Archives for posts with tag: purpose

www.jw.org

BILLIONS of people have read or heard what the Bible says about the beginning of the universe. The 3,500-year-old account starts with the well-known statement: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

Many people, however, are unaware of the fact that Christendom’s leaders, including so-called creationists and fundamentalists, have spun the Bible account of creation into numerous tales that deviate from what the Bible really says. These interpretations fly in the face of scientific fact. Even though those tales are not found in the Bible, they have caused some people to dismiss the Bible account as mythical allegory.

The real Bible story of creation has gone largely unnoticed. This is a shame, for the Bible actually presents a very logical and credible explanation of the beginning of the universe. What is more, that explanation harmonizes with scientific discovery. Yes, you might be pleasantly surprised by the Bible’s untold story of creation!

THE UNCREATED CREATOR

Infinity

The Bible account of creation hinges on the fact that there is a Supreme Being, Almighty God, who created all things. Who is he, and what is his nature? The Bible reveals that he is quite different from the deities found in popular culture and mainstream religion. He is the Creator of all things, but most people know very little about him.

  • God is a person, an individual. He is not a vague force devoid of personality, floating aimlessly throughout the universe. He has thoughts, feelings, and goals.

  • God has infinite power and wisdom. This explains the complex design found everywhere in creation, especially in living things.

  • God created all physical matter. Hence, he cannot be made of physical elements that he himself has created. Rather, he is of a spiritual, or nonphysical, nature.

  • God’s existence is not limited by time. He has always existed and will always exist. Hence, no one created him.

  • God has a personal name, which is used thousands of times in the Bible. That name is Jehovah.

  • Jehovah God loves and cares for humans.

 HOW LONG DID GOD TAKE TO CREATE THE UNIVERSE?

Face of a clock

The Bible states that God created “the heavens and the earth.” This broad statement, however, makes no reference to the length of time involved in creating the universe or to the methods he used to shape it. What about the widespread creationist belief that God created the universe in six literal 24-hour days? This concept, widely rejected by scientists, is based on a gross misunderstanding of the Bible account. Consider what the Bible really says.

The Bible does not support fundamentalists and creationists who claim that the creative days were literal 24-hour days

  • The Bible does not support fundamentalists and creationists who claim that the creative days were literal 24-hour days.

  • The Bible frequently uses the term “day” to designate various periods of time. In some cases these periods are of an unspecified length. The account of creation found in the Bible book of Genesis is one example of this.

  • In the Bible account, each of the six creative days could have lasted for thousands of years.

  • God had already created the universe, including a lifeless planet Earth, by the time the first creative day began.

  • Evidently the six creative days were long periods during which Jehovah God prepared the earth for human habitation.

  • The Bible account of creation does not conflict with scientific conclusions about the age of the universe.

DID GOD USE EVOLUTION?

Theoretical process of evolution

Many who do not believe in the Bible embrace the theory that living things emerged from lifeless chemicals through unknown and mindless processes. Supposedly, at some point a bacteria-like, self-replicating organism arose, gradually branching out into all the species that exist today. This would imply that ultimately the mind-bogglingly complex human actually evolved from bacteria.

The theory of evolution is also embraced by many who claim to accept the Bible as the word of God. They believe that God produced the first burst of life on earth but then simply monitored, and perhaps steered, the process of evolution. That, however, is not what the Bible says.

The Bible account of creation does not conflict with the scientific observation that variations occur within a kind

  • According to the Bible, Jehovah God created all the basic kinds of plant and animal life, as well as a perfect man and woman who were capable of self-awareness, love, wisdom, and justice.

  • The kinds of animals and plants created by God have obviously undergone changes and have produced variations within the kinds. In many cases, the resulting life-forms are remarkably different from one another.

  • The Bible account of creation does not conflict with the scientific observation that variations occur within a kind.

 A CREATOR PERCEIVED IN CREATION

In the mid-1800’s, British biologist Alfred Russel Wallace agreed with Charles Darwin on the theory of evolution by natural selection. But even this renowned evolutionist is said to have stated: “For those who have eyes to see and minds accustomed to reflect, in the minutest cells, in the blood, in the whole earth, and throughout the stellar universe . . . , there is intelligent and conscious direction; in a word, there is Mind.”

Almost two thousand years before Wallace, the Bible had already observed: “For [God’s] invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship.” (Romans 1:20) From time to time, you might want to take a moment to reflect on the marvelous complexities found in nature—from a single blade of grass to the countless heavenly bodies. By examining creation you can perceive the Creator.

‘But if there is a loving God who created all things,’ you may ask, ‘why would he permit suffering? Has he abandoned his earthly creation? What does the future hold?’ The Bible contains many other untold stories—truths that have been buried under human ideas and religious agendas and, therefore, hidden from most people. The publishers of this magazine, Jehovah’s Witnesses, would be happy to help you examine unadulterated Bible truth and learn more about the Creator and the future of his human creation.

Advertisements

www.jw.org 

Our planet is ideally suited to host life. It has abundant water, which isessential for life. The earth’s tilt, rotation, and orbit are all just right to prevent the oceans from freezing over or boiling away. And the earth’s atmosphere and magnetic field protect it from deadly radiation. The interdependent web of plant and animal life on earth is simply amazing. Consequently, many people have concluded that our planet was designed for a purpose.—Read Isaiah 45:18.

But you may wonder, ‘Is suffering and injustice part of that purpose?’—Read Deuteronomy 32:4, 5.

Will earth’s purpose be accomplished?

The earth was designed to be a happy home for people who respect one another and love their Creator. Thus, human life has a higher purpose than plant or animal life. We can understand who our Creator is and admire and imitate his love and justice.—Read Ecclesiastes 12:13; Micah 6:8.

Our Maker can accomplish all that he purposes to do. So we can be sure that he will do away with suffering and injustice and make our planet a perfectly happy home for mankind.—Read Psalm 37:11, 29;Isaiah 55:11.

 


http://www.jw.org

As told by Isolina Lamela

  • YEAR BORN: 1950
  • COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: SPAIN
  • HISTORY: CATHOLIC NUN
Isolina at the convent

MY PAST:

When I was born, my parents had a small farm in a rural village in Galicia, northwestern Spain. I was the fourth of eight children. We enjoyed a warm atmosphere at home. At that time in Spain, it was common for at least one of the children in a family to enter a seminary or a convent. In our family, three of us took that step.

At the age of 13, I joined my sister in a convent in Madrid. The environment in the convent was impersonal. Friendships did not exist—only rules, prayers, and austerity. Early in the morning, we gathered in the chapel to meditate, although my mind often went blank. Later, we sang religious songs and celebrated Mass, all in Latin. I understood virtually nothing and felt as if God were far away from me. My days passed in strict silence. Even when my sister and I would meet up, we could merely say, “Hail purest Mary.” The nuns allowed us only half an hour to talk after meals. How different from my happy family life back home! I felt isolated and often wept.

Although I never felt close to God, I took my vows and became a nun at the age of 17. Really, I just did what was expected of me, but soon I started questioning whether I actually had a religious calling. The nuns used to say that those with such doubts would end up in hellfire! Still, my doubts lingered. I knew that Jesus Christ had not isolated himself; rather, he kept busy teaching and helping others. (Matthew 4:23-25) By the age of 20, I had no clear reasons to remain a nun. Surprisingly, the mother superior told me that if I was at a crossroads, I had better leave as soon as possible. I suspect she feared that I might influence others. So I left the convent.

When I returned home, my parents were very understanding. But since there was no work in our village,  I migrated to Germany, where one of my brothers lived. He belonged to an active Communist group of expatriate Spaniards. I was at ease among those people who fought for workers’ rights and equality for women. So I became a Communist and eventually married a member of the group. I thought I was doing something useful, handing out Communist literature and engaging in protest marches.

