ordain gay and lesbian members of the clergy and urge governments to recognize same-sex marriages. Even churches that condemn immorality have tolerated religious leaders who have sexually abused children. What, though, does the Bible teach? It plainly states: “Do not be misled. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men kept for unnatural purposes, nor men who lie with men . . . will inherit God’s kingdom.” (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10) Do you know of religions that condone immoral sex?
What does the future hold for religions that produce rotten fruit? Jesus warned: “Every tree not producing fine fruit gets cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Matthew 7:19) Yes, false religion will be chopped down and destroyed! But how and when will this happen? A prophetic vision recorded in the Bible book of Revelation, chapters 17 and 18, provides the answer.
False religion exerts influence “over the kings of the earth”
“Get out of her, my people”
How will false religion end?
Picture the scene. A harlot is sitting on the back of a fearsome beast. The beast has seven heads and ten horns. (Revelation 17:1-4) Whom does the harlot represent? She exerts influence “over the kings of the earth.” She dresses in purple, uses incense, and is exceedingly wealthy. In addition, by means of her spiritistic practice, ‘all the nations are misled.’ (Revelation 17:18; 18:12, 13, 23) The Bible helps us to see that this harlot is a worldwide religious entity. She depicts, not any one religion, but all religions that produce rotten fruit.
The beast that the harlot rides pictures the world’s political powers.* (Revelation 17:10-13) False religion straddles the back of this political beast, attempting to influence its decisions and to control its direction.
Soon, though, an amazing event will take place. “The ten horns that you saw, and the wild beast, these will hate the harlot and will make her devastated and naked, and will eat up her fleshy parts and will completely burn her with fire.” (Revelation 17:16) In a sudden, shocking move, the world’s political powers will turn on false religion and completely destroy her! What will prompt this action? The Bible book of Revelation answers: “God put it into their hearts to carry out his thought.” (Revelation 17:17) Yes, God will call false religion to account for all the despicable acts she has committed in his name. In a stroke of perfect justice, he will use her political paramours as his instrument of execution.
What must you do if you do not want to share the fate of false religion? “Get out of her, my people,” urges God’s messenger. (Revelation 18:4) Indeed, now is the time to flee from false religion! But to where can you flee? Not into atheism, since its future is also bleak. (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9) The only haven is within true religion. How can you identify true religion?
How to identify true religion
What good fruit should true religion produce?—Matthew 7:17.
True Religion . . .
PRACTICES LOVE: True worshippers are “no part of the world,” are not divided by race or culture, and display ‘love among themselves.’ (John 13:35; 17:16; Acts 10:34, 35) Rather than killing one another, they are willing to die for one another.—1 John 3:16.
TRUSTS GOD’S WORD: Instead of teaching “tradition” and “commands of men as doctrines,” true religion bases its doctrine on God’s Word, the Bible. (Matthew 15:6-9) Why? Because “all Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight.”—2 Timothy 3:16.
STRENGTHENS FAMILIES AND UPHOLDS HIGH MORAL STANDARDS: True religion trains husbands to ‘love their wives as their own bodies,’ helps wives to develop ‘deep respect for their husbands,’ and teaches children to ‘be obedient to their parents.’ (Ephesians 5:28, 33; 6:1) In addition, those entrusted with positions of authority must have exemplary morals.—1 Timothy 3:1-10.
Does any religion meet these standards? The book Holocaust Politics, published in 2001, says: “If more people practiced versions of what the Jehovah’s Witnesses preach and practice, the Holocaust could have been prevented and genocide would scourge the world no more.”
Indeed, in 235 lands, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not just preach the Bible’s moral standards—they live by them. We urge you to ask Jehovah’s Witnesses to help you learn what God requires of you so that you can worship him acceptably. Now is the time to act. Do not delay. The end of false religion is near!—Zephaniah 2:2, 3.
* For a detailed explanation of this subject, see the book Revelation—Its Grand Climax At Hand! published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Can a Pagan Holiday Be Made
Christmas Customs—Are They Christian?
DURING the winter of 2004, the Christmas season in Italy was marked by a lively debate. Some educators and teachers supported the idea of reducing to a minimum or even completely eliminating any reference to religious Christmas traditions. They advocated this out of respect for the increasing number of schoolchildren who are neither Catholic nor Protestant. However, others in scholastic circles and elsewhere demanded that the traditions be respected and fully preserved.
Aside from this controversy, though, just what are the origins of many of the Christmas traditions? As the debate was reaching a climax, the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano made some interesting observations.
The sun god
Regarding the date when Christmas is celebrated, the Catholic newspaper said: “The real date of Jesus’ birth, from the historical viewpoint, lies concealed beneath a veil of uncertainty as regards Roman history, the imperial census of that time and research in the subsequent centuries. . . . The date of 25 December, as is well known, was chosen by the Church of Rome in the fourth century. This date in pagan Rome was dedicated to the Sun god . . . Although Christianity had already been affirmed in Rome by an Edict of Constantine, the myth of . . . the Sun god was still widespread, especially among soldiers. The above-mentioned festivities, centred on 25 December, were deeply rooted in popular tradition. This gave the Church of Rome the idea of impressing a Christian religious significance on the day by replacing the Sun god with the true Sun of Justice, Jesus Christ, choosing it as the day on which to celebrate his birth.”
What about the Christmas tree, which is now part of the Catholic tradition?
The article in the Catholic newspaper pointed out that back in ancient times, many evergreens, such as “holly, butcher’s broom, laurel and branches of pine or fir were considered to have magical or medicinal powers that would ward off illness.” It went on to say: “On Christmas Eve, 24 December, Adam and Eve would be commemorated with the highly popular episode of the Tree of the earthly Paradise . . . The tree ought to have been an apple tree, but since an apple tree would have been inappropriate in winter, a fir tree was set on the stage and some apples put on its branches or, to symbolize the future coming of Redemption, wafers prepared with crushed biscuits in special moulds that were symbols of the Eucharistic presence of Jesus, as well as sweets and gifts for children.” What about after that time?
Mentioning that the tradition of using a Christmas tree first started in Germany in the 16th century, L’Osservatore Romano noted: “Italy was one of the last countries to accept the Christmas tree, partly because of a rather widespread rumour that the use of Christmas trees was a Protestant practice and should thus be replaced by the crib [the Nativity scene].” Pope Paul VI “began the tradition of setting up [in St. Peter’s Square, Rome] a massive Christmas tree” near the Nativity scene.
Do you find it acceptable that a religious leader would give a seemingly Christian meaning to events and symbols whose roots go back to ancient paganism? As to the proper course, the Scriptures admonish true Christians: “What fellowship do righteousness and lawlessness have? Or what sharing does light have with darkness?”—2 Corinthians 6:14-17.
Friday, April 22, 2011
Will Earth Be a Paradise?
What Is God’s Kingdom?
What Would You Like to Ask God?
LEGENDS of a golden age in which man was guiltless, lived in close communion with God, and was free from sickness and death can be found in the traditions of many peoples—among them Egyptians, Mexicans, Peruvians, and Tibetans. These legends also incorporate the concept of a fall into sin.
Although distorted and embellished, the legends have too many common elements to be coincidental. This has led many to the conclusion that the stories were derived from historical events. Indeed, the picture that emerges bears a remarkable similarity to what is found in the opening chapters of the Bible book of Genesis. There, however, we find, not the vague language of legend, but the specific details of accurate history.—2 Timothy 3:16.
A Perfect Start
The book of Genesis tells us that when God created the first humans—Adam and Eve—he placed them in a well-watered garden called the Garden of Eden. They had perfect health and the prospect of everlasting life. Death was the penalty for sin. (Genesis 2:8-17; Romans 5:12) Adam and Eve were to “be fruitful and become many and fill the earth and subdue it.” (Genesis 1:28) The result would be a global paradise filled with perfect humans in joyful subjection to God, their Ruler.
Sadly, Adam and Eve disobeyed God, forfeiting both their opportunity to fulfill their Creator’s purpose and their prospect of living forever. Nevertheless, Jehovah God will fulfill his purpose for the earth. “My word that goes forth from my mouth . . . will not return to me without results,” he said, but “it will have certain success.” (Isaiah 55:11) Indeed, Jehovah’s purpose for the earth to be a paradise home for humans who reflect his qualities is a major theme of the Bible.—Romans 8:19-21.
“You Will Be With Me in Paradise”
Immediately after Adam and Eve sinned, God promised to produce a “seed,” or offspring, who would ultimately destroy “the original serpent,” Satan the Devil, and break up his wicked works. (Genesis 3:15; Revelation 12:9; 1 John 3:8) That “seed” proved to be primarily Jesus Christ. (Galatians 3:16) What is more, God appointed him King of a heavenly Kingdom, or government, that will rule over the earth.—Daniel 7:13, 14; Revelation 11:15.
