Is Your Heart REALLY In God's Work?
Good News Magazine
June-July 1965
Volume: Vol XIV, No. 6-7
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Is Your Heart REALLY In God's Work?

Do you realize that your salvation LITERALLY DEPENDS on your participation in God's Work? You have probably heard Mr. Armstrong say that a man is converted to the degree that his heart is in God's Work. But what does he mean by "God's Work; and what does it mean to have your HEART in that Work?

   WHY SHOULD YOU as an individual member of God's Church have your heart and mind wrapped up in the worldwide Work of God? Isn't it enough to attend Sabbath services, take the Correspondence Course, read The PLAIN TRUTH, fast and study your Bible? In fact, don't you just about have your hands full in overcoming yourself, learning to pray and fighting your fears and frustrations?
   But why are you fighting this battle? What is your goal what do you hope to accomplish? Almost any member of God's Church will immediately answer that his goal is to "get into God's Kingdom." But think for a moment. If entering God's Kingdom is merely a matter of prayer, study, fasting and meditation, then surely the best thing for you to do would be to withdraw from the world, enter some sort of monastery and devote your life to seeking God in seclusion.

In, But Not Of, the World

   It might seem logical at first thought to "closet" yourself, because you would be away from the temptations of the world. You would have more time for prayer, study and meditation, and you could actually fast more often since you would not be working.
   Logical as it might seem, it is an entirely selfish and wrong approach. The natural tendency of man is merely to want to get for himself. He wants to get salvation, to get answers to his prayers to attempt to solve his problems and to make his life more abundant.
   If this is the way to salvation, then why is it that Christ doesn't take the entire Church out of the world? When He was praying for the Church on the night before He was crucified, He said: "I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil" (John 17:15). Not only that, but in giving the commission to the Church, He specifically sent them into the world with the command to pie& the Gospel.
   But what about those who haven't been called to preach? Why has God called you? After all, He could have waited until the Millennium or even the Great White Throne Judgment to give you your opportunity for salvation. In fact, there have been some who attended Gods Church who have stated they wished God would have waited to call them later when it would be easier to overcome because of the lack of temptation from Satan!
   How about you? Why didn't God wait in your case? Why has He called you NOW? The answer is plain! God has called you to be a part of the Church which is doing His Work.

God Knows You're Weak

   Read what the Living Christ wrote specifically to the Philadelphia era of God's Church! "I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee {the Church) an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast [only] a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name" (Rev. 3:8).
   We know the "open door" is the door of radio, but we often think of that door as being opened before Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong and Mr. Garner Ted Armstrong only. We forget that this letter is addressed to the Church not just to one or two individuals. In verse 13, He says: "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches [not merely to the apostles or ministers]."
   It is to the Church that is doing this Work, that Christ says: "Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation [the Great Tribulation], which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth" (verse 10). Those who have become lukewarm concerning God's Work who are not fulfilling their part in the Work will be among those who go through the Great Tribulation.
   Those who are not participating in the Work of God are not in the Philadelphia Church!
   It is a fact that the Church is the Body of Christ which is used as a unit to do His Work. Every part of that Body has a definite responsibility in God's Work, and any individual member of the Body who fails to fulfill his calling is not justifying his presence in the Church of God.

One Minister Not Enough

   Think for a moment. How much can one minister accomplish on his own? When this Work of God began way back in the early 1930's, Mr. Armstrong was the only minister in the Philadelphia era of God's Church. The amount of work that he and Mrs. Armstrong were able to do was less than one percent of the great worldwide work that is going on today. In fact, just twelve short years ago Mr. Armstrong was pastoring one small church with an attendance of 60 to 70 every Sabbath, and there were only two other Churches of God in the entire world!
   It's true that Mr. Armstrong was able to baptize many people in those early days of the Work, but he found that from 40 to 50 percent of the people who were being baptized were falling away later on because there was no local church to attend, no minister to teach and exhort them, no GOOD NEWS magazine to instruct and encourage them. All they had was the radio broadcast and in some cases reception was very weak.
   When the Work began to expand, instead of receiving help, backing and encouragement from the entire Church, Mr. Armstrong actually had opposition from supposed brethren! Writing about those years in the February 1963 issue of The GOOD NEWS magazine, he said: "Many of the members up in Eugene, Oregon, allowed themselves to criticize and find fault with the way the Living Christ was guiding His Church toward the fulfillment of its God-given mission. Those professing brethren became wrapped up in their own little local group. Their hearts were not in the WORK OF GOD in spreading His Gospel to the world." These so-called "brethren" were actually hindering the very Work of God.
   Some of these even complained and criticized when Ambassador College was established. But the present great worldwide Work would be impossible without Ambassador College just as it would be impossible without the Church.

Early Church Example

   Many of us do not seem to realize it, but much of Paul's work would have been impossible without the help of a church. When Paul first came to Corinth, he found a Jew named Aquila and his wife Priscilla, and: "Because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers. And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks" (Acts 18:3, 4).
   During this time, Paul's work was of necessity hindered because he could usually do God's Work only during the evenings and on the Sabbath. Later, however, he received financial help from the churches in the north and was certainly able to accomplish much more. In II Corinthians 11:8, 9, he said: "I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service. And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied : and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself."
   One of those Macedonian churches was the Church at Philippi to which Paul wrote: "Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account" (Phil. 4:15-17). It is an actual fact that many people were helped, and even attained salvation, because THIS Church at Philippi backed up God's Work with tithes and offerings. Paul says that this fruit was credited to their account.