In time, however, I again became discouraged. I felt that Communists often failed to practice what they preached. Those misgivings were reinforced in 1971 when some young members of our group burned down the Spanish Consulate in Frankfurt. They did that to protest against injustice in dictatorial Spain. But I believed this was the wrong way to express indignation.

When my first child was born, I told my husband that I was going to stop attending Communist meetings. I was very lonely because none of my former friends visited me and my baby. I wondered about the purpose of life. Was it really worth making an effort to improve society?

HOW THE BIBLE CHANGED MY LIFE:

In 1976, two Spanish Witnesses knocked at our door and offered some Bible literature, which I accepted. On their second visit, I began to fire questions at them about suffering, inequality, and injustice. I was surprised when they used the Bible to answer every question! I readily accepted a Bible study.

At first, my interest was just intellectual. But things changed when my husband and I started attending meetings at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses. By that time, we had two children. The Witnesses kindly picked us up and helped care for our children during the meetings. I developed warm feelings toward the Witnesses.

Even so, I still had some religious doubts. I decided to visit my family in Spain. My uncle, a priest, tried to discourage me from studying the Bible. But the local Witnesses helped me greatly. They answered my questions from the Bible, just as the Witnesses in Germany had. I resolved to resume my Bible study when I returned to Germany. Although my husband decided not to continue studying the Bible, I followed through with my resolve. In 1978, I was baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

HOW I HAVE BENEFITED:

Accurate knowledge of Bible truth has given me clear purpose and direction in life. For example, 1 Peter 3:1-4 encourages wives to “be in subjection” to their husbands “with deep respect” and to cultivate a “mild spirit, which is of great value in the eyes of God.” Such principles have helped me to fulfill my role as a wife and mother.

Isolina in her public ministry, sharing Bible answers with a woman

Some 35 years have passed since I became a Witness. I feel happy to serve God as part of a true spiritual family, and I am delighted that four of my five children do likewise.


www.jw.org

Have you or has someone you know thought about suicide? Finding a reason to live can make all the difference.


Image1

www.jw.org

THE BIBLE CHANGES LIVES

The Promise of a Paradise Earth Changed My Life!

As told by Ivars Vigulis

  • YEAR BORN: 1974
  • COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: LATVIA
  • HISTORY: RISK-TAKING MOTORBIKE RACER
Ivars Vigulis as a motorcycle racer

MY PAST:

I was born in Riga, the capital of Latvia. My sister and I were raised by our mother. Although Mother is a Catholic, we only went to church on the religious holidays. I have always believed in a higher power, but as a youth, I was distracted by many other interests.

As I grew up, my mother noticed that I had a flair for taking things apart and putting them back together again. With so many things in the house that could be taken apart, she was always worried about leaving me home alone. So she gave me a metal construction kit, which I loved to put together and then tear apart. That interest went hand in hand with another passion of mine—motorbiking. My mother enrolled me in a motorbike race called Zelta Mopēds (The Golden Moped). I started racing with mopeds and, later, with motorcycles.

I was a quick learner and soon became very successful in this fast and dangerous sport. Three times I won the Latvian championship for several motorcycle-racing classes, and twice I won the Baltic States Championship.

HOW THE BIBLE CHANGED MY LIFE:

At the peak of my career, my girlfriend Evija (who later became my wife) came in contact with Jehovah’s Witnesses. She had found some of their literature, which contained a coupon for requesting a Bible study. She filled out the coupon and mailed it in. Soon, two Witnesses visited her, and she began to study the Bible with them. That was fine with me, but at the time, I didn’t have any great interest in spiritual things.

Later on, the Witnesses invited me to sit in on Evija’s Bible study and listen. I accepted the offer, and I liked what I heard. One thing that especially touched my heart was the Bible’s promise of a paradise earth. For example, I  was shown the passage at Psalm 37:10, 11, which says: “Just a little while longer, and the wicked will be no more; you will look at where they were, and they will not be there. But the meek will possess the earth, and they will find exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.” That promise really appealed to me.

