“Baptism . . . is also now saving you.”—1 PET. 3:21.
SONG 28 Gaining Jehovah’s Friendship
1. What should a person do before starting to build a house?
IMAGINE that a person decides to build a house. He knows what kind of house he wants to build. Should he immediately go out and buy some supplies and start building? No. Before he begins, there is something important that he ought to do—calculate how much the house will cost. Why? Because he needs to know whether he has enough money to finish the house. If he carefully calculates the cost in advance, he is more likely to be successful in completing his new house.
2. According to Luke 14:27-30, what should you think carefully about before getting baptized?
2 Has your love and appreciation for Jehovah moved you to think about getting baptized? If so, you are facing a decision similar to that of the man who wants to build a house. Why can we say that? Consider Jesus’ words found at Luke 14:27-30. (Read.) Jesus was discussing what it means to be his disciple. To be his follower, we must be willing to accept “the expense” involved—the challenges and the sacrifices. (Luke 9:23-26; 12:51-53) So before you get baptized, you need to think carefully about all that is involved. Then you will be better prepared to keep serving God faithfully as a baptized Christian.
3. What will we discuss in this article?
3 Is becoming a baptized disciple of Christ worth the expense? Of course it is! Baptism opens the door to countless blessings—now and in the future. Let us discuss some important questions about baptism. Doing so will help you to answer the question, “Am I ready to get baptized?”
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT DEDICATION AND BAPTISM
4. (a) What is dedication? (b) What does it mean to “disown” oneself, as mentioned at Matthew 16:24?
4 What is dedication? Before you can get baptized, you must make a dedication. When you make a dedication, you approach Jehovah in earnest prayer and tell him that you will use your life to serve him forever. When you dedicate yourself to God, you “disown” yourself. (Read Matthew 16:24.) You now belong to Jehovah, which is a great privilege. (Rom. 14:8) You are telling him that from now on, you will be focused on serving him and not on pleasing yourself. Your dedication is a vow—a solemn promise made to God. Jehovah does not force us to make such a vow. But when we do, he expects us to fulfill it.—Ps. 116:12, 14.
5. How is dedication related to baptism?
5 How is dedication related to baptism? Your dedication is personal and private; it is between you and Jehovah. Baptism is public; it takes place in front of others, usually at an assembly or a convention. When you get baptized, you show others that you have already dedicated yourself to Jehovah.b So your baptism lets others know that you love Jehovah your God with your whole heart, soul, mind, and strength and that you are determined to serve him forever.—Mark 12:30.
6-7. According to 1 Peter 3:18-22, what are two reasons why baptism is necessary?
6 Is it really necessary to get baptized? Consider the words found at 1 Peter 3:18-22. (Read.) Just as the ark was visible proof of Noah’s faith, your baptism is discernible evidence of your dedication to Jehovah. But is baptism really necessary? Yes it is. Peter commented on the reason why. First, it is “saving you.” Baptism can save us if we have taken the necessary steps to show that we have faith in Jesus and believe that he died for us, was raised to heaven, and is now “at God’s right hand.”
7 Second, baptism leads to “a good conscience.” When we dedicate ourselves to God and get baptized, we enter into a special relationship with him. Because of our sincere repentance and our faith in the ransom, God forgives our sins. We can thus have a good conscience before him.
8. What should be the basis for your decision to get baptized?
8 What should be the basis for your decision to get baptized? As a result of your careful study of the Bible, you have learned much about Jehovah—his personality and his ways. What you have learned about him has warmed your heart and moved you to love him very much. Your love for Jehovah must be the primary basis for your decision to get baptized.
9. What does it mean to get baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, as stated at Matthew 28:19, 20?
9 Your decision to get baptized is also based on the Bible truths you have accepted. Consider what Jesus said when he gave the commission to make disciples. (Read Matthew 28:19, 20.) According to Jesus, those who get baptized must do so “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit.” What did this mean? You must believe with all your heart the Bible truths about Jehovah; his Son, Jesus; and the holy spirit. These truths are very powerful and can deeply touch your heart. (Heb. 4:12) Let us review some of them.
10-11. What truths about the Father have you learned and accepted?
10 Think back to when you learned these truths about the Father: His “name is Jehovah,” he is “the Most High over all the earth,” and he alone is “the true God.” (Ps. 83:18; Isa. 37:16) He is our Creator, and “salvation belongs to Jehovah.” (Ps. 3:8; 36:9) He has made provision to save us from sin and death and has given us the prospect of everlasting life. (John 17:3) Your dedication and baptism will identify you as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. (Isa. 43:10-12) You will be part of a worldwide family of worshippers who are proud to be called by God’s name and make it known to others.—Ps. 86:12.
11 What a privilege it is to understand what the Bible teaches about the Father! When you accept these precious truths, your heart moves you to dedicate yourself to Jehovah and get baptized.
12-13. What truths about the Son have you learned and accepted?
12 What was your reaction when you learned the following truths about the Son? Jesus is the second most important person in the universe. He is our Ransomer. He willingly gave his life for us. When we show by our actions that we have faith in the ransom, we can have our sins forgiven, develop a friendship with God, and gain everlasting life. (John 3:16) Jesus is our High Priest. He wants to help us to benefit from the ransom and to have a close relationship with God. (Heb. 4:15; 7:24, 25) As King of God’s Kingdom, he is the one through whom Jehovah will sanctify His name, end wickedness, and bring eternal blessings in the coming Paradise. (Matt. 6:9, 10; Rev. 11:15) Jesus is our model. (1 Pet. 2:21) He set an example for us in devoting his life to doing God’s will.—John 4:34.
