FALSE CONVERSION is more rampant than EVER BEFORE! SELF-SATISFIED "brethren" seem to abound everywhere. Self-righteousness, luke-warmness, lethargy and disinterest seem on the increase! Real, godly ABHORRENCE OF SIN seems to be disappearing from among our people! It's time to WAKE UP! It's time you knew the terrifying end of those so ensnared!
THIS summer, our baptizing teams, sent into many countries to call upon those who had requested a visit from Christ's representatives, were appalled! NEVER had they baptized fewer people proportionately! Everywhere, they met sickening problems of divorce, broken homes, children separated from their parents, illegitimate children, perversion, people with tormented minds and bodies! SEX and LUST was a CONSTANT, CONTINUOUS. GROWING problem found by ALL our baptizing tours in all parts of the world! People were LAZY. They had a "don't care" attitude! MANY seemed NOT TO REALIZE the real seriousness of the times — and of their own personal lives! As one team reported, "Nine out of the first ten we met who were old enough for marriage had been involved in divorce. So many of those we have met are JUST NOT REPENTANT! They are quite PROUD of their past, saying how 'sincere' they have been, and how THANKFUL they are that God has rewarded their efforts and finally allowed them to find the truth." Another team of God's representatives said, "...we have found almost every type of problem imaginable; snuff-chewing, demons, those who want to preach, false conversions, and self-righteousness. The 'Bible-belt' atmosphere and background of many of these people has so affected them that they have a difficult time grasping the seriousness of our calling, and the commission we have been given. After a life-time of hearing 'Bible-preaching,' GOD'S TRUTH does not have the IMPACT upon them it should." Still another tour, led by a fully-ordained minister and with a senior Ambassador College student, reported, "We have met many fine people, but many are not ready to be baptized. We find people LAX and not really repentant."
A Striking Paradox!
But what a pitiful picture! This is a time when, as NEVER BEFORE, people ought to begin realizing the deadly seriousness of sin. This is a time when YOU ought to begin being truly HONEST WITH YOURSELF — searching deeply into your Bible to find the glorious TRUTH of God, and finding what YOU ought to be doing about it! Just at a time of world peril and chaos — PEOPLE ARE FILLED WITH LETHARGY AS NEVER BEFORE! Does it make any sense? It's almost as if drowsy guests of a huge hotel were being awakened by the roaring of the flames, hearing the trumpeting of the fire-chief's voice, the blaring of the sirens, the shrieks of people toppling from the roof and upper floors — but, on being dragged from their beds by a burly fireman attempting to carry them to SAFETY — they were to say, "NO! NO! Go away — let me sleep!" Then, lazily pulling their covers back over them, they BLIND THEIR EYES, and DEAFEN THEIR EARS to the frightening holocaust around them — and GO BACK TO SLEEP! If you were that fireman — wouldn't you be a little SHOCKED? Yes, what a SHOCK it is to find that MORE THAN HALF — even of THOSE WHO HAVE DESIRED BAPTISM — are SIMPLY NOT REPENTANT! Jesus said, "Except ye REPENT, ye shall all likewise PERISH" (Luke 13:3) referring to some who had met VIOLENT deaths! The Apostle Peter, inspired of God's Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost in 31 A.D., said, "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). Later, Peter said, "REPENT ye there fore, and be converted, that your SINS may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord" (Acts 3:19). The Gospel of Jesus Christ cannot be fully understood except by REPENTANT persons! Christ said, "REPENT ye, and BELIEVE THE GOSPEL!" (Mark 1:15.) Only one with a spiritual mind, one who has been truly converted, CHANGED from his carnal-minded hostility toward God and His laws, CHANGED from his phlegmatic, lazy, sleepy unconcern into a dynamically ALIVE, REPENTANT person, only such an one can really UNDERSTAND the Bible! Too many of you brethren today are living in DELUSION. Too many today fail to realize the deadly seriousness of life and of death! Let's come to understand!
The ENORMITY of SIN!
