The Supreme Will to Be Done
‘Look! I am come to do your will, O God.’—Heb. 10:7.
1, 2. (a) How is God’s will linked with endless life of his creatures? (b) For today’s upright humans, what is proper choosing?
CONQUERORS will live endlessly, according to God’s supreme will. (Rev. 2:10, 11; 21:6, 7) Foremost among conquerors is Jesus Christ, the One who said: “In the world you will have tribulation, but cheer up! I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33) After the living God, Jehovah, had raised out of death on earth and glorified in heaven that slain foremost Conqueror, Jesus suddenly stopped a traveling man in ancient Syria, a murderous persecutor named Saul of Tarsus. To him Jesus said: “To this end I have made myself visible to you, . . . to choose you as . . . a witness . . . while I deliver you . . . from the nations, to whom I am sending you, to open their eyes, to turn them . . . from the authority of Satan to God.” (Acts 26:16-18) At that time and prior to our time (for nearly six thousand years until A.D. 1914) the “authority of Satan” was what that chief wicked one freely exercised over all this world or system of things which Jesus Christ conquered and which his followers must conquer.
2 When on earth Jesus truly taught: “No one can be a slave to two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stick to the one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves to God and to Riches.” (Matt. 6:24) Seriously, then, is the beloved Master whom Jesus served and continues to serve—is that noble and lovable Master the One you now serve? Like Jesus, are you a slave of the supreme God? In other words, have you willfully and willingly chosen to listen to and obey Jesus’ Master, the true God, Jehovah? Like Jesus, do you delight to do the will of God? Have you positively turned from the “authority of Satan” to the authority of the Supreme One by deliberately and voluntarily dedicating your life to serve Jehovah? What, you ask, is dedication?
3. What does dedication mean?
3 Dedication means voluntarily to set oneself apart with the aim to devote oneself to a deity, a sacred purpose, or a particular person, a principle, a science, a nation, or even a chosen occupation or way of life. The dedication that has the most meaning and is of the greatest importance is when an individual divorces himself from all other pursuits and solemnly offers himself to a divine person in a devotion to Jehovah God. That means making your will conform to the will of the Most High God. Dedication to The Divine Person must be unconditional, without reservations. It cannot be a divided devotion or dedication, because a dedication with reservations would be invalid in the sight of Jehovah God. He requires absolute or exclusive devotion.—Ex. 20:5; 34:14; Deut. 4:24; 6:15.
4. How did Jesus view dedication?
4 The perfect example of making a dedication we find in the Son of God, Christ Jesus. His dedication of himself is summed up in the words: “To do your will, O my God, I have delighted.” His devotion to God was entirely single. He did not permit anything else to infringe or encroach upon it. On earth Jesus was acquainted with his Father in heaven, whose law he knew and loved. He was familiar with what had happened to the nation of Israel and others who violated their covenant relationship with Almighty God. Such knowledge caused Jesus to be all the more eager, yes, adamant in wanting to conform his own will to the will of his Father.—Ps. 40:8; John 4:34; 6:38.
5. (a) What is required of a Christian whose dedication has been made? (b) Why is a radical change in living habits essential?
5 Consequently, when any person makes a dedication to do the will of Jehovah God, it means a complete change from his former way of life, a way common to this world that has been under the “authority of Satan.” The dedicated individual’s inclinations change, as well as his desires. This change does not take place automatically, but is the result of the remolding of his mind from the old-world pattern of thinking and acting to a new one. It is the result of calm, careful, sober meditation on God’s Word, and not a miraculous or emotional change that takes place totally in an instant. The normal bent or trend of man’s mind is toward sin, because our first parents, Adam and Eve, willingly chose to do the will of Satan the enemy of Jehovah God, and they forgot the will of the true God for them. “Through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned.” (Rom. 5:12) According to that sinful pattern we have been shaped in iniquity under the condemnation of death. That is why it is imperative that a change take place. That is why it is so important that new knowledge be taken into the mind, and this from God’s Word. There must be a continuing turning away from the old way of thinking, patterned after this old world or system of things. There must be a recognition of the new—a desire to change or repent from the old course and to remold one’s way of living according to the new pattern. This constitutes a following of Paul’s advice: “Strip off the old personality with its practices, and clothe yourselves with the new personality which through accurate knowledge is being renewed according to the image of the one who created it, . . . in order to walk worthily of Jehovah to the end of fully pleasing him as you go on bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the accurate knowledge of God.” This shows that there is a complete change in one’s pattern of life, from that of the old world to that of the new world. Here we must bear in mind that it is for this new world of righteousness that Christ Jesus gave his lifeblood, because it is in the new world that eternal life is to be attained. According to John’s writing, the present old world is passing away. “Do not be loving either the world or the things in the world. . . . Furthermore, the world is passing away and so is its desire, but he that does the will of God remains forever.”—Col. 3:9, 10; 1:10; 1 John 2:15, 17.
