The Choice Assuring Life in True Peace and Security
1. If we make the right choice, what peace and confidence can be ours now?
WHAT a blessing it is to have a real purpose in living, to know where you are going! And how comforting to have the certainty that there is no better, wiser course you could possibly take! What peace of mind and heart this brings! Such peace and confidence can be yours, but only if you make the right choice now in this time of opportunity.
2. How does our coming to know Jehovah and his purposes affect our entire outlook on life?
2 All the evidence shows that we cannot look to this world as the source of true peace and security. The Bible points us, therefore, not to the world, not even to ourselves, but to Jehovah God as the one Source of true peace and security. By our coming to know him and his purposes for mankind we come to understand why we are here on earth and why things are as they are today. We learn of the great issue facing all mankind and how this issue, involving Jehovah’s universal sovereignty, affects each of us and our hope of life. By the light of God’s Word we can see the root causes of mankind’s problems. We can learn to weigh the rightness and wisdom of our goals and gain a stable, reliable set of moral standards by which to live. Yes, even when faced with sickness, old age or death, we can have the comforting assurance that, by doing Jehovah’s will, we have the guarantee of life in a righteous, healthful new order, even, if necessary, by a resurrection from the dead.
3. Why is Jehovah the one on whom to rest all our hopes?
3 No wonder, then, that Isaiah 26:4 exhorts: “Trust in Jehovah, you people, for all times, for in Jah Jehovah is the Rock of times indefinite.” Unchanging, almighty and eternal, Jehovah is indeed the one on whom to rest all our hopes. Do you want to qualify to enjoy his guidance and protection, not just for the present, but for all future time in his promised new order? What must you do?
4. To gain Jehovah’s favor, what do we need, and what makes it possible?
4 Mankind as a whole has been alienated from God because of the sin of our first parents. To gain Jehovah’s favor, all persons need to become reconciled to him, to enter into a favorable relationship with him. God has opened the way for every person to do so by means of his Son and his Son’s sacrifice on behalf of the world. (2 Corinthians 5:19-21; Ephesians 2:12, 13) Yet, it is not enough for us now simply to say we want God’s friendship.
5. What should be our motivation in seeking Jehovah’s friendship?
5 We should be willing, even eager, to prove to him that we want this and want it out of a right motive. Jehovah God would certainly not be pleased if we sought his friendship only as a means of escaping some disaster. While there is a genuine urgency in our day due to the nearness of God’s judgment, our seeking a right standing with him cannot be just for a certain period, nor just to survive the coming “great tribulation.” It must be for all time to come. Only genuine love will give us this motivation. So that we may demonstrate the sincerity of our desire, Jehovah God has set out in his Word certain things we each must do to gain reconciliation with him.
A LIVING FAITH
6. To please God, what confidence must we have regarding him?
6 Jehovah is a God of truth. We can, and rightly should, have absolute confidence in his promises. In fact, “without faith it is impossible to please him well, for he that approaches God must believe that he is and that he becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him.” (Hebrews 11:6) Do you have such faith? If you do, then you will be confident that everything that God does has a good and righteous purpose, and that he always has our best interests at heart. From his creative works and, far more so, from his written Word, you can see that he is not only all-wise and all-powerful but also a God of loving-kindness. He will, of course, never turn aside from his righteous standards or abandon his purposes. Yet, even though we are imperfect and commit errors, what he does will result in blessings for us if we love righteousness. We need to be convinced of this if we are to have a faith that will give us strength and comfort under all circumstances.
7. How will confidence in Jehovah’s rightness and wisdom safeguard us?
7 Then, even when we receive correction, reproof or discipline, we will know that it is for our good and our eternal welfare. We thus come to trust Jehovah God as a son or daughter trusts a loving, wise and strong father. (Psalm 103:13, 14 [102:13, 14, Dy]; Proverbs 3:11, 12) Having such faith, we will not question or doubt his wise counsel, nor the rightness of his ways, even though for a time we may not entirely understand certain matters. This will be a safeguard to us. We thereby place ourselves among those the psalmist describes, saying: “Abundant peace belongs to those loving your law, and for them there is no stumbling block.”—Psalm 119:165 [118:165, Dy]; Proverbs 3:5-8.
8. (a) Why is faith alone not enough? (b) To what action mentioned at Acts 3:19 should faith move us?
