Youths, Make It Your Choice to Serve Jehovah
“Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve.”—JOSHUA 24:15.
1, 2. What wrong kinds of baptism have been practiced in Christendom?
“LET [children] become Christians when they have become able to know Christ.” A writer named Tertullian penned those words at the close of the second century C.E. He was protesting infant baptism, a practice that was taking root in the apostate Christianity of his day. In disagreement with Tertullian and the Bible, Church Father Augustine claimed that baptism removes the stain of original sin and that infants who die unbaptized are damned. That belief promoted the practice of baptizing babies as quickly as possible after they were born.
2 Many mainstream churches of Christendom still baptize newborn babies. Moreover, throughout history, compulsory baptism of conquered “pagans” was practiced by rulers and religious leaders of so-called Christian nations. But infant baptism and forced baptisms of adults have no foundation in the Bible.
No Automatic Dedication Today
3, 4. What can help children of dedicated parents to make a voluntary dedication?
3 The Bible shows that God considers young children to be holy even if only one of their parents is a faithful Christian. (1 Corinthians 7:14) Does that make such children dedicated servants of Jehovah? No. However, children who are raised by parents who are dedicated to Jehovah receive training that can lead those children to make a voluntary dedication to Jehovah. Wise King Solomon wrote: “Observe, O my son, the commandment of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother. . . . When you walk about, it will lead you; when you lie down, it will stand guard over you; and when you have waked up, it itself will make you its concern. For the commandment is a lamp, and a light the law is, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life.”—Proverbs 6:20-23.
4 The guidance of Christian parents can be a protection for youngsters, provided they are willing to follow it. Solomon also stated: “A wise son is the one that makes a father rejoice, and a stupid son is the grief of his mother.” “You, O my son, hear and become wise, and lead your heart on in the way.” (Proverbs 10:1; 23:19) Yes, to benefit from parental training, you young ones must willingly accept advice, counsel, and discipline. You are not born wise, but you can “become wise” and voluntarily follow “the way of life.”
What Is Mental-Regulating?
5. What counsel did Paul give to children and to fathers?
5 The apostle Paul wrote: “Children, be obedient to your parents in union with the Lord, for this is righteous: ‘Honor your father and your mother’; which is the first command with a promise: ‘That it may go well with you and you may endure a long time on the earth.’ And you, fathers, do not be irritating your children, but go on bringing them up in the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah.”—Ephesians 6:1-4.
6, 7. What is involved in bringing up children in the “mental-regulating of Jehovah,” and why does this not mean that parents are unfairly influencing their children?
6 Are Christian parents unfairly influencing their children when they raise them in “the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah”? No. Who can criticize parents for teaching their children what they consider to be right and morally beneficial? Atheists are not criticized for teaching their children that God does not exist. Roman Catholics feel duty-bound to bring up their children in the Catholic faith, and they are rarely criticized for endeavoring to do so. Similarly, Jehovah’s Witnesses should not be accused of manipulating the minds of their children when they raise them to adopt Jehovah’s thinking on basic truths and moral principles.
7 According to the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, the original Greek word translated “mental-regulating” at Ephesians 6:4 refers to a process that “seeks to correct the mind, to put right what is wrong, to improve the spiritual attitude.” What if a young person resists parental training because of peer pressure, the desire to go along with the crowd? Who can be said to exert harmful pressure—the parents or the young person’s peers? If the latter are pressuring the youngster to take drugs, drink heavily, or engage in immoral conduct, should the parents be criticized for trying to adjust their child’s thinking and help him or her realize the consequences of such dangerous conduct?
8. What was involved in Timothy’s being “persuaded to believe”?
8 The apostle Paul wrote to the young man Timothy: “Continue in the things that you learned and were persuaded to believe, knowing from what persons you learned them and that from infancy you have known the holy writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through the faith in connection with Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:14, 15) From Timothy’s early childhood, his mother and grandmother had firmly grounded his faith in God on knowledge of the Holy Scriptures. (Acts 16:1; 2 Timothy 1:5) Later, when they became Christians, they did not force Timothy to believe but “persuaded” him by means of sound reasoning based on Scriptural knowledge.
