This year I had the opportunity to visit London. Having been there previously, I wanted to revisit a place meaningful to me at the heart of this world-famous city: Trafalgar Square. In the very center of this square stands a tall column honoring one of England’s most famous naval heroes, Lord Horatio Nelson. It was Nelson’s unconventional battle strategy, courage and determination that gave the victory near Cape Trafalgar (just off the coast of Spain) to the English on Oct. 21, 1805. The Trafalgar victory ensured that Napoleon Bonaparte would never invade Britain and established the British Navy’s supremacy on world seas for the next century.
Accounts of the battle are exciting and awe inspiring. During the Napoleonic wars, Bonaparte was the dominant land power on the European continent, while the Royal Navy controlled the seas. For 18 years Britain had been threatened with invasion from Napoleon. However, the British had successfully blockaded France, preventing the French from mobilizing their navy.
In July 1805, Napoleon laid plans to invade Britain from Boulogne, France. To do so successfully, he needed Admiral Villeneuve to bring the French and Spanish fleets from southwestern Spain to wreck the Royal Navy’s blockade. However, Admiral Villeneuve had no real desire to challenge Nelson and the British Navy. Nelson had already defeated him at the Battle of the Nile in 1798. Fearing the British were watching and waiting for him, Villeneuve, instead of sailing north, moved the fleet south and laid low at the Spanish port of Cadiz.
Villeneuve’s fears were not unfounded. Nelson was gunning for him and wanted to lure him out into open waters. When the timing for the invasion of Britain passed, Napoleon left France to invade Germany. Napoleon ordered Villeneuve to move his fleet from Cadiz into the Mediterranean Sea. Anticipating the coming battle, Nelson had already begun moving a portion of the British fleet toward Gibraltar, but remained far out of sight. When British frigates informed Nelson that the French and Spanish ships were moving south from Cadiz toward Gibraltar, he knew his time had come to take on the French and Spanish navies. That contest came in the waters off Cape Trafalgar.
The combined navies of France and Spain, with 33 ships, outnumbered and out-gunned the 27 British ships. Seeing the line of enemy ships, Nelson remained resolute. Instead of meeting the enemy in the conventional parallel fashion, Nelson split his fleet into two lines and met the enemy fleet at right angles. He intended to cut the enemy line into three sections, blocking the ships’ view of their flagship. Nelson hoped to maximize the breakdown in communications to his advantage and destroy one third of the enemy ships in quick fashion.
We Have A Duty
This was a gutsy move for a difficult battle. Because of light winds that day, it took an hour for the opposing fleets to engage in what was to be a very bloody and violent battle. Each fleet had ample time to meditate on what was about to happen. Nelson went to his cabin and composed his famous prayer: “May the great God whom I worship grant to my country and for the benefit of Europe in general a great and glorious victory …. For myself … I commit my life to Him who made me, and may His blessing light upon my endeavours for serving my country faithfully.” Nelson returned to the quarterdeck of his ship, the hms Victory, confident that he would win the battle.
Then Admiral Nelson sent his famous flag message to his fleet: “England expects that every man will do his duty.” You can read that famous message on the base of Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square.
In warm October sunlight, I stood and gazed on that meaningful sentence for quite some time. Certainly England’s glory days are long passed. Unfortunately so are America’s. But for those of us in God’s Philadelphia Church—the spiritual nation of Israel—we are still in our glory days. In fact this is the greatest time to be alive in God’s Church although it has not been easy.
We have been fighting some tough battles—raising the Church out of the Laodicean ruins (Amos 9:11), fighting the court battle to keep Mystery of the Ages in print so that we could continue Mr. Armstrong’s goal to reach the largest audience possible, rebuilding God’s college, the Armstrong International Cultural Foundation and God’s house. Yet, we are still in the middle of the most serious spiritual battle of all time.
We must continue to get God’s warning message out to a dying and lawless world. We have an enemy who is relentless to stop us, invade us, and take us captive. In the thick of this battle, our Rear Admiral Jesus Christ has an important message for each one of us: “God expects every son will do his duty.”
How well-developed is our sense of duty to God, to His will, purpose and plans—His vital Work on Earth today?
What is duty? The Merriam-Webster online dictionary states: obligatory tasks, conduct, service or functions that arise from one’s position (as in life or in a group). To fulfill one’s duty is to carry out or do the things required by one’s position in life. For example, a husband has duties he must perform toward his wife. A son or daughter has duties owed to his or her parents.
Think about this. Every member of God’s Church has duties—obligatory tasks, conduct, service and functions that we owe toward God the Father. We do hold the highest positions on Earth: the begotten, yet unborn sons of God. Being a son of God comes with great and grave responsibilities. There are definite actions we must do required by the incredible position we hold. Do you know what they are? Are you acting accordingly?
To help us get focused on doing our duty as God’s sons and daughters, let’s look at several duties expected of us. These are not all of the duties—simply a few of the key ones most necessary to help us win the battles sure to come our way.
Declare the Father
Jesus Christ perfectly fulfilled all of his obligations to God. He set the perfect example for us, and we must follow in his steps (1 Peter 2:21). What an incredible opportunity we have been given! Let’s not waste it by being ignorant of duty.
Jesus Christ made it his first and main task to declare the Father (John 1:18). Jesus let it be known that God was His Father and He was God’s Son. This was phenomenal revelation—a practical and living example of the true gospel—for the people of Judah at that time. Few accepted this incredible truth. Talking about God as His Father got Christ into trouble more than once.
“I and my Father are one,” Jesus explained to a group of Jews standing on Solomon’s porch at the temple (John 10:30). What was the people’s reaction? “Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him” (verse 31). The Jews continually asked Christ who He was. He continually told them who He was. Yet, they refused to believe Him and wanted to stone Him for telling the truth.
Notice that John tells us they took up stones again. This refers back to the stunning revelation Jesus Christ gave to the Jews about His relationship with God the Father in John 8:12-59. You should study these verses thoroughly. In verse 58 Christ reveals Himself as the “I Am.” He was the great God of their forefathers who came to Earth in the form of a man to do them great service. Yet, their response to hearing that astounding knowledge was to want to stone Him.
Jesus Christ devoted His short time on Earth to revealing and teaching the wonderful things that His Father had done and was planning to do for the Jews and all mankind. From the time He was a 12-year-old boy, He could not wait to go to work for His Father (Luke 2:49). “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do,” He prayed aloud before His disciples the night before He was executed for being God’s Son (John 17:4). This example should stir us to action.
We are God’s sons and daughters (2 Corinthians 6:18). This is awesome revelation that will bring ridicule and persecution upon us. The world cannot believe such knowledge. Mr. Gerald Flurry continually works to remind us who we are because 95 percent of God’s people have forgotten. Remind yourself daily that you are a begotten son of God.
Then ask yourself: Are you taking advantage of your opportunity to declare the Father as Jesus Christ did? Of course, the message about God the Father and His stupendous plans for mankind are generated from headquarters through Mr. Flurry’s office, through our magazines and booklets and God’s ministry worldwide. One important way we declare the Father is through our prayers for Mr. Flurry and God’s ministers and the Work they must do. Mr. Armstrong taught that our Work would always move forward when God’s sons and daughters are on their knees. We need to petition God fervently to well supply His Work financially, to open doors and to protect us from Satan’s wicked devices. Our collective prayers are vital to this Work’s success. Prayer fuels our endurance, increases our power and sustains our strength in battle. Declare God the Father.
Remain Steadfast in Obedience
“Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered,” wrote the Apostle Paul in Hebrews 5:8. This is not just a statement of fact; it is deep instruction for us. As sons of God, we are duty-bound to obey the Father in everything. How well do we see that Jesus Christ set such a profound example in obedience for us?
We know from John’s Gospel that in his pre-human existence as the Eternal, Jesus Christ lived in a perpetual state of obedience with God. He was in perfect unity with God. “The Word was ‘with’ God. That means He had been perfectly united with Him for all eternity! There was no disunity in the entire universe until Lucifer rebelled,” explained Mr. Flurry in John’s Gospel: The Love of God. The Eternal could never be so tightly unified with God without full obedience. The times are too dangerous for us to kid ourselves on this matter. We are not in unity with God if we are not obeying Him.
All of us need to examine our obedience, search out areas where we are not obeying God and then drive ourselves into a state of perpetual obedience. That is what a son of God does. Collectively as a Church we will be stronger as each individual member strives to become more obedient. Disobedience will spiritually weaken us individually and as a Church. We must not underestimate the positive power of obedience.
When the Eternal came to Earth and lived as the fully human man Jesus Christ, He set the same sterling example of obedience. Paul also stated, “… he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8). That is real obedience. Do you realize that God expects the same of us? We must obey God unto death. That is a tall order. Yet, with the power of God’s Holy Spirit, we can do that.
Before their conversion, the disciples believed it was impossible to fully obey God (Mark 10:27). Yet, God wants us to become just like Jesus Christ. God not only expects us to obey Him, He makes it possible to obey Him by giving us His Holy Spirit (Acts 5:32). How wonderful is our God toward us. When we strive to obey, God makes it possible for us to move forward into greater obedience. Review Herbert W. Armstrong’s article on “How to Be an Overcomer.” There is no better article about how to come up to God’s standards of obedience. We need to read and study that article repeatedly. To be obedient is to become an overcomer.
Obedience Brings Rewards
When Horatio Nelson communicated his famous message to the thousands of seamen under his charge, he was reminding them of their duty to obey him and the other commanders leading the fight. Nelson recognized that the battle could never be won if his men would not obey orders from him or the other captains. Obedience meant that many of his men would have to give their lives in the heat of the battle. Nelson himself lost his life in the fight at Trafalgar. A French sniper shot him in the shoulder and chest, breaking his back. Just before his death, Nelson was informed that the Royal Navy’s victory was imminent. He said, “Now I am satisfied. Thank God, I have done my duty.” There is a great lesson here. When we fully obey God—which is glorious duty—we will be deeply satisfied spiritually. Obedience delivers incredible rewards.
Obedience to God’s laws and government guarantees us God’s protection. “The prophecies show that the pcg is moving into more difficult times. The times are going to require that we all have a more refined sense of government and authority. We must not forget that we are in a war with Satan and wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:12). The time coming is going to require that orders be completed speedily. When an army is in the heat of battle—under intense fire—there is not a lot of time for negotiating and debate! Soldiers who want to debate and negotiate while in a fight become casualties,” writes Mr. Flurry in Ezra and Nehemiah: Building God’s Temple.
Obeying God also means obeying God’s apostle and the ministers supporting him and serving God’s flock. If we truly desire to obey God, we will want to refine our understanding of government and authority. We can never be perfected in obedience if we are not obeying God’s ministers (Ephesians 4:11-12). Study the Ezra and Nehemiah booklet.
It shows that God’s ministry and members must be deeply united together with God and Jesus Christ. Government, authority and obedience are the building blocks of that unity. We simply cannot do an effective Work for God without government and obedience. Take some extra time to meditate and study on this vital subject. We have a duty to obey God and His ministers.
Be Faithful to the Truth
Sons of God also have the duty to be faithful to God’s truth and way of life. How much do we value the new revelation God has given to His Church through Mr. Armstrong and Mr. Flurry? As God’s sons we have the responsibility not only to know God’s truth—we have the duty to live by it, protect it and, if need be, to fight to keep it from being destroyed—even to our death!
“But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth,” wrote Paul (1 Timothy 3:15). Paul completed his two epistles to Timothy just before his martyrdom. He had left Timothy at Ephesus to deal with the false teachers plaguing the Church there. He had hoped to rejoin Timothy there but feared he would be delayed.
Because Timothy may have had a timid personality, in this verse Paul reminded Timothy of his duty to actively support, strengthen and protect God’s truth. Paul was ready to die for faithfully delivering God’s message. It was left to Timothy and those others still living to preserve it. He emphasized to Timothy that God’s Church must be the pillar and ground of the truth. This verse is not referring to some building. Do we understand that Church refers to the people of God? This verse is talking about us!
Architecturally, pillars give support, strength and stability to a structure. To become a pillar of the truth spiritually, we must do the same. Spiritual pillars live by the truth and support the man responsible for delivering God’s message. We support, strengthen and stabilize God’s truth by incorporating it into our lives—living the truth as a way of life. When people of this world observe us, they must see the truth in action, or we are not doing our duty.
The English word ground comes from the Greek word hedraioma, which means support or basis. The English Standard Version uses the English word buttress instead of ground. Architecturally, a buttress shores up or strengthens the walls of a structure. To stand the test of time, buildings need pillars and buttresses.
God expects His people to completely support all the revelation He gives them. Are we savoring every fragment of new revelation? (Mark 6:43). Our experience with the Laodicean church proves what a difficult struggle and fight this can be. People gave up God’s new revelation so easily. In addition, those who gave up the truth wanted to take it away from us—the people who still embrace it.
Things are relatively peaceful for the pcg at this time. Don’t go to sleep. In reality, we are in a lull between storms. The most violent storm is just ahead of us. Mr. Flurry is lovingly and continually warning us that we have a tough message to deliver, and that people of this world are not going to like it as dire prophecies come to fulfillment. Are we prepared to be a pillar and a buttress of the truth when “the land is not able to bear all his words”? (Amos 7:10). We don’t need to get gloomy over this—we need to get ready! There is time to build the faith to fight for our way of life—if we start now. However, time is marching along rapidly. As the saying goes: If you snooze, you lose. Let’s prepare now to stand up for God’s truth and way of life!
Being made fully aware of what is coming, we must be building the courage to see this Work through to the end. Sons of God have the duty to be courageous.
Horatio Nelson was physically ill for most of his life. Yet what he lacked in physical strength, he made up for with courage. At a very young age he decided that although he had an “enfeebled body,” he would always be brave. He did live a life of bravery.
Jesus Christ knew that He would eventually be crucified just outside of Jerusalem. Just before His death, He discussed this fact with His disciples to prepare them for what was coming. Peter could not handle that truth. “Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee” (Matthew 16:22). Peter lacked the courage to face that crisis. Denying Christ three times proved that. Selfishly, Peter feared for his own life. Sometimes it is the people who talk loudest that are the most afraid to face frightening events.
Peter’s attitude about Christ’s crucifixion was not right. Peter lacked the vision to see past immediate events. “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men,” was Christ’s stinging rebuke of Peter (verse 23). What Peter did not grasp was that God had a plan that had to be worked out precisely. That plan included the bloody and violent death of Jesus Christ. We must learn the lesson from Peter’s poor example.
There are tough things ahead for this world and for God’s Church—both the pcg and Laodiceans. To discuss what these events are would take a series of articles. Yet, just knowing that God promises to take us to a place of safety tells us that things will be pretty bad. Let’s face that reality. The march of prophecy cannot be stopped. We must develop and maintain the courage to walk in step with it. Really it is all very exciting when we keep God in the picture.
Courage is the outgrowth of faith. Do you have the faith that God will back you up when you stand up for Him, His truth and way of life? God told Eli through his prophet, “For them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed” (1 Samuel 2:30). Here is a promise from God that we can stake our courage on.
We should know Eli’s history well. Though one of God’s judges, he did not have the courage to stand up for God and His way of life even against his own sons (verses 12-25). He allowed his sons to commit horrible abominations at God’s tabernacle. He and the nation experienced tragic results.
Eli’s spiritual weakness and cowardice ultimately led to the destruction of Shiloh, the physical center of God’s Work at that time. The Philistines were able to capture the ark of God—a national tragedy. Eli also lost his life at that same time (1 Samuel 4:18). Had Eli possessed the courage and spiritual strength to stand up for God, things would have been different.
Never forget that when we courageously stand up for God, He promises to stand up for us.
When the smoke cleared at Trafalgar, Nelson’s navy had destroyed 19 enemy vessels. That was a tremendous victory for the British, as 1,587 seamen gave their lives for Britain that day. Every man gloriously did his duty. Prophecy assures us that we will win our battle with Satan. The devil’s unwinnable war against God, His government, law, truth and way of life will come to an end.
The only thing we do not know is, which sons of God will do their duty? We can remove all doubt about ourselves if we declare the Father, be obedient, remain faithful, are courageous and, if need be, willingly give our lives for God’s cause. By doing these things, we will do our duty. God has laid out a glorious opportunity for us. Not one of us need fail to attain it.
Expect of yourself that you will do your duty.