Following the Chief Agent of Divine Rulership
1. (a) Why did the decision that their forefathers made at Mount Sinai not count for the natural circumcised Jews now when it came to the new covenant? (b) Whom did those Jews have to imitate, and in what way?
FOR the natural circumcised Jews things were not the same after Jesus Christ ascended to the heavenly presence of Jehovah God and offered to him the precious merit of his human sacrifice. By reason of this the old Mosaic covenant was canceled, and a new covenant was validated with the blood of the Son of God, the Mediator of this covenant. The opportunity to be taken into this new covenant was first offered to the natural Jews. Their forefathers of fifteen centuries previous had declared to the mediator Moses: “All that Jehovah has spoken we are willing to do.” But this did not count for their descendants as respects the new covenant. For this latter covenant there was a new Mediator greater than Moses, namely, Jesus Christ. To be taken into the new covenant they had to answer to this better and greater Mediator: “All that Jehovah has spoken we are willing to do and be obedient.” In imitation of the Chief Agent of Divine Rulership, Jesus Christ the Mediator, these natural Jews had to present themselves to Jehovah, to do his will as transmitted to them through this new and greater Mediator.
2. According to what Peter said to the Jews on Pentecost of 33 C.E., what had God done to Jesus that changed the situation for those natural Jews?
2 Truly a new situation had arisen for the natural Jews and they individually had to adjust themselves to it. The Christian apostle Peter pointed this out to them on the festival day of Pentecost of 33 C.E., after Jehovah God through Jesus Christ poured out the holy spirit upon the faithful followers of the Chief Agent of Divine Rulership. After explaining what had miraculously taken place and why, Peter said to those thousands of assembled Jews: “Actually David did not ascend to the heavens, but he himself says, ‘Jehovah said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I place your enemies as a stool for your feet.”’ Therefore let all the house of Israel know for a certainty that God made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you impaled.”—Acts 2:34-36.
3. (a) How, as illustrated by their forefathers at Mount Sinai, would those Jews show themselves worthy to be taken into the new covenant? (b) After doing what Peter and the other apostles told them to do, what would signify that those Jews had been taken into the new covenant?
3 How, now, under the new set of circumstances did those listening Jews declare, “All that Jehovah has spoken we are willing to do,” and thus show themselves worthy to be taken into the new covenant? It was by accepting the once impaled Jesus as their Lord and as Jehovah’s Christ or Messiah and as their Mediator who was foretold and foreshadowed by the prophet Moses. Salvation could come to them through no other way. Thousands of those Jews were stabbed to the heart by what they heard Peter say. So, when they asked Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men, brothers, what shall we do?” Peter directed them to God’s Chief Agent of life by saying: “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. For the promise is to you and to your children and to all those afar off, just as many as Jehovah our God may call to him. . . . Get saved from this crooked generation.” (Acts 2:37-40) If after they got immersed in water they received the free gift of God’s holy spirit through Christ this meant that they were taken into the new covenant.
4. What, then, did the water baptism of those Jesus symbolize?
4 Well, then, what did their baptism in water symbolize? Inasmuch as their baptism was to be “in the name of Jesus Christ” and since it was preceded by their repentance toward Jehovah God, it symbolized their presenting of themselves to God to do his will. Doing his will included their accepting of Jesus Christ as their God-given “Lord” and as their God-given “Christ” or Messiah.
5, 6. (a) Their receiving forgiveness of sins would come through whom, and what were their sins that now needed to be forgiven? (b) According to Hebrews 9:14, in what would the forgiveness of their sins result for them?
5 Without accepting Jesus Christ as “both Lord and Christ” they could not gain “forgiveness of [their] sins.” These sins that God now forgave through Jesus Christ were not the sins that they had committed against the Mosaic Law covenant. That covenant with natural Israel was now past, canceled, and the promised new covenant had now been mediated by the better Mediator, Jesus Christ. So the sins over which they needed to repent toward God were primarily their sin against God by sharing in the impalement of his Son Jesus Christ together with their sins in general. Their receiving forgiveness of sins from God through Christ would result in their getting a good conscience. Regarding this we read:
6 “How much more will the blood of the Christ, who through an everlasting spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works that we may render sacred service to the living God?”—Heb. 9:14.