Jehovah Invites You to Choose
9. (a) How did Jehovah dignify his creatures, and for what reason? (b) How did God’s only-begotten Son exercise his free will?
9 Jehovah could have made his creatures robots, programmed to do his will and unable to do otherwise. Instead, he dignified them with free will. Our God desires willing subjects. He takes delight in seeing his creatures, old and young, serve him out of love. The finest example of loving submission to God’s will is his only-begotten Son, of whom Jehovah stated: “This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved.” (Matthew 3:17) This firstborn Son said to his Father: “To do your will, O my God, I have delighted, and your law is within my inward parts.”—Psalm 40:8; Hebrews 10:9, 10.
10. What is the basis for serving Jehovah acceptably?
10 Jehovah expects those who serve him under the direction of his Son to show the same willing submission to His will. Prophetically, the psalmist sang: “Your people will offer themselves willingly on the day of your military force. In the splendors of holiness, from the womb of the dawn, you have your company of young men just like dewdrops.” (Psalm 110:3) Jehovah’s entire organization, both the heavenly and the earthly parts, functions on the basis of loving submission to God’s will.
11. What choice is placed before young ones raised by dedicated parents?
11 So you young ones should understand that neither your parents nor the Christian elders in the congregation are going to force you to get baptized. The desire to serve Jehovah must come from you. Joshua of old told the Israelites: “Serve [Jehovah] in faultlessness and in truth . . . Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve.” (Joshua 24:14-22) Similarly, it must be of your own accord that you choose to dedicate yourselves to Jehovah and devote your lives to doing his will.
Facing Up to Your Responsibility
12. (a) While parents can train their children, what can they not do for them? (b) When does a young person become responsible before Jehovah for the choices he makes?
12 The time comes when you young people are no longer protected by the faithfulness of your parents. (1 Corinthians 7:14) The disciple James wrote: “If one knows how to do what is right and yet does not do it, it is a sin for him.” (James 4:17) Parents cannot serve God for their children any more than children can serve God for their parents. (Ezekiel 18:20) Have you learned about Jehovah and his purposes? Are you old enough to understand what you have learned and to begin to have a personal relationship with him? Would it not then be reasonable to think that God considers you capable of deciding to serve him?
13. What questions would unbaptized adolescents do well to ask themselves?
13 Are you an unbaptized young person who is being raised by godly parents, attending Christian meetings, and even sharing in the preaching of the Kingdom good news? If so, ask yourself honestly: ‘Why am I doing this? Do I attend meetings and share in the preaching work because my parents expect me to do so or because I want to please Jehovah?’ Have you proved to yourself “the good and acceptable and perfect will of God”?—Romans 12:2.
Why Put Off Getting Baptized?
14. What Biblical examples show that baptism should not be unduly delayed?
14 “What prevents me from getting baptized?” The Ethiopian man who put that question to the evangelizer Philip had just learned that Jesus was the Messiah. But the Ethiopian had sufficient knowledge of the Scriptures to realize that he should not delay in openly testifying that from then on he would serve Jehovah as part of the Christian congregation, and that brought him much joy. (Acts 8:26-39) Similarly, a woman named Lydia, whose heart was opened “wide to pay attention to the things being spoken by Paul,” immediately “got baptized,” she and her household. (Acts 16:14, 15) Likewise, the jailer in Philippi listened to Paul and Silas as they “spoke the word of Jehovah to him,” and “he and his were baptized without delay.” (Acts 16:25-34) Therefore, if you have a basic knowledge of Jehovah and his purposes, a sincere desire to do his will, and a good reputation in the congregation and you are faithfully attending meetings and sharing in preaching the good news of the Kingdom, why would you put off getting baptized?—Matthew 28:19, 20.
