Make It Your Aim to Serve God Forever
1, 2. What is required besides possession of the knowledge of God?
IMAGINE that you are standing before a locked door leading to a room containing great treasures. Let us say that an authorized person has given you the key and has told you to help yourself to these valuable things. That key will do you no good unless you use it. Similarly, you must use knowledge if it is to benefit you.
2 This is particularly true of the knowledge of God. Indeed, accurate knowledge of Jehovah God and Jesus Christ means everlasting life. (John 17:3) Yet, that prospect cannot be realized through the mere possession of knowledge. As you would use a valued key, you need to apply the knowledge of God in your life. Jesus said that those doing God’s will would “enter into the kingdom.” Such individuals would be privileged to serve God forever!—Matthew 7:21; 1 John 2:17.
3. What is God’s will for us?
3 After learning what God’s will is, it is vital to do it. What do you think that God’s will is for you? It could well be summed up in these words: Imitate Jesus. First Peter 2:21 tells us: “To this course you were called, because even Christ suffered for you, leaving you a model for you to follow his steps closely.” To do God’s will, then, you need to follow Jesus’ example as closely as possible. That is how you put to use the knowledge of God.
HOW JESUS USED THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD
4. Why does Jesus know so much about Jehovah, and how has he used this knowledge?
4 Jesus Christ has a more intimate knowledge of God than others do. He lived and worked with Jehovah God in heaven for ages before coming to the earth. (Colossians 1:15, 16) And what did Jesus do with all that knowledge? He was not satisfied with merely possessing it. Jesus lived by it. That is why he was so kind, patient, and loving in his dealings with fellow humans. Jesus was thus imitating his heavenly Father and acting in harmony with his knowledge of Jehovah’s ways and personality.—John 8:23, 28, 29, 38; 1 John 4:8.
5. Why did Jesus get baptized, and how did he live up to the meaning of his baptism?
5 The knowledge Jesus had also moved him to take a crucial step. He came from Galilee to the Jordan River, where John baptized him. (Matthew 3:13-15) What did Jesus’ baptism symbolize? As a Jew, he was born into a nation dedicated to God. Hence, Jesus had been dedicated from birth. (Exodus 19:5, 6) By submitting to baptism, he was presenting himself to Jehovah to do the divine will for him at that time. (Hebrews 10:5, 7) And Jesus lived up to the meaning of his baptism. He spent himself in Jehovah’s service, sharing the knowledge of God with people at every opportunity. Jesus found delight in doing God’s will, even saying that this was like food for him.—John 4:34.
6. In what way did Jesus disown himself?
6 Jesus fully realized that doing Jehovah’s will would be very costly—that it would even cost him his life. Nevertheless, Jesus disowned himself, putting his personal needs in second place. Doing God’s will always came first. In this respect, how can we follow Jesus’ perfect example?
STEPS THAT LEAD TO LIFE ETERNAL
7. What are some steps one must take to qualify for baptism?
7 Unlike Jesus, we are imperfect and can reach the milestone of baptism only after taking other vital steps. This begins by taking accurate knowledge of Jehovah God and Jesus Christ into our heart. Doing this causes us to exercise faith and to have profound love for God. (Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 10:17; Hebrews 11:6) Compliance with God’s laws, principles, and standards should move us to repent, expressing godly sorrow over our past sins. This leads to conversion, that is, to a turning around and abandoning any wrong course we followed when we did not have the knowledge of God. (Acts 3:19) Naturally, if we are still secretly practicing some sin instead of doing what is righteous, we have not really turned around, nor have we fooled God. Jehovah detects all hypocrisy.—Luke 12:2, 3.
8. What action should you take when you desire to share in the Kingdom-preaching activity?
8 Now that you have been taking in the knowledge of God, is it not fitting to consider spiritual matters in a very personal way? Probably you are eager to tell your relatives, friends, and others what you are learning. In fact, you may already have been doing this, even as Jesus shared the good news with others in informal settings. (Luke 10:38, 39; John 4:6-15) Now you may want to do more. Christian elders will be glad to talk with you in order to determine whether you are qualified and able to have some share in the regular Kingdom-preaching activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses. If you are, the elders will make arrangements for you to accompany a Witness in the ministry. Jesus’ disciples followed his instructions in order to carry out their ministry in an orderly way. (Mark 6:7, 30; Luke 10:1) You will benefit from similar help as you share in spreading the Kingdom message from house to house and in other ways.—Acts 20:20, 21.