6. Why may we say a human creature of today is in God’s image?
6 Since the old world is passing away, a Christian must turn his back upon that old world in order to live on into the new world. Then when his mind is made over, when his thinking is changed to conform to the Word of Almighty God, it can be properly said that the individual is in the image of God, just as Adam was originally before transgression. When the individual is patterned after God’s superior knowledge, then the creature is properly said to be returned to the image of God. That does not mean that the individual is perfect at that point, but his thinking has turned to the high and lofty way of thinking that Jehovah God uses. In following such a course one becomes pleasing and acceptable to Almighty God.
PROPER MENTAL ATTITUDE BEFORE DEDICATION
7. What is repentance? Why is it required?
7 The humble, repentant person is described in words Isaiah wrote: “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto Jehovah, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” This shows how approachable Jehovah is. The humble one who desires to find Him Jehovah will receive through his Son Christ Jesus. He will pardon the creature of sins inherited by reason of being born of sinful parents. Paul further shows the importance of putting away the old personality, saying: “You should put away the old personality which conforms to your former course of conduct and which is being corrupted according to his deceptive desires; but that you should be made new in the force actuating your mind, and should put on the new personality which was created according to God’s will in true righteousness and loving-kindness.” Thus Paul vividly draws to our attention that our former way of life and desires must be entirely forsaken. Then the new way of thinking acquired from a study of Jehovah’s Word and a knowledge of his purposes will be the motivating power in the Christian’s life.—Isa. 55:7, AS; Eph. 4:22-24.
8. After conversion, what qualities should a person cultivate?
8 After conversion of mind has taken place, then the individual will have utmost respect for Jehovah and His Word. He will follow Paul’s admonition: “Clothe yourselves with the tender affections of compassion, kindness, lowliness of mind [humility], mildness and long-suffering.” These qualities are found, not in the old world, but only in the new. While Paul’s words were written to Christians, Jehovah’s much earlier expression shows how he values such characteristics: “What I care for are humble, broken creatures, who stand in awe of all I say.” A humble person shows utmost reverence for the Most High God, Jehovah.—Col. 3:12; Isa. 66:2, Mo.
9. What kind of servitude is required, and upon what must it be based?
9 Can any ordinary person manifest stanch, undivided love to the Almighty Creator? Yes, he must be exclusively devoted to Him and then have a burning zeal in his heart to serve Him as a willing slave serves his beloved master. To serve means to obey. Those who obey Jehovah do so out of love for him: “If anyone loves me, he will observe my word, and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him and make our abode with him. He that does not love me does not observe my words; and the word that you are hearing is not mine, but belongs to the Father who sent me.” (John 14:23, 24) Love is, in fact, the sum and substance of the whole law of commandments of God. So Christ Jesus verified, saying: “You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind and with your whole strength [vital force].” Certainly nothing is omitted. The creature is required to love and serve the Creator, Jehovah, completely, in truehearted loyalty.—Mark 12:30; Deut. 6:5.
10. (a) How should one view self after dedication? (b) To what extent must one be submissive to Jehovah?
10 On the part of true followers of Christ this means forgetting self completely, just as he said: “If anyone wants to come after me, let him disown himself.” He that disowns himself disowns his own personal aims and choice of his life’s career. Instead, he seeks to make it his will to do what Jehovah’s will and purposes are concerning his present and future. Then he deports himself accordingly.
DEDICATION BRINGS RESPONSIBILITY
11. (a) How should one consider responsibility? (b) After what examples should Christians pattern their lives?
