You were born to rule. Only those who learn to rule now — in this life — will be saved! Understand why!
HAVE you ever thought about what YOUR JOB will be in the Kingdom? About what Christ will have you do in the millennium? About how you qualify for that responsibility?
What Christ Expects of Every Church Member
Salvation is a gift from God. It is absolutely free. You cannot earn it. But you can lose it! Since salvation is something you can lose, then God must have set terms or conditions upon which He grants it. It's time you understood what those terms or conditions are. First, notice how one may lose salvation — why some are thrust out of the Kingdom of God, while others are saved. Jesus said of those who perish: "Cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matt. 25:30). What made this man unprofitable? Why did Christ refuse him admission into the Kingdom of God? Wherein had he failed? The answer is found in verses 21 and 23. To those who are to receive salvation, who will inherit the Kingdom of God, Jesus said: "Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord." Do you grasp it? Do you see the difference? The unprofitable servant was not faithful in carrying out the few duties given him in this life! He had not learned to govern his time, he had not learned to master his human nature, he had not learned to rule his family — or, if a woman, to rule her children. He hadn't improved his mind or put his income to work — even though he knew better! All he could say to his Lord was — "I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: and I was afraid, and went and hid my talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine" (verses 24-25). He buried his talent. He was careless about life's responsibilities. He didn't call upon God for the help he needed. He lacked faith, which is a gift of the Spirit of God. He had not overcome. His Judge condemned him: "Thou wicked and slothful servant..." (v. 26). Too many members in God's Church today are like the unprofitable servant. An AWFUL fate awaits them unless they wake up! They are failing the ONE CONDITION Jesus Christ set for every church member: "To him that OVERCOMETH." But what does it mean to overcome? The dictionary defines it as: "to master, prevail over, surmount, overwhelm, be victorious over, to win, to get the better of, to conquer." How many of you are mastering your job, your children, your human nature with God's help? Are you surmounting obstacles? Gaining the victory over bad habits? Conquering your weaknesses? In short — are you overcoming like Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel? Israel means, in Hebrew, "prevailer with God" — or, "ruler with God." Do you know what Jacob will be doing in the Kingdom of God? What this Philadelphia Era of the Church will be doing? What your individual responsibility will be? Everyone of us will be ruling under Christ! — IF we have first, in this life, here and now, surrendered our wills to Him, and have let Him rule in and through us. No one will be there who has not come under Christ's authority, or who has not learned to rule with Christ in the little duties and jobs we have in this life.
Different Degrees of Authority
But just as we do not all exercise the same kind of rule and authority now, so there are different kinds of responsibility in the Kingdom of God. Not all will have the same office. Not all will face the same duties. Notice the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation. You have read them probably many times. But have you understood the message? Have you considered what the responsibility of this Church is to be when the Kingdom of God rules this world? We are the Church that has been used to restore the truth and the pattern of God's Government. Not since apostolic days has there been a HEADQUARTERS Church until now. And this Church — the Philadelphia Era of the Church of God — is promised in Revelation 3:12 a responsibility in Jerusalem AT THE HEADQUARTERS of the Government of God. Because we have restored the TRUTH we are also to be made spiritual "pillars" in the Kingdom — in a veritable Supreme Court of God's Kingdom at Headquarters.
