“Fear the True God and Keep His Commandments”
1. What must one first have in order to meet the requirements set by God for those he favors?
BEFORE one can undertake any assignment in life and be successful one must know something about the requirements of the assignment. Basically, for one to bring oneself to the point of dedication of oneself to the doing of Jehovah’s will, one has to have an accurate knowledge of God’s Word and know what God requires of those whom he favors.
2. Why is recognition of a visible earthly channnel of Jehovah necessary for one seeking to serve God?
2 For example, to be pleasing to Jehovah one has to recognize the earthly channel that God is using to dispense accurate knowledge to people of all the world. From the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the garden of Eden to this day there has been the producing of two seeds, Jehovah’s seed and the Devil’s seed. (Gen. 3:15) Therefore, just as God dealt with a certain people in the days before the flood, namely, Noah and his sons, and in the days thereafter with Abraham and his seed, so down to this day Jehovah is dealing with those whom he has approved to represent him upon the earth. A person recognizing who Jehovah God and his Son Jesus Christ are, and what the holy spirit represents, needs to appreciate also that Jehovah God has on this earth in this time a visible organization representing his interests. Jesus spoke of such a group as a “faithful and discreet slave.” (Matt. 24:45-47) Thus the person desiring to do Jehovah’s will must associate with the “slave” organization that is charged with the oversight of everything belonging to the Master, Christ Jesus. That person cannot feel that there are many roads leading to life, but must realize there is only one. If all religions were simply different roads leading to life everlasting and God’s favor, there would have been no need for Jesus to have organized his followers for the work he commissioned them to do. The Jewish teachings would have been sufficient. The Christian, then, realizes that broad and spacious is the road leading off to destruction, but narrow the gate and cramped the way leading off into life.—Matt. 7:13, 14.
3. What information on heavenly and earthly life should one have?
3 Before a person could be accepted for water baptism in symbol of an acceptable dedication of himself to the doing of Jehovah’s will he would have to be acquainted with and understand that there are two life possibilities open to man. Jesus promised there would be some from this earth with him in heaven, and these are spoken of as a “little flock.” To them Jesus said: “Have no fear, little flock, because your Father has approved of giving you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32) That “little flock” is limited to 144,000 persons “bought from among mankind as a first fruits to God and to the Lamb.” (Rev. 14:4) The rest of mankind who follow Jesus Christ as Shepherd are referred to at John 10:16 as “other sheep.” Their future life lies in the promise of God that the earth will become a paradise, where there will be no more sickness, sorrow or death. (Rev. 21:1-4) When a person is baptized, that is a step toward one of these life possibilities, heavenly or earthly.
4. What does God expect of one wanting to do his will as far as love and peace are concerned?
4 As for one’s personal life, this must be brought into line with the requirements of God. For while there are two life possibilities, heavenly and earthly, there is a certain righteous standard for both. A person must make a change in his life to conform to such requirements before being baptized. A check in God’s Word reveals many things about what God expects of those coming to him to do his will. For example, when asked what the greatest commandment in the Law was, Jesus said these words: “‘You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. The second, like it, is this, ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments the whole Law hangs, and the Prophets.” (Matt. 22:37-40) A person dedicating himself to Jehovah God would strive in every way to live at peace with his neighbor, regardless of race or nationality. Jesus further said: “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.” (John 13:35) A Christian dedicated to Jehovah God must be peaceful and loving, a follower of Jesus’ commands in these matters.
5. In what ways must one’s personal life be in accord with the Word of God?
5 The personal life of a person also has to conform to Jehovah’s Word with regard to being morally clean and upright. Moral uprightness is a command of long standing for those who would merit God’s approval. When choosing the descendants of Jacob, or Israel, as his people, one of the laws God gave to them concerning morality is found in the Ten Commandments, which says: “You must not commit adultery.” (Ex. 20:14) This law has never been revoked. In fact, when the early congregation of Christians met in Jerusalem to consider congregational problems, the result was a reaffirming of the need to keep free from fornication. (Acts 15:29) In counseling the Corinthian congregation on the matter, the apostle Paul advised: “Now the body is not for fornication,” and so he said: “Flee from fornication.” (1 Cor. 6:13, 18) While you may find many clergymen in Christendom condoning this immoral practice in one way or another, you will find God’s Word, the guide for those desiring to do Jehovah God’s will, condemns it in no uncertain terms.
6-8. What other practices stand condemned by God’s Word?
6 But that is not the only uncleanness that is to be avoided by one wanting to come into an acceptable position before Jehovah God. There are many other wicked practices that must be avoided. Consider these prohibitions in the laws given to the Jews but which carried right through into the governing principles and laws of the Christian congregation:
7 Leviticus 18:22 warns: “And you must not lie down with a male the same as you lie down with a woman. It is a detestable thing.” In the Christian Greek Scriptures the apostle Paul warns Christians that those who practice homosexuality will not inherit God’s kingdom. (1 Cor. 6:9, 10) While some so-called guidance counselors may encourage such wicked practices, saying that one should be free to do as he wishes, so as not to become inhibited in his feelings and develop a guilt complex, that is not the command from the Maker of man, Jehovah God the Creator. God inspired the apostle Paul to write to the Roman congregation in these words about those who become detestable in his sight: “For both their females changed the natural use of themselves into one contrary to nature; and likewise even the males left the natural use of the female and became violently inflamed in their lust toward one another, males with males, working what is obscene.”—Rom. 1:26, 27.
8 The counsel of God’s Word on the matter of overdrinking is clear in the scriptures: “Do not come to be among heavy drinkers of wine . . . For a drunkard . . . will come to poverty.” (Prov. 23:20, 21) “Woe to those who are mighty in drinking wine, and to the men with vital energy for mixing intoxicating liquor.” (Isa. 5:22) In the Christian Greek Scriptures we find that Paul condemns drunkenness at 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10, and his words in Ephesians 5:18 are: “Do not be getting drunk with wine, in which there is debauchery.” Drunkenness is immorality. The person desiring to do Jehovah’s will must not practice this evil vice.
9, 10. (a) How must one guard his thinking processes in order to please God? (b) Should one clean up from any bad practices condemned by God’s Word after dedication and baptism, or what?
9 Additionally, God’s Word condemns thievery, incest, murder, greediness, reviling, extortion, lying, bearing false witness, coveting, and so forth. The fact is, the Scriptures even counsel not to be thinking and talking about such vices so as to get sensual or immoral pleasure from such talk. Hear Paul’s words: “Let fornication and uncleanness of every kind or greediness not even be mentioned among you just as it befits holy people; neither shameful conduct nor foolish talking nor obscene jesting, things which are not becoming.” (Eph. 5:3-5) Rather, the Christian is admonished: “Let all malicious bitterness and anger and wrath and screaming and abusive speech be taken away from you along with all injuriousness. But become kind to one another, tenderly compassionate, freely forgiving one another just as God also by Christ freely forgave you.” (Eph. 4:31, 32) So to be acceptable to Jehovah one must have stopped these wicked practices of the flesh. Thus the words of the apostle Paul can apply, namely: “And yet that is what some of you were. But you have been washed clean, but you have been sanctified, but you have been declared righteous in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and with the spirit of our God.”—1 Cor. 6:11.
10 If a person has been negligent and continues so negligent in any of these requirements, then he is not in position to make an acceptable dedication to the doing of Jehovah’s will. If a person wants to be a servant of Jehovah he must come clean, and that means he has corrected his faults in order to present himself before Jehovah. Man cannot excuse himself because he is a sinner, but he must put away the practices of the flesh and cultivate the fruits of the spirit.—Gal. 5:22, 23.
A FURTHER SERIOUS REQUIREMENT
11. (a) What is another requirement to be met by one fearing God and keeping his commandments? (b) Is this course one that brings favor from the world in general? (c) What stand did early Christians take in this regard?
