With another Feast of Tabernacles completed, it’s a good time to reflect back on some of the very pleasant youth I met at both Christchurch, New Zealand and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The attitudes were once again very encouraging, much like they were last year. Many of the sermons and sermonettes very adequately covered the youth and what they will be doing in the Millennium. I’d like to take this opportunity to review some of what you heard at the Feast and hopefully expand on that somewhat.
PCG Youth Today
What will you be doing in the Millennium? And what preparations do you need to be making right now for what lies ahead? God expects great things from the Young Philadelphians, so it’s important for you to know.
Let’s first take a look at the youth today. Many have followed their parents’ example by coming with them into the Philadelphia Church of God (pcg). Many of your Worldwide Church of God (wcg) friends have no doubt said that you are just following your parents. Many of my friends have said that. To some extent they may be right. I often ask myself what I would be doing had my parents not made the right decision. Seeing so many of my friends turn their backs on the truth makes me realize just how easily I could be in their place. But stop for a moment and think about the decision your parents made. Because, while you should be very thankful for what they decided, their decision should not be your decision! Let me explain.
When I decided to leave Ambassador College in Big Sandy, many people said I was just following my dad. Though I knew that was not true, it was hopeless trying to explain that to them. What my dad’s decision did for me was wake me up! I began to ask myself questions like: “Why am I here at Ambassador College?” and “How serious am I about God’s Church?” My dad’s decision made me prove what most of your parents proved many years ago when God called them: the basics. If you are in the Philadelphia Church of God because of the decision your parents made, then what will happen if your parents ever decide to leave the pcg? Most likely, you will go along with their decision. You have the opportunity to experience the first love your parents experienced because of the urgency restored to the Church through Malachi’s Message and people like your parents.
Malachi’s Message is indeed a knock on the door of the Laodiceans. But for most of the youth, the first knock came to you by way of your parents. And then perhaps after that, you read Malachi’s Message. So use your parents decision as a “wake-up call.” It should be an opportunity for you to truly examine just how serious you are about God’s Church and His precious truth.
With that in mind, I would like to ask you two very basic questions: 1) How thankful are you for your parents and the decision they made? After all, they may have very well helped to save your physical life from the worst time of suffering ever known to mankind. This was brought out by Mr. Sutcliffe in New Zealand, and Mr. Flurry in Oklahoma City. 2) Do you realize that being in this Church may very well add 1000 years to your life? Think about all your friends in the wcg who aren’t baptized or perhaps aren’t really converted. When the Tribulation comes, if they die, they won’t be resurrected until after the 1000 year Millennium. One thousand years after Christ returns. After the first resurrection of all the saints. After the rebuilding of this world by you and many others. After the conversion of multiple millions of God Beings. Not only that, but they will also miss out on 3-1/2 of the most exciting years ever in the place of safety! Mr. Leap brought this out in a sermon while I was in New York, and I still remember it vividly. Think about what your friends will miss out on! Just how thankful are you? These points are all the more reason why the decision to be in this Church must be yours!
Youth in the Place of Safety
Before covering the Millennium, let’s briefly discuss the place of safety. It is coming soon. The Bible says so. Are you ready for such a drastic change? Just as a few children were skeptical about coming into the pcg with their parents, the same will be true when we leave for the place of safety. I remember when I was sitting in English class in the ninth grade. The school rarely had any basketball games on Saturday in those early grades so most of my friends weren’t aware of my religious beliefs. At any rate, I missed the only scheduled Saturday game of the year, and on Monday my teacher asked me where I was. I was so embarrassed that when I first answered her she couldn’t hear me! With more of the class now paying attention, I answered loudly, “Because I go to Church on Saturday.” I bring this up for one reason: If you are embarrassed about the Sabbath or other beliefs, how hard is it going to be to leave everything you have and tell your friends you are leaving the country for good? Some of you may be thinking, “I’m not going to tell my friends anything. I’m just going to sneak off with my parents!” The chances of that are highly unlikely. We don’t know how bad it will get for us, but we do know that we will be persecuted.
“And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent” (Rev. 12:13-14).
The reason why we must leave for a place of safety is because of the persecution brought upon us by Satan. What if your entire school knows about you? Is that something you will be proud of, or perhaps embarrassed about? The answer to that may be an indication as to whether you go to the place of safety with your parents or not. Especially if you are 17 or 18 at the time and able to make your own decisions. God may call upon some of you to stand up for Him in time of great trial. With such a huge work to be done, and so few people to do it, there should be ample opportunity for many of you to serve and if necessary, stand up for God when the situation calls for it. Don’t be too quick to say you are too young or that someone else will do it. God corrected Jeremiah for having that same attitude when he was a teenager: “Then said I, Ah, Lord God! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. But the Lord said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak” (Jer. 1:6-7).
You need to be preparing now for that place of final preparation. Realize what a blessing it is to have spent most, if not all, of your childhood, growing up in the Church. As David said, “O God, thou hast taught me from my youth” (Ps. 71:17). God is right now trying to teach you. It’s your job to have a teachable attitude. Perhaps the most common excuse among many young people today is: “Well I’m not baptized yet, so God doesn’t really care if I do this or that.” Proverbs 20:11 states: “Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.” God is right now carefully watching each and every one of you.
