Prepare Now for an Unending Future
WOULD you like to live on this earth when conditions are truly right for genuine happiness? Do you really want everlasting life in that kind of world? If so, you must prepare for it now!
But why now? Why not wait and see how it all works out?
Time of Opportunity Limited
Time simply does not allow for waiting. The reason is not only that life is already brief. Rather it is because the life of the vast majority of mankind is now in grave danger of being abruptly shortened, cut off by a disaster of global proportions.
You may know that world leaders publicly recognize the increasing danger of a nuclear war that would make this planet uninhabitable. You have doubtless read warnings by scientists that modern pollution of air, water and land poses a threat equally as great as nuclear war. But, over and above all these dangers, the greatest factor making action so urgent now is that God’s due time to act has overtaken us.
According to Bible chronology and the fulfillment of Bible prophecy, the time left for the unrighteous system now operating on earth is fast running out. The Bible does not say that God’s coming war of Armageddon, and the “great tribulation” of which it is a part, can be avoided; the unrighteous course in which men and nations have stubbornly hardened themselves makes it inevitable. (Matt. 24:14, 21, 37-39; Rev. 16:16) But it offers you as an individual the opportunity to put yourself now firmly on God’s side in the controversy and thereby have the hope of surviving. Survival will introduce righteous-hearted persons into life in a new order, an order founded on God’s provision for life through his Son and appointed King, Jesus Christ, and in which respect for, and devotion and obedience to, Jehovah God as the Life-Giver will be the governing principle.—2 Pet. 3:8-13.
What will you do? This will depend upon whether you have faith in God’s promises or not. For even though you acknowledge that it is illogical for trees and tortoises to outlive intelligent man, that is not enough. Nor is it enough to recognize that man does indeed have a spiritual side to his nature and that the Bible’s focusing on inherited sin and imperfection as the source of aging and death provides the only satisfying explanation for these problems. Even more than that, it is not enough to admit that the hope offered in the Bible of life everlasting under God’s righteous government by his Son is the only genuine means for satisfying the proper desires of righteous-hearted persons. To go this far and no farther will bring no lasting benefit to you.
The disciple James states that “faith without works is dead,” just as the body without its life force or spirit is dead. (Jas. 2:26) Merely to acknowledge the logic and reasonableness of what the Bible says is not having a live faith. Your faith must demonstrate itself by action, by doing. Thereby you will show that you give more than mere mental acceptance to God’s promise of everlasting life. You will show that it reaches your heart, that it truly motivates you.
If you received warning of a coming earthquake, such as that which recently devastated a large section of Peru and snuffed out the lives of tens of thousands of persons in a matter of minutes, you could take action to save your life. Today, something worse than an earthquake threatens all earth’s inhabitants—the “great tribulation” about which Christ Jesus warned. (Matt. 24:21) Of that time the apostle Paul wrote: “Jehovah’s day is coming exactly as a thief in the night. . . . then sudden destruction is to be instantly upon them just as the pang of distress upon a pregnant woman; and they will by no means escape.” (1 Thess. 5:2, 3) The way of escape is still open, and you can avail yourself of it before it irreversibly closes up.
Whoever you are, you are surely not alone. You have relatives, perhaps a marriage mate and children, and you have friends. You owe it not only to yourself but also to them to inform yourself now of God’s provisions for survival into life in his new order. Then, rather than following a self-centered course of concerning yourself only with your own immediate future, you can aid them toward an unending future in genuine happiness. True, you may now be showing interest in their lives by providing food, clothing, housing, medical care and other necessities. But even under normal conditions that could only help them to live long enough to die old—and perhaps in some comfort. True love requires that you seek something better for them if it is attainable. And it is!
More than this, do you feel a debt of gratitude to the original Source of life, the desire to serve to the honor of the Creator of the universe, including this planet Earth and all its enjoyable features? Then you will be eager to learn what God’s righteous requirements are.
What, then, must you do, so as not to waste the remaining time of opportunity?
Take in Life-giving Knowledge
You need to investigate God’s Word, the Bible, study it and find out what God’s purpose for earth and man is, learn what his will is for us in this time, now. God’s Son said in prayer to his Father: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.”—John 17:3.
Life everlasting, then, comes not by drinking some magical potion, going through some mysterious rites or performing some strange exercises. It comes through Bible education. Today Jehovah’s witnesses are carrying on a worldwide campaign of Bible education in over two hundred lands and islands of the sea. In well over one million two hundred thousand homes, free Bible studies are conducted each week with interested persons, men, women and families. Not only are topics such as “Why We Grow Old and Die,” and “Where Are the Dead?” considered, but also such subjects as “Why Has God Permitted Wickedness Until Our Day?,” “The Last Days of This Wicked System of Things,” “Righteous Rule Makes Earth a Paradise,” “How to Identify the True Religion,” “How to Pray and Be Heard by God,” “Building a Happy Family Life,” and “True Worship—a Way of Life.” By spending approximately an hour a week with an instructor, the basic teachings of the entire Bible are considered in six months’ time.
