Bible study audio – What is the purpose of the church?

What is the purpose of the Church?  To be more precise, the suggestion for our bible study this week focuses more on the “modern” church.  What’s the purpose of today’s church?  You can also suggest a topic or scripture us to study by leaving your suggestion in the comment section below.

Now, before you read any further, jot down what you believe is the purpose of today’s church.  (Really do this, I mean it!) Feel free to share your thoughts on the purpose of the church below.

I feel like this is going to be a really good study and I can’t wait to dig my teeth into this study.  In fact, over the past few weeks, I have been preaching about the church, religion, and faith.  You may want to check out the sermon – Turn Over the Tables – this was a sermon on true worship and faith vs. religion.  You may also want to read the sermon I preached prior to that one – Why Do We Go To Church?  I feel like both those sermons tie very well into our study for today and may add some things that I might not mention in our study today.

The original purpose of the church

What is the role of the Church in our world today?  In my mind, it would be hard to say what role the church should play in our world today if we don’t know what the original purpose was for the church.  We’re going to take a look at scripture so that we can confidently conclude what the purpose is for the church in our world today by seeing what the original purpose was for the church – this will give us our heading.

We first need to know who started the church, right?  Because the person that started the church is the one who would have come up with the statutes and principles.  Scripture is very clear about who founded and established the church.

11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 3:11 NKJV

The foundation for the church was laid not by man’s hands but by the Lord’s hands.  Jesus is the founder of the church.  Jesus was the founder of a new way.  We call ourselves “Christians” because we strive to be like

18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.

Colossians 1:18 NKJV

The statutes (the way) that the Church are to follow were set not by man but by Christ (God in the flesh).  Without Christ, there is no Church!  The only person who could lay the foundation for the Church was Christ.  Saint Peter is often mentioned as the founder of the church, but Peter was an apostle that shared the gospel of Christ.  We also say that Paul started many churches, but what Paul established were the local congregations that learned and taught the way of Christ

Even Paul says that he did not baptize in his own name, nor do he spread the gospel of Paul (1 Corinthians 1:12-17)!

13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

15 lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name.

 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.

1 Corinthians 1:13, 15, 17 NKJV

I want this to be made clear for all of you reading this:  the statutes and principles of the church originally came, not from man, but from Christ Himself. Paul clearly states that he’s not preaching in his own name, but that he was sent by Christ to preach the gospel of Christ!  What were the statutes and the principles that was given by Christ?  Are they in scripture?

The apostles, after the resurrection of Christ, were directed by Jesus to share the good news (the gospel).  We call the command that was given to them the Great Commission – all Christians should know the Great Commission.

Here’s what the Great Commission says:

19 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, 20 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.” Amen.

Matthew 28:19-20 NKJV

The apostles, in turn, did not make up their own religion – many people like to say this.  The apostles followed what was tasked of them to do by Christ.  The early Church was actually full of a lot of love and was very giving as shown in the book of Acts.

32 Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common.

34 Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, 35 and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.

Acts 4:32-35  NKJV

The gospel – the life, death, and resurrection of Christ – was also being preached.

33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.

Acts 4:33 NKJV

This, in my opinion, was the Church as it should be.  The apostles were clearly teaching the way of Christ and the people were living in that way.  Scripture shows that there wasn’t any segregation – even down to wealth and class.  Those that were wealthy were selling what they had and bringing their profits to share with those who were in need.  There was much joy and much excitement in the early days of the church but, as life would have it, that did not last all that long.

Most of the apostles would be martyred, and the Church would be persecuted greatly.  Eventually, after the time of the apostles, you will come across a time (the Crusades) where people were literally fighting “religious wars” over holy sites.  Politics filled the Church and managed to divide the body of Christ.  You look at the Church today and there are several denominations with their own statutes and guidelines for practicing a faith that is meant for all people.

The Purpose of the Modern Church

What is the purpose of today’s church?  My question would be, why would the purpose of today’s church be any different than the purpose of yesterday’s church?  Scripture tells us that the Lord is unchanging (Hebrews 13:8).  God does not change; He’s the same God who was there in the beginning. The Lord’s way has not changed.  The Lord’s message has not changed.  The commission, the task, that was given to the apostles is a task that was also given to us.

