Will You Worship God in HIS Way?
IN THE “last days,” the Bible foretells, men would “be lovers of themselves, . . . self-assuming, haughty, . . . having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5) Does that not well describe what we see around us today?
2 Yes, in every aspect of life people act in a way that says, “Me first”—their conduct when shopping or driving, the attention they give to clothing and makeup, and the type of dancing they do. But all of this has not brought real happiness.
3 Many people even view religion according to what they want or feel they need. What a mistake that is! We are not the ones to say how God should be worshiped. As the Creator and Life-Giver, Jehovah is the one to say how he should be worshiped. (Romans 9:20, 21) And what he requires of us is for our own good. It brings contentment now and keeps our mind and heart on the wonderful things that he has in store for us in the future.—Isaiah 48:17.
4 Jehovah does not burden Christians with needless ceremonies or impose pointless restrictions. But God knows that continued life depends on a good relationship with him, and that we need to live by his standards and show concern for others if we are to find true enjoyment in life. When we worship God the way he wants, life becomes richer and gains meaning.
DOING THINGS IN GOD’S WAY
5 Noah is a fine example of a person who complied with God’s way. The Bible says: “Noah was a righteous man. He proved himself faultless among his contemporaries. Noah walked with the true God.” After God gave him instructions to build a huge life-preserving ark, “Noah proceeded to do according to all that God had commanded him. He did just so.” (Genesis 6:9, 22) Doing things in God’s way saved Noah’s life, as well as the lives of his family, who stuck with him as God’s prophet on earth.—2 Peter 2:5.
6 Another person who followed God’s way was Abraham. God told him to leave his homeland. Would you have obeyed? Abraham “went just as Jehovah had spoken,” though “not knowing where he was going.” (Genesis 12:4; Hebrews 11:8) Because of faithfully doing things in God’s way, Abraham was counted as “Jehovah’s friend.”—James 2:23; Romans 4:11.
BEING AMONG GOD’S PEOPLE
7 In time God chose to deal with a large group, the nation of Israel. They became “his people, a special property, out of all the peoples who are on the surface of the ground.” (Deuteronomy 14:2) Of course, each Israelite needed to pray to God and have a close, personal relationship with him. But they also had to recognize that God was directing a congregation; they had to follow the form of worship outlined in God’s law for them as a people. Thus they could enjoy the protection and blessing God provided for the congregation. (Deuteronomy 28:9-14) Think what a privilege it was to be part of those whom the Almighty called “my people Israel.”—2 Samuel 7:8.
8 What of non-Israelites who wanted to worship the true God? Persons of that sort formed “a vast mixed company” who chose to go with Israel when Moses led the nation out of Egypt. (Exodus 12:38) Had you been in Egypt, would you have felt that you could remain and worship God alone in your own way?
9 Even when Israel settled in the Promised Land, foreigners who recognized Jehovah and wanted to worship him could do so. However, they had to appreciate that God was dealing with a congregated people and that His worship centered at a temple in Jerusalem. (1 Kings 8:41-43; Numbers 9:14) Persons could not be acceptable to God if they let pride or independence move them to devise their own way of worship.
A CHANGE IN CONGREGATIONS
10 When Jesus engaged in his ministry on earth, God was still dealing with Israel as a people dedicated to him. Thus it was not necessary for everyone who accepted the Messiah to meet regularly with Jesus and travel with him as the apostles did. (Mark 5:18-20; 9:38-40) But the nation as a whole rejected Jehovah’s Messiah, moving Jesus to say shortly before he died: “The kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.”—Matthew 21:43, Jerusalem Bible.
11 Who would this new people be, once the way of worship set out in God’s law to Israel was no longer required? (Colossians 2:13, 14; Galatians 3:24, 25) On the day of Pentecost 33 C.E., the Christian congregation was formed and God made it clear to sincere observers that this was his doing. (Acts 2:1-4, 43-47; Hebrews 2:2-4) First, Jews and foreigners who had accepted Judaism, and, later, Gentiles, or people of the nations, became “a people for his name.” God now considered them to be “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for special possession.”—Acts 15:14-18; 1 Peter 2:9, 10.
12 If you had lived then and wanted a relationship with God, you would have been directed to the Christian congregation. This is what happened with the Italian man Cornelius and his family. (Acts 10:1-48) The believers world wide constituted the Christian congregation. (1 Peter 5:9) All the local congregations, which met in homes or public buildings, were part of this one congregation that God was now using.—Acts 15:41; Romans 16:5.
13 Being a God of order, Jehovah arranged a measure of organization in the congregations. To provide needed attention to individual worshipers, he appointed men to serve as shepherds or overseers. They were experienced, qualified men who could teach God’s Word and train members of the congregation to share Bible truth with others, to help in the vital work of preaching the “good news.”—2 Timothy 2:1, 2; Ephesians 4:11-15; Matthew 24:14; Acts 20:28.
