“What prevents me from getting baptized?”—ACTS 8:36.
SONG 37 Serving Jehovah Whole-Souled
DO YOU want to get baptized as a disciple of Christ? Love and appreciation have motivated many to make that choice. Consider the example of an official who served the queen of Ethiopia.
2 The Ethiopian acted immediately on what he had learned from the Scriptures. (Read Acts 8:27-31, 35-38.) What motivated him? He obviously appreciated God’s Word; he was reading a passage from the book of Isaiah as he rode in a chariot. And when Philip spoke with him, the man developed an appreciation for what Jesus had done for him. But why had the official traveled to Jerusalem? Because he had already developed a love for Jehovah. How do we know? He had just been worshipping Jehovah in Jerusalem. This man had apparently left the religion of his birth and had joined the only nation that was dedicated to the true God. It was this same love for Jehovah that motivated him to take yet another vital step, that of getting baptized and becoming a disciple of Christ.—Matt. 28:19.
3. What might prevent a person from getting baptized? (See the box “What Is in Your Heart?”)
3 Love for Jehovah can motivate you to get baptized. But love might also prevent you from doing so. How? Note just some examples. You may love your unbelieving family and friends deeply, and you may worry that if you get baptized, they will hate you. (Matt. 10:37) Or you may love habits that you know God hates, and you may find it difficult to break free from their grip. (Ps. 97:10) Or you may have grown up celebrating customs that are associated with false religion. You may love the good memories associated with those celebrations. As a result, you may find it difficult to stop observing customs that displease Jehovah. (1 Cor. 10:20, 21) The question you face is, “What or whom do I love the most?”
THE MOST IMPORTANT LOVE
4. What is the primary motivation that will lead you to baptism?
4 You have many worthwhile things to love and appreciate. For instance, even before studying with Jehovah’s Witnesses, you may have formed a deep appreciation for the Bible. And you may have developed a love for Jesus. Now that you have come to know Jehovah’s Witnesses, you might love to associate with them. But loving those good things will not necessarily make you want to dedicate yourself to Jehovah and get baptized. The primary motivation that will lead you to baptism is love for Jehovah God himself. When you love Jehovah more than all else, you will not let anything or anyone prevent you from serving him. You could view love for Jehovah as both the gateway to baptism and the guardrail that helps you stay on the path of serving God.
5. What questions will we consider?
5 Jesus said that we must love Jehovah with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. (Mark 12:30) How can you learn to love and respect Jehovah that deeply? Reflecting on Jehovah’s love for us moves us to love him in return. (1 John 4:19) What other feelings and actions will naturally follow once you develop that most important love? *
6. According to Romans 1:20, what is one way that you can learn about Jehovah?
6 Learn about Jehovah through his creation. (Read Romans 1:20; Rev. 4:11) Meditate on the wisdom evident in the designs of plants and animals. Learn a little about the wonderful way your body is made. (Ps. 139:14) And think about the power that Jehovah packed into our sun, realizing that it is just one of billions of stars. * (Isa. 40:26) As you do, your respect for Jehovah will deepen. However, knowing that Jehovah is wise and powerful is only part of the foundation of your relationship with him. To build a strong love for Jehovah, you need to know more about him.
7. To love Jehovah deeply, of what do you need to be convinced?
7 You need to be convinced that Jehovah cares for you personally. Do you find it difficult to believe that the Creator of heaven and earth knows that you exist and that he cares for you? If so, remember that Jehovah is “not far off from each one of us.” (Acts 17:26-28) He “searches through all hearts,” and he promises you that, as David told Solomon, “if you search for him, he will let himself be found by you.” (1 Chron. 28:9) In fact, the reason you are now studying the Bible is that, as Jehovah says, “I have drawn you to me.” (Jer. 31:3) The more you appreciate all that Jehovah has done for you, the deeper your love for him will be.
8. How can you respond to Jehovah’s love?
8 One way to respond to Jehovah’s love is by talking to him in prayer. Your love for God will grow as you tell him about your concerns and thank him for all that he does for you. And the bond between you and Jehovah will be strengthened as you see how he answers your prayers. (Ps. 116:1) You will become convinced that he understands you. But to grow close to Jehovah, you need to understand his way of thinking. And you need to know what he wants from you. The only way you will gain that knowledge is by studying his Word, the Bible.
9. How can you show that you appreciate the Bible?
9 Learn to appreciate God’s Word, the Bible. Only the Bible contains the truth about Jehovah and his purpose for you. You show that you appreciate the Bible by reading it each day, by preparing for your personal Bible study session, and by applying what you learn. (Ps. 119:97, 99; John 17:17) Do you have a personal Bible reading schedule? Do you follow that schedule, making sure that you read the Bible each day?
10. What is one of the unique features of the Bible?
10 One of the unique features of the Bible is that it contains eyewitness accounts about Jesus. It is the only accurate record that explains what Jesus has done for you. As you learn what Jesus said and did, you will likely be moved to form a friendship with him.
11. How can you learn to love Jehovah?
11 Learn to love Jesus, and your love for Jehovah will grow. Why? Because Jesus reflects his Father’s qualities perfectly. (John 14:9) So the more you learn about Jesus, the better you will understand and appreciate Jehovah. Think of the compassion Jesus showed for those who were looked down on by others—the poor, the sick, and the vulnerable. Think, too, of the practical advice he gives you and how your life improves when you listen to him.—Matt. 5:1-11; 7:24-27.
12. As you learn about Jesus, what may you be moved to do?
12 Your affection for Jesus is likely to become stronger as you think deeply about the sacrifice he made so that our sins can be forgiven. (Matt. 20:28) When you understand that Jesus was willing to die for you, you may feel moved to repent and seek Jehovah’s forgiveness. (Acts 3:19, 20; 1 John 1:9) And as you come to love Jesus and Jehovah, you will naturally be drawn to others who feel the same way.
13. What has Jehovah provided for you?
13 Learn to love Jehovah’s family. Your unbelieving family and former friends may not understand why you want to dedicate yourself to Jehovah. They may even oppose you. Jehovah will help you by providing a spiritual family. If you stay close to that spiritual family, you will find the love and support you need. (Mark 10:29, 30; Heb. 10:24, 25) In time, your family members may join you in serving Jehovah and living by his standards.—1 Pet. 2:12.
14. As stated at 1 John 5:3, what have you discovered about Jehovah’s standards?
14 Learn to appreciate and apply Jehovah’s standards. Before coming to know Jehovah, you may have set your own standards, but now you see that Jehovah’s standards are better. (Ps. 1:1-3; read 1 John 5:3.) Think about the Bible’s counsel for husbands, wives, parents, and children. (Eph. 5:22–6:4) As you apply that counsel, have you seen your family life improve? As you obey Jehovah’s directions about choosing your friends wisely, have your personal habits improved? Are you a happier person? (Prov. 13:20; 1 Cor. 15:33) Likely the answer to those questions is yes.
15. What can you do if you need help in applying Bible principles?
15 At times, you may find it difficult to know how to apply the Bible principles you are learning. That is why Jehovah uses his organization to provide you with Bible-based material that can help you to discern right from wrong. (Heb. 5:13, 14) When you read and study this material, you will see how practical and specific it is, and you will likely be drawn to Jehovah’s organization.
16. How has Jehovah organized his people?
16 Learn to love and support Jehovah’s organization. Jehovah has organized his people into congregations; his Son, Jesus, is the head over them all. (Eph. 1:22; 5:23) Jesus has appointed a small group of anointed men to take the lead in organizing the work that he wants done today. Jesus referred to this group of men as “the faithful and discreet slave,” and they take seriously their responsibility to feed and protect you spiritually. (Matt. 24:45-47) One of the ways the faithful slave helps to care for you is by ensuring that qualified elders are appointed to shepherd you. (Isa. 32:1, 2; Heb. 13:17; 1 Pet. 5:2, 3) The elders are willing to pour themselves out for you, to comfort you, and to help you grow ever closer to Jehovah. But one of the most important things they can do for you is help you teach others about Jehovah.—Eph. 4:11-13.
17 Help others learn to love Jehovah. Jesus told his followers to teach others about Jehovah. (Matt. 28:19, 20) It is possible to obey that command out of a sense of duty. But as your love for Jehovah grows, you will feel the same way as did the apostles Peter and John, who said: “We cannot stop speaking about the things we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:20) Few things bring as much happiness as helping someone come to love Jehovah. Imagine how much joy the evangelizer Philip felt when he helped the Ethiopian learn the truth contained in the Scriptures and get baptized! When you imitate Philip and obey Jesus’ command to preach, you prove that you want to be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. (Read Romans 10:10, 13, 14.) At that point, you will likely ask the same question as the Ethiopian did: “What prevents me from getting baptized?”—Acts 8:36.
18. What will we consider in the next article?
18 You will take the most important step of your life when you decide to get baptized. Because it is such a serious step, you need to consider carefully what is involved. What do you need to know about baptism? What do you need to do before and after baptism? Those questions will be answered in the next article.
SONG 2 Jehovah Is Your Name
^ par. 5 Some who love Jehovah are unsure if they are ready to get baptized as one of his Witnesses. If you feel that way, this article will help you to review some of the practical things you can do that will lead you to baptism.
^ par. 5 Each person is different, so some may apply the suggestions mentioned in this article in an order different from what is outlined here.
^ par. 61 PICTURE DESCRIPTION: A sister gives a tract to a young woman whom she meets while shopping.