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 joy it is to have a real purpose in living, to know where you are going! And what peace of mind and heart comes from the certainty that there is no better course you could possibly take! Such peace and confidence can be yours, but only if you make the right choice now.
2. How does our coming to know Jehovah and his purposes help us with regard to our outlook on life?
2 The evidence is clear that we cannot look to this world as the source of true peace and security. The commercial, religious, and political systems, including the United Nations with its proclamations of ‘peace and security,’ cannot bring it. The Bible points us, therefore, to Jehovah God as the only Source of true peace and security. Coming to know him and his purposes helps us to understand why we are here on earth and why things are as they are today. We learn of the great issue involving Jehovah’s universal sovereignty, and how it affects each of us. We learn to weigh the rightness and wisdom of our goals, and we gain reliable moral standards by which to live. When faced with sickness, old age, or death, we have the comforting hope of life in a righteous, healthful new order, even by a resurrection from the dead, if necessary.
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 of our hopes. Do you want to enjoy his guidance and protection not just for the present but for all future time in his promised New Order? If so, 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. But God has opened the way to reconciliation and friendship with himself by means of his Son’s sacrifice. (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 out of a right motive. For example, do we seek Jehovah’s friendship primarily to escape disaster? If we are to gain a right standing with God, it cannot be just for this period of urgency before his judgment nor just to survive the coming “great tribulation.” (Matthew 24:21, 22) It must be for all time to come. Only genuine love will give us this motivation. So we can demonstrate the sincerity of our desire for his friendship, Jehovah has set out in his Word certain things we each must do to be reconciled to him.
A Living Faith
6. To please God, what confidence must we have regarding him?
6 Jehovah is a God of truth. So we can 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) If you have such faith, then you know that everything that God does has a righteous purpose, and that he always has our best interests at heart. From his creative works and from his written Word, you 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. Yet, even though we are imperfect and make mistakes, if we love righteousness, he has a way of dealing with us that will result in blessings.
7. How will confidence in Jehovah’s rightness and wisdom safeguard us?
7 Thus, when we receive correction from God, we will know that it is for our eternal welfare. We will come to trust Jehovah as a son or daughter trusts a loving, wise, and strong father. (Psalm 103:13, 14; Proverbs 3:11, 12) Having such faith, we will doubt neither the wisdom of his counsel nor the rightness of his ways, even though for a time we may not entirely understand certain matters. We thereby place ourselves among those whom the psalmist describes: “Abundant peace belongs to those loving your law, and for them there is no stumbling block.”—Psalm 119:165; 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 without works is dead,” James 2:26 points out. Genuine faith moves a person to action. And one of the first things it moves a person to do is what the apostle Peter urged: “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 of mind accompanied by heartfelt regret for a former way of life or for wrong actions. (2 Corinthians 7:9-11) But if we are to enjoy the promised “seasons of refreshing” from God, we cannot just repent over wrong acts of the past. Instead, we must show repentance because we recognize that, as 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 mirror our Creator, reflecting ‘his image and likeness.’ Yet inherited sin keeps us from doing this in a perfect way. Hence, we ‘miss the mark,’ which is what the word “sin” means in the Bible.—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 need God’s forgiveness. (Matthew 6:12) We realize that we owe our life to him as our Creator. But now we learn that through the sacrifice of God’s Son, mankind was also “bought with a price” of great value. So we should not be “slaves of men,” not even of our own selfish desires. (1 Corinthians 7:23) Yet, before learning and accepting the truth, is that not what all of us were?—John 8:31-34.
11 In your heart, do you appreciate God’s gift of his Son and what he has done through Christ to provide 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 having misused his life. He rejects that wrong course and actually comes to hate his wrong ways. He shows this by ‘turning around’ and performing “works that befit repentance,” bringing his life into harmony with God’s will.—Acts 26:20; Romans 6:11.
13. (a) What is the meaning of Jesus’ statement that his followers must ‘disown themselves’? (b) For what reason do we thus submit ourselves to Jehovah, and how does it affect our lives?
13 Part of this repenting and turning around includes what Jesus called ‘disowning ourselves.’ (Matthew 16:24) That is, we no longer live 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 on our lives as our Creator and our Purchaser through his Son’s ransom sacrifice. As the Bible expresses it, we ‘do not belong to ourselves, for we were bought with a price.’ (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20) So, instead of misusing the grand freedom opened to us by the truth, we submit ourselves fully to the doing of God’s will. (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 dedication to God. Instead of being a burden, this course enables us to enjoy life as never before.—Matthew 11:28-30.
Making Public Declaration for Salvation
14. (a) When a person acknowledges 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?
14 It is a fine thing to express in prayer our faith in God’s provisions, acknowledging his ownership of us. But we can and should want to carry our expression of faith still further, as Romans 10:10 tells us: “With the heart one exercises faith for righteousness, but with the mouth one makes public declaration for salvation.” This “public” expression of our faith in Jehovah and his provisions should come gladly from a heart full of appreciation. Making this declaration involves dedicating our life to Jehovah to do his will and symbolizing this by water baptism.