9. How does a person make a dedication to God, and how does dedication affect the person’s life?
9 Preaching the good news to all kinds of people in the congregation’s territory is a way to find those who are righteously disposed and is among the fine works proving that you have faith. (Acts 10:34, 35; James 2:17, 18, 26) Regular attendance at Christian meetings and having a meaningful share in the preaching work are also ways to demonstrate that you have repented and turned around and are now determined to live in accord with the knowledge of God. What is the next logical step? It is to make a dedication to Jehovah God. This means that in heartfelt prayer, you tell God that you are willingly and wholeheartedly giving your life to him to do his will. This is the way to dedicate yourself to Jehovah and accept the kindly yoke of Jesus Christ.—Matthew 11:29, 30.
BAPTISM—WHAT IT MEANS FOR YOU
10. Why should you get baptized after you dedicate yourself to Jehovah?
10 According to Jesus, all those who become his disciples must be baptized. (Matthew 28:19, 20) Why is this necessary after you have made a dedication to God? Since you have dedicated yourself to Jehovah, he knows that you love him. But no doubt you will want to take further action in order to let others know about your love for God. Well, baptism affords you an opportunity to make your dedication to Jehovah God known publicly.—Romans 10:9, 10.
11. What is the meaning of baptism?
11 Baptism is rich in symbolic meaning. As you are submerged, or “buried,” beneath the water, it is as though you have died to your former course of life. When you come up out of the water, it is as if you are emerging to a new life, one that is governed by God’s will and not your own. Of course, that does not mean that you will make no more mistakes, for all of us are imperfect and therefore sin daily. However, as a dedicated, baptized servant of Jehovah, you will have entered into a special relationship with him. Because of your repentance and your humble submission to baptism, Jehovah is willing to forgive your sins on the basis of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice. Baptism thus leads to a clean conscience before God.—1 Peter 3:21.
12. What does it mean to be baptized (a) “in the name of the Father”? (b) ‘in the name of the Son’? (c) ‘in the name of the holy spirit’?
12 Jesus commanded his followers to baptize new disciples “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit.” (Matthew 28:19) What did Jesus mean? Baptism “in the name of the Father” indicates that the person being baptized wholeheartedly accepts Jehovah God as the Creator and the rightful Sovereign of the universe. (Psalm 36:9; 83:18; Ecclesiastes 12:1) Being baptized ‘in the name of the Son’ means that the individual acknowledges Jesus Christ—and particularly His ransom sacrifice—as the only means of salvation provided by God. (Acts 4:12) Baptism ‘in the name of the holy spirit’ signifies that the baptismal candidate recognizes Jehovah’s holy spirit, or active force, as God’s instrument for carrying out His purposes and for empowering His servants to do His righteous will in association with His spirit-directed organization.—Genesis 1:2; Psalm 104:30; John 14:26; 2 Peter 1:21.
ARE YOU READY FOR BAPTISM?
13, 14. Why should we not be afraid to choose to serve Jehovah God?
13 Since baptism means so much and is the most important milestone in a person’s life, is it a step that you should fear? Not at all! While the decision to be baptized is not to be taken lightly, it is unquestionably the wisest one you could possibly make.
14 Baptism gives evidence of your choice to serve Jehovah God. Think about people with whom you come in contact. In one way or another, is not each one of them serving a master? Some slave for riches. (Matthew 6:24) Others diligently pursue their careers or serve themselves by making the fulfillment of their own desires paramount in life. Still others serve false gods. But you have chosen to serve the true God, Jehovah. No one else shows as much kindness, compassion, and love. God dignifies humans with purposeful work that points them to salvation. He rewards his servants with everlasting life. Surely, following Jesus’ example and giving your life to Jehovah is not a course to fear. Actually, it is the only one that pleases God and makes perfect sense.—1 Kings 18:21.
15. What are some common obstacles to baptism?
15 Yet, baptism is not a step to be taken because of pressure. It is a personal matter between you and Jehovah. (Galatians 6:4) As you have made spiritual progress, you may have wondered: “What prevents me from getting baptized?” (Acts 8:35, 36) You might ask yourself, ‘Is family opposition holding me back? Am I still involved in some unscriptural situation or sinful practice? Could it be that I am afraid of losing favor in the community?’ These are some of the factors to consider, but weigh them realistically.