8 But “faith apart from works is inactive,” it is “dead,” as James 2:20, 26 points out. Genuine faith moves a person to action. What is one of the first things true faith moves a person to do? It causes him to act in the way the apostle Peter exhorted persons in his day to do, saying: “Repent . . . and turn around so as to get your sins blotted out, that seasons of refreshing may come from the person of Jehovah.” (Acts 3:19) What does this mean?
REPENTING AND TURNING AROUND
9. (a) What is true repentance? (b) Over what do we need to repent?
9 In the Bible, repentance denotes a change—a change of mind accompanied by regret or remorse for a former course or for bad acts committed. (2 Corinthians 7:9-11) If we are going to enjoy the promised “seasons of refreshing” from God, we cannot just repent over one or more wrong acts of the past. Instead, we must show repentance because we recognize that as a result of our being offspring of Adam our very nature is sinful. As the apostle John states: “If we make the statement: ‘We have no sin,’ we are misleading ourselves . . . we are making [God] a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 John 1:8, 10) We should properly represent our Creator, serving in ‘his image and likeness.’ Yet inherited sin keeps us from doing this in a perfect way; we ‘miss the mark,’ which is what the word “sin” as used in the Bible literally means.—Genesis 1:26; Romans 3:23.
10, 11. (a) To whom are we indebted for life, and why? (b) So, how should we be using our lives?
10 So we are ‘debtors’ to God and need his forgiveness. (Matthew 6:12) We realize that we owe our life to him as our Creator. But now we also learn that, through his Son’s sacrifice of his perfect human life, all mankind was purchased or ransomed—and that includes us. Having been “bought with a price” of such great value, we should not be the “slaves of men,” not even of ourselves and our own selfish desires. (1 Corinthians 7:23) Yet, before our learning and accepting the truth, is that not what all of us were?—John 8:31-34.
11 Do you appreciate God’s gift of his Son, and do you appreciate in your heart what God has done in opening the way for escape from bondage to sin and death? Then surely you will sincerely regret any past failure to use your life in obedience to your Creator. This will move you to heartfelt repentance over having followed a life course like that of the world, out of harmony with God’s will and purposes.—Acts 17:28, 30; Revelation 4:11.
12. How does a repentant person show that he really has rejected his former course?
12 This true repentance leads to a ‘turning around,’ which is what the word “conversion” means. The genuinely repentant person does not merely regret his past misuse of his life; he rejects that wrong course and actually comes to hate his wrong ways. He shows this by ‘turning around’ and doing God’s will, bringing his life into harmony with God’s purposes. He performs “works that befit repentance.”—Acts 26:20; Romans 6:11.
13. (a) What is the meaning of Jesus’ statement that those who want to follow him must ‘disown themselves’? (b) For what reason do we thus fully submit ourselves to Jehovah, and how does it affect our lives?
13 Part of this repenting and turning around includes doing what Jesus Christ said his disciples must do, namely, ‘disowning ourselves.’ (Matthew 16:24) That is, we no longer lay any selfish claim to ourselves or to any supposed ‘right’ to live our lives according to just our own selfish desires with no concern for God’s will and purposes. Instead, we recognize that Jehovah God actually has full claim to our lives, not only because he is the Creator but more especially because of his Son’s purchase of the whole human race through his ransom sacrifice. As the apostle Paul expresses it, we ‘do not belong to ourselves, for we were bought with a price.’ (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20) So, we do not misuse the grand freedom that the truth opens up for us, but instead we submit ourselves fully to do God’s will as directed by his Son. (Galatians 5:13; 1 Peter 2:16) And we do this, not only because it is right, but because we love Jehovah God with ‘all our heart, soul, mind and strength.’ (Mark 12:29, 30) Surely this calls for each of us to live a life of full dedication or devotion to God. Is this course burdensome or oppressive? To the contrary, it enables one to enjoy life as never before.—Matthew 11:28-30.
MAKING PUBLIC DECLARATION FOR SALVATION
14. (a) When a person comes to the point that he feels moved to acknowledge Jehovah’s rightful ownership of him, how can he make expression of this to God? (b) What else should he desire to do, as indicated at Romans 10:10, 13?
14 It is a fine thing to make expression to God in prayer of our faith in his provisions, acknowledging his rightful ownership of us. But there is still more that we can and should want to do. Romans 10:10, 13 tells us: “With the heart one exercises faith for righteousness, but with the mouth one makes public declaration for salvation,” and “everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.” We should therefore be glad to make public expression of our faith in Jehovah God and in his provisions, doing so from a heart full of appreciation. One way in which we are to do this is in connection with water baptism.