You can arrange for such a Bible study in your home by making your request known to any of Jehovah’s witnesses in your locality or by writing to the publishers of this magazine. The only cost to you will be some of your time and the effort of reading and preparing for the discussion. After all, it is your life and the lives of your loved ones that are involved, and surely this merits serious effort. The Bible writer James speaks of “the implanting of the word which is able to save your souls.” (Jas. 1:21) That implanting of the word cannot be accomplished without your doing your part. God’s Word cannot bring you life unless you receive its truths into your mind and into your heart so that it motivates you to do the divine will. Jesus said: “God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) Exercising faith in Jesus means more than simply saying, “I believe in Jesus.” It requires action.
Seek Right Environment for Life
Bad physical environment—including air, land and water pollution, contaminated or inadequate sources of food supply, and crowded, unclean, germ-ridden conditions—obviously shortens life. People recognize this. Yet few think deeply enough to realize that this is also true of bad spiritual environment. For us to prepare for an unending future we need to be feeding our minds and hearts regularly with wholesome, pure spiritual food. We need right associations with persons whose conversations are upbuilding, healthful, contributing to faith in God, fostering desire for right things, strengthening determination to hold to right standards. God’s new order will be populated with such kind of persons.
But even now we need such association. And we can find it. Where?
Is it to be found in the many churches of Christendom? Well, what is going on in those churches today? You often hear of the Bible’s being downgraded by today’s ministers and clergymen, of their increasing tendency to condone all types of sexual misbehavior, homosexuality included, of clergy support of public demonstrations against constituted authority. You may have personally seen evidence of considerable hypocrisy in such churches. And you likely have read, too, of the decline of the churches, not merely in one land but in all lands. Of what is this evidence? Surely it is not evidence of God’s blessing on them. We cannot blame God for the unhealthy, dying state of such churches. They have substituted philosophy, politics and human traditions for the Word of life, and they are experiencing the consequences.
Is the case with the non-Christian religions any better? No, for the peoples practicing such religions are experiencing the same turmoil, disunity, and general weakening of influence and vigor as found in Christendom’s churches.
False religion is not only deceptive and unsatisfying, it is death-dealing. It produces an unhealthy spiritual climate lacking in genuine love for God or fellowman, deficient of genuine devotion to standards of true righteousness. That is why the Bible depicts all such false religion under the symbol of “Babylon the Great,” an imperial city filled with uncleanness. Revelation 18:4 sounds the warning: “Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues.” All Babylonish religion, as well as its supporters, will be destroyed in the coming “great tribulation” so that none of her diseased thinking infects those surviving into God’s new order.
Where, then, will you go? With whom will you associate? The Bible says: “Pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace, along with those who call upon the Lord out of a clean heart.” (2 Tim. 2:22) Jehovah’s witnesses invite you to become acquainted with them, to attend their congregation meetings in their Kingdom Halls, sharing with them in Bible study. They invite you to find out for yourself the spiritual climate that is to be experienced there. We sincerely believe you will find it invigorating, like breathing fresh air after coming out of a smog-ridden place. See for yourself whether or not the pure waters of truth from God’s Word flow there in all their refreshing clarity.
Respond to God’s Word
As you take in knowledge of God’s Word, you will appreciate its wisdom, how it can improve immensely the quality of living, even now. You will learn, for example, of God’s requirement of replacing our “old personality” with a “new personality.” Why is this? Well, what will make life in God’s new order so desirable? Earth-wide peace, for one thing. Screaming, fighting, quarreling affect both mental and physical health. For those seeking life in God’s favor, the Bible tells them what to do now:
“Really, put them all away from you, wrath, anger, badness, abusive speech, and obscene talk out of your mouth. Do not be lying to one another. Strip off the old personality with its practices, and clothe yourselves with the new personality.”—Col. 3:8-10.
This will take time, of course. But progress in such things will make life, family life in particular, so much more enjoyable. So Christians need to respond to God’s Word.
Lying, cheating, drunkenness and other immoral practices, such as fornication, adultery and homosexuality, are all part of the “old personality.” They corrupt and damage physically, mentally and spiritually. But God’s counsel and instructions are “life to those finding them and health to all their flesh.” (Prov. 4:22) They show you how to use your time and strength in constructive, helpful activities that are truly enjoyable and rewarding. As you respond to God’s Word you will want to do as Psalm 97:10 says: “O you lovers of Jehovah, hate what is bad.” If you do this, you will avoid what is bad. And you will do this, not just when you lack opportunity to do wrong, but at all times, because you love what is right. By rejecting wrong thoughts and inclinations, you will “safeguard your heart, for out of it are the sources of life.” (Prov. 4:23) This is something that needs to be done now in order to prepare for eternal life.
Your Creator invites you: “Incline your ear and come to me. Listen, and your soul will keep alive.” (Isa. 55:3) Do not neglect or waste the opportunity you now have of learning from Him the way to life everlasting. Use your mental, emotional and physical strength now in his right ways, for your own eternal welfare and that of those whom you love. Yes, prepare now for an unending future in God’s righteous new order.