1. What may you think after carefully studying this book?
YOU have learned many Bible truths during your study of this book, such as God’s promise of eternal life, the condition of the dead, and the hope of the resurrection. (Ecclesiastes 9:5; Luke 23:43; John 5:28, 29; Revelation 21:3, 4) You may have started to attend meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses and believe that they practice true worship. (John 13:35) You may have begun to develop a close friendship with Jehovah, and you may have decided that you want to serve him. So you might think, ‘What should I do now to serve God?’
2. Why did an Ethiopian man want to get baptized?
2 That is what an Ethiopian man thought who lived in Jesus’ time. Sometime after Jesus was resurrected, Jesus’ disciple Philip preached to the man. Philip proved to him that Jesus was the Messiah. The Ethiopian man was so moved by what he learned that he immediately said: “Look! Here is water; what prevents me from getting baptized?”—Acts 8:26-36.
3. (a) What command did Jesus give his followers? (b) How should a person be baptized?
3 The Bible clearly teaches that if you want to serve Jehovah, you should get baptized. Jesus told his followers: “Make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them.” (Matthew 28:19) Jesus also set the example by getting baptized himself. He was completely immersed in water, not just sprinkled with water on his head. (Matthew 3:16) Today when a Christian is baptized, he must also be completely immersed, or dipped, in water.
4. What does your baptism show others?
4 When you get baptized, it shows others that you really want to be God’s friend and to serve him. (Psalm 40:7, 8) So you may wonder, ‘What do I need to do to get baptized?’
KNOWLEDGE AND FAITH
5. (a) What must you do first before you can get baptized? (b) Why are Christian meetings important?
5 Before you can get baptized, you must come to know Jehovah and Jesus. You have already started to do this by studying the Bible. (Read John 17:3.) But that is not enough. The Bible says that you must be “filled with the accurate knowledge” of Jehovah’s will. (Colossians 1:9) The meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses will help you to have a closer relationship with Jehovah. That is one important reason for you to attend those meetings regularly.—Hebrews 10:24, 25.
6. How much do you need to know about the Bible before you can get baptized?
6 Of course, Jehovah does not expect you to know everything in the Bible before you get baptized. He didn’t expect the Ethiopian man to know everything before he got baptized. (Acts 8:30, 31) And we will continue learning about God forever. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) But to get baptized, you need to know and accept at least the basic teachings of the Bible.—Hebrews 5:12.
7. How has your study of the Bible helped you?
7 The Bible says: “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” (Hebrews 11:6) So you need to have faith before you can get baptized. The Bible tells us that some people in the ancient city of Corinth heard what Jesus’ followers taught and, as a result, “began to believe and be baptized.” (Acts 18:8) Similarly, your study of the Bible has helped you to have faith in God’s promises and in the power of Jesus’ sacrifice, which can save us from sin and death.—Joshua 23:14; Acts 4:12; 2 Timothy 3:16, 17.
TELL OTHERS ABOUT BIBLE TRUTHS
8. What will motivate you to tell others about what you’ve learned?
8 As you learn more from the Bible and see how it helps you in your life, your faith will get stronger. You will want to tell others about what you’re learning. (Jeremiah 20:9; 2 Corinthians 4:13) But whom should you tell?
9, 10. (a) With whom might you begin sharing what you’ve learned? (b) What should you do if you want to preach with the congregation?
9 You may want to tell your family, friends, neighbors, or workmates about what you are learning. That is good, but always do this in a kind and loving way. Eventually, you will be able to begin preaching with the congregation. When you feel ready to do so, you can talk to the Witness who is teaching you the Bible and tell him or her that you would like to share in the preaching work with the congregation. If that person thinks that you are ready and if you are living your life according to Bible standards, then together you will meet with two elders in the congregation.
10 What will happen at that meeting? The elders will talk with you to see if you understand and believe basic Bible teachings, if you obey what the Bible says in your daily life, and if you really want to become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Remember that the elders take care of all the members of the congregation, including you, so don’t be afraid to talk to them. (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2, 3) After this meeting, the elders will let you know if you can begin preaching with the congregation.
11. Why is it so important to make changes before you can preach with the congregation?
11 The elders might explain to you that you need to make more changes before you can begin preaching with the congregation. Why is it so important to make those changes? Because when we talk to others about God, we represent Jehovah and must live in a way that honors him.—1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; Galatians 5:19-21.
REPENT AND TURN AROUND
12. Why do all people need to repent?
12 There is something else that you must do before you can get baptized. The apostle Peter said: “Repent, therefore, and turn around so as to get your sins blotted out.” (Acts 3:19) What does it mean to repent? It means to feel very sorry for any wrong that we have done. For example, if you lived a sexually immoral life, then you would need to repent. And even if all your life you have tried your best to do what is right, you still need to repent, because we all sin and need to ask God for his forgiveness.—Romans 3:23; 5:12.