What the Seven Churches Are Promised
Open your Bibles to the Book of Revelation. In these two chapters is condensed almost 2000 years of history! Here are listed five past epochs of the Church of God, together with the vital description of our Church today, and that of the very next Laodicean period climaxing this age. Notice that at the end of each of the seven stages in the history of God's Church there is a definite promise for the Church which carries on God's WORK during that particular period. You will find these seven promises recorded in Rev. 2:7, 10 and 11, 17, 26 to 28; 3:4 and 5, 12, 21. The only ones who have a right to these promises are OVERCOMERS — those who, through the power of the Spirit of God, overcome themselves, overcome the world about them, and overcome the temptations of wicked spirits who influence the present world. To each Church epoch DIFFERENT PROMISES are granted! That is, those who overcome are NOT ALL CALLED TO PERFORM THE SAME FUNCTION IN THE KINGDOM. Some Churches are promised a special duty. Consider an example from the Old Testament. God created the office of "king" over the nation Israel. God first selected Saul for that office. The people approved him. Had he been a conqueror of his human nature, he could have qualified to exercise that same office in the Kingdom. But Saul failed! Then God chose David — a man whom the people would not have chosen. David qualified. He admitted his sins and finally overcame them. He will occupy the office of king over Israel in the millennium (Ezek. 37:24). But notice! Once David qualified for that office no others can ever occupy it! When Jesus called the Apostles, He did not call them to the same office as David. He called them to occupy offices Under David. Here are Jesus' own words to the apostles: "Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Luke 22:28-30). In Matthew 19:28 Jews is quoted as saying to the apostles, "Ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." Of the fourteen who accompanied Jesus, twelve were ultimately chosen to rule over the twelve tribes. (See Acts 1:15-26.)
Other Offices Yet To Be Filled!
These offices constitute only the nucleus of God's Government. Upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus has built His Church (Ephesians 2:20). The apostles and the prophets are therefore in superior authority to the remainder of the Church built on them. That Church has existed these nearly 20 centuries. During these centuries God divided the Church into seven epochs — or periods of time. Each Church has its work to perform. Jesus says of each Church "I know thy works." Some have performed their work better than others. They overcame more. They are therefore able to handle greater responsibilities in the Kingdom of God and are deserving of greater blessings. All who overcome are to inherit the Kingdom of God — they will constitute the Kingdom. But they will not all occupy the same position in the Kingdom. Jesus Christ does not occupy the same position as the Father. Yet both of them have eternally constituted the Kingdom of God. The "saints shall judge the world" (I Corinthians 6:2), but some will be qualified to judge greater matters than others. "We shall reign on the earth" (Revelation 5:10), but we shall not all reign over the same territory or people. We shall all be priests — Peter calls us even now "a royal priesthood" (I Peter 2:9) — but some will minister in greater capacity than others. It all depends on how we overcome — how we strive against the attractions of the world and the pull of human nature. When Christ comes to judge us, He will "give reward unto....small and great" (Rev. 11:18). Some of us are smaller than others in God's sight. Some have not yielded to the law of God as much as others. Some have not worked as hard on uprooting the power of human nature as others — they have not let God's law govern their lives to the same degree as others. Remember what Jesus said to the disciples? — "Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the east in the Kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the Kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:19). In the history of the Church of God, some periods have been characterized by great zeal, great works, great knowledge of God's law. Other periods have been characterized with flagging zeal, incomplete or diminishing works, a partial neglect of God's law. In the Kingdom or Family of God there will be individuals of different degree. But for each individual there will be a responsibility, a job. Not the same job, of course! — for we are not all called to the same office. But every office is needed. An entire CIVILIZATION. God's kind of civilization, God's way and not man's way. It will take literally millions of different jobs to create civilization as it ought to be. YOUR JOB will be what you will find the most pleasure in doing. We do not all get the same pleasure out of the same thing. That is why God has not called us all to the same office. Notice, now, what the Church today is promised — and this includes yon if you continue as an overcomer and resist temptation and end up as victor in pour trials.
