Welcome to the Best Way of Life!
“Both if we live and if we die, we belong to Jehovah.”—ROM. 14:8.
1. Jesus taught what about the best way of life?
JEHOVAH wants us to enjoy the best way of life. People can live in various ways, but only one way is the best. We can do nothing better with our life than conform to God’s Word and learn from his Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus taught his followers to worship God with spirit and truth, and he commissioned them to make disciples. (Matt. 28:19, 20; John 4:24) By living in harmony with Jesus’ instructions, we please Jehovah and enjoy His blessing.
2. How did many respond to the Kingdom message in the first century, and what did it mean to belong to “The Way”?
2 When those “rightly disposed for everlasting life” become believers and get baptized, we have sound reasons to say to them, “Welcome to the best way of life!” (Acts 13:48) During the first century of our Common Era, thousands of people from different nations embraced the truth and gave public evidence of their devotion to God by being baptized. (Acts 2:41) Those early disciples belonged to “The Way.” (Acts 9:2; 19:23) This expression was fitting because those who became followers of Christ adhered to a manner of life that centered on faith in Jesus Christ and on imitating his example.—1 Pet. 2:21.
3. Why do Jehovah’s people get baptized, and how many have been immersed in the past ten years?
3 The disciple-making work has sped up in these last days and is now being done in over 230 lands. During the past ten years, more than 2,700,000 people have made the decision to serve Jehovah and be baptized in symbol of their dedication to him. That is an average of over 5,000 individuals every week! The decision to be baptized is based on love for God, knowledge of the Scriptures, and faith in what they teach. Baptism is a milestone in our life, for it marks the beginning of an intimate relationship with Jehovah. It is also a demonstration of confidence that he will help us to serve him faithfully, just as he helped his servants of old to walk in his way.—Isa. 30:21.
Why Get Baptized?
4, 5. Mention some of the blessings and benefits of getting baptized.
4 Perhaps you have taken in knowledge of God, have made changes in your life, and are now an unbaptized publisher. Such progress is commendable. But have you made a dedication to God in prayer, and are you hoping to get baptized? From your study of the Bible, you very likely now know that your life should be focused on praising Jehovah, not on merely pleasing yourself or acquiring material possessions. (Read Psalm 148:11-13; Luke 12:15) So, what are some of the blessings and benefits of getting baptized?
5 As a dedicated Christian, your life will have the highest purpose. You will be happy because you are doing the divine will. (Rom. 12:1, 2) Jehovah’s holy spirit will produce in you such godly qualities as peace and faith. (Gal. 5:22, 23) God will answer your prayers and bless your efforts to conform your life to his Word. Your ministry will be joyful, and living in the way that God approves will strengthen your hope of everlasting life. Moreover, making a dedication and getting baptized will show that you really want to be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.—Isa. 43:10-12.
6. What does our baptism make known?
6 By dedicating ourselves to God and being baptized, we make it known that we belong to Jehovah. “None of us, in fact, lives with regard to himself only, and no one dies with regard to himself only,” wrote the apostle Paul, “for both if we live, we live to Jehovah, and if we die, we die to Jehovah. Therefore both if we live and if we die, we belong to Jehovah.” (Rom. 14:7, 8) God has dignified us by giving us free will. When we firmly decide to pursue this way of life because we love God, we make his heart rejoice. (Prov. 27:11) Our baptism is both a symbol of our dedication to God and a public declaration that Jehovah is our Ruler. It shows that we have taken a stand on his side of the issue of universal sovereignty. (Acts 5:29, 32) In turn, Jehovah is on our side. (Read Psalm 118:6.) Baptism also opens the way for us to receive many other spiritual blessings now and in the future.
Blessed With a Loving Brotherhood
7-9. (a) What assurance did Jesus give to those who left all things and followed him? (b) How is Jesus’ promise recorded at Mark 10:29, 30 being fulfilled?
7 The apostle Peter said to Jesus: “Look! We have left all things and followed you; what actually will there be for us?” (Matt. 19:27) Peter wanted to know what the future held for him and for Jesus’ other disciples. To devote themselves fully to the Kingdom-preaching work, they had made important sacrifices. (Matt. 4:18-22) What assurance did Jesus give them?
8 According to Mark’s parallel account, Jesus indicated that his disciples would be part of a spiritual brotherhood. He said: “No one has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for my sake and for the sake of the good news who will not get a hundredfold now in this period of time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and fields, with persecutions, and in the coming system of things everlasting life.” (Mark 10:29, 30) First-century Christians, such as Lydia, Aquila, Priscilla, and Gaius, were among those who provided “houses” and became “brothers and sisters and mothers” to fellow believers, as Jesus had promised.—Acts 16:14, 15; 18:2-4; 3 John 1, 5-8.
9 What Jesus said is having greater fulfillment today. The “fields” his followers leave behind refer to the livelihoods that many, including missionaries, members of the Bethel family, international servants, and others, willingly give up in order to advance Kingdom interests in various lands. Many brothers and sisters have left their homes in order to simplify their life, and it gives us joy to hear their experiences showing how Jehovah has cared for them and how their service to him has made them happy. (Acts 20:35) Moreover, all baptized servants of Jehovah can enjoy the blessing of “seeking first the kingdom and [God’s] righteousness” as part of the globe-encircling Christian brotherhood.—Matt. 6:33.
Safe in “the Secret Place”
10, 11. What is “the secret place of the Most High,” and how can we gain access to it?
10 Dedication and baptism result in another rich blessing—the privilege of dwelling in “the secret place of the Most High.” (Read Psalm 91:1.) This is a figurative place of safety and security—a condition, or state, of protection from spiritual harm. It is a “secret place” because it is unknown to people who lack spiritual vision and do not trust in God. By living in harmony with our dedication and by exercising complete confidence in Jehovah, in effect we are saying to him: “You are my refuge and my stronghold, my God, in whom I will trust.” (Ps. 91:2) Jehovah God becomes our secure dwelling place. (Ps. 91:9) Who could ask for more than that?
11 Gaining access to “the secret place” of Jehovah also implies that we have been blessed with the privilege of having developed a personal relationship with him. This begins with dedication and baptism. Thereafter, we build on our relationship with God by drawing close to him through Bible study, heartfelt prayer, and full obedience. (Jas. 4:8) No one has ever been closer to Jehovah than Jesus, whose confidence in the Creator has never wavered. (John 8:29) Therefore, let us never doubt Jehovah or his desire and ability to help us fulfill our dedication vow. (Eccl. 5:4) The spiritual provisions that God has made for his people are undeniable evidence that he truly loves us and wants us to succeed in serving him.
Treasure Our Spiritual Paradise
12, 13. (a) What is the spiritual paradise? (b) How may we be able to help new ones?
12 Dedication and baptism also open the way for us to dwell in the blessed spiritual paradise. It is a unique spiritual environment shared with fellow believers, who are at peace with Jehovah God and with one another. (Ps. 29:11; Isa. 54:13) The world has nothing that can rightly be compared with our spiritual paradise. This is especially evident at international conventions, where our brothers and sisters from many nations, languages, and ethnic groups come together in an atmosphere of peace, unity, and brotherly love.
13 The spiritual paradise that we enjoy stands in stark contrast with the deplorable conditions in the world today. (Read Isaiah 65:13, 14.) By proclaiming the Kingdom message, we have the privilege of extending to others an invitation to enter the spiritual paradise. It is also a blessing to assist those who have recently become associated with the congregation and would benefit from training in the ministry. As directed by the elders, we may be blessed with the privilege of helping certain new ones, even as Aquila and Priscilla “expounded the way of God more correctly” to Apollos.—Acts 18:24-26.
Keep On Learning From Jesus
14, 15. We have what sound reasons to keep on learning from Jesus?
14 We have sound reasons to keep on learning from Jesus. In his prehuman existence, Jesus spent untold millenniums working with his Father. (Prov. 8:22, 30) He knew that the best way of life centered on serving God and bearing witness to the truth. (John 18:37) It was clear to Jesus that any other way of life would be selfish and shortsighted. He knew that he would be tested severely and put to death. (Matt. 20:18, 19; Heb. 4:15) As our Exemplar, he taught us how to be integrity keepers.
15 Shortly after Jesus was baptized, Satan tempted him to abandon the best way of life—but to no avail. (Matt. 4:1-11) This teaches us that regardless of what Satan does, we can maintain our integrity. He is likely to focus his attention on those approaching baptism as well as on newly baptized ones. (1 Pet. 5:8) Opposition may come from well-intentioned but misinformed family members. Yet, such tests afford us opportunities to manifest fine Christian qualities, such as respect and tact, when we answer questions and give a witness. (1 Pet. 3:15) These experiences can therefore have a positive effect on those who listen to us.—1 Tim. 4:16.
Stick to the Best Way of Life!
16, 17. (a) What three basic requirements for life are found at Deuteronomy 30:19, 20? (b) How did Jesus, John, and Paul support what Moses wrote?
16 Some 1,500 years before Jesus walked the earth, Moses exhorted the Israelites to choose the best way of life then possible. He said: “I do take the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you today, that 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.” (Deut. 30:19, 20) Israel proved unfaithful to God, but the three basic requirements for life cited by Moses have not changed. They were restated by Jesus and others.
17 First, ‘we must love Jehovah our God.’ We demonstrate that we love God by acting in accord with his righteous ways. (Matt. 22:37) Second, ‘we must listen to Jehovah’s voice’ by studying God’s Word and obeying his commandments. (1 John 5:3) This calls for our regular presence at Christian meetings, where the Bible is discussed. (Heb. 10:23-25) Third, ‘we must stick to Jehovah.’ Regardless of what we must face, let us always exercise faith in God and follow his Son.—2 Cor. 4:16-18.
18. (a) How did The Watch Tower describe the truth back in 1914? (b) How should we feel about the light of truth today?
18 What a blessing it is to live in harmony with Bible truth! In 1914, this significant statement was published in The Watch Tower: “Are we not a blessed, happy people? Is not our God faithful? If any one knows anything better, let him take it. If any of you ever find anything better, we hope you will tell us. We know of nothing better nor half as good as what we have found in the Word of God. . . . No tongue or pen can tell the peace, the joy and the blessing which a clear knowledge of the true God has brought into our heart and life. The Story of God’s Wisdom, Justice, Power and Love fully satisfies the cravings of both our head and our heart. We are seeking no further. There is nothing more to be desired than to get this wonderful Story more clearly before our mind.” (The Watch Tower, December 15, 1914, pages 377-378) Our gratitude for spiritual light and truth is unchanged. Indeed, we now have even greater reason to rejoice that we “walk in the light of Jehovah.”—Isa. 2:5; Ps. 43:3; Prov. 4:18.
19. Why should those who qualify for baptism take that step without delay?
19 If you want to “walk in the light of Jehovah” but are not yet a dedicated, baptized Christian, do not delay. Do whatever is needed to meet the Biblical requirements for baptism—the unique way to demonstrate gratitude for what God and Christ have done for us. Give Jehovah your most valuable physical possession—your life. Show that you intend to do God’s will by following his Son. (2 Cor. 5:14, 15) Without question, that is the best way of life!
How Would You Respond?
• What does our baptism symbolize?
• Dedication to God and baptism result in what blessings?
• Why is learning from Jesus so important?
• What will help us to stick to the best way of life?
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Your baptism shows that you have chosen the best way of life
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Are you safe in “the secret place”?