15, 16. (a) What incorrect reasoning may hold some young ones back from getting baptized? (b) How can dedication and baptism serve as a protection for young ones?
15 Could it be that you hesitate to take this important step for fear of being held accountable should you fall into wrong conduct? If so, think of this: Would you refuse to apply for a driver’s license simply because you were afraid that some day you might have an accident? Of course not! Neither should you hesitate to get baptized if you qualify. Indeed, you will be strongly motivated to do your utmost to resist wrongdoing if you have dedicated your life to Jehovah and have agreed to do his will. (Philippians 4:13) Young ones, please do not imagine that by postponing baptism, you avoid accountability. When you have reached the age of responsibility, you are answerable to Jehovah for the way you act whether you are baptized or not.—Romans 14:11, 12.
16 Numerous Witnesses around the world feel that their decision to get baptized when they were young helped them greatly. Take as an example a 23-year-old Witness in Western Europe. He recalls that getting baptized at the age of 13 motivated him to be careful not to be swept away by “the desires incidental to youth.” (2 Timothy 2:22) Early on, he set his sights on serving as a full-time minister. Today, he serves happily at a branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Rich blessings await all youths, including you, who choose to serve Jehovah.
17. In what areas is it necessary to go on perceiving what “the will of Jehovah” is?
17 Dedication and baptism mark the beginning of a life wherein we take Jehovah’s will into account in every sphere of activity. Fulfilling our dedication involves ‘buying out time.’ How do we do that? By taking time that we would otherwise spend in futile pursuits and devoting it to serious Bible study, regular meeting attendance, and the fullest possible share in preaching the “good news of the kingdom.” (Ephesians 5:15, 16; Matthew 24:14) Our dedication to Jehovah and our desire to do his will affect for the good all aspects of our lives, including the way we relax, our eating and drinking habits, and the kind of music we listen to. Why not choose the type of relaxation that you will be able to enjoy throughout eternity? Many thousands of happy young Witnesses will tell you that there are many healthy ways of having fun while staying within the bounds of “the will of Jehovah.”—Ephesians 5:17-19.
“We Will Go With You”
18. What question should young ones ask themselves?
18 From 1513 B.C.E. to Pentecost 33 C.E., Jehovah had on earth an organized people whom he had chosen to practice his worship and be his witnesses. (Isaiah 43:12) Young Israelites were born into that nation. Since Pentecost, Jehovah has a new “nation” on earth, spiritual Israel, “a people for his name.” (1 Peter 2:9, 10; Acts 15:14; Galatians 6:16) The apostle Paul states that Christ has cleansed for himself “a people peculiarly his own, zealous for fine works.” (Titus 2:14) You young people are free to determine for yourselves where that people is to be found. Who today make up “the righteous nation that is keeping faithful conduct,” living in harmony with Bible principles, acting as faithful Witnesses for Jehovah, and proclaiming his Kingdom as the only hope for humanity? (Isaiah 26:2-4) Look at the churches of Christendom and other religions, and compare their conduct with what the Bible requires of the true servants of God.
19. Of what have millions of people throughout the earth become convinced?
19 Millions of people throughout the world, including many young ones, have become convinced that the anointed remnant of Jehovah’s Witnesses constitute that “righteous nation.” They say to these spiritual Israelites: “We will go with you people, for we have heard that God is with you people.” (Zechariah 8:23) We truly hope and pray that you young ones will decide to take your place among God’s people and thus “choose life”—life everlasting in Jehovah’s new world.—Deuteronomy 30:15-20; 2 Peter 3:11-13.
By Way of Review
• What is involved in mental-regulating?
• What kind of service is acceptable to Jehovah?
• What choice is placed before all young ones raised by dedicated parents?
• Why should baptism not be unduly postponed?
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To whom will you listen?
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How can dedication and baptism serve as a protection for you?
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What prevents you from getting baptized?