13. What does it mean to “turn around”?
13 Is it enough just to feel sorry for what you have done? No. Peter said that you also need to “turn around.” This means that you need to reject any former wrong conduct and start doing what is right. To illustrate this, imagine that you are traveling to a certain place for the first time. After a while, you discover that you are going in the wrong direction. What would you do? No doubt you would slow down, stop, turn around, and then go in the right direction. Similarly, as you study the Bible, you might discover that there are some habits or things in your life that you need to change. Be willing to “turn around”—that is, to make the necessary changes—and begin to do what is right.
MAKE A PERSONAL DEDICATION
14. How do you dedicate yourself to God?
14 Another important step you need to take before getting baptized is to dedicate yourself to Jehovah. When you dedicate yourself to Jehovah, you say a prayer in which you promise to worship only him and to make his will the most important thing in your life.—Deuteronomy 6:15.
15, 16. What motivates a person to dedicate himself to God?
15 Promising to serve only Jehovah is like promising to spend the rest of your life with a person you love. Imagine that a man and a woman are dating. As the man gets to know the woman better, he comes to love her and he wants to marry her. Even though this is a serious decision, the man is willing to accept this responsibility because he loves her.
16 As you learn about Jehovah, you come to love him and want to do your best to serve him. This will motivate you to say a prayer promising to serve him. The Bible says that anyone who wants to follow Jesus must “disown himself.” (Mark 8:34) What does that mean? It means that you put obedience to Jehovah first in your life. What Jehovah wants is more important than your own desires and goals.—Read 1 Peter 4:2.
DON’T BE AFRAID OF FAILURE
17. Why do some people not dedicate themselves to Jehovah?
17 Some people do not dedicate themselves to Jehovah, because they are afraid that they can’t keep their promise to serve him. They don’t want to disappoint Jehovah, or they may reason that if they are not dedicated to him, then Jehovah won’t hold them responsible for what they do.
18. What will help you to overcome any fear of disappointing Jehovah?
18 Your love for Jehovah will help you to overcome any fear of disappointing him. Because you love him, you will do your best to keep your promise to him. (Ecclesiastes 5:4; Colossians 1:10) You will not think that it’s too hard to do Jehovah’s will. The apostle John wrote: “This is what the love of God means, that we observe his commandments; and yet his commandments are not burdensome.”—1 John 5:3.
19. Why shouldn’t you be afraid to dedicate yourself to Jehovah?
19 You don’t have to be perfect to dedicate yourself to Jehovah. He never expects us to do more than we can do. (Psalm 103:14) He will help you to do what is right. (Isaiah 41:10) Trust in Jehovah with all your heart, and “he will make your paths straight.”—Proverbs 3:5, 6.
PUBLIC DECLARATION FOR SALVATION
20. After you make a personal dedication to God, what is the next step?
20 Do you think that you’re ready to dedicate yourself to Jehovah? After you have dedicated yourself to Jehovah, you are ready for the next step. You need to get baptized.
21, 22. How can you make a “public declaration” of your faith?
21 Let the coordinator of the body of elders of your congregation know that you have dedicated yourself to Jehovah and that you want to be baptized. Then he will have some elders review basic Bible teachings with you. If they agree that you are ready, they will tell you that you can be baptized at the next assembly or convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses. At the assembly, there will be a talk that explains the meaning of baptism. The speaker who gives the talk will then ask those who are ready to get baptized two simple questions. By answering those questions, you will make a “public declaration” of your faith.—Romans 10:10.
22 Then you will be baptized. You will be completely immersed in water. The baptism will show to everyone that you have dedicated yourself to Jehovah and are now one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
WHAT YOUR BAPTISM REPRESENTS
23. What does it mean to be baptized “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit”?
23 Jesus said that his disciples would be baptized “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit.” (Read Matthew 28:19.) What does that mean? It means that you recognize Jehovah’s authority and Jesus’ role in God’s purpose as well as how God uses his holy spirit to accomplish his will.—Psalm 83:18; Matthew 28:18; Galatians 5:22, 23; 2 Peter 1:21.
24, 25. (a) What does baptism represent? (b) What will we discuss in the last chapter?
24 Baptism represents something very important. When you are immersed in water, it means that you have died to, or abandoned, your former way of life. When you come out of the water, you will begin a new life doing God’s will. It shows that you will serve Jehovah from now on. Remember that you are not dedicated to a human, an organization, or a work. You have dedicated your life to Jehovah.
25 Your dedication will help you to develop a close friendship with God. (Psalm 25:14) This does not mean that a person will be saved just because he gets baptized. The apostle Paul wrote: “Keep working out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12) Baptism is just the beginning. But how can you stay close to Jehovah? The last chapter of this book will answer that question.