How Much Does God's Work Mean to You?
Do you know what God's Work is?
Are you helping or hindering it?
Read and apply these seven basic principles.
By David J. Albert
Three days He had been missing! A 12year-old at the nation's capital during the festival season, amid thousands of travelers, lost to His anxious parents three long days.
No wonder they sought Him sorrowing!
"So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, `Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.' And He said to them, `Why is it that you sought Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?' " (Luke 2:48-49).
Imagine Joseph and Mary's shock at His reply. Why have we sought you? they thought to themselves in bewilderment. You're our son!
"And what does He mean `My Father's business'?" Joseph may have queried. "I'm a carpenter in Nazareth, not a doctor of the law in the Temple!"
"But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them" (verse 50). They couldn't grasp the deep meaning of His brief explanation about "His Father's business."
Nearly 2,000 years have passed since the adolescent Jesus tried to explain His absence to His distraught parents, and just as those of His own physical family did not understand His reply, so today many who claim to be Christians do not understand the living, resurrected Christ's urgent concern for His Father's business. They just don't get it!
Yet Christ is still zealously doing His Father's business - still actively engaged in His heavenly Father's Work.
Just what is the "Father's business"? What is "God's Work"? Do we need to know? Does it concern us? Yes, it does concern you and me. But many don't fully grasp how and why. They don't feel personally concerned with God's Work.
Here is your chance to learn seven basic principles about God's Work. How well you understand these seven points will determine how much you grow spiritually in the remainder of this age, as well as your reward in the Kingdom of God!
1) Of primary importance
As we have already seen from the example of Jesus Christ at age 12, God's Work is of primary importance to God. It comes first with Him - nothing is more important. God's Work is the "big thing" in God's life.
In John 5:17 Jesus stated, "My Father has been working until now, and I have been working." Few people know the meaning of these simple words.
Most people who do profess to believe in a god, whether in the so-called Christian or pagan religions, only know and confess that God exists, and that is about all they know. They haven't begun to grasp that God not only is, but that He also does something - He works. They are ignorant that the great God has a mighty Work that is of the utmost importance to Him.
In John 4:34 Christ said, "My food [sustenance] is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work." Jesus was Work conscious, Work-oriented, Work concerned all the time. "The Father who dwells in Me does the works ... believe Me for the sake of the works themselves" (John 14:10-11).
Maybe you haven't thought of it that way before. Or perhaps you thought God was concerned with some other, more important area in this vast universe, that He gives only occasional tidbits of His divine attention to His Work with man here below. Not so!
2) Human instruments
The next vital and intriguing truth about the Work of God is a paradox: It is that the almighty, supreme God does His Work through human beings. He uses mere men. He works through human instruments. This is an obvious truth of the Bible.
Consider that God saved humanity at the time of the Flood by and through the work of Noah. The promises were given and the nation of Israel sprang up from "the fathers," Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Moses was instrumental in governing the children of Israel and delivering God's law to them.
God used David and Solomon to build the Temple. Later, the prophets warned of Israel's coming captivity. Then Ezra and Nehemiah played important parts in the rebirth of the Jewish state after the captivity.
Roughly 400 years later, John the Baptist heralded the First Coming of Christ. John's announcement was shortly followed by the three-and-one-half year ministry of Jesus Christ Himself, in the flesh as a mortal human. After Jesus' death and resurrection, the 12 apostles were used to found the New Testament Church, complete the Scriptures and preach the Gospel to Israel. Paul and his helpers laboured in the conversion of thousands of gentiles.
Likewise today, God is using the Church of God, evangelists, ministers, teachers, deacons and deaconesses and thousands of additional co-workers with Christ to do His Work. God is still using human instruments.
Not that He would have to. God shows in at least three different New Testament passages that He could use the very stones of the earth if He so desired. He could raise up children from stones to form a nation (Matthew 3:9, Luke 3:8), or He could cry out and witness to people through stones (Luke 19:40).
We can be grateful that God has elected to work through us as humans and not through stones, angels or some other supernatural means well within His power.
3) Steps and stages
To understand the Work of God you must also understand that it has many different steps, stages or phases. It is operating on a step-by-step schedule. It is much too big to be accomplished all at once.
The point was dramatically brought home to me a few years ago by a tour of the General Electric jet-aircraft-engine plant in Cincinnati, Ohio.
As I toured this vast operation, housed in gigantic buildings, and talked with people on the job, I was struck by the organization necessary to coordinate their many projects. The operational procedures filled thick three-ring notebooks, and many people were employed in constantly writing more. The paperwork alone was enormous.
Plainly, what goes on in these giant plants is work on such a scale that it cannot be accomplished by a handful of people in a short, single phase or one-two three type of operation. This is big business - complex business. It has manifold stages, countless steps, in-depth organization.
So does this Work of God! What God is doing here below completely dwarfs all man-made endeavors.
God's Work started millions of years ago, and has billions of years ahead. It has expended more billions of dollars worth of silver and gold than any other work, and plans to spend much, much more in the future. It has employed millions of labourers and ultimately plans to employ get this - every man, woman and child who has ever lived in all recorded history.
It has used or plans to use the best minds, most brilliant talents and most gifted individuals in the world. It will not only be the biggest thing on earth, it is the very reason for which the earth and all humanity exist.
And because of its vastness with regard to time, material and personnel, God's Work must of necessity be organized into different stages. It is much too big a job to be accomplished all at once.
