‘Choose Whom You Will Serve’
1, 2. As to their respective ways of thinking, how do today’s world leaders and the witnesses of Jehovah differ?
HOW strange it is that today’s world leaders have not heeded the words of Joshua! For Joshua served the same God the leaders of Christendom claim to be serving. He said: “‘Fear Jehovah and serve him with integrity and in truth and remove the gods that your forefathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt, and serve Jehovah. Now if it is bad in your eyes to serve Jehovah, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve, whether the gods that your forefathers who were on the other side of the River served or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are dwelling. But as for me and my household, we shall serve Jehovah.’ At this the people answered and said: ‘It is unthinkable on our part to abandon Jehovah so as to serve other gods.’” (Josh. 24:14-16, NW) But though the world leaders do not think that way, that is the way Jehovah’s witnesses think. At some time in their lives every one of the New World society of Jehovah’s witnesses was a part of the old world. But they no longer are going to serve the gods east of the Euphrates River, that is, the gods of Babylon, or the gods of Egypt, which put their trust in military strength. Instead, Jehovah’s witnesses have heeded the words: “Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues.”—Rev. 18:4, NW.
2 The “other sheep” realize Jehovah, their God, brought them up out of Babylon. They willingly came and will not “abandon Jehovah so as to serve other gods.” They see the triumphant kingdom of Jehovah God already established in the heavens, and they see Satan the “god of this world” has been cast down to earth, and they understand the present woe among inhabiters of earth because the Devil has come down to them. Soon the Devil and his whole demonic organization will be abyssed because of not giving exclusive devotion to the Sovereign Ruler of the universe, Jehovah.
3-5. (a) One having chosen to dedicate himself to Jehovah, what other steps of obedience then are rightly taken? (b) May one properly question the need for water immersion, and why do you so answer?
3 Men and women who want to live, not die, must give to Jehovah exclusive devotion. Each of such must willingly choose to dedicate his life to Jehovah’s service and follow his commandments. By following the commandments of God he proves that he loves God. He shows obedience to the will of God. “If you observe my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have observed the commandments of the Father and remain in his love.” (John 15:10, NW) This means all Jehovah’s commandments. Some individuals want to choose which commandments they will keep. For example, one will say it is not necessary to be baptized and symbolize his dedication of himself to Jehovah God. He feels that as long as he is associated with Jehovah’s witnesses he will gain Jehovah’s blessing and be taken into the new world of righteousness. He feels: ‘I don’t want to be tied up so tightly with any organization; so I will not be baptized; I’ll go witnessing, but I’ll keep myself free.’ It is not a matter of being tied with an organization. Rather, if you want to live, it is a matter of giving exclusive devotion to Jehovah God. One refusing to be baptized thinks baptism will obligate him and place greater responsibilities upon him. Remember, he already has the responsibility when he has the knowledge. One cannot bargain with God. If he wants life, he gives exclusive devotion to Jehovah God; he keeps God’s commandments and he walks in the footsteps of Christ Jesus and gladly is baptized as an open, public confession of his dedication.
4 Sometimes a visiting circuit servant finds a congregation of fifty-five publishers, all going out regularly every month, preaching the good news of the Kingdom and joyfully serving. But on checking the records he finds that twenty of the fifty-five have not been baptized. He wonders why and makes inquiry. He finds that they think that if they symbolize their dedication to Jehovah God too great a responsibility will be put upon them. Ask yourself, Do they really love Jehovah? Are they interested in exclusive devotion to him, or do they want to keep one foot in the old world and one in the new? When Jehovah set out a course of action for his Son, namely, to be baptized in water, then certainly that course of action must be followed by everyone that wants to live eternally in God’s new world. No individual decides whether baptism is right or wrong. A person dedicating himself to Jehovah God and wanting life in the new world must know it is compulsory to be baptized. Some privately think of it as a silly formalism, but in effect such say that they are wiser than God. They flippantly conclude that this being baptized is old-fashioned! Even some might say: “Well, that is the only point I disagree on; otherwise, I accept God’s Word.” When further examining, you will find he disagrees also on many other simple things, putting himself in the position of a critic, criticizing the Creator. And here he, the critic, is only a vessel. Has the one created a right to question, criticize or find fault with what the Sovereign Ruler demands of any one of his creatures? (Rom. 9:20, NW) When Jehovah shows water baptism is a symbol of our dedication, then that is what every Christian should want to do.
