Why were you called? What progress are you making toward qualifying for your ultimate job? What does God expect of the lay member in His Church? Just how do you measure up? — don't take it for granted. Read this article before it's too late!
MANY changes have occurred in your life since you began to listen to The WORLD TOMORROW program. There was a time when you would have adamantly refused even the slightest suggestion that you would be living the way you now live. You no longer smoke. Shrimp cocktails and ham sandwiches are a thing of the past. Tithing and Sabbath keeping have become integral parts of your life. As you look back over the last few months or years, you can realize that you've come a long way. But does this mean, however, that you are making gigantic strides forward toward finally qualifying for the Kingdom of God? NOT NECESSARILY! All these changes aren't enough! The Bible contains a list of specific qualifications which every member of God's Church should be using to evaluate his own personal progress. Yet few have even realized that they should be applying these qualifications in their own lives.
Guidelines for Growth
This list is found in I Timothy 3 and in Titus 1. It is God's inspired qualifications for His ministry. These qualifications do not apply exclusively to ordained ministers. There is much that every member of God's Church can learn from these verses of Scripture. The apostle Paul wrote that "all scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God [not just ministers, but all members of the Church) may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (II Tim. 3:16-17). You need to study these verses in order to KNOW what God requires of any leader. Obviously, only a very few will ever become ministers at this time. This is an office to which God, and God alone, calls a man. No one dares assume this responsibility for himself. All such self-appointed ministers are FALSE MINISTERS! Jesus Christ said to His disciples, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you and ordained you" (John 15:16). Paul said that Jesus Christ pat him into the ministry (I Tim. 1:12). God always guides those who are already in the ministry to discern by their fruits those whom God is calling to the ministry. Anyone who becomes obsessed with the aspiration to become a minister is in serious trouble. His very attitude disqualifies him for the ministry, and it might — unless repented of — even keep him out of God's Kingdom. It is NOT, therefore, the purpose of this article to focus your eyes on seeking the ministry. Rather, the purpose is to show you how the qualifications God has set for His ministry are also valuable GUIDELINES which you can use to evaluate your own growth toward the Kingdom of God. No man is going to be ordained unless he meets these qualifications. While no minister perfectly measures up to all these qualifications, you can rest assured, brethren, that he measures up MORE FULLY than anyone else in the congregation. You should follow him as he follows the perfect example, Jesus Christ. God has chosen ministers to help lead you toward this ultimate goal. You should be learning how to live by watching their example. Paul said, "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ" (I Cor. 11:l). God also inspired him to write, "Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: WHOSE FAITH FOLLOW, considering the end of their conversation [CONDUCT — WAY OF LIFE]" (Heb. 13:7).
Our Ultimate Job
There is no reason to be disappointed because you cannot become a minister. God didn't call yon primarily because of the service you could render the next few, fleeting years. God had something far greater in mind for all of us. Yet many have not caught the vision. They are frustrated because they cannot have a more active part in God's Work. They feel useless. They have their eyes focused on the narrow horizons of their immediate future for the next few years. Brethren, EVERYONE in God's Church is destined for a truly GREAT FUTURE! Stop for a moment and consider a remarkable statement made by Jesus Christ in Matthew 11:11: "Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is GREATER than he" John was chosen to personally prepare the way before the first coming of Jesus Christ. What a fantastic responsibility! No one has ever filled a more important office in this physical life than John the Baptist. Nevertheless, Jesus Christ plainly stated that even the lowest office in the Kingdom of God towers above this ministry of John in importance. It doesn't matter what your present occupation might be or where you presently function in the Body of Christ — ALL of us have been called for something far greater and more awesome than anything man has ever done in this physical life.
God's Manpower Committee
At Ambassador College, we have a manpower committee, composed of faculty members and department heads, which meets each week. It carefully analyzes each man's strengths and weaknesses. This is done so that we can more effectively assist each man in his overall growth and development. By the time a student has entered his junior year, the committee is seriously considering where he can be used in the Work. Upon graduation, he is then placed in the position where he can render the greatest service to God's Work. The apostle Peter wrote that judgment is now upon the Church (I Pet. 4:17). God's heavenly manpower committee is carefully analyzing each one of us. Your name is discussed with your accompanying strengths and weaknesses. Your future position in the Kingdom of God hangs in the balance. Will you receive a good report as did those mentioned by Paul in Hebrews 11:39. Just where will you fit in? Do you think for a moment that anyone is going to be given even the least position in God's Kingdom unless he meets the qualifications? A11 must first qualify. What then are the qualifications we must meet?
