Do you REALLY have a personal contact with the One, True GOD? How do you know? Have you been BAPTIZED? Perhaps you are one of many who would like one of our baptizing and counseling teams to visit you this spring or summer. WHAT SHOULD a true minister tell you if you ask him how to be "saved"? What steps should you take in order to truly "know" God — and have His direct guidance and blessing?
If you conducted a private poll among many professing Christian ministers all over the world, you would receive literally DOZENS of differing answers.
Some of the ministers would feel a little sorry for your childlike assumption that you could have "direct" contact with God. For, to them, God is the "essence of good" or the "divine thought - principle" which emanates throughout the universe.
These reasoning's proceed from the fact that most of this world's society — including this world's religion — doesn't know the True God!
This is a tragedy.
Prove the Things That COUNT Never say you "don't have time" for the truly BIG things in life. You do have time — uncounted minutes, hours, days and years. How you USE those precious minutes is the very KEY to success in life. Learn to TAKE TIME for these — gladly and thankfully.
Take time, for instance, to PROVE that there is a real, literal, personal Being who sits at the controls of this universe. He has created the heavens and the earth — and now He rules over His creation.
Prove to yourself that this God EXISTS.
Do this, first of all, by writing for our free booklet: Does God Exist? and the free article: "Seven Proofs God Exists." These articles give you the basic keys by which you can know — and know that you know — that God lives and RULES the universe from His throne in heaven!
Then there is another basic point to prove. You must come to absolutely KNOW that the Bible — in its original writings — is directly inspired of God! For Jesus said: "It is written, that man shall not live by bread alone, but by EVERY WORD OF GOD" (Luke 4:4).
Unless you literally believe the Bible, you have no basis for proof — no standard — no AUTHORITY whatsoever — for your "ideas" on religion or the really BIG questions of life. Have you ever realized that before?
Everybody can have "his opinion." Everybody can have his own "personal philosophy." But ONLY the Bible really answers with authority the questions of where we came from, the purposes and laws of life, and where we are going after death. Only the Bible reveals the real PURPOSE of human existence!
You need to think about and UNDERSTAND that.
Then, you need to really PROVE that the Bible is, indeed, the very inspired Word of God. A mighty important step would be writing for our free, illustrated booklet: The Proof of the Bible. As you study this booklet, look up the references given, enlarge upon them, use your own mind and powers of observation and come to KNOW that God exists and wrote the Bible as His instruction book for man!
Learn that the Bible carries divine AUTHORITY! Learn that, in the Bible, God says what He means and MEANS WHAT HE SAYS!
There is a third basic point to prove. Billions take it for granted — but don't really UNDERSTAND it.
That is the fact that Jesus Christ of Nazareth was and is the Son of God — the promised Messiah — the Savior of the world. That is the fact that Jesus literally PAID the penalty of your sins — and that His sacrifice will be applied IF you are willing to accept Him as Savior and as Loa]) and MASTER as well! If you would like help in proving the truth about this matter, then write for Mr. Armstrong's free booklet entitled: Just What do You Mean Salvation?
In any case, be sure that you have PROVED that Jesus Christ was and is the Messiah, the Son of God, and the Savior of those who believe and obey Him. This is something you must KNOW — not merely take for granted or "suppose."
Having PROVED the above facts, you then have the basis for coming to know God and to be truly converted to become His Son.
How to be Saved What should a true minister of Jesus Christ tell you if you ask him how to be "saved"? He would tell you the SAME THING that Jesus did and that the Apostle Peter did! But would you believe him?
Notice: "Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the KINGDOM OF GOD, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: REPENT YE, and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:14-15).
Jesus came preaching a definite MESSAGE. The message was about the coming world-ruling government of God. It involved OBEDIENCE to God's commandments and His way of life. It involved REPENTANCE from past sins and rebellion against God's government. It involved BELIEF in God, in Christ and in that MESSAGE as the right way of life.
Again, notice Matthew 19:16-17. A young man came to ask Christ the way to eternal life.
What did Jesus answer?
"Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS." Then Jesus began to name some of the Ten Commandments to show what law He was referring to in this statement.
Certainly Jesus' message involved definite OBEDIENCE to the Ten Commandments of God. His message about the coming Kingdom of God was literally FILLED with teachings about surrender to and OBEDIENCE to the will of God and the great LAW of Almighty God as summarized in the Ten Commandments.
The first point in Jesus' message, however, was always to REPENT of disobedience to God and His law. "REPENT: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Mat. 4:17).
Again: "I tell you, Nay: but, except ye REPENT, ye shall all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3).
The Apostle Peter stated: "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out" (Acts 3:19).
And in his inspired sermon on the Day of Pentecost when God's Spirit was first poured out, Peter commanded:
"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).
This means YOU!
Through this very article — and through all The PLAIN TRUTH magazines you have read and The WORLD TOMORROW broadcast to which you have listened — you are being invited or "called" to OBEY your Maker! The choice is up to you!
But the first condition is to REPENT!