11 This does indeed place a heavy load of responsibility upon one dedicating his life to Jehovah. Faithfulness in carrying this load is mandatory, not discretionary. It means willing surrender of personal selection of a course or way of life in order that God’s will may be done. Ridicule, reproach, hardship, persecution, torture or imprisonment might be brought upon one because of his choosing to follow the course of Jehovah’s chief Witness, Christ Jesus. Through all such circumstances the dedicated one keeps on following Jesus, doing Jehovah’s will. He realizes that he agreed to do God’s will. Therefore he must have a positive attitude as to his responsibility, just as did Isaiah when he said: “Here am I; send me.” As one learns God’s Word and recognizes this responsibility, one does not feel that the responsibility is too heavy. Nor does one feel cowardly about it or fearful that he will fail. Since he expects to live in Jehovah’s everlasting new world, he keeps on obeying God’s Word that he “fear not”; he conquers the spirit of fear and cowardice. He remembers Jehovah’s revelation that John saw and wrote: “I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the former heaven and the former earth had passed away, . . . Anyone conquering will inherit these things, and I shall be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowards and those without faith . . . and all the liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur. This means the second death.” Paul, too, gave very encouraging and assuring admonition to Timothy, writing: “God gave us not a spirit of cowardice, but that of power and of love and of soundness of mind. Therefore do not become ashamed of the witness about our Lord, neither of me a prisoner for his sake, but take your part in suffering evil for the good news according to the power of God.” Not Judas Iscariot or others who failed, including Satan himself, do we seriously consider to grasp the meaning of dedication; but we look at the long line of strong, faithful, courageous conquerors the Bible mentions. In their life course we see patterns worth copying. We can be just as determined as they were. We can be obedient servants of God as they were. Early Christians, including Christ’s faithful apostles, were anything but fearful. Then there are also men like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David, and women like Sarah, Rahab, Deborah and Jael, as well as many others in that long line of courageous covenant-keeping witnesses of Jehovah that extends back to the very time of righteous Abel. They had a strong anchor of hope in Jehovah’s supreme power, even to his resurrecting the dead. Such strengthened faith will cause a person not to fear the enemy even though it might cost him his physical life at this time.—Luke 9:23; Isa. 6:8, AS; Rev. 21:1, 7, 8; 2 Tim. 1:7, 8.
12. What choice does every true Christian face?
12 One’s choice of a life course of action is a personal responsibility, even as Moses indicated: “I have put life and death before you, the blessing and the malediction, and you must choose life in order that you may keep alive, you and your offspring.” But how, now, may one choose life? By following the course outlined for a true Christian, “by loving Jehovah your God, by listening to his voice and by sticking to him, for he is your life and the length of your days.” We choose life by dedicating ourselves wholly to Jehovah with the expectation of obeying him forever and carrying our load of responsibility.—Deut. 30:19, 20.
13. (a) What decision did Joshua make? (b) In our day, what happens to those who neglect choosing aright?
13 Joshua, also, candidly showed the personal choice required for giving exclusive devotion to 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.” (Josh. 24:15) Every undedicated person has the same freedom to choose. This choice will determine his destiny, whether it will be life or death. In this day of Jehovah’s power, if one refuses to dedicate himself to serve Jehovah his life will permanently end at Armageddon (if not before) as a condemned sinner. In coming to the point where one wishes to serve Jehovah with his whole heart, soul and mind, the question is not, ‘Shall I make a dedication?’ Dedication to do God’s will is the course previously outlined by Christ Jesus. One should therefore ask oneself, Do I have the proper understanding of Jehovah’s will and what he requires in order for me to agree to be a true footstep follower of Christ Jesus, to do Jehovah’s will from now on? In coming to that proper understanding, there is no hesitation on the part of the individual who sincerely wants to serve Jehovah. This positive forward step is outlined by Jehovah. To attain life one must take that step. One who agrees to be a footstep follower of Christ and performs that agreement is truly a Christian. Such dedication the obedient follower of Christ then publicly confesses or symbolizes before others by water baptism.
WHAT DEDICATION MEANS TO YOU
14. (a) What precedes dedication? (b) What follows dedication? (c) What is included in one’s dedication to Jehovah?
14 Before dedication comes a searching of the soul. One must realize that his dedicating himself must be a ‘turning to Jehovah.’ It means a repenting or turning away from the disobedient, sinful way of life in the old world in which one has lived up to this point. As a sinner, the repentant one sees himself now from Jehovah’s viewpoint. He recognizes Jehovah’s loving provision of Christ Jesus as the Redeemer, Purchaser or Ransomer. He recognizes that through exercising faith in the purchasing or redeeming value of the shed blood of Christ Jesus he can be properly brought into harmony or oneness with the Holy One, Jehovah. Then a change takes place. This is not a miraculous change, but is the start of a new mental attitude that from now on shapes one’s life course as a firm and willing doer of God’s revealed will. In this respect dedication marks a decision that must be carried out. When an individual dedicates his life to Jehovah he expects Jehovah to live up to his promises, and there is no question that Jehovah will do so. Jehovah, too, expects the one whom he receives to carry out his dedication. There is no such thing as a partial dedication; that is, to hold back, or a deciding within one’s own mind to dedicate to Jehovah in any limited manner. Nothing may be permitted to jeopardize the completeness of his dedication. So truly a serious responsibility accompanies this dedication to Jehovah. An individual may not be lulled into the frame of mind that preaching God’s Word is merely discretionary. The ministerial work is an obligatory part of the assignment to work, just as it was in the case of Christ Jesus. The time of his dedication marked the beginning of his ministerial work and never did he digress or permit anything to interfere with his new course of life that he had determined and agreed to perform.
