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Millions do not understand their need for salvation. Sadly, many who believe they are "saved" are not even Christian! Are you learning the truth about salvation—and acting on it? You need to be sure!
Are you under God's protection? Does God consider you a "Christian"? Read this article to be sure!
This world is teetering on the edge of oblivion. Thoughtful men everywhere are beginning to fear. We are living in the shadow of violent death. It could come any day or night. It could come at any moment. It could be unleashed by the tiniest political spark in a far-distant land. Earlier this year, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists moved the famous "Doomsday Clock" forward two minutes, to just five minutes to midnight!
People know we are living in dangerous times, and many are restless. Many are thinking more seriously than ever before about many things—not the least of which is the hereafter.
This era of violence and potential world suicide has helped stimulate an increased interest in religion in the United States. Multitudes are thinking more and more about making peace with somebody, preferably God.
But are people really "making peace" with God—being truly converted, being changed, and coming under His divine protection?
The true Creator God says most religious people are being deceived! Your Bible describes our very end times as a period when Satan the Devil "deceives the whole world."
Jesus described our day when He said: "For many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many" (Matthew 24:5, KJV). Yes, the many preachers who claim to be Christ's ministers, who proclaim that He is Christ, but preach their own humanly devised message about Jesus' person, are deceiving millions and millions of people!
Yet, in order to be regarded by God as a true Christian—in order to be under His protection in these perilous times, in order to be led by His Spirit—you must believe and obey the very message Jesus Christ brought to this earth from God the Father. For Jesus commanded, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel" (Mark 1:15).
In this age, above every other, you desperately need God—His guidance, His blessing and His protection! There is no use in "kidding" yourself about this fact. This is your life—how will you use it?
You need to face the fact that you are very likely one of the multitude going the broad way that leads to destruction (Luke 13:24)! If you are following the crowd—if you have the same general attitude toward religion that most people do—then without doubt you are deceived! For remember that Satan the Devil "deceives the whole world" (Revelation 12:9).
Thankfully, some of you are different. Many thousands of you realize that through the Tomorrow's World telecast and the pages of this magazine, you are receiving the very message that Jesus Christ brought to save this world from itself. If you are to come under the blessing and protection of God, you need to be sure of that message—then act on it and obey it.
You need to prove to yourself, once and for all, that there is a personal, living, active, all-powerful Creator God. You must know that the Bible is His inspired revelation of the real purpose of life, and of the spiritual laws of happiness and success. You must prove and know that the Bible carries authority—that its words are backed up by the power of the living God who gives you every breath of air you breathe.
You may already understand this. But please be sure you have proven it so completely that you would fear to disobey what God commands. You must regard God's word as the authority over your very life. Christ said: "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day" (John 12:48). Once you have fully proved these basic principles to yourself, you need to keep studying to understand and obey the true message of Almighty God contained in the Bible.
Jesus Christ gave us the perfectly clear revelation of God's plan and purpose. To be a "Christian" simply means to believe in and obey what Jesus Christ taught—to accept and submit to the message He brought from God the Father.
Jesus stated: "For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak" (John 12:49). So Christ's message comes directly from God the Father.
It is to be obeyed! For Jesus also said, "Why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46).
Jesus came to "reveal" the Father (Matthew 10:27). Above all else, He revealed God as the Supreme Ruler of the universe. He taught that human beings are not to follow their own ideas and traditions, but should "live… by every word of God" (Luke 4:4). "Search the scriptures," Jesus said.
In the "model prayer," Christ taught His disciples to pray, "Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven" (Luke 11:2).
Christ continually taught obedience to the law and will of God. When a young man asked Him the way to eternal life, Jesus answered: "If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments" (Matthew 19:17). So, to be a true Christian, you must yield yourself to obey God's will, keep the Ten Commandments, and surrender your will so completely to your Maker that you will sincerely strive to "live by every word of God."