14 In many other ways, too, the congregations would benefit from these overseers. They were not to deal in a legalistic or oppressive manner. Rather, their assignment was lovingly to help fellow Christians to strengthen their relationship with God. (Acts 14:21-23; 1 Peter 5:2, 3) Any who had problems could go to these spiritually older men for kind, Scriptural help. (James 5:13-16; Isaiah 32:1, 2) Because Christians were still imperfect, occasionally difficulties might arise in congregations. The overseers were to be alert to help fellow Christians, and to be on guard against any who might endanger the congregation’s spirituality.—Philippians 4:2, 3; 2 Timothy 4:2-5.
15 The congregations got needed directions from a Christian governing body of the apostles and older men of the Jerusalem congregation. They studied and resolved questions sent from congregations. And the governing body dispatched representatives to visit congregations.—Acts 15:1-3.
16 Jehovah God is still dealing with his people as a congregated group. Throughout the earth there are thousands of congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses. If you want to come into unity with God’s way of worship, respond to his encouragement to congregate with fellow Christians:
“Let us consider one another to incite to love and fine works, not forsaking the gathering of ourselves together, . . . but encouraging one another, and all the more so as you behold the day drawing near.”—Hebrews 10:24, 25.
WORSHIPING GOD WHOLE-SOULED
17 It is good to reflect on all that Jehovah God has done for you. From him you have life and the provisions to sustain your life each day. On top of that, God sent his Son to earth to die as a sacrifice. That was an expression of God’s deep love, love that is sure and constant. (Romans 5:8; 8:32, 38, 39) In that way God made it possible for you to gain forgiveness of sin and the prospect of everlasting life in happiness.—John 3:17; 17:3.
18 How will we respond to his love? Certainly we should not turn our back on God and his love. The apostle Peter urged:
“Repent, therefore, and turn around so as to get your sins blotted out, that seasons of refreshing may come.”—Acts 3:19.
19 All of us need to “repent,” for we have all sinned, fallen short of God’s standards in our conduct, speech and thoughts. (Romans 2:4; 7:14-21; James 3:2) For us to repent means to recognize that we are sinners and to feel sorrow over our having failed to live in full harmony with Jehovah’s will. Is that how you feel? Next, we need to “turn around,” to change our way of life, henceforth striving to reflect Jehovah’s qualities and to do things in his way. Doing that, we can trust that God will forgive and accept us.—Psalm 103:8-14; 2 Peter 3:9.
20 Recognizing that Jesus provided a model so that we could follow his steps in serving God, we should endeavor to imitate his example. (1 Peter 2:21) Hebrews 10:7 tells us that Jesus’ attitude was: “Look! I am come . . . to do your will, O God.” Similarly, our love and appreciation for God should move us to dedicate our lives to him, to do his will whole-souled. Of course, we will still eat, sleep, care for and love our family, enjoy pleasant relaxation and in other ways share in the normal activities of life. But dedicating our lives to God means that his will and worship should be of primary importance, and that, no matter where we are or what we are doing, we will earnestly endeavor to apply God’s counsel and follow the example Jesus set.—Colossians 3:23, 24.
21 The Scriptures make clear that a person who dedicates his life to God should publicly manifest that by being baptized. Jesus told his followers:
“Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.”—Matthew 28:19, 20.
If those getting baptized were to have studied God’s Word and become disciples of Christ, then clearly they were not mere infants. Also, their baptism, in symbol of their dedication to God, was by total immersion in water, as Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River.—Mark 1:9-11; Acts 8:36-39.
22 Your becoming a baptized disciple of Christ will put you in line for the full and happy life of real Christianity. It is not a life governed by endless do’s and don’ts. Rather, it is a life of satisfying growth. You can steadily improve your spiritual outlook and your application of God’s Word, this bringing you ever closer to the example Jesus set.—Philippians 1:9-11; Ephesians 1:15-19.
23 This will affect your daily thinking and conduct. As you pursue the Christian way, your conviction will deepen that soon God will destroy all wickedness, making way for ‘a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness is to dwell.’ This, in turn, will increase your motivation to develop the Christian personality and to pursue the way of life that will enable you to find a place in that coming new order. (Ephesians 4:17, 22-24) The apostle Peter was inspired to write:
“Think what sort of people you ought to be, what devout and dedicated lives you should live! With this [new order] to look forward to, do your utmost to be found at peace with him, unblemished and above reproach in his sight.”—2 Peter 3:11, 14, New English Bible.
24 What a blessing when a person’s entire life reflects the fact that he is worshiping Jehovah God! Though today many are living just to please themselves and selfishly to get all the pleasures they can, you can live and worship the true God in his way. This is the best way of life.
Who comes first with most people, and why is that not wise? (1-4)
How were Noah and Abraham different from most persons today? (5, 6)
In the time of ancient Israel, how did God deal with persons? (7-9)
What change did God make in his dealings? (10-12)
How did God organize and direct Christians? (13-15)
What meaning should God’s way of dealing with Christians have for you? (16)
Love for God should move us to do what? (17-19)
Why is baptism an important step, and what does it symbolize? (20, 21)
Have you dedicated your life to God, and do you want to be baptized? What will this mean for you? (22-24)