Just What Is The Work?
How did it start? How was it built? What are the qualifications for founding, managing and building it? YOU HAVE HEARD of "Monday-morning quarterbacks." Or of armchair generals. It is easy enough for one who never did the job, and never could, to sit back and pass judgment on the one who did it!
A young man of no experience wrote me recently, "There are still those who think you are incapable of running God's Church."
Well, who is, after all, "running" God's Church and the entire Work? Jesus Christ is. He is the living HEAD of God's Church. I have always said that.
But it is true also that Christ works through human instruments. And I have said that the man He uses as His instrument in founding, building and "running" it is required to do as much — to work as hard — as if he alone, without Christ, did it all. Christ does not make it easy for the servant He chooses as His instrument.
In fact, Jesus Christ does not make it EASY for any of us whom God calls and Jesus uses in His service — or those called for salvation. To qualify for the free GIFT of salvation is not easy. "It is through much tribulation that we must enter the Kingdom of God." Jesus spoke of the EASY road that leads to destruction, but "strait [hard, difficult] is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."
How much more difficult, then, is it for the one God calls and uses in founding, building and managing God's Church and all its WORK in our modern day?
And how does one appraise the qualifications of one "capable" of "running the Work"?
Jesus said, "BY THEIR FRUITS" we shall know. The "fruits" are the founding of this present era of God's Church, the building of it from virtually nothing, and the operation of it in all its worldwide aspects today.
So just WHAT DO WE MEAN — THE WORK? How did it start? Whom did Christ, the living HEAD of the Church, use? How was it built? WHAT is it today — what all does it include?
It all started when I was a lad only 16 years old. A summer vacation employer aroused the spark of AMBITION within me. Or rather, I should say, Christ caused him to do it. That ambition was more than a spark. It was a white-hot flame. I wanted to be a success. I did not yet know in what field or activity. But at age 18 I was led to put myself through a thorough self-analysis, from a book titled Choosing a Vocation, and a survey of qualifications for all the various professions, occupations and jobs.
I didn't really know God then. I knew a little about Him — very little — but I didn't know Him. My thinking then was carnal. I decided I fit best in the advertising profession — in magazines and newspapers. Jesus Christ was guiding me through the EXPERIENCE I was to need when later He was to call me to His active service. Much I learned in the magazine and newspaper field was a necessary preparation for being used later by Christ in founding, building and directing what we have come to call "THE WORK."
I have written many times of my conversion. I was antagonistic against much of the truth Christ was to lead me into. I studied it with deadly seriousness to DISPROVE what Christ later led me to believe. Coming into His TRUTH was taking a real thrashing.
Often I have wondered how many members of God's Church came into the truth in a far different manner. That is, they heard one of our broadcasts or telecasts — it seemed to make sense. They recognized it was something different than the common "gospel" preaching. They wrote in for a booklet or a copy of The Plain Truth. Or, perhaps they first came across a copy of The Plain Truth or a booklet of ours. They immediately became interested.
"This rings true," they said, or words to that effect. They wrote for more literature. The BIBLE was opened up to them — for the first time, probably, they began to really understand it. And because they wanted what is RIGHT, in their own goodness they accepted the TRUTH they now saw with their own eyes in the Bible. They came to it BECAUSE THEY WERE THEMSELVES SO GOOD AND SO RIGHTEOUS, they wanted only what was right and true — and so they accepted the truth, were baptized and became members of the true Church of God.
But the BIG QUESTION is: DID THESE PEOPLE REALLY REPENT? Or did they only RECEIVE and ACCEPT truth which in their own goodness they were good enough to receive?
Brethren, I REPENTED! I saw in the TRUTH where I not only had been wrong in what I believed — what I supposed to be true. I saw where I was totally wrong IN WHAT I WAS! Repentance, to me, meant not only turning FROM what I believed, but turning also from the self-centered and vain person that I was. I came to see — as Paul said, "I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing." I wanted to let Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit, come into me and live His life in me. So I literally GAVE my life to Him who had bought and paid for it with His life's blood.
That expresses, in brief, a portion of what Jesus Christ took me through in preparing me to be His servant — and remember a SERVANT is one who SERVES, not bosses.
But there soon followed an apprenticeship of training before Christ was ready to start what we call "THE WORK" through me. I began writing articles (because I had become a trained magazine writer) on the TRUTHS I had found revealed in the Bible. Some Salem, Ore., members sent the articles to The Bible Advocate, the weekly paper of The Church of God, Seventh Day, at Stanberry, Mo. They were published beginning on the front cover. Members of that Church (Sardis — Revelation 3:1-6) began urging me to speak before them. Finally I acquiesced. For some few years I COOPERATED, helped, worked with that Church. But I never joined them — never was a member.
An Oregon group of them pulled out and organized as a separate church, called, "The Oregon Conference." They incorporated. I was ordained by them. They never went back into the "Sardis" church at Stanberry, Mo. I had been baptized in the spring of 1927 into Christ — not into any church — not by a "Sardis" minister.