5 Was it not said by Jesus: “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. And, look! I am with you all the days until the consummation of the system of things”? (Matt. 28:19, 20, NW) Any individual who wants to live and gain Jehovah’s favor must be humble before Jehovah God and recognize the provision that his Son made for his redemption, and at the same time carry out His commandments. That is why Peter said: “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, whom heaven, indeed, must contain within itself until the times of restoration of all things of which God spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets of old time. In fact, Moses said: ‘Jehovah God will produce for you from among your brothers a prophet like me. You must listen to him according to all the things he speaks to you. Indeed, any soul that does not listen to that Prophet will be completely destroyed from among the people.’” (Acts 3:19-23, NW) Listen, then; for these commands are not too much for any creature.
6. How is understanding gained?
6 There may be things that a person does not understand, things that just now are not entirely clear. But the light shines more and more until the perfect day. (Prov. 4:18, RS) The more one studies God’s Word and the more one lives by the commandments of God, the more he sees how reasonable it is; and life eternal is within his grasp. God’s Word is more than common sense. It is wisdom from on high. Follow it.
‘NOT OF THIS WORLD’
7, 8. What right attitude toward “this world” is maintained by one dedicated to Jehovah?
7 Jehovah’s witnesses are peaceful, wanting only to be exclusively devoted to Jehovah’s kingdom work. They know their position on earth is to represent God and him alone. Worldly governments do not want their constituents to be neutral as far as this world is concerned. However, when one gives exclusive devotion to Jehovah God he will not be mixed up with this world’s politics, religions or commercial movements. While in the world he is not a part of it. All so minded seek first the kingdom of heaven and Jehovah’s righteousness, and then all other things will be added to them.—Matt. 6:33, NW.
8 Today’s Christian minister cannot live according to the moral code of the old world, wherein it winks its eye at adultery and fornication, thinks it is smart to be drunk. Forgetting and forsaking fine counsel Jehovah has set forth in his Word, more and more persons have become delinquent. Also, more worried have become each nation’s leaders concerning the delinquency. Now any violation of God’s Word shows disrespect for the Sovereign Ruler and his enthroned Christ. Wickedness of the world as described by Jude warns us how it might infiltrate into the congregation of God. And concerning those who try to corrupt the true followers of Christ he said: “These men are murmurers, complainers about their lot in life, proceeding according to their own desires, and their mouths speak swelling things, while they are admiring personalities for the sake of their own benefit.” (Jude 16, NW) Such, of course, are not giving exclusive devotion to Jehovah God; and the scripture tells us that we cannot mingle ourselves with people of this kind or worship their gods or serve them, “for fear the anger of Jehovah your God may blaze against you and he must annihilate you from off the surface of the ground.”—Deut. 6:15, NW.
SLAVE OR MASTER?
9, 10. (a) How may we describe the exclusiveness of Jehovah? (b) What right and wrong attitudes toward Jehovah are exemplified for us by Christ Jesus and Satan?
9 Exclusive devotion to Jehovah God is a very serious requirement. Let us consider it now from Jehovah’s viewpoint. “Exclusive” means keeping others out, or excluding. It means single or sole, or singly devoted. No one can be included in God’s position. He is exclusive. Everyone else stays outside this most honored position that he only can hold. He is alone in his exalted place in the universe. He will not include anyone else with himself. His glory he does not share with another. Christ Jesus appreciated the very exclusive position his Father held in the universe; and on this point Paul wrote: “Christ Jesus, who, although he was existing in God’s form, gave no consideration to a seizure, namely, that he should be equal to God. No, but he emptied himself and took a slave’s form and came to be in the likeness of men. More than that, when he found himself in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient as far as death, yes, death on a torture stake.” (Phil. 2:5-8, NW) Again Jesus himself said: “I am going my way to the Father, because the Father is greater than I am.”—John 14:28, NW.
10 Satan the Devil chose to try to push Jehovah God out of this exclusive position; and, of course, Satan has not given to Jehovah exclusive devotion, for he seriously considers being like the Most High, and he has put it into the minds of all creation that they should be as God, knowing good and evil; in other words, that they should be judges, deciding what is right and wrong in the universe. So we often find clergymen disputing, challenging, the Word of God, claiming portions of the Bible are just fairy tales; and thus they have set themselves up as God, qualified to question and dispute with Almighty God. What pride!
11, 12. (a) What is included in genuine worship of Jehovah? (b) How are love of God and love of neighbor comparable?