My spiritual interest continued to grow. I began to realize how many religious lies there are. In contrast, Bible teachings struck me as being refreshingly logical and clear.

As I continued to study the Bible, I learned how highly Jehovah values life and how precious it is to him. (Psalm 36:9) That had an impact on my racing—I no longer wanted to risk my life. Instead, I wanted to use my life to give glory to Jehovah. Therefore, the fame, the glory, and the thrill of motorcycle racing were no longer important to me.

I came to understand that I have a responsibility to the Giver of life

In 1996, I attended an international convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Tallinn, Estonia, not far away from the motor stadium where I had raced often. At the convention, I saw people from many different countries meeting together in harmony and peace. For example, when one of the Witnesses lost her purse, I assumed that she would never see it again. Before long, though, a Witness found the purse and returned it with nothing missing. I was in a state of shock! I now understood that the Witnesses really live by the high standards of the Bible. Evija and I continued to progress in our studies, and in 1997 we were baptized as Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Ivars Vigulis helps repair cars at the branch office

HOW I HAVE BENEFITED:

Some of my friends have died because of their wild, fast lives on motorcycles. From studying the Bible, I came to understand that I have a responsibility to the Giver of life, Jehovah. That understanding has probably saved my life.

For four years, Evija and I had the privilege of serving as full-time ministers at the branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Riga. Now we find joy in raising our daughter, Alise, and helping her grow to love Jehovah. I also have the privilege of spending a day each week at the translation office, repairing cars and other things that are broken. It makes me really happy to put the skills that I learned as a child to good use! Yes, I am still tearing things apart and then putting them back together again.

I highly value the privilege of witnessing about the only true God together with my family, all thanks to what I learned from the Bible. Indeed, the promise of a paradise earth changed my life!


www.jw.org

COVER SUBJECT | THE WAR THAT CHANGED THE WORLD

The True Culprit Behind War and Suffering

On November 11, 1918, World War I came to an end. Businesses shut down, and people danced in the streets. But the dancing did not last long. Another menace—even more lethal than the machine gun—followed hot on the heels of the world war.

A deadly plague known as the Spanish flu had invaded the battlefields of France in June 1918. The virus soon proved how deadly it could be. For example, within a few months, it killed more American soldiers in France than did enemy fire. And the flu quickly spread worldwide as it accompanied the troops who returned to their homelands when the war ended.

The postwar years were also marked by hunger and economic misery. Much of Europe was starving when the hostilities ended in 1918. By 1923, German currency was practically worthless. Six years later, the whole world economy collapsed. And finally, in 1939, the second world war began—in some ways a continuation of the first global conflict. What was behind this unique string of catastrophes?

THE SIGN OF THE LAST DAYS

Bible prophecy enables us to see what lies behind certain historical events, and this is especially true of World War I. Jesus Christ foretold a time when ‘nation would rise against nation’ and food shortages and pestilences would sweep through the earth. (Matthew 24:3, 7; Luke 21:10, 11) He  told his disciples that such calamities would form a sign of the last days. More details are provided in the book of Revelation, which links woes on the earth to a war in heaven.—See the box  “War on Earth and War in Heaven.”

This same Bible book describes four horsemen, sometimes called the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. Three of these horsemen depict the same disasters that Jesus had earlier foretold—war, famine, and pestilence. (See the box  “Are the Four Horsemen Really on the Move?”) Clearly, the first world war triggered a time of affliction that has not abated. And the Bible reveals that Satan was the one who, in a sense, pulled the trigger. (1 John 5:19) Will his power ever be checked?

The book of Revelation also reassures us that Satan has only “a short period of time.” (Revelation 12:12) That is why he is full of rage and instigates untold woe here on earth. By the same token, though, the troubles we see prove that Satan’s time is running out.

 BREAKING UP THE WORKS OF THE DEVIL

World War I was indeed a turning point in history. It brought about an age of total war, sparking revolutions and mistrust of human leaders. It also provides vivid proof of Satan’s ouster from heaven. (Revelation 12:9) And this unseen ruler of the world reacted like a vicious dictator who knows that his days are numbered. When those days come to an end, the time of troubles sparked by World War I will finally end.

In the light of Bible prophecy, you have reason to trust that Jesus Christ, our heavenly King, will soon “break up the works of the Devil.” (1 John 3:8) Many millions already pray for God’s Kingdom to come. Do you? Thanks to that Kingdom, faithful people will finally see God’s will—not Satan’s—being done on earth. (Matthew 6:9, 10) Under God’s Kingdom, there will never again be a world war—or any wars at all! (Psalm 46:9) Learn about that Kingdom, and live to see the time when peace will fill the earth!—Isaiah 9:6, 7.


 

www.jw.org

COVER SUBJECT

The War That Changed the World

A century ago, millions of young men left the security of their homes and went off to war. They went eagerly, swept along by a wave of patriotism. “I am happy and full of excitement over the wonderful days ahead,” wrote an American volunteer in 1914.

Soon, though, their enthusiasm turned to bitterness. No one foresaw the way those huge armies would get bogged down for years in the mud of Belgium and France. At the time, people termed it the “Great War.” Today, we know it as the first world war.

The first world war was decidedly great in terms of casualties. By some estimates, it left about 10 million dead and 20 million mutilated. It was also the result of great blunders. European statesmen were unable to stop international tensions from escalating into a global conflict. More important, perhaps, is the fact that the “Great War” left great scars. It changed the world in ways that still affect us today.

 MISTAKES THAT DESTROYED TRUST

The first world war broke out because of miscalculations. European leaders acted like a “generation of sleepwalkers that stumbled unawares over the ledge of doom during that halcyon summer of 1914,” explains the work The Fall of the Dynasties—The Collapse of the Old Order 1905-1922.

Within weeks, the assassination of an Austrian archduke plunged all the major European powers into a war that they did not want. “How did it all happen?” the German chancellor was asked a few days after hostilities began. “Ah, if only one knew,” he sadly replied.

The leaders who made the fateful decisions that led up to the war had no inkling of the consequences. But reality soon dawned on the soldiers in the trenches. They discovered that their statesmen had failed them, their clergy had deceived them, and their generals had betrayed them. How so?

A statesman, a clergyman, a general, and a globe

Their statesmen had failed them, their clergy had deceived them, and their generals had betrayed them

The statesmen promised that the war would open the way to a new and better world. The German chancellor proclaimed: “We are fighting for the fruits of our peaceful industry, for the inheritance of a great past, and for our future.” American President Woodrow Wilson helped to coin a reassuring popular slogan that the war would “make the world safe for democracy.” And in Britain, people thought it would be “a war to end war.” They were all mistaken.

The clergy supported the war enthusiastically. “The guardians of God’s word led the martial chorus. Total war came to mean total hatred,” states The Columbia History of the World. And clerics fanned rather than quenched the flames of hatred. “Clergymen were unable, and for the most part unwilling, to place Christian faith before nationality,” observes A History of Christianity. “Most took the easy way out and equated Christianity with patriotism. Christian soldiers of all denominations were exhorted to kill each other in the name of their Saviour.”

The generals promised a quick and easy victory, but it was not to be. Before long, the opposing armies came to a grueling stalemate. Thereafter, millions of soldiers faced what one historian described as “perhaps the cruelest large-scale ordeal that the flesh and spirit of man have endured.” Despite appalling losses, generals kept throwing their men against barricades of barbed wire and barrages of machine-gun fire. Not surprisingly, widespread mutinies broke out.

How did the first world war affect society? One historical work quotes a veteran as saying: “The war . . . scorched the minds and character of a generation.” Indeed, in the wake of that war, entire empires disappeared. That tragic conflict proved to be the prelude to the bloodiest century mankind has ever known. Revolutions and strikes came to seem almost commonplace.

Why did the war turn the world upside down? Was it really just a colossal accident? Do the answers reveal anything about our future?