In a time of widespread fear, people are searching for peace, health, and security. But are they searching in the right place, and are they seeking the ultimate source of true prosperity? There are clear promises of God in the Bible—you need to find out how to claim them!
Earlier this year, when people across the United States were first told to practice “social distancing” and avoid large groups, many reacted by “panic buying”—emptying store shelves of all sorts of items they thought they might need while in isolation. Social media was filled with photos of empty aisles that just moments earlier had been stocked with thousands of rolls of toilet paper or hand sanitizer. Your neighborhood supermarket may have run out of vegetables, while another across town may have run out of meat. And if you were looking for bleach or disinfectant wipes, your chances of finding any were slim to none.
Out of fear, people rushed to grab what they could, while they could. Meanwhile, the few who had planned ahead—who already had a few weeks of emergency supplies stored for just such a time as this—were able to react more calmly. But how many of these people remembered to claim the most valuable supplies of all?
The supplies I’m talking about are the promises found throughout your Bible. They are God’s gift to you, and they can give you what all the material things in our world cannot. Unlike a store’s shelf, God’s supplies are inexhaustible—and their value is beyond measure!
How many people know that Jesus Christ made a wonderful promise about the reason for His coming? “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). That promise is right there in your Bible—and if you are like most English-speaking people, you probably already own at least one Bible. An April 2019 survey commissioned by the American Bible Society found that 84 percent of American households own at least one Bible. About 39 percent of those surveyed said that they read the Bible at least once per week (“State of the Bible 2019,” American Bible Society). Of course, many—including many Tomorrow’s World subscribers—read the Bible daily. Just as Jesus encouraged us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11), we should feed on God’s word every day.
But which translation should you use? If you are looking for a Bible or trying to decide which of your Bibles to use, we at Tomorrow’s World generally recommend the New King James Version as the most accurate English-language translation overall, though other translations may also be helpful as you go deeper into your study of the Bible.
Of course, merely owning a Bible is not enough. Even though most Americans own one or more Bibles, their knowledge of Scripture is sadly lacking. A February 2019 survey by the Pew Research Center found that 49 percent did not know that Jesus Christ was the Man who delivered the “Sermon on the Mount.” An April 2017 Pew report noted that just 45 percent of Americans surveyed knew the names of the four gospels. Of course, even knowledge is not enough if we do not believe and act on our beliefs. A Gallup poll in May 2017 found that just 24 percent of Americans believe the Bible to be the “actual word of God”—fewer than the 26 percent who consider it “a book of fables, legends, history and moral precepts recorded by man” (“Record Few Americans Believe Bible Is Literal Word of God,” Gallup, May 15, 2017).
If you read and believe your Bible, you will act on what you read. You won’t be like the rich young ruler who asked Jesus Christ what he should do to gain eternal life. Jesus responded, saying that “‘if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.’ He [the young ruler] said to Him, ‘Which ones?’ Jesus said, ‘“You shall not murder,” “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “Honor your father and your mother,” and, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”’” (Matthew 19:17–19).
The young man was proud, stating that he had long kept the commandments Jesus mentioned. But then Jesus gave him a test regarding the Tenth Commandment. Would he give up his worldly treasures in exchange for the true treasure from heaven (v. 21)?
Sadly, the young man in Matthew 19 “went away sorrowful” (v. 22), choosing not to obey Christ’s words. He was too attached to his “great possessions” and could not realize that he had neither fully obeyed the Ten Commandments nor obeyed Jesus Christ, who had given him those commandments.
Yes, Jesus told the young man to obey the Ten Commandments! He listed five of the Ten Commandments—and in case anyone might think that He was giving permission to break other laws not mentioned, He finished by quoting from the book of Leviticus: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18).
Here, Jesus showed that the Ten Commandments are vital not only in our physical lives, but in our receiving eternal life from God. We should notice that the Ten Commandments are not just prohibitions; the Fifth Commandment, telling us to honor our parents, is even called “the first commandment with promise” (Ephesians 6:2). God tells us that those who obey the Fifth Commandment will receive blessings! Are you honoring your parents? Do they have needs that you could help them meet? Have you thanked them for their care?
Perhaps we were reared in difficult circumstances. Sometimes we honor wayward parents by refusing to follow their sinful behavior—but can we also honor whatever good they may have done, even if they weren’t the “best parents” they might have been? Sometimes it may be hard to honor our parents, but God has promised us blessings when we do so!
Sadly, the rich young man could not keep the Tenth Commandment. So, what did he give up as a result? He had confidence in his wealth, but what was he missing? As you read your Bible, you will discover God’s promises, which include the blessings of physical security—but also of so much more. His promises to those who strive to keep His commandments include:
One of the most precious promises, yet one of the most overlooked, is found in the book of Philippians. If you want peace of mind in our troubled times, you will want to act on this promise: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7). Yes, God wants you to pray about your wants and your needs, as well as to thank Him for your many blessings.
Is there something very special to you—very personal—that you desire? Consider these ancient words of King David: “Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:3–4). I have experienced this for myself. I had a deep desire to visit the land of Israel, and I prayed about it for many years. I trusted God that He would answer my prayer, but it was up to Him exactly when He would do so. Sure enough, after literally years of prayer, an opportunity arrived that took me to Israel! When I heard about it, I literally jumped for joy! Since that first visit, I have been back several times, and I have always remained grateful to God for fulfilling this desire of my heart. Because I have trusted in Him and have delighted in doing His will (with the essential help of the Holy Spirit), I know He will respond to me. Our God keeps His promises!
