“To do your will, O my God, is my delight.”—PSALM 40:8.
1, 2. (a) Explain why baptism is a serious step. (b) What should a person be sure of before getting baptized, and why?
ARE you a young person who would like to get baptized? If so, this is the greatest honor that you could ever have. As mentioned in the last article, baptism is a serious decision. It shows others that you have dedicated yourself to Jehovah, that is, you have promised him that you will serve him forever and that doing his will is the most important thing in your life. Because this is such a serious promise to God, you should get baptized only when you are mature enough, you have a personal desire to do so, and you understand what it means to be dedicated to God.
2 However, maybe you do not feel that you are ready for baptism. Or maybe you feel that you are ready but your parents think that you should wait until you are older and have more experience in life. What should you do? Do not be discouraged. Instead, use this time to make progress so that soon you can qualify to get baptized. With that in mind, you can set goals in three different areas: (1) your convictions, or beliefs, (2) your actions, and (3) your gratitude.
3, 4. What lesson can young ones learn from the example of Timothy?
3 Think about how you would answer these questions: Why do I believe that God exists? Why am I sure that the Bible comes from God? Why do I obey God’s commands rather than imitate the world’s moral standards? Those questions can help you to follow the apostle Paul’s counsel: “Prove to yourselves the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2) Why should you do that?
Timothy accepted the truth because he reasoned on what he had learned and was persuaded
4 The example of Timothy can help you. He knew the Scriptures well because his mother and grandmother had taught him from the Scriptures. However, Paul told Timothy: “Continue in the things that you learned and were persuaded to believe.” (2 Timothy 3:14, 15) Here, the word “persuaded” means “to be convinced and certain of the truth of something.” So Timothy had to be convinced that the truth could be found in the Scriptures. He accepted it, not because his mother and grandmother told him to do so, but because he reasoned on what he had learned and was persuaded.—Read Romans 12:1.
5, 6. Why is it important for you to learn to use the “power of reason” early in life?
5 What about you? Maybe you have known the truth for a long time. If so, make it your goal to think about the reasons for your beliefs. That will help you to strengthen your faith and to avoid making wrong decisions because of peer pressure, the world’s thinking, or even your own feelings.
6 If you learn to use your “power of reason” while you are still young, you will be able to answer questions from your peers such as: ‘How do you know for sure that there is a God? If God loves us, why does he allow bad things to happen? How is it possible that God has always existed?’ When you are prepared, such questions will not create doubts in your mind but will motivate you to study the Bible more.
7-9. Describe how the online series of study guides, “What Does the Bible Really Teach?,” can help you strengthen your conviction.
7 Careful personal study can help you answer questions, get rid of any doubts, and strengthen your convictions. (Acts 17:11) We have several publications that can help you to do that. Many have found it helpful to study the brochure The Origin of Life—Five Questions Worth Asking and the book Is There a Creator Who Cares About You? Also, many youths have enjoyed and benefited from the series “What Does the Bible Really Teach?” that is on jw.org. You can find it under BIBLE TEACHINGS. Each study guide in this series is designed to help you strengthen your conviction about a Bible subject.
8 You are a student of the Bible, so you may already know the answers to some of the questions found in the study guides. But are you sure of your answers? The study guides will help you to think carefully about various scriptures and then encourage you to write down the reasons for your beliefs. That will help you to know how to explain your beliefs to others. If you have access to the online series “What Does the Bible Really Teach?” you can use it in your personal study to help you strengthen your convictions.
9 You must prove to yourself that this is the truth. That will help prepare you for baptism. One teenage sister said: “Before I decided to get baptized, I studied the Bible and saw that this is the true religion. And each day that I live, that conviction gets stronger.”
10. Why is it reasonable to expect that a baptized Christian would have actions in line with his faith?
10 The Bible says: “Faith by itself, without works, is dead.” (James 2:17) If you have strong conviction, you will show it by your actions. You will have what the Bible calls “holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion.”—Read 2 Peter 3:11.
11. Explain the expression “holy acts of conduct.”
11 What are “holy acts of conduct”? If your actions are holy, you are morally clean. For example, think about the past six months. When you were tempted to do something wrong, did you think carefully about what was right and what was wrong? (Hebrews 5:14) Do you remember specific times when you did not give in to temptation or peer pressure? At school, are you a good example to others? Do you remain faithful to Jehovah, or do you try to be like your classmates so that they will not tease you? (1 Peter 4:3, 4) Of course, no one is perfect. At times, even those who have served Jehovah for many years may feel shy and find it difficult to preach to others. But someone who is dedicated to God will be proud to be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and he shows this by his clean conduct.
12. What are some “deeds of godly devotion,” and how should you view them?
12 What are “deeds of godly devotion”? They include your activities in the congregation, such as going to meetings and preaching. But they also include activities that others do not see, such as your private prayers to Jehovah and your personal study. Someone who has dedicated his life to Jehovah will not think that these activities are a burden. He will feel similar to King David, who said: “To do your will, O my God, is my delight, and your law is deep within me.”—Psalm 40:8.
How specific are your prayers, and what do they reveal about your love for Jehovah?
13, 14. What provision can help you to perform “deeds of godly devotion,” and how have some young ones benefited from this provision?
13 To help you set goals, we have a worksheet on pages 308 and 309 of the book Questions Young People Ask—Answers That Work, Volume 2. On the worksheet, you can write down your answers to questions such as: “How specific are your prayers, and what do they reveal about your love for Jehovah?” “What do you include in your personal study?” “Do you engage in the ministry even if your parents do not?” The worksheet also has space for you to write down any goals you would like to set for yourself regarding your prayers, personal study, and preaching.
14 Many young ones who think about getting baptized have seen that this worksheet is a valuable tool. A young sister named Tilda said: “I used the worksheet to set goals. One by one I reached those goals, and I was ready for baptism about a year later.” A young brother named Patrick had similar success. “I already knew what my goals were,” he said, “but writing them down made me work harder to reach them.”
15. Explain why dedication should be a personal decision.
15 One of the questions on the worksheet is: “Would you serve Jehovah even if your parents and friends stopped doing so?” When you dedicate your life to Jehovah and get baptized, you will have your own personal relationship with him. So, what you do for Jehovah should not depend on your parents or anyone else. Your holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion show that you are convinced that you have the truth and want to follow God’s standards. Soon you will qualify to get baptized.
16, 17. (a) What should motivate a person to become a Christian? (b) How can appreciation for the ransom be illustrated?
16 One day, a man who knew the Mosaic Law very well asked Jesus: “Which is the greatest commandment?” Jesus answered: “You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.” (Matthew 22:35-37) Jesus explained that love for Jehovah should be the reason why someone gets baptized and becomes a Christian. One of the best ways to strengthen your love for Jehovah is to think carefully about the ransom, God’s greatest gift to mankind. (Read 2 Corinthians 5:14, 15; 1 John 4:9, 19.) When you do that, you will want to show your gratitude for that wonderful gift.
17 Your gratitude for the ransom could be explained this way: Imagine that you are drowning and someone rescues you. Would you simply go home, dry yourself off, and forget about what that person did for you? No! You would always feel grateful to the person who saved your life! In a similar way, we should be very grateful to Jehovah and Jesus for the ransom. We owe them our life! They have rescued us from sin and death. Because of their love for us, we now have the hope of living forever in Paradise on earth!
18, 19. (a) Why should you not fear belonging to Jehovah? (b) How does serving Jehovah make your life better?
18 Are you grateful for what Jehovah has done for you? If so, then dedication and baptism is the right thing to do. Your dedication is a promise to God that you will do his will forever. Should you be afraid to make such a promise? No! Jehovah wants what is best for you, and he will reward those who do his will. (Hebrews 11:6) When you dedicate your life to God and get baptized, your life will not become worse but, instead, will become better! A 24-year-old brother who got baptized before he was a teenager says, “I may have had a deeper understanding if I had been older, but making the decision to dedicate myself to Jehovah protected me from worldly pursuits.”
Satan is selfish and does not care about you
19 Jehovah wants what is best for you. However, Satan is selfish and does not care about you. He cannot give you anything good if you follow him. How can he give you something that he does not have? He does not have good news, and he does not have any hope. He can only give you a bad future, because that is the future he will have!—Revelation 20:10.
20. What can a young person do in order to progress toward dedication and baptism? (See also the box “To Help You Make Progress.”)
20 To dedicate your life to Jehovah is the best decision you will ever make. Are you ready to do that? If you are, do not be afraid to make that promise. But if you feel that you are not ready, use the suggestions in this article to continue making progress. Paul told the Philippian brothers to continue making progress. (Philippians 3:16) If you follow that advice, soon you will want to dedicate your life to Jehovah and get baptized.