What is the purpose of the church (don't forget what the church is)?
I. The primary purpose of the church is to glorify God.
This glorification is achieved in many God-ordained ways as we shall see, but don't forget the number one purpose.
II. The church is to witness to our neighbors.
Remember that a neighbor is anyone with whom you come into contact on a regular basis. The purpose is not to "save" people, the purpose is to glorify God. God is glorified when people are saved. A couple of points need to be made:
A. We don't "win" the lost.
That may disturb you to hear that, but it is true. Think about it. To win means to achieve by effort such as to "win fame", or to take in battle. It means to succeed in gaining the favor or support of someone. It means to prevail upon, such as "His eloquence won his audience as he appealed successfully to (someone's loyalty, sympathy, or other emotion). We hear "He won her for his bride." We speak of "Winning an argument". I think that we tend to forget what happens when someone is saved for we certainly don't "win the lost".
Becoming a Christian is not just a matter of being intellectually and/or emotionally convinced that Jesus is Who He said that He is, and if we then believe in Him we will be saved upon the basis of what we have come to intellectually accept. The demons believe and they are not saved (James 2:19). Simon believed and was baptized but was not saved (Acts 8:13-23). Jesus said that one must be born again (John 3:3) and it is God that causes people to be born again:
1Peter 1:3 "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,"
In John 3:16 we read the familiar "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." But faith is the cause, and belief is the effect (Eph 2:8). God raises us from the dead (Eph 2:4-5) by imparting faith to our dead hearts. Faith is a gift of God (Eph 2:8, Rom 12:3) not something we muster up ourselves - that is worthy of another treatise and I refer you to it for further details. So true faith leads to true belief which leads to obedience (John 14:21).
B. Our role in God's salvation of His people.
So just what is it that we do?
1. We speak
2Cor 4:13-15 "But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, "I believed, therefore I spoke," we also believe, therefore also we speak; knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God."
We can't help but speak for we must tell people what God has done for us. When you believe in something enough to give your life for it, you must tell people about it. Also we read in Acts:
Acts 11:19 "So then those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose in connection with Stephen made their way to Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except to Jews alone.
Acts 11:20 But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who came to Antioch and began speaking to the Greeks also, preaching the Lord Jesus.
Acts 11:21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord".
We speak to all people - meaning to people of all races. Also note Acts 11:21 the order: the hand of the Lord was with them, many believed, and they turned. We see the order: God acts, people believe, people repent, which is the order in any salvation experience.
2. We preach
We read about preaching in Acts 2:14-36 with the result being given in Acts 2:41. Preaching as in a sermon on Sunday morning is not a gift for everyone. But we should all be ready to preach to our neighbor.
3. We devote ourselves to God
4. We take care of other members of the Body of Christ
An example is in Acts 2:44-45 with the result given in Acts 2:47b ("…for the Lord was adding.."). The bolding is my emphasis to again help us understand who does the saving.
5. We praise God together.
An example is in Acts 2: 46-47a with the result of Acts 2:47b.
The Church (the Body of Christ) does all of the above and more, and the Lord adds to the Church, and the Lord is Glorified.
III. The Church Disciples the Saved
This function involves many gifts (1 Cor 12-14) including encouragement - remember Barnabas (Acts 11:22-26). From Matt 28:19-20 we see that God saves; we disciple, baptize, and teach. To be a disciple means to:
The Eleven are paradigms for all disciples.
IV. The Church Helps Other Local Congregations
Acts 11:27-30 contains useful verses to study in relation to this function. We help other local churches by giving money, donating needed items, adopting a local church, constructing or maintaining a building, sending members to train believers, developing and sharing ministries, and by praying for them.
V. The Church Send Out Missionaries
Another function of a local church is to send out missionaries (Acts 13:1-3). Note that the Holy Spirit calls the people to their service. The people then pray, fast, and lay hands upon the ones chosen by the Holy Spirit. It is very interesting that the phrase "they sent them away" means to literally release them as you would release a horse straining at the bit. Those called by God for a service are eager to begin the service for the Glory of God. I am not using the "gift of arrogance" to pretend that I think that this is an exhaustive list of what the Church does, but it is a good start. If we do all of the above, then we will have done well.
Web Author: Dr. Leon L. Combs
Copyright ©2000 by Dr. Leon L. Combs - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED