“Just as you have always obeyed, . . . keep working out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”—PHILIPPIANS 2:12.
1. Why is baptism such an important step? (See opening picture.)
EVERY year thousands of Bible students get baptized. Many of these are young people, teenagers or even younger. They may have been raised in the truth. Are you one of them? If you are, you have done something very good. Every Christian must be baptized. And baptism is needed in order to gain salvation and live forever.—Matthew 28:19, 20; 1 Peter 3:21.
2. Why should you not be afraid to make a dedication to Jehovah?
2 When you got baptized, Jehovah began to bless you in many new ways. But you also had new responsibilities. In what way? On the day of your baptism, the brother who gave your baptism talk asked: “On the basis of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, have you repented of your sins and dedicated yourself to Jehovah to do his will?” You answered yes. You promised to love Jehovah and to make serving him the most important thing in your life. Should you regret making such a serious promise? Absolutely not! You will never regret letting Jehovah guide your life. Those who do not know Jehovah are part of Satan’s world. The Devil does not care about them or about you at all. In fact, he would be happy if you lost your hope of living forever because you took his side and rejected Jehovah.
3. How has Jehovah blessed you because you dedicated yourself to him?
3 Think about how Jehovah has blessed you because you dedicated yourself to him and got baptized. You gave your life to Jehovah, so you can say with confidence: “Jehovah is on my side; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6) There is no greater honor than being on God’s side and knowing that he is proud of you.
A PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY
4, 5. (a) Why can we say that dedication is a personal responsibility? (b) What challenges do Christians of all ages have?
4 You cannot view your relationship with Jehovah like a cell phone ‘family plan’ that your parents pay for. Even if you still live with your parents, your relationship with Jehovah is your personal responsibility. Why is it important to remember that? None of us can know exactly how our faith will be tested in the future. For example, you may have got baptized before you became a teenager. But now that you are in your teens, you have new feelings and new problems. One teenage girl said: “A child usually won’t resent being one of Jehovah’s Witnesses just because of not having a piece of birthday cake at school. But in a few years when the urge to have sex becomes stronger, he or she needs to be thoroughly convinced that obeying Jehovah’s laws is always the best choice.”
5 Young people are not the only ones who will have new challenges. Even those who get baptized when they are adults have their faith tested in ways they do not expect. Their tests may come from their marriage, their health, or their job. No matter how old we are, each of us will need to be faithful to Jehovah in many different situations.—James 1:12-14.
6. (a) What does it mean that your dedication to Jehovah is unconditional? (b) What can you learn from Philippians 4:11-13?
6 To help you stay faithful, always remember that the promise you made to Jehovah is unconditional. This means that you promised the Most High to serve him no matter what happens, even if your friends or parents stop doing so. (Psalm 27:10) In all situations, be sure to ask Jehovah to help you keep your promise to him.—Read Philippians 4:11-13.
7. What does it mean to work out your own salvation “with fear and trembling”?
7 Jehovah wants you to be his friend. But it takes effort to keep that friendship strong and to work out your own salvation. Philippians 2:12 says: “Keep working out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” This means we need to think carefully about how we will stay close to Jehovah and remain faithful no matter what. We cannot simply assume that we will do so. Remember that even some who served God for many years have not remained faithful. What practical things can help you to work out your own salvation?
BIBLE STUDY IS IMPORTANT
8. What does personal study include? Why is it important?
8 To be Jehovah’s friend, we need to listen to him and we need to talk to him. The main way we listen to Jehovah is by studying the Bible. This includes reading and meditating on God’s Word and Bible-based publications. But studying the Bible is not like memorizing facts as you might do for a school exam. Rather, it is like an exciting journey on which you explore and discover new things about Jehovah. You will draw close to God, and he will draw close to you too.—James 4:8.
9. What tools have helped you in your personal study?
9 Jehovah’s organization provides many tools that can help you in your study program. For example, there is a series called “Bible Study Activities” in the “Teenagers” section of jw.org to help you to apply what you learn from Bible accounts. Also on jw.org, you can find the study guides “What Does the Bible Really Teach?” These can help you build your faith and explain your beliefs to others. You can find other ideas for your personal study in the article “Young People Ask . . . How Can I Make Bible Reading Enjoyable?” in the April 2009 issue of Awake! Study and meditation are important for working out your own salvation.—Read Psalm 119:105.
PRAYER IS VITAL
10. Why does a baptized Christian need to pray?
When you feel anxious for any reason, “throw your burden on Jehovah”
10 When we study the Bible, we listen to Jehovah, and when we pray, we speak to him. We should not think of prayer as simply a habit or as a ‘good luck charm’ to bring us success. Prayer is real communication with our Creator. Just think: Jehovah wants to hear what you have to say! (Read Philippians 4:6.) So when you feel anxious for any reason, the Bible says to “throw your burden on Jehovah.” (Psalm 55:22) Millions of brothers and sisters can tell you that this advice has helped them. It can help you too!
