Jesus Christ is about to marry His true Church and complete the building of His spiritual temple. If we are to have a part in the Kingdom of God, we must make sure we are ready.
Imagine the following scenario: It is a pleasant spring evening about 10 p.m., and you and your family have settled down for a good night's sleep. The children have been tucked in, and your wife is already dozing. As you, too, begin to drift off, you are thinking about the work you did today on the flower beds or the vacation you are planning for this summer. A gentle breeze coming through the open window soothes you. Everything is quiet, except for a few crickets chirping somewhere outside. Suddenly you are startled out of your serenity by a loud hammering at the front door. The knocking is quick, persistent, demanding an answer. At first your cloudy mind has to struggle to realize what is going on, but then you are awake, getting up, putting on your robe. Your wife rolls over, sits up, rubs her eyes and asks, "What's going on?" "Someone's at the door," you mumble, as you turn on a small light in the hall and make your way downstairs. The rapping at the door grows even stronger, more impatient. Just before you reach the living room and are about to shout "Who's there?" a deep voice on the other side of the door booms, "Open up, in the name of the law!" The law? Your mind races. What is this? What's happening? You find a light and turn it on. You fumble with the lock and then open the door. Outside, in the dim, eerie moonlight, stand two uniformed police officers. They are tall, muscular, their faces grim. One of them has been using his nightstick to pound on your door, and he still clutches it in his hand. The officer with the nightstick squints, his eyes adjusting to the light inside, and then asks, in the same deep voice as before, somewhat quieter this time, "Are you Mr. Harry Smith?" "Why, y-yes," you stammer sheepishly, bewildered by everything. "I-I am." The man replies: "We're with the county police, Mr. Smith, and we have a warrant here for your arrest. You're going to have to come along with us to headquarters." Your mouth drops open. What? Me? Arrest? Scared, you find the strength to ask, "Why, what's the charge, officer?" Just before the policeman reads you your rights, handcuffs you and shoves you into the back of his patrol car, he replies, "Mr. Smith, you've been charged with being a Christian and worshiping the true God." At police headquarters you are fingerprinted, photographed and put in a small, bare, metal cell. Your captors inform you that you will be held without bail until you can be brought to trial. Tried — for being a Christian! As the cold steel door slams shut, your life passes in front of your eyes. Trembling, you wonder whether they can possibly convict you for the crime with which they have charged you — devotion to Christ's way of life. Suppose you were to actually be confronted with a situation such as this imaginary one. Could the authorities convict you? They should be able to, you know.
The evidence against you
Your life should be such a blatant example of loyalty to the principles of Jesus Christ that it would be simple to convict you of the imaginary crime of being a Christian. What charges should the authorities be able to bring against you? What evidence should they be able to find to prove the charges? What witnesses could be called to testify against you? Christ said, speaking of Christians: "Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them" (Matt. 7:16-20). Your fruits — what you produce with the Holy Spirit God has placed in you — are the evidence that would be used to press charges against you. And the stronger your fruits are, the surer your conviction as a Christian will be: Prayer and Bible study. What is your relationship with your Creator like? How well do you know Him and what He is doing — and what He wants you to do? If you are a true Christian, you will be growing more in harmony with Him each day of your life. That harmony is founded upon a solid practice of Bible study and constant prayer, both of which the Bible itself commands. "Pray without ceasing" (I Thess. 5:17). "I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting" (I Tim. 2:8). "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (Jas. 5:16). "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (II Tim. 2:15). "All scripture is given by God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (II Tim. 3:16). Understanding and supporting God's government. The foremost thing on God's mind right now is restoring His government to this earth. That government will be the basis of the Kingdom of God, and the Kingdom of God was the foundation of Christ's Gospel message. Do you understand God's government, and do you know where it is working today on earth? Are you in full support of that government, and do you desperately want it to rule you and this entire world? True Christians know what the government of God is and are totally behind it. If you aren't sure, then the prosecutors won't be able to convict you on this point. If you would like to know more, write for our free booklet, Just What Do You' Mean, Kingdom of God? Keeping God's commandments. True Christians will be concerned with obeying God's laws, both in the spirit and the letter. Those laws, based on love and outgoing concern - the give way of life — will be the basis of government in God's Kingdom and will be the standards by which the entire world is judged. To be convicted of Christianity, you must be a keeper of God's commandments, not a breaker of them. Christ said: "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled" (Matt. 5:17). Paul and John, apostles taught at Christ's feet, supported His teachings: "Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law" (Rom. 3:31). "He that saith, I know him [God], and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him" (I John 2:4). God's commandments include His weekly Sabbath and annual Holy Days, which God's true Church understands as picturing His plan of salvation. True Christians will be aware of how Satan has deceived the whole world with pagan holidays and will be keeping all of God's ordained festivals. Do you observe them as you should, both physically and spiritually? Doing good works. To prove that you are a true Christian, your prosecutors should be able to charge you with a long list of good works you have performed. Unselfish acts of service to others are one of the hallmarks of a Christian life (Matt. 25:31-46). "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world" (Jas. 1:27). "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:35). Is your attitude one of giving, sharing, helping, volunteering, sacrificing your interests in favor of the best interests of others? A Christian's clear goal in life is to do things that produce abundant life and happiness for other people, both those in the Church and those who have never heard of it. Becoming spiritually pure. When Christ returns to this earth to rule, He is going to marry a clean, pure bride who is wearing sparkling, beautiful garments (Rev. 19:7). You, as part of the Church of God, are a member of the "body" that will wed the Savior of the world. You should be preparing now for that glorious wedding, becoming spiritually pure and perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect (Matt. 5:48). "Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it... That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Eph. 5:25-27). Your mind should be fixed on honest, just, pure, lovely things — and so set that you can never be swayed from that way of thinking (Phil. 4:8). Spirit-born Sons of God will have developed perfect character and chosen the "give" way over the "get" way once and for all. If the policemen who arrested you on the Christianity charge gave you a lie detector test, you would be nearly unable to think anything except right, beautiful, godly thoughts. This test would be one of the strongest pieces of evidence they could use to convict you, if lie detector tests were admissible as evidence in the court. How strongly do you manifest the fruits of God's Spirit (Gal. 5:22- 23)?
Witnesses for the prosecution
When suspected criminals are tried, their convictions usually require more than a clearly defined set of charges and bits of circumstantial evidence. The strongest condemnation of a person in the prisoner's box comes from eyewitnesses who can testify that they saw the accused commit some illegal act. If the defendant was caught red-handed, so to speak, by a reliable witness, there is little he can do to maintain his innocence. So in the imaginary trial of the Christian, the prosecution should have available a number of witnesses — people who saw the follower of Jesus commit the "crimes" of which he is accused. And in real life, the multitude of witnesses around you should have no question in their minds as to your persuasion in life. Once again we look to a definite instruction Jesus Christ gave His followers. "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Matt. 5:14-16). Your attitude and works should plainly proclaim that you are trying to glorify God by living His way of life. Christ has put you in a world with literally billions of witnesses to whom He wants you to display the character you should be developing. If you are like the salt that has lost its savor (verse 13), no lawyer on earth could find an honest witness to convict you. But all the witnesses to whom you should be showing a model life are not in the world. "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us" (Heb. 12:1). Paul had just finished listing in chapter II the heroes of faith who had served God down through time: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, the prophets, etc. He immediately follows that list with a statement identifying those people as a "great... cloud of witnesses," who should influence us to obey God better! This group of God's chosen servants lived lives that "witnessed" to God's glory, and, symbolically, they are now watching those who claim to be God's servants today. In the resurrection, these people who learned to obey God perfectly will be able to judge whether or not some of us serve God as well as we would like to believe. "And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, 0 Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto everyone of them; and it was said unto, them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow-servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled" (Rev. 6:9-11). God is completing the construction of His spiritual temple with the body He is working with in this end time. The Church of God today must live up to the awesome legacy of previous faithful servants of God, who have already qualified to be in God's Family. And again, these Christians of former times serve as a symbolic witness of those who now claim to worship Christ. We are also being watched by Satan the devil, the accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:10), who would dearly love to witness to God that we are not obeying Jesus Christ, though we claim to. And above all, our lives and hearts are being searched by God the Father and Jesus Christ, to whom the Father has given the responsibility of judging the entire world (John 5:22). We had better be doing everything we can to please these great Witnesses!
Put yourself on trial
How well would you be able to defend yourself if you were brought to trial on the charge of being a Christian? Would you have to plead guilty and accept the consequences, or would you be able to easily beat the rap by cataloging just a few of the skeletons in your spiritual closet? At this critical juncture in world history, and as we are drawing nearer to a special time of the year for those who are keeping God's true Holy Days, Christians must put themselves on trial and cast a cold eye over their spiritual conditions. Each of us needs to throw the book — the Bible — at ourselves and test our character in the perfect mirror of God's law. Checking ourselves for the sin "that doth so easily beset us" is one of the duties of the Passover season. Once we have found the sin — the spiritual leaven — we must work to put it out of our lives. This is pictured by the Festival of Unleavened Bread. Jesus Christ is preparing for His marriage, and His bride must be perfect. True Christians have been given the opportunity to be the bride at that very special wedding, and to actually join Christ in a loving, exciting, eternal relationship. But we must be ready when He returns. "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. "Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversion and, godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless" (II Pet. 3:10-14).