In this important series, we have been exploring the nature of the Christian Church. More than any other ideology or religion, Christianity strongly depends on its founder, Jesus Christ. Not only does it derive its identity from Him, He is alive, well, and highly interactive with His people. We also learned the key activities of the church based on Acts 2:42-47: teaching doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayers. To this we add acts of power, community, praise and worship, pastoral care, obedience, and discipleship. When the church functions properly, in enjoys community favour while God adds to the congregation more and more saved people.
Now we will explore the church’s mission. What ‘on earth’ is it meant to do?
One - Glory: The church is called to give glory to the Lord (Romans 15:6,9; Ephesians 1:5f, 12, 14, 18; 3:21; II Thessalonians 1:12; I Peter 4:11). We accomplish this through holy living (John 15:8), praise and worship. Though the Psalms are replete with exhortations to ‘praise God,’ the New Testament expects no less. Hebrews 13:15 Tell us to offer a ‘sacrifice of praise’ continually, which is the fruit of our lips. Eternity is not long enough to thank Jesus for such a great salvation.
Two - Edification: Our purpose is to ‘build up’ the church. This is the meaning of the word edification (Ephesians 4:12-16; Colossians 2:7; I Corinthians 14:26). It is like an athlete going to the gym and doing weight-training in order to build up muscle. Nasty, carnal people are adept at tearing down but those who are born again and spiritual are able to edify in a way that lasts forever. Our modern-day Barnabas’s spend much time encouraging others in the faith; this is one of the great aspects of edification. May their tribe increase.
Three - Holiness: Like so many wonderful doctrines like repentance, regeneration, justification, and sanctification, holiness is most necessary but it is also neglected. Our world is getting darker and without holiness even church people will be cast into the shadows. Holiness is to be separated for God’s purposes. It is to live a life without reproach, blemish, defilement, or corruption. Holiness is heavenly purity. It is also indispensable, because without holiness a person will not see the Lord (Hebrews 12:24). It is impossible to give glory to God, in the manner He deserves, if holiness is missing. It is time to return to ‘first things first’ (Ephesians 5:26; Matthew 18:17; Acts 5:11; Romans 16:17; I Corinthians 5:6-8, 13; I Peter 1:22).
Four - Evangelism: This means to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. ‘Gospel’ means good news (Matthew 28:19; Luke 24:46-48; Acts 1:8). It is wonderfully summarised in I Corinthians 15:3-5: Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again on the third day, according to the Scriptures. When you repent, believe, and receive, you have the gift of the new birth, forgiveness of sins, and eternal life. No amount of money could ever purchase this great salvation; it came via the highest price, namely, the blood of Jesus Christ on the cross. Evangelism is to the church what children are to marriage: it grows and perpetuates.
Five - Discipleship: This is the main objective of the church and evangelism. Evangelism leads the person to faith and discipleship establishes them in the faith. One way to describe discipleship is ‘to follow Jesus with all of your heart, all of the time.’ Following Jesus with some of your heart all of the time, or all of your heart some of the time, is to fail in the call of discipleship. A disciple will become like the Master, but this will be a process, not an event. Discipleship is not an option; it is a divine command (Ephesians 4:12; Matthew 28:20; II Timothy 2:2; Philippians 4:8). When a person is properly discipled, they will live a normal, Biblical, Spirit-empowered Christian life to the glory of God. Failure to disciple means the person may remain no more than an old wineskin, ready to burst asunder when the new wine comes. To ‘make disciples’ in Matthew 28:19 (Greek: matheteusate) is a command, even an imperative. It is of the highest priority to the Lord and thus should be to the church as well.
Six - Mission: This is merely an extension of four and five: to proactively and globally evangelise and disciple people. God is calling the (Gentile) nations to be His people (Acts 15:14). One person aptly said that a person with Christ in their heart is a ‘missionary’ and a person without Christ in their heart is a ‘mission field.’ Whether we go around the block or around the world, we need to put mission as our highest priority until the ‘fullness of the Gentiles’ comes in (Romans 11:25). Mission is another name for ‘the Great Commission,’ to go and make disciples of all nations. The Great Commission is found in all four gospels and in Acts (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:46-49; John 20:21-22; Acts 1:8). The Great Commission is the only mission Christ gave His church;
Next Time: How to Fulfil the Mission of the Church