Thursday, December 21, 2017

Tearing Down the Walls

For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; 
but that the world through Him might be saved.
(John 3:17)

Getting 'in church' or 'joining' a church should be viewed as becoming apart of the body of Christ - working in unity and harmony with other members of the body of Christ for the sole purpose of reaching out to others who are lost, not becoming isolated within.   After all, someone reached out to us; we heard the word of God that resulted in the change in our life.  This is done by going out and bringing others in. Tear down the wall and be like Jesus in helping others to be saved.  The church [body of Christ] has several important functions which include worship, fellowship, and ministry to human need. But the primary purpose for its existence is spreading of the Gospel. Simply stated, the main purpose of the Church is to fulfill the Great Commission.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.  Matthew 28:19-20

Satan attacked the mission of the early assembly in many ways. He tried to prevent the spread of the Gospel through persecution, doctrinal error, and sin. These are still his tactics today. But there was another threat to the purpose of the Church. The preoccupation of its leaders with good and important works almost changed the central focus Christ intended. There were many necessary good works to be done, but the leaders were pressed to do them thus neglecting God's Word and prayer.  However, recognizing this need men were appointed to help handle the needs so that the apostles could continue with the commission given them by Jesus.

While there is no denying that human need is very great. Jesus said the needy would be with us always.

For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.  John 12:8

The Church can seek to meet human need and it should be a vital, caring community as it was in New Testament times. But the purpose of the Church does not rest in meeting physical, social, or material needs. Its priority is spreading the Gospel. The Church should minister to other needs, but should combine such efforts with a powerful presentation of the Gospel message.

A good example is found in Romans 9 and 10. Apostle Paul was aware of the economic needs of the Jewish nation. He also was aware of the political tyranny of Rome over the people, yet it is clear that his major concern for the people was spiritual. His concern for Israel was that they should be saved.

Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. Romans 10:1

The mission of the Church is to make the Gospel known so God can be faithfully served by all men.

God's method is one of sending. Out of love for us, the Father sent His own Son:  

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:16-17)

Jesus has commissioned us to go forth with the Gospel. Every local Church should become a sending church, going forth in love to a dying world.

God did not raise up the Church as special objects of His favor.  It is apparent that He 'favors' us all because His son was sent to die for us all!

The Church is called to purpose, not privilege

We are ministers of reconciliation. We are to follow the pattern set by God and exemplified by Jesus. We are to go forth with the Gospel.

Every church is surrounded by multitudes without God and without hope. This is our first and greatest challenge, as Apostle Paul tells the Church at Philippi: 

Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.   Philippians 2:12-16

Similar words were spoken to the churches at Corinth, Ephesus, Thessalonica, and Colossee. The same message rings forth today.

In Ephesians, Apostle Paul summarizes the purpose of the Church:  

And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ; To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God. According to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Ephesians 3:9-11)

Jesus left His followers with a great task. They were to reach the entire world with the Gospel message. But He did not give them the responsibility without giving them the authority. He promised them special power to accomplish the task.

Jesus said His followers would receive this power through the coming of the Holy Spirit:  

But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

Eleven men were given a seemingly impossible task. They did not form a committee to decide who would go where. They did not take up an offering to see how far they could book passage. They did not vote and follow the decision of the majority. These men went to an upper room and with one accord devoted themselves to prayer. Here, the Church [body of Christ] was birthed in a great demonstration of power.

Acts 2 records the coming of the Holy Spirit. This power of the Holy Spirit was directed power given for a specific purpose. The purpose was to reach the nations with the Gospel.  Acts 2 also records the beginning of the body of Christ. When the Holy Spirit was given in this new revelation of power, Peter preached a sermon which resulted in 3,000 responding to the Gospel. These people formed the first Church. The record of their multiplication and mission is presented in the remainder of the book of Acts.

To accomplish the mission of the Church, God established basic principles of organization. Members of the Church are related to one another as spiritual brothers and sisters. They are called "The Body of Christ,” of which Jesus is the head. The Church is to work together in unity just like a human body. They are to function under direction of the Headship of the Lord, Jesus Christ.

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:  (Ephesians 4:11-13)

God sets special leaders in the church including apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. God also gives each Spirit-filled believer a spiritual gift [or gifts] to be used in harmony with the work of the ministry:

Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.  And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.  And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.  But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.  (1 Corinthians 12:4-7)
Remember, getting 'in church' or 'joining' a church should be viewed as coming into the body of Christ - working in unity and harmony with other members of the body of Christ for the sole purpose of reaching out to others who are lost, not becoming isolated within.  Keep the social programs that meet the needs of those less fortunate but don't ever forget your primary purpse!  Tear down the wall and be like Jesus in helping others to be saved.  This is done by going out and bringing others in.

(Biblical Studies)


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