"All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" the Apostle Paul was inspired to reveal in Romans 3:23. SIN is defined in your Bible as the breaking of God's Holy LAW! (I John 3:4.) That LAW was given in ten major points, and then MAGNIFIED by Jesus Christ in His personal teaching, and by his personal life. SIN BREAKS this Holy, Perfect, Beautiful, Righteous, WONDERFUL LAW! God designed His laws to bring happiness and everything that is really GOOD for human beings, everything really worthwhile. These laws regulate and govern happiness, success, physical, mental and spiritual health and well-being! When these living laws are BROKEN, they exact a fearsome PENALTY! What a TRAGEDY, to see the maimed, twisted, torn bodies of helpless children lying in grotesque, tortured shapes beside the still-spinning wheels of a smashed, overturned automobile! What a fearsome penalty for sheer carelessness! And what a TRAGEDY, to see the feeble, twisted, distorted bodies of little beings born without arms or legs, their dwarf-like, gnomish little bodies hopelessly deformed, yet looking — with innocent trust in their eyes — uncomprehendingly at the future terrors and shame of a hideous lifetime — a lifetime of cruelty and shocked stares awaiting them like a black spectre of death! WHAT A MONSTROUS PENALTY to pay for distraught, frustrated parents who WANTED TO ESCAPE, and who took some seemingly harmless "tranquilizer" drugs! What utter depravity. What shameless filth. What depths of folly. What ugly, fetid, foul, sickening, ghastly PENALTIES to pay for SIN! And yet, today, people have forgotten about sin! Today, people JOKE about sin. They LAUGH about sin. They write of it. talk of it, sing of it, as if it were a casual, daily, normal, unimportant thing. "If it's a sin, then I'm guilty," croons the modern pimple — faced night — club entertainer singing sensuously into the microphone! Yes — IF IT'S A SIN — then I'm guilty! and "SO WHAT?" seems to be the attitude. But God does not JOKE about SIN! He is DEADLY SERIOUS about it! God says the wages of sin is DEATH. But, on the other hand, it is "appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement" (Heb. 9:27). Each individual is HUMAN. He is subject to death. That first death happens to ALL MEN, whether good or bad, righteous or sinful. THIS death, the "first death" of which the Bible speaks, which is appointed to ALL men, is NOT the wages of sin! The first death may be HASTENED by sin, or directly incurred as a result of SIN, such as murder, suicide, terrible "accidents," wars, "natural" calamities and sickness. But this death, the FIRST death, would happen sooner or later, regardless! Again, what is sin? Sin is the transgression of the LAW (I John 3:4). It is the breaking of the TEN COMMANDMENTS of God, as magnified by the teachings and life of Christ, find as further explained by example throughout the Bible. THAT law-breaking, though it may not always result in immediate PHYSICAL death, will incur the PENALTY of sin, which is DEATH — DEATH FOR ALL ETERNITY! (Matt. 25:46.) But there are many intermediate penalties for SIN — which MANY OF YOU ARE PAYING NOW!
The SERIOUSNESS of Sin
Most modern people are no longer frightened by statistics. The absolute proof cigarette smoking causes cancer, and the awesome statistics of the actual percentages of people suffering an agonizing death from it fails to impress most people. Announcements by the National Safety Council fail to even mildly curtail holiday drunkenness and reckless driving. Most have become calloused to sin. They accept sin — even though they do not recognize their way of life as being sin — as being NORMAL! Today, more and more of God's people are actually LIVING IN SIN — but attempting to JUSTIFY it! As they continue in sin, becoming calloused to it, seared by it, yet still THINKING themselves to be "Christian" they are permitting themselves to become dupes of the Devil — FILLED WITH SIN — yet FILLED WITH SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS! SIN IS SERIOUS! In ancient Israel, the sins many of Gods people commit almost unfeelingly, unthinkingly, would have been punished in immediate, TERRIBLE justice! A rebellious child would have been STONED to death! Fornication, theft, dishonesty, lying, disrespect toward the government — these sins were punished SWIFTLY, TERRIBLY! God wanted his people to learn, once and for all, the deadly SERIOUSNESS of sin! What about it, brethren? Are some of YOU so calloused to your own habits, your own lusts, your own continual personal indulgences that you permit yourself that you fail to see the deadly SERIOUSNESS of sin? Sin has condemned the human race! It has smashed bodies, wrecked lives, destroyed homes, twisted minds — it has and is sending scores and hundreds and thousands and millions — unless TOTALLY REPENTED OF — straight to a very real HELL! Have YOU forgotten how to blush? Have YOU forgotten the deadly SERIOUSNESS of sin? Have YOU permitted yourself certain indulgences which you feel are "minor" or are unimportant? I am absolutely amazed at some who call themselves brethren! Recently, a man I know to be filled with sins — who constantly has family troubles, is in trouble in the local Church — attends sporadically — IS PLAINLY CARNAL — came to shake hands with me, with a "Christian" greeting — JUST AS IF HE WERE REALLY A BROTHER IN GOD'S OWN CHURCH! The smell of tobacco