Questions From Readers
● Can it be stated flatly that only baptized witnesses of Jehovah will survive Armageddon?—A. S., U.S.A.
It would be misleading to answer this question with either a simple “Yes” or a “No.” The Scriptural answer of necessity must be a “qualified” one, and it is easy to see why.
At 1 Corinthians 7:14 the Bible shows that God can consider as “holy” the minor children of a Christian parent. Though they are young and not yet to the point of being personally responsible to Jehovah, their parent is trying to develop in them a love of God and of the way of righteousness. It seems clear that at the time of the destructive war of Armageddon God will preserve them on the basis of the family merit of the Christian parent, even though the children are not yet dedicated and baptized.
The reply must also be “qualified” because the Bible does not pointedly say how God is going to handle certain unusual cases, such as those involving mentally retarded persons who never had the capacity to learn about Jehovah and his purposes. Regarding these unbaptized persons, it is possible that family merit may apply as in the case of minor, irresponsible children who have a faithful believing parent or guardian.
Nonetheless, these special instances do not diminish in any way the importance of dedication and baptism for those desiring God’s favor and protection through the destructive climax of this wicked system of things. God urges those truly interested in survival to seek righteousness and to call on him in faith. (Zeph. 2:2, 3; Joel 2:32) That obviously means that a person must do all in his power to do God’s will. And what is that will as regards baptism?
Jesus was baptized in water, setting an example for Christians. (Matt. 3:13-17; 1 Pet. 2:21) Among his final instructions to his disciples is the command to “make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them.” (Matt. 28:19, 20) And one has but to read the book of Acts to see that early Christians recognized that baptism was a necessary step of obedience for all desiring God’s favor.—Acts 2:37-41; 16:30-33.
Neither the Watch Tower Society nor any human today can lessen the force of that indication of God’s will. There appears to be no Biblical reason for thinking that a person who had a reasonable knowledge of Bible truth and knew the importance of dedicating his life to God and being baptized, but who held back from doing so, would be preserved by God through the coming destruction.
We are aware that many hypothetical or “What if . . .” cases can be raised, cases that seem to involve extenuating circumstances. What point, though, is there in speculating on these? Jesus’ illustration of the “sheep” and “goats” makes it plain that a time will come when the division between the “sheep” and the “goats” will be clear and final. (Matt. 25:31-46) Instead of looking for “loopholes” in God’s arrangement for salvation, what all humans who desire preservation need to do is take full advantage of God’s merciful opportunity to serve him. And they need to do so now, before it becomes too late to begin thinking about becoming a servant of Jehovah. The “sheep” who are preserved into “everlasting life” will be responsible persons who do God’s will as completely as possible. (1 John 2:17) The Bible shows without doubt that Jehovah’s will for humans today includes being baptized and being public witnesses of him.—Rom. 10:10.
Jesus compared our time, faced as it is with the end of this wicked system of things, to the days of Noah. (Matt. 24:36-39) And drawing on Noah’s experience, the apostle Peter added: “That which corresponds to this is also now saving you, namely, baptism, (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the request made to God for a good conscience).” (1 Pet. 3:20, 21) So all who desire salvation ought to recognize how vital the step of baptism is.