“To do your will, O my God, is my delight.”—PS. 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 is considering baptism? If so, what lies before you is the greatest privilege any human could have. As the preceding article pointed out, however, baptism is a serious step. It symbolizes your dedication—a solemn promise you make to Jehovah that you will serve him forever by putting his will above everything else in your life. Understandably, you should get baptized only when you are qualified to make that decision, you have a personal desire to do so, and you understand the meaning of dedication.
2 What if you are not sure that you are ready for baptism? Or what if you want to get baptized but your parents feel that you should wait, perhaps until you gain more experience in Christian living? In either case, do not be discouraged. Instead, use this opportunity to make progress so that, before long, you can get baptized. With that objective in mind, consider how you can set goals regarding (1) your convictions, (2) your actions, and (3) your appreciation.
3, 4. What lesson can young ones learn from the example of Timothy?
3 Think about how you would respond to these questions: Why do I believe that God exists? What convinces me that the Bible is God’s inspired Word? Why do I feel that living by God’s moral standards is better than adopting the lifestyle of the world? Those questions are not designed to create doubts in your mind. Rather, they can help you to follow the apostle Paul’s admonition: “Prove to yourselves the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Rom. 12:2) But why did Christians in Rome need to prove to themselves something that they had already accepted?
4 Consider a Bible example. Timothy knew the Scriptures well. He had been taught “from infancy” by his mother and grandmother. Nevertheless, Paul urged Timothy: “Continue in the things that you learned and were persuaded to believe.” (2 Tim. 3:14, 15) According to one reference work, the original-language word for “persuaded” has the sense “to be convinced and certain of the truth of something.” Timothy had made the truth his own. He accepted it, not because his mother and grandmother told him to do so, but because he had reasoned on it for himself and had been 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? Perhaps you have known Bible truths for a long time. If so, why not make it a goal to examine more closely the reasons for your beliefs? That will strengthen your conviction and will help you to avoid being driven by the winds of peer pressure, the world’s propaganda, or even your own feelings.
6 Learning to use your “power of reason” early in life will prepare you to give reasonable answers to your peers when they raise such questions as: ‘How do you know for sure that there is a God? Why does a loving God permit evil? How can it be that God has always existed?’ When you are prepared, such questions will not weaken your faith but will spur you on to do additional personal study.
7-9. Describe how the online series of study guides, “What Does the Bible Really Teach?,” can help you strengthen your conviction.
7 Diligent personal study can help you answer questions, resolve any doubts, and strengthen your convictions. (Acts 17:11) We have been provided with a number of tools that can help you to do that. Many have found it helpful to consider the brochure The Origin of Life—Five Questions Worth Asking and the book Is There a Creator Who Cares About You? In addition, many youths have enjoyed and benefited from the online feature “What Does the Bible Really Teach?” This series of study guides can be found on jw.org. Look under BIBLE TEACHINGS. Each study guide in this series is designed to help you strengthen your conviction about a Bible topic.
8 You are already familiar with the Bible, so you might quickly respond to some of the questions presented on those study guides. But why are you sure of your answers? The study guides invite you to reason on a number of scriptures and then to write down your thoughts about them. They can help you plan how you would explain your Bible-based belief to others. The online feature “What Does the Bible Really Teach?” is helping many young ones strengthen their convictions. If you have access to it, why not make this series a part of your personal study program?
9 By strengthening your convictions, you take an important step toward 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.” (Jas. 2:17) If you have strong conviction, it is reasonable to expect that you will show it by your actions. What kind of actions? The Bible speaks of “holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion.”—Read 2 Peter 3:11.
11. Explain the expression “holy acts of conduct.”
11 To manifest “holy acts of conduct,” you must be morally clean. How are you doing in that regard? For example, think about the past six months. How have you demonstrated that your “powers of discernment” have been trained to distinguish right from wrong? (Heb. 5:14) Can you think of specific occasions when you resisted temptation or peer pressure? Does your conduct at school speak well of your faith? Do you stand up for your faith rather than try to blend in with your classmates just to avoid ridicule? (1 Pet. 4:3, 4) Admittedly, no one is perfect. Even longtime servants of Jehovah may at times feel timid about taking a public stand for their faith. However, a person who is dedicated to Jehovah will rightly be proud to bear God’s name, and he shows this by his conduct.
