From our minister in the Colorado-Kansas churches comes this surprising message!
CONVERSION means a "change." It means to turn from our evil past conduct. It means to totally forsake human tradition, to yield in unconditional surrender to the Creator God. Conversion is impossible to achieve through human effort alone. It can be done only through the supernatural power of God.
What Is Conversion?
Two factors must always be present before a man can be converted: 1) he must receive a divine calling from God, and 2) he must heed that calling, surrendering his self-will to God. Either one of these factors alone is not enough! Many hermits and people sour on society have realized what this world is. They are pessimistic, they have forsaken social contact, yet they are not converted. Why? Because God has not called them. On the other hand, many other individuals have rejected the calling of God. Why? Because bright lights, associations, friends, and the pleasures of this world still mean too much to them. Therefore, to be converted, a man must receive a divine calling from God a command to meet God on His terms and he must yield himself to that summons! He must change in respect to his past conduct. This change must be in God's direction. It means absolute surrender to the laws and ways of God ...ways that bring happiness, joy, peace of mind, and eternal life. Conversion is a living, dynamic change he has experienced. Conversion produces definite signs or fruits. Not only are they distinguishable to the person himself, hut also to outsiders and spiritual brethren in the Church. These signs are the signal lights of a converted mind. There are seven of them. Each is an absolute, integral part of conversion. A lack of any one of them denotes spiritual infancy, carnality, and disobedience to God. Only those who have these seven signs are fully the people of God! What are the seven basic signs of conversion?
1) Have You REPENTED?
Probably misunderstood more than any other step to salvation is the meaning of repentance. The word "repentance" has been promiscuously tossed about. Evangelists use it to promote the "sawdust trail" routine. Vast audiences supposedly repent. This routine is often accompanied by public sobbing, and the most embarrassing moment of all, when the candidate humiliates himself enough to walk up before thousands to publicly accept Jesus. World-known evangelists utilize every form of rhetoric at their disposal to "move" vast audiences to repent. Yet, amazing as it may seem, these evangelists themselves do not fully understand what is really involved. But the Bible is very clear on the subject. Read Acts 2:38, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Repent. Repent of what? Sin! Repentance is a prerequisite for baptism. What is remitted as a result? Sin! Obviously then, we ate required to repent of our sins before we can be baptized. But what is the Bible definition of sin? Read it with your own eyes: "Sin is the transgression of the law!" (I John 3:4.) We are to repent of breaking God's law as defined by the ten commandments! (James 2:8-10.) The ten commandments define the great spiritual principles by which we must conduct ourselves in relationship to God and man. It is a law designed to give us abundant, full, exciting lives. Since we must repent of breaking God's law, we now need to understand thoroughly what repentance really is. Notice Acts 2:36, 37: "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this they were pricked in their heart..." Peter told these Jews that they were the murderers of the Christ! They were pricked in their hearts that is, moved with remorse, deeply sorry, filled with regret. Yes, they had repented for murdering Christ. Brethren, we've all done the same thing! We are Christ's murderers as well! Why? Because Jesus died to pay the penalty for the sins of the whole world. He had never sinned, but He took the death penalty we have incurred and died in our stead. The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23), and all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). This is why we need to repent. We need to deeply and sincerely regret all our violations of God's law which brought the death penalty on us and put Christ on the cross. To repent means not only to be sorrowful, but also to do something about it to stop breaking the commandments. But we must do it sincerely, "For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret but worldly grief produces death" (II Cor. 7:10, R.S.V.). Yes, your repentance must mean business. It must be the most important thing in your life. It involves a humbling of self, an emptying out of vanity, not "embarrassment" in accepting Christ. As Isaiah said, "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord..." (Isa. 55:7). This entails acknowledging our worthlessness (Job 15:14-16), realizing all of our good deeds are as filthy rags before God (Isa. 64:6). Perhaps we haven't all committed murder, adultery, and theft, but we've all envied and coveted; we've all broken God's Sabbath. Whosoever shall keep the whole law and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all (James 2:10). Also real repentance is a life-long process. We may violate God's spiritual law in our minds, or even commit transgressions which we do not realize from time to time (I John 1:8-9). It is for these sins we must continue to repent (Rom. 7:23). Those who do these things have made the first step to real conversion. They have repented.
2) Are You Absolutely SURE?
