Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21
I really like that proverb. It is especially significant that no matter what we might plan, no matter how evil it may be, GOD’S PURPOSE PREVAILS!
What is God’s purpose? Well that’s all wrapped up in what he PURPOSES for the church. This is after all what Jesus came and gave his life for, isn’t it? SO THAT GOD’S PURPOSES COULD BE DONE! YOU SEE THE CHURCH ISN’T A CLUB! It isn’t a service organization and it sure isn’t a business. Some people say that they are going to church and they are talking about the building. But the church isn’t a building either!
The Church is an Organism!
IT’S A LIVING, BREATHING, ORGANISM. IT IS THE BODY OF CHRIST!
1Cor. 12:27 Now you are the body of Christ,
And each one of you is a part of it. A Part of the Body of Christ. God didn’t just establish the church and left it on it’s own. God has given it a purpose. We could spend days on this, but I want to make it as simple and as straightforward as possible.
Jesus stated the purpose of the church when he said:
Matt. 28:18-20 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
THIS IS CALLED THE GREAT COMMISSION. OUR MARCHING ORDERS FOR THE CHURCH. EVERYTHING WE DO SHOULD BE DERIVED FROM THIS! IT ALL BOILS DOWN TO FOUR THINGS.
THE PURPOSE OF THE CHURCH IS TO REACH, TO WIN, TO TRAIN, AND TO SEND
I. TO REACH….
Everything Jesus did while he walked the earth was to reach out to people. There were times he went off by himself and spent time with the 12 disciples, BUT most of his ministry was to reach the common folk of his day!
His last words as a human on earth was to reach out to those around him.
Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
3 of the 5 ministry gifts deal with reaching out!
Eph. 4:11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,
It’s only the pastors and teachers that focuses on the ones in the church exclusively. THE KEY JOB OF THE CHURCH, THAT’S US, IS TO LOOK FOR WAYS TO REACH OUT WITH THE LOVE OF GOD TO OUR COMMUNITY AND TO THE WORLD.
2. TO WIN
It’s not enough just to reach people! We also have to win them to Christ. Being saved and being part of the church are not always the same thing. Salvation comes as we commit ourselves to Christ and his Church. Commitment and membership are not always the same thing. Commitment is not a casual thing, just as marriage is more than a wedding! Imagine how long a marriage would last if most of us do what did when we joined the church?
Just as a marriage takes commitment, time, effort, work, learning to live with one another, and intimacy, SO DOES OUR COMMITMENT TO THE CHURCH!
TO SAY WE HAVE TO WIN PEOPLE TO CHRIST IS THAT WE LEAD THEM INTO A INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP TO GOD THROUGH JESUS CHRIST IN THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT!
If you have ever wondered what marked the difference between a moving, growing, exciting, church, and an average, run of the mill, on every street corner kind of church, then listen to this!
THE DIFFERENCE IS IN DIRECT RELATIONSHIP OF THE COMMITMENT OF THE MEMBERSHIP TO THE WORK OF CHRIST IN THE WORLD. THAT NOT ONLY HAVE THE PEOPLE THERE BEEN REACHED, BUT WON OVER TO THE WORK OF CHRIST. THEY ARE COMMITTED TO SEE HIS KINGDOM GROW AND EXPAND. THEY ARE COMMITTED TO TELLING OTHERS THE GOOD NEWS OF JESUS AND THEY ARE COMMITTED TO GROWING AS CHRISTIANS THEMSELVES!
3. TO TRAIN
Matt. 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples
The purpose of the church is to reach out and bring people to church and to fellowship with God. But it also is to make DISCIPLES! It’s easy to make a church member. All you have to do is come and say you want to be a member and you are! It’s harder to be a member of the country club than a member of the church. I sometimes wonder if we don’t make it too easy. it becomes very cheap that way.
Christ gave his life for the church. Now what are we going to give in return?
The basic call of Jesus is for us to become his!
A DISCIPLE IS ONE WHO LEARNS FROM THE MASTER AND PRACTICES WHAT THEY LEARN. We need to remember this: Your teach what you know, but you reproduce or disciple what you are!
In school there are three different kinds of kids:
1. Those who were good students who got good grades
2. Those who were average and got along
3. Those who were just bidding their time
I must admit I was in the middle group when I was in school.
We have the same in the church…
1. Those who are committed…wanting to grow and blossom into what God is calling them to do
2. Those who are saved, but not sure how much of this they want to get involved with
3. Those who are just bidding their time
Just like those kids in school, who is getting the most out of it? Who is going to make the biggest difference? BUT THERE IS A MAJOR DIFFERENCE! WHAT HAPPENS IN SCHOOL IS TEMPORARY. WHAT WE DO HERE IS FOR ETERNITY!
Jesus’ call on our lives is to become his disciples, not just people who “hang in there” We are to become learners and to grow into His likeness. We are to be so excited about the faith that we share it os we can reach out and win people over for Christ.
4. TO SEND
The last purpose of the church we are going to look at is to send. If we are reaching out, winning people to Christ and growing as disciples, then we, as a body will be sending people out to do the work of the ministry. We will be doing this as a church and we will do it every day. This includes doing it on Sunday morning!
And now may the Love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, and the communion and fellowship of the Holy Spirit abide and keep you now and forever more 2 Co 3:14
This verse is a blessing to go out into the world to take your faith with you, to share it, to reach out, to win, to be disciples of Jesus.
THE REAL WORK OF THE CHURCH ISN’T WHAT WE DO IN THESE FOUR WALLS IT’S WHAT WE DO OUTSIDE THEM!
WORSHIP, BIBLE STUDY, FELLOWSHIP ARE ALL PART OF OUR PREPARATION FOR SHARING THE LIFE AND LOVE OF GOD AFTER WE LEAVE THE CHURCH!
As we send people to other places to carry the excitement we have for the work of God in our lives, we will see God’s blessing. We must want to share that life with others.
TODAY LET ME CHALLENGE US TO CONSIDER WHERE EACH OF US FITS IN TO ALL THIS.
ARE WE AS INDIVIDUALS AND AS A CHURCH, REACHING OUT, WINNING FOLKS FOR CHRIST, BEING A DISCIPLE OR A LEARNER SO WE CAN BE MORE EFFECTIVE? ARE WE BEING SENT FORTH TO CARRY OUT THE WORK CHRIST HAS CALLED US TO DO AS HIS CHURCH AND HIS BODY IN THE WORLD TODAY?