Many of the friends you met this year at the Feast will be there in the place of safety with you. Imagine that. Many of you will meet all the youth overseas for the first time. Together, we will be in one place for 3-1/2 years. It will be a time when more and more young people will be baptized at younger ages. Why? Because all of you will be right there to witness many miracles first hand! No longer will you be surrounded by a society that is so demented. In a few short years, movies, television, music, actors, and sports stars will all mean nothing. Absolutely nothing! I saw an article recently where a popular television actress was being interviewed. At the end of the interview she was asked if she believed in God. “Absolutely not,” she said with disdain. These are the kinds of attitudes and moods being promoted out of places like Hollywood today. To God, their attitudes are despicable! How much do these “stars” mean to you?
Yes, there will be miracles in the place of safety. But it will also be a very organized, hard-working, family atmosphere. You, as the younger generation, will be preparing to help millions who suffered through the horrible war. It will be a 3-1/2 year condensed course on what you will be teaching others for 1000 years! And as mentioned, many of you will probably be baptized right there, waiting with the rest of us to be changed into spirit beings at the return of Christ!
The Wonderful World for Youth!
That brings us then to the wonderful World Tomorrow. What will you be doing? What about those of you who are very young and will at that time still be flesh and blood. Perhaps one of you Young Philadelphians can answer that. Here is what Ryan Malone, from St. Louis, Missouri, writes:
If you are very young now, by the time Christ returns, you might not be baptized, so you might still be flesh and blood during the Millennium. Since you won’t be baptized, you will still be learning God’s way of life, but in a world of no strife, violence, or pagan holidays!
Imagine: You’ll start the school year. After the first couple of weeks, all schools around the world will have a day of no school. why? The Feast of Trumpets! You won’t have to pester your teachers about getting homework for the day off. Then, a few days later will be the Day of Atonement, and depending on the year and travel time, a two-week school vacation will start for the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day. No homework the entire Feast! It sounds like a dream but it’s only several years in the future!
Then towards the end of the year, Spring Break will start for the two Holy Days (during the days of Unleavened Bread). Between the two Days, the school cafeterias will only serve unleavened bread.
For those still flesh and blood, it will be a great learning experience. But with the background and knowledge in God’s Church, many of you young children will no doubt be baptized just a few years into the Millennium. But the learning won’t stop there. Perhaps the best way to learn is by teaching. And that’s what you will be doing. Just imagine how much you can learn in one second as a God-Being.
I know many times when I was younger, I often wondered what I would be doing forever and would it be any fun. I mean, would it be as fun as one of my basketball games or some other physical pleasure? This world, and especially America, is so wrapped up in its physical pleasures, it’s hard for us not to be affected by them. On the human level, it’s hard to imagine anything better than physical pleasure. Mr. Armstrong brings out a very important point in Mystery of the Ages, page 237: “How much greater is the capacity and output of the human mind than that of the animal brain? The realization of that difference should make clear to us the vast difference between a converted mind being led by the Holy Spirit, and mind of the unconverted.” Please read that again. If you take that one step further, how much greater will we be when we are spirit! As you get older, hopefully you will begin to grasp that “vision” that we all heard about at the Feast.
Learning in the World Tomorrow will be fun. As Mr. Armstrong said, it won’t be just memorizing endless lists of meaningless names or places. You will be learning every second that you live. You will probably be teaching and helping many of the people you came into contact with in this lifetime. I look forward to teaching my 9th grade baseball coach and my high school basketball coach if they make it to the Millennium physically. I remember my basketball coach telling me, “Well I must admit, you have your priorities right. I consider myself to be a devout Catholic, but in order for me to win, basketball must come first.” That seems to be the attitude of many religionists today. They may go to church, but it’s not really that important to them. When I see my coach, it will finally be my opportunity to tell him what having the right priorities did for me. And then I will begin to teach him how to have the right priorities so he can receive the same blessings I have.
In the World Tomorrow, the younger generation right now in this Church will be looked up to, admired, and respected. You will be far more popular than any person in this physical world. People will look up to you for the true values you hold, not because you can hit a ball really far or because you are physically handsome. How much more beautiful will be the person molded and shaped in the very image of God than anything this present world has to offer. To think about your future is indeed inspiring. Don’t give that up!
Some of the youth this year came to the pcg Feast at the last minute because of their parents’ urging. Take this opportunity to begin proving things that you have yet to really prove. Your parents love you and want what’s best for you. But that love pales in comparison to the love God has for you. If you only knew how very special you are to God. God wants to see how serious you are about His truth. For those of you who have been attending the pcg for quite some time now, take this opportunity to review why you came into this Church. And if you haven’t yet really proved why, it’s not too late to start. Can you imagine God allowing you into His Kingdom because you skidded along hanging on to your parents’ “coat tails”?
If you remember at the Feast this year in Oklahoma City, the new version of Malachi’s Message was passed out. But who was it passed out to? “Anyone old enough to read it seriously,” Mr. Amos said. If you picked one up, which most of you did, then you are in effect saying that you are very serious about this Church and the doctrines it teaches. Are you?