7. According to the terms of the new covenant, what was promised respecting sins, and through whom were those baptized Jews taken into that covenant?
7 This forgiveness of sins that results in a good conscience toward God was what He had promised in the terms of the new covenant. When Jehovah foretold the new covenant by the prophet Jeremiah, Jehovah closed this prophecy by saying: “For I shall forgive their error, and their sin I shall remember no more.” (Jer. 31:31-34) Centuries later, when the apostle Paul wrote to the Christianized Hebrews, who were the natural descendants of Abraham, “Jehovah’s friend,” he quoted from Jeremiah’s prophecy and went on to say: “‘For I shall be merciful to their unrighteous deeds, and I shall by no means call their sins to mind anymore.’ In his saying ‘a new covenant’ he has made the former one obsolete. Now that which is made obsolete and growing old is near to vanishing away.” (Heb. 8:12, 13) It logically follows, therefore, that the three thousand Jews who repented and got baptized in the name of Jesus Christ and received the free gift of the holy spirit were taken into the new covenant through the ‘better mediator,’ Jesus Christ.—Acts 2:41.
8, 9. Some days later in the temple, to whom did Peter point the Jews, and what did he declare that they needed to do, with what result to them?
8 Some days after that Pentecostal experience, Peter and John found themselves at the temple in Jerusalem. In addressing the crowd that gathered about them, Peter again pointed the Jews to the Chief Agent for divine rulership. Peter also pointed to their need to repent and be converted, seeking the refreshment that comes from the forgiveness of their sins from God through Christ. Peter went on to say:
9 “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our forefathers, has done this honor to his servant Jesus, whom you betrayed and disowned before Pilate, when he had decided to let him go. But you disowned the Holy, Righteous One. You asked to have a murderer released for you, and killed the very source [the prince, Je; the Chief Agent, NW] of life. But God raised him from the dead, as we can testify. . . . So repent and turn to God, to have your sins wiped out, and happier times will come from the presence of the Lord, and he will send Jesus, your destined Christ. . . . It was to you that God first sent his servant after he had raised him from the dead, to bless you by making every one of you turn from his wickedness.”—Acts 3:13-26, AT; Je; NW.
10. Why was there no baptism of repentant Jews on that occasion, and what did Peter and John tell the Court was the only name by which to gain salvation?
10 Before Peter and John could arrange for any repentant Jews there in the temple to get baptized, the situation changed, for we read: “Now while the two were speaking to the people, the chief priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, being annoyed because they were teaching the people and were plainly declaring the resurrection from the dead in the case of Jesus.” (Acts 4:1, 2) So Peter and John were taken into custody for the night, and the next day they were put on trial and released. Before the Court they declared that there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which to be saved except the name of the Chief Agent of Jehovah’s divine rulership. (Acts 4:3-23) The apostles refused to stop following that one with such a precious name.
11. (a) How did Philip the evangelizer come to preach in Samaria? (b) In whose name were the believing Samaritans baptized, and so whose disciples did they become?
11 Vicious persecution broke out later in Jerusalem and the faithful Jewish Christian Stephen was stoned to death. The disciples of Christ were scattered from Jerusalem, with the exception of the twelve apostles. Among the scattered ones was Philip the Evangelizer. He went north to the city of Samaria and “began to preach the Christ to them.” Philip brought great joy to the city by what he preached and the miraculous signs that he performed. The Samaritans held to the Pentateuch or five books written by Moses, and they practiced circumcision. Accordingly, many of them accepted Jesus Christ as the ‘better mediator’ who was foreshadowed by Moses. In the case of these Samaritan believers, Philip carried out what Jesus had commanded to do, for we read: “But when they believed Philip, who was declaring the good news of the kingdom of God and of the name of Jesus Christ, they proceeded to get baptized, both men and women.” (Acts 8:1-13; Matt. 28:19, 20; Acts 1:8) Those Samaritans were baptized in the name of Jesus; they became believing, baptized disciples of him.