God's Work in Same Need Today

   Today, we have ministers in the field serving many thousands of people, visiting them in their homes and preaching to them week after week in the Sabbath services. Although none of these men are paid by the people they serve, they do receive a salary from Headquarters so that they can serve God's people full time.
   Can you imagine how far the small number of ministers we now have would reach if they had to hold down another job to support themselves and their families? They would only be able to serve effectively about one-fourth of the number of people they are now serving, and as many as half of the remaining three-fourths might very well drop out of the Church and lose out altogether.
   In fact, where would you be today if it were not for the tithes and generous offerings of those who were members or Co-workers before YOU? You would never have heard the Truth at all! A lot of people have sacrificed, giving unselfishly of their means, often doing without and working overtime so that you and others like you could hear the Gospel. These people have not been concerned solely with saving their own lives; they have been eager to have a part in saving your life as well!

Money Not Only Need

   But what about those who have no income at all? Is money the only thing that you can contribute to God's Work? Hardly! One vital contribution which is required of everyone whether he has money or not is prayer!
   Why is it that Paul constantly exhorted the Churches to pray for the Work? Why is it today that you are repeatedly urged to pray about various things in the Work? Is it merely done to sound "spiritual," or do things really get done because of the earnest prayers of God's people? James answered the question when he wrote: "Pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (Jas. 5:16).
   The reason why The GOOD NEWS magazine gives you so much news of the Work is to help keep your heart in the Work, and to inform you of things you should be praying about regularly. Don't kid yourself by thinking that everything will go ahead even if you don't pray for the Work regularly or fervently. It is the realization that prayer makes a difference that will make you fervent!
   God has decreed that a certain minimum Work must be done, and it will be. The Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in all the world for a witness before the end comes. However, Christ taught clearly that the servant who only does what is required of him is an unprofitable servant! This is true of the Church as well as of the individual. If we just barely get the minimum Work done, there will be no reward. Our earnestness in prayer will make a difference in the number of people reached by this Work, just as increased offerings make possible more radio stations and magazine advertisements.

What Does "Member" Mean?

   This is a Work that must be done by us as a body. As Paul exhorted the Corinthians: "For the body [the Church) is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary" (I Cor. 12:14-22).
   All of the Church is necessary to do the work; every one of us has an essential contribution to make. This is even clearer in Ephesians 4:15-16: "Rather speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love."
   God's Work will go ahead even if you don't pray for it, BUT YOU WON'T! Your salvation depends on your participation in this Work. Christ made this quite clear when He said, "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it" (Mark 8:35).
   Can we begin to see, brethren, that to withdraw into ourselves, becoming uninterested in the preaching of the Gospel and the salvation of others from this sick world, trying merely to save ourselves, is diametrically opposite to the way of salvation! The man who is only interested in saving himself in getting himself into God's Kingdom is actually going to lose that for which he is seeking! But the man who gives up his entire life to God's Work (for the sake of the Gospel) is the man who is actually going to attain salvation. These are the words of Christ.

Don't Make Ephesian Mistake

   Many of us find ourselves in the same boat as the Church at Ephesus. In writing to them, Christ had several good points to mention. He said: "I know thy works, and thy labour.... thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars" (Rev. 2:2). These same things can be said of the Philadelphia era of God's Church. In spite of the good, however, Christ had to go on to say: "Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love" (verse 4).
   What is this "first love"? What is the one thing we all seem to have in common when we first come into God's Truth? It seems that our great consuming desire is to share the Truth in an entirely wrong way at that time through ignorance, but the basic DESIRE is not wrong!
   As time goes on, however, our ardent desire begins to cool off and our thoughts turn more and more inward toward the self and getting the self "saved." We lose our "first love," and we need to hear the appeal that Christ made to the Church at Ephesus: "Remember therefore from whence thou are fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent" (Rev. 2:5). The warning is clear; unless we get our hearts into the Work of God and show it by the fruits, we will be removed out of our place in the Church and another will fill it.

A Warning YOU Share!

   There is another warning contained in Ezekiel which many of us have failed to heed because we didn't feel it applied to us. In Ezekiel 33:2, we read: "Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man [any man] of their coasts, and set him for their watchman: If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people; Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul.
   "But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; BUT HIS BLOOD WILL I REQUIRE AT THE WATCHMAN'S HAND" (Ezek. 33:2-6).
   Now is that last sentence merely an idle threat, or is there meaning and force behind it? What does God mean when He says: "I will require his blood at your hands"? To "require blood" is to require the death penalty to be paid because the person is responsible for the death of another. In other words, if any watchman fails to fulfill his calling and is therefore responsible for the death of another person, he is going to forfeit his own life as well!
   Now the human tendency at this point is to stop and say, "Yes, Mr. Armstrong certainly has a serious responsibility on his shoulders; I must remember to pray for Mr. Armstrong and to ask God to help Mr. Armstrong give the warning." What we forget is that Mr. Armstrong is only one person one part, one member, of the overall Church of God which has been called to sound this warning.
   This is not a one-man Work! It is the Work given by the Living Christ to the entire Church. If the watchman God spoke of in Ezekiel 33 failed to fulfill his calling, he was actually going to forfeit his own life for having done so. What do you think will happen to the individual member of God's Church who fails in fulfilling his calling? If we are negligent in doing God's Work, and someone has to go into the inferno of the Great Tribulation because of it then we will probably have to go into it with him. God thunders through Jeremiah: "CURSED be he that doeth the work of the Lord negligently" (Jer. 48:10, margin).
   God forbid, brethren, that any of us should be found to be negligent in fulfilling our individual responsibilities in God's great Work. Let's search the letters from God's Headquarters, The GOOD NEWS magazine, the local Church of God News, and any other sources we have at hand to find out what our responsibilities are. Let's carry out diligently and cheerfully the Work that our Chief has given us to do as one body! "Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown!" (Rev. 3:11.)

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Good News MagazineJune-July 1965Vol XIV, No. 6-7