From the book, What People Ask About The Church, by Dale A. Robbins
There may be varying opinions about the multiple tasks and functions
of the church, but the following represents what would be its four highest priorities:
(1) To proclaim the Gospel throughout the world and make disciples
of all kinds of people. "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, teaching
them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even
to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19-20). "And He said to them, Go into all the
world and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15).
The passages above, often referred to as the Great Commission, were
among Jesus' final admonitions to His disciples before He ascended to Heaven. Mark's
gospel refers to Christ's command for his followers to "go preach the gospel to the
world," while Matthew's reflects His emphasis for the church "to go and make
disciples of all nations." The combination of these two elements, evangelism and
discipleship, are generally considered as Christ's primary mission for His church.
"Evangelism" is the ministry of proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ that
will bring men's souls into fellowship with God, while "discipleship" is the
training of believers to become disciplined followers of Jesus and His principles.
The mission of the church is, in reality, a continuation of Christ's
earthly ministry (John 14:12). Jesus viewed that redeeming men's souls was His whole
purpose for coming to the earth. "For the Son of Man has come to save that which was
lost" (Matt. 18:11). And in turn, He imparted this same objective to His disciples.
He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men" (Matt. 4:19).
The Apostle Paul later confirmed that the ministry of bringing people to God has been
imparted to all those who have been brought to Him (the church). He wrote, "God...
has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of
reconciliation" (2 Cor. 5:18). It is the purpose of every believer, not only pastors
and clergymen, to bring souls to Jesus Christ.
Perhaps the statement which best summarizes this mission of Christ
and His church, was given as Jesus read from Isaiah's prophecy in Nazareth's synagogue on
the Sabbath day. He said, "The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed
Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach
deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those
who are oppressed, to preach the acceptable year of the LORD" (Luke 4:18-19).
(2) To serve as a community of worship and fellowship to
manifest the presence and love of Jesus. "For where two or three are gathered
together in My name, I am there in the midst of them" (Matt. 18:20).
God originally made man for His own pleasure, to enjoy his
fellowship and worship (Rev. 4:11, John 4:23). Thus, a part of the Lord's purpose of the
church, besides bringing people to God, is to gather His people together and facilitate a
corporate environment of worship, to express our love toward Him and one another. Jesus
described these as the two highest ideals of Christianity. "And you shall love the
LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all
your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: You shall
love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these"
The Lord is greatly pleased to receive the corporate love and
worship of His children who are joined together in unity and love toward one another (Eph.
4:1-4, 1 John 1:7). His presence is manifested in such an environment, and authenticates
our Christian witness in the eyes of the world. "By this all will know that you are
My disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35).
Sunday church services were originally modeled from Lord's Day
gatherings of the early church which included the agape "love feast" (Acts
20:7). They would share a common meal together (Acts 2:46) and then partake in the Lord's
Supper in recognition of the Lord's sacrificial body, and in recognition of His
beloved body, the church. It was a gathering of love to the Lord and toward one another.
(3) To mature believers and prepare them to perform works of
ministry. "And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists,
and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry,
for the edifying of the body of Christ..." (Eph. 4:11-12).
Another important mission of the church, by means of its ministers,
is to strengthen the body of believers and equip them for works of ministry. The church
should be an atmosphere of spiritual edification, where God's Word is taught, where
believers are grounded, discipled and led toward maturity. This not only serves to anchor
their faith in Christ, but prepares them for service. According to God's plan, each member
of the body of Christ is called to serve in some aspect of ministry (Rom. 12:6, 1 Cor.
12:14-31), especially as it pertains toward bringing souls to Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).
Even the laity is charged to encourage and spur their brethren on
toward works of ministry, and according to scripture, this is one of the primary reasons
of our church attendance. "And let us consider one another in order to stir up love
and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of
some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching"
(4) To represent the interests of the Kingdom of God in the world,
and to influence our society with the ideals of the Lord. "You are the salt of the
earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for
nothing but to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the
world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden" (Matt. 5:13-14).
Jesus used salt and light as metaphors of the influential
characteristics of His church in the world. Historically, salt has always been a valuable
commodity used, among other things, as an antiseptic to withdraw infection. Light, of
course, dispels darkness and is an essential element of life.
Likewise, the presence of the church in the world is Christ's
antiseptic to sin, an influence of God's righteousness that tends to displace the
infection of evil. The church is intended to represent His interests in the affairs of
society. It was never intended to be passive, nor to be confined within four walls of a
building, but to be involved as a catalyst of God's high ideals in the world around us.
Christ has intended for His church to let its light shine to the
world to love, to care for, and to meet needs of humanity, while upholding the
redemptive truths and righteousness of Jesus Christ. "And let our people also learn
to maintain good works, to meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful" (Titus
3:14). Jesus told His church, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see
your good works and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matt. 5:16).
This article is copyrighted © by Dale A. Robbins, 1995, and is a publication of Victorious Publications, Grass Valley, CA 95949. Unless otherwise stated, all scripture references were taken from The New King James Bible, © Thomas Nelson Inc., 1982.You may download for personal use as long as you retain credit to the author. Obtain permission before reproducing copies for any reason, by filling out our simple permission form. For media reproduction rights, or to obtain published quantities of this title, .
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