just simply BEFOULED his clothes! Yet he could grin up at me in his calloused, seared, stupidly — befuddled indifference, and ACT AS IF HIS SINS DIDN'T EXIST! How IS it, brethren? How CAN IT BE? HOW CAN fat, lazy, gluttonous people "kid" themselves they're NOT gluttonously fat? Are they deaf, dumb and blind? HOW CAN fornicators and adulterers arise to say they have not sinned? HOW CAN unshaven, uncouth, unclean persons appear before God at His festivals the SAME WAY EVERY YEAR? Are they deaf, dumb and blind? How CAN so many be rearing little children who are virtual MONSTERS — whose mothers simply CANNOT control them, who receive spankings in school with such horrifying regularity they virtually fill the page of the spanking reports each and every week for YEARS, and yet — their parents "kid" themselves their children are doing fine! Are THEY deaf, dumb and blind? What is WRONG with so many of us — are we drifting into the Laodicean attitude? Do we have the terrible sin of JOB? Are we so calloused, so indifferent, so lethargic, so self-deluded about our OWN WRETCHEDNESS that God will have to cast us into the fire to be BURNED? Brethren — it's high time to WAKE UP to the SERIOUSNESS OF SIN! It's time the UNconverted QUIT KIDDING themselves!!!
Part and Parcel with Society
The problem with many — perhaps YOU — is in not coming out of the world! But herein lies a very subtle principle! You need desperately to understand this principle! Remember the statements of some of our baptizing teams again. They found that especially in the SOUTH, in the so-called "Bible belt" atmosphere, people tended to be very definitely SELF-RIGHTEOUS! Why? Because without realizing it they are part of the "world" around them! Notice it! We are a Protestant society. Nearly every one of you have had a "Protestant" background — both here in the United States, and, even though in perhaps a little lesser degree, in England and Australia. What many fail to realize is what God really means when He says a Christian must come out of this world (Rom. 12:2; I John 2:15). Many look with the typical disdain of the ignorant and uneducated upon the glittering world of glamour, the "big city life" about which they have heard all their lives as being evil! They SEE the evil of politics, corruption in government, crime and other major world factors. But what they do NOT see is that the "world" out of which THEY must come is their own private little "world" — their own private lives, their own private religious convictions, their own private background! Our baptizing teams found that people who have been reared in the country, and in smaller towns in the so-called "Bible belt" of the United States ESPECIALLY need to see and understand these things! They HAVE heard the "worldliness" of the glittering glamour world preached against — all their lives! They HAVE heard the typical "Bible thumping" evangelist, "revival" type preaching that is so typical of many of our southern states all their lives! This, then, is THEIR WORLD! And instead of feeling self-satisfied with this world, the world of "Bible preachin'," realizing that THIS world IS the one out of which they must come, the one which they must totally forsake, they remain in it and with it! They are PROUD of their "Bible belt" background. They are SATISFIED with most, if not all, of their past lives! Could this be you? Regardless as to the nation, or the part of the nation in which you live, could this be you? Could you be so STEEPED in your own background, your own environment, your own family, that you have failed to utterly and completely come out of your own private "world"? This is one of the subtle causes of false conversion! Many are PROUD that they have been a "church goin', Bible believin' " person all their lives! They have perhaps come to a certain portion of new truth! Usually, it is because they have come to see the truth of the SABBATH! This is the first big thing they will begin to see which makes them realize they will have to CHANGE! But brethren — let's realize it once and for all — changing the day on which you worship does not change your character! Many of these same "church goin', Bible believin'" people have chewed snuff, committed fornication, been involved in demonism, or tried to usurp the office of the ministry, all their lives! And, what is most important, they have not fully repented of these terrible sins! Rather than letting the Bible, like the sharp two-edged sword it is, cut every way in their own lives and consciences — they have used it as a weapon against others around them! It is so EASY to deceive ourselves. The human mind is deceitful above all things (Jer. 17:9). Remember, when God says you must come out of the world, He means whatever part, segment, portion of the "world" in which you have been involved — meaning the way of things around YOU! Most of you brethren in England have had the "Church of England" sort of spirit and background! You brethren in Australia have had the same general background. You people of the South in the United States have had your "Protestant" Bible belt background! All of you, regardless as to where you live, have lived in your particular portion of Babylon, where the devil is the god, and the demons his angels, and should realize once and for all that God commands you to come OUT of whatever was your part of this great system He calls Babylon (Rev. 18:4).