15. Why should we think seriously about water baptism?
15 When Jesus Christ began his public ministry, he had John the Baptizer immerse him in water. The Bible reports that Jesus then said to God: “I am come to do your will.” (Hebrews 10:9; Psalm 40:7, 8) Jesus instructed that all those who become his disciples should also be baptized. Are you such a disciple? Then your water baptism will be a “public declaration” of this.—Matthew 28:19, 20.
16. (a) How can you determine if you are ready to get baptized? (b) How do the overseers aid individuals in their preparation for baptism?
16 It is a grand privilege to become a dedicated, baptized witness of Jehovah, the Sovereign of the universe. Review now what this involves: Jehovah has lovingly opened the way for you to have his friendship. But to gain it, you must have faith, truly believing that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. (2 Timothy 3:16, 17) You also must exercise faith in Jesus’ ransom sacrifice as the only means of gaining an acceptable standing with God. (Acts 4:12) You need to appreciate your dependence on Jehovah and submit your life to him to do his will, not just for a few years, but forever. Such a course 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 any practices contrary to God’s righteous standards and you must be doing what God commands. Have you made your mind over so that this is now the way you view life? (Romans 12:1, 2) If so, the Bible encourages you to make “public declaration” of such faith. The first step would be to approach one of the overseers of the congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses in your area and let him know how you feel. He will arrange for a review with you of the basic teachings of the Bible in preparation for baptism.
17. Using the Bible, show how we must continue to make ‘public declaration of our faith.’
17 The step of baptism will not mark the end of your making ‘public declaration of your faith.’ As a Christian dedicated to Jehovah God, you will want to declare your hope by expressing yourself in public assembly, ‘lauding him in the big congregation.’ (Psalm 35:18; 40:9, 10) You will also want to share in the special work of “public declaration” that Jehovah assigns to all who would serve him—preaching the good news of the Kingdom in all the world and making disciples of people of all nations.—Matthew 24:14; 28:19.
Cherishing Your Relationship With God
18. How important is personal study in ensuring that one’s relationship with Jehovah will endure?
18 Now, then, how can you ensure that, once gained, your relationship with Jehovah will endure for an eternity in joyful peace and security? For one thing you will want to keep growing in knowledge of him. Through personal study you will find real pleasure in acquiring the treasures of wisdom stored up in God’s Word. You can be like the person 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, gaining knowledge of God, and applying it, will enable you to walk in “ways of pleasantness” and in ‘roadways of peace,’ because it will give you the wisdom to face all of life’s problems. (Proverbs 3:13, 17, 18) Your thirst for such Bible knowledge now will demonstrate your suitability for life in God’s New Order, because then “the earth will certainly be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters are covering the very sea.”—Isaiah 11:9.
19. Why is regular meeting attendance a necessity in the life of Jehovah’s people?
19 Something else that you vitally need is regular attendance at meetings with other servants of Jehovah. There you will find genuine incitement to love and fine works, encouragement to persevere in your right relationship with God. (Hebrews 10:23-25) The pleasant, familylike association of Jehovah’s servants offers strengthening evidence that the peacefulness and security promised for God’s New Order are a reality.—Psalm 133:1; 1 Corinthians 14:26, 33.
20. How can the older men in the congregation aid us in times of opposition and personal difficulty?
20 In the congregation you can benefit from another loving provision. Jesus, the ‘Fine Shepherd,’ has ‘undershepherds’ on earth. These are the overseers, or spiritually older men, who care for his “sheep.” They are a powerful factor in promoting peace and security among God’s congregated people worldwide. (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 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 can give real support. They can supply you with refreshing counsel and encouragement.
21. What will prevent us from ever allowing the imperfections of others to damage our relationship with Jehovah?
21 It is true that 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 this damage our relationship with Jehovah? Since we, too, make mistakes, should we not show others the same forgiveness we want for ourselves? (Matthew 6:14, 15) If we are to prove ourselves fit subjects for God’s peaceful New Order, we must now demonstrate our ability to get along with others in peace. We cannot love God without also loving our spiritual brothers and sisters for whom Christ died.—1 John 4:20, 21.
22. What place should prayer have in our lives?
22 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.
23. When faced with trials and sufferings for our faith, what will help us to endure?
23 By choosing to serve Jehovah, the true Source of peace and security, and placing your hope in his New Order, you will have made a right start. Now, as the Bible says, “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 blessing of a right relationship with Jehovah, determine never to give it up. Never let the fleeting pleasures of the world draw you away. Though trials from an enemy world become severe, remember that these are temporary. Compared with the blessings that Jehovah will give those who love him, such sufferings are as nothing.—2 Corinthians 4:16-18.
24. (a) In what do we especially have reason to rejoice today? (b) Like the psalmist, how should we always feel about Jehovah and our relationship with him?
24 Continue in the course of godly devotion, confident that it is the best way of life now and that it will lead 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 it will bring. As you keep building your relationship with Jehovah, always feel as the inspired psalmist did, 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.
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Making Public Declaration