12. What are some “deeds of godly devotion,” and how should you view them?
12 What about “deeds of godly devotion”? These include your activities in the congregation, such as your meeting attendance and participation in the ministry. Also included are spiritual activities that others do not see, such as your private prayers and your personal study. A person who has dedicated his life to Jehovah will not consider these deeds to be chores. Rather, he will reflect the attitude of King David, who said: “To do your will, O my God, is my delight, and your law is deep within me.”—Ps. 40:8.
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. This worksheet invites you to write your responses to such questions 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 provides space for you to write down any goals you would like to set regarding your prayers, personal study, and ministry.
14 Many young ones contemplating baptism have found this worksheet to be 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 benefited in a similar way. “I already knew what my goals were,” he noted, “but writing them down made me work harder to reach them.”
15. Explain why dedication should be a personal decision.
15 One of the most thought-provoking questions on the worksheet is this: “Would you serve Jehovah even if your parents and friends stopped doing so?” Remember, as a dedicated and baptized Christian, you will stand before Jehovah on your own. Your service to him should not depend on others—not even your parents. Your holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion give evidence that you have made the truth your own and that you are progressing toward baptism.
16, 17. (a) What should motivate a person to become a Christian? (b) How can appreciation for the ransom be illustrated?
16 A man well-versed in the Mosaic Law 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.” (Matt. 22:35-37) Jesus there identified what should be the motive behind Christian works, including baptism—wholehearted love for Jehovah. One of the best ways that you can grow in your love for Jehovah is to meditate on the greatest gift Jehovah has provided—the ransom sacrifice of his Son. (Read 2 Corinthians 5:14, 15; 1 John 4:9, 19.) Thinking about the ransom and what it means for you will motivate you to respond appreciatively.
17 Your response to the ransom might be illustrated this way: Imagine that someone rescued you from drowning. Would you simply go home, dry yourself off, and forget about what was done for you? Of course not! You would certainly feel indebted to the person who rescued you. The fact is, you would owe that person your life! We owe Jehovah God and Jesus Christ much more. Without the ransom, each of us would, in a sense, drown in sin and death. But because of this great act of love, we now have the incomparable prospect of living forever on a paradise earth!
18, 19. (a) Why should you not fear belonging to Jehovah? (b) How does serving Jehovah make your life better?
18 Do you appreciate what Jehovah has done for you? Then it would be fitting to dedicate your life to Jehovah and get baptized. Remember, dedication involves a solemn promise to Jehovah to do his will forever, no matter what happens. Should you be afraid to make such a commitment? Not at all! Bear in mind that Jehovah has your best interests at heart, and he is “the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him.” (Heb. 11:6) Dedicating yourself to Jehovah and getting baptized do not make your life worse. On the contrary, serving Jehovah will make your life 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.”
19 How different Jehovah is from Satan, whose interest in you is only selfish! Satan offers no lasting reward to those who side with him. And really, how could he? Satan himself has no good news to contemplate, no bright hope on the horizon. How can he give you something that he does not possess? Satan can offer you nothing more than a dismal future, like the future that is ahead for him!—Rev. 20:10.
20. What can a young person do in order to progress toward dedication and baptism? (See also the box “To Help You Grow Spiritually.”)
20 Clearly, dedicating your life to Jehovah is the right thing to do. Are you ready to take that step? If so, do not hold back. On the other hand, if you need more time, use the suggestions in this article to keep moving forward. Paul wrote to the Philippians: “To the extent we have made progress, let us go on walking orderly in this same course.” (Phil. 3:16) If you follow that advice, you will soon want to dedicate your life to Jehovah and get baptized.