How Is the Work of God Accomplished Today?

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How Is the Work of God Accomplished Today?

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Did you know that Jesus Christ personally began a special work that has endured for almost 2,000 years? He immersed His physical life in firmly establishing that work. Once, because He had been too busy to eat, He told His disciples, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work” (John 4:34 John 4:34Jesus said to them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.
American King James Version×
, emphasis added throughout). Later He established His Church to continue that sacred mission.

What is that “work,” and how is it sustained in today’s chaotic world?

The work of the Church has two primary aspects. First, the Church is commissioned to announce to humanity the incredible significance of Jesus Christ’s second coming. Most people can see that our world is filled with problems that defy human solutions. But few people understand how the returning Jesus Christ will solve these dilemmas of humankind. He has commissioned His Church to make that knowledge available to a confused world.

The world’s best news

Just before He ascended to heaven, Jesus told His apostles, “Go into all the world and preach the good news [His gospel] to all creation” (Mark 16:15 Mark 16:15And he said to them, Go you into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
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, New International Version). Earlier He had told them that “this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world… and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14 Matthew 24:14And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations; and then shall the end come.
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).

Do you realize why this good news —the gospel of the Kingdom of God—is so wonderful? You need to know! Otherwise it will be impossible for you to understand the primary message of the Bible.

This gospel—the good news announcing the coming Kingdom of God—was the focus of Christ’s ministry (Mark 1:14-15 Mark 1:14-15 14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent you, and believe the gospel.
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). It is an incredibly positive message filled with hope and purpose for humanity. It also explains why confusion and heartaches permeate the world. And it does not neglect the wonderful truth of Christ’s atoning death for mankind.

But at His return Jesus Christ will begin to fulfill the wonderful promises we read about in biblical prophecies—promises to solve the horrible human problems we face. Peter tells us that “the Lord is not slack concerning His promise…but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9 2 Peter 3:9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
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). That is what the work of the Church is all about—teaching human beings the truth of God to make true repentance possible and to share the hope of a brighter future.

Jesus Christ will return to earth and teach the nations God’s ways (Micah 4:1-2 Micah 4:1-2 1 But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow to it. 2 And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
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). Then “nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Micah 4:3 Micah 4:3And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
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). Peace and security will finally blanket the entire earth.

No event in the history of mankind is more important to its well-being than the second coming of Jesus Christ. Therefore, the Church is to explain to the world just how essential His second coming is.

The Church, however, is also commissioned to thoroughly teach the ways of God to those who will heed the call to repentance. Jesus told His apostles to “make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20 Matthew 28:19-20 19 Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you: and, see, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. Amen.
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).

It is not enough just to tell humanity that this wonderful time is coming. Work in preparation for His Kingdom must be accomplished now. Some will be nurtured and trained to aid Christ when He returns. Notice how Jesus plans to use those who have been thoroughly taught and trained in the ways of God: “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne” (Revelation 3:21 Revelation 3:21To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
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).

John says: “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection…They shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:6 Revelation 20:6Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
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). As Christ’s assistants, they will instruct the world in the ways of God. “For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:3 Isaiah 2:3And many people shall go and say, Come you, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
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). As a result, “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9 Isaiah 11:9They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
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).

That is why the work of the Church is so important today. Not only is it proclaiming a message of hope that Jesus Christ will bring world peace in His Kingdom, but it is also preparing those who will assist Him in bringing righteousness to the earth!

A mission based on giving

Gospel means simply “good news.” That is why the United Church of God, publisher of this booklet, produces a magazine named The Good News. Through it we bring our readers knowledge that contrasts the ways of “this present evil age” (Galatians 1:4 Galatians 1:4Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:
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) with the wonderful promise of “the world to come” (Hebrews 2:5 Hebrews 2:5For to the angels has he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.
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).

Have you ever wondered how we are able to offer all our publications free?

Our approach was laid out by Jesus Christ long ago. He said, “Freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8 Matthew 10:8Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely you have received, freely give.
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). Paul said, “I preached the gospel of God to you free of charge” (2 Corinthians 11:7 2 Corinthians 11:7Have I committed an offense in abasing myself that you might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely?
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). How was this possible? Paul had expenses. His travels cost money. Yet he never charged the general public of his day for his work in preaching the gospel.

The key lies in yet another responsibility that God gives to His people. Long ago, God called Abraham and promised him, “In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3 Genesis 12:3And I will bless them that bless you, and curse him that curses you: and in you shall all families of the earth be blessed.
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). God gave Abraham blessings so He could use him in blessing others. That is the way God works, and that is what has allowed His servants to freely disseminate His truth without charge to those who will receive it.

God has always made sure that those who surrender their lives to Him, as Abraham did, would be able to bear the cost of carrying out the work they do on His behalf. Paul put it this way: “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8 2 Corinthians 9:8And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:
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).

God, by His very nature, gives. Those who are converted and become like Him also become a giving people. They want to serve others and participate in the work Christ has given to His Church. They take that commission to the Church seriously.

Abraham practiced a principle that God later included in His law when He entered into a covenant with ancient Israel. When Abraham met with Melchizedek, the “priest of God Most High,” Abraham “gave him a tenth of everything” (Genesis 14:18-20 Genesis 14:18-20 18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. 19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: 20 And blessed be the most high God, which has delivered your enemies into your hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
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, NIV).