11 A humble person, devoted to Jehovah, would be filled with zeal and piety. “Devotion” means an eager inclination or a strong attachment; an ardent love or affection for one. Devotion has to do with one’s religiousness. Today one who understands true religion carries on genuine worship, even as Jesus predicted: “The hour is coming, and it is now, when the genuine worshipers will worship the Father with spirit and truth, for, indeed, the Father is looking for such kind to worship him.” (John 4:23, NW) Anyone giving Jehovah God exclusive devotion will not allow anything else to break into that devotion or to mar it. Jehovah cannot tolerate it; therefore the individual should not let anything interfere. One’s devotion to Jehovah God must be filled with love. It must be an ardent love, a single love to Jehovah God—not a love that can be divided with someone else.
12 On Exodus 34:14 the translation of the French (Abbé Drioux Version, 1884) puts it this way: “God wants to be loved uniquely”—that is, he wants to be loved in a class by himself, singularly. When upon earth Christ Jesus mentioned two commandments. First, said he, you must love the Father with all your heart, mind, soul and strength; secondly, Love your neighbor as yourself. Here again this puts Jehovah God in a singular or unique position, exclusive, separated from all other love. He is outstanding and in a position alone, as Sovereign. Love goes directly to him without any sharing of that love. That is exclusive devotion. The similar second commandment is that we love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Although this love takes in a greater sweep, embracing humankind, who in turn can love us, yet no one human becomes exclusive in this unselfishness on our part. Our love for neighbor can include all mankind. But as to the Creator, he alone claims and rightly is given exclusive devotion. Loving our neighbor as we individually love ourselves is not exclusive, though proper. We do not worship the neighbor, but just show love. With Jehovah our love involves worship, service, obedience; and in this he tolerates no rivalry.
13, 14. How is this comparison made clearer by Jesus? and how may we benefit by understanding it now?
13 Jesus showed the principle of this individual love, for he was very well acquainted with his Father, so well acquainted that he could say, when one knew the Son he also knew the Father. “Jesus said . . . ‘No one comes to the Father except through me. If you men had known me, you would have known my Father also.’” Setting forth the principle of exclusive devotion to Jehovah God and his kingdom, Jesus also pointed out that greater love for the Kingdom and the vindication of Jehovah’s name is more important than the love of neighbor. The creature’s only approach to the heavenly Father now is through the Son; therefore Jesus said: “Everyone, then, that acknowledges his belief in me before men, I will also acknowledge my belief in him before my Father who is in the heavens.” And, then, to show how great must be this love for the Father that is shown through the Son, Jesus says: “He that has greater affection for father or mother than for me is not worthy of me; and he that has greater affection for son or daughter than for me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not accept his torture stake and follow after me is not worthy of me.”—John 14:6, 7; Matt. 10:32, 37, 38, NW.
14 After Jehovah’s ‘war at Armageddon’ all survivors will know him and give him their first love. Even today Jehovah’s witnesses must give him such love through the Son, Christ Jesus; and that puts us in a unique relationship with our Creator, for ‘he is a God that wants to be loved uniquely.’ “The Father is looking for such kind to worship him.” That worship will be with spirit and truth, and it will be exclusive. There is no one else involved in this love and worship; hence it stands alone.
15. Scripturally, how is the position of a slave properly viewed?
15 When one is so exclusively devoted, it suggests another unique relationship between the two, that of master and slave. Jehovah is the Master because he is the Creator, the Owner; and it is required of the creature or owned one to do the will of his Master. Jehovah is the exclusive and sole owner of the creature. He made him. Jehovah God arranged for his Son to purchase the human family; so the scripture says: “You were bought with a price; stop becoming slaves of men.” (1 Cor. 7:23, NW) In his letter to the Corinthians Paul set forth a very interesting discussion about slaves: “In whatever state each one was called, let him remain in it. Were you called a slave? Do not let it worry you, but if you can also become free, rather seize the opportunity. For anyone in the Lord that was called a slave is the Lord’s freedman: likewise he that was called a free man is a slave of Christ. You were bought with a price; stop becoming slaves of men. In whatever condition each one was called, brothers, let him remain in it associated with God.”—1 Cor. 7:20-24, NW.