The New Testament reveals that God is now forming, within the people He calls holy, His righteous and perfect spiritual character as a prerequisite to the precious gift of eternal life in His kingdom. The basis of that perfect character is absolute yieldedness to obey God's perfect spiritual law—revealed by the Ten Commandments and spiritually magnified in the New Testament.
This requires completely surrendering your personal will to God. This means a complete change in attitude, belief and way of life. The Apostle Paul was inspired to write: "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Romans 12:2).
Remember, human will and strength cannot bring about this change. The spiritual love and power must come as a gift from God.
Most of us have known people who made "resolutions" to live a better life—alcoholics who decided to "give up the bottle," or criminals who "reformed" by some means or other. Few of these changes are either permanent or satisfactory. Even when a change in one area of life seems to have become permanent, we can see that the person's entire life, attitude, and actions are not totally yielded to the complete and perfect will of the Creator.
Human beings cut off from the true God can "reform" themselves to a limited extent. But they can never bring about the process we call "conversion." For true conversion is a total change which God brings about in one's very mind and nature. The Apostle Paul proclaimed, "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" (Galatians 2:20, KJV).
That, my friends, is the "key." Through genuine repentance from sin, then total surrender to God through Jesus Christ and humble faith in God's forgiveness of our sins through Christ's shed blood, we are then promised the "gift" of God's Holy Spirit—His very nature and character implanted within us. This alone gives us the strength to "overcome" ourselves and truly obey God. For it is "Christ in us" who is obeying God's perfect, spiritual law—just as He did in the human flesh (John 15:10).
After real conversion, you begin to study the Bible, meditate on God's law, and pray and talk to God continually. You truly seek God always (see my Personal on page 2 of this issue)! By this process, and through His Spirit, you come to have the very thoughts and nature of God within you. For Christ is living within you through the Holy Spirit!
Your whole life is completely changed—converted—and you grow in grace and knowledge day by day. In spiritual attitude and character, you become more like Christ in every phase of life. A total change takes place within you that could never occur except as a supernatural act of the Almighty God.
However, God makes this supernatural help available under certain very important conditions.
Jesus Christ and His apostles always preached the gospel of the kingdom or world-ruling government of God. We read: "Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, 'The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand, repent, and believe in the gospel'" (Mark 1:14–15).
Again, notice that the two things Jesus commanded were repentance and belief in His message.
Regarding belief, Jesus taught that belief in the true gospel He preached, and obedience to the laws of God, are inseparable. He said: "The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it. And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail" (Luke 16:16–17).
Here we see that the law and the prophets—the Old Testament scriptures—were God's only revelation to mankind before John the Baptist's ministry. But through Christ, the spiritual message of salvation, and the magnification of God's laws in their spiritual intent and purpose, was revealed.
Notice also how Jesus connected obedience to God's laws with the New Testament gospel of the kingdom. Furthermore, as if to squelch any doubt that He was referring to God's spiritual law revealed in the Ten Commandments, He specified the transgression of one of those very laws to which He was referring: "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery" (Luke 16:18).
Throughout the book of Acts, we find the inspired servants of Christ continuing to preach the gospel of the kingdom—including, of course, obedience to the laws of God. We see that Philip preached this gospel in Acts 8:12. Paul said he preached it to the Gentiles at Ephesus in Acts 20:25. And in Acts 28:30–31, we find that Paul continued to preach this same message to the end of his ministry—even to the Gentiles at Rome.
This is the true gospel. It is a message of the government of Almighty God over our lives now, as preparation for entrance into His soon-coming, world-ruling kingdom, when Jesus Christ will return with divine power and glory as King of kings and Lord of lords. And, since God's kingdom has laws, it is a message of surrender and obedience to the laws and rule of God.
To prepare for that kingdom, you must first repent of your sinful ways. You must turn from sin, which is the transgression of God's spiritual law contained in the Ten Commandments (1 John 3:4), and believe the true gospel. Then, there is another vital step you must take: water baptism.