15. Why should we think seriously about water baptism?
15 When Jesus Christ began his public ministry among the world of mankind, he presented himself to John the Baptist to be immersed in water. The Bible describes him as then saying to God: “I am come to do your will.” (Hebrews 10:9; Psalm 40:7, 8 [39:8, 9, Dy]) Jesus instructed that all those coming to be his disciples should also be baptized. Are you ready for water baptism as evidence that you are such a disciple?—Matthew 28:19, 20.
16. (a) How can you determine whether you are ready to get baptized? (b) What does the presiding overseer do by way of aiding individuals in their preparation for baptism?
16 It is a grand privilege to become a dedicated, baptized witness of Jehovah, the only true God, the rightful Sovereign of all the universe. Review now what this involves: Jehovah has lovingly opened the way for you to come into an approved relationship with him. But to do that you must have faith. You must really believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. (2 Timothy 3:16, 17) You must exercise faith in Christ Jesus as the only means by which you can gain an acceptable standing with God. (Acts 4:12) You need to appreciate your complete dependence on Jehovah God and earnestly desire to submit your entire life to him to do his will, not just for a few years, but forever. Is that truly what is in your heart? As you now know, this involves being “no part of the world.” (John 17:16; 1 John 2:15) As evidence that you have repented and ‘turned around,’ you must have abandoned the practices that are contrary to God’s righteous standards and now be sincerely endeavoring to do the things that God commands. Have you, because of heartfelt love for Jehovah, made your mind over so that this is now the way you view life? (Romans 12:1, 2) Then, the Bible encourages you to make “public declaration” of such faith. If this is your desire, it would be appropriate to approach the presiding overseer of the congregation of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses in your area and openly make known how you feel. He will arrange for a review with you of the basic teachings of the Bible in preparation for baptism.
17. In what way is baptism definitely involved in gaining salvation?
17 The Scriptures associate baptism with salvation, and appropriately so. The apostle Peter, after referring to the salvation of Noah and his family through the global flood, says: “That which corresponds to this is also now saving you, namely, baptism, (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the request made to God for a good conscience,) through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 3:21) How is this? It is not the baptismal water in itself that does anything for those baptized. But the ones presenting themselves for water immersion want God’s forgiveness of their sins so that they may have a clean conscience toward him. They know that such forgiveness is possible by faith in the value of Christ Jesus’ shed blood. On the basis of such faith, they request forgiveness from God and make this evident by presenting themselves for baptism. (Acts 2:38) God grants them the requested good conscience. Thus the individual is delivered or saved from the present wicked system of things and enjoys the grand prospects that belong to those who do the will of God. (Galatians 1:3, 4; 1 John 2:17) Thus, Christian water baptism is vital to those who desire life in God’s righteous new order, now near at hand.
18. Using the Bible, show how we must continue to make ‘public declaration of our faith.’
18 When you take this step, that will not, of course, mark the end of your making ‘public declaration of your faith.’ To continue to have Jehovah’s approval, you must never cease calling upon Jehovah and looking to him for guidance. This needs to be done, not just in the privacy of your own home, but publicly. This includes sharing zealously in the special work that Christ Jesus gives to all those submitting to his headship. That work is preaching the good news of God’s kingdom in all the world and making disciples of people of all the nations.—Matthew 24:14; 28:19.
CHERISHING YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
19, 20. How important is personal study in ensuring that one’s relationship with Jehovah will endure?
19 Now, then, how can you ensure that, once gained, your relationship with God will be an enduring one, one that will assure you, not just survival through the coming world destruction, but an eternity of service to Jehovah in joyful peace and security?
20 For one thing you will want to keep growing in knowledge of him. Personal study of his Word will aid you greatly in this, and even more so will application to your daily life of the things learned. You can find real pleasure in acquiring the treasures of knowledge, understanding and wisdom that God has stored up in his Word the Bible. You can be like the one that Psalm 1:2, 3 describes: “His delight is in the law of Jehovah, and in his law he reads in an undertone day and night. And he will certainly become like a tree planted by streams of water, that gives its own fruit in its season and the foliage of which does not wither, and everything he does will succeed.” Yes, if you develop a real love for the truth and for knowledge of God, this will cause you to walk in “ways of pleasantness” and in ‘roadways of peace,’ because it will give you the wisdom to face all life’s problems. (Proverbs 3:13, 17, 18) Your thirst for knowledge, evidenced by your real interest in Bible study, will show that you are preparing for life in the new order, when “the earth will certainly be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters are covering the very sea.”—Isaiah 11:9.