12. (a) How did Philip come to preach to an Ethiopian eunuch in his chariot, and in whose name did Philip baptize him? (b) What course did that baptism indicate that the Ethiopian had taken?
12 After making many disciples among those circumcised Samaritans, Philip was directed by God’s angel to a circumcised proselyte to Judaism. This man, an Ethiopian eunuch, was returning from worship at Jerusalem. When Philip hailed the chariot and accosted him, the Ethiopian was reading in the prophecy of Isaiah 53, in what is now the fifty-third chapter. The Ethiopian asked Philip as to whom Isaiah was there describing. Then, as Acts 8:35 tells us, “Philip opened his mouth and, starting with this Scripture, he declared to him the good news about Jesus.” Philip also told the Ethiopian about water baptism, and the man asked to be baptized as soon as they reached a suitable body of water. Philip baptized him, of course, in the name of Jesus. (Acts 8:36-39) Like those believing Samaritans, this circumcised Ethiopian presented himself to Jehovah God to do his will as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
“CONVERSION OF PEOPLE OF THE NATIONS”
13. (a) How did the Gentiles differ from the Jews as to responsibility for Jesus’ death and as to the curse of the Law? (b) When and with whom did Jehovah begin granting repentance to the Gentiles?
13 Unlike the circumcised Jews who shared in a community responsibility for the putting of Jesus Christ to death outside Jerusalem, the people of the Gentile nations did not have to repent over any part in the impalement of the innocent Son of God. They were not under the curse of the Mosaic Law covenant. (Gal. 3:13) However, they were sinners who descended from sinful Adam and Eve, and they had plenty of pagan sins over which to repent and for which they were condemned to death by God. They were, as the apostle Paul said to them, “without Christ, alienated from the state of Israel and strangers to the covenants of the promise, and you had no hope and were without God in the world.” (Eph. 2:12) They were generally uncircumcised people. But in the year 36 C.E. Jehovah God mercifully began to grant “repentance for the purpose of life to people of the nations also,” through Jesus Christ. (Acts 11:18) The one with whom He started was Cornelius of Caesarea. This city was the provincial seat of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of the province of Judea.
14. Did Cornelius and those gathered together in his house know already something about Jesus, and what did Peter tell them about getting forgiveness of sins?
14 The Italian centurion Cornelius and those whom he gathered into his house already knew something about Jesus Christ. So the apostle Peter, who was sent to preach to them, said to them: “You know the subject that was talked about throughout the whole of Judea, starting from Galilee after the baptism that John preached, namely, Jesus who was from Nazareth, how God anointed him with holy spirit and power, and he went through the land doing good and healing all those oppressed by the Devil; because God was with him. And we are witnesses of all the things he did.” Peter continued on to say finally: “To him all the prophets bear witness, that everyone putting faith in him gets forgiveness of sins through his name.”—Acts 10:37-43.
15. What shows whether those listening Gentiles received the forgiveness of sins, and, at Peter’s command, what did they become?
15 Silently, in their hearts, Cornelius and those Gentiles who were assembled with him became believers in Jesus Christ and they received this forgiveness of sins through his name and consequently a good conscience toward God. What evidence was there to that effect? The account tells us, saying: “While Peter was yet speaking about these matters the holy spirit fell upon all those hearing the word. And the faithful ones that had come with Peter . . . heard them speaking with tongues and [magnifying] God. Then Peter responded: ‘Can anyone forbid water so that these might not be baptized who have received the holy spirit even as we have?’ With that he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.” (Acts 10:44-48) These became believing baptized disciples of Christ.
