How You Make Your Choice Known
HOW does a person choose that life promised by God in a paradise earth? By raising his hand, by shouting ‘Aye,’ by saying, ‘Lord, I would like to live then’? No. To a large extent, you choose that life as you choose the present one. How do you choose to live now? By a course of action, which, among other things, includes breathing, drinking, eating, sleeping and working. This is action, please note, that is not dictated or determined by you, but, rather, it is action according to the dictates of your body. Your body sets the terms, forces you to meet its requirements.
So it is in choosing life in God’s new system. It is not by your saying you would like to live then, but your choice is made by the course of action you take. And here again the action is not determined by the individual. Jehovah God gives life in that paradise earth, sets the terms for getting it, and we must meet his requirements. Refusing to do so is choosing death with this present wicked world, just as surely as refusal to breathe in response to the body’s demands would mean death to our physical organism now.
Many believe that if they do what they think is right, treating their fellowman fairly, that is sufficient. Long ago a rich young ruler was apparently doing much good, living a clean life, showing love for neighbor. But when he asked Jesus how he might gain everlasting life, he was told to unburden himself of so many material things and follow Jesus. Do all of this, Jesus said, “if you want to be perfect.”—Matt. 19:16-22; Luke 18:18-23.
Loving the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is not just an emotional feeling. “This is what the love of God means, that we observe his commandments.” (1 John 5:3) Long ago, when choosing life or death, ancient Israel was told that loving Jehovah meant obeying him. “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, 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.”—Deut. 30:19, 20.
IS HAVING A RELIGION ENOUGH?
But now someone will say: ‘I do not follow my own ideas. I belong to a recognized religious organization. I think if a person sincerely follows one of the many Christian religions he will be saved.’ Is this position correct? Let God’s Son answer. Jesus Christ said: “Not everyone saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will.” It is not enough for a man or a religion to take God’s name on the lips, or perform religious formalisms, or do charitable works. If the religion is not teaching God’s will and doing it, then it and its adherents are missing the mark, regardless of how sincere they are.—Matt. 7:21-23.
Clearly indicating that sincerity or zeal in a religious organization is not enough, Romans 10:2, 3 declares of Jewish religionists: “They have a zeal for God; but not according to accurate knowledge; for, because of not knowing the righteousness of God but seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.” However, numerous sincere Jews, including many priests and Pharisees, did abandon their formalistic religion to become Christians, subjecting themselves to the righteousness of God.—Acts 6:7; 15:5.
Numerous scriptures confirm the view that sincerity alone is not enough. “What man thinks a right course, may end upon the road to death. He who goes wrong must take the consequences.” “A fool is sure that his own way is right: sensible men will listen to advice.” “Man thinks out many a plan, but ’tis the Eternal’s purpose that prevails.” “Man’s ways are always right in his own eyes, but the Eternal has the verdict on his life.” (Prov. 14:12, 14; 12:15; 19:21; 21:2, Moffatt) Sincerity is valuable in that it makes one a candidate for God’s mercy. Saul of Tarsus (the future apostle Paul) was a persecutor of Christians, but sincerely thought he was doing God a service. He acted in ignorance, so he received mercy.—John 16:2; 1 Tim. 1:13.
THE ONE ROAD TO LIFE
Accurate knowledge is necessary, and lack of it has brought to ruin professed servants of Jehovah. “Because the knowledge is what you yourself have rejected, I shall also reject you.” It is not in man to direct himself, so Jehovah provided the Bible as a guide for us. “Your word is a lamp to my foot, and a light to my roadway.” (Hos. 4:6; Jer. 10:23; Ps. 119:105) God’s light, note, not man’s or a religious organization’s. All religions are not many roads leading to one place, salvation, as the popular saying goes. Jesus spoke of only two roads, and they lead to different places—a narrow one to life, a broad one to destruction.—Matt. 7:13, 14.
The Bible is the divine road map, but many prefer their “own religion” map. For instance, you may take their own Bible and read to them, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Yet they cling to the sectarian path that the soul is immortal. Read to them: “His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.” “The dead know not any thing.” Yet they clutch even tighter their own religion’s teaching that the dead are conscious. Read to them, “The wages of sin is death.” They continue to march unwaveringly along their creedal trail, holding that the wages of sin is eternal torment. Read to them, “The earth abideth for ever.” They still hold fast to their clergyman’s teaching that the earth is to be burned up.—Ezek. 18:4; Ps. 146:4; Eccl. 9:5; 1:4; Rom. 6:23, Authorized Version.
How, then, are we to determine the course of action to follow, the way that will show by our actions that we choose to live in Jehovah’s paradise earth? Not by what a Catholic priest says, or by what a Protestant preacher says, or by what a Jewish rabbi or some Eastern guru says. It is not by what men say, unless they back up their teaching with Bible texts. Let God speak through his Word, the Bible. “Let God be found true, though every man be found a liar.” Not all who claim to teach God’s Word do so. That was true in Jesus’ day, for he said: “They teach commands of men as doctrines.” It was true in Jeremiah’s day, for he wrote: “They have rejected the very word of Jehovah, and what wisdom do they have?” It is also true today.—Rom. 3:4; Matt. 15:9; Jer. 8:9.
THE WAY YOU CHOOSE ETERNAL LIFE
Your first act to show that you want to live in the new system of things on earth under Christ’s Kingdom rule is to study. “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.” Dedicate yourself to do God’s will and symbolize your dedication by water baptism, even as Jesus got baptized, for he is now your model to follow. (John 17:3; Matt. 3:13; 1 Pet. 2:21) Shun the works of the flesh, bear the fruitage of the spirit, as stated at Galatians 5:19-23:
“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, and they are fornication, uncleanness, loose conduct, idolatry, practice of spiritism, enmities, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, contentions, divisions, sects, envies, drunken bouts, revelries, and things like these. As to these things I am forewarning you, the same way as I did forewarn you, that those who practice such things will not inherit God’s kingdom. On the other hand, the fruitage of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
And be a praiser of Jehovah, both by how you live and by what you say. Tell others of the only hope for mankind. Do so along with others who believe as you do, in fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy: “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.” That end will be a “great tribulation” to remove this present wicked system, making way for “new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to [God’s] promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell.”—Matt. 24:14, 21; 2 Pet. 3:13.
By these actions you make known your choice for life in Jehovah’s promised paradise earth.
“Become doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves with false reasoning.”—Jas. 1:22.