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What should the Church be doing? Is it enough to believe the right things, or is there something true Christians should be doing as a result of their faith? Amid so much religious confusion, your Bible has the answer!
Millions of evangelical Protestants and even many in various "Church of God" groups are becoming increasingly confused about the question: "What Is the Work of God?" In an increasingly secular age, permeated by a spirit of self-will and rebellion against authority, many are adopting a type of "every man for himself" attitude, contrary to what Jesus Christ established so plainly. Yet this is totally un-biblical and potentially dangerous!
Because God's inspired word clearly reveals that our Creator wants His people to work together as a "body" (1 Corinthians 12:12–28). In that "body"—directed by Christ through the Holy Spirit—He places some as apostles, some as prophets and some as teachers (v. 28). For God's word tells us, through the Apostle Paul, that Christ "Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ" (Ephesians 4:11–15).
Notice that these gifts and responsibilities were given for "the work of ministry"—and that this work would bring "unity" to the Church, such that the less knowledgeable would not be "tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine." My friends, you cannot have "ministry" unless the Church is "ministering" to people. God has ordained pastors and teachers and others "for the work of ministry." Foolish people may think they can decide for themselves "to be a minister"—but God's way is clear; He determines, through His established human servants, who will be selected for roles of service in doing His Work. Remember, "God is not the author of confusion" (1 Corinthians 14:33).
If God's inspired word means nothing to you, then go ahead and "do your thing"! But, if you have the genuine "fear of God"—a profound respect for the true God and His word—then read the following with an open mind and heart.
Jesus Christ commanded His followers, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:15–16). Yet, how many people assume they are doing God's Work by talking to a neighbor or two? And what about those who do not even seriously try to preach the true Gospel at all? Do you honestly think, for one minute, that Christ's command can be accomplished by nice and well-mannered people just sitting around and talking to each other, or setting a good example and being a "light"?
Is that what Jesus Christ Himself actually did?
Rather, Jesus Christ preached constantly to huge crowds. Scripture describes one occasion when He supernaturally fed 5,000 men—plus women and children—who had been hearing His inspired teaching (Matthew 14:14–21). Jesus did not stay home and act as a good neighbor. He plunged full-time into His ministry, preaching the Gospel to as many people as He could possibly reach! In the days before radio and television, this meant walking and walking all over the Judean countryside! This was His inspired example for us today. He personally trained the Twelve Apostles, plus at least "seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go" (Luke 10:1). Then, Christ instructed His followers to pray that even more ministers might be called to do the Work (v. 2).
Later the Apostle Paul, with his helpers, traveled all over the Roman Empire—preaching and teaching about Jesus Christ and His message of the coming Kingdom of God (Acts 8:12; 28:31). Paul visited countless synagogues, and used every opportunity to preach to large groups of people, doing his part toward "all nations" being able to hear a powerful witness of the coming Kingdom of God and of God's message of forgiveness through Christ (Matthew 24:14).
The inspired example of Jesus Christ, and of His apostles, indicates clearly that—if they could have—they would certainly have seized the opportunity to use the modern technologies of radio, television and the Internet to preach the Gospel to all the nations! Today, if we really do love our fellow human beings, and want to reach them with God's Truth, we will certainly go "all out" to use the modern tools at our disposal to preach God's message to every nation on this earth!
Think! Here we are, just before the coming "Great Tribulation"—which Jesus Christ described as the most severe time of trial, trouble, death and destruction in all human history (Matthew 24:21–22). Do you think that Christ would want His true servants to just have little "home Bible study groups" and sit around talking to one another—failing utterly to evangelize the entire world as best they could, and by so doing prevent billions of confused human beings from having at least a witness of God's coming Kingdom to warn them of their impending doom?
Even in the book of Proverbs, God's word instructs us, "Deliver those who are drawn toward death, and hold back those stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, 'Surely we did not know this,' does not He who weighs the hearts consider it? He who keeps your soul, does He not know it? And will He not render to each man according to his deeds?" (Proverbs 24:11–12).
Yes! Almighty God will render His judgment on each individual "according to His deeds." Today, the only truly effective way to reach the nearly seven billion human beings with God's Truth is via radio, television, the Internet and publishing. True Christians all over the earth will naturally want to carry out Christ's order to preach the Gospel to the whole world. They will not be satisfied sitting "by themselves," apart from the Work that is teaching the real Truth of the Bible and going "all out" to spread that Truth around the world as a witness. You readers of Tomorrow's World recognize that in this very magazine we are teaching that Truth—as we also do on our Tomorrow's World telecast and on our www.TomorrowsWorld.org Web site.