15. To what may dedication be likened?
15 Since this marked the beginning, it may be likened to the individual’s birthday; that is, the beginning of his new life. Prior to this time only a very small measure of human life was enjoyed, and that was under condemnation because of our being patterned in Adam’s fallen state.
16, 17. (a) How should newly dedicated persons view this important step? (b) What will be the objective of the newly dedicated person?
16 Just as a child, the individual must be eager to learn and continue learning to grow to maturity. We observe how a child is eager to imitate his parents; and then, too, we see what a driving force a child possesses to reach manhood or womanhood. In fact, he is willing to study eagerly to do so. A child’s mind is alert to acquire knowledge because he does not have a desire to remain in infancy or even in a state of adolescence. So the “newly born” Christian should view his life ahead.
17 Children are always anxious to escape just a milk diet or that of softened food. They are anxious to eat the solid food that they observe their parents partaking of, because they recognize that solid food belongs to mature people. And so it is with Christians, as counseled by Paul: “But solid food belongs to mature people, to those who through use have their perceptive powers trained to distinguish both right and wrong. For this reason, now that we have left the elementary doctrine about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying a foundation again, namely, repentance from dead works, and faith toward God, the teaching on baptisms and the laying on of the hands, the resurrection of the dead and everlasting judgment.”—Heb. 5:14–6:2.
18. What should the dedicated one pursue? What will bring joy to his heart?
18 The Christian should eagerly pursue knowledge so he might gain spiritual maturity and be better able to carry out his dedication and then help others, and in that manner help them to life. It can be likened to young people growing to manhood or womanhood. When they reach this state of maturity and marry, they bring new children into the world. So it is with mature Christians. By their saying, “Come!” they bring others, and then the new hearers turn from their former course of action, and likewise study and come to the point of dedicating their lives to do Jehovah’s will. Christian maturity is a wonderful, happy condition to live in and to observe.
19. Why is a serious counting of the cost important for one who contemplates dedication?
19 In weighing the matter of dedication an individual might think, ‘I could not possibly do this ministerial work or share in it; yet I love God and I will serve him. I will give him full recognition in my life, but as for complete dedication, I just cannot do that.’ At first such may be one’s thoughts; but if a person is in that frame of mind, then he should continue studying, taking in accurate knowledge, because more mature thinking will help him to reach the proper decision. This is truly a vital decision. It can be likened to a man who, in looking toward the future, plans to build a house. But even in constructing a home the man must sit down and count the cost, just as Jesus stated: “For example, who of you that wants to build a tower does not first sit down and figure out the expense, to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, he might lay its foundation but not have the funds to finish it, and all the onlookers might start to ridicule him, saying: ‘This man started to build but had not the funds to finish.’” In making a dedication it means that the individual should count the cost of taking such a course and holding to it to the finish, and do so soberly and diligently.—Luke 14:28-30.
DEDICATION BRINGS HAPPINESS
20. What are some of Jehovah’s blessings for dedicated servants? And what brings joy?
20 Then why not measure what you forsake alongside what you are promised by Jehovah? (Matt. 19:27-29) Stop and think about it! What good things do you have that you did not receive from Jehovah in the first place, including the power of rendering devotion, praise and willing service? These are the things that you will happily dedicate to Jehovah, even your whole self, to serve him. These are willingly given to Jehovah through the Righteous One, Jesus Christ, for the unspeakable privileges and blessings that are continually bestowed upon God’s dedicated servants. However, bear in mind that this gives the individual the authority to be called by and to speak in Jehovah’s name as one of His witnesses. In this doomed and dying old world, these dedicated servants of God are the happiest people living. In fact, such people expect to survive God’s universal war at Armageddon and confidently expect to live forever in an earthwide paradise of perfection. Much, then, depends upon one’s making a dedication, and then everything depends upon one’s faithfulness to that dedication. Maintaining integrity and faithfully living up to one’s dedication vows brings supreme happiness. Failure to do so brings despair.
21. How extensive must dedication be?
21 The full impact and importance of dedication can seemingly be summed up in Jesus’ words: “Thus, you may be sure, none of you that does not say good-bye to all his belongings can be my disciple.” (Luke 14:33) Nothing may be permitted to interfere with dedication. This can include the wife of a man, or the husband of a woman, or a family or anything else of this world that might be held dear. Dedication of oneself to Jehovah must be unequivocal in its scope. The individual is duty-bound to render exclusive devotion to Jehovah.