16. How will you benefit from serving Jehovah?
16 It is not realistic to weigh the costs without considering the benefits of serving Jehovah. For instance, consider the matter of family opposition. Jesus promised that even if his disciples lost their relatives because of following him, they would gain a larger spiritual family. (Mark 10:29, 30) These fellow believers will show you brotherly love, help you to endure persecution, and support you on the road to life. (1 Peter 5:9) Especially can the congregation elders help you to cope with problems and to meet other challenges successfully. (James 5:14-16) As to losing favor in this world, you may well ask yourself, ‘What can possibly compare to having the approval of the Creator of the universe, causing him to rejoice over my chosen life course?’—Proverbs 27:11.
LIVING UP TO YOUR DEDICATION AND BAPTISM
17. Why should you view baptism as a beginning rather than an end?
17 It is important to remember that baptism is not the end of your spiritual progress. It marks the beginning of lifelong service to God as an ordained minister and one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Although baptism is vitally important, it is not a guarantee of salvation. Jesus did not say: ‘Everyone baptized will be saved.’ Instead, he said: “He that has endured to the end is the one that will be saved.” (Matthew 24:13) Therefore, it is vital that you seek God’s Kingdom first by making it the paramount concern in your life.—Matthew 6:25-34.
18. After baptism, what are some goals to pursue?
18 To endure in your service to Jehovah, you will want to set spiritual goals for yourself. One worthy goal is to further your knowledge of God through regular personal study of his Word. Plan for daily reading of the Bible. (Psalm 1:1, 2) Attend Christian meetings regularly, for the association you find there will help to give you spiritual strength. For your part, why not make it your goal to comment at congregation meetings and thus praise Jehovah and seek to upbuild others? (Romans 1:11, 12) Another goal might be to improve the quality of your prayers.—Luke 11:2-4.
19. What qualities can the holy spirit help you to display?
19 If you are to live up to the meaning of your baptism, you need to pay constant attention to what you do, letting God’s holy spirit produce in you such qualities as love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22, 23; 2 Peter 3:11) Remember, Jehovah gives his holy spirit to all who pray for it and obey him as his faithful servants. (Luke 11:13; Acts 5:32) So pray to God for his spirit and ask him for help in displaying qualities that please him. Such qualities will become more evident in your speech and conduct as you respond to the influence of God’s spirit. Of course, every individual in the Christian congregation is striving to develop “the new personality” so as to become more like Christ. (Colossians 3:9-14) Each one of us faces different challenges in doing this because we are at varying stages of spiritual progress. Since you are imperfect, you must work hard to have a Christlike personality. But never despair in this regard, for it is possible with God’s help.
20. In what ways can you imitate Jesus in the ministry?
20 Among your spiritual goals should be that of imitating Jesus’ joyful example more closely. (Hebrews 12:1-3) He loved the ministry. If you are privileged to share in the Kingdom-preaching activity, then, do not let it become mere routine. Seek to find satisfaction in teaching others about God’s Kingdom as Jesus did. Put to use the instruction that the congregation provides to help you improve as a teacher. And be assured that Jehovah can give you the strength to carry out your ministry.—1 Corinthians 9:19-23.
21. (a) How do we know that Jehovah treasures faithful baptized individuals? (b) What shows that baptism is important to our survival of the execution of God’s judgment upon this wicked system of things?
21 A dedicated, baptized person faithfully endeavoring to follow Jesus is special to God. Jehovah examines all the billions of human hearts and knows how rare such individuals are. He considers them to be treasures, “desirable things.” (Haggai 2:7) Bible prophecies show that God views such ones as marked to survive the execution of his judgment soon to come upon this wicked system of things. (Ezekiel 9:1-6; Malachi 3:16, 18) Are you “rightly disposed for everlasting life”? (Acts 13:48) Is it your earnest desire to be marked as one serving God? Dedication and baptism are part of that mark, and they are essential for survival.
22. To what prospects may the “great crowd” look forward?
22 After the global Flood, Noah and his family came out of the ark into a cleansed earth. Similarly today, “a great crowd” who apply the knowledge of God in their lives and gain Jehovah’s approval have the prospect of surviving the end of this wicked system of things and enjoying everlasting life on a permanently cleansed earth. (Revelation 7:9, 14) What will that life be like?
TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE
How does Jehovah want you to use your knowledge of him?
What are some steps that lead to baptism?
Why is baptism not an end but a beginning?
How can we live up to our dedication and baptism?
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Have you made a dedication to God in prayer?
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What prevents you from getting baptized?