Why Do You Want To Be in God's Kingdom?
Paul was inspired to preface the list of actual qualifications by focusing our attention on the attitude of the potential servant toward the job itself. "This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop [overseer in spiritual matters), he desireth a good work' (I Tim. 3:l). Some in the Church secretly long to become ministers. Usually, the desire is selfishly motivated. The lust for position and prestige often blinds the eyes to the real purpose of the ministry. Too often the attention is focused on the office rather than on the work. This is the reason Paul was inspired to put the emphasis on the right place, namely, the service being performed. It is the work which is good — not necessarily the desire, which could be wrongly motivated. Certainly, the desire to receive eternal life and avoid the lake of fire is A consideration. It is one reason why we want to be born into the Kingdom of God. It is only natural for us to desire life instead of death. This in itself IS NOT wrong. The apostle Paul wrote, "No man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it" (Eph. 5:29). God so designed us that we automatically seek to preserve our lives. On the other hand, God has made the penalty for sin so repulsive and irrevocable that only a FOOL would deliberately choose that fate. Unfortunately, some will foolishly reject God's way of life through disobedience to His laws and suffer eternal extinction in the lake of fire. However, there must be more than this natural or inborn desire for self-preservation. There must also be a right SPIRITUAL motivation, and this must be FOREMOST!
Destined to Rule
The entire message of Jesus Christ concerned the Kingdom of God. He preached the gospel of the Kingdom of God (Mark 1:14). He brought the GOOD NEWS of how God's Kingdom was to ultimately be established on this earth and how we can qualify to be born into it. Those who do qualify are to be kings and priests, RULING with Jesus Christ on this earth (Rev. 5:10). "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" (Rev. 2:26-27). As amazing as it may seem, some in God's Church look with suspicion and disdain on the prospect of becoming a ruler. They reason, "I don't want to rule over anybody. I'll be satisfied with just being in the Kingdom of God. That's all I want." Others look upon this goal with greedy anticipation. They have never amounted to anything in this life, and now they can hardly wait to be "big shots" in the World Tomorrow. Both of these attitudes are wrong! They are TOTALLY SELFISH and devoid of the real purpose for wanting to be in God's Kingdom. Unless these attitudes are completely repented of, SUCH PERSONS WILL NEVER BE IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD! If you are deeply converted, you aren't going to resent or shy away from your God-given responsibility as a potential ruler in the World Tomorrow. Neither are you going to allow your human nature with all its selfishness and swelling vanity to distort and pervert the real reason for desiring to be a king or priest. Conversion involves developing the mind of God-learning to think the way God does. In His infinite wisdom, God has decided to place us in His Family. It is a ruling family — a divine governing body. It is the Kingdom or Government of the God Family. No one is going to be born into this Family that has no interest in ruling. Everyone who is finally a part of the Kingdom of God will be ruling in one way or another. All will occupy governmental posts. Either we qualify to rule or we just don't qualify! Yet why is it that some shrink back from the prospect of ruling? Why is it that some fail to grasp that the reward of ruling in the Kingdom of C d is the greatest of all possible rewards? Quite often it is because of a wrong concept of rulership. We have difficulty understanding the value of divine rulership because we have been prejudiced by the gross injustice of man's system of government. We are surrounded with the misuse of authority in positions of government. Today, greed, graft and corruption are synonymous with high office. The public official is anything but a servant of the people. Rather, he is frantically striving to get his while the getting's good,
A Wrong Approach
Even the men selected by Jesus Christ to be trained as apostles were guilty of having a wrong concept of greatness. Notice the account in Matthew 20. The mother of James and John had come to Christ, requesting the two most exalted positions for her sons (verse 21). When the others overheard the conversation, their carnal jealousy caused them to become highly indignant. They too desired the most exalted positions for themselves. Jesus Christ then contrasted the avenue to greatness as followed by worldly aspirants to the true way which His life exemplified. Jesus said, "Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles [governmental leaders] exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them" (verse 25). Here are the tyrants, the despots, the petty dictators who have earned the infamous title of "strong men" by their pompous parade of power — usually at the expense of their own people. They revel in seeing people tremble below them. They live in pampered luxury and affluence and deign to do anything that some fawning servant could do for them. This is not God's way of ruling. These are the governments of men — not the Government of God.
Key to Greatness
What then should your attitude be? What is a rightly motivated desire? Christ made it very clear when He said, "But it shall not be so among you: hut whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister [servant); and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant [bondman or slave): even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to GIVE his life a ransom for many" (Mat. 20:26-28). Service is the gateway to true greatness! Christ has set the standard of performance. It involves GIVING of your time and energies — in unselfish service. God is the greatest being in all the universe because He serves the most.
Need for Authority
Consider what the right use of authority could accomplish. Haven't you frequently been brought face to face with the wretchedness of man's way and been deeply moved by the pitiful plight of hapless individuals who have been victimized by their own folly? Haven't you WISHED YOU HAD AUTHORITY TO STEP IN AND MAKE THEM OBEY THOSE LAWS OF GOD WHICH WOULD SOLVE THEIR HEARTRENDING PROBLEMS. Of course you have! Human nature isn't going to naturally obey God. It will automatically resist the very thing which would bring it every good thing which it so desperately wants. This is why Jesus Christ is going to have to rule this world with a rod of iron (Rev. 2:27). Men are going to be forced to obey God's laws, whether they want to or not. They are going to be forced to give God's laws a chance. Before too long, they are going to experience the benefits of obedience and will no longer resent the laws or chafe under the authority of God's Government. God is love (I John 4:8). He gave His Son so that mankind would not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). If we have the mind of God, we will be thrilled with the prospect of having an opportunity to share the priceless benefits of God's way with all mankind in the World Tomorrow. We will be motivated by a genuine desire to serve the millions and billions of future begotten sons of God. Love then is the spiritual motivation which we all must have.
Hard Work Is Necessary
You might have the right spiritual motivation and nevertheless FAIL to qualify! It takes more than desire. Spiritual daydreams aid visions of grandeur are not enough to insure that you will be qualified to discharge the sweeping responsibilities of rulership in the Kingdom of God. The desire to which Paul refers in I Timothy 3:1 is not merely idle dreaming or wishful thinking. It means "to stretch oneself, reach out one's hand" that is, "to aspire or STRIVE FOR." Just as no man is automatically qualified for the ministry, no one is automatically qualified to be a king or priest. In both cases, it takes earnest and properly directed effort. Years of intensive preparation and training are required before you will be qualified to fulfill the job Christ is preparing for you.
Strive To Enter
Jesus Christ commanded, "STRIVE to enter in at the strait gate; for many will reek to enter in, and shall not be able (Luke 13:24). There must be a sense of urgency in your seeking. A listless and lackadaisical attempt is DOOMED TO FAILURE! The word for "strive" which Christ used is a remarkable word indeed. It means "to enter a contest, to contend in the gymnastic pines; to endeavor with strenuous zeal; TO FIGHT or STRUGGLE." We not only are to know what we want — that is, to ultimately be in the Kingdom of God — but to be vigorously and forcefully preparing ourselves for that tremendous position we hope ultimately to fulfill. The apostle Paul used this same word in his triumphant statement made shortly before his martyrdom. "For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have FOUGHT [to strive, struggle or endeavor with strenuous zeal] a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only. but unto ALL them also that love His appearing" (II Tim. 4:6-8). Those who desire the office of a king or priest in God's Kingdom most certainly desire a GOOD WORK. However, it is a work that can be accomplished only by those who have met the qualifications. Examine your motives! Do you want to rule for the purpose of sewing countless millions of future sons of God? Are you developing the mind of a servant now? Here is where to begin — this is the way to a rightly motivated desire to be a part of the Kingdom of God.