Is it REAL to You?
To many — God is NOT REAL! "Religion" is something that is natural, something a person "ought to have" — something that certain people are just naturally inclined toward! Having met many people in just such an — attitude — in the southern states of North America, I know from personal experience what the men on these tours have said to be TRUE! Mr. Meredith and I, visiting and baptizing people through sections of the South, saw the vast differences between the "religious" people of "Bible belt" background, and the TRULY CONVERTED! It was shocking to us to drive up to a home, filled with zeal and enthusiasm, really looking forward to meeting yet another family which was ready to COME OUT of Babylon, and be totally converted — only to find in many cases a complete lack of repentance! Let me make this really clear! We KNEW the real meaning of our trip — driving hundreds of miles to reach people living in scattered small towns, farms and in cities We really FELT, as do all our men who travel thousands of miles each year to reach those requesting baptism, a deep sense of the SPIRITUAL PURPOSE of our visit. We realized God was using us to somehow reach down into the mire of this evil world, and help RESCUE dying, strangling, sin-ridden people for Him! We were really filled with the knowledge that we were direct representatives of CHRIST HIMSELF! ALL our baptizing teams go into the field filled with this sense of REALITY — a feeling of real purpose! When we did meet a few who seemed to literally HUNGER and THIRST for knowledge, who hung breathlessly on every word we would say, who knew what a priceless privilege it was — NOT because we were the men we were — but because they could have the direct representatives of CHRIST in their own home, it was really thrilling! We met many who did understand. To them, God was REAL! Their lives, their futures, their eternity was being discussed and decided! They were hearing of the real PURPOSE in life, as it applied in a personal sense to THEM — and they realized the REALITY of it all! But others did not. Some wanted to tell us about their ideas of the Bible. Others wanted to expound some personal "spiritual" experience. Some wanted to merely "visit." I well remember a case or two, when perhaps an hour or more of precious time was wasted because a family talked of the price of vegetables, or about their car, or argued as to which day it was a few weeks previously when their aunt had come to visit! Instead of realizing what a real BLESSING was being afforded them — to have servants of CHRIST in their own home — servants directly representative of the UNIVERSE-RULING CREATOR OF HEAVEN AND EARTH — IN THEIR LIVING ROOM — they wanted to visit casually, as if it were a weekly occurrence! God wasn't REAL to them. His servants were just other "men" who were "interesting." They didn't really PERCEIVE what it means to be totally CONVERTED, to COME OUT OF THIS WORLD — TO CRY OUT TO GOD for forgiveness, and salvation! What about YOU, brethren? Most of you have been baptized. Is your baptism REAL to you? Have you really been begotten with the Holy Spirit of God? Are you a literal child of His? Or are you pretty proud that you've "always been a truth-seeker"? Have you "always been good"? Have you always done what you think is basically "right"? Have you always been a basically "good person"? Are you fairly well pleased and satisfied with your religious background? If ANY of these feelings are in YOUR heart, you are as TOTALLY UNCONVERTED AS ANY JACK-RABBIT! It's time you KNEW where you stand! Unless you know what a miserable, four-flushing, lying, cheating, conniving, hard-hearted, selfish, lustful, resentful, rebellious, sinning, negligent, apathetic, God-rejecting, deceived, pleasure-mad. self-righteous, stiff-necked, cast-off, worthless hunk of human JUNK you have been unless you have said, with Job, "I ABHOR MYSELF!" — then YOU ARE NOT NOW, AND HAVE NEVER BEEN IN THE PAST, CONVERTED! One of the greatest dangers in God's true Church today is a deceived sense of FALSE CONVERSION! It's FAR WORSE to THINK you're converted and NOT REALLY BE SO, than it is to be as carnal as a wild ass and KNOW you need conversion! The real DANGER is in being self-satisfied — PROUD OF YOUR PAST — thinking YOU are alright! Brethren, WAKE UP, before it's too late! Think of YOURSELF for a change. SEE if you are REALLY converted! Remember the stern admonition of your God, "EXAMINE YOURSELVES, whether ye be in the faith. PROVE your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is IN yon, except ye be reprobates?" (II Cor. 13:5.)