16. How did Paul and Silas come to find themselves in jail in Philippi of Macedonia, and what happened there at midnight?
16 This was the start, and afterward, as time went on, other uncircumcised Gentiles were converted and got baptized in the name of Jesus. Take the case in Philippi of Macedonia, about the year 50 C.E. After the apostle Paul had healed a demonized fortune-telling girl, he and his companion Silas were imprisoned on false charges. About midnight, as they were audibly praying and praising God, a great earthquake occurred and all prisoners miraculously found themselves free of bonds. Paul called out to the frightened jailer not to kill himself, for no prisoners had escaped. What now happened? Let us read:
17. How did Paul and Silas tell the jailer and his household to get saved, and how did they act on the information?
17 “Seized with trembling, he fell down before Paul and Silas. And he brought them outside and said: ‘Sirs, what must I do to get saved?’ They said: ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will get saved, you and your household.’ And they spoke the word of Jehovah to him together with all those in his house. And he took them along in that hour of the night and bathed their stripes; and, one and all, he and his were baptized without delay. And he brought them into his house and set a table before them, and he rejoiced greatly with all his household now that he had believed God.”—Acts 16:29-34.
18. (a) Of what group did the jailer and his household become members? (b) According to the command “Believe on the Lord Jesus,” was the main action for salvation to be directed to Jesus, and how is the answer affected by what took place afterward in that connection?
18 This uncircumcised Philippian jailer and his household became baptized members of the Christian congregation in Philippi, and doubtless received the holy spirit by the laying of the apostle Paul’s hands upon them. (Phil. 1:1) “Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will get saved,” they were told. Much must be understood in that simple expression, “Believe on the Lord Jesus.” This, and also the fact that the uncircumcised Gentile Cornelius and his fellow believers in his home got “baptized in the name of Jesus Christ,” cause the question to arise, Toward whom was the main action for salvation directed—toward Jesus Christ or toward Jehovah God? The answer is affected by the fact that, after simply telling the Philippian jailer how to “get saved,” Paul and Silas “spoke the word of Jehovah” to him and all his household and the jailer rejoiced greatly “now that he had believed God.”
19. What, according to Paul, was the religious or spiritual condition of those uncircumcised pagans, and to whom did they need to dedicate themselves for salvation?
19 We must remember that these uncircumcised pagans were, not only “without Christ,” but also “alienated from the state of Israel and strangers to the covenants of the promise” and “without God in the world.” (Eph. 2:12) They belonged to that class of pagans to whom Paul wrote, saying: “You know that when you were people of the nations, you were being led away to those voiceless idols just as you happened to be led.” Also: “You turned to God from your idols to slave for a living and true God.” (1 Cor. 12:2; 1 Thess. 1:9) They were dedicated to those idols or to the false gods whom those idols represented. They may have borne on their bodies markings to indicate openly to which god they were especially devoted. (Compare Ezekiel 9:4-6; Hosea 9:10.) Fundamentally, then, these ignorant uncircumcised pagans needed to hear about the one “living and true God,” who is Jehovah. Then, in order to gain salvation, they needed to dedicate themselves to Him, to do his will. This God would inform them through whom this dedication to Him could be made. Obeying Him, they could be baptized.
20, 21. In Romans, chapter ten, what words by Moses to the Israelites does Paul quote regarding the availability of God’s commandment?
20 This procedure is plainly set forth by the apostle Paul in Romans, chapter ten. There, in Ro 10 verses five through ten, he makes the application of what Jehovah God inspired Moses to say in Deuteronomy 30:11-14. Here is the way this latter citation reads:
21 “For this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it far away. It is not in the heavens, so as to result in saying, ‘Who will ascend for us into the heavens and get it for us, that he may let us hear it that we may do it?’ Neither is it on the other side of the sea, so as to result in saying, ‘Who will pass over for us to the other side of the sea and get it for us, that he may let us hear it that we may do it?’ For the word is very near you, in your own mouth and in your own heart, that you may do it.”
