Adult Bible B.L.A.S.T Week Ten “The Church” cont-12/17/17
- The Purpose of the Church?
Question: What do you think is the purpose of the church?
- Worship God (Luke 4:8; John 4:23; Revelation 4:10)
- Study His Word (2 Timothy 2:15; 1 Corinthians 4:6)
- Pray (Acts 2:42)
- Love one another (John 13:35; Philippians 1:1-4)
- Help each other (Galatians 6:2)
- Partake of baptism and the Lord’s supper (Luke 22:19-20)
- To learn how to live as godly people (Titus 2:11-12)
- To be equipped to evangelize the world (Ephesians 4:12; Matthew 28:18-20)
Though there isn’t a single verse that defines the purpose of the church, Acts 2:42 gives a nice synopsis and includes in a broad way, what I just mentioned.
Read: Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
One of the problems in the church today is that too many local churches have chosen one aspect of the purpose of the church and have prioritized it over the others, often so that the others are not even a priority in resources and passion.
- For example. Some churches say the purpose of the church is simple: It’s caring for one another. And they use Hebrews 10:24-25 as a proof text.
Read: Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Question: What might be a problem when that is the single most important purpose of the church?
- They become too inward focused.
- Look at many if not most large churches and you’ll find a focus on self-help programs; building healthy families, healthy kids, healthy finances.
- Certainly, the body comes together to be built up in the faith, but the purpose for all the teaching, the training and the fellowship is to empower and aid in the work of the church which includes evangelism and missions.
Read: Ephesians 4:11-12 And He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ
Read: 1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
Read: Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
Read: Romans 12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Read: John 4:23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him.
Read: Matthew 28:18-20a And Jesus came and said to them, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you…
For this study, the purpose of the church can be summarized into three broad areas:
- Worship of God: (John 4:23; Romans 12:1)
The worship of God is the highest calling of humanity. God created us for this very purpose. Worship is God-centered and Christ-centered.
- It is not about entertaining Christians with flashy displays or presentations,
- but about expressing our love by worshiping our Creator.
- We are to praise and glorify God in worship.
- Build up the body: (Acts 2:42; Ephesians 4:12b-13)
Building up of the body, unity within the body, maturity of the body.
Edification is nurturing, building up or helping believers to mature in Christ. To this end, churches are tasked with a variety of ministries such as Bible study, continuing education in related areas, praying for one another, acts of hospitality to name just a few.
- Evangelism: (Matthew 28:19-20a; Acts 1:8)
Matthew 28:18-20a And Jesus came and said to them, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you…
Jesus said “Go and make”, He didn’t say, “Stay and enjoy.”
- Instead of being happy to just come here every Sunday and Wednesday and enjoy the company of our friends and church family,
- we are supposed to actually try and grow God’s earthly kingdom. And that is to tell others about Jesus and about His church.
- Jesus tells us it is a command and if we are truly obedient Christians we’ll strive to do what He tells us to do.
Statistically speaking, poll after poll shows that less than 5% of all Christians in any given church actually do go out, and talk about Jesus. That means 95% are disobedient. Which percentile are you in?
Single overarching purposed of the church
Question: What do you think is the one purpose that’s greater than all the rest?
There is, one overarching purpose of the church; the place the Worship of God, the edification of the body and evangelism find their fullness:
Read: 1 Corinthians 10:31b whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
Read: Ephesians 4:10-11 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies, in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To Him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
What we do as the church must ALWAYS have as its chief end, to glorify God!
Question: How do we fulfill the purpose of the church?
Not only did Jesus give the church a purpose, He gave us the process to fulfill that purpose.
- Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
Jesus gives the church power that will enable us to implement His purpose. This is very important,
- we must operate as a church on Holy Spirit power
- and not on our own power
- or we will fail.
- Gathering as the church
Question: Why is it important that we all gather as the church, regularly?
- To worship God as His body.
- To learn from God’s Word.
- To our spiritual gifts to help others.
- To be encouraged by others in our relationship with God.
- To set an example to our families and friends and provide for their spiritual welfare.
- To give financially so our hearts will not be ruled by greed.
- To have an eternal perspective and not a temporal one.
- To break from our normal daily routine of work.
- To set an example to the world that Christians love one another.
