MISSION OF THE CHURCH
By Larry White
(Originally delivered in Boise, ID. May 16, 1999)
What is the mission of the church?
Edification and evangelism.
Edify = The church should be building us up in faith.
Evangelism = Then we make ourselves available for God's use, which means we give ourselves to God.
Let him use us in the Kingdom - take advantage of the opportunities he presents to us to teach and preach Jesus.
Because God so loved. We give of our time and means to save the lost and edify each other. We must recognize the worth of the work - the importance.
The work of the church is done by its members. If the members are not doing the work of the church, then the church is not working.
There were three questions posed by a member here that I would like to address.
Is the work of the Lord and the work of the church one and the same?
Do Christians have duties of the Lord that the church does not have?
Can the church do something an individual Christian cannot?
1.) First question:
What the church does by the command of Jesus is the work of the Lord, but everything that the Lord wants done cannot be done through the church.
The church is a group of Christians identified together for worship and fellowship of work.
I am not the church, we are the church. If we just translate the word ekklesia as assembly, then it becomes clear. I am not the assembly, but we are. The church has an identity as a body, a corporate identity. She has work to do as a body. Each member doing its part toward the common goal. But we as individual Christians have responsibilities that the church should not meet.
Is it the church's mission to socialize? Christians are told to be hospitable and to be ready to every good work. They are told to help the needy, the orphans and widows and keep themselves unspotted from the world. (Jam. 1:27)
Is this therefore the mission of the church as a body? Do we see the first century church working in these areas as a body?
Taking care of widows - Just widows indeed. (1Tim.5) Only those who are wards of the church. (Acts 6)
Taking care of orphans - Not a church responsibility. How then? The need of an orphan is a home, so individually adopt them into your home. The church is not a home, nor an institution for processing the adoption of children.
Being hospitable and social - Just in the Lord's supper. (1Cor.11)
We must strive for a spiritual viewpoint. We came to realize that socialization was not what brought us to the Lord. It was our giving ourselves completely to God. No amount of friendships or banquets could help us do that. Each man in his heart alone with God had to make that sacrifice. So socialization became superfluous. We saw that denominations with big social programs were only catering to the flesh of man which did not focus on the eternal love of God in the keeping of his word. Jesus fed 5000 people in John 6 - but not so they could fill their bellies, rather so he could manifest himself as the true bread of life.
Jesus did not come to meet the needs of the poor, but the poor in spirit. He did not come to release people out of jail, but to set those free who were held captive by Satan and sin. He did not come to give sight to the physically blind but to the spiritually blind.
What is therefore the duty of those who follow Christ? To do good to all men. The highest of the good is to save their souls, but every other good is also our duty observed out of love. (1Tim.6:17-19; Gal.6:6-10)
2.) Second question:
a.) The church collected funds on the first day of every week, pooling their resources and saving up to give to the needy in Jerusalem.
b.) My wife phones all the members in the church to bring food to give to a needy friend. They all bring food to the building and pooled their resources to give to this poor woman.
Needy not a Saint.
What is the difference?
So that the churches should be equal in respect to want, the N.T. churches pooled their members resources to relieve the needy saints in Jerusalem.
The needy of the world is with what individuals come into contact on a one to one basis. My wife called on other Christians to share in the benevolence. Therefore could it be said that it was not an action of the church?
Yes. It was not a corporate decision to work in this matter. It is not the responsibility of the church to do so. But it is every individual Christian's responsibility to do what good they can.
3.) Third question:
The church must discipline some members who are walking disorderly and not according to the truth. Paul says to deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh so that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. This is something an individual Christian certainly cannot do. Members have an individual responsibility to uphold the action of the church by not socializing with the one disciplined and admonishing him as a brother.
~ Invitation ~