22. (a) How did God’s commandment come to be very near to those Israelites there on the plains of Moab, even in their mouths and in their hearts? (b) So what only did it remain for those Israelites to do? (c) Their doing this was indicated by their concluding what with God at that time?
22 Let us take note that the inspired Moses calls this a “commandment,” something that they are to do toward God. From Mount Sinai onward this “commandment” in a comprehensive way has been revealed to them. As a result of this written Law code, repeatedly rehearsed to them during the forty years, they know it and can say it with their mouths, as if it were on the tip of their tongue. It had also been inculcated in their hearts, so as to help them to get the sense of it and appreciate it. Hence, all that remained now was for them to determine to do this expressed will of God. This is evidently what Jehovah helped those Israelites to do by having them make a supplementary covenant with Him through Moses. Respecting this, Deuteronomy 29:1 says: “These are the words of the covenant that Jehovah commanded Moses to conclude with the sons of Israel in the land of Moab aside from the covenant that he had concluded with them in Horeb.”
23. (a) Who explains to us the antitypical meaning of that, and where? (b) How close to the Jews did God make his provision for righteousness, but why did they fail to avail themselves of it?
23 All that had a typical meaning, prefiguring something in connection with the Greater Moses, the ‘better mediator,’ Jesus Christ. The Christian apostle Paul explains to us the antitypical meaning, in his letter to the Romans, chapter ten, in order to show how we can get righteousness with God and a good conscience toward him. This calls for faith toward God, inasmuch as righteousness cannot be gained by a person’s self-efforts to keep the Mosaic Law. Trusting in their own works to prove them righteous before God, the Jews felt no need to exercise faith in the provision that God made available for them, putting it right near them, in their midst, where they could get it. To gain salvation, Christians must do far differently from those unbelieving Jews.
CONFESSION WITH THE MOUTH
24. (a) What did Moses say regarding the Law and gaining life, but what does the righteousness that calls for faith say about the availability of God’s commandment? (b) What parts do the heart and mouth play as to righteousness and salvation?
24 In agreement with this requirement, which is according to the commandment of God, the apostle Paul proceeds to say: “For Moses writes that the man that has done the righteousness of the Law will live by it. But the righteousness resulting from faith speaks in this manner: ‘Do not say in your heart, “Who will ascend into heaven?” that is, to bring Christ down; or, “Who will descend into the abyss?” that is, to bring Christ up from the dead.’ But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your own mouth and in your own heart’; that is, the ‘word’ of faith, which we are preaching. For if you publicly declare that ‘word in your own 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.”—Rom. 10:5-10.
25. (a) How near did Paul make that “word” to the Gentiles, and how did the Lord Jesus specially make that information possible for us to have? (b) Now that the “word” was so near, what was the question with regard to those seeking salvation?
25 Especially by means of the apostle Paul, who was, “in reality, an apostle to the nations,” and by his fellow missionaries, the “word” about God and his Christ was brought near to the people of the Gentile nations, so that they could repeat it with their mouths and entertain it appreciatively in their hearts. Also, Jesus Christ had made this information possible for them by coming down from heaven to bear witness concerning God and his purpose; and he had also been raised up from the dead by Almighty God in order that he might be a living testimony to the outworking and realization of God’s purpose. It was also unmistakably proved thereby that he was the “Lord,” the Chief Agent of Jehovah’s divine rulership. So the lifesaving “word” was there, where these Gentiles could get it, as near to them as in their mouths and hearts. But the question was, What were they going to do with it? If they wanted everlasting salvation, there was only one thing for them to do about it. Also, what they were to do with it for salvation was commanded upon them by God himself. Remember that Moses was inspired to call that “word” a “commandment that I am commanding you today.” (Deut. 30:11-14) To get saved, we must obey.