What This Church Is Promised
Open your Bible to Revelation 3:10-12. Here is what it says: "Because thou [this Church] hast kept the word of My patience" — we haw patiently kept God's word in a gainsaying world — "I," responds Jesus, "also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth." If we hold fast to the end, notice what the reward of this Church will be in the Kingdom of God: "Him that overcometh [this includes anyone. not just the ministry] will I make a pillar. [or main support] in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, New Jerusalem: and... my new name." In Galatians 2:9 you will read that James and Peter and John seemed to be "pillars" in the early Church. They were leaders! That responsibility is what God promises to us in God's Church today. We are to qualify — not for David's office, not for the apostles' offices — but as spiritual pillars or leaders — the main support in God's House [symbolically called "temple" in Rev. 3:12] for all eternity. A pillar is the main support in a temple! Think of it! Being able to judge at Headquarters in Jerusalem, all the varied problems of the whole world! No human court could begin to do what God promises we shall be qualified to perform. Notice, too, the Scripture: "He shall go out no more." We are never to be removed from that reward and responsibility. Think of that! We are to be at Headquarters — setting policies — determining those decisions that need to come to Headquarters. (Compare Acts 15 with this.) Never has a Church had to "restore all things" as has this Church. Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong found that the truth had almost died from the earth during the Sardis epoch of the Church. And it is not yet all restored. But we have been willing to grow in the revealed knowledge of God and to keep what has been revealed. Yea, we are becoming fit — if we develop ourselves now — to be pillars in the Kingdom of God, Not every pillar is the same size or serves the same purpose, of course; not all of us will be exactly alike either. But more than that, this Church — the Philadelphia era — is to have the name of the capital city of the universe — the Headquarters of the world. That is where we are to be centered. The pillars of the Church ought always to be at Headquarters so that all may appeal to to it for decisions. All of you are being trained for this job now — even if it is only by learning to pray for the work at Headquarters and by sending to Headquarters your tithes for the conduct of the work of this Church. Never since apostolic days has the work of God been conducted from one centralized location as it is today. Always through the past centuries it has been a scattered work. Moreover, we are to have the name of God the Father and of the Son. God always places His name where He is. He will be dwelling in the New Jerusalem. So will we! That is why we will have His name! Maybe your responsibility in this age seems small. Maybe others seem so much more important than you do now. Let us not feel inferior — nor "let us... be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another" (Galatians 5:2 6).
Just Around the Corner!
Time is very short! In probably less than 12 years you will be in another world — the World Tomorrow — and the present will have gone forever. Those who seem to be great now will have to give account of themselves as much as those who seem to be small Let us all be comparing ourselves to Christ — and not to one another — seeking to do our job the very best. Wouldn't you rather do your part in the work of God well than have the job of the greatest man on earth and fail it! "He that is faithful in that which is least," Jesus said, "is also faithful in much" (Luke 16:10). So let us all hold fast to the responsibility given us and do it the very best we can. We are all to be judged according to what we have. Many who seem to be small now will become great spiritual pillars tomorrow — and for all eternity. And some who seem to be greater today may not appear to be so great tomorrow. God is no respecter of persons. Now compare the goal of this Church with that of the "Church of Thyatira" — the persecuted Church of the Middle Ages.
A Different Promise Altogether
That church was a great body. Jesus says of it: "I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy last works are more than the first" (Rev. 2:19). What a contrast to our Church. Jesus said we today "have little strength" (Rev. 3:8). Never has the Church been smaller than today — yet we have the greatest door ever opened to any Church. But in the Middle Ages the Church of God was a powerful Church — its last works were even greater than its first. It grew. It overcame. True, there were certain serious faults allowed from time to time. The symbolic "Jezebel" — another picture of the fallen woman of Rev. 17 — was sometimes allowed to teach in the local assemblies. And Jezebel's children — those who came out of her in protest — were there, too. In other words, the false teachers were sometimes fellowshipped, instead of being excommunicated! Those who overcame the teaching of the false ministers who crept into the local churches achieved a great reward. "And he that overcometh and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of Iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father," says Jesus. "And I will give him the morning star" (Rev. 2:26, 28). Those in that Church age are not to rule over Israel, but over the nations — ethnos in Greek, meaning "nations" or "tribes." In the millennium the Kingdom of God will inherit the Gentiles (Psalm 2:8). Under David and Paul will be those in that Church who will exercise dominion over the great Gentile families — Russia, China, Germany, the Latin American countries, African tribes — just as today Gentile nations such as Pakistan, India and Ceylon recognize the authority of the House of David ruling today from London, England in the person of Queen Elizabeth II. That Church will not exercise the same responsibility as we will have. They will be in authority out in the field. They are not to be at Headquarters as we shall be. If there are major problems among the nations under their authority, the case will come to us for decision — as in the example recorded in Acts 15 Those who constitute that Church will shine in glory with the radiance of "the morning star" (Rev. 2:28). The brightest heavenly body next to the sun and moon — as we view the heavens.