What would your reaction be if tomorrow you received this special bulletin from Mr. Armstrong: "The time has come for God's Church to flee! Use whatever means at your disposal to assemble with the brethren. Time: Two weeks from date of this letter. Place: Tabernacle grounds, Gladewater, Texas. Church fleeing!" How many of you would be in Gladewater on that date? Do you realize that in the future this or a similar bulletin may be sent out? How sure will you be of God's Church? A converted mind is a sure mind. It is sure God exists. It knows the Holy Bible is God's inspired Word. It knows God has a Church and that He is working through his true ministers. It has long ceased to doubt, to question, to scrutinize. It seems we all go through a doubting stage when coming to conversion, but unfortunately some of us haven't outgrown this step. Some are not convinced we should keep all of God's law, and attend the annual festivals. Some doubt this is God's Church, and that His ministers are God-called. Brethren, such an attitude displays a carnal mind. True, we must prove all things (I Thes. 5:21), but not in the light of oar desires or likes. We must prove all things according to Gods Word. The dangerous tendency of "proving" what we agree with, or what we want to prove, reveals an unwillingness to live by every word of God. The age in which we live is characterized by doubt. Many constantly switch churches, frequently change doctrines. We are to be sure! We are not to doubt! James tells us doubting is a lack of faith (James 1:8), and "whatsoever is not of faith is of sin" (Rom. 14:23). Jesus said, "No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:62). The one who doubts actually desires to return to his old life, an act which Peter, in a vivid picture, describes as a dog returning to his own vomit (II Pet. 2:20-22). When a number of disciples forsook Jesus, He then asked the twelve, "Will ye also go away"? Then Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life." (John 6:66-68.) Today there is only one Church the Radio Church of God proclaiming these same words! There is no other place you can go to receive the words of eternal life. Let's hear and apply these words. Let us be sure of God's way.
3) Are You OPEN-MINDED?
During the days of Christ and the early apostles, there were three great religious divisions Christianity, Judaism, and paganism. It was no problem to see the physical limitations of Judaism, and the abominations of paganism. After accepting Christianity, the converts were not confused by hundreds of differing beliefs. Today this is no longer true. There are five major divisions of religion, each containing many splits and schisms. Professing Christianity itself is divided into over 450 sects and denominations in America alone. We are constantly bombarded by a "hodge podge" of religious ideas and sentiments. Millions of minds are ingrained with these false concepts. God tells us this world is in religious confusion. it IS deceived and blinded by Satan, the present invisible ruler (II Cor. 4:4, Eph. 2:2). Spiritual truths, not comprehended by the natural mind, are understood only through God's Spirit. But God's Spirit will not work with a closed mind. Let us notice those whom God called in the early New Testament Church. Remember, God does not change (Mal. 3:6, Heb. 13:8). "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls" (Acts 2:41). "But when they believed Phillip preaching the things concerning the Kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women" (Acts 8:12). These examples prove Gods people are open-minded! They are willing to listen to Gods true ministers, to examine without prejudice. In the same way, we must be willing to hear the truth of God from His true servants without a barrier of personal ideas, of things "we've studied" on our own. Perhaps the most difficult individual God must deal with is the self-made man. He is independent, self-sufficient. Although he has studied certain Bible truths out on his own, must of what he has proven is based upon carnal argument. He has "proven" what he agrees with. He is not willing to verify that which may disagree with "his ideas." He is biased and carnal. His mind, being closed, shuts out the real important truths of the Bible. We cannot be converted with this attitude. We must be open-minded. We must follow the example of the Bereans. "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so" (Acts 17:11). And as a result "Therefore many of them believed..." why? Because they were not prejudiced! They became converted! The natural mind, stubborn, prejudiced, guided by emotions, is not a converted mind. Unless we can accept truth, regardless of its effects, it is impossible to attain perfection. Christ said we must become perfect (Mat. 5:48) A bigoted mind, looking at the Bible in the light of personal ideas, is lacking another vital element of conversion, a readiness of mind aid willingness to accept truth even though it hurts.
4) Are You TEACHABLE?
"Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding" (Prov. 3:13). Bible understanding is indeed a joy and blessing. If it is applied, our lives become happy and meaningful. Listen to this startling fact: statistically speaking, it you are thoroughly converted, you are one in d million! Only these converted brethren possess true wisdom and understanding. That means only one in a million have it. Yet how many of us gained it on our own? Not one! This is why we must be willing to be taught. The Ethiopian eunuch recognized this fact. Notice, when asked by Philip, "Understandest thou what thou readest!" he replied: "How can I, except some man should guide me?" (Acts 8:30-31.) And how can we understand unless some man should guide us? God utilizes human agencies to do His work. God instructs through His word, which is expounded and made clear by His ministers. Notice Romans 10:14, "How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?" Yes, God instructs us to be willing to hear His ministers, to be willing to be taught. Most human beings, not having a converted attitude, do not want to accept the true Bible teaching. They do not want to be taught. God says His people are destroyed for lack of knowledge (Hos. 4:6). As a whole, God is not teaching His people Israel, but He is teaching those weaned from the milk, and drawn from the bream (Isa. 28:9). As Jesus clarified, we must become as little children, having the teachable, obedient attitude of a child, before God will instruct us (Mat. 18:3). An important point must here be emphasized. Not all of us are as converted as we should be. Many of us tend to look at physical facts and circumstances. We look at personalities. We tend to have favorites even among God's ministers. Like the Corinthians, some of us say: "I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ" (I Cor. 1:12). Are God's ministers divided? Some of us tend to disregard younger ministers. Just as the Jews attempted to refute the facts by rejecting the man (John 9:34), we may sometimes be guilty of the same. We need to realize all of Gods ministers are God-called. They are not self-appointed. Without the realization that you need to be taught by God's true ministers, ministers whom God has endowed with wisdom and knowledge, ministers who are capable of teaching you the pure word of God, you lack an important point of whole conversion willingness to be taught!