26, 27. (a) What “word” is it that God commands us to accept in faith? (b) What did Jesus tell the Jews was the “work of God” about which they asked, and how did Paul say to the Greeks on the Areopagus, Athens, that this is the “work” that God commands?
26 Yes, Jehovah God, who sets all the terms for salvation, commands that we accept in faith the word, namely, that Jesus Christ is Lord and that God raised him up from the dead. This is exactly what Jesus told the Jews in answer to their question: “What shall we do to work the works of God?” Jesus said: “This is the work of God, that you exercise faith in him whom that One sent forth.” (John 6:28, 29) This applies to the non-Jews or uncircumcised Gentiles also. There is therefore no other course left but for the informed Gentiles to dedicate themselves to God to do the will of God, to work the work of God. They must turn away from the false idolatrous gods to which they had till then been dedicated. This is in alignment with what the apostle Paul told the pagan Greeks gathered upon the Areopagus, Athens:
27 “True, God has overlooked the times of such ignorance, yet now he is telling [calls upon, AT; charging, Ro; commands, RS] mankind that they should all everywhere repent. Because he has set a day in which he purposes to judge the inhabited earth in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and he has furnished a guarantee to all men in that he has resurrected him from the dead.”—Acts 17:30, 31.
“PUBLIC DECLARATION FOR SALVATION”
28. (a) What are we commanded to do by means of the heart? (b) What is the “word” that we are to accept by faith? (c) How do we cultivate such faith in our hearts, so that we do what?
28 In harmony with our dedication to Jehovah God to do his will by keeping his commandments, we must obediently do as commanded: “exercise faith in your heart.” We know that the heart is that from which affection or love springs and that it has power to move its possessor. With it we feel appreciation. So with the heart we must “exercise faith” in what? In that “word” that Jehovah God has brought near to us by means of Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul says that this “word” is, to quote him, “the ‘word’ of faith, which we are preaching.” The acceptance of that “word” preached by the apostle Paul calls for the exercise of faith, and we must do this with the heart. We must fix our hearts upon that “word” preached. In our hearts we must develop a love for that “word.” With our hearts we must build up a sincere appreciation of that “word.” This condition of the heart will move or motivate us to put faith in that word and accept it and act upon it.
29. Regarding what must we exercise faith in our hearts, and so to whom is our main action directed for salvation?
29 Regarding what is it required to “exercise faith in [our] heart”? Regarding this: “that God raised him up from the dead.” Ah, here we see that it is not just “believe on the Lord Jesus” in order to get saved. (Acts 16:31) First of all, we must exercise faith in God. It still remains true, as Paul reminds us, that “everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.” (Rom. 10:13) It is Jehovah whom we must love with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. He is the Almighty One who raised up Jesus Christ from the dead to life immortal. Jehovah is therefore the one to whom our main action is directed. It is to him that we must make the dedication of ourselves to do His will, to keep His commandments.—Rom. 10:8, 9.
30. (a) With our hearts, what must we believe that God did regarding Jesus Christ? (b) Thus in what sense did God make a substantial “word” available for us?
30 So our dedicated hearts, full of love and appreciation, must move us to exercise faith that Jehovah God performed the astounding miracle of raising up the impaled Jesus Christ from the dead. In that way God made it possible for Jesus Christ to ascend to the divine presence in heaven and there present the value of his atoning sacrifice for the benefit of all mankind, thus purchasing them all. By dying sacrificially, Jesus Christ went down into the “abyss,” but Jehovah’s spirit or active force descended into that “abyss” in order “to bring Christ up from the dead.” Thus by means of a living Christ, the Almighty God Jehovah could cause the “word” to be available for us, he could give content or substance to that “word,” he could make that “word” contain a life-giving message for us. All things considered, then, Jehovah is the main one toward whom we should take action by dedicating ourselves to him. But this we must do through his Chief Agent, Jesus Christ.—Rom. 10:6, 7; Heb. 2:9, 10; 5:8, 9.
