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Just What Does It Mean to "Do the Work"?

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Just What Does It Mean to "Do the Work"?

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"I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you," God thundered to the nation of Judah (Habakkuk 1:5). He meant the forces of the Chaldeans were to come upon them and perform a mighty "work" upon them! However, Luke, in the book of Acts, uses the same expression to describe how God would do a mighty work through His Church! What does it mean to "do the Work?"

The words work, works and related words are found throughout the Bible. Basically the passages fall into four categories: God's work, Satan's work, our own work and the Work of God. The two primary words in the Hebrew and Greek are: maseh—meaning "an action" and ergon—meaning "work" or "toil." Let's examine these areas from the Bible to better understand the work we need to be doing and the work we must avoid!

God's Work

God, Himself, does works. His creation is spoken of as His works. David wrote, "When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained" (Psalm 8:3). God's work involved His creation, His re-creation and His spiritual creation as well as His miracles! John wrote of God's work through doing miracles. After being asked who sinned (when Jesus met the man who was born blind), He replied, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him" (John 9:3). Christ's work involved building His Church (Matthew 16:18). Jesus spoke of humans being redeemed as the work of God. "Then they said to Him, 'What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?' Jesus answered. 'This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent'" (John 6:28-29). Concerning His healing on the Sabbath and subsequent preaching, Jesus told the Jews, "My Father has been working until now, and I have been working" (John 5:17). Christ's works, which came from the Father, gave witness that Jesus is the Christ (John 5:36). Jesus came to further the work of God and finish His phase of it (John 4:34). So, we see that God the Father and Jesus Christ do their work!

Satan's Work

Satan also has his work. We need to be aware of his works and avoid them! In 1 John 3:8 we read John's record, "He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil." Satan's work is described in numerous scriptures as deceiving humans, weakening the nations, accusing others, sowing discord and scaring humans as a roaring lion (see Revelation 12:9-10; Isaiah 14:12; 1 Peter 5:8). He works in humans to lead them to disobedience (Ephesians 2:2). He leads people into works of darkness so God may condemn them. Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:11, "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them." It is Satan's desire to get us to join him in his works of darkness. Paul warned the Church members at Corinth, "Lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices" (2 Corinthians 2:11). We must avoid Satan's works!

Our Works

Our works will either be good or evil. We must, with the strength of God's Holy Spirit, determine that our works will be good ones. We will be rewarded according to our works. In Proverbs 24:12 we read, "and will He not render to each man according to his deeds?'' Since we will be judged according to our doings or works now, so will those in the second resurrection be judged according to their works (Revelation 20:12). Let's look at the good works we may do. Being a light is one of the great works that Christ desires of us. "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:16). Our Christian examples involve the good works that honor our great God. Even a child is known to God by his or her works (Proverbs 20:11). Tabitha was well-known among the members of the Church and community by her works (Acts 9:36). We are all admonished in 1 John 3:18 to not love in word only, but by our deeds (works). We need to be careful to "maintain good works" as Paul wrote in Titus 3:14. We are encouraged to provoke others to love and good works especially as we gather each Sabbath (Hebrews 10:24-25). Though we hope all our works will be good ones, there are warnings against our own evil works. Paul wrote to Titus, "They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work" (Titus 1:16). We are urged to move away from "dead works" in Hebrews 6:1. We all desire to do the good works as individuals. We fall into evil works as our human nature or Satan gets the best of us. In the end we hope for the praise that will come from our good works as illustrated by the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31:31. We may know that God won't quit on us. "Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6).

The Work of God

If God's Work is what He does, the Work of God is what He does through others. Collectively and individually we must be about our Father's business of preaching the gospel to this world (Matthew 24:14 and 28:19-20). That was the burning desire of Jesus Christ, and it is ours (John 9:4). We need to be doing the Work of God! As members of the Body of Christ, we individually serve God through prayer, fasting and service to His Church. Consider Timothy's example. "And if Timothy comes, see that he may be with you without fear; for he does the work of the Lord, as I also do" (1 Corinthians 16:10). Both Timothy and Paul were individually engaged in doing the Work of God. Paul writes of Epaphroditus doing the work as an individual by his diligent service to Paul. Philippians 2:30 says, "Because for the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me."

Paul referred to those with whom he had involvement in their conversion as "my work in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 9:1). Collectively, we support the ministry that is responsible for helping in the work of preparing the Bride of Christ (the Church). It is called the "work of the ministry" in Ephesians 4:11-12. Paul was pleased to join with other members in the selfless service by sharing the grace of God with others (2 Corinthians 6:1-2).

The seven churches of Revelation all had one thing in common. They had works! In Revelation chapters 2 and 3 John records for each, "I know your works.." Most of the works were good, but some were not commendable. These churches had works collectively that represented them. When Jesus Christ returns, He wants to see us abounding in His Work. We know that whatever we do for His sake will never be counted useless. Paul wrote, "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 15:58). In the very last chapter of the last book of the Bible we read the inspiring words of Jesus Christ, the Revelator. "And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work" (Revelation 22:12). Doing and Supporting the Work The Work of God is being done through human beings—individually or collectively.

As individuals our examples vividly show that God's way works. On our knees we individually pray for God to grant us success in preaching the gospel and taking care of the Church. Our individual care for those in need is doing the Work. Some congregations have collectively done the Work of God through their involvement in local programs such as placing magazines in hospital waiting rooms or helping stuff envelopes for the waiting room program. Some have individually taken brochure holders with multiple request cards to various establishments. A few churches have had the talent and means to create public access television programs to share the good news of God's kingdom and His way of life with those who tune in. Now these programs are available to other areas as they request it. Our Web site is another means of reaching out with the gospel. "Cybercasting" is being used. We have hosted public lectures and open houses and they will continue to be held. Reader's Digest and several newspapers have been used to place ads for The Good News and booklets. The responses have been very encouraging. Floating advertisements have been on other magazines' Web sites. A test of the TV guide channel on cable television will be run this fall. The ad will be complete with visuals and audio and will advertise our magazine. Collectively, we have the wonderful Good News magazine and many outstanding booklets. A Bible study course is nearing completion and has been featured in the expanded edition of The Good News. Television and radio spot ads have been used and preparations have begun to test radio and television programs.

The Council of Elders in conjunction with the home office staff is very desirous to do all that is possible to preach God's message to this world. We are trying to do it as effectively and economically as possible. Our goal this year is to build the print run to a quarter of a million. From all of the reports, we are well on our way. We look to God to bless our efforts to fulfill the great commission (Matthew 28:18-20 and Matthew 24:14). Let's all pray for the success of the various programs that are instituted and for others to be used to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom of God. Let's all be busily doing our best to support the Work of God!