At one point Christ said, "It is finished!" (John 19:30). Obviously He did not mean that the Work of God in its entirety was completed, rather that just one phase - His part on earth as a human - had been finished. Another phase began thereafter and has continued to the present.
But do you know what steps of God's Work are being carried out right now?
The primary commission Christ has given the Church at this time is to preach or publish the Gospel of the Kingdom as a warning witness to all nations just before the end of this age (Matthew 24:14, 28:19-20, Mark 16:15).
We are to announce to this world the Second Coming of Christ to restore the government of God to the earth. We are to warn the world of the coming Great Tribulation, which will occur as a result of the world's grievous individual and national sins. Without this warning, the meaning of these end-time events would be lost to this world.
In addition, we in God's Church are to be growing in God's own character and preparing to assist Jesus Christ in ruling the world when He returns.
That is the phase of God's Work that we are in right now. After Christ's return, this phase will be completed. We will have entered the time of His world ruling reign for 1,000 years. Later come the new heavens and the new earth spoken of in Revelation 21 and 22. God is accomplishing a multifaceted plan step by step on this earth.
4) Can be hindered
What else is there to know about God's Work? As incredible as it may seem, God's Work can be hindered, delayed, deferred, postponed or injured.
Remember that the Work of God is not being done solely by God's absolute, supreme power, but by and through men and women, and because it is being done through human instruments, it can be hindered.
Notice Romans 14:20: "Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food." Paul is here talking about the work God is doing on a personal, individual scale in the lives of new Christians. He shows that God's work in their lives can be destroyed by insisting on personal Christian freedoms that cause some to be offended.
The same holds true today and, indeed, some have stumbled at the thoughtless, selfish acts of others in this era of the Church.
This scripture and related texts reveal one of the foremost ways the Work of God can be hindered - namely, by people who intentionally or unintentionally impede its progress. Some are careless and unthinking; others are purposeful foes of the Work, planning and scheming ways to cause it to fail.
I Thessalonians 2:17-18 shows another way the Work can be hindered. Paul here is explaining his ardent desire to come and minister to the Thessalonians. But, Paul says, "Satan hindered us."
Satan the devil does all he can to hinder God's Work. Satan is a real foe, a relentless and determined archenemy bent on smashing and destroying God's Work and the human instruments being used in it. Satan's spiritual opposition is not to be taken lightly.
Following Christ's example of prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), we should constantly be praying for deliverance from "the evil one." We should not only do so for ourselves, but also in connection with God's Work, that it might not be hindered by Satan.
5) Help and "open doors"
On the other hand, the Work of God can also be helped, aided, promoted, blessed and prospered. In connection with preaching the Gospel, such boons to the Work are often spoken of as "open doors" (II Corinthians 2:12).
The Work of God today has had many such doors opened to it. How does this happen? By luck or good fortune? By getting the breaks?
No! The doors don't swing open by luck but, as Paul acknowledged, God opens them! "Continue earnestly in prayer," he exhorted, "being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains" (Colossians 4:2-3).
Effective, fervent prayer avails much - does a lot of good for the Work of God (James 5:16). God's Work needs earnest, prevailing, believing prayers. Does it have yours?
6) Heart in the Work
That brings us to the sixth principle of God's Work, which is in many ways the most important to you personally. It could fairly be called the master key to personal, spiritual growth and progress. Its importance cannot be overstated.
If diligently followed, this principle will ensure you success here and now, and a high position in God's coming Kingdom.
Here it is: You grow only as you put your heart into God's Work.
This involves our prayers for the Work. It also involves our finances or "treasure," for "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:21).
Some have seen the infinite wisdom of backing and supporting this Work of God. They have sacrificed their wants for its needs. They have their reward laid up for them in heaven, plus the happiness of knowing they have done the right thing. They helped the Work to grow and thus grew, themselves, with it.
This is a great spiritual law. It is certain and sure you grow as you put your heart in the Work of God.
7) By God's spirit
" `Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the Lord of hosts" (Zechariah 4:6). This is the seventh vital principle of God's Work - it must be accomplished by God's holy spirit, not just by the human efforts of men.
Even Jesus Christ, while He was in the flesh, was forced to admit, "I can of Myself do nothing" (John 5:30). Jesus explained, "The Father who dwells in Me does the works" (John 14:10).
That is the only way the Work of God can be done. It is the only way you can have a part in it. Many have carnally tried to carve out a place for themselves - and failed miserably! It cannot be done.
God determines whom He will use in His Work, and He uses only those who are led by His holy spirit. All others will inevitably prove by their works that they are more concerned for the things of the flesh than the things of the spirit that they are still carnally minded (Romans 8:5-6).
When we trust in God, He gives us generous supplies of His spirit so that we may accomplish His Work here below. Then and only then do we succeed in our mission.
Empowered by God's spirit, the Work surges ahead.
Do God's Work
Let's review the seven points about God's Work, to establish them firmly in our thinking:
1) God's Work is primary with God. Is it primary with you?
2) God uses human instruments. Can He use you?
3) God's Work has different stages or phases. Do you know what they are and which ones concern us at this time, and why?
4) God's Work can be hindered. Are you in any way hindering the Work?
5) God's Work can be helped. Are you helping it?
6) You grow only as you put your heart in the Work. Is your heart really in the Work?
7) God's Work is done by His holy spirit. Are you filled with and led by that spirit?
Your answers to these searching questions will determine your eternal destiny! Let's all be about our Father's business - let's be doing His Work!