21. Why is regular meeting attendance a necessity in the life of Jehovah’s people?
21 Something else that you vitally need if you are to “hold fast the public declaration of our hope without wavering” is to congregate with others who are devoted servants of Jehovah. By regularly attending the meetings of Jehovah’s people you will find genuine incitement to love and fine works, encouragement to continue maintaining your right relationship with God. (Hebrews 10:23-25) You will find strengthening evidence in such pleasant, family-like association that the peacefulness and security promised for God’s new order are a reality.—Psalm 133:1 [132:1, Dy]; 1 Corinthians 14:26, 33.
22. How can the “elders” in the congregation aid us in times of opposition and personal difficulty?
22 In the congregation you can benefit from another loving provision. Himself the ‘Fine Shepherd,’ Jesus Christ has ‘undershepherds’ on earth, spiritually older men or “elders” who are to care for his “sheep.” This is a powerful factor even now in the enjoyment of peace and security among God’s congregated people throughout the earth. (1 Peter 5:2, 3) These men “prove to be like a hiding place from the wind and a place of concealment from the rainstorm, like streams of water in a waterless country, like the shadow of a heavy crag in an exhausted land.” (Isaiah 32:1, 2) Yes, in stormy times of trouble, of pressure and stress due to worldly opposition or personal difficulties, by their rocklike faith and their firm adherence to God’s Word these spiritually older men or “elders” can give real support. They can supply you with refreshing counsel, help and encouragement.
23. What will prevent us from ever allowing the imperfections of others to mar our relationship with Jehovah?
23 True, human imperfections will manifest themselves, even among God’s servants. We all make mistakes daily. (James 3:2) But will we let ourselves be stumbled by the imperfections of others and let their imperfections somehow mar our relationship with Jehovah God? Since we, too, err and say and do things we later regret, should we not show others the same mercy and forgiveness we want for ourselves? (Matthew 6:14, 15) If we are to prove ourselves fit subjects for life in God’s peaceful new order, we must now demonstrate our ability to get along with others in peace. We cannot love God without loving also our brother for whom Christ died.—1 John 4:20, 21.
24. What place should prayer have in our lives?
24 Your right relationship with God gives you another grand privilege: the approach to God by prayer with the assurance that he hears you. Cherish that privilege and use it daily, throughout the day. Problems will arise; your own imperfections may trouble you. Yet the Bible counsels: “Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving let your petitions be made known to God; and the peace of God that excels all thought will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.”—Philippians 4:6, 7.
25. When faced with trials and persecution for our faith, what will help us to endure?
25 By choosing to serve Jehovah God, the true Source of peace and security, and placing your hope in his righteous new order, you have made a right start. Now, as the apostle expresses it, “you have need of endurance, in order that, after you have done the will of God, you may receive the fulfillment of the promise.” (Hebrews 10:36) Having tasted the blessings of a right relationship with Jehovah God, determine never to give it up. Never let the fleeting pleasures of the world draw you away. Though trials and persecutions from an enemy world become severe, remember that they, too, are but temporary. Compared with the blessings that Jehovah God will grant to those loving him, such sufferings are as nothing.—2 Corinthians 4:16-18.
26. (a) In what do we today especially have reason to rejoice? (b) Like the psalmist, how should we always feel about Jehovah and our relationship with him?
26 Continue in the course of godly devotion, confident that it is the best way of life now and that it will lead unfailingly to eternal life in God’s new order. (1 Timothy 4:8) Rejoice in the evidence of the nearness of that new order and the everlasting peace and security that it will bring. As you keep building your relationship with Jehovah God, may you always feel as did the inspired psalmist who wrote:
“God is the rock of my heart and my share to time indefinite. For, look! the very ones keeping away from you will perish. You will certainly silence every one immorally leaving you. But as for me, the drawing near to God is good for me. In the Sovereign Lord Jehovah I have placed my refuge, to declare all your works.”—Psalm 73:26-28 [72:26-28, Dy].