The world at present is deeply divided between Christendom, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and myriads of smaller religions. Yet the whole world will be converted ultimately to one religion. Do you know which one it will be? You may be surprised!
ISN'T IT STRANGE? No religion has been successful in converting even a majority of humanity? If there is any religion that is better than all the others, one might wonder why the majority in the world do not belong to it. Indeed, why don't all the people belong to it? As it is, out of more than four billion people on earth, more than three billion are non-Christians. Slightly more than 3 1/2 billion are non-Hindus. Almost that many are non-Moslems. That's a lot of nonbelievers! It isn't that no one has tried. Throughout history zealots, missionaries, prophets, teachers — vast armies of them — have set out to convert those who believed differently from them. Beliefs have evolved. They have been modified, compromised, reformed, united, split — but above all, they have been propagated. Conversions are deemed essential, if for no other reason than to assure the survival of religion. Peaceful and voluntary conversions have, in general, been preferred. But various religions have been known to resort to warfare to obtain converts or, at least, to wipe out the infidel who wasn't able to "see the light." There is no way to estimate the amount of blood that has been shed in the name of religion. From the time Cain murdered Abel, through all the "holy wars" and the Crusades and the Inquisition up to our present day, religious differences have resulted in killing and maiming. Religion against religion. And, incredibly, religion against itself. Prominent on television screens have been the scenes of Moslem slaying Moslem in Iran. For the past 10 years the world has witnessed the spectacle of professing Christians in Northern Ireland spilling each other's blood. Two thousand dead so far. When all is said and done, as far as converting the whole world is concerned, it is clear that neither the violent nor the nonviolent methods have worked. From the point of view of any of man's religions, the majority of the world is still unconverted.
The World's Largest...
The professing Christian religion with its one billion adherents is the world's largest. But healthwise, it is not well enough to convince all the outsiders that it is what it claims to be — the light and hope of humanity. Pollster George Gallup Jr. recently compiled an extensive study on religious trends. His findings suggest that in Western Europe "Christianity may be in serious trouble. Sharp down trends recorded in terms of belief in God and belief in an afterlife." In November, 1979, figures presented to the Church of England's general synod showed that membership of its electoral rolls had dipped by nearly 12 percent in the past five years. Commenting on sizable gains for Christianity in Third World countries, a survey put together by the Center for the Study of World Evangelization indicated that there will also be unprecedented defections from Christianity. That amounts to a standstill at best. Americans, Mr: Gallup's story reported, appear quite religious on the surface — 92 percent believe in God; 89 percent pray; 78 percent are religiously affiliated; but only 41 percent attend services on a typical weekend. Many Americans, statistician Gallup observes, "belong to a category of 'not-quite-Christians' who believe, but without strong convictions; who want the rewards of faith without obligations; who say they are Christians or Jews, but tend to keep the news to themselves." Indications are "that many parents and children alike are spiritual illiterates," giving only vague answers when questioned about the central tenets of their faith. While 98 percent of American homes have at least one Bible, few people can name the gospels or the Ten Commandments. Something is lacking. Adults "of all ages are flirting with a wide variety of movements and activities in the effort to feel fulfilled." Among these are transactional analysis, Zen, sensitivity sessions, pyramid power, astrology, tarot cards, biorhythms, auras, psychic surgery, astral projection, alcohol, self-assertiveness, marijuana, cocaine and psychic energizers. When a group of college-bound teenagers were tested on the Bible, their answers revealed a distinctive lack of biblical knowledge. Some thought that Sodom and Gomorrah were lovers; that Eve was created from an apple; that Jesus was baptized by Moses; that the Gospels were written by Matthew, Mark, Luther and John.
... but the Most Divided
Worshipers in most churches sing the inspiring words of "Onward Christian Soldiers," "We Are Not Divided ..."Nevertheless Christendom is split into three major divisions: the Roman Catholic Church accounts for some 562 million people, the Eastern Orthodox Church includes 85 million and the Protestants and others, some 320 million. Altogether there are hundreds of denominations. Outside of acknowledging God's existence, there is not one doctrine that all professing Christians agree on. Not one! From many quarters there is presently a push to unite Christendom. But any such union would, under present circumstances, be a superficial one without uniformity of doctrines.