After total repentance and belief in the true gospel, water baptism is the next essential step you must take to be truly converted and receive God's Holy Spirit. In fact, it is a test of your real repentance and willingness to obey God.
Jesus Christ commanded the apostles: "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16: 15–16).
Jesus meant exactly what He said!
In His parting commission, Jesus said: "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19).
In Peter's inspired sermon on the day of Pentecost, he shouted: "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38).
Notice that God only promises the gift of the Holy Spirit on the condition that you repent and are baptized. Later, Peter speaks of the Holy Spirit, which "God has given to those who obey Him" (Acts 5:32). You must do what God says. You must repent and be baptized, or you will never receive God's Holy Spirit.
There is no other way!
The Apostle Paul stated: "Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His" (Romans 8:9). In other words, unless you have fully repented of your sins, come to God through Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, and been baptized as He has commanded, you are not Christ's—you do not belong to Him. Therefore, you are not a Christian in God's eyes—never have been, and never will be—unless you are finally willing to surrender your life to God the Father, and accept Jesus Christ not only as your Savior, but as your High Priest, your coming King, your ruler, whom you will obey throughout all eternity!
God's Spirit is the very nature and life of God through which we become His begotten children. His Spirit will help us grow to maturity in Christian character. What does it bring to us? "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Galatians 5:22–23).
The Holy Spirit gives us power for self-mastery, self-discipline and self-control. Through it, God's love is poured out in our hearts (Romans 5:5). The Holy Spirit conforms us to the image of God (Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18).
You need God's Spirit. You need His guidance and protection.
But it is a tremendous decision to yield yourself wholly to God—to live by His every word and obey Him throughout all eternity. Such a decision must not be taken lightly.
Baptism symbolizes the death and burial of our old, sinful self, and our rising from the watery grave to a new, changed and converted life. It also pictures Jesus Christ's death and burial to pay for our sins, and His resurrection as the firstborn from the dead.
The Apostle Paul writes: "Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:3–4).
Your decision to be baptized hinges on your willingness to completely surrender your will and your life to God, through Christ as your Savior. He paid the penalty for your past sins. But when you know the truth, you can no longer do willfully what you know is sin and expect God's forgiveness without genuine repentance.
God rules by His law! "Keep the commandments," Jesus said.
Paul wrote: "Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness" (Romans 6:16).
When you must choose between following the ways of your friends and family, or obeying what you have found to be the will of God—which course do you follow? Do you take the easy way out and follow men? Do you serve and thereby worship the ways of men more than the ways of God?
Do not "kid" yourself! You can never fool God!
When you learn some new point of truth in the pages of this magazine, on the Tomorrow's World telecast, or in your own personal Bible study, do you put it into practice in your life—do you obey it—or do you reject it because it conflicts with what your church or your particular society believes and observes?
Are you like the Pharisees who rejected Christ because "they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God?" (John 12:43). God seems far away to some people, and their friends seem so close and so important. Which do you worship? Which do you obey?
If you had to give up your job—your only source of income—in order to obey some point of truth you found in God's word, would you do it? Would you exercise faith, as Jesus did, and rely on God's many promises to "supply all your need" (Philippians 4:19)? Would you worship God—or Mammon?
These questions apply to you!
If you still have some questions about baptism, then write immediately for our free booklet, Christian Baptism: Its Real Meaning. This will answer many questions you may have.
But the decision to be baptized is yours. If you feel that you are ready to make an unconditional surrender to God through His Son Jesus Christ as personal Savior, then write us an e-mail or letter telling us that you want to be baptized.
You can also write a letter to the regional office nearest you (listed on page 30 of this magazine), or phone us, or contact us through our Web site, www.tomorrowsworld.org. One of our representatives will then contact you and arrange to meet you at a time and place agreeable to you. In most areas of the world, we have ministers to counsel with and baptize those who are ready to fulfill this command of God. So do not delay!
You need salvation! But you need to be absolutely sure that you are willing to do your part and give yourself to God. Then you can be certain that He will grant His blessings, His protection and His salvation to you!