Here’s a scripture that many people often like to quote when they are combating those who are hypocritical in their faith.

35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

Matthew 25:35-36 NKJV

Since we are doing some studying here, I do want to point out that Jesus, in this particular verse, is actually talking to people that will live during the days of Great Tribulation.  We today do not live in the Great Tribulation days;  there’s tribulation in our world but the church is still present.  In the Great Tribulation days, the church will no longer be in the world – it will be taken out of the world when Jesus raptures the church.  That being said, this scripture calls to mind the way that Jesus taught and lived.

We can take our purpose as believers from this scripture as well.  We as true believers should be there for those who are in need.  If we as individual believers should be there for those who are in need, what do you believe that means for us as a collective congregation?  The church should move as a single body to be there for those who are desperate and crying out for help.  The church should certainly not dictate nor oppress anybody (Jeremiah 7:6-7).

The absolute sad reality of our world today is that the church is putting more hurt in the world than it is love and help.  This, I believe, is why so many people grow frustrated and upset with the church.  There are too many people in the church today who are practicing religion instead of showing true worship and true faith in the Lord.  We as a church must get back to the original intent and purpose that the Lord had for the church.

Teaching proper doctrine of the Lord

Let’s remember what Jesus said in the Great Commission about “teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you”.  Let us now consider the ways of Christ that’s supposed to be taught by His followers.  Jesus commanded to His followers:

37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.38 This is the first and great commandment. 

Matthew 22:37-38 NKJV

Love the Lord with every ounce of your soul – Jesus’ first command.  Now, let’s take a look at His next command:

39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

Matthew 22:39-40 NKJV

LOVE EVERYBODY! Love, you will realize, is Jesus’ message to the world.  Jesus says that all of the Mosaic Law and the teaching of the prophets hangs on the command to LOVE!  Jesus’ followers are to love everybody and then turn around and teach others this same command to love one another.  We say that we go to church to learn, to worship, and to fellowship with one another. You go to church to learn what love is and then share that love with somebody else – this is the purpose of our church today.  We should teach loving the Lord our God, and we should also teach loving our neighbor as we love ourselves!

In his letter to Rome, Paul wrote that we should live peaceably with others.

18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.

Romans 12:18 NKJV

You see, peace is dependent not on the one who says they do not believe in the Lord but on the one that says he/she genuinely believes in the Lord!  Therefore, the church should serve in a role of teaching and living peaceably with EVERYBODY.

Remember how the early church was taking care of those who were in need?  Remember that scripture that many people like to quote about whether or not they helped Jesus when He was a stranger, sick, hungry or thirsty?  Remember how Jesus traveled about helping all of those who came to Him for help?  Remember how Jesus sat down and ate with sinners (Matthew 9:10-13)?  Remember how Jesus even helped those who were not like Him?

Caring for those in need

Jesus’ followers should care for those who they see in trouble and those who come to them and are in need.

27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

James 1:27 NKJV

Your charity does not always have to be a handout of money, food, and clothing.  We should pray genuine prayers.  Look at what James writes about how we should be there for one another even in prayer and see what the prayer of the righteous (genuine believer) can do.

16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

James 5:16 NKJV

We go to church to worship and fellowship – to learn and to be encouraged.  The church is a place where all should be welcomed to come and be lifted up. 

So, what’s the purpose of the modern Church?  The purpose of the Church in this modern world should actually be no different than the purpose of the early Church.  We should encourage love, encourage peace, and lift every last person in this world up!  You see, the world is not so different than it was in ancient times.  The only real difference is technology, the people are still the same and there are so many who are desperate for the church to get back to fulfilling its role in our world today.

The Church should be filled with individual believers who spread the love of God to everybody.  The Church should stick to teaching the gospel of God.  The Church should be there for those who are less fortunate and those in need – willing to help all comers!  The Church should not be doing these things to boast and brag, or for praise and glory.  The purpose of the church and every individual believer must be genuine.

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