Certainly, there are also other aspects of doing the "Work" of God. Christ commands His followers to be a "light" to the world (Matthew 5:14-16). We are to have our speech "seasoned with salt" that our words may help lead others to the Truth (Colossians 4:6). As the Apostle Peter instructed, Christians should "always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear" (1 Peter 3:15).
However, any thinking person should realize that although these personal actions of evangelism may be good and helpful, they do not even remotely commence to accomplish the "Work" of preaching Christ's message to the billions of confused people all over this earth. The billions of people alive today need at least a "witness" of the true Gospel regarding Christ's coming Kingdom (Matthew 24:14). We in this Work know that we must go through the "doors" which Christ opens in order to reach those billions who have not been or ever will be reached by personal evangelism alone!
It is not that little "home Bible study" groups are forbidden. Home Bible studies can indeed be very helpful at times. However, in my 58 years in Christ's full-time ministry, I have found that many of these little groups are often taken over or dominated by self-promoting, untrained and often very unbalanced individuals who advance odd and even directly unbiblical ideas and theories. This is to be expected, when their leaders are not connected to the true Work of God, and have not been trained, and are not willing to submit even to genuine God-ordained ministers who teach the full Truth.
Paul was inspired to exhort the evangelist Titus that a true Christian elder should be "holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict. For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain" (Titus 1:9–11). So, true ministers should have been "taught," just as Jesus taught His disciples for three-and-a-half years. The Apostle Paul also trained young men such as Timothy (Acts 16:1–5), Titus and others—working with them, traveling with them, tutoring them and preparing them to help him evangelize the Roman Empire to the full extent of their ability. This is God's pattern. God's Kingdom will be organized, and it is vital that we all learn to submit to authority and to work together as a "team"—as we will certainly need to do that for all eternity!
However unwilling they may be to admit it, many of those who oppose doing a really significant Work of preaching the Gospel to the whole world are selfish and somewhat introverted or "independent" individuals who do not want anyone telling them what to do! They are often unwilling to submit to authority—perhaps because they have been hurt in the past by misuse of such authority. Such people are unwilling to submit even to righteous leadership in the true Church, as God directs His people through His ministers. They do not want to humbly play their part as members of an organized "team"—the Body of Christ in this age! Yet your Bible clearly reveals that every human being who hopes to be in Christ's coming Kingdom—His actual government to be set up on this earth—must be willing to submit to others in the Body of Christ! Please study 1 Corinthians 6:1–6 with this thought in mind!
Notice how the Apostle Paul "commanded" the evangelist Titus to "appoint elders in every city" and then described the qualifications of these elders (Titus 1:1–9). Paul then explained that the elders must be able to stop the mouths of "insubordinate" confused talkers who just want their own way (vv. 10–11)!
Indeed, the Body of Christ must be organized, and its leaders must have genuine authority to maintain order and unity of purpose. All true Christians must be willing to take correction and submit to authority. God's inspired instruction in the book of Proverbs reminds us of this principle again and again! Notice Proverbs 12:1: "Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid." Now read Proverbs 13:18: "Poverty and shame will come to him who disdains correction, but he who regards a rebuke will be honored."
Carefully read and mediate on Proverbs 15:31–33: "The ear that hears the rebukes of life will abide among the wise. He who disdains instruction despises his own soul, but he who heeds rebuke gets understanding. The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom, and before honor is humility."
Please note that "before honor is humility." If you wish to be a king or priest in Christ's soon-coming Kingdom (Revelation 5:9–10), you must humble yourself, you must be teachable and you must be willing to submit yourself to the leadership that the living Jesus Christ places in His true Church. Otherwise, how can Christ trust you to be genuinely obedient and loyal to Him throughout all eternity?
"'And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, 'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.' Amen" (Matthew 28:18–20).
This famous passage from the gospel of Matthew is often called the "Great Commission." It is echoed in Mark's gospel, where we read: "And He said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature'" (Mark 16:15).
In the midst of so much religious confusion in our world today, these simple yet powerful words of Jesus Christ can help us understand the Work of God, and can help us recognize whether we are part of His true Church—the Church that is faithfully carrying out the dual responsibilities of preaching the true gospel and caring for the believers God calls as a result of that preaching.
First, let us consider: What does it mean to preach the gospel? Remember, the gospel—the "good news"—is Christ's message of the coming Kingdom of God. That Kingdom is not some abstract feeling in the heart of the believer; it is a literal government that will bring world peace to planet Earth, ruled by a literal King—Jesus Christ.
Many churches call Christ "King" but do not teach the truth about His literal rule. If a Church emphasizes a message about the Messenger, and distorts or neglects His message of God's coming Kingdom, then it is not fulfilling the Great Commission.