Some Questions Needing Answers
Especially for professing Christians, there are some important questions that need to be answered: What about the billions of nonbelievers? What will happen to them when they die without becoming Christians? For that matter, what has happened to all the billions of nonbelievers who have already died, most of them without ever hearing the name of Jesus? Most professing Christians believe they lost their opportunity for salvation. If they have, there is something eminently unfair with the way God is doing things. On the other hand, some think all those unconverted billions are going to receive salvation anyway. Then why try to convert any of them now? Think of it! On this most important issue Christianity is itself divided! Is there some sense to it all? Is God prepared to just write off most of humanity? Or does He have a definite plan of salvation by which He will give everyone who ever lived a fair chance, to be converted and inherit eternal life? If so, what is that plan?
There Is a Master Plan
The truth is that none of man's religions will ever convert the world.
"There is no way to estimate the amount of blood that has been shed in the name of religion."
But the great Creator God will — in His time. He has a master plan. It is revealed in the Bible; it is illustrated in seven annual Holy Days which God ordained to keep people mindful of what He is doing. Unfortunately many Jews have been negligent about them. And Christians in general have said they are Jewish. Without them it is impossible to fully understand what life is all about. They portray the plan God is working out on the earth. One of these Holy Days will fall near the end of May this year. It is called the Feast of Firstfruits, the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost. Anyone acquainted with the Bible is aware that a grain harvest is used in the Scriptures as a symbol of the conversion and salvation of human beings. Reaping the harvest pictures bringing people into God's Kingdom. (See Matthew 13:18-30.) The first grain harvest was celebrated by the Feast of Firstfruits or Pentecost. It pictured the few who are now called to salvation. The great grain harvest took place in the autumn. It is appropriately celebrated at that time by the autumn Festival of Ingathering or Tabernacles. This great fall harvest portrays the saving of the majority of humanity — including all the billions who ever lived and died without understanding about salvation. They will all have an opportunity to be saved following Christ's return to earth when God sets His hand to save mankind. But what does this have to do with what most Christians believe today? He reveals how far Christians have strayed from the truth of the Bible. God is now calling, converting and saving only a small number of people. The Firstfruits! The New Testament Church began on the Day of Firstfruits or Pentecost (Acts 2). This festive season pictures the whole age of the New Testament Church from its beginning in A.D. 31 to the time of. Jesus' return to earth. During this entire period only a small group — the firstfruits (Romans 8:23) are called, converted and granted salvation. Jesus called His Church a "little flock" (Luke 12:32). (One would hardly say a mass of one billion is little.) Jesus plainly taught that "the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction [not necessarily eternal condemnation; just destruction]. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few" (Matthew 7:13-14, Revised Standard Version). That's what Jesus said: Few! According to the Bible, the whole world is deceived and in religious confusion (Revelation 12:9). It has been blinded (I Corinthians 4:4). Jesus taught in parables so people would not understand. Sound incredible? Read it for yourself in Mark 4:10-12. Jesus was speaking to the multitudes in a parable (Mark 4:1-2). "And when he was alone [and the crowds of unconverted were gone], they that were about him [Jesus' chosen disciples] asked of him the parable." They couldn't understand the parable either and wanted Jesus to explain it to them. "And he said unto them, Unto you [the ones He had chosen, the few, the firstfruits] it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: But unto them that are without [the outsiders, the blinded, unconverted vast multitude], all these things are done in parables..." Why? "That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them [in other words, that the multitudes should not then be converted but wait until God at a future time opens their eyes to the truth]" (verses 11-12; see also Luke 8:10 and Matthew 13). The Gospel must be preached, but primarily as a witness (Matthew 24:14). It is futile to try to convert the world at this time. God must remove the blindness first. And He will — after Christ's return to earth (Isaiah 25:7). That's when God will begin to convert the whole world to the true religion — His truth. God's laws and the entire way of life He has laid out in the Bible are being neglected. His revealed truth is not understood by any of man's religions. In the world to come, under Jesus Christ's rule, all people for the first time will be instructed in the way of God, "For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:9). Until that time only those whom God chooses to call to His truth are being converted. So said Jesus (John 6:44, 65). Eventually, however every human being who ever lived will have an opportunity to enter God's Kingdom. God is fair to all. That is good news! You owe it to yourself to obtain your free copy of the exciting article "Is This the Only Day of Salvation?" and the booklet Pagan Holidays - or God's Holy Days - Which? Follow the links, then believe what you see in your own Bible.