Again I'm winging my way, almost eight miles above the Pacific Ocean, toward Tokyo. Yesterday, President Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger were flying the presidential plane over approximately the same route. They are in Tokyo today, and I am due to arrive there today, mid-afternoon.
It seems Secretary Kissinger and I are very frequently crossing paths — especially in the Middle East, between Cairo and Tel Aviv. Ours are the only two planes, so far as I know, that ever fly from Cairo to Tel Aviv, or from Tel Aviv to Cairo. And now our schedules meet again today, at Tokyo. It seems a little significant that, to the best of my knowledge, our two planes are the only private aircraft that are permitted to land at Tokyo airport.
However, from there the President and Secretary Kissinger fly on to Seoul, South Korea and from there to the Soviet Union, while I am en route, after Tokyo, for a return public appearance at Manila, the Philippines.
November 19, Honolulu: Just as we were somewhere close to the international dateline, about two hours after refueling at Cold Bay, Alaska, we were forced to turn back. We had been flying through strong headwinds all the way, but west of Cold Bay they gradually increased to an almost unbelievable nearly 250 miles per hour. Our airspeed of 550 miles per hour was cut in half on water surface speed. There was danger we might not make it to a refuelling airstrip in northern Japan. We returned to Cold Bay, arriving on that snow covered landing strip just after sunset, refueled and flew on to Honolulu, Hawaii. It was a long flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu. Our pilots are unable to get air clearance to fly on to Manila until tomorrow. So I have a day for writing in Honolulu. This slight setback will not stop the Work, however. We still will arrive in Manila in time for an important meeting.
An incident like this is typical of our experience of the past 41 years in God's Work. Occasionally there has been a slight setback. But always the Work plunges on forward after that, in a more powerful thrust than ever, for this is the Work of the Living GOD! The most important activity on earth — not only of TODAY, but in the last 1900 years!
That's a strong statement I know, but it is what you, as Co-Workers with CHRIST and with me, are engaged in and sacrificing and praying for. And I think it's time we come to a more clear and concise understanding of just what this Great Work IS!
When we speak of "the WORK" just WHAT DO WE MEAN?
What comes to your mind when you hear or read of "the Work"? Do you think of it as the mission of "saving souls"? Or, perhaps, something I and/or Garner Ted Armstrong are doing, but in which you are not involved or especially concerned? Does it mean, to you, the broadcast or telecast of the WORLD TOMORROW, or the Garner Ted Armstrong program? Does it mean the PLAIN TRUTH? Or AMBASSADOR COLLEGE? Or a combination of some of these?
To grasp clearly just WHAT THIS Work is, and WHY it is the most important activity on earth, we need to begin at the beginning. WHY was it started? What was its PURPOSE? Just WHAT is it seeking to accomplish? WHO started it? WHEN? HOW?
More than 41 years ago the Living Christ called and chose me as His instrument in reviving and carrying out His GREAT COMMISSION in this END time.
But that was not the real beginning of God's Work. Jesus Christ, himself, came to earth and personally began this Work 1947 years ago, in 27 A.D. This beginning God, the Father, has given Jesus, individually, to do.
HOW did it start?
The prophet Malachi prophesied that God would send a human messenger to prepare the way before Christ's coming to earth. But this prophecy describes TWO appearances of Christ on earth. The second of which, more than 1900 years after His FIRST coming, is now imminent!
The prophecy reveals Christ's first coming, as himself a messenger, bringing a MESSAGE from God, the Father. He came at that time as "the Messenger of THE COVENANT." And that "Covenant Message" was His GOSPEL. The word "gospel" means GOOD NEWS!
Jesus' proclaiming — or announcing — that Good NEWS was the beginning of THE WORK!
Was that IMPORTANT? You may be sure that God, the Father, who sent Jesus with that tremendous message from heaven, viewed it as IMPORTANT! You may rest assured that Jesus, who brought it, thought its announcement was important.
John the Baptist was the human messenger, who prepared the way before Christ's first coming. Jesus' MESSAGE was the wonderful NEWS of the coming KINGDOM OF GOD. Just HOW was Christ the Messenger of the COVENANT? What's the connection between the Covenant and the Kingdom of God?
There are the TWO Covenants — The "OLD" and the "NEW." Moses was the mediator of the Old Covenant. That Covenant set up the race of children descended from Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel, as a kingdom — the Kingdom of Israel — one of this earth's nations. But it was also a MARRIAGE Covenant, by which the nation Israel was married to Christ.
Jesus brought the message of the NEW Covenant. That Covenant also will be a marriage covenant which will marry the newly BORN Sons of God (then immortal) to CHRIST, establishing the KINGDOM OF GOD. This Divine Kingdom both 1) the Divine FAMILY of God, and 2) the GOVERNMENT of God, will govern and rule ALL NATIONS OF THE EARTH.
So we read in Mark 1:1: "The BEGINNING of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God." That is THE BEGINNING of the WORK OF GOD.
Continuing from this — verse two of Mark one — the ministry of John the Baptist is briefly related — the messenger preparing the way before Christ at His first coming. Verses 2-13 describes John's ministry. Jesus being baptized by John. Jesus' temptation by Satan, in which He QUALIFIED to be the KING of the future KINGDOM OF GOD.
Then verses 14-15: "Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel."
Jesus' announcement of the Kingdom of God as the START OF THE WORK.
Jesus called and chose His disciples. The word "disciple" means a student — one learning. For 3 1/2 years Jesus taught them about the coming Kingdom of God. Also he continued proclaiming — announcing — teaching about the Kingdom of God.
Then Jesus gave His disciples (who became the original apostles) the GREAT COMMISSION — the Commission of "the WORK." "Go ye," He said, "into all the world, and preach the gospel..." (Mark 16:15 — emphasis mine.) The commission was worldwide!
The Apostles, after receiving God's Holy Spirit, on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), went forth announcing the wonderful NEWS. But they needed help. It was going to be a bigger job than a mere twelve men could accomplish. They needed the inspired and inspirational backing of the CHURCH.
Jesus had said, "I will build my church" (Matthew 16:18). On the Day of Pentecost — the annual festival God had ordained, called the "Feast of Firstfruits" — picturing the small first "spring harvest" of this present time between Christ's first and second coming — only 120 believers resulted from Christ's 3 1/2 years proclaiming His gospel. Christ BEGAN His Church by sending the Holy Spirit into the 120. His Church started VERY SMALL, but Christ added to His Church "and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls" (Acts 2:41). "And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved" (verse 42).
At the very outset of "the WORK" Peter and John were thrown in prison overnight, and threatened against proclaiming the good NEWS any further. Undoubtedly shaken, and needing encouragement and reassurance, they went to the brethren of the Church. The brethren buoyed up their spirits and, "when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled...and they [the apostles] spake the word of God [the Gospel] with boldness" (Acts 4:31). That was in 31 A.D.
But beginning 33 A.D., the persecution set in. Simon the Sorcerer (Acts 8:9-23), head of the Babylonian Mystery religion in Samaria, appropriating the NAME of Christ, began calling his Babylonian Mystery religion "Christianity," and started circulating a counterfeit GOSPEL.
By 58 A.D., Paul wrote to the Churches at Galatia: "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another GOSPEL" (Gal. 1:6). (See also II Corinthians 11:2-4, 11-15.)
At that time a DIFFERENT GOSPEL was proclaimed to the world. Before the end of the first century "the WORK" had stopped. The true gospel of the Kingdom of God was thereafter taught secretly, but not proclaimed to the world for 18 1/2 centuries!
Our time TODAY — Now back to Malachi's prophecy. It foretold a human "messenger" preparing the way before the coming Christ. But, beginning verse 2 of Malachi 3, it foretells also, Christ's SECOND COMING, now imminent! He is now soon coming to set up the KINGDOM OF GOD, restore the GOVERNMENT OF GOD on earth, and to RULE ALL NATIONS.
The human messenger preparing the way, before His first appearing on earth, was John the Baptist. But beginning with verse 2, the prophecy speaks of Christ's SECOND COMING, yet future but now imminent.
Notice: "But who may abide the day of his coming? And who shall stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver..." (Malachi 3:2-3).
All this is referring to activities of Christ at His SECOND COMING — now imminent. None of this refers to anything Jesus did when here before.
Continue, verse 5: "And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress [defraud] the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts."
All this refers to Christ's SECOND COMING in our time!
Preparing before SECOND coming? — So when the prophet foretold the human messenger, preparing the way before Christ's coming, he referred to John the Baptist (see Mark 1:1-3) ONLY TYPICALLY as a forerunner, or type, of one to prepare the way before Christ's SECOND COMING!
This leads directly to Jesus' great prophecy in Matthew 24. It refers to REVIVING the Great Commission — the true Gospel Message of the coming KINGDOM OF GOD. Christ's SECOND COMING is to restore the GOVERNMENT of GOD, and establish the KINGDOM OF GOD on earth! And the way IS INDEED, even NOW BEING prepared before Christ's return to RULE.
That, Co-Workers and Brethren, is what the Living Christ is doing right now through me, through Garner Ted, and through His Co-Workers and CHURCH, which stands loyally behind us in this tremendous AGE-END commission!!
It's time we allowed the Living God to OPEN OUR EYES to the AWESOME commission He has committed to us. It's the MOST IMPORTANT WORK given any human beings in the past 1900 years! And NOBODY ELSE is doing it! The full, AWESOME responsibility of it is on OUR shoulders, whom God has SPECIALLY called NOW!!
THAT'S the reason why YOU and I have been specially called NOW — before the time when God shall set His hand to SAVE THE WHOLE WORLD.
Jesus' startling prophecy — So notice this amazing prophecy of Jesus in Matthew 24:
The disciples had come to Jesus privately, on the Mount of Olives, "Tell us," they asked, "when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the [present] world" (Matthew 24:3).
Before giving them the sign by which we should know when His SECOND COMING is imminent, Jesus first warned them: "Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I [Jesus] am the Christ; and shall deceive many." In other words, many would claim to be Christ's ministers, proclaiming that Jesus was the Christ. Many today are preaching "Christ to the world!" Actually they preach a DIFFERENT Christ, and a DIFFERENT "gospel" that denies the KINGDOM OF GOD and IS DECEIVING THE MANY. They have preached about the messenger, while denying his MESSAGE!
The tragedy of it all is that such ministers probably are entirely sincere — they believe they are right — but the Bible clearly affirms that the WHOLE WORLD is today DECEIVED. A deceived person does not know he is deceived.
But, said Jesus (v. 14): "...this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and THEN shall the end [of this world] come."
I have showed you how, in 58 A.D., the Galatians were accepting "ANOTHER gospel" — perverting the true gospel of CHRIST (Gal. 1:6-7).
II Corinthians 11:14 and 13-15 shows these false preachers were proclaiming, at Corinth, a different Jesus, a different spirit, a different gospel — and that they were ministers of SATAN, posing as ministers of Christ. Their organized opposition and persecution stopped the proclaiming of the gospel of the kingdom to the world.
The true gospel of the KINGDOM OF GOD was NOT proclaimed to the world after the first century.
If Christ's gospel OF THE KINGDOM had been proclaimed through the years, the proclaiming of it NOW would not be the of Jesus' imminent coming!
PROCLAIMING THE GOSPEL IN ALL THE WORLD to be a witness "unto all nations" IS PREPARING THE WAY BEFORE THE SECOND COMING!
And THAT IS "THE WORK" for now in our day!
And, consider this: the very fact that Jesus gave His sign of His Second Coming — the proclaiming of His gospel OF THE KINGDOM just before He returns to set up that Kingdom — shows that "THE WORK" was to be revived AT THIS PRECISE TIME!
"Into ALL THE WORLD" — So, as stated before, more than 41 years ago the Living Christ called and chose me as His instrument in reviving "the WORK" — carrying out the Great Commission in this END TIME — just before the END of this present evil world!
The reviving of "the Work" actually started in 1927 when Christ called me, brought me to repentance and faith, and upon baptism, gave me the gift of His Holy Spirit.
The personal living Word of God taught His original apostles between 27 and 31 A.D. So, in like manner, He taught me through the written Word of God, beginning in 1927 A.D. As the original apostles were sent out to proclaim Christ's gospel in 31 A.D., I was ordained and sent to proclaim the same gospel in 1931 A.D.
It was through me that, in August 1933, Christ raised up the parent church of this present "Philadelphia era" (Rev. 3:7-13) in Eugene, Oregon, U.S.A.; and on January 7, 1934, the GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM started going out over radio; on February 1, 1934, the PLAIN TRUTH began publication.
"The WORK" was once again, after 18 1/2 centuries, UNDERWAY! The PROCLAIMING OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS "the Work." By whatever means! — whether in person, or by radio, or by television, or in print.
But the broadcast, whether by radio or by TV, of itself is NOT "the Work." It is an instrumentality used in "the WORK." The PLAIN TRUTH, in itself, is NOT "the Work." It is another instrumentality USED in "the WORK."
Ambassador College is not "the WORK." It is an instrumentality USED in "the Work" to train personnel for positions in "the WORK." The ANNOUNCING of the GOOD NEWS of the coming KINGDOM OF GOD by whatever means or media IS "the WORK."
We are commissioned to take THE MESSAGE "into all the world."
The small beginning — But I could not go to ALL THE WORLD alone, or at the beginning. Just as the original apostles needed help and the inspirational backing of the Church, so did I. The parent church of this era started with some 19 members, but God ADDED to the Church those He was specially calling for THIS GREAT COMMISSION. The Church grew, as "the WORK" grew into many thousands, as it is today.
And, to get "the WORK" done, God set some in the Church: first, an apostle, then evangelists, then pastors, then other elders — preaching and local elders, as it is today — "for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ" (Eph. 4:12). But all do not have the same office. "And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all" (I Cor. 12:5-6). But "God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him" (I Cor. 12:18).
But we are ALL specially called out of sin, as it were, BEFORE the time when God sets out to CONVERT THE WORLD, for the purpose of supporting and backing up "the WORK" with our fervent, prevailing PRAYERS, our tithes and special offerings, our influence, encouragement and backing in whatever way.
WHY called NOW? — Let me, right here, make doubly clear: 1) that this is NOT the time God is trying to "save the world" spiritually; and 2) WHY a very few of us ARE called NOW.
REALIZE THIS! The Bible gives no record of God offering spiritual salvation to the world from Adam until the Flood. Abel is called "righteous Abel." Enoch "walked with God," and Noah was a just man who also "walked with God." But otherwise, "all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth." There is no record of "soul-saving."
What about the time between the Flood and Christ? ONLY prophets and special leaders were given God's Holy Spirit. The nation of Israel was not offered spiritual salvation! All the millions and billions of humans up to then will be offered salvation in the "Great White Throne Judgment."
What about NOW? — the period from Christ to His SECOND COMING? Jesus said, "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him" (John 6:44). The eleventh chapter of Romans shows that all but a very FEW are now spiritually BLINDED, unable to see spiritual truth or to receive grace NOW. "GOD hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear..." (Romans 11:8). This is the time when Satan has DECEIVED THE WHOLE WORLD — all nations! It is NOT the time when God has tried to SAVE all nations, but He does want His GOSPEL MESSAGE of the KINGDOM OF GOD to be proclaimed in all the world, merely as a "WITNESS" unto all nations!
Then WHY are the very FEW called now?
First, WE have been called for the purpose of OUR PART in "the WORK" — even if that part is no more than PRAYING earnestly for it!
And SECOND, we VERY FEW are called now, BEFORE the time of general salvation, to GROW in grace and the knowledge of Christ. To OVERCOME, so that there will be a sufficient number MADE IMMORTAL at Christ's coming. BORN into the God FAMILY and the KINGDOM OF GOD, to administer the GOVERNMENT OF GOD, over all nations for the following thousand years.
And God has given us "the WORK" to do as the VERY MEANS BY WHICH we may grow spiritually, so we may enter His Kingdom at Christ's coming. In 47 years I have observed that ONLY those whose hearts are fully IN THE WORK continue to overcome and grow SPIRITUALLY, and ENDURE.
Through the years, I, with those added for their part in "the WORK" continued to ANNOUNCE the wonderful NEWS of the coming Kingdom of God, and all that that Message embodied. Never have we sought to GET — but always to GIVE the good news of God's TRUTH.
Yet, as in the days of the first apostles, God has continually added Co-Workers, and added to His Church. These are NEEDED to support, inspire, encourage, pray for and make "the WORK" possible.
Into ALL THE WORLD! — But I could not go to ALL THE WORLD at the beginning. Like the things God does with and through human agents, it had to start small — the SMALLEST! But like the grain of mustard seed, which grew — and grew — and GREW — and G R E W! Opportunity came to start on a radio station of the smallest power. The United States is not like other nations. Here I was able to start at the "grass roots" — reaching the "common people." But the "common people" in America, are the great so-called middle class. They would be considered prosperous in countries like India or China.
In countries all over the world, where the MILLIONS live, there is the educated RULING class, a small upper class running the educational and commercial activities. A huge LOWER class, and a still more huge LOWEST class — illiterate, poverty stricken — many actually and literally STARVING!
In those countries, the GOVERNMENT controls all media reaching the masses. Radio time cannot be bought, nor television. No free press or free speech.
"The WORK" could never have even STARTED in any other country. ONLY in America, where the common people contribute enough money. ONLY in America, where the government allows such funds to be expended to give the True Gospel into other countries.
We tried, after 19 years' growth, to reach other countries by radio. We bought, mostly a "pig in a poke." We simply WERE NOT GETTING CHRIST'S MESSAGE INTO THOSE COUNTRIES.
After 40 years God has performed an astounding, tremendous MIRACLE! He has opened unheard of doors. He has given me astonishing FAVOR, with the top HEADS OF STATE, of nation after nation, after nation, AROUND THE WORLD — yes, in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Central and South America! AROUND THE WORLD!
This is being followed up by "testimonial dinners" sponsored by high ranking cabinet members, or others high in the governments of nations — and with the blessing of the king, president, prime minister, or chief of state.
At the "testimonial dinners" are from fifty to one or two hundred high ranking people of the government, leading universities, and leading businessmen. At these dinners, the top key people of the nation get a general summary of the very Message Christ brought from God. They then know what message I want to get to their nation — those in it responsible for the spiritual and moral welfare of their country.
This is then followed by a PUBLIC APPEARANCE CAMPAIGN. High government officials assume the responsibility of GETTING OUT THOUSANDS OF HIGHEST AND UPPER CLASS PEOPLE — the top substantial people of the country.
These leading officials have come to look on me (because of the favor God has providentially given me in their eyes), as a "BUILDER OF BRIDGES FOR PEACE BETWEEN NATIONS," and as "AN AMBASSADOR WITHOUT PORTFOLIO FOR WORLD PEACE."
And WORK is the NEW and LATEST phase of "the WORK."
The ANNOUNCEMENT IS BEING GIVEN — "in ALL THE WORLD, for a WITNESS UNTO ALL NATIONS!"
All of this is an example of HOW the Living CHRIST actually and literally guides, and Himself directs this Work. It cannot be, and IS NOT, a static Work on a constant unchanging routine. It sometimes requires CHANGE, new ideas, ways, and methods.
This NEW DIMENSION, now getting the Message into the great mass-population, Gentile countries, is something that could not have been done even seven to ten years ago. Even if Christ had opened these doors, we did not yet have the facilities and the resources to follow through on it then. It's amazing how RIGHT TIMING has played such an important part in God's Work — and proof HE directed the TIMING!
This is the WORK OF GOD! — the WORK the LIVING CHRIST is carrying out through YOU CO-WORKERS, Garner Ted, and myself. He is giving me long life — renewing my youth, as in Isaiah 40:29-31.
In the mind of GOD, this is the MOST IMPORTANT ACTIVITY ON EARTH! It is HIS activity — the Work HE is doing through us.
What a transcendent commission! — What an AWESOME, transcendent commission this is!
Right now the Living CHRIST is about to return to earth! He is coming to RAISE THE DEAD IN CHRIST.
He is coming to have Satan, who has deceived ALL NATIONS, BOUND and thrown into a "bottomless pit."
He is coming in all the supreme POWER and GLORY of the very CREATOR GOD! He is coming as KING of kings, already crowned, to RULE ALL NATIONS!
He is coming to restore the GOVERNMENT OF ALMIGHTY GOD to earth! He is coming to establish the KINGDOM OF GOD on the earth.
He is coming as LORD of lords, to CALL EVERY LIVING MORTAL HUMAN to repentance and FAITH, and to ETERNAL SALVATION!
He is coming to brine WORLD PEACE!
He is coming to END all poverty, ignorance, sickness and disease, filth and squalor, ugliness. He is coming to end all CRIME, all WAR, to solve ALL this world's EVILS! To bring universal prosperity, happiness, and JOY!
Is that IMPORTANT?
He called me as His instrument to ANNOUNCE ALL THAT in advance!
He raised up my son Garner Ted to help me and take over the chief executive administration of "the WORK," now grown BIG and worldwide.
He called many others, to be trained in Ambassador College, for important phases of this MOST IMPORTANT WORK ON EARTH!
He called each of YOU, to stand staunchly and loyally BEHIND me and Garner Ted, as human leaders, with earnest and fervent PRAYERS. With such tithes and offerings as HE has made possible. With such inspiration as you can give.
And He has called YOU to help in all that — to be an overcomer, growing in grace and truth, so that you may be given ETERNAL LIFE — so you may sit with Christ on HIS throne — so He can give you POWER OVER THE NATIONS, to RULE under Christ during the thousand years, while we, with Him, bring SALVATION and eternal life TO THE WHOLE WORLD!
IMPORTANT! If you seek the TRUE VALUES — the things WORTHWHILE — what else can be as IMPORTANT as your part in THAT?
THAT is "the WORK."
Yes, what an AWESOME Work to be PRIVILEGED to have part in!
And it DIRELY NEEDS your most intensive supplications and prayers — and even financial SACRIFICE NOW, as never before. How important is THAT to you right now? PLEASE go to your knees and PRAY EARNESTLY about it!