Abraham’s grandson, Jacob, continued this practice. “Then Jacob made a vow, saying, ‘If God will be with me,…of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You’ ” (Genesis 28:20-22 Genesis 28:20-22 20 And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, 21 So that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God: 22 And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that you shall give me I will surely give the tenth to you.
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).

These men of God practiced the principle of tithing—giving God a 10th of their income. Later, when Jacob’s descendants became the nation of Israel, God used tithing to finance the service of the priests, the nation’s spiritual leaders. He told Israel, “A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD” (Leviticus 27:30 Leviticus 27:30And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD’s: it is holy to the LORD.
American King James Version×
, NIV).

Jesus Christ supports tithing

In the time of Jesus Christ, He commended the Pharisees’ obedience to the law concerning their practice of tithing. But their failure to apply the law’s instruction to be considerate of others made them hypocrites. Jesus said, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin” (Matthew 23:23 Matthew 23:23Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought you to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
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, NIV). In this they were careful to obey.

Continuing in the same verse: “But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness.” Here they were careless. “You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.” Jesus taught that tithing should not be neglected by obedient servants of God. He tells us clearly that tithing is a practice we should follow.

Today those who support the work given to the Church live by faith just as did the patriarchs of old. In fact, Paul speaks of the true disciples of Christ as “those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all” (Romans 4:16 Romans 4:16Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,
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).

That is why they have the courage to support this work of God today. They believe in the Bible. They practice tithing because they have faith that God will supply their needs. They believe Jesus when He said, “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’…But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:31-33 Matthew 6:31-33 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things. 33 But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
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). They know God will provide for their own needs if they become partners with Him in doing His work.

How the work of the Church expands

After preaching for 3 1⁄2 years Jesus was left with only a few who remained loyal after His crucifixion (Acts 1:15 Acts 1:15And in those days Peter stood up in the middle of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,)
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). But He had already explained how they could expand their effectiveness. He said to His disciples: “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38 Matthew 9:37-38 37 Then said he to his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; 38 Pray you therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.
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).

Jesus made it clear to His disciples that sending laborers into the harvest is God’s work. Only God the Father can draw new laborers to repentance and give them the faith to become part of the work Jesus began. At the same time, Jesus assured them that God would do that very thing.

When Peter preached a powerful sermon showing that Jesus is the Messiah (Acts 2:2-36 Acts 2:2-36 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared to them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat on each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. 6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. 7 And they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? 8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? 9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, 10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. 12 And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What means this? 13 Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine. 14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said to them, You men of Judaea, and all you that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known to you, and listen to my words: 15 For these are not drunken, as you suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. 16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; 17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, said God, I will pour out of my Spirit on all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: 18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: 19 And I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke: 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come: 21 And it shall come to pass, that whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. 22 You men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the middle of you, as you yourselves also know: 23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: 24 Whom God has raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be held of it. 25 For David speaks concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: 26 Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: 27 Because you will not leave my soul in hell, neither will you suffer your Holy One to see corruption. 28 You have made known to me the ways of life; you shall make me full of joy with your countenance. 29 Men and brothers, let me freely speak to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us to this day. 30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; 31 He seeing this before spoke of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. 32 This Jesus has God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. 33 Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he has shed forth this, which you now see and hear. 34 For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he said himself, The Lord said to my Lord, Sit you on my right hand, 35 Until I make your foes your footstool. 36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God has made the same Jesus, whom you have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
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), “those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them” (Acts 2:41 Acts 2:41Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added to them about three thousand souls.
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). In one day the labor force of the Church was dramatically expanded. After that “the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47 Acts 2:47Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
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).

Coworkers in the mission of the Church

Not every laborer was formally ordained. Paul speaks of many who helped in various ways, including two women who struggled beside him “in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life” (Philippians 4:3 Philippians 4:3And I entreat you also, true yoke fellow, help those women which labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellow laborers, whose names are in the book of life.
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, New Revised Standard Version).

These people supported Paul’s efforts in many ways. For instance, Paul commends the Philippians for their generosity in supporting his work in other areas. He wrote: “For even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need…I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God will meet all your needs” (Philippians 4:16-19 Philippians 4:16-19 16 For even in Thessalonica you sent once and again to my necessity. 17 Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. 18 But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God. 19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
American King James Version×
, NIV).

The offerings of these Christians supported the work of God that was being done through the apostle Paul.

So it is today. The United Church of God proclaims the truth of God through the spoken word as well as written media such as the  Beyond Today TV program and  magazine, its Bible Study Course, many invaluable booklets and a vast amount of material on the Internet. Church members actively participate by several means, including their heartfelt prayers and contributions to meet the expenses of this vitally important mission.

It is the commitment of these and other laborers in the Church of God that allows the mission of the Church to continue almost 2,000 years after Jesus started it. It is because of this kind of commitment that others can receive the Beyond Today  magazine and other literature free of charge.

As Jesus himself said: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35 Acts 20:35I have showed you all things, how that so laboring you ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
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). His true disciples are convinced that He meant it when He said, “Freely you have received, freely give.” Christ is using the combined efforts of dedicated coworkers to keep the mission He gave to His Church alive and functioning today.

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