Your Bible describes how "the sorrow of the world worketh death." But it states: "For godly sorrow worketh REPENTANCE to salvation not to be repented of" (II Corinthians 7:10).
Godly repentance means that you are willing to QUIT SINNING — to quit disobeying God's laws and ways! It means you are ready to unconditionally SURRENDER to Jesus Christ as Lord and Master. You are willing to let Him LIVE HIS LIFE in you — through His Holy Spirit.
What It Means Accepting Christ as Master means you are willing to literally LIVE by every word of God as contained in the Bible. Since the Bible is inspired and "is profitable for doctrine, for REPROOF, for CORRECTION, for instruction in righteousness" (II Tim. 3:16), you will be willing to let the Bible CORRECT you where you are wrong. You will get your "ideas" of religion from the inspired INSTRUCTION of God's Word rather than the teachings and traditions of men!
In repentance, you repent of SIN. What is the Bible definition of sin?
"Sin is the transgression of the law" (I John 3:4). That is the Bible definition of sin — breaking God's Law!
So to really be converted, you must REPENT of breaking God's law. Remember that in the New Testament, this law was magnified by Jesus Christ — particularly in Matthew 5 and the Sermon on the Mount. We are to keep not merely the letter, but the spirit or intent of God's law in every phase of our lives.
But to do it we need divine help.
That is why we must SURRENDER and yield to let Christ literally live His life in us through the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul explains: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but CHRIST LIVETH IN ME: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Gal. 2:20).
Once we have come to THIS KIND of sure repentance and surrender to God, then we should BE BAPTIZED. The very word "baptize" — coming from the Greek baptizo — means to immerse, to submerge, or plunge into.
As God's word clearly explains, the very symbolism of baptism pictures a BURIAL. "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).
Going down into the water is a symbol of BURIAL. Shaking or "sprinkling" water over somebody, dabbing or "dipping" water onto them or spraying them with a fire hose — these do NOT picture a burial in any sense whatsoever!
Why don't people want to do it THE WAY the Bible obviously describes? Why don't they do it THE WAY every scholar admits Jesus himself was baptized?
Have You REPENTED? If you have, indeed, come to the place of repentance and yieldedness described above — you will easily be able to supply the correct answer.
As a sailor being BURIED at sea, so is your body literally buried, temporarily, under the water as a symbol of your acknowledgement that you have SINNED. In this manner, you acknowledge that you have come under the penalty of sin which is DEATH (Rom. 6:23). You are baptized "into Jesus Christ" as an acknowledgement of this and of your FAITH in His sacrifice in your stead. So you need not remain under this death penalty, but rather be reconciled to God, receive His Holy Spirit, and ultimately become BORN of Him in the resurrection — which being raised from the water of baptism also pictures (verse 5).
Never forget that before real conversion comes real REPENTANCE. You had better humble yourself until you can sincerely repent as David did in Psalm 51: "Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin," David cried. "For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my SIN is ever before me."
Notice that David did not try to justify himself — he acknowledged his sin freely and asked for forgiveness.
He continued: "Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this EVIL in thy sight."
God didn't have to argue or "reason" David into admitting his guilt! As Job, David had come to see himself as he really was and to ABHOR himself. And you are no better!
When you are finally ready to REPENT of breaking God's laws, of following human traditions, of conforming to this society and its ways, then here is what God requires of YOU. "The sacrifices of God are a BROKEN spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise" (Ps. 51:17).
When that time comes, you will quit arguing and reasoning with the ministers through whom God shows you by the "fruits" that He is working. You will not grudgingly hang on to your own ideas any more. You will not get your "feelings" hurt at the correction and exhortation of God's chosen servants — the ONLY ones who are preaching His warning message as a WITNESS to all the earth!
At that time, you will be humble and TEACHABLE like a little child — not assuming that you are a spiritual giant before you even start on the road to real conversion.
You Are Responsible to ACT If you have come to realize that this is the very Work of God — preaching Christ's message as a WITNESS to this dying world — perhaps you would like to write us about being baptized. Each spring and summer we send out teams of ministers trained at one of the Ambassador Colleges to baptize people all over this earth.
If you know that you are ready to make an unconditional surrender to God through Jesus Christ — to serve Him, to OBEY Him, to let Him LIVE HIS LIFE in you through the Holy Spirit — then write an air mail letter to Mr. Armstrong, telling us that you want to be baptized this spring or summer.
Those of you in Great Britain, Europe and those in South Africa should write to our London address; those in Australia, New Zealand or Southeast Asia should write to our North Sydney address; those in Canada, to our Vancouver address.
If you have any questions or wish more information on the proper mode of baptism, then write immediately for Mr. Armstrong's free booklet: All About Water Baptism. This helpful booklet will cover nearly any question you may have on the subject.
Most of all, remember that the precious UNDERSTANDING of God's Truth which you are being granted carries with it a great responsibility. You need to exercise the spiritual courage to ACT on the tremendous knowledge which the God of heaven is now giving you! With all your heart, seek for His love, wisdom and faith which He will put in you through the Holy Spirit.
The result of THIS KIND of conversion will change your life more than you can humanly know or imagine!