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Should we try to convert unbelievers?
Question: When I first started learning about the real God of the Bible from the Tomorrow’s World telecast, magazine, and booklets, I thought my family, friends, and coworkers would be as excited about the truth as I was—so I was very surprised by how negative their reactions were. Was I doing something wrong by trying to share what I am learning?
Answer: You may have made a mistake that people often make when they first come to understand the beautiful and exciting truth about God’s plan of salvation for humanity. When you know how wonderful this life-changing knowledge is, it is natural and right to want others to share in your joy—certainly, Christians are not to hide their faith “under a basket” (Matthew 5:15). However, the fundamental way in which Christians are to share their faith is by setting a Christ-like example in their conduct (1 Peter 2:21). Yes, we must be ready to “give a defense” to anyone who asks the reason for the hope within us (1 Peter 3:15), but even if people are not asking us about the truth of God, they still see how we act. Generally, when people see your personal example as a Christian—when they see true Christianity’s effect on your life—they will be more likely to ask you about what you believe.
No matter how excited you rightfully are about what God is teaching you, the force of your words cannot bring someone into God’s Church. Scripture makes it clear that a calling from the Father—not the excitement of a friend or relative—is what enables someone to understand what God has revealed. Remember that, according to Jesus Christ Himself, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me” (John 6:44–45).
God alone decides whom He will call, and we know from His word that He is only calling a relatively small handful of “firstfruits” in this present age—those who will take part in the first resurrection at Jesus Christ’s return (Revelation 20:4–6). Notice: “Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, ‘Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints’” (Jude 14). Although more than two billion people alive today profess to be Christians, the actual number of true Christians whom God has called is far, far less than that.
That being said, we know that God will eventually give everyone who has ever lived a genuine opportunity to understand the Bible and receive eternal life. God promises that, one day, “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14), and that “No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jeremiah 31:34).
For most people who hear the true Gospel proclaimed today, it is simply a warning “witness” of what is to come (Matthew 24:14). Out of the many who hear the truth, God is calling only a “little flock” in this present age (Luke 12:32). The vast majority of human beings remain blinded (2 Corinthians 4:3–4)—and this is part of God’s plan, as He knows that these people are not yet ready for their calling. Indeed, trying to shine the light of truth into the mind of one who is blinded will often just bring persecution on whoever is holding the lantern. “Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you” (1 John 3:13).
Knowing all of this, let your Christian deeds speak for you. If someone asks about your faith, by all means share what has helped you learn and grow—but do not think that you can force God’s truth on anyone around you. Pray that God will work with those you love, but trust that He, and He alone, knows when the time will be right for their calling.