The Church in Laodicea
We are all familiar with the graphic description of the lukewarmness which will climax the close of this age. This church body is not this work — it is the work of another body of believers already beginning to be influenced by The WORLD TOMORROW broadcast and The PLAIN TRUTH magazine. They will be heirs to the riches of spiritual understanding which God is making known to the world through this Church — but they are spiritually smug. Nothing good can he said about them. Though they may have been begotten, they have not allowed Christ to live His life through them. Jesus pictures himself as having stood at the door of their hearts knocking. They may have been lukewarm co-workers. But they never did come all the way with Christ to have a living active part in this work. When they do come to see that The WORLD TOMORROW broadcast has been right, it will be too late! The tribulation will be upon them! There is no promise of deliverance from the coming time of trouble and religious persecution — whereas we are promised deliverance. If they become zealous and repent, if they "love not their lives unto death," then they will receive a good responsibility. But they have first a great period of trial and test to meet. Jesus will send the punishment on them because He loves them. If they change their ways, He will not figuratively spue them out of His mouth as one who spues out nauseating lukewarm water. To them Jesus says: "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in His throne" (Rev. 3:21). Notice that they are not called spiritual "pillars"; neither do they have their own thrones as do those of the Church of Thyatira. Those who do qualify through much tribulation will sit with Christ on His throne — assisting Him directly in the personal administration of His office. Here you see yet a different responsibility in the Kingdom of God! Now contrast these overcomers with those of the other Church epochs. Notice the rewards of the remaining Churches.
What Is Their Responsibility?
Consider the Sardis era of the Church of God. Jesus said of that Church — the one which immediately preceded this present Philadelphia era — "thou hast a name that thou livest," but thou "art DEAD" (Rev. 3:1). Their works have not been perfected. Their ministry failed to proclaim the gospel as it ought to have been preached. Only a few individuals — "a few names" — were overcomers in that era. As a Church they have no special responsibility! Only a few individuals within the Church will walk with Christ in white — a symbol of righteousness (Rev. 19:8). God merely promises each of them that He "will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, arid before his angels" (Rex,. j:i). There is no responsibility — no definite office mentioned here — only a promise of eternal life. Even the overcomers of that era barely escape with their lives. Indeed, sometimes the righteous scarcely are saved! (I Peter 4:18). But remember, the saints shall rule or judge the world — and that includes these individuals of the Sardis era. They, as individuals in that Church, will have their responsibility (mentioned elsewhere in the Scripture), but as an organized Church they receive no joint responsibility! The same thing is true of the other Church eras. In the Church era typified by the Pergamos Church, there were no small number who tolerated the erroneous doctrines of the "Nicolaitanes."
Who Were the Nicolaitanes?