Next, notice that Christ entrusted His Church with the task of teaching new disciples "to observe all things that I have commanded you." He did not say, "Leave out a few of My commands that won't be valid in 50 or 100 years." He did not say, "Replace My commands with contrary commands of your own." If a church does not teach its members to observe Christ's commands, it is not fulfilling the Great Commission, is not doing the Work of God, and is not God's true Church.
Is your church going into "all the world" to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God? That is what Christ told His Church to do. The Bible shows us how this was done. It was not that individual Christians felt some subjective inspiration and decided to make themselves into "preachers" or "ministers" or "evangelists." Rather, people were chosen and ordained by the existing leadership of the Church, and were sent out to fulfill specific tasks (Luke 10:1). God's Church is organized (Ephesians 4:11).
So, if a church is led by someone who is "self-ordained" you can be sure it is not God's true Church, and is not carrying out the Great Commission. But it is not enough that a pastor be validly ordained. Is his church really going "into all the world" to preach the gospel? Today, there are countless "ministries" that put up a Web site, or hand out tracts in their community, and think that this satisfies their obligation to go "into all the world." But although God tells us that His Church is a "little flock" (Luke 12:32), He has promised that the forces of Satan's world will not prevail against it. If a church is not devoting substantial resources to preaching the true gospel around the world, it is not carrying out the Great Commission, and you can be sure it is not God's true Church.
But even if a church is preaching the gospel around the world, there is one more test you can apply. What does God say is the purpose behind preaching the gospel to the world? Notice: "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come" (Matthew 24:14). The gospel is to be preached not as a "soul-winning" crusade, but rather as a witness to a world that will for the most part reject that message! God is not trying to "save the world" in this present age, as most professing Christian churches mistakenly believe. Yes, God will call a relative few to salvation in this age, as His "firstfruits," but the primary focus of the Great Commission is on Jesus Christ's warning message.
God's Truth, as revealed in your Bible, is plainly seen by those whom He calls, but most of the world today remains blinded. Those who are blinded can only "search" for the "church of their choice." But, when God opens people's eyes, they can see for themselves where His Truth is being preached, and they want to be a part of that effort, helping to carry out the Great Commission that Jesus Christ gave to His disciples. If your eyes are being opened to the Truth being taught in this magazine, on the Tomorrow's World telecast and at the www.TomorrowsWorld.org Web site, then God may be calling you into His true Church.
Read again the story of Samuel and Saul in 1 Samuel 15:1–23. Here, God used His human servant, Samuel, to tell King Saul of Israel what to do. But Saul tried to "play games" and water down what God commanded. He did not destroy all the enemies and all the animals of the Amalekites, as God had clearly commanded through Samuel. So, God inspired Samuel to state: "For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king" (1 Samuel 15:23).
The next chapters of 1 Samuel show that God backed up this command and removed Saul from being king of Israel. The great God also commands us to do things His way—not using our human reasoning to "water down" or somehow get around the direct instruction given in His inspired word.
God is building a family of Spirit-born sons who will have proved themselves by a lifetime of obedience to God and willingness to submit themselves to His government—even that government administered through human beings. They will have learned to cooperate as part of a "team"—and will be ready to cooperate for all eternity. It is this kind of truly surrendered individual who will soon be ruling this entire world under Jesus Christ in His Kingdom!
So, we must not be selfish or introverted. We must learn to work together in doing God's Work—as He commands. We must do this in love and in unity right now in preparation for our part in Christ's coming government. This is a vital part of our training as Christians!
God instructs His people in Ephesians 4:1–6 to endeavor to keep the unity of the "Spirit," and states, "There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism" (vv. 4–5). Dear reader, you need to fully prove whether you are in that "one body" of true Christians who are faithfully striving to keep God's commandments and do His Work!
Almighty God tells us that He places genuine leaders in His Church, in roles such as apostles, evangelists and pastors. But, why? "For the work of ministry" and to bring unity to the body of Christ. Frankly, without God-ordained leadership among His people, the capacity to do a powerful "Work" of preaching His message to "all nations" would simply be impossible!
God warns us, "Look among the nations and watch—be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you" (Habakkuk 1:5). God is now using this very Work—spearheaded by the Tomorrow's World television program and this magazine—as a major part of His prophesiedend-time preaching of the true message of the coming government of God, based on His laws and of warning His people of the coming Great Tribulation.
As a true minister of Jesus Christ, I with the other ministers who are part of this Work absolutely have a responsibility to teach the full Truth of God, to help prepare His people to be part of the team that the living Christ can count on to be loyal members of His government on this earth in Tomorrow's World. Will you listen to God's call and join with us in being a part of this vital Work?