Are YOU under God's protection in this violent and war-torn world? You had better read this article to be sure!
THIS WORLD is teetering on the edge of oblivion. Thoughtful men everywhere are fearful. We are living in the shadow of violent death — hydrogen death. It could be unleashed by the tiniest political spark in a far distant land. Knowing all this has made people very restless. It has made them think seriously about many things — not the least of which is the hereafter.
Why Increased Religious Interest
This era of race violence and potential world suicide has helped stimulate an increased interest in religion in the United States. Multitudes are thinking more and more about making peace with somebody, even God. But are they really "making peace" with God, being truly converted — changed, and coming under His divine protection? The true Creator God says that most religious people are being deceived! Your Bible describes these very end times as a period when Satan the Devil "deceiveth the whole world." Jesus described our day when He said: "Many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall DECEIVE many" (Mat. 24:5). Yes, the many preachers who claim to be Christ's ministers, who proclaim that He is Christ but preach their own human devised message about His person — they are deceiving the many! Yet, in order to be regarded by God (men to the contrary notwithstanding) as a true Christian, in order to be under His protection in these perilous times, in order to be led by His Spirit, you must believe and obey the very message Jesus Christ brought to this earth from God the Father. And in this age above every other, you desperately need God — His guidance, His blessing, His protection! There is no use "kidding" yourself about this fact. You have only one life — and this is your life!
What You Should Do
You had better face the fact that you are very likely one of the multitude going the broad way that leads to destruction! If you are following the crowd, if you have the same general attitude toward religion that most people do, then without doubt you are deceived! For remember that Satan the Devil "deceiveth the whole world" (Rev. 12:9). But many hundreds of you are coming to the realization that over The WORLD TOMORROW broadcast and through the pages of this magazine you are receiving the very message that Jesus Christ brought to save this world from itself. If you are to come under the blessing and protection of the God and Father of Jesus Christ, you need to be sure of that message — act on it, obey it. You need to prove to yourself once and for all that there is a personal, living, active, all-powerful, Creator God. You must know that the Bible is His inspired Word — His direct revelation to man of that essential knowledge of the real purpose of life and of the spiritual laws of life which, if obeyed, will bring happiness and success. You must prove and know that the Holy Scriptures carry authority — that they are backed up by the power of the Living God who gives you every breath of air you breathe. You may already understand these things. But be sure that you have proved them to the extent that you would fear to disobey the commands of God in His Holy Word. It must be regarded as an authority over your very life. Christ said: "He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word which I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day" (John 12:48). Once you have fully proved these basic principles to yourself, then you need to study and understand and obey the true message of Almighty God contained in His Word. You must respect and fear the Living God enough to obey His commands.
The clearest revelation of God's plan and purpose was revealed by Jesus Christ. And after all, to be a "Christian" simply means to believe in and obey what Jesus Christ taught — to accept and submit to the message He brought from God the Father. Jesus stated: "For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak" (John 12:49). So Christ's message is direct from God the Father. It is to be obeyed! Jesus came to "reveal" the Father (Mat. 11:27). Above all else, He revealed God as the over-all Supreme Ruler of the universe. He taught that man is not to follow his own ideas and traditions, but is to "live by every word of God" (Luke 4:4)."Search the scriptures," Jesus said. Christ taught His disciples to pray: "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth" (Luke 11:2). He continually taught obedience to the Law and Will of God. When a young man asked Him the way to eternal life, Jesus answered: "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments" (Mat. 19:17). So if you are to be a true Christian, you must yield yourself to obey God's Will, keep the Ten Commandments specifically, and surrender your will so completely to your Maker that you will "live by every word of God." The entire New Testament reveals that God purposes to form within those whom He calls holy, righteous, perfect spiritual character as a prerequisite to the precious gift of eternal life in His kingdom. The basis of this character is the absolute yieldedness of one to obey God's perfect spiritual law revealed by the Ten Commandments and spiritually magnified in the New Testament. It involves a complete surrender of your personal will to God. It is a complete change in attitude, belief, and way of life. The apostle Paul was inspired to write: "Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God" (Rom. 12:2). But human will and strength cannot affect this change. The spiritual love and power must come as a gift from God!
God's Help Is Required
You have perhaps known of many people who make "resolutions" to live a better life; of drunks who decided to "give up the bottle;" of criminals who "reformed" by some means or other. If so, you will recall that most of these changes were neither permanent nor satisfactory. And even in those cases where a change in some area of life became permanent, the entire life, attitude, and actions were not totally yielded to the complete and perfect will of the Creator by any means. Human beings cut off from the true God can "reform" themselves to a limited extent. But they can never affect that process we call "conversion." For true conversion is a total change which is affected by God in one's very mind and nature. After real conversion, you begin to study the Bible, meditate on God's Law, and pray and talk to God continually. By this process, and through His Spirit, you come to have the very thoughts and nature of God within you. Your whole life is completely changed — converted, and you grow in grace and knowledge day by day. In spiritual attitude and character, you become more like Christ in every phase of life. Such a total change takes place within you as would be impossible to bring about or account for except as a supernatural act of the Almighty God. But this supernatural help from God is available only on certain very important conditions.
