“Baptism . . . is also now saving you.”—1 PETER 3:21.
1, 2. (a) How do some parents feel when their child wants to get baptized? (b) Why are those who want to get baptized asked if they have dedicated themselves to Jehovah? (See opening picture.)
MARIA’S parents watched as their young daughter stood up with the others who wanted to get baptized. The speaker asked two questions. Maria answered in a loud and clear voice. Soon after that, she got baptized.
2 Maria’s parents were very proud that their daughter had dedicated her life to Jehovah and got baptized. But before that, Maria’s mother had been a little concerned. She wondered: ‘Is Maria too young to get baptized? Does she really understand how serious it is to dedicate herself to Jehovah? Should she wait longer to get baptized?’ Many loving parents ask themselves similar questions when their child says that he or she wants to get baptized. (Ecclesiastes 5:5) After all, the most important decision anyone can make is to dedicate his life to Jehovah and get baptized.—See the box “Have You Dedicated Yourself to Jehovah?”
3, 4. (a) How did the apostle Peter teach us that baptism is very important? (b) Why did Peter compare baptism to Noah’s building the ark?
3 The apostle Peter compared baptism to Noah’s building the ark. He said: “Baptism, which corresponds to this, is also now saving you.” (Read 1 Peter 3:20, 21.) The ark gave obvious proof to others that Noah wholeheartedly wanted to do God’s will. Noah faithfully did the work Jehovah gave him to do. Because of Noah’s faith, Jehovah saved him and his family during the Flood. What was Peter trying to teach us?
4 When people saw the ark, they knew that Noah had faith in God. When people see someone getting baptized, they know that he has dedicated his life to God because of his faith in the resurrected Christ. Like Noah, those who get baptized obey God and do the work he has given them to do. And just as Jehovah saved Noah during the Flood, he will save his loyal baptized servants when he destroys this wicked world. (Mark 13:10; Revelation 7:9, 10) Clearly, it is very important to dedicate our life to Jehovah and get baptized. In fact, if someone delays getting baptized, he could lose the opportunity to live forever.
5. What will we learn in this article?
5 Now that we know how serious baptism is, we need to know the answer to these three questions: What does the Bible say about baptism? What must a person do before he can get baptized? Why should we always remember how important baptism is when we teach our children or a Bible student?
WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES ABOUT BAPTISM
6, 7. (a) What did John’s baptism mean? (b) Whose baptism was different from all others, and why?
6 In the Bible, the first person we read about who baptized others was John the Baptist. (Matthew 3:1-6) Why did people come to him to get baptized? They did so to show that they had repented of their sins, that is, they admitted that they had disobeyed the Law of Moses and were deeply sorry. But the most important baptism that John performed had a completely different meaning. John had the great honor of baptizing Jesus, God’s perfect Son. (Matthew 3:13-17) Jesus had never sinned. He did not need to repent. (1 Peter 2:22) So why did Jesus get baptized? To show that he was ready to use his life to do God’s will.—Hebrews 10:7.
7 After Jesus began preaching, his disciples started to baptize others. (John 3:22; 4:1, 2) Those people also got baptized because they had repented of their sins against the Law of Moses. But after Jesus died and was resurrected, those who wanted to be his disciples would have to get baptized for a different reason.
8. (a) What command did Jesus give after his resurrection? (b) Why do Christians need to get baptized?
8 In the year 33, soon after his resurrection, Jesus spoke to more than 500 men, women, and possibly even children. This may have been the time when he said: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19, 20; 1 Corinthians 15:6) Jesus commanded his followers to make disciples. Anyone who wants to be his disciple, or take his “yoke,” has to get baptized. (Matthew 11:29, 30) To serve God in the way that pleases Him, a person has to accept that God uses Jesus to accomplish His will. Then, that person can get baptized with God’s approval. The Bible gives much evidence that Jesus’ early disciples knew how important it was to get baptized. They did not think that they should wait and get baptized later.—Acts 2:41; 9:18; 16:14, 15, 32, 33.
DO NOT DELAY GETTING BAPTIZED
9, 10. What can we learn about baptism from the Ethiopian man and from Saul?
9 Read Acts 8:35, 36. An Ethiopian man who had accepted the Jewish faith was on his way home after worshipping at the temple in Jerusalem. Jehovah’s angel sent Philip to preach to him, and Philip taught him “the good news about Jesus.” How did the Ethiopian man react? He understood how important it was to accept Jesus as Lord, and he wanted to do what Jehovah requires of Christians. So he got baptized without delay.
