‘Should I Get Baptized?’
OF ALL the decisions that we are called upon to make in life, perhaps not one is more important than this: ‘Should I get baptized?’ Why is that so important? Because our decision with regard to this question has a direct bearing not only on our course of life now but also on our eternal welfare.
Are you faced with this decision? Perhaps you have been studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses for some time. Or your parents may have been teaching you the Scriptures from infancy. Now you have reached the point where you must make up your mind about what you should do. In order for you to make the right decision, you will need to understand what baptism involves and who should get baptized.
What Baptism Involves
Somewhat like a wedding, baptism is a ceremony that solemnizes a relationship. In the case of a wedding, the man and the woman involved have already developed a close relationship. The wedding ceremony merely makes public what has been agreed upon in private, namely, that the two of them are now entering into the actual marriage union. It also opens up privileges to be enjoyed by the couple and brings responsibilities that they must live up to in their life together.
The situation is quite similar with baptism. As we study the Bible, we learn of the loving things Jehovah has done for us. He has given us not only our life and everything we need to sustain it but also his only begotten Son to open up the way for sinful mankind to come into a relationship with Him and to gain eternal life on a paradise earth. When we think about all of this, are we not moved to action?
What can we do? God’s Son, Jesus Christ, tells us: “If anyone wants to come after me, let him disown himself and pick up his torture stake and continually follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) Yes, we can become disciples of Jesus Christ, following his example in serving the interests of his Father, Jehovah. To do so, however, requires our ‘disowning’ ourselves, that is, voluntarily resolving to put God’s will ahead of our own; this involves offering, or dedicating, our life to the doing of his will. To make known this voluntary and private decision, a public ceremony is held. Water baptism is that ceremony to symbolize publicly our dedication to God.
Who Should Be Baptized?
Jesus Christ instructed his followers to ‘go 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 he had commanded them.’ (Matthew 28:19, 20) Clearly, a degree of maturity of mind and heart is required of those who are to be baptized. Through their personal study of the Word of God, they have come to appreciate the need to ‘repent and turn around’ from their former course of life. (Acts 3:19) Then, they have seen the need to take up the evangelizing work done by Jesus Christ, becoming his disciples. All of this has taken place before the step of baptism.
Have you come to this stage in your spiritual development? Do you desire to serve God? If so, consider prayerfully the Bible account of the Ethiopian eunuch, as recorded in Acts chapter 8. When the prophecies about Jesus the Messiah were explained to this man, he searched his mind and heart and then asked: “What prevents me from getting baptized?” Apparently there was nothing preventing him; so he was baptized.—Acts 8:26-38.
Today many are asking the same question: “What prevents me from getting baptized?” As a result, 300,945 newly dedicated ones were baptized in 1991. This brought great joy to all of Jehovah’s people, and the elders in the congregations are happy to assist other righthearted ones to progress and meet the qualifications for baptism.
It may be, however, that the elders in your congregation suggest that you wait. Or, if you are a youth, your parents may direct you to wait. What then? Do not be discouraged. Bear in mind that entering into a personal relationship with the Most High is a very serious matter. High standards must be met and maintained. So listen to the suggestions offered and apply them wholeheartedly. If you do not fully understand the reasons given, do not be shy, but ask questions until you really do understand what preparation you need to make.
On the other hand, some people may hesitate to take the big step, as they call it. Are you one of them? Of course, there may be definite reasons why you must put off dedication and baptism. But if you are qualified and still are holding back, it is good to ask yourself: “What prevents me from getting baptized?” Prayerfully analyze your situation and see if there really is a valid reason for you to put off responding to Jehovah’s invitation to enter into a personal relationship with him.
‘I Am Still Young’
If you are a young person, you might be thinking, ‘I am still young.’ It is true that as long as young people remain obedient and responsive to their Christian parents and apply the Scriptures to the best of their ability, they can have confidence that Jehovah views them as “holy.” In fact, the Bible tells us that divine approval of righteous parents extends to dependent children. (1 Corinthians 7:14) However, no age limit is given in the Bible as to when this dependency period ends. Therefore, it is important for Christian youths to consider seriously the question: ‘Should I get baptized?’
The Bible encourages youths to ‘remember their Grand Creator in the days of their young manhood.’ (Ecclesiastes 12:1) In this regard, we have the example of young Samuel, who “was ministering before Jehovah, as a boy.” There is also the example of Timothy, who from infancy took to heart the truth his mother and his grandmother taught him.—1 Samuel 2:18; 2 Timothy 1:5; 3:14, 15.
Likewise today, many young ones have dedicated their lives to serve Jehovah. Akifusa, a 15-year-old, said that a part on the Service Meeting helped him to make his decision to get baptized. Ayumi got baptized when she was ten years old. She wanted to serve Jehovah because she really came to love him. Now she is 13 and just had the experience of seeing her Bible student, who has also come to love Jehovah, get baptized at the age of 12. Ayumi’s younger brother Hikaru was also baptized at the age of ten. “Some said I was too young,” he recalls, “but Jehovah knew how I felt. I was determined to get baptized once I decided to dedicate my life to serve him with all I had.”
Parental example is also a factor, as can be seen from the experience of one young sister. Her father prohibited her mother from studying the Bible with her and her brother and sister. He would beat them and burn their books. But because of the mother’s endurance and faith, the children could see the importance of serving Jehovah God. This young girl was baptized at age 13, and her younger brother and sister have followed her example.
‘I Am Too Old’
The psalmist said: “You old men together with boys . . . praise the name of Jehovah.” (Psalm 148:12, 13) Yes, older ones must also recognize the need of taking their stand on Jehovah’s side. Some older people, however, tend to avoid making changes. They feel that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Yet, recall that faithful Abraham was 75 years old when Jehovah told him: “Go out from your land and from your relatives and come on into the land I shall show you.” (Acts 7:3; Genesis 12:1, 4) Moses was 80 when Jehovah commissioned him: “Bring my people . . . out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3:10) These men and others all were well established in their way of life when asked by Jehovah to demonstrate their love and dedication to him. They did not hesitate to respond to Jehovah’s call.
What about today? Shizumu had been a Buddhist for 78 years when he began a study of the Bible. His family opposed him, not even allowing him to study in his own home. After only one year, he saw the need to dedicate himself to Jehovah, and he got baptized. Why did he make the change? He said: “For many years I had been fooled by false religion, and I wanted to continue receiving the truth from Jehovah forever.”
‘That Is Now Saving You’
Time is running out. Lives, including yours, are at stake. It is urgent that you consider seriously the matter of dedication to Jehovah and symbolizing it by water baptism. The apostle Peter emphasized this by saying: “That . . . is also now saving you, namely, baptism.” He further explained that baptism is “not the putting away of the filth of the flesh” (a person would already have done that before being qualified for baptism) “but the request made to God for a good conscience.”—1 Peter 3:21.
Having measured up to Jehovah’s requirements, the baptized disciple comes into possession of a good conscience. By continuing to do his best in serving Jehovah, he enjoys peace of mind and contentment. (James 1:25) Above all, he can confidently look forward to endless blessings from Jehovah in the new system to come. May that be your portion as you respond positively to the question: ‘Should I get baptized?’
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As a boy, Samuel ministered before Jehovah
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Moses was 80 when he was commissioned by Jehovah
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Today both young and old who get baptized can look forward to endless blessings in God’s new system