You Must Believe the True Gospel
Jesus Christ and His apostles always preached the gospel of the kingdom or world-ruling government of God. In Mark 1:14-15, we read: "Now after that John was put into prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying,... repent ye, and believe the gospel." Notice that the two things Jesus commanded were repentance and belief in His message. Jesus also taught that belief in the true gospel which He preached and obedience to the laws of God were inseparable. In Luke 16:16-18, He stated: "The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it. And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than for one tittle of the law to fail." Here we see that the law and the prophets — the Old Testament scriptures — were the only revelation from God to man until John the Baptist's ministry. But now the spiritual message of peace and salvation and the magnification of God's laws in their spiritual intent and purpose is revealed. But note that Jesus connected obedience to God's laws with the New Testament gospel of the kingdom. And, as if to squelch any doubt that He was referring to God's spiritual law revealed in the Ten Commandments, He continued by specifying the transgression of one of those very laws as that to which He was referring: "Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery" (verse 18). Throughout the Acts of the Apostles, we find that the inspired servants of Christ continued to preach the gospel of the kingdom — including, of course, obedience to the laws of God. We see that Philip preached this gospel in Acts 8:12. Paul said he preached it to the Gentiles at Ephesus in Acts 20:25. And in Acts 28:30-31, we find that he continued to preach this same message of peace to the end of his ministry — even to the Gentiles at Rome. This is the true gospel. It is a message of the government of Almighty God over our lives now as preparation for entrance into His soon coming world-ruling kingdom when Jesus Christ returns with Divine power and glory as King of kings and Lord of lords. And since God's kingdom has laws, it is a message of surrender and obedience to the laws and rule of God. You must first repent of your ways, you must turn from sin which is the transgression of God's spiritual law contained in the Ten Commandments (I John 3:4), and believe the true gospel. Then there is another most important step you must take. That is water baptism.
Water Baptism Is Absolutely Necessary
After total repentance and belief in the true gospel, water baptism is the next essential step you must take to be truly converted and to receive of God's Holy Spirit. In fact, it is a test of your real repentance and willingness to obey God. Jesus Christ commanded the apostles: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is BAPTIZED shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark 16:15-16). Jesus meant exactly what He said! In His parting commission as recorded by Matthew, Jesus said: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" (Mat. 28:19). In Peter's inspired sermon on the day of Pentecost, he shouted: "Repent, and be BAPTIZED every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38). Notice that you are promised the gift of the Holy Spirit only on condition that you repent and are baptized. Later, Peter speaks of the Holy Spirit, "whom God hath given to them that obey Him" (Acts 5:32). You must do what God says. You must repent and be baptized or you will never receive of God's Holy Spirit. There is no other way! The apostle Paul stated: "Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his" (Rom. 8:9). In other words, unless you have fully repented of your sins, come to God through Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, and been baptized as He has commanded, you are not Christ's — you do not belong to Him. Therefore, you are not a Christian in God's eyes — never have been — and never will be unless you are finally willing to surrender your life to God the Father, and accept Jesus Christ not only as your Savior, but as your High Priest, your coming King, your Ruler — the One whom you will obey throughout all eternity! God's Spirit is the very nature and life of God through which we become His begotten sons. His Spirit will help us grow to maturity in Christian character. Its fruits are listed in Galatians 5:22-23. Notice them: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance" — or, as better translated, "self-control." The Holy Spirit gives us power for self-mastery, self-discipline, self-control. And through it, God's Love is shed abroad in our hearts (Rom. 5:5). The Holy Spirit makes us like God. You need God's Spirit. You need His guidance and protection. But the tremendous decision to yield yourself wholly to God — to live by His every Word — to obey Him throughout all eternity — such a decision must not be taken lightly.
Baptism Involves a Vital Decision
Baptism symbolizes the death and burial of the old, sinful self, and the rising from the watery grave to a new, a changed, a converted life. It also pictures the death and burial of Jesus Christ to pay for our sins, and His resurrection as the firstborn from the dead. The apostle Paul writes: "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we are BURIED with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Rom. 6:3-4). The decision to be baptized hinges on your willingness to completely surrender your will and your life to God through Christ as your Savior. He paid the penalty for your past sins, but when you know the truth you can no longer willfully do what you know is sin and expect God's forgiveness. God rules by His LAW! "Keep the commandments," said Jesus. "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?" (Rom. 6:16) When a choice has to made between following the ways of your friends and family, or obeying what you have found to be the will of God — which course do you follow? Do you take the easy way out and follow men? Do you serve and thereby worship the ways of men more than the ways of God? Don't "kid" yourself! You can't fool God! When you learn some new point of truth in the pages of this magazine, or on The WORLD TOMORROW broadcast, or in your own personal Bible study, do you put it into practice in your life — do you obey it — or do you reject it be-cause it conflicts with what your church or your particular society believes and observes? Are you like the Pharisees who rejected Christ because "they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God?" (John 12:43) God seems far away to some people, and their friends seem so close and so important. Which do you worship? Which do you obey? If you had to give up your job — your only source of income — in order to obey some point of truth you found in God's Word, would you do it? Would you exercise faith, as Jesus did, and rely on God's many promises to "supply all your need?" (Philip. 4:19) Would you worship God — or mammon? These questions apply to you!
Be Sure of Your Decision
If you still have some questions about baptism, or if you are not certain as to the proper mode of water baptism, then read Mr. Armstrong's free booklet All About Water Baptism. This will explain any questions you may have on this subject. But the decision to be baptized is yours. If you feel that you are ready to make an unconditional surrender to God through His Son Jesus Christ as personal Savior, then write a letter, airmail if necessary, to Mr. Armstrong telling us that you want to be baptized this summer. Each summer, we send out teams of ministers and advanced ministerial students to counsel with and baptize those who are ready to fulfill this command of God. These men will be leaving very soon after you receive this article. So don't delay! Get your letter, addressed to our nearest office, in the mail immediately telling us you want to be on the baptizing list for this summer. Our men will then contact you and arrange to meet you at your own home or in a nearby town or city. You need salvation! But you need to be absolutely sure that you are willing to do your part and give yourself to God, so that you can then be certain that He will grant His blessings, His protection, His salvation to you.