We desperately need the church for love, for maturity and preparedness, for spiritual care. It is arrogant, rebellious, self-reliant, God-indicting pride to conclude that the church is an optional extra to the Christian life. We need everything God designs for us. Everything. To reject what God designs for His glory and our good is spiritual suicide. To reject the church is to take your own spiritual life.
Disturbers are to be rebuked, the low spirited to be encouraged, the infirm to be supported, objectors confuted, the treacherous guarded against, the unskilled taught, the lazy aroused, the contentious restrained, the haughty repressed, the poor relieved, the oppressed liberated, the good approved, the evil borne with, and all are to be loved!
The Church is not a gallery for the exhibition of eminent Christians, but a school for the education of imperfect ones.
God is great, and worship is our response to His greatness! The church’s primary purpose is to insure that God receives the glory He desires and deserves. That is why the saints gather together to corporately rehearse the greatness of God through worship. The focus of the church should be the worth-ship of God. Evangelism’s main goal is first and foremost to recruit worshippers for God. When Christ is embraced as offered in the Gospel, the believer is brought into a personal worshipping relationship with God the Father.
The purpose of the church assembling together for the regular worship service is not for evangelism. The church is a gathering or assembly of believers who do not need to be evangelized. The purpose of the church meeting together is to edify the saints, equip them for service, and to bring them to maturity (Eph.4:13-15). The early church met together and “continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). They met together to worship God, and to minister to one another, thus building up the Body of Christ. When saints are taught and trained, then they will be brought to the “fullness of Christ” (Eph.4:13).
A church that is busy ministering to itself, building itself up, edifying itself, and reaches no farther than its own four walls is self-centered. Training, edification and equipping of the saints is not an end itself, but is a means to an end. God’s goal is that the church be built up SO THAT it can effectively function in the world and carry out Christ’s will on earth.
We should not allow people to see the church as a weekly service they attend to make God happy. The gathering of the church is preparation for heavenly battle. We “huddle together” for a few minutes each week to worship God together and build each other up so that each of us can more effectively run the “missional play” throughout the week.
The early church was most useful when it preached the meaning of Christ through the lens of the whole of Scripture. It was most powerful when it maintained integrity with God and other human beings. It was most evangelistic when it understood that adherents of other religions, whether Jewish or Greek or Roman, faced eternal judgment without Christ.
The Word of God tells us that Christ’s church is glorious… [But] today the glory of the church is thickly veiled. It is no exaggeration to assert that in the main it presents a picture of advanced decadence and extreme feebleness… Let it be said emphatically, the church is where the truth is. Sound doctrine always has been, is today, and ever will be the foremost mark of the true church. But who dares to assert that there is today in the churches a rising tide of interest in doctrine? By and large people do not go to church to learn about God from His infallible Word, but to be tranquilized. And that the glory of God is both the beginning and the end of common worship does not seem to occur to them.
Without theological vision, a vision that wrestles with what it means to be God’s people, in God’s world, under God’s rule, the church inevitably loses both its identity as God’s possession and its purpose as the people and place where God’s glory is displayed in the gospel and God’s praise is declared.
The church’s goal is not to make unbelievers feel comfortable and nonthreatened. On the contrary, it is to make them feel uncomfortable with their sins and threatened by God’s judgment and the terrors of hell that they face.
Ours is not a social message, it is not a political message. It is not a philanthropic message. It is not a moral message. It is a message of sin and salvation and forgiveness. Just think what would be happening across the world if Christian ministry was simplified to that.
The basic task of the church is to teach sound doctrine. It is not to give one pastor’s opinion, to recite tear-jerking illustrations that play on emotions, to raise funds, to present programs and entertainment, or to give weekly devotionals. In Titus 2:1 Paul writes, “But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine.”
The Church of God apart from the Person of Christ is a useless structure. However ornate it may be in its organization, however perfect in all its arrangements, however rich and increased with goods, if the Church is not revealing the Person, lifting Him to the height where all men can see Him, then the Church becomes an impertinence and a sham, a blasphemy and a fraud, and the sooner the world is rid of it, the better.
The typical church is an activity trap. Having lost sight of the higher purposes for which it was originated, it now attempts to make up for this loss by an increased range of activities (George Odiorne).
God’s purpose is to glorify Himself through His church. He is glorified as the church is true to Him and His Word, as the church mirrors His purity and holiness. Failure to keep the church pure brings discredit to God on this earth and brings to His name great shame in the failure of those who profess to know Him (Richard Belcher).
God reveals His glorious majesty in the highest heavens, His fearful justice in the hell of the damned; His wise and powerful providence is manifest throughout the whole world; but His gracious love and mercy in, and unto His church here upon the earth.
Oh, my friends, we are loaded down with countless Church activities, while the real work of the Church, that of evangelizing the world and winning the lost, is almost entirely neglected.
There is nothing which my heart desires more than to see you, the members of this church, distinguished for holiness. It is the Christian’s crown and glory. An unholy church? It is of no use to the world and of no esteem among men. Oh, it is an abomination, hell’s laughter, heaven’s abhorrence. And the larger the church, the more influential, the worse nuisance does it become when it becomes unholy. The worst evils which have ever come upon the world have been brought upon her by an unholy church.
A church that does not exist to reclaim heathenism, to fight evil, to destroy error, to put down falsehood, a church that does not exist to take the side of the poor, to denounce injustice and to hold up righteousness, is a church that has no right to be. Not for yourself, O church, do you exist, any more than Christ existed for Himself.
Some go to church to take a walk; some go there to laugh and talk.
Some go there to meet a friend; some go there their time to spend.
Some go there to meet a lover; some go there a fault to cover.
Some go there for speculation; some go there for observation.
Some go there to doze and nod; the wise go there to worship God.
These then are the marks of the ideal Church – love, suffering, holiness, sound doctrine, genuineness, evangelism and humility. They are what Christ desires to find in His churches as He walks among them.
From a heart overflowing with gratitude, we will want to honor and glorify God by gratefully offering back to Him the many good gifts He has bestowed on us. We will not go to church to be entertained, to see "what we can get out of it" for our own private gratification, but rather to praise and worship the triune God of grace and glory
Missions is not the “ministry of choice” for a few hyperactive Christians in the church. Missions is the purpose of the church.
The church’s unique, God-given purpose does not lie in political activism. Nowhere in Scripture do we have the directive to spend our energy, our time, or our money in governmental affairs. Our mission lies not in changing the nation through political reform, but in changing hearts through the Word of God. When believers think the growth and influence of Christ can somehow be allied with government policy, they corrupt the mission of the church. Our Christian mandate is to spread the gospel of Christ and to preach against the sins of our time. Only as the hearts of individuals in a culture are changed by Christ will the culture begin to reflect that change.