13 When you accept what the Bible teaches about Jesus, you come to love God’s dear Son. That love moves you to use your life to do God’s will, as Jesus did. As a result, you feel impelled to dedicate yourself to Jehovah and get baptized.
14-15. What truths about the holy spirit have you learned and accepted?
14 What did you think when you learned the following truths about the holy spirit? It is, not a person, but God’s active force. Jehovah used the holy spirit to inspire the writing of the Bible, and the spirit helps us to understand and apply what we read in it. (John 14:26; 2 Pet. 1:21) By means of his spirit, Jehovah gives us “power beyond what is normal.” (2 Cor. 4:7) The spirit empowers us to preach the good news, fight temptation, deal with discouragement, and overcome trials. It helps us to display the beautiful qualities that make up “the fruitage of the spirit.” (Gal. 5:22) God freely gives his spirit to those who trust in him and sincerely ask him for it.—Luke 11:13.
15 How reassuring and comforting it is to know that Jehovah’s worshippers can rely on the holy spirit to help them in serving God! When you accept the truths you have learned about the holy spirit, you will feel moved to dedicate yourself to God and get baptized.
16. What have we learned so far in our discussion?
16 You are taking an important step when you decide to dedicate yourself to God and get baptized. As we have learned, you must be willing to accept the expense involved—the challenges and the sacrifices. But the blessings far outweigh the expense. Baptism can save you, and it leads to a good conscience before God. Your decision to get baptized must be based primarily on your love for Jehovah God. You must also believe with all your heart the truths you have learned about the Father, the Son, and the holy spirit. After considering what we have discussed so far, how would you answer the question, “Am I ready to get baptized?”
WHAT YOU NEED TO DO BEFORE BAPTISM
17. What are some of the steps leading to baptism?
17 If you feel that you are ready to get baptized, you no doubt have already taken a number of steps to build a good relationship with Jehovah.c As a result of your regular Bible study, you have come to know much about Jehovah and Jesus. You have developed faith. (Heb. 11:6) You completely trust in Jehovah’s promises found in the Bible, and you are convinced that your faith in Jesus’ sacrifice can save you from sin and death. You have repented of your sins; you feel deeply sorry for the wrongs you have committed, and you have asked Jehovah for his forgiveness. You have turned your life around; you have firmly rejected your former bad way of life and have begun living in a way that is pleasing to God. (Acts 3:19) You are eager to tell others about your faith. You qualified to become an unbaptized publisher and began preaching with the congregation. (Matt. 24:14) Jehovah is proud of you for taking these necessary steps. You have brought great joy to his heart.—Prov. 27:11.
18. What else do you need to do before you can get baptized?
18 Before you can get baptized, there are a few other things you need to do. As we learned earlier, you must dedicate yourself to God. Approach him in private, heartfelt prayer, and promise him that you will use your life to do his will. (1 Pet. 4:2) Then let the coordinator of the body of elders know that you want to get baptized. He will ask some elders to meet with you. Please do not be anxious about meeting with them. These dear brothers no doubt already know you and love you. They will review with you the basic Bible teachings that you have learned. They want to make sure that you understand those teachings and that you are aware of the importance of dedication and baptism. If they agree that you are ready, they will inform you that you can get baptized at the next assembly or convention.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED TO DO AFTER YOUR BAPTISM
19-20. What will you need to do after your baptism, and how can you do that?
19 Once you get baptized, what will you need to do?d Recall that dedication is a vow and that Jehovah expects you to keep it. So after your baptism, you have to live up to your dedication. How can you do that?
20 Stay close to your congregation. As a baptized Christian, you are now part of an “association of brothers.” (1 Pet. 2:17) Your brothers and sisters in the congregation are your spiritual family. By regularly attending the meetings, you will strengthen your bond with them. Read God’s Word and meditate on it every day. (Ps. 1:1, 2) After reading a portion of the Bible, take some time to think deeply about what you have read. Then the words will reach your heart. “Pray continually.” (Matt. 26:41) Your sincere prayers will draw you closer to Jehovah. “Keep on . . . seeking first the Kingdom.” (Matt. 6:33) You can do that by making the preaching work a priority in your life. By sharing regularly in the ministry, you will keep your faith strong, and you may help others to get on the road to everlasting life.—1 Tim. 4:16.
21. Your baptism will open the way to what?
21 The decision to dedicate yourself to Jehovah and get baptized is the most important decision you will ever make. It is true that there is expense involved. Is it worth the expense? Absolutely! Any hardships you may face in this old world are “momentary and light.” (2 Cor. 4:17) In contrast, your baptism will open the way to a more satisfying life now and “the real life” to come. (1 Tim. 6:19) By all means, think carefully and pray about your answer to the question, “Am I ready to get baptized?”
SONG 50 My Prayer of Dedication
a Are you thinking about getting baptized? If so, this article has been prepared especially with you in mind. We will discuss some key questions on this important subject. Your answers will help you to decide if you are ready to get baptized.
b See the box “Two Questions to Be Answered on the Day of Your Baptism.”
d If you have not yet completed your study of the books What Can the Bible Teach Us? and How to Remain in God’s Love, you should continue studying with a Bible teacher until you finish both books.