16. One’s choice to be a slave of Jehovah today denotes what?
16 In early Christian times it did not make any difference to God or Christ Jesus if people were free men or slaves. They could still be called to the high position of joint heirship with Christ Jesus in heavenly glory. But no matter what condition they found themselves in, bond or free, such became slaves of Christ; and it was only in that manner that they could become associated with God. Now, too, the person who comes to Jehovah and dedicates himself through Christ Jesus to Jehovah’s service makes himself God’s slave. In this action the Christian is not hypocritical but sincerely pleased to give exclusive devotion to the Sovereign Ruler and to carry out the will of the Father, just as the Son showed obedience to the commandments of his Father. This slavelike relationship comes from the heart. It is the dedicated one’s innermost desire. In his heart he has the proper inclination toward God. For him it is natural to want to obey the true God. It is such an individual’s deliberate choice to be a slave. It is the dedicated person’s preference to put himself in this slavelike relationship to the rightful Master, Jehovah.
“SLAVE TO TIME INDEFINITE”
17, 18. (a) Anciently, in Israel, why might one become a “slave to time indefinite”? (b) What wholesome lessons may today’s Christian minister draw from this ancient practice?
17 In days of ancient Israel sometimes it became necessary for the Hebrew to sell himself into slavery. God’s Word tells us: “In case you should buy a Hebrew slave, he will be a slave six years, but in the seventh he will go out as one set free without charge. If he should come in by himself, by himself he will go out. If he is the owner of a wife, then his wife must go out with him. If his master should give him a wife and she does bear him sons or daughters, the wife and her children will become her master’s and he will go out by himself. But if the slave should insistently say, ‘I really love my master, my wife and my sons; I do not want to go out as one set free,’ then his master must bring him near to God and must bring him up against the door or the doorpost and his master must pierce his ear through with an awl and he must be his slave to time indefinite.”—Ex. 21:2-6, NW.
18 Here we find a man in slavery, wholly devoted to his master, and he goes so far as to say: “I really love my master.” For a Christian, too, this is the right frame of mind to be in. Always he should see himself in the slavelike position, eager to serve the Master, Jehovah, who has given him life and all its blessings. No one should ever want to be free from Jehovah God, to go his own way. The Devil was the first one to hold this wrong desire and his end will be destruction.
19, 20. How does one’s freedom to choose appear here in our study?
19 Jehovah God rightfully demands exclusive devotion. But when this exclusive devotion is given to the Sovereign Ruler of the universe it must be given on the choice of the individual. He will not be forced to it. He must desire to give it, willingly, gladly. No one will drive him into this position or push him into the service of Jehovah God. But because of his study of God’s Word, his wanting to do Jehovah’s will, it is his inclination, his preference, to be in full harmony with God and God’s purposes and to be his slave, even as Jehovah’s Son Christ Jesus was delighted to do the commandment of his Father.
20 One who has dedicated himself to Jehovah’s service certainly is like this Hebrew slave who is willing to be a slave to time indefinite. As to members of the New World society, this means for eternity. Jehovah so loved the world that he sent his only-begotten Son to this earth so that those on earth who choose to believe on him might have everlasting life. He arranged for his Son to purchase the human family. There are many who will refuse to recognize themselves as slaves and come under this purchase price and will choose to go their own way, but that way of theirs, which is the way of “this world,” will mean their death.—John 3:16; 1 John 2:17, NW.
21. Choosing to serve Jehovah brings what obligations?
21 “The memory of the righteous is blessed; but the name of the wicked shall rot.” (Prov. 10:7, AS) Those who refuse the ransom will die eternally and thus be annihilated, never having any existence. Just as Jehovah God recorded through his prophet Jeremiah: “They shall sleep a perpetual sleep, and not wake, saith the King, whose name is Jehovah of hosts.” (Jer. 51:57, AS) All persons who have dedicated their lives to the service of Jehovah God must realize that being a Christian is a serious thing; and, as expressed by Moses, “You must not take up the name of Jehovah your God in a worthless way, for Jehovah will not leave the one unpunished who takes up his name in a worthless way.” (Ex. 20:7, NW) One should not think that because he has dedicated himself to Jehovah God and was baptized in water, God now is obligated to do everything for him. God certainly will carry out his part of the agreement in blessing and caring for one; but the slave, who says that he will give exclusive devotion to Jehovah God, must also carry out his part of the arrangement. He must show that he is a slave, and an obedient one of the Sovereign Ruler. One’s life is dependent on his true, genuine worship, and ‘the Father is looking for such kind of worship,’ for he is “a God exacting exclusive devotion.”