11 Before departing from this earth Jesus made it plain to his followers that they had to be whole-souled in their devotion to him and in the way they served the interests of those to whom they would speak about God’s kingdom. He said: “If you were part of the world, the world would be fond of what is its own. Now because you are no part of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, on this account the world hates you.” (John 15:19) The conduct of the followers of Jesus would have to bear out that they were no part of the world of mankind under the wicked system of things of which the Devil is the god. (2 Cor. 4:4) This would bring great pressure and persecution upon them, even as Jesus said: “If they have persecuted me, they will persecute you also; if they have observed my word, they will observe yours also.” (John 15:20) The great majority of the world’s inhabitants in the days of the apostles and disciples of Jesus, down to our present generation, cannot or will not understand the need for followers of the Lord Jesus to be separate from the world, as he commanded. The person today who desires to do Jehovah’s will in Jehovah’s way must be prepared to meet this opposition. It is not something new, for the pages of history record the many sufferings and persecutions that followers of Christ underwent for their determined effort not to be part of this world. Of early Christians it was said: “They preferred the Kingdom of God to any kingdom that they might serve on earth. The early Christians were ready to die for their faith.”—Old World to the New, Eugene A. Colligan and Maxwell F. Littwin.
12. Should one fear that Jehovah will ever leave one if one is faithful? Why?
12 This separation does not bring popularity to the dedicated Christian. Anyone undertaking the work that Christ Jesus did needs to understand fully this need of not being part of the world. He does not have to fear, however, that Jehovah and his Son Jesus will ever forsake him in time of trouble and oppression. Paul gave this assurance to the followers of Jesus: “No temptation has taken you except what is common to men. But God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear, but along with the temptation he will also make the way out in order for you to be able to endure it.”—1 Cor. 10:13.
DOING AS JESUS DID
13. Why do we know it is necessary to do as Jesus did when it comes to telling out the Kingdom good news?
13 When an individual desires to present himself before Jehovah to do his will he recognizes that another responsibility he must assume is that of being a minister of the good news. There is no clergy-laity distinction among true followers of the Lord Jesus. We are told that those followers of Jesus in the first century of our Common Era spent time telling the good news about Jesus to others. In the Gospel of Matthew we find information about Jesus’ sending out twelve to spread the good news of the kingdom of the heavens. (Matt. 10:5-7) On another occasion he commissioned seventy of his disciples and sent them out before him into the cities to preach the coming of the kingdom of God. (Luke 10:1, 8, 9) Following his resurrection and just before his ascension to heaven Jesus said to his eleven disciples:. “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 conclusion of the system of things.” (Matt. 28:19, 20) The disciple Luke records the words of Jesus’ meeting with some of his disciples following his resurrection and he tells of Jesus’ saying to them: “But you will receive power when the holy spirit arrives upon you, and you will be witnesses of me both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the most distant part of the earth.”—Acts 1:8.
14. How do the apostle Paul’s words show the need of being active in doing the preaching work?
14 Some years after the death of Jesus and in the writings of the apostle Paul to Timothy this admonition is recorded to be ministers of the good news: “Preach the word, be at it urgently in favorable season, in troublesome season, reprove, reprimand, exhort, with all long-suffering and art of teaching.” (2 Tim. 4:2) Paul also reminded the older men in the congregation of Ephesus of the need to spread God’s Word by telling others about it. He said: “I did not hold back from telling you any of the things that were profitable nor from teaching you publicly and from house to house.”—Acts 20:20.
15. How active was Jesus as a minister of God, and what did he say his servants would be doing at the time of the end of this system of things?
15 This example for the preaching of the good news was set by Jesus himself. We are told: “And Jesus set out on a tour of all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the good news of the kingdom.” (Matt. 9:35) Truly Jesus was a working minister, and he called upon all his followers to follow the lead he set during his earthly sojourn. This requirement has never been revoked. In fact, Jesus set it as part of the sign marking the end of this wicked system when he said, among other things: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” (Matt. 24:14) Recognizing this requirement of God as set out in his Word and as commanded by God’s Son Jesus, the person dedicating himself for the doing of God’s will has the desire to share in such preaching work to Jehovah’s honor and glory.
THE SERIOUSNESS OF THE DEDICATION VOW
16. (a) Why is one who vows to do God’s will entering into a serious course? (b) How long a time is involved in vowing to give one’s life to God for his service?