11. Why should you always thank Jehovah?
11 However, we should not pray only when we want Jehovah to help us. The Bible reminds us: “Show yourselves thankful.” (Colossians 3:15) Sometimes we worry so much about our problems that we do not notice all the good things we have. So try this: Every day, think of at least three things you are thankful for, and then thank Jehovah for them. A teenager named Abigail, who got baptized when she was 12 years old, says: “I feel that Jehovah deserves our thanks more than anyone else in the universe. We should thank him at every opportunity for the gifts he has given us.” Sometimes Abigail asks herself this question she once heard: “If I woke up tomorrow with only the things I thanked Jehovah for today, what exactly would I have?” * (See footnote.)
THE VALUE OF PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
12, 13. How have you personally experienced that Jehovah is good, and why is it important to think about how Jehovah has helped you?
12 Jehovah helped King David to endure many difficult situations. So David spoke from personal experience when he said: “Taste and see that Jehovah is good; happy is the man who takes refuge in him.” (Psalm 34:8) This verse shows us that we need to experience Jehovah’s goodness for ourselves. When you read the Bible and our publications and attend our meetings, you learn how God has helped others to stay faithful. But as your own relationship with Jehovah becomes stronger, you need to see how Jehovah is helping you. How have you personally experienced that Jehovah is good?
Always treasure the place Jehovah has given you in his organization
13 Every Christian has experienced Jehovah’s goodness in one special way. He invited each of us to draw close to him and his Son. Jesus said: “No man can come to me unless the Father, who sent me, draws him.” (John 6:44) Do you feel that Jehovah has drawn you to him? Or do you think, ‘Jehovah drew my parents to him and I am just following’? Remember that when you dedicated yourself to Jehovah and got baptized, you then had your own special relationship with him. The Bible tells us: “If anyone loves God, this one is known by him.” (1 Corinthians 8:3) Always treasure the place Jehovah has given you in his organization.
14, 15. How can the ministry help you to have stronger faith?
14 You also experience Jehovah’s goodness when he gives you the courage to talk about your faith with others, either in the field ministry or at school. It can be difficult to preach to your schoolmates. You might worry about how they will react. It can be especially frightening to explain your beliefs in front of a large group. What can help you?
15 Think about why you believe what you believe. If the study guides found on jw.org are available in your language, make sure to use them. They can help you to think about what you believe, why you believe it, and how you can explain your beliefs to others. When you are truly convinced and have prepared well, you will want to witness about Jehovah.—Jeremiah 20:8, 9.
16. What can give you courage to speak about your beliefs?
16 Even if you have prepared well, you might still be nervous about explaining your beliefs. An 18-year-old sister, who was baptized when she was 13, says: “I know what I believe, but sometimes I have trouble putting my thoughts into words.” So she tries to speak about the truth in a natural and relaxed way. She says: “My classmates talk freely about the things that they do. I should feel free to do the same. So I’ll mention something in passing, such as, ‘I was teaching the Bible the other day, and . . .’ Then I continue with the point of my story. Although the immediate point is not in itself about the Bible, often others are curious about what I do when teaching the Bible. Sometimes they ask questions about it. The more I use this approach, the easier it gets. And afterward, I always feel great!”
17. What else can help you speak to others?
17 When others feel that you really care about and respect them, it is easier for them to respect you and your beliefs. Olivia, who is 17 and got baptized when she was much younger, says: “I had always been afraid that if I worked the Bible into a conversation, people would view me as a fanatic.” Then she started to view things differently. Instead of thinking too much about her fears, she thought: “A lot of young people don’t know anything about Jehovah’s Witnesses. We are the only Witnesses they are exposed to. So the way we act can determine how they will respond. What if we are shy or timid or have a hard time speaking up about our faith, or what if we cringe when we do speak up? Then they may look at us as if we aren’t proud of who we are. They may even respond unkindly because of our lack of confidence. However, if we talk with ease and assurance about what we believe, making it a normal part of conversation, it’s more likely that they will respect us.”
KEEP WORKING OUT YOUR OWN SALVATION
18. What do you need to do to work out your own salvation?
18 We have seen that it is a serious responsibility to work out your own salvation. To do this, you need to read and meditate on God’s Word, pray to Jehovah, and think deeply about all the ways he has helped you personally. Doing these things will help you to be much more confident that Jehovah is your Friend. This will make you want to speak to others about your beliefs.—Read Psalm 73:28.
19. Why is it worth any effort to work out your salvation?
19 Jesus said: “If anyone wants to come after me, let him disown himself and pick up his torture stake and keep following me.” (Matthew 16:24) Yes, to follow Jesus, each Christian must dedicate himself to Jehovah and get baptized. But this is just the beginning of a wonderful life now, and it will lead to eternal life in God’s new world. So do everything you can to keep working out your own salvation!