Subjecting Ourselves to Jehovah by Dedication
“WE KNOW we originate with God, but the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” With that statement the apostle John establishes an unwelcome truth for most people, namely, that the whole world lies in the power of “the evil one,” Satan. However, Satan “does not fasten his hold” on those who originate with the true God, Jehovah. Thus the whole human family must find itself either under Satan’s rule or under Jehovah’s rule. It is a matter of personal choice. To whom will you submit yourself? To Satan or to Jehovah?—1 John 5:18-20; New International Version; Today’s English Version.
Now more than ever is the time for each one to choose. (Luke 21:31, 32) Jesus showed that there can be no in-between position, or sitting on the fence. He stated, “He that is not on my side is against me, and he that does not gather with me scatters.” (Matthew 12:30) How can we be sure that we are gathering with Christ? So many divided and diverse religions claim to be Christian, to be “saved” and “born again,” that these very terms have been cheapened. (Matthew 19:16-26; John 3:3; 10:9) The guideline is: Do we believe and proclaim what Jesus believed and proclaimed? As a Jew, he certainly did not try to glorify himself by teaching a mystifying Trinity doctrine. (John 14:28; 17:1-5) But he did proclaim a clear message, that of God’s Kingdom. Conscious of his commission, Jesus said: “Also to other cities I must declare the good news of the kingdom of God, because for this I was sent forth.”—Luke 4:43.
“Let It Be, This Time”
Before Jesus started his public ministry of announcing God’s Kingdom, he took a vital step that serves as an example for all those who, like him, would subject themselves to his Father. Matthew’s account tells us: “Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, in order to be baptized by him.” When John protested that he was the one who should be baptized, Jesus’ reply was: “Let it be, this time, for in that way it is suitable for us to carry out all that is righteous.”—Matthew 3:13-15.
Having set the example in “all that is righteous” by immersion in the Jordan, Jesus could later give the command to his 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.” (Matthew 28:19, 20) Among other things, this step of baptism would serve to identify those who have opted for submission to the true God, Jehovah, in place of submission to Satan. During the past service year (September 1983–August 1984) nearly 180,000 people worldwide indicated their choice by water baptism. They showed that they prefer Jehovah’s sovereignty to that of Satan.—Proverbs 27:11.
Decision Based on Knowledge
Likewise this year many thousands are contemplating the step of baptism during the “Integrity Keepers” Convention that will be held in many locations worldwide. Before reaching this point of baptism, all candidates have carefully reviewed with congregation elders the Bible’s principal doctrines and guidelines for Christian conduct to make sure they really qualify for baptism. Thus the decision to be baptized is by no means a sudden emotional reaction. Rather, each one has ‘proved for himself the good and acceptable and perfect will of God’ and wishes to submit to that will.—Romans 12:2.
At the close of the convention baptism talk, the baptism candidates will be in position to answer with depth of understanding and heartfelt appreciation two simple questions that serve to confirm that they recognize the implications of following Christ’s example. The first question is:
On the basis of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, have you repented of your sins and dedicated yourself to Jehovah to do his will?
The second is:
Do you understand that your dedication and baptism identify you as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in association with God’s spirit-directed organization?
Having answered yes to these questions, candidates are in a right heart condition to undergo Christian baptism.
Sometimes questions are raised about proper dress for those being baptized. Certainly modesty should prevail in the type of bathing suit used. This is important today when fashion designers seem to want to flaunt sexuality and achieve almost total nudity. Another factor to take into account is that some suits that appear modest when dry are less than that when wet. No one getting baptized would want to be a cause for distraction or stumbling at an event as serious as baptism.—Philippians 1:10.
In the past, some have gone to extremes in giving costly gifts and holding large parties for newly baptized persons. Baptism is an occasion for great joy that can be shared, but perhaps a word of caution is appropriate here. The Bible states: “Better is the end afterward of a matter than its beginning.” (Ecclesiastes 7:8) Baptism is a beginning—the beginning of the Christian race for salvation to life. Certainly no lengthy record of faithful service has yet been established. So why cause the newly converted ones to feel unduly self-important?—Compare 1 Timothy 3:6.
What does the Bible record say took place after three thousand were baptized at Pentecost 33 C.E.? “They continued devoting themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to sharing with one another, to taking of meals and to prayers.” They concentrated on spiritual things and shared hospitality with one another. (Acts 2:41, 42) Baptism is a time for meditation and sober thought. We are joyful to see our Bible students take this essential step. And our decorum at the baptism site should indicate to onlookers that a vital decision has been made—to submit to God as the Sovereign Lord and, as a witness for Jehovah, to be no part of the world that lies “in the power of the wicked one.”—1 John 5:19; Matthew 4:10.
[Blurb on page 30]
Since June 1984, a total of 808 “Kingdom Increase” Conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses have been held around the earth. The overall attendance reported was 5,002,684. Of these 63,556 were baptized.