THE first advent of Jesus Christ is so much of great importance in regard to the salvation of mankind that it can never go out of memory. Its spiritual significance, no doubt, accounted for the wonderful reaction of the heavenly hosts on the occasion of his birth in the little city of David, Bethlehem, nearly 2,000 years ago.Breaking the news of his auspicious birth to shepherds who were tending their flock in the field by night, an angel said: "Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." - Luke 2:10, 11.
The following, is the full text of the message, captioned "Ye That Are Ordained to Eternal Life, Don't Be Careless", of then President of God's Kingdom Society, Brother E. T. Otomewo, on that august occasion:-
Members and Friends,
HAIL JEHOVAH AND CHRIST JESUS!
Glory, praise, honour and thanks be to the Almighty God Who is the source of life and Who alone can grant salvation to true believers among mankind.
On behalf of my fellow sheep and myself I thank Jehovah the Almighty God for preserving us from October last year when we observed the freedom Day till this day of October this year that we are meeting once again to celebrate this yearly Christian festival. In the interest of those who are observing this important Christian event for the first time, I wish to say in brief that Freedom Day is the observance by Christians - "a peculiar people" (Titus 2:13, 14) - of the birth anniversary of Jesus Christ. It is an occasion for bringing into happy memory the goodness of Jehovah, the Most High, which was reflected in the mission of Christ on earth; a time for meditating on the truth, the good works and the unblemished character of the Son of God in order to follow his steps; and it is an occasion for thanksgiving and singing of praises to God in appreciation of His love and grace towards mankind.
The Holy Bible shows that the Creator - God Almighty Whose holy name is Jehovah - has a good purpose for bringing man into existence. At different times, after the fall of man, He sent His prophets to advise and warn man against sin; to show him the way to peace, happiness and all that make for godly satisfaction and finally to bless him with salvation or everlasting life in His perfect Kingdom.
Greatest of AllThe greatest of all His prophets the world in its entire history has ever known, later came in the person of Jesus Christ. He was born into our crazy, sin-ridden, wicked world nearly 2,000 years ago, in Bethlehem in the month of October, repeat October, according to the Holy Bible and other ecclesiastical records by eminent scholars. He had a lowly birth and a poor beginning. He brought the truth and grace of God to lost mankind. (John 1:17) A detailed treatise on the birth of Jesus Christ showing that he was not born on December 25 as some falsely teach without the backing of the Scriptures or even profane history, was published in The Weekly Sermon, Vol. 1, No. 15 of December 15, 1968. Copies can be obtained from the Publicity Secretary, GKS, Salem City, P. O. Box 424, Warri, Nigeria.
Jesus Christ did the work of God so wonderfully, and demonstrated the power of the gospel so much that even the honest ones among the enemies of righteousness who persecuted him confessed, "Never man spake like this man." (John 7:45, 46) In his days on earth he went about doing good; the lame walked, the blind got their sight, the dumb spoke, lepers were cleansed, the deaf heard and even the dead were raised to life. The poor and the broken-hearted he also comforted through the preaching of his saving gospel. All these he did for the good of mankind; but the wicked, "though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain", and he was really slain. - Matthew 11:1-5; Acts 13:27-31.
Jesus Christ was the spiritual light God sent to put away the darkness that covered the world through sin but "the world knew him not" and refused to follow his light; instead it followed darkness and reveled in the works of error that lead to condemnation. As it is written: "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God." - John 3:19-21.
Not of GodIt is not difficult to know from a careful study of the Scripture coupled with spiritual understanding, why the ungodly did not receive and follow the Lord Jesus. Despite was one reasons; another was arrogance and yet another which was the most important of all was that many of them were not the children of God. And so, though the teachings, wisdom and deeds of Jesus Christ testified that he was a special and an exemplary Character, they valued not his works and heeded not his words but treated him with spite. Hence Jesus told them saying: "Why do ye not understand my speech? Even because ye cannot hear my word. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not; He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God." - John 8:43, 45-47.
We can see from what Jesus himself said that some people "are not of God". Such ones do not believe, and never appreciate the truth of God's word when it is preached to them. They are body and soul committed to materialism, sensualism or carnality and so have no regard for spiritual values. They are confirmed infidels and scorners. Yes, as Jesus said, they were not the children of God hence they rejected his word. And this class of people also abound in our generation!
Remember that Jesus Christ also said, "He that is of God heareth God's words." (John 8:47). But how can we know such ones? We can know them by their godly dispositions - though highly placed some of them may be, they are humble, yes, meek and ready to hear and learn God's words and ways. All such ones are described by Saint Paul as those "ordained to eternal life". But those who despise others and consider themselves too big or important to hear or listen to God's words, or those who hear but refuse to believe and accept the truth of God's words, which in their conscience they know to be true, are like the unbelieving Jews in Jesus and St. Paul's days who marked themselves as "unworthy of everlasting life".
Addressing the Jews St. Paul said: "Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you." - Acts 13:40,41.
And when these obstinate Jews went on to contradict St. Paul's teachings out of envy he declared: "it was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: AND AS MANY AS WERE ORDAINED TO ETERNAL LIFE BELIEVED." - Acts 13:46-48.
I take this opportunity, therefore, to warn those who believe that they are the children of God and who judge themselves to be among those "ORDAINED TO ETERNAL LIFE", NOT TO BE CARELESS! I give this humbly admonition because I have observed that many are rather thoughtless, not worrying at all, about their spiritual well-being and future in God's order of things.
RepentThe devil is enticing and drawing many people away into the way of destruction through evil lusts. Men and women indulge unrestrictedly in excessive drinking, loose dressing with the topless, bottomless or the mini-type; they gratify their lusts in immoral dances, viewing or watching with pleasure naked men and women dancers in halls and on TV and so on. Women run after ungodly men and vice versa for licentious reasons. There are those given to opposing what is good; they aid and abet those doing iniquity. If you, who believe you are the children of God "ordained to eternal life", identify yourselves with ungodliness for a day, a week, a month, or a year and you are not dead, thank God for sparing you. But you must realize that you have been careless, very careless! You must know that you have been toying with the most precious gift of God, namely, your salvation, which is meant for His children, and which once lost, after knowing the truth, is lost forever! Therefore, if this is the case with any of you, repent at once. When you get home, go down on bended knees in prayer to God, in your closet, and ask for forgiveness and you will be forgiven by Him "whose mercies endureth forever."
It was John the apostle who stated: "If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: but if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." - 1st John 1:6-9.
Those who have not known the saving of Jesus Christ but who believe that they are the children of God, wherever they may be, should RESOLVE TODAY to follow Jesus Christ who was born to save us from our sins. - Matthew 1:21.
End of WickednessFrom the signs of the times, it is clear that we are now in the age in which, as Christ said, there would be "distress of nations, with perplexity". This is evident from the incidents of lawlessness and calamities we see all over the word today. We should endeavour, by God's power, to do righteousness, as much as we can, "at all times" as recorded in Psalm 106:3, so that He may protect and save us in this dangerous age. The greatest battle ever to be witnessed by mankind, which will put an end to all wickedness, will soon begin and, according to the Scriptures, it is the people who fear the Lord and eschew evil that shall survive. - Isaiah 3:10,11; 26:21; Proverbs 11:19,21; Daniel 12:1; Matthew 24:21; Acts 10:34, 35 and 1 Peter 4:18.
We, who have accepted Christ and have believed that we are ordained to eternal life should make efforts to reach the Lord's sheep still in spiritual darkness and win them to Jesus. We should ignore the vain talks and looks of proud people who are opposing the truth and who are not listening to us despite our several efforts to make them partake of God's spiritual blessings. Spiritually, they are naked and displeasing to God. It is they that will lose in the end.
St. Paul stated: "But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world (satan) hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them." - 2 Corinthians 4:3, 4, see also Isaiah 1:18-20.
Iniquity or wickedness will not continue forever; it must end some day and the end is already in sight in this our age. And when it comes, the careless, and the ungodly, will be taken unawares like the wicked in Noah's days, and they will be destroyed. (Matthew 23:36-39; Luke 17:26-36; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-4) And righteousness thereafter will hold sway all over the earth to the glory of God.
If you believe you are worthy of everlasting life from God, then read the Scriptures daily with understanding; and know what God's will is, and do it NOW. Do not run after the works of error or after ungodly relatives and friends. Fight for your own salvation. - Ephesians 5:5-11, 15-17; Phillipians 2:12.
When Jesus Christ was born angels sang saying: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men." May it please the Lord to bless us His sheep with His peace and good will in abundance. May the Almighty Father preserve His sheep everywhere so that they may live to serve Him in truth.
Blessed are they that are not careless and who "are ordained to eternal life."