“What prevents me from getting baptized?”—ACTS 8:36.
SONG 50 My Prayer of Dedication
1-2. If you are not yet ready for baptism, why should you not be discouraged? (See cover picture.)
IF YOU are interested in getting baptized, you have set a wonderful goal for yourself. Are you ready to take that step right now? If you believe that you are and the elders agree, do not hesitate to follow through at the next opportunity. A rewarding life in Jehovah’s service awaits you.
2 On the other hand, have you been told that you need to make further progress before getting baptized? Or do you realize that about yourself? If so, do not be discouraged. You can make progress toward that important step, whether you are young or old.
“WHAT PREVENTS ME?”
3 Read Acts 8:36, 38. A court official from Ethiopia asked Philip the evangelizer: “What prevents me from getting baptized?” The Ethiopian man desired to get baptized, but was he truly ready for that important step?
4. How did the Ethiopian show that he was determined to keep learning?
4 The Ethiopian man “had gone to Jerusalem to worship.” (Acts 8:27) He must therefore have been a Jewish proselyte; he had converted to Judaism. No doubt he had learned about Jehovah from the sacred writings of the Hebrew Scriptures. Still, he was eager to learn more. In fact, when Philip met that official on the road, what did Philip find the man doing? Poring over a scroll of the prophet Isaiah’s writings. (Acts 8:28) That was solid spiritual food. The court official was not content simply to learn a few basics; he wanted to keep learning.
5. What did the Ethiopian do about what he learned?
5 The man was a high official under Queen Candace of Ethiopia; he “was in charge of all her treasure.” (Acts 8:27) So he must have been a busy man with many responsibilities. Yet, he took time to worship Jehovah. He was not content with learning the truth; he acted on what he learned. He therefore traveled all the way from Ethiopia in order to worship Jehovah at the temple in Jerusalem. That journey must have involved a great deal of time and expense, but the man spared no effort where Jehovah’s worship was concerned.
6-7. How did the Ethiopian’s love for Jehovah continue to grow?
6 The Ethiopian learned from Philip some vital new truths, including the identity of the Messiah. (Acts 8:34, 35) This court official was surely touched to learn what Jesus had done for him. How would he respond? He could have remained as he was, a respected Jewish proselyte. Instead, his love for Jehovah and His Son grew. He was moved to make the life-changing decision to get baptized as a follower of Jesus Christ. Seeing that the man was ready, Philip baptized him.
7 If you follow that Ethiopian’s example, you can get ready for baptism. You too will be able to say with real confidence, “What prevents me from getting baptized?” Let us consider how you can follow the same steps he took: He kept learning, he acted on what he learned, and he continued to grow in his love for God.
8. How does John 17:3 apply to you?
8 Read John 17:3. Did these words of Jesus help you decide to study the Bible? That is true for many of us. But do the same words also tell us to keep on learning? Yes. We will never stop “coming to know . . . the only true God.” (Eccl. 3:11) For all eternity, we will keep learning. The more we learn, the closer we will draw to Jehovah.—Ps. 73:28.
9. What do we need to do after gaining basic knowledge of the truth?
9 Understandably, learning about Jehovah starts with the basics. In his letter to the Hebrews, the apostle Paul referred to basic teachings as “the elementary things.” He was not belittling “the primary doctrine”; he was comparing it to the milk that nourishes a baby. (Heb. 5:12; 6:1) But he also urged all Christians to keep moving beyond those basic teachings and to learn the deeper truths of God’s Word. Have you developed a hunger for the deeper teachings of the Bible? Are you willing to keep growing, to keep learning about Jehovah and his purposes?
10. Why might some find it a challenge to study?
10 For many of us, though, it is a challenge to study. What about you? At school, did you learn to read and study effectively? Did you find study to be enjoyable and rewarding? Or did you conclude that you are not good at learning from books? If so, you are not alone. However, Jehovah can help you. He is perfect and is the best Teacher there is.
11. How does Jehovah prove to be the “Grand Instructor”?
11 Jehovah calls himself “your Grand Instructor.” (Isa. 30:20, 21) He is a patient, kind, understanding Teacher. He looks for the good in his students. (Ps. 130:3) And he never expects more of us than we can do. Remember, he designed your brain, a wonderful gift. (Ps. 139:14) We have a natural hunger to learn. Our Creator wants us to keep learning forever—and to enjoy it. So it is wise to “form a longing” for Bible truths now. (1 Pet. 2:2) Set goals that you can reach, and stick to a schedule of Bible reading and study. (Josh. 1:8) With Jehovah’s blessing, you will come to enjoy reading and learning about him more and more.
12. Why should we focus on Jesus in our personal study?
12 Regularly spend time meditating on Jesus’ life and ministry. Our following Jesus’ steps closely is the key to serving Jehovah, especially in these difficult times. (1 Pet. 2:21) Jesus spoke frankly about the challenges his followers would face. (Luke 14:27, 28) Yet, he was confident that his true followers could succeed, as he did. (John 16:33) Study details of Jesus’ life course, and set goals to imitate him in your daily life.
13. What should you keep asking Jehovah for, and why?
13 Knowledge alone is never enough. Its primary value is in how it helps you to learn more about Jehovah and to develop such qualities as love for him and faith in him. (1 Cor. 8:1-3) As you continue learning, keep asking Jehovah to help you gain more faith. (Luke 17:5) He generously answers such prayers. Genuine faith based on accurate knowledge of our God will help you take further action.—Jas. 2:26.