16 From this consideration it becomes readily evident that being a true follower of Christ Jesus is not the easy course in life. However, it is the right course, and the one that can bring everlasting blessings. But just as Jesus counseled, “Who of you that wants to build a tower does not first sit down and calculate the expense, to see if he has enough to complete it?” so the person thinking about dedication and baptism is called on to calculate what will be required of him. (Luke 14:28) Jesus was a student of the Word of truth, and he well knew the seriousness of the vows made to his Father. In Ecclesiastes Jehovah had caused the words to be recorded: “Whenever you vow a vow to God, do not hesitate to pay it, for there is no delight in the stupid ones. What you vow, pay.” (Eccl. 5:4) This must be the view of the person now thinking of dedication and baptism. Regardless of how much longer he may live, or how much longer this wicked system of things may continue, the dedicated Christian must be firmly resolved in his heart to carry out his vow of dedication. No dedication to Jehovah is acceptable with a time stipulation attached. One cannot say he will serve for a certain period of time only. Rather, it is a lifetime promise, and the one coming before Jehovah God is expected to keep that promise.
17. (a) Why is it only reasonable to conclude that God expects us to live up to our vow? (b) Is procrastination the course of wisdom? Why? (c) With what heart motive should we approach Jehovah?
17 It is only reasonable to expect that Jehovah requires a life of faithfulness. We expect that Jehovah will keep his promise to grant us everlasting life if we maintain faithfulness. We do not even think for a moment that God would go back on his promise. On the other hand, Jehovah rightly can expect faithfulness on our part when we dedicate ourselves to Him for the doing of his will. Thus it is that the word of Ecclesiastes 5:2 is timely: “Do not hurry yourself as regards your mouth; and as for your heart, let it not be hasty to bring forth a word before the true God.” The person coming to an appreciation of God’s will for him needs to realize that there is a need to get firmly in his mind what the requirements of Jehovah God are. He does not want to be of a hasty heart in such a serious matter. At the same time, though, while caution is necessary, procrastination brings the disfavor of Jehovah. For says God’s Word: “Therefore, if one knows how to do what is right and yet does not do it, it is a sin for him.” (Jas. 4:17) Jehovah knows the heart, and he knows our motives and way of life. He is not deceived. We should not then deceive ourselves, or feel we can deceive Jehovah. We need to come before Him with a pure heart, with the same mind that Jesus had and which the psalmist wrote about: “To do your will, O my God, I have delighted, and your law is within my inward parts.”—Ps. 40:8; Heb. 10:5-10.
A COURSE OF ACTION BRINGING JEHOVAH’S BLESSING
18. What comfort is there from God for those fearing him and keeping his commandments?
18 Those who come to this appreciation of the relationship they can have with Jehovah God are certainly in line for a great blessing. The care and protection of the heavenly Father are greatly to be treasured, and we are told of such provisions in these words: “Anyone dwelling in the secret place of the Most High will procure himself lodging under the very shadow of the Almighty One. I will say to Jehovah: ‘You are my refuge and my stronghold, my God, in whom I will trust.’” And says Jehovah: “Because on me he has set his affection, I shall also provide him with escape. I shall protect him because he has come to know my name. He will call upon me, and I shall answer him. I shall be with him in distress. I shall rescue him and glorify him. With length of days I shall satisfy him, and I shall cause him to see salvation by me.”—Ps. 91:1, 2, 14-16.
19. What may we lose by dedicating ourselves to Jehovah, but what do we gain?
19 While this course of action may mean the loss of friendship with those who may be opposers, even in one’s own family circle, yet the blessing of Jehovah far outweighs any loss one may appear to suffer. It was Jesus who said: “No one has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for my sake and for the sake of the good news who will not get a hundredfold now in this period of time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and fields, with persecutions, and in the coming system of things everlasting life.”—Mark 10:29, 30.
20. Finally, what will those who can answer “yes” to the two questions propounded at the time of baptism receive from Jehovah God?
20 Before us in these critical “last days” lies a time of trouble such as has not occurred from the world’s creation to this time. But the final result of such days will be an end to this wicked system of things and a new order that promises everlasting life under the kingdom of God through his own Son Jesus Christ. Those of mankind today who recognize themselves as sinners in need of salvation and who have acknowledged that such salvation comes from Jehovah God and through his Son Jesus Christ, and who have made an unreserved dedication of themselves to the doing of the will of the Almighty God, are indeed in that position that will bring many blessings from the Almighty God through his Son. Such a reward from our heavenly Father is without compare, for “the blessing of Jehovah—that is what makes rich, and he adds no pain with it.”—Prov. 10:22.