Dedication for Life in the New World
1. How have dedication of persons and things taken place till now, and what dedication leads really to a holy life?
DURING all time people have dedicated themselves to many causes, and they have dedicated many other things besides themselves. The law of Moses let a drafted man dedicate a house which he had built, before he was inducted into the theocratic army of Israel. King David dedicated his house, and a psalm was composed for the occasion. (Deut. 20:5; Psalm 30, title) The Israelites dedicated the house of their God and its altar. After the restoration of Jerusalem they dedicated the city’s rebuilt walls. (Num. 7:10, 11, 84, 88; 2 Chron. 7:9; Ezra 6:16, 17; Neh. 12:27) Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, dedicated the golden idol which he set up on the plains of Dura, and some parents dedicated their children to some purpose. (Dan. 3:2, 3; Prov. 22:6; Gen. 4:17; 5:18, 22) The dedication of a person or thing initiates the person or thing into some way, course or use, but it does not necessarily mean putting such to a holy or sacred employment. However, when we dedicate ourselves to the living and true God, then we do set ourselves apart to a holy life, a life separate, that is to say, different from the course of this world, a life that is not common but that is set apart not to be touched and used for worldly purposes. Consequently, such a dedicated person obligates himself to practice the clean and undefiled religion, which means to “keep oneself without spot from the world”.—Jas. 1:27, NW.
2, 3. In the Christian Greek Scriptures is dedication of consecration urged in those terms, and what formula did the disciples use?
2 Searching through the Christian Greek Scriptures we do not find either the word dedication or the word consecration used to designate this step of giving oneself exclusively to God through Jesus Christ. When reading of the early adopters of Christianity we merely find it said that they believed or exercised faith. The formula that those used who urged people to adopt Christianity was, “Repent and be converted,” or, “Repent and turn around.” Also, “Repent and be baptized.”
3 On the day of Pentecost, when the perplexed people asked Christ’s apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter answered: “Repent, and let each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the free gift of the holy spirit. . . . Get saved from this crooked generation.” Some days later at the temple Peter said to another crowd: “Repent, therefore, and turn around so as to get your sins blotted out, that seasons of refreshing may come from the person of Jehovah and that he may send forth the Christ appointed for you, Jesus.” (Acts 2:37-40; 3:19, 20, NW) When the conscience-stricken jailer at Philippi, Macedonia, asked Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to get saved?” they replied: “Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will get saved, you and your household.” Then they “spoke the word of Jehovah to him together with all those in his house”, after which “one and all, he and his were baptized without delay”.—Acts 16:30-33, NW.
4. What are the Scriptural expressions to describe the step by which they became Christians in apostolic times?
4 How, then, does the inspired record say they became true Christians and a people for God’s name? By consecrating themselves? No! It was by believing or becoming believers, by exercising faith and resting their faith in God’s revealed purpose and arrangement. Read for yourself: After Pentecost, “all those who became believers were together in having all things in common.” “More than that, believers in the Lord kept on being added, multitudes both of men and of women.” “To him all the prophets bear witness, that everyone putting faith in him gets forgiveness of sins through his name.” “Furthermore, the hand of Jehovah was with them, and a great number that became believers turned to the Lord.” “When those of the nations heard this, they began to rejoice and to glorify the word of Jehovah, and all those who were rightly disposed for everlasting life became believers.” “Thus Paul left their midst, but some men joined themselves to him and became believers.” “But Crispus the presiding officer of the synagogue became a believer in the Lord, and so did all his household. And many of the Corinthians that heard began to believe and be baptized.” “And many of those who had become believers would come and confess and report their practices openly.” So such taking up of belief or faith according to God’s newly revealed purpose and will was what made them Christians, God’s people.—Acts 2:44; 4:4; 5:14; 10:43; 11:21; 13:48; 17:33; 18:8; 19:18, NW.
5. Where, then, did dedication of self to God come in, and how was it shown?
5 Where, then, is the dedication of self to God through Jesus? It is included in such belief or exercise of faith. James 2:17, 24 (NW) tells us: “Faith, if it does not have works, is dead in itself. You see that a man is to be declared righteous by works, and not by faith alone.” Dedication to God through Christ is one’s putting life into his faith, activating it, making it a producer of works, and leading to the practice of righteousness. As we note from the record above quoted, those who exercised faith or became believers performed works. They submitted to water baptism so as to give a symbolic testimony to their faith, and thus they imitated Jesus. They turned away from the world and turned to him as Jehovah’s Anointed One or Messiah, whom Jehovah had made their heavenly Lord. They joined themselves to Jehovah’s visible organization and kept together as a united congregation. They confessed and reported their past practices openly and showed they had repented or changed their minds about such things and that they had converted or turned around and were now going in God’s way in the footsteps of Jesus. This was how they showed that they were “rightly disposed for everlasting life” in the new world.
6. How did they confess their faith, to their salvation?
6 The book of Acts tells how they confessed their faith openly to all people by preaching God’s Word and its fulfillment in Jesus Christ and in his congregation. This meant salvation for them. So the apostle Paul wrote, at Romans 10:4, 8-10 (NW): “Christ is the accomplished end of the Law, so that everyone exercising faith may have righteousness. But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’; that is, the ‘word’ of faith which we are preaching. For if you publicly declare that ‘word in your mouth’, that Jesus is Lord, and exercise faith in your heart that God raised him up from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one exercises faith for righteousness, but with the mouth one makes public declaration for salvation.”
7. What prominence are “faith” and “believe” given in the Hebrew Scriptures and in the Christian Greek Scriptures?
7 The words “faith” and “believe” appear to be words of hardly any prominence in the ancient Hebrew Scriptures, “faith” appearing only twice and “believe” only 46 times in the King James Version. (Deut. 32:20; Hab. 2:4) But in the Christian Greek Scriptures these words come into due prominence, and “faith” receives an excellent definition at Hebrews 11:1, and we read how people of old had it.
8. What Scriptural assurance have we that, when dedicating ourselves, God hears, pays attention and holds us to it?
8 When we prayerfully, either silently or audibly to ourselves, dedicate ourselves to him to do his will from then on and forever in whatever realm of life God may choose for us, does God in the high heavens really hear us or pay attention? His Word assures us that he does, and we must exercise faith that he does, so as to hold us to our decision. To Cornelius just before being converted to Christianity Jehovah’s angel said: “Your prayers and gifts of mercy have ascended as a remembrance before God.” “Your prayer has been favorably heard and your gifts of mercy have been remembered before God.” And when Cornelius and his fellow hearers accepted Peter’s message and silently exercised faith in their hearts, thus dedicating themselves to this new belief, God observed and poured out his holy spirit upon them, conveying to them the gift to speak prophecies. (Acts 10:3-7, 30-32, 44-48, NW) Long prior to this Hannah was heard, though she prayed and made her vow concerning Samuel under her breath, only her lips moving. She took her vow seriously and paid it to Jehovah God. (1 Sam. 1:9-28) King Solomon at dedicating the temple prayed for God to hear the stranger of good will who would pray to him, directing his prayer toward the holy temple. Today Jehovah God is hearing such prayer on the part of multitudes of strangers of good will.—1 Ki. 8:41-43.
9, 10. Do these strangers of good will dedicate themselves to God, and what does God do about them?
9 Such strangers of good will show a likeness to sheep and are identical with those whom the King Jesus Christ pictures as sheep in his parable of the sheep and goats and whom he gathers to his right hand. (Matt. 25:31-46) These aforetime strangers have seen their privilege of giving themselves to God through the King Jesus Christ, and it is by this dedication that they become the King’s sheep. So they do more than merely do kind things toward the King’s spiritual brothers. While God does not consecrate these other sheep to be priests with his royal High Priest, Jesus Christ, still he does something for them as regards his organization and service. He has his Right Shepherd Jesus fulfill his words of long ago to them: “I have other sheep, which are not of this [priestly] fold; those also I must bring, and they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock, one shepherd.”—John 10:16, NW.
10 Through his visible organization the One Shepherd marks the other sheep in their foreheads as his property. He grants them the privilege of colaboring with the organized remnant of his spiritual brothers. So they have the opportunity and obligation to carry forward the clean, undefiled worship in the earth. By thus proving themselves faithful witnesses of Jehovah they retain the identification mark in their forehead. (Page 304, ¶ 3) By this mark they confess openly their dedication to God and his universal sovereignty. As only such other sheep have the divine assurance of being spared during Armageddon as Noah’s sons and daughters-in-law were during the deluge, the mark really becomes one of security for them. Surviving Armageddon with the mark, they will enter the new world fully dedicated to God and ready and willing to do his revealed will on earth from that glorious time forward.
11. How should one undertake dedication, how should he regard it after undertaken, and how impress it upon his heart?
11 So after dedicating yourself in faith to God hold your word sacred, inviolable, untouchable by any change. Your vow to be his and do his will is forever binding. So, “be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thy heart be hasty to utter anything before God; for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou vowest. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay. Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thy hands? . . . but fear thou God.” (Eccl. 5:2, 4-7, AS) So let dedication be your personal step, of your own decision. Parents or guardians cannot do it for you and obligate you to abide by it if you are not willing. Be sure that you have calculated the cost of taking this step, so that you are determined to keep on in this way to ultimate success, cost what it may now and in the future. (Luke 14:26-33, NW) Impress your dedication to God upon your own heart by publicly symbolizing it with water baptism in obedience to Jesus Christ our Exemplar, to help you never to forget it.—Matt. 28:18-20, NW.
12. What Scripture warning proves God holds one to his dedication, and to what does living up to it lead?
12 Be certain that God, who cannot lie and who loves no lie, holds you irrepealably to your vow. Do not be “without understanding, false to agreements”. Remember the “righteous decree of God, that those practicing such things are deserving of death”. (Rom. 1:31, 32, NW) Living the dedicated life faithfully according to God’s will assures you of everlasting life in the new world.