31. So upon whom name must we call for salvation, but why must our mouths also make a confession regarding Jesus Christ?
31 Inevitably it follows that we must call “on the name of Jehovah” to be saved. (Rom. 10:13; Acts 2:21; Joel 2:32) This calls for the mouth, as motivated by the heart, to do something. With the mouth we are obliged to call upon the name of Jehovah. But now, since God brought up Christ from the dead, we cannot do this calling apart from Jesus Christ. With our mouths we must also make a confession regarding Jesus Christ. That is why the apostle Paul, when discussing the “word” of faith that he was preaching, goes on to say: “For if you publicly declare that ‘word in your own 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.”—Rom. 10:9, 10.
32. (a) This making of public declaration with our mouths is spoken of as what in other Bible translations? (b) When is it that this oral confession is made for salvation?
32 When is it that “with the mouth one makes public declaration for salvation”? This is and must be before the dedicated believer gets baptized “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit.” (Matt. 28:19, 20; Acts 16:31-33; 17:33; 19:1-7) This public declaration is a confession, as the Kingdom Interlinear Translation and other Bible translations show. (RS; Mo; Je; AS) Byington’s translation and An American Translation render it as an “acknowledgment.” This confession or acknowledgment is what we as now dedicated believers orally make to or before the Christian minister who presides over the baptism in water. Of course, we continue making this confession thereafter in our congregational meetings. (Heb. 10:23) Also, before governmental or judicial authorities who may demand an explanation of our Christian hope. (1 Pet. 3:15) Also, in our public house-to-house preaching and in our making return visits to the private homes of people whom we have found to be interested. But, of necessity, this confession begins before baptism. Mere oral witnessing as an undedicated person before baptism does not save.
33. What does confession mean, and what is it that we must confess before others for salvation?
33 Of course, a confession means a declaring, disclosing, admitting or acknowledging of something to another or to others. So, now, what is it that we must declare, or acknowledge, by word of mouth to others? It is the “word,” of course. Paul says: “If you publicly declare that ‘word in your own mouth,’ that Jesus is Lord, . . . you will be saved.” (Rom. 10:9) Hence we cannot leave Jesus Christ out of God’s purposes and arrangements, for Jesus is “the Chief Agent of their salvation.” (Heb. 2:10) We must orally declare, confess, admit, acknowledge that Jesus is, not only King David’s “Lord,” but also our personal “Lord.” (Ps. 110:1; Acts 2:34-46) We must make this declaration before others according to the “word” that was inspired by God’s spirit.
34. According to 1 Corinthians 12:2, 3, under the leading of what do we confess that Jesus is Lord, and how long do we hold fast to the confession for salvation?
34 This is why the apostle Paul said: “Therefore I would have you [former devotees of idols] know that nobody when speaking by God’s spirit says: ‘Jesus is accursed!’ and nobody can say: ‘Jesus is Lord!’ except by holy spirit.” (1 Cor. 12:2, 3) God’s spirit in us guides us to make the right confession, acknowledgment or declaration to others, namely, that Jesus is “Lord” by God’s appointment. God raised Jesus from the dead that he might be a living Lord. God seated the resurrected Jesus at his own right hand and made him “Lord” higher than all other creation. If we desire eternal salvation, we are bound to hold fast to the public declaration, confession, acknowledgment that we made before our water baptism, namely, that Jesus Christ is the Lord whom Jehovah God has appointed over us and whom we lovingly accept.
35. What did Jesus tell his apostles must be done by one who wants to come after him?
35 Confessing with our mouth that Jesus is our Lord lays a certain obligation upon us. Jesus referred to this after rebuking Peter for trying to dissuade him from continuing on his way to death on the torture stake at Jerusalem. We read: “Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’” (Matt. 16:24, RS) Byington’s translation reads: “If anyone wishes to come after me, let him disown himself and take up his cross and follow me.” In explaining what “to deny” means, The American College Dictionary says, among other things: “4. To refuse to recognize or acknowledge; disown, disavow; repudiate.”
