Why Be Baptized?
1. Why is it not repugnant to the reasoning mind to become a slave to Jehovah?
SLAVERY is repugnant to the reasoning mind. One who has been freed from superstition, error and tradition fights so that the mind does not become enslaved again. Man loves freedom to think and to act. Nevertheless, the enlightened mind is not repulsed at the thought of becoming a slave to Jehovah. Why? It is because a careful study of God’s Word has proved to the mind that giving oneself completely to God’s service is the only normal, proper and reasonable thing to do. We are impressed first with God’s appeal that we come and reason together, rather than forcing us to follow a certain course. We get to know who he is and for what he stands. We learn that he is the Creator, not only of the material universe, but also of us. We learn that he is the source of love and wisdom, that he is just and has the power to back up his judicial decisions and holy will. He is perfect and he does not tolerate wrongdoing on the part of his servants, yet he is merciful with imperfect human creatures as they exist today. All these things make us want to live a life in his presence and to have his favor. We feel at one with him and our heart tells us that there is no real loss of freedom in putting ourselves completely in his hands to do his will and to live as he wants us to, for that is the way he made us.
2. After one makes a dedication, how is this publicly demonstrated?
2 When we receive a proper understanding of our relationship to Jehovah, we willingly dedicate our lives to his service and we have no hesitation about following the proper procedure to demonstrate this to him, to ourselves and to our fellow human creatures. Jehovah has outlined what this is in the Scriptures, and very fittingly he has ordained that we should undergo water baptism as a public expression in symbol of our dedication to do his will. One is lowered into the water by a dedicated servant of God and is completely submerged. Then he is raised again from the water to stand aright and henceforth to live a dedicated life to God’s service. By this we show that we unhesitatingly wish to be devoted servants, yes, slaves, in the service of our loving God, Jehovah.
3. (a) Although baptism is Scripturally required, why is what precedes baptism more important? (b) Why cannot very young children make a valid dedication?
3 It is thought by some that baptism is a ceremony that brings certain direct spiritual dispensations from God. A careful study of the instructions given by Jesus and his disciples on baptism proves otherwise. Being a symbol of something else, it obviously is not as important as what it symbolizes, namely dedication. The step of dedication must be taken only after one has sufficient knowledge to decide unequivocally that he wishes to do Jehovah’s will and not his own; otherwise the act of baptism is meaningless. It follows, therefore, that it would be improper for infants to be baptized. One must know why he is baptized. Very young children would be lacking in understanding. It is true that Christ Jesus said: “Let the young children come to me.” But there is no record that he baptized any young children or commanded that they be baptized. Rather, they should be instructed by their parents in the “discipline and authoritative advice of Jehovah,” so as to be prepared for dedication and baptism when they have grown in understanding to the point where they can make an intelligent dedication.—Mark 10:14; Eph. 6:4.
4. Why should there be no hesitation in taking the step of baptism?
4 If one understands why he should be baptized, there really should be no hesitation to follow through on this divine requirement. We cannot love someone we do not know, but accurate knowledge of God will lead us to proper faith in him. Faith and devotion to God lead to our understanding his love and his worthiness to receive honor and worship. The pure in heart will be drawn to him, for love naturally seeks the object of its affection. Jehovah could force our obedience, but he has given man freedom of choice. This fact, however, escapes many, that God cannot forever tolerate those who oppose him and themselves. He has set a limit on how long this old world will continue. Meanwhile, he has given opportunity to all who are of goodwill to learn of him and to give him exclusive devotion so as to have everlasting life and its attending blessings.
5. What invitation has Jehovah extended, that men may respond to his love?
5 The Scriptures tell us that “God is love.” It was love that prompted him to send his Son for man’s redemption. Since God expressed so much love for us, we should respond with gratitude and appreciation. We must love him with our whole heart, mind, soul and strength. True love is that all-embracing. We actually do not belong to ourselves, whether we willingly choose to serve him or not. However, in extending an invitation to us, he allows us to use our own free moral agency to choose to devote our lives and energy to what is right, to godly devotion. “Godly devotion is beneficial for all things, as it holds promise of the life now and that which is to come.”—1 John 4:8; 1 Tim. 4:8.
WHY SOME HESITATE TO BE BAPTIZED
6. (a) How is it said prophetically that Jehovah’s people would respond in the last days? (b) What should be done if one feels his knowledge is incomplete or he feels inadequate?