KEEP ACTING ON WHAT YOU LEARN
14. How did the apostle Peter highlight the importance of acting on what we learn? (See also picture.)
14 The apostle Peter highlighted how important it is for followers of Christ to keep acting on what they learn. He referred to the Bible account about Noah. Jehovah told Noah that by means of a flood, He was going to bring destruction on the wicked people of that day. Simply knowing that a flood was coming was not enough to save Noah and his family. Note that Peter referred to the time period before the Flood “while the ark was being constructed.” (1 Pet. 3:20) Yes, Noah and his family acted on what they learned from God by building an ark, a huge vessel. (Heb. 11:7) Peter then compared what Noah did to baptism, writing: “Baptism, which corresponds to this, is also now saving you.” (1 Pet. 3:21) In a sense, we might compare the work you are doing now to prepare for baptism to the work Noah and his family did for years to build the ark. What work do you need to do in order to get ready for baptism?
15. What does genuine repentance involve?
15 One of the first things we must do is sincerely repent of our sins. (Acts 2:37, 38) Genuine repentance leads to genuine change. Have you put away any practices that displease Jehovah, such as living immorally, using tobacco, or using foul or abusive language? (1 Cor. 6:9, 10; 2 Cor. 7:1; Eph. 4:29) If you have not yet done so, keep trying to make changes. Talk to the person studying the Bible with you, or ask the congregation elders for help and guidance. If you are young and are living at home, keep asking your parents for help to break any bad habits that might prevent you from getting baptized.
16. What does a good spiritual routine include?
16 It is also important to follow a good spiritual routine. That would include attending Christian meetings and participating in them. (Heb. 10:24, 25) And once you qualify to engage in the Christian ministry, make that part of your routine as well. The more you share in that lifesaving work, the more you will enjoy it. (2 Tim. 4:5) If you are young and living at home, ask yourself: ‘Do my parents need to remind me to attend the meetings or to join in the ministry? Or do I take the initiative myself?’ By taking such actions on your own, you express your faith and show your love and gratitude to Jehovah God. These are “deeds of godly devotion,” gifts you offer to Jehovah. (2 Pet. 3:11; Heb. 13:15) All gifts that we offer freely and without being pressured are pleasing to our God. (Compare 2 Corinthians 9:7.) We take such actions because we delight in offering our best to Jehovah.
KEEP GROWING IN YOUR LOVE FOR JEHOVAH
17-18. What vital quality will help you to progress toward baptism, and why? (Proverbs 3:3-6)
17 As you continue to progress toward baptism, you will face challenges. Some people may ridicule you for your new faith; they may even oppose or persecute you. (2 Tim. 3:12) As you work to overcome a bad habit, you may suffer an occasional relapse. Or you may just feel impatient and frustrated because your goal seems far away. What will help you to endure? A vital quality—love for Jehovah.
18 Your love for Jehovah is a beautiful quality, the very best you have. (Read Proverbs 3:3-6.) Strong love for God can help you to face life’s challenges successfully. The Bible often refers to Jehovah’s loyal love for his servants. This is a strong attachment that never quits, never lets go. (Ps. 100:5) You are made in God’s image. (Gen. 1:26) How can you reflect that kind of love?
19. How can you deepen your gratitude for all that Jehovah has done for you? (Galatians 2:20)
19 Start with gratitude. (1 Thess. 5:18) Each day, ask yourself, ‘How has Jehovah shown love to me?’ Then make sure to thank Jehovah in your prayers, mentioning specific things that he has done for you. See his acts of love as personal, directed to you as an individual, just as the apostle Paul came to realize this about Jehovah. (Read Galatians 2:20.) Ask yourself, ‘Do I want to show him my love in return?’ Love for Jehovah will help you to keep resisting temptations and to face challenges with success. It will move you to hold on to your spiritual routine, consistently showing your love for your Father day by day.
20. What is involved in dedicating yourself to Jehovah, and how important is this decision?
20 In time, your love for Jehovah will move you to say a special prayer. You will dedicate yourself to God. Remember, once you are dedicated to Jehovah, you have this marvelous prospect: You can belong to him for all eternity. A vow of dedication to Jehovah endures beyond life’s ups and downs. It never needs to be renewed. True, when we make a dedication, we are taking a serious step. Consider this, though: You will make many decisions in your life, some of them very good, but you will never make a better one than that of dedicating your life to Jehovah. (Ps. 50:14) Satan will try to weaken your love for your Father, hoping that you will give up your integrity. Never let Satan win! (Job 27:5) Your strong love for Jehovah will help you live up to your dedication and grow ever closer to your heavenly Father.
21. Why can we say that baptism is not the end but the beginning?
21 After you make your dedication to Jehovah, talk to the elders in your congregation about taking that next vital step. Always remember, though, that baptism is not the end but the beginning. It begins an endless life course of serving Jehovah. So strengthen your love for your Father now. Set goals so that your love can grow stronger day by day. Such a course will lead you to baptism. That will be a wonderful day. But this is just the beginning. May your love for Jehovah and for his Son keep on growing forever!
SONG 135 Jehovah’s Warm Appeal: “Be Wise, My Son”
a In order to progress toward baptism, we need to have the right motive. We also need to take the right actions. Using the example of an Ethiopian court official, we will consider what steps a Bible student needs to take in order to qualify for baptism.
b PICTURE DESCRIPTION: A young sister tells Jehovah in prayer how grateful she is for what he has provided.