10 Another example is a Jewish man named Saul. The entire Jewish nation had been dedicated to God, but Jehovah had rejected the Jews because they did not obey him. Saul believed that the Jews were still serving God in the right way, so he persecuted the Christians. But one day, the resurrected Jesus, who Saul thought was dead, personally spoke to Saul from heaven. How did Saul react? He gladly accepted help from the Christian disciple Ananias. The Bible says: “He then got up and was baptized.” (Acts 9:17, 18; Galatians 1:14) He later became known as the apostle Paul. Notice that as soon as he understood that God was using Jesus to accomplish His will, Saul got baptized without delay.—Read Acts 22:12-16.
Bible students are grateful to learn the truth and are eager to get baptized
11. (a) What makes Bible students today decide to get baptized? (b) How do we feel when someone gets baptized?
11 Today, too, it is similar with many Bible students, young and old. Because they love and trust what the Bible says, they are eager to dedicate their life to Jehovah and get baptized. In fact, the baptism talk is always a special moment at assemblies and conventions. Jehovah’s Witnesses are happy when Bible students accept the truth and decide to get baptized. Parents are very happy when their children do the same. During the 2017 service year, more than 284,000 new ones got baptized to show that they had dedicated their life to Jehovah. (Acts 13:48) Clearly, they understood that it is necessary for Christians to get baptized. But what did they have to do before they could get baptized?
12. What must Bible students do before they can get baptized?
12 Before Bible students can get baptized, they must learn the truth about God, his purpose for humans and the earth, and what he did to save mankind. (1 Timothy 2:3-6) Then they need to develop faith, which will help them to obey God’s laws and to stop doing what he hates. (Acts 3:19) This is important, because Jehovah will not accept the dedication of a person who keeps doing things that He hates. (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10) But there is more. Those who want to dedicate their life to Jehovah need to attend congregation meetings and regularly preach the good news and teach others. This is required of anyone who wants to follow Christ. (Acts 1:8) A student must first do all these things. Then he can dedicate his life to Jehovah in a private prayer and get baptized.
MAKE BAPTISM A GOAL FOR BIBLE STUDENTS
13. When we teach others, why must we remember that they have to get baptized to be true Christians?
13 When we help our children and other Bible students to do these necessary things, we must remember that those who want to be true followers of Jesus have to get baptized. Then we will not be afraid to tell them at appropriate times how important dedication and baptism are. We want our children and other Bible students to keep making progress and get baptized!
14. Why do we not pressure anyone to get baptized?
14 Of course, no one should pressure or force a child or a Bible student to get baptized. Jehovah does not force any of us to serve him. (1 John 4:8) When we teach others, we must help them understand how important it is for them to develop a personal relationship with Jehovah. Then, if a Bible student is truly grateful to know the truth about God and really wants to do everything that true Christians should do, he will want to get baptized.—2 Corinthians 5:14, 15.
15, 16. (a) Does a person have to be a certain age to get baptized? Explain. (b) Why must a Bible student get baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses even if he was already baptized in another religion?
15 A person does not have to get baptized at a certain age. Everyone is different, and some students progress faster than others. Many get baptized when they are young, and they remain faithful to Jehovah as they grow older. Others are already much older when they learn Bible truth and get baptized. Some are even more than 100 years old!
16 One lady who studied the Bible had already been baptized in a few different religions. That is why she asked her Bible teacher if it was really necessary to get baptized again. Her teacher showed her some Bible verses that answered her question. Once the lady understood what the Bible requires, she got baptized, even though she was almost 80 years old. What do we learn from this example? Jehovah will accept our baptism only if we know the truth about his will. So even if we were baptized in another religion, we still have to get baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.—Read Acts 19:3-5.
17. What should a person think about on the day he gets baptized?
17 The day a person gets baptized is a very happy day. It is also a time to think carefully about what dedication and baptism involve. To do everything that is required of a true Christian is hard work. Jesus’ disciples must “live no longer for themselves, but for him who died for them and was raised up.”—2 Corinthians 5:15; Matthew 16:24.
18. What questions will we discuss in the next article?
18 As we have learned in this article, the decision to become a true Christian is very serious. That is why Maria’s mother asked herself the questions mentioned at the beginning of the article. If you are a parent, you may have asked yourself: ‘Is my child really ready to get baptized? Does my child know enough about Jehovah to dedicate himself to God? Should my child get a good education and a job before getting baptized? What if my child commits a serious sin after getting baptized?’ We will discuss these questions in the next article, and we will learn how Christian parents can have the right view of baptism.