Is water baptism a COMMAND of Jesus Christ? What if you have been "sprinkled" or "poured"? How VITAL is baptism in this SPACE AGE?
MOST professing Christians have never really PROVED to themselves, whether or not God really exists. They lack faith in the realization that God is right now sitting at the CONTROLS of this entire universe. Actually, therefore, they lack faith in the authority of the Bible as the inspired Word of Almighty God. But if you don't believe in a REAL GODthen where are you headed? Left to himself, man is about to blow himself off this planet! Speaking of our present world situation, the renowned historian, Professor Samuel Elliott Morrison, said: "We have got to get used to living in crisis after crisis, hoping for the best, but EXPECTING THE WORST."
The only real solution to this dilemma is to prove to yourself the REALITY of the LIVING GOD who controls this universe, and come to UNDERSTAND His great PURPOSE. For thousands of you, The PLAIN TRUTH magazine and The World Tomorrow broadcast have helped provide the tools, the prod and the inspiration to do this. You have now begun to prove that the God of the Bible is a REAL God. And you have come to understand that God is working out a supreme PURPOSE here below dealing directly with nations and with individuals. But many of you have gone about as far as you can go without being baptized. That's RIGHT! The true God will continue to give you more light only as long as you WALK IN the light you have already received. You have your part to do in this process! And you definitely need God's Holy Spirit to help you. In this age above all others, you need to check up and be SURE that you have truly been converted, that you have been properly baptized, and that you have God's SPIRIT to guide, bless and protect you. You need to be SURE about these most important of all matters! The religious ideas and teachings of men are varied and confused. Even the r at denominations have repeatedly changed their doctrines from time to time. But the teaching of the Bible is consistent and unchanging.
The True WAY of Salvation
The true servants of God in all ages have written and taught the same basic way of obedience to God. "Thy WORD is "truth," Jesus said (John 17:17). And again He said, "The Scripture cannot be broken" (John 10:35). God does not contradict Himself in His inspired Word. We should always bear this in mind in studying the Bible. So Jesus continued to teach the same truths all through His ministry, and the apostles preached the same Gospel not something different. A young man once asked Jesus, "Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?" Jesus answered, "Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments" (Matt. 19:16-17). This is the way Jesus taught would lead to eternal life. He said nothing about a meaningless ceremony of "joining" a church and "accepting" Him as Savior. He taught that if He is to be your Lords you have to OBEY Him. Did Jesus know what He was talking about? Many organizations of men seem to think that He didn't, for they, have substituted a dead faith and belief in His person but deny the WAY of salvation which He taught! The apostles of Christ continued preaching the same message Jesus did. Before His ascension to heaven, He commanded them to go forth and instruct all nations, "Teaching them to observe ALL THINGS whatsoever I have commanded you" (Matt. 28:19-20).
Only ONE MESSAGE in the New Testament
The Apostle Paul taught the same way of life that Jesus did, and he recognized that way as being what "Christianity" is! He speaks of having formerly persecuted the Christians as follows: "And I persecuted this WAY unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women" (Acts 22:4). In Paul's day, Christianity was recognized as a way of life. Of exactly what does this WAY OF LIFE consist? The Apostle Peter answers: "For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example that ye should follow his steps: Who did not sin, neither was guile found in his mouth" (I Pet. 2:21-22). Jesus gave up His own will and suffered for us. He did no sin. He set us an example that we should follow His steps. This, Peter says, is our "calling." In Galatians 2:20, Paul explains this even further: "I am crucified with Christ," he writes, "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." Could anything be plainer? Paul wrote that he had crucified his own will, and that CHRIST was living in him totally directing his life. He was not only living y alt in, but by the very faith OF, the Son of God. No human being can naturally and normally yield himself to obey God in his own strength.
The WAY to be Saved
As Paul explains, this is impossible, "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God for it is not subject to the LAW of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his" (Rom. 8:7-9). We must have Christ's Spirit within us guiding our every thought and action to be recognized as His. How may we receive God's Spirit? When God's Church first began on the Day of Pentecost, Peter gave the answer to this question. "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). We have to realize our own ways are wrong that they have brought on the war, the suffering, and all the human WADE and MISERY we see in this world and we must be willing to REPENT and completely turn away from our former ideas and way of life, and let God actually RULE and CONTROL our daily lives. Then we should be baptized, which Paul explains in Romans 6:1-6 is the outward sign of our willingness to completely BURY, our old self in a watery grave. Then we are to come up and walk in newness of life following Jesus' example. When we do this, we are promised the "gift" of God's Holy Spirit to guide us in following and obeying Jesus Christ our real Lord and MASTER whom we serve and obey in actual fact! God's Spirit is a part of His very CHARACTER placed within us to enable us to live as we should. Paul explains that, "the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us" (Rom. 5:5). There are many human ideas about how we should express this love every Christian must have. Most professing Christians seem to think that it is a sentimental emotion about the person of Christ, or as sanctimonious attitude with lots of religious-sounding talk in front of our fellow men. But, in His inspired Word, God tells us what this divine LOVE really is. "For this is the love of God, that we KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS: and his commandments are not grievous" (I John 5:3). Yes, God's love will always lead us to OBEY Him, to follow Jesus' literal example, and thus to be a real Christian. Perhaps the best definition of a "Christian" contained in any one verse of the Bible is found in I John 2:6: The Weymouth Translation makes the intended meaning more clear than the older King James wording. It reads: "He who says that he abides in him is bound to live AS HE LIVED." How many of today's professing "Christians" feel BOUND to live exactly as Jesus Christ did to literally keep the Ten Commandments as He did, to refrain from killing, stealing, lying and to keep HOLY the same days that Jesus did and, through the Holy Spirit, to literally let Him LIVE HIS LIFE all over in them as human instruments?
BAPTISM and TOTAL SURRENDER Are Absolutely Necessary
The complete, unconditional surrender of one's self to God and to Christ as Savior and Master is the key to real conversion. If you would really be a Christian examine yourself. Have you come to the place where you BELIEVE in the Creator God and in the Bible as His Word His inspired revelation to man? Are you willing to totally SURRENDER your will to OBEY His Word to study it honestly, zealously, and to live by it? Are you ready to actually GIVE your life to Christ yielding completely, willingly, so that He may live His life in you through the Holy Spirit? Are you willing to let God fashion and mold you after His own divine CHARACTER that He may give you eternal life in the resurrection and a place of RULE over cities and nations under Jesus Christ in the world tomorrow? Are you willing to quit arguing and reasoning with your Maker and say, "Yes, Lord, THY will be done"? If you sincerely feel this way, you should be baptized immersed in water as an outward sign of your willingness to completely BURY the old self in full surrender to Christ. "Sprinkling" or "pouring" do not picture this burial. Christ taught water baptism and sold all the apostles in the inspired New Testament Church. If you are in doubt about this point, or if you want more information about the necessity and meaning of water baptism, read Mr. Armstrong's free booklet on "Water Baptism." To really be Christians, we need to STUDY the Bible as most of us never have before, noticing especially the example and teaching of Christ. We need to REPENT of our ways and surrender our lives to God in BAPTISM that we may receive His Spirit to guide us.
Take Action on God's TRUTH
Jesus Christ commands us as His true servants: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is BAPTIZED shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark 16:15-16). If you feel 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 summer we send out teams of ministers or advanced, competent ministerial students from Ambassador College to baptize people all over the world who request it. These dedicated men go out as Mr. Armstrong's personal representatives and they will be able to answer any questions you have about your spiritual life, and to help you immensely in every way.