To fulfill the purpose of the church… we need to be here, we all need to be here.
We’ve already read Hebrews 10:24-25 which says And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Question: How do you think they can do that?
- One of the main ways is that they huddle together, sometimes with thousands of penguins. Those on the outside of the circle as soon as they are faced with freezing to death move in toward the center while those in the center work their way to the outside.
- It’s only by sticking together that they survive. Any penguin that gets isolated will die.
Is there an application for Christians? You bet!
- God designed us to survive and thrive spiritually by the encouragement we gain from each other.
Perhaps you’ve heard people say they can serve and worship Jesus w/o gathering as the church. That they don’t need the organization of the church to be in right relationship to God.
- I have worship music on my iPhone that fit my personal style choices perfectly and are a quality that would be hard to match by any team of volunteers.
- I can listen to podcasts of world class preachers and get better teaching than most churches can offer.
- Additionally there are books, seminars, blogs, and conferences available for personal growth.
These are all great gifts of God to us to learn and grow and worship God as an individual. We should make use of them. But that’s not primarily why we gather as the church. The NT givers us a different picture of the church.
- It far less interested in what we get out of a church gathering, and much more focused on who we are as a church.
- We don’t gather as a church to get something, but to be something.
When Paul speaks of Christians singing it is not simply a vertical relationship, an individual singing to God, but contains horizontal elements as well. We sing together to God as a corporate response to the gospel.
Read: Ephesians 5:18b-21 be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. That’s corporate!
A local church is a thankful community, singing together to build each other up and respond rightly to the gospel.
Read: 1 Timothy 3:14-15 I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.
Again, note the corporate elements of this text… how we behave in the household of God which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.
- Our behavior in the church matters because it’s not our house, but the household of God.
The church is called to make Jesus known through our life together.
- We uphold the truth of the gospel as we live as a community on mission together, as we experience transformed lives and demonstrate the counter-cultural nature of the gospel.
- We make Jesus known through celebrating Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
- We make Jesus known through biblical church discipline, membership, praying and serving together, and submitting ourselves to biblical leadership.
- We make Jesus known as diverse family gather together to sing God’s praises from transformed hearts, and to sit together under the teaching of God’s word with reverence and submission. This is radical.
Here are several bullet points
First, Ephesians 5 tells us that Jesus it the head of the body.
Question: Since Jesus is the head of the body of Christ, would it make any sense for individual members of the body to choose not to be part of the whole?
- The church is referred to as the Body of Christ. To give devotion only to the Head is incomplete.
- You can’t be in relationship to the head and at the same time be out of relationship to the Head’s Body!
Second, God’s Word commands us to gather as the church:
Remember Hebrews 10:25 says not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some,
It’s the will of God that His followers should gather together for corporate worship and hearing the instruction of the Word.
Read: 1 Corinthians 5:12-13a For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside.
Read: 1 Corinthians 12:18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as He chose.
Question: What do these two verses say about gathering together as the church?
- The New Testament refers to some people being inside the church and some people being outside the church.
- And it is God who places people inside the church.
- 1 Corinthians 1:1-2 Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes, To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours
- Philippians 1:1-2 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Question: What do these verses say about gathering together as the church?
- The NT Letters were all written to local churches.
- The contents of the letters, God’s Word, are intended to be a blessing and extend grace to those in the church.
Fifth, People are saved to live in community with other believers.
The great number of ‘one another’ passages in the New Testament are meant to be lived out within the community of the local church.
Sixth, It was the model of the early church. For Acts 2:42-48 to be possible, Christians had to gather together in one location.
Read: Romans 15:5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus
Read: Galatians 3:28 here is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Read: Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Question: What do these verses say about gathering together as the church?
We gather together as the church to love people who are different from us.
- Most people spend time with people who they feel most comfortable around. Other kinds of people are strange to them.
- If we only spend time with people like ourselves, we’ll be unduly influenced to believe that we are better than those who are not like us.
We gather together as the church to avoid that problem.
- It reminds us that, fundamentally, the most basic thing about us is not our money, our skin color, our age, or our favorite tastes.
- The most basic thing about us is that we are sinners who need a Savior.
Because of that, our church is filled with people who are different from us, all of us learning that we are not better than others, but are all in need of the same grace.