The purpose of the church
 

What exactly is the purpose of the local Christian church?

Jesus called the ones He wanted, and His call was a sovereign one. Everyone that He calls comes to Him.
John 6:37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.


The Greek word that is translated as “church” in the Bible is ekklesia. This word is made up of a prefix and a root. The prefix is ek or ex, which means “out of ” or “from. The church is taken out of the world, or from the world.
Thus, ekklesia means “those who are the called-out ones.” Simply put, the invisible church, the true church, is composed of those who are called by God not only outwardly but inwardly by the Holy Spirit. 

The church is a body of believers, saved people that make up the body of Christ on earth.
The Apostle Paul used the analogy of the body to help us understand who and what we are in Christ.

 

1 Cor 12:27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.

A body needs to be healthy to function the way it should.
The church building or the house church is our gym, where we go to get fit, to get strong.
We meet together to worship our Heavenly Father, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to share fellowship, to pray, to edify each other, to build each other up in the faith. We meet to learn more about Jesus. The objective is to go into the world and preach the Gospel.

Why do we invite unbelievers into our churches (fellowships)? We are an exclusive group of people, only inclusive in the sense that we include all those who come to salvation in Christ.
There is no fellowship between the unbeliever and the believer.
What has light to do with darkness. We cannot have fellowship in Christ with those that reject Him.


2 Cor 6:14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?
2 Cor 6:15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?


The main function of the believer is to go into the world to share the good news of Christ to an unbelieving world.

Mark 16:15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
Matt 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,


When someone comes to Christ, it is then that they can come and join the fellowship of believers.
The church building is primarily for the saved.
Up unto that point, any unbeliever who enters the doors of a church is outside the fellowship of the church.

Of course the doors of the church should always be open for anyone. There are family members and friends of believers who may attend and there have been many saved by attending a church and being exposed to the life of the church. However, the church building is primarily the place where Christians meet.

Why would we want unbelievers holding positions in our fellowships. Why would we want unbelievers teaching in our Sunday schools or preaching from our pulpits.
This may sound unloving and separatist but this is what the word of God teaches.

The first and foremost qualification for anyone to be an active member of a fellowship is new birth.
New birth brings one into the fellowship of God and God’s people.

 

Joh 3:3  Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 
 

Joh 3:7  Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 
Joh 3:8  The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. 

 

So what am I saying?

There are two views of what the purpose of the church is.
The first view:
1. The church is primarily evangelistic.
It exists to draw unbelievers in to get them saved. So this type of church does anything it can to attract the unbeliever in, so that they can hear the Gospel. This has become known as “Seeker Sensitive church”. Find out what the unbeliever wants and give it to them. This they say is the ultimate purpose of the church. Design your worship, your services, your mid week meetings to accommodate the unbeliever. Make your church somewhere were the unbeliever feels comfortable. This view says, that we Christians should learn to think like unbelievers, get to know what they want and supply it.

However, what this view misses is the fact that there are no seekers after the truth.


Romans 3:10-18 10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:
14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:
15 Their feet are swift to shed blood:
16 Destruction and misery are in their ways:
17 And the way of peace have they not known:
18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.


The fact is the unbeliever will never feel comfortable in the church, for the Holy Spirit will convict them of their sin, of righteousness and judgement.

The danger of this view is that the church can quite easily become like the world.
Because the church adapts to the world in order to win the world, it ends up looking like the world.

This is not a new idea.
Charles Spurgeon saw this in his day, he was well aware of the temptation to allow the world to influence the church.
He said, “I believe that one reason why the church of God at this present moment has so little influence over the world is because the world has so much influence over the church.” 

 

The second view.
2. The church is a place of discipleship.
The purpose of the church is to make disciples, who then can go into the world and preach the Gospel to an unbelieving world.

This view too has its drawbacks. If the church concentrates only on worship, teaching and fellowship but does not fulfil the churches commission from Christ, to go out into the world and preach the Gospel, then it too is falling short.
We must always keep foremost in our minds, the objective. The world needs to hear the Gospel.

The local church exists to glorify God through worshipping Him, edifying His people, and evangelizing the world.

Matt 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

There is nothing wrong in inviting the unbeliever to church on a Saturday evening to hear the Gospel, providing they know exactly what they are there for and not being brought in on some false pretext of a social event.
There is nothing wrong in doing a good work for the surrounding neighbourhood, or working alongside neighbourhood groups, providing it is genuine and in the work of the Gospel.
The church should be a caring community and society and our local neighbourhood should benefit from the charity of the Gospel.

However, we should never lose sight of the commission of Jesus Christ.
Everything we do should be as unto the Lord.

In Conclusion.

The church is not a social club to fulfil the needs of the world. In truth it would be difficult to compete with the world. The world offers exactly what the unbeliever desires and Satan has had a long time to practice his art.

 

Assemblies of God General Superintendent Thomas Trask ,Quote.
“Stirring worship music won’t attract them because worship isn’t even on their radar screen. More comfortable pews cannot compete with the easy chair or the bed that already serve the unchurched person. Church events cannot effectively compete with what the world has to offer.”

 

The world can put on a good show, that can fulfil the desire of the unbeliever.
We must be very careful that we are not doing the same thing.
We must be real and true to what we are doing and why we are doing it.

Indeed, in
Philippians 2 we are told: "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others" (v3-4).
 

Jesus had some really harsh words to say about those people who put on a show of holiness in church: "Everything they do is for men to see" (Matthew 23:5) and "Woe to you ... you hypocrites!", which he repeats in verses 13, 15, 23, 25, 27 and 29.

With that amount of repetition I think we can see Jesus really wanted to get his message across!
We are not in competition with the world.

God saves men through the preaching of the Gospel.


Rom 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
 

The church is not a show place, an entertainment venue.
It is a place of worship, a preparation ground for disciples of Jesus Christ to fulfil the commission to spread the Gospel in the world.
Neither is it a hidey hole for Christians, satisfied with their own salvation.

Sometimes, Christians feel safe on their own turf, and wants the unbeliever to come to them.
However, The commission is us to go to them on their turf.

It is a place of fellowship of likeminded people who believe in the power or of prayer with a desire to share with the world the wonderful news of the life changing power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.


 

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