36. (a) When did Peter deny Jesus three times, and thereby whom was he acknowledging? (b) By disowning Jesus, to what did Peter lay claim to ownership?
36 On the night of Jesus’ betrayal by Judas Iscariot, the apostle Peter denied Jesus three times. After those who were suspicious of Peter accused him three times of being an associate of Jesus, then, as Matthew 26:74 tells us, Peter “started to curse and swear: ‘I do not know the man!’” By thus denying Jesus, Peter put himself out of the associates or followers of Jesus. By doing this, Peter did not just put him by himself away from everybody else. No, rather, he put himself with or on the side of those who did not follow Jesus, but who thought Jesus ought to be brought to trial for his life. Or, to use the other word, “disown,” Peter by disowning Jesus as his Leader and Teacher was claiming ownership to someone else as his leader and teacher. By disowning Jesus, Peter was not putting himself in a neutral position, a place that favors neither side of the issue, a place that just exists by itself and has no connection with anybody else. By disowning Jesus, Peter had to claim ownership of someone else.
37. So what does denying oneself in order to follow Jesus mean, and according to whose will is this done?
37 The same is true with what Jesus said to his disciples in Matthew 16:24. By denying oneself and taking up one’s torture stake and continuing following Jesus, one is not just saying No! to himself as respects a personal desire now and another personal desire then. He is, in fact, saying No! to himself as respects the remainder of his life course as a selfish non-follower of Jesus Christ. By denying himself he turns his back on that self-seeking, materialistic course of life and becomes a follower of Jesus, carrying a torture stake of death the same as Jesus did. He denies himself as his own personal leader and decider and recognizes, acknowledges Jesus Christ as his Leader and Teacher. This step is taken, of course, according to God’s will.
38. What does disowning ourselves in order to follow Jesus mean, and, like him, whose slaves do we become?
38 The New World Translation renders Matthew 16:24: “If anyone wants to come after me, let him disown himself and pick up his torture stake and continually follow me.” What, then, in this case does disowning oneself mean? Certainly it means no longer laying claim to one’s own ownership of oneself. In that case, we concede or yield over the ownership of ourselves to someone else and acknowledge, recognize, that one’s ownership of us. We just do not become nobody’s. Who, then, becomes our owner because of our disowning ourselves to become a stake bearer following continually after Jesus Christ? Without question, Jesus disowned himself; which meant that he recognized, acknowledged Jehovah’s ownership of him, and himself as a slave of Jehovah. Consistently, then, when we, to become a follower of Jesus, disown ourselves, we concede, yield over, the ownership of ourselves to Jehovah, whose Christlike slave we become. We are no longer our own.
39. (a) What action, then, does this call for on the part of those who make that choice? (b) How is that symbolized, but only after the making of what confession?
39 What action, then, does this call for on the part of us who make this choice? It calls for our dedication of ourselves unreservedly to Jehovah God to do his will in imitation of his Son Jesus Christ. His will is for us to be the faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. His will is for us to declare, confess, acknowledge Jesus Christ as our “Lord” appointed by God. Jesus thus becomes our Master with authority to command us and to assign to us our duties. This dedication to Jehovah God we, of course, make after our repentance and conversion toward him. Our converted course of life we bring to its real objective by dedicating ourselves to Jehovah God through his Chief Agent Jesus Christ. This dedication we now symbolize by immersion in water. This is God’s will, which will we have dedicated ourselves to Him to do. Before our water baptism we must make a public declaration or confession with our mouths for salvation, doing this in open expression of what we believe in our hearts. Only by doing this do we enter upon the way of eternal salvation from God through Christ.
[Picture on page 696]
The “public declaration for salvation” by dedicated believers begins before baptism when they orally answer questions of the minister presiding over the baptism