Church historians have always imagined that the Nicolaitanes were a small sect which separated from the great worldly body of professing Christians. It has never occurred to these scholars that the Nicolaitanes might be that great body of professing Christians which sprang from those conspirators who entered the true Church of God to devour the flock! First, what does the word "Nicolaitane" mean? It has no connection with the deacon Nicolas (Acts 6:5), as some have assumed. The original Greek word "Nicolaitane" means one who is "a follower, of Nicolas." Who was that Nicolas of whom they were followers? God hates the doctrine of that man (Rev. 2:15). But what does the name "Nicholas" come from? It comes from two Greek words — nikos and laos. Nikos means "conqueror" or "destroyer" and laos means "people." The original Nicolas was the conqueror or destroyer of the people! That was merely the Greek word for Nimrod — the original arch-rebel who conquered the people and founded man-made civilization within two centuries after the flood! And is it a strange thing that even today the followers of the Nicolaitans still hallow the name of "St. Nicolas" on December 25? Yes, Santa Claus — just a shortened form of Nicolas, the Greek name for Nimrod — is Nimrod deified. It is he — and not Jesus Christ — whom the professing Christians serve to this day, and whom they honor at Christmas! In the apostles' time, the chief spokesman for the mysteries of Babylon was Simon Magus. He surreptitiously introduced the religion of Nimrod in the Name of Christ! But God calls them what they were — the doctrines of Nimrod! There were individuals in the Church of God in those days who, tragically, tolerated such practices and even indulged in them! Is it any wonder that no special responsibility was given to that Church? Notice the promise: ''To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna" (see John 6:48-63),"and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saveth he that receiveth it" (Rev. 2:17). Here is no promise of a special office — such as the one to which we are called — but only a promise of eternal life to individuals. The white stone (Rev. 2:17) was the tessera of ancient times, "well known in Asia Minor as a passport to heathen banquets. To each guest invited to the idol feasts, a stone was given with the name of the person written on it; and specimens... are to be now seen among the Greek antiquities of the British Museum" (The Messages to the Seven Churches of Asia Minor, by Andrew Tait, p. 252). The promise to Christians of that epoch, symbolized by the Church in Pergamos, is to attend the "marriage supper" of Jesus Christ symbolized by the "hidden manna." The overcomers will be in the Kingdom, but they did not qualify, as a group, for any special function. The same is true of Ephesus and of Smyrna. The faithful poor of Smyrna are promised a "crown of life" (Rev. 2:10). They "shall not be hurt of the second death" (verse 11). The Church of Ephesus is given the promise: "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God" (verse 7). In none of these cases are there any particular offices to which that Church age was being called. They may not have been called to be pillars in the Kingdom of God: they may not have been called to rule over whole nations; they will not be in the place of the apostles and of David, or in the place of the prophets teaching the world. But there is a place for them, under the apostles, an office which Jesus mentioned in His parable in Luke 19:11-27. Here it is!
Who Will Rule Over Cities?
The great parable of Luke 19 is dual. The ten servants represent the ten tribes of Israel — the citizens represent the House of Judah. In accordance with what the tribes of Israel have done during these past centuries, so will they be given power over the Gentile cities — just as some of them now exercise power over primitive people. But the prophecy is DUAL. Christians are also now the bondservants of Jesus Christ. Some overcome more than others — some develop their spiritual ability more than others. Some are to be given rule over many cities during the millennium in the Kingdom of God. Others will have qualified to rule over only a few cities — or perhaps only over one! Who are those who rule over these cities? Not the prophets or the apostles — or the Churches of Philadelphia, or of Thyatira. The answer seems very plain. The responsibility to guide and control, under the supervision of the apostles, the development of civilization in every city on earth will be vested in those Christians who have not been assigned other duties. Here, then, is the responsibility — the office — open to those who overcome in the Churches of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos and Sardis. Some of the individuals in those Churches may have grown immensely — they may even exercise immense authority over many mighty cities, whereas some in the other Churches — Thyatira, for example — may rule over only minor nations or tribes. Some in those Churches may do greater works over giant metropolitan areas than will some in our Church who will be small pillars in the Headquarters of the world. That depends on YOU! That depends on whether you willingly let God make you into His image, or whether you tend to resist His corrections! God will not make of you what you are not willing to become! What wonderful truth about the Government of God which lies hidden within these seven small letters! What wonderful promises are open to us — undreamed — of powers to remake the world and to be happy doing it! And to think that God extends to this Church as a body the positions of "PILLARS" in His Work. Not everyone called to be an apostle was an overcomer — Judas departed from the faith. And not every one of you will succeed. But God's promise stands firm. We CAN — if we overcome ourselves — STAND TOGETHER AS PILLARS IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD.