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Why Word and Work Began and Keeps Going

by Alex Wilson

W&W began for several reasons: At its beginning in New Orleans in 1908, it aimed to encourage individual Christians and the few small churches scattered around Louisiana. They didn’t have very many chances for fellowship, in-depth teaching or practical train-ing. The magazine helped them meet at least some of those needs.

One of several slogans W&W had was “Greater Things for God.” Obviously it aimed to stir up believers anywhere and everywhere to advance, to progress in carrying out the Great Commandments and the Great Commission. Another slogan stressed teaching “the whole counsel of God” so that His people might grow stronger in faith, hope and love.

For example, there was a great need to proclaim God’s stunning grace and thus counteract the legalism that was spreading in many Churches of Christ. But the grace of God was not the only subject that had become widely downplayed. Negative debating about the Holy Spirit was common enough, but positive preaching was rare. Many preachers ignored the divine Comforter/Counselor, though some of them often denounced the errors of the Pentecostalists.

Teaching about the “blessed hope” of Christ’s return was sorely neglected too. In the early 1900s R. H. Boll wrote that he had met some longtime members in churches he visited who said they had never once heard a sermon about the second coming of the Lord Jesus. For this reason teaching on prophecy was fairly often featured in W&W.

Sadly, such topics often become the playground of the cults or of teachers who engage in far-out speculations and sensationalism. As a result, some other Bible teachers neglect the subjects almost entirely. Then the prospect of our Lord’s second coming becomes a fearful dread or a holy terror, rather than a blessed hope.

Some years ago a woman I barely knew sent a letter with a donation to W&W. By her gift she wanted to “acknowledge God’s blessing given to me through the reading of His Word and the study of the Word and Work.” Her husband had been a subscriber for about 40 years, but I knew nothing of the wife’s pilgrimage. She shared it in her letter. She had grown up “in a Christian home where the love of God and belief in Jesus as Savior was 24/7. The Bible was seldom if ever out of arms’ reach and was used to guide our family life. We were members of a Church of Christ. Yet, no one seemed to touch the book of Revelation. No one taught from it, quoted from it, read from it or understood it. As far back as I can recall, the explanation has been, ‘Honey, don’t worry about the book of Revelation. It’s more important to get to heaven, then someone will explain it to us.’

“So it was as a grown woman in 1962, that my husband’s copy of Word and Work came in the mail to our house. That was my first exposure.” Her letter went on to mention “God’s blessings…joy…promises…meaning…hope…no fear.” Those were the results of having her man-made blinders removed and of daring to study a portion of God’s Word which had been declared “off limits.” It is too bad that some churches still brainwash their members regarding the final, climactic and faith-building book of the Bible. We should pray that they will get over that hang-up and begin to profit from all of Scripture. And if two, three or more views of some passages (or an entire book) are held by church members, that’s o-k. “Let each be convinced in his own mind” (Rom 14:5).

Too many churches have not budged from their old, fearful attitudes. But thank God that in many places there has been some, or even a lot, of improvement.




One Response to “Why Word and Work Began and Keeps Going”

  1. David Moldez says:

    Dear Sir,

    It is nice to know how word and work started and the purpose of it.I have been reading, learning and getting news through this magazine. Thank you for sending Word and Work to the philippines for many many years.I thank the Lord I can continue to read and learn from the articles through the website.



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