5) Are You SEEKING CORRECTION?
All the teaching in the world is of no value unless we are willing to be corrected. Developing God-like character requires a willingness to be corrected. This correction comes through God's ministers. But normally, we don't like to be corrected. Why is it, for example, that the Bible is the most argued-over book in the world? Simply because the Bible corrects! There is no disagreement about the results of a scientific experiment or an electronic theory. These facets of learning do not correct us personally. For example, there are over two hundred different ideas and interpretations for Gal. 3:20 alone. This gives an idea of how most Americans regard the Bible. God describes this national attitude in Jer. 5:3 "... they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return." And so we have in America alone over 450 sects and denominations. "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way " (Isa. 53:6). The way to happiness, joy, and eternal life God's way means we must receive correction. Most of us have lived thirty, forty, or fifty years indulging in bad habits which are contrary to God. These habits, attitudes, and thoughts must be changed. The Bible is God's instruction book. It tells us how to change. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness": (2 Tim. 3:16). Because as a nation we refuse to be corrected, God must bring a national punishment. Notice Jeremiah 30:14, "I have wounded thee with the wound of an enemy, with the chastisement of a cruel one, for the multitude of thine iniquity, because thy sins were increased." During World War II the Nazis liquidated the Jews at the rate of 10,000 daily, a number insignificant by comparison to the carnage coming on America (Isa. 1:9). Why? Because we won't receive correction! Brethren, let's be corrected the easy way before it's too late. Let's copy David's attitude: "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me" (Psa. 139:23-24). Jeremiah cried out, "O Lord correct me..." (Jer. 10:24). Correction is for our good, but remember, it comes from God's word through His ministers. Without a willingness to be corrected, and more important, to act upon it, we are not converted!
6) Do You RESPECT God's Servants?
Jesus Christ said, "I will build my church; and the gates of hell (hades, or grave) shall not prevail against it" (Mat. 16:18). Notice Jesus said Church, not churches. Jesus kept His word! His Church has always existed. It is here today! Historically, it can be traced to the day of Pentecost in 31 A.D. If you have not read this amazing truth, write immediately for our free booklet, "A True History of the True Church." In the true Church, alone, Christ has placed His ministers. God's ministers represent Jesus. Notice their purpose: "And he [Christ] gave some, apostles; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (Eph. 4:11-13). God's ministers are here to lead God's people to salvation. God has given them authority to bind and loose, and to make decisions in His church (John 20:23). God's ministers must be respected! When Abraham knew representatives from heaven were visiting him, notice his conduct. He ran, he bowed himself to the ground, he hastened, he ran and fetcht a calf (Gen. 18:1-8). In this case, the God of the Old Testament, who later became Christ, was present. Anyone who is really converted will exemplify this same conduct today. How you respect God's ministers indicates your respect for God. Notice what Paul said about the manner in which the Corinthians received Titus, a representative of God: "And his inward affection is more abundant toward you, whilst he remembereth the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling ye received him" (II Cor. 7:15). Yes, God made sure this incident was recorded in His inspired Word. It is an example for us to follow today. God's true ministers represent Jesus Christ. Anyone who deliberately disrespects them is showing disrespect toward God. A lack of respect reveals we do not fear God. Let us have respect for the office in which God has placed His ministers.
7) Do You FEAR GOD?
Last then, and probably most important, we should fear God. To fear God means to respect Him. It means to rightly attribute power and glory to Him. It means to show God reverence and awe, guided by Love. No man can endure to the end serving God in slavish fear. Our service to God should be in love. Love means to want to obey God (I John 5:3). God is not a merciless tyrant. Every law, every injunction God has given is for our good. God loves us. He wants us to be happy. But He knows we cannot be happy unless we fear Him, for "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: (Psa. 111:10). If we acknowledge His as Supreme, we will be willing to live by every word of God. Then all the previous characteristics mentioned which manifest conversion will automatically become a part of us. Solomon summarized the conclusion of man's being placed on the earth. Here it is: "Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole man" (Ecc. 12:13, Jewish trans.). God is love, and God is just. Every man will reap what he has sown (Gal. 6:7). Soon the nations are going to have the shock of their lives. "... they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shaker terrribly the earth" (Isa. 2:19). Brethren, time is running out! God is soon going to begin talking to this world in the only language it will understand. God is going to chastise! The sword is being drawn from the sheath to begin with Israel. Soon to overtake sinning humanity is the "Great and terrible day of the Lord." "For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand"? (Rev. 6:17). You can stand! You can escape the day of wrath upon America! You can be accounted worthy to stand before the Son of man. How? By being thoroughly converted. It takes a lifetime of striving to attain perfection. We don't have a lifetime left! Pray diligently that God will give you the seven signs of true conversion.