Christ will fully accomplish what Adam failed to do. In fact, the Bible calls Jesus “the last Adam.” (1 Corinthians 15:45) Moreover, in his model prayer, Jesus linked earth’s future to God’s Kingdom, saying: “Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.”—Matthew 6:10.
When Jesus was on earth, he—as earth’s future King—could rightly say to the repentant evildoer impaled alongside him: “You will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43) The Paradise that Jesus had in mind would be on earth, as God originally purposed. This fact is well supported in the Bible. Consider the following texts.
“The righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it.” (Psalm 37:29) “There will come to be plenty of grain on the earth; on the top of the mountains there will be an overflow.” (Psalm 72:16) “The upright are the ones that will reside in the earth, and the blameless are the ones that will be left over in it.” (Proverbs 2:21) “They [the blameless] will not do any harm or cause any ruin in all my holy mountain; because the earth will certainly be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters are covering the very sea.”—Isaiah 11:9.
In harmony with those statements, in his famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said: “Happy are the mild-tempered ones, since they will inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5) Later, the apostle John wrote: “The tent of God is with mankind . . . He will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:3, 4) Clearly, these Bible texts refer, not to a heavenly “paradise,” but to a physical one here on earth.
What Bible Scholars Have Said
Many Bible scholars maintain that under Christ’s Kingdom, earth will become a paradise. Said theologian Joseph A. Seiss: “The whole earth under the Messiah must then ultimately become . . . what it . . . would have been if Adam had never sinned.” In the commentary The New Testament for English Readers, Henry Alford wrote: “That kingdom of God . . . shall work onwards till it shall become actually a kingdom over this earth, and its subjects shall inherit the earth . . . , finally in its renewed and blessed state for ever.”—Italics his.
“Happy are the mild-tempered ones, since they will inherit the earth.”
Likewise, famous scientist and keen student of the Bible Isaac Newton wrote: “The earth shall continue to be inhabited by mortals [humans] after the day of judgment and that not only for 1000 years, but even for ever.”
Because the earth will come under the direct rule of Jesus Christ, wickedness will never again take root. (Isaiah 11:1-5, 9) Yes, the earth will be a paradise in every respect, forever a credit to its Creator.
HAVE YOU WONDERED?
What was God’s original purpose for mankind and the earth?—Genesis 1:28.
What will God’s Kingdom accomplish?—Matthew 6:10.
Why will wickedness never again take root?—Isaiah 11:1-5, 9.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Should I Play Electronic Games?
ELECTRONIC games are more than just high-tech entertainment. True, they challenge your skill and help keep boredom at bay. But they do more. Electronic games can sharpen your reflexes, and studies indicate that playing these games improves visual attention. Some of them may even enhance your math and reading skills. Besides, the latest electronic game is likely to be the topic of schoolyard conversation. If you’ve played the game, you have something to talk about with your peers.
Of course, it’s up to your parents whether you’re allowed to play electronic games. (Colossians 3:20) If they permit you to do so, you should be able to find a game that is both exciting and morally acceptable. Why, though, do you need to be especially cautious?
Their Dark Side!
Sixteen-year-old Brian says, “Computer games are exciting and cool.” But as you likely already know, not all games are harmless. Brian admits, “You get to do things in the game that you would never actually do in real life—not without getting into serious trouble, that is.” What type of behavior do these games encourage?
Many games blatantly promote immorality, profanity, and violence—all condemned by the Bible. (Psalm 11:5;Galatians 5:19-21; Colossians 3:8) Some games glorify occult practices. Adrian, 18, describes one popular game as featuring “gang wars, drug use, explicit sexual content, foul language, intense violence, blood, and gore.” And each new release seems to make previous games look tame in comparison. James, 19, says that the most popular of these games can be played live on the Internet. This ability takes gaming to a whole new level. “From your home computer,” says James, “you can challenge people who live on the other side of the world.”
Role-playing games have become hugely popular. In these, participants create online characters—whether human, animal, or a blend of both—that inhabit a computer-generated world populated by thousands of other players. This online world contains shops, cars, homes, dance clubs, brothels—in essence, it is a replica of the real world. The players in these games are able to instant message one another as their computer-generated characters, called avatars, interact.
What goes on in those virtual worlds? “Ordinary people indulge in activities they never would, or could, do in real life,” says one journalist. He adds: “Sex is commonplace, as is prostitution.” Just by pressing a few buttons, the players can make their avatars engage in sex acts while the real-world participants talk about sex via instant messaging. In addition, those worlds are “full of virtual crimes, Mafia men, pimps, extortionists, counterfeiters and assassins,” says the journal New Scientist. Another magazine reports that “critics have raised concerns about activities that would be illegal in the real world, such as the brothel that features rape fantasies, or people who indulge in sex acts using avatars that resemble children.”
Why Your Choice Matters
Those who play those violent or sexually graphic games may say: “No harm done. It’s not real. It’s just a game.” But don’t be fooled by such false reasoning!
The Bible says: “Even by his practices a boy makes himself recognized as to whether his activity is pure and upright.” (Proverbs 20:11) If you make it a practice to play violent, immoral electronic games, could you be described as being pure and upright in mind? Studies repeatedly show that watching violent entertainment increases aggression in those who view it. New Scientist recently stated: “The interactive nature of video games means they have a stronger effect than TV.”
Choosing to play violent or immoral games is like choosing to play with radioactive waste—the damaging effects may not be immediately obvious, but they are inevitable. In what way? Exposure to high doses of radiation can destroy the lining of the stomach and allow bacteria from the intestines to invade the bloodstream, resulting in sickness. Similarly, exposure to graphic sex and hideous violence can damage your “moral sense” and allow fleshly desires to dominate your thinking and actions.—Ephesians 4:19; Galatians 6:7, 8.
What Game Should I Choose?
If your parents allow you to play any electronic games, how can you know which to choose and how much time to devote to them? Ask yourself the following questions:
Will my choice offend Jehovah? The type of game you choose can affect the way God feels about you. “Jehovah himself examines the righteous one as well as the wicked one, and anyone loving violence His soul certainly hates,” states Psalm 11:5. Regarding those who engage in occult practices, God’s Word says: “Everybody doing these things is something detestable to Jehovah.” (Deuteronomy 18:10-12) If we want to be friends of God, we need to follow the advice at Psalm 97:10: “You lovers of Jehovah, hate what is bad.”
How will the game affect my thinking? Ask yourself, ‘Will playing this game make it easier or harder for me to “flee from fornication”?’ (1 Corinthians 6:18) Games that expose you to sexually arousing images or conversations will not help you to keep your mind on things that are righteous, chaste, and virtuous. (Philippians 4:8) Amy, 22, says: “Many games desensitize you to things like violence, foul language, and immorality and can cause you to let down your guard in other aspects of life. You have to be very careful what you choose to play.”
How much time will I spend playing the game?Deborah, 18, says: “I don’t think all computer games are bad. But they can be very time-consuming, almost addictive.” Even the most innocent electronic games can consume a lot of time. So keep a log of how much time you spend gaming and then compare that with the amount of time you spend in other more essential activities. Doing so will help you to keep your priorities in order.—Ephesians 5:15, 16.
The Bible doesn’t require that you spend your whole life studying or working. It reminds all of us that there is “a time to laugh . . . and a time to skip about.” (Ecclesiastes 3:4) It is worth noting that the expression “to skip about” implies not only play but also physical activity. So why not use some of your free time to play games that involve physical activity instead of limiting yourself to sitting in front of a computer screen?
Without a doubt, playing electronic games can be fun, especially if you get good at it. And herein lies the very reason for you to choose your games wisely. Ask yourself, ‘What subjects do I do best in at school?’ Aren’t they usually the ones that you enjoy? In fact, it often follows that the more you enjoy a subject, the greater the impression it makes on you. Now ask yourself: ‘What electronic game do I enjoy the most? What moral lessons is this game teaching me?’
As a guide, why not write a brief review of each of the games you want to play, outlining the goal of the game and the methods used to achieve that goal? Compare your review with the Bible principles mentioned in this article, and then determine if the game is suitable.
Rather than playing a game just because your peers play it, have the strength to make your own informed choice. Most important of all, apply the Bible’s advice: “Keep on making sure of what is acceptable to the Lord.”—Ephesians 5:10.
His Message and You
“I have come that they might have life and might have it in abundance.”—JOHN 10:10.
How Jesus Can Change Your Life
What Does It Mean to Be a Christian?
JESUS CHRIST came to the earth primarily to give, not to receive. By means of his ministry, he gave a priceless gift to humankind—a message that revealed the truth about God and His will. Those who respond to that message can enjoy a better life now, as millions of true Christians can testify.* But at the core of the message Jesus preached is the most precious gift of all—the perfect life that he gave in our behalf. Our eternal welfare depends upon our response to this key aspect of his message.