I was ordained by the Oregon Conference of former Stanberry members in June, 1931. Prior to that I had held one short evangelistic campaign at Harrisburg, Ore., for the Stanberry people, but not as one of their members and I received no salary or expense money for my services. I merely GAVE! I SERVED! But following my ordination by the Oregon Conference (as a separate church) I held a several weeks' six-nights-a-week campaign at Eugene, Ore., for which that state conference paid me $20 per week. And later a campaign at Umapine, Ore., for them, lasting until mid-November, 1931.
But let me once again make plain what detractors refuse to believe — I never was a member of the "Sardis-era" Church of God. I never received salary or compensation from them. AND I NEVER TOOK ANY MEMBERS FROM THEM!
In 1932, I believe it was, a split occurred in the Stanberry church. Remember, this was the remnant of a true Church of God, which in earlier days had been more spiritually alive.
But now, in 1932, about half of the "Sardis" members went out of the Church, and followed Andrew Dugger (who had been their leader), who started a new church of his own at Salem, W.Va.
In March, 1933, I started another campaign six nights a week with a minister named Sven Oberg in Salem, Ore. I had received no salary from the Oregon Conference from November, 1931, until February, 1933, when they paid me $3 per week. This lasted until July.
In July, 1933, on my own I started a small campaign in the Firbutte School, eight miles west of Eugene. The school house had 36 seats. Average attendance was around 40, with a number often having to stand during the entire service. I had dropped the $3 per week salary from the Oregon Conference, trusting God for my family's support.
Meanwhile the Oregon Conference had decided to join in the Dugger "church" at Salem, W.Va. I did not join them — or Stanberry. My meeting at Firbutte School ended in August with 19 new members, which were formed into the PARENT CHURCH OF THE PRESENT WORLDWIDE CHURCH OF GOD — totally independent of Stanberry or the West Virginia groups.
Not one member of this Church Christ raised up through me came from either the "Sardis" or the West Virginia groups. However, for a short while some of the Oregon Conference brethren attended with us at Eugene. The Otis Cole family voluntarily left Stanberry and came with us.
But I never sought to attract any "Sardis" or West Virginia brethren to our Church at Eugene. For some years we went under the name of RADIO CHURCH OF GOD.
Jesus Christ now started the WORK of His Church (the present WORLDWIDE CHURCH OF GOD) on the air, in the midst of the most terrible depression of the past hundred years, on the one small 100-watt radio station KORE, Eugene, the first Sunday in January, 1934. We were entirely separate from and independent of the "Sardis" people. I never sought any of their members in any way. None came with us, except, later, the Otis Cole family.
I emphasize this TRUTH because dissenters are still insisting that my son and other former ministers of ours are only doing what I did — and that accusation is a POINT-BLANK LIE!
Feb. 1, 1934, the first mimeographed edition of The Plain Truth came out.
Meanwhile the Oregon Conference members had gone with the Dugger group from Salem, W.Va. Some of their ministers contacted me. I agreed to COOPERATE with them — BUT I NEVER JOINED THEM. I did serve them at my own expense — and the expense of the new infant RADIO CHURCH OF GOD. I GAVE — I helped — but in no manner did I GAIN — either in money or in members. Later I pastored a "Sardis" local church near Jefferson, Ore., in addition to our own church at Eugene, the broadcasting and the publishing Work of our own.
I held other six-nights-a-week evangelistic campaigns in other towns in Oregon. Always Christ the HEAD of the Church gave me "fruit" for my labors in new converts whom I baptized. But I had no ministers to leave with them to feed these little new flocks Christ was raising up through my preaching.
By 1946 it became evident we simply had to have a COLLEGE to educate and train ministers to pastor these new little churches being raised up by my own efforts.
Meanwhile the radio broadcast had grown to NATIONAL coverage. That, followed up by The Plain Truth and booklets I was turning out rapidly in those days, was bringing scores and hundreds to be ready for baptism and true conversion.
Without any money for the purpose, Christ started AMBASSADOR COLLEGE through me on Oct. 8, 1947. After three years I had students capable of nation-wide baptizing tours. Membership was growing.
The college grew. It was utterly UNIQUE — unlike any other college anywhere. It had the highest possible ACCREDITATION — that of Jesus Christ from heaven! But as we grew, my son wanted the accreditation of Satan's world — and so did some of our faculty.
The WORK grew WORLD-WIDE! In due time Christ started a second college in England through me. Then the college at Big Sandy, Tex., came into existence. The Work GREW for 35 years at the rate of approximately 30 percent every year over the year before — up to about 1968. Meanwhile, my son had become executive vice president. He soon surrounded himself with men who were LIBERAL — who wanted to water down God's TRUTH as God had revealed to me, and had placed in both the Church and the college through me. My son began to discard many of the vital original booklets, which had much to do with building the Work. The television programs became secular documentaries. Meanwhile I was away, carrying Christ's Gospel into other nations in all parts of the world, and did not realize for some time that a conspiracy was going on.
But in the past two years I have recovered from total heart failure. God brought me back to life to turn the Church, college and WHOLE WORK around, setting it once again back on the track where Christ put it through His apostle in the first place.