6 It is said prophetically of Jehovah’s people that during the “last days” and just prior to the battle of Armageddon, they would ‘offer themselves willingly on the day of his military force.’ Jehovah is especially pleased when they willingly and obediently discern his will and follow through diligently to do it. Yet some, for various reasons, hesitate to be baptized. They have partial knowledge, they have some doubts, and, in some instances, it amounts to shirking responsibility. What should be done? First, there are those who feel that their knowledge is incomplete or that they are inadequate for Jehovah’s service. They would like to wait longer before taking the step of dedication and baptism. It is, of course, proper that each one entering into a covenant relationship with Jehovah have a basic knowledge of the truth and, through faith and the eye of understanding, have a proper conception of Jehovah and his righteous principles; but we have many examples in the Scriptures of those who immediately dedicated themselves and were baptized with just the basic knowledge of the truth. It is not always how much you know, but how much you love what you know.—Ps. 110:3.
7. Should one hesitate to make a dedication and be baptized if his moral background has not been good?
7 His Word also tells us that Jehovah is sending out the invitation to people in all circumstances, regardless of who they are or their background. Hence, there is no reason to feel inadequate. One may not have natural ability and may feel somewhat timid, or perhaps his moral background has not been the best. What Jehovah is asking is that you believe him when he says that “everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.” He will train you, he will instruct you in righteousness. He will bring you on to maturity; but you must be willing to keep transforming your mind according to his will. Everlasting life is the reward for doing so.—Rom. 10:13.
8. How do some react when seeing responsibility ahead? What should they do?
8 Some hesitate to be baptized because they see responsibility ahead. Everlasting life is desired by them, and they enjoy the pleasant association of those in the New World society, but taking on the responsibility of preaching the good news and aiding others seems to be too much to ask of them. There are the friends and neighbors to think about, and there is the time it takes to call on the homes of the people and follow up the interest with back-calls and Bible studies. Also, there seem to be too many meetings to attend. But why should there be a delay because one shies away from responsibility or growing to Christian maturity? The apostle Paul states: “Let a man so appraise us as being subordinates of Christ and stewards of sacred secrets of God. Besides, in this case, what is looked for in stewards is for a man to be found faithful.” Lazy people shy away from work. Also, trying to protect one’s reputation with others by refusing to declare himself with God’s people is prideful and dangerous.—1 Cor. 4:1, 2.
9. Why is it foolish to conclude that there is time to enjoy worldly pleasures before symbolizing our dedication?
9 Then there are some who delay in taking the step of baptism because they feel Armageddon is not really so close and there is time yet to enjoy some of this world’s pleasures. This is specious reasoning and misusing Jehovah’s patience. Listen to the timely words of Peter under divine inspiration: “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion, awaiting and keeping close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah.” No, do not be misled by wrong thinking, but bestir yourself and begin to carry out your responsibilities before Jehovah. It is very easy to get engulfed in the allures and materialism of this world. “As obedient children, quit being fashioned according to the desires you formerly had in your ignorance.”—2 Pet. 3:11, 12; 1 Pet. 1:13-15.
10. How is an independent spirit a hindrance to making a dedication?
10 Strangely there is another reason somewhat different in nature from the three mentioned above as to why some do not take the step of baptism. There is a certain spirit of independence that is present in their mind. They do not wish to be restricted in their freedom, not realizing that actually they are putting themselves into bondage to their own reasoning and to this world. And sometimes, to justify delay on their part, little points of objection are raised which in themselves are insignificant, but are magnified out of proportion so that the overall issue and God’s true worship are placed in the background. Pride, a strong ego, the spirit of this world and a growing tendency today to figure everything out for oneself and to believe only what one can see cause the spirit of independence to take root and resist the natural desire of man to get to know Jehovah and to render sacred service to him in a dedicated relationship. Do not let an independent spirit of this world hold you back. On the other hand, “if the Son sets you free, you will be actually free.” Further, “for such freedom Christ set us free. Therefore stand fast, and do not let yourselves be confined again in a yoke of slavery.” Let your love for Jehovah cause you to give yourself to him in obedient service.—John 8:36; Gal. 5:1; 2 Pet. 2:19-21.
11, 12. (a) What should be done if one has doubts about the validity of his dedication and baptism? (b) Why would limited knowledge or inactivity for a while not necessarily require rebaptism?
11 Due to certain circumstances at the time when they got baptized or due to subsequent developments, some have doubts about the validity of their past dedication and baptism, and they wonder if they should be rebaptized. They may have been baptized at an early age or while they were very immature in the truth, or after baptism they became inactive in the ministry for a time. At the baptism ceremony a talk on baptism is given to make clear what is involved in the matter of dedication and baptism. If one later has some doubts about the validity of his dedication, he should ask himself whether he understood that water baptism symbolized a dedication to do Jehovah’s will and whether he had actually made a dedication to do Jehovah’s will prior to baptism, even though his knowledge of the truth was limited at that time and he may have been gaining accurate knowledge by a Bible study for only a short time. Were the questions at the end of the ceremony answered in the affirmative and with a basic understanding of the significance thereof?
12 Naturally all should have grown in appreciation of their dedication since symbolizing it by water immersion. Certainly we did not appreciate it fully when we made it, or as fully as we do now. But this does not necessarily mean that we should be rebaptized, even though our immaturity might have later caused a temporary lapse in fulfilling our ministerial responsibilities. But if one submitted to baptism mainly because of emotional factors and without proper understanding, or in order to please one’s parents or others, and if this baptism did not symbolize a prior dedication to do Jehovah’s will, it would be proper to be baptized again. Dedication must come before baptism and not afterward.
13. Before coming to Jehovah in dedication what must first take place so that we will be acceptable to him?
13 Certain personal circumstances existing at the time of baptism would necessitate rebaptism. The psalmist David, in a song of praise to Jehovah, stated: “Who may ascend into the mountain of Jehovah, and who may rise up in his holy place? Anyone innocent in his hands and clean in heart, who has not carried My soul to sheer worthlessness, nor taken an oath deceitfully. He will carry away blessing from Jehovah and righteousness from his God of salvation.” (Ps. 24:3-5) Dedication is a bilateral arrangement. Jehovah is the superior and we are the inferiors. Jehovah makes the terms of dedication; we comply with them. He requires that we first repent, turn from our former unclean practices and present ourselves as clean before him.
14, 15. (a) What circumstances would render a professed dedication and baptism invalid? (b) If the baptizer finds it necessary to be rebaptized, does this render the dedication and baptism of those he baptized invalid?
14 We could not imagine Jehovah accepting the dedication of anyone living in an immoral situation or doing at the time of baptism things that would result in his being cut off from Jehovah’s favor by disfellowshiping, if he were already in the Christian congregation. In ordinary business a contract is not valid unless it is signed and sealed properly by all parties concerned. On this principle it would be necessary for a formerly unfit person to be baptized again even though after his former baptism he discontinued these wrongs and made advancement in the truth and service of Jehovah. The first baptism could not symbolize a dedication made under proper circumstances that Jehovah could accept. He should now make a firm resolve to do Jehovah’s will and thus dedicate his life to Jehovah’s service and then submit to baptism at the earliest opportunity. If an unclean situation developed sometime after dedication and baptism, this would not make the dedication invalid. The individual, however, would be subject to appropriate discipline by the organization.
15 While the one performing the baptism should be a dedicated brother, the baptizer is not the important thing to consider in determining the validity of the baptism. The main question is, Have we heard the dedication discourse arranged by Jehovah’s theocratic organization and have we submitted ourselves to be baptized by one assigned by the organization? It would not be of concern to us later if it was found that the one who did the baptizing or the one who gave the baptism discourse found it necessary for himself to be baptized again. The important thing is the validity of the organization that he represented at the time and by the authorization and appointment of which he performed the water baptism.
DIVINE HELP TO FULFILL DEDICATION
16. (a) In the name of what three are we baptized? (b) Being baptized in the name of the Father means that we recognize what?
16 But let none of us think we could fulfill our dedication in our own strength. Jehovah’s help is needed; it is indispensable. We are made cognizant of the need for divine help in Jesus’ command to his followers: “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.” (Matt. 28:19, 20) Our understanding of baptism is enhanced when we understand why we are baptized in the name of these three. Being baptized in the name of the Father means that we recognize Jehovah as the spiritual Father, the Life-Giver. We recognize that Jehovah is the Sovereign of the universe and that he requires our exclusive devotion. Moreover, on dedicating our lives, we show that we understand and want to take our stand on the proper side of the issue of universal sovereignty.
17, 18. (a) Why are we baptized in the name of the Son? (b) Why are we also baptized in the name of the holy spirit?
17 Being baptized in the name of the Son means that we appreciate the position of the only-begotten Son of God, that he is Jehovah’s King of the new world. We must recognize that it is through the sacrifice of Jesus that the effects of sin and death will be removed from believing mankind. He is the “Eternal Father” to the “great crowd” of “other sheep.”—Isa. 9:6; John 10:16.
18 Being baptized in the name of the holy spirit means that we appreciate the part played by the active force of Jehovah. Having no personality, but being equal to any job required by Jehovah, his spirit can be dispatched to any part of the universe to accomplish Jehovah’s irresistible will. It is the force that supplies willing human creatures with an understanding of Jehovah’s will and purposes. It is the force that is directing his organization today, in upholding true worship and in withstanding opposition from the enemy. The Bible as God’s Word is the product of the holy spirit, which Word we must study.
19. (a) Dedication and baptism under proper circumstances brings what special relationship into existence? (b) What is the sure hope of those faithful, and what privileges of service open up after baptism?
19 What are the privileges and sure hope of those taking the step of baptism? First of all, a very special relationship comes into being with Jehovah through his Son, Christ Jesus. If one comes to Jehovah without reservation and dedicates his life under clean circumstances, then the individual can feel confident that such relationship exists. Proof of this comes with Jehovah’s blessing on his service and his increase in knowledge and understanding and in the fruitage of the spirit. He has strong faith and a sure hope in Jehovah’s promises, which give him an inheritance with the righteous ones in the earth. A special relationship also comes about with his fellow New World society members. He gains thousands of brothers and sisters who have the same faith and who are doing the same work in the true worship of God. His growth and appreciation of the issue of universal sovereignty and his devotion to Jehovah and his principles qualify him to be an able representative of Jehovah. He is fully commissioned to go forth and declare the good news of the established kingdom. He is truly a minister of God; and as he continues to grow in maturity, additional privileges open up to him, such as being a ministerial servant in a congregation to handle certain organizational duties, or being a full-time preacher enrolled by the central organization used by Jehovah for directing the preaching work. In time his maturity and understanding of Jehovah’s Word may qualify him to be an overseer in a congregation.—Gal. 5:22, 23; 1 Tim. 3:1-13.
CHOOSE WHOM YOU WILL SERVE
20. Why do we have a battle with this world in making a decision to dedicate ourselves to Jehovah’s service?
20 In these last days a great world system has been built up. It is fierce, it is selfish, and it is so constructed as to make you its slave. Commercially, religiously and politically, all of its parts are designed to reach out and get you, to take your time, your energy, your talents and, yes, your devotion. It is very subtle too, for it is attractive. Whether you are an average person living in this world, struggling to exist, enjoying some of its physical comforts, along with many of its heartaches, or whether you have acquired some of its worldly knowledge and are devoting your time ambitiously to making something of yourself, it makes no difference to the Devil and those whom he is using to deceive the whole world. He is sly in leading away by various means those who hesitate to respond to God’s love and the power of the truth. There are great humanitarians, there are great leaders in various fields of endeavor, but their dedication is to a work or, chauvinistically, to a prominent man. How different in the case of a servant of Jehovah God! Why? Because he dedicates himself to his God and not just to a work, although his dedication does involve constructive works to Jehovah’s praise.
21. How can we choose wisely and live? So what should be done by those who have not yet made a dedication and symbolized this by water baptism?
21 The decision, therefore, facing all mankind individually is, Whom will I serve, Jehovah or Satan? This world’s system, or the interests of the Kingdom? Will your decision be like Joshua’s: “As for me and my household, we shall serve Jehovah”? And Jesus’: “Look! I am come to do your will”? Involved in this decision is the command of Christ that we be baptized. It is an essential step if we wish to be in the special relationship with Jehovah and his Son. We cannot willingly refuse to be baptized and also have his favor. Study God’s Word diligently, which will enhance your understanding of dedication responsibilities and give you a fuller meaning of dedication and baptism. Then, unhesitatingly and obediently, take this step, if you have not already done so, and thus put yourself in line for Jehovah’s favor and life in his new world.—Josh. 24:15; Heb. 10:9.
22. In fulfilling our responsibilities resulting from our dedication, in what work must we obediently share in these last days?
22 As for those who have already entered into a covenant with Jehovah, let them continually remember their vow and remain faithful to it. Let them keep their love for him strong and also never forget their love for their neighbor. In giving the command to go forth and make disciples and baptize them in symbol of their dedication to Jehovah, Jesus said: “All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth.” We cannot wisely delay in becoming a disciple of Jesus and following his command given after he was given all authority, to be baptized and to share in the proclamation of the good news.—Matt. 28:18.