What God and Christ gave Jesus knew that he was to die a painful death at the hands of his enemies. (Matthew 20:17-19) Yet, in his well-known words found at John 3:16, he said: “God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.” Jesus also said that he came “to give his soul [or, life] a ransom in exchange for many.” (Matthew 20:28) Why did he say that his life would be given rather than taken?
Motivated by unsurpassed love, God made provision for humans to be rescued from inherited sin and its consequences—imperfection and death. God did this by sending his only-begotten Son to the earth to die a sacrificial death. Jesus willingly complied, giving his perfect human life in our behalf. This provision, called the ransom, is God’s greatest gift to humankind.# It is a gift that can lead to everlasting life.
What you need to do Is the ransom a gift to you personally? That is up to you. To illustrate: Imagine that someone holds out to you a gift-wrapped box. Really, it does not become your gift until you reach out and accept it. Similarly, Jehovah extends the ransom to you, but this gift is not yours personally unless you reach out and accept it. How?
Jesus said that it is those “exercising faith” in him who will receive everlasting life. Faith involves the way you live your life. (James 2:26) Exercising faith in Jesus means bringing your life into harmony with the things he said and did. To do that, you must know Jesus and his Father well. “This means everlasting life,” Jesus said, “their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.”—John 17:3.
Some 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ shared a message that has changed the lives of millions of people the world over. Would you like to know more about that message and how you and your loved ones can benefit from it, not just now, but forever? Jehovah’s Witnesses would be happy to help you.
* Not everyone who claims to be Christian is a genuine follower of Christ. Jesus’ true followers are those who live in harmony with the truths he taught about God and His will.—Matthew 7:21-23.
# For more information about the Scriptural teaching of the ransom, see chapter 5, “The Ransom—God’s Greatest Gift,” of the book What Does the Bible Really Teach? published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Monday, April 18, 2011
How Can You Benefit From GODLY PRINCIPLES?
Your Choice of Principles
ARE you a person of principle? Or do you consider ethics to be a bit old-fashioned? The fact is, everyone is guided by principles of some sort, which he or she believes are important. According to The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, a principle can be defined as "a personal code of right action." Principles influence our decisions and determine the direction we take in life. Principles can act like a compass.
For instance, Jesus urged his followers to keep the Golden Rule, found at Matthew 7:12: "All things, therefore, that you want men to do to you, you also must likewise do to them." Followers of Confucius observe the principles of li and jen, which address such qualities as kindness, humility, respect, and loyalty. Even people who are not religious have some priorities or guidelines that determine their conduct.
Principles of What Sort?
We do well to bear in mind, however, that principles may be either good or bad. For example, an increasing number of people are motivated by what, for the last decade or so, has been identified as me-ism. Though many may not know the term or may feel that it does not apply to them, me-ism is a principle by default, that is, a code of conduct that many resort to as they abandon high standards of behavior. Whether identified by that term or not, me-ism is a manifestation of selfishness, often accompanied by mindless materialism. "We have just two principles," claimed a TV executive in China. "One is satisfying demand. The other is making money."
Me-ism can act like a magnet. And how does a magnet affect a compass? When the two are side by side, the compass needle gets misdirected. In the same way, me-ism can throw a person's moral compass, or code of right behavior, into confusion by making everything subordinate to the desires of the person.
Would it surprise you to learn that me-ism is not a modern phenomenon? This approach to life found its origin in the garden of Eden when our first parents abandoned the standard of behavior laid down by our Creator. That altered their moral compass. As descendants of Adam and Eve, humans are troubled with the same approach to life, more recently labeled "me-ism."—Genesis 3:6-8, 12.
Many people today
show no regard for the needs of others
The spread of that attitude is particularly observable during what Bible prophecy calls "the last days," marked by "critical times hard to deal with." Many people are "lovers of themselves." Small wonder that we find ourselves under pressure to copy the me-first approach.—2 Timothy 3:1-5.
Perhaps you find yourself agreeing with a youth named Olaf who wrote to a European branch of Jehovah's Witnesses: "It is very hard to remain morally upright, especially for us young ones. Please keep reminding us of the necessity to stick to Bible principles."
Olaf reflected a perceptive view. Godly principles can help us—young or old—to keep to high standards of behavior. They can also enable us to resist me-ism, whether labeled that or not. If you would like to learn more about how Bible principles can really help you, kindly consider the next article.