As you read the Bible, you will find countless promises that God has made to you. On your knees, in prayer, tell God how much you want—how much you need—what He has promised. Pray boldly. Remember this scripture: “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Do not be shy. Like Jacob wrestling with God (Genesis 32:24–32), or like the persistent widow (Luke 18:1–8), use your prayers to remind God that He has given you these promises. Boldly, but humbly, ask God in faith to fulfill these promises in your life!
A closet filled with toilet paper may give some people a sense of security. For others, security may come from their stock portfolio or bank balance. Many feel insecure, but even those who achieve some physical security face a vital question: What have they gained? Will they become like the rich young man of Matthew 19, who valued his wealth more than his God? Jesus’ followers seek an eternal treasure—the Kingdom of God. Jesus promised, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Those who seek physical, material treasures often fail in their search. But if we seek God’s Kingdom and His righteousness, we will find the greatest treasure of all—and God also promises to provide us with what we need.
When you are truly seeking God’s will, He will answer your prayers. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:7–11).
Of course, we must do our part. We need to “seek” and “knock.” Are you searching for a job? Then, yes, pray for a job. But God may expect you to research potential employers and make some phone calls. Seek God’s righteousness—and through God’s Spirit, do what is righteous.
The Bible compares God’s Kingdom to a valuable pearl. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it” (Matthew 13:45–46). The pearl of great price represents spiritual riches and eternal life. Human beings are still learning the hard lesson that no amount of material wealth will provide lasting happiness. We see this in the lessons King Solomon learned. He had it all, but throughout the book of Ecclesiastes we find this theme repeated: “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 1:2). Solomon was the wealthiest man on earth, but his wealth did not bring him contentment. After searching for happiness in so many ways, what did he conclude? “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
As Christ taught, and as Solomon learned, the true riches are available even to those who may be financially poor. Do you give honor and attention to those with healthy bank balances while neglecting those in financial difficulty? Are you neglecting those whom God is honoring? The Apostle James reminds us, “Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?” (James 2:5).
God has promised His Kingdom, not to those who have great financial resources, but rather to those who love Him. Though they may be poor in the eyes of this world, those who are rich in faith have the true wealth—the true treasure. They are seeking God’s way in their lives, and God’s way is the true treasure, as we read in the book of Proverbs: “My son, if you receive my words, and treasure my commands within you, so that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding, if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:1–6).
Those who receive the treasure of godly wisdom are receiving a wonderful promise that can change their lives—and their eternity. As the Apostle Peter wrote, “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:2–4).
Yes, His divine power has given us great and precious promises. Our God “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Ephesians 3:20). But we must be diligent in using the “power that works in us”—the Holy Spirit—and, by doing so, we will gain more of it. If we disobey God, and if we reject His guidance and His mercy, we may even “quench” the Holy Spirit in us (1 Thessalonians 5:19). Rather, we should be grateful for God’s gift of the Holy Spirit and stir it constantly by its use.
Do you want the divine nature in your life? True Christians, having received God’s Holy Spirit, have been given a measure of that divine nature. This is one of the Bible’s most precious promises. On the day of Pentecost, the Apostle Peter stood before thousands to preach. “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call’” (Acts 2:38–39).
If you feel that God is calling you, you need to respond to His calling! Repent, count the cost of commitment (Luke 14:28), and go to God in prayer, asking for His guidance. Perhaps you feel you should seek baptism. If you would like counsel about baptism, please contact the Regional Office nearest you, listed on page 4 of this magazine, and a true minister of Jesus Christ will get in touch with you at a time and place convenient to you, to counsel with you and help you prepare for that commitment.
Without God’s Spirit, we cannot inherit His Kingdom. As the Apostle Paul wrote, that Spirit is the spirit “of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). Through God’s Spirit, your human nature can be changed and you can truly begin to learn how to obey God and follow His ways. As Paul wrote, “And hope putteth not to shame; because the love of God hath been shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit which was given unto us” (Romans 5:5, American Standard Version). Through God’s Holy Spirit, you can replace your selfish human nature with God’s loving nature.
True Christians receive the gift of God’s Holy Spirit, according to His promise, after repentance and acceptance of Christ’s shed blood for the remission of sins. This gift includes God’s wonderful promise of salvation through the living Jesus Christ. “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Romans 5:6–10). Yes, God’s awesome promise is that He will save us through the living Jesus Christ—our great High Priest who intercedes on our behalf. God is love, and He is the greatest giver (James 1:17). He even wants to give us the earth as an inheritance (Matthew 5:5). Eventually, God plans to give us an even greater gift: “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son” (Revelation 21:7).
The “faith chapter” of your Bible, Hebrews 11, tells us of God’s faithful servants who persevered in their faith despite dangers and obstacles all around them. What did they have in common? They were “strangers and pilgrims” in a society that mostly neglects or rejects the true God (Hebrews 11:13). They lived as “ambassadors” of the Kingdom of God (2 Corinthians 5:20). Though they had not yet received God’s ultimate promise—resurrection into the Kingdom of God as a very member of His Family—they received the promises that came by their faith.
As Christians today, we too can and should—and must—claim God’s promises. Those promises are not just for the heroes of faith you read about in your Bible—they are also for you! Search your Bible daily, and as you draw closer to God, thank Him for the many great and priceless treasures He wants you to claim!