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June 28, 2015

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L. John Bost
L. John Bost
Previously: Do You Really Know What The Church Is?
The church is the body of Christ, purchased with the precious blood of Christ. It is not a place to "go" to on Sunday mornings. As Christians, we are the church 24/7 (See Do You Really Know ). But, why does the church exist? What is the purpose of the church?
In Matthew 16:13-19 Jesus asks his apostles who they say he is. Peter answers, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:16). After praising Peter for answering correctly, Jesus says (Matthew 16:18-19):
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Jesus said, "...upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." The "rock" upon which Jesus would build the church was "the Christ, the Son of the living God," whom Peter had confessed (Matthew 16:16; 1 Corinthians 3:11; 1 Peter 2:6). The church is a secure, dependable institution as a part of which the faithful Christian can feel safe and secure. It is an everlasting kingdom (Matthew 16:18-19; 2 Peter 1:11).
After Jesus commanded the eleven to preach the gospel to the world (Mark 16:15-16; Matthew 28:18-19), He continued, "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you..." (Matthew 28:20). Notice that those who are taught, and are baptized, are to be taught. A few days later the church which Jesus had promised to build was established (Acts 2). We know this because, after Peter's memorable sermon, Luke tells us that 3,000 were baptized, and "The Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved" (Acts 2:47). Luke tells us, "And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers" (Acts 2:42). The Apostles continued to teach those converted to Christ just as the Lord had commanded them (Matthew 28:20). The church continues to obey that commandment.
Contained in the Great Commission is the commandment to each Christian to teach the Gospel. Jesus said, "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you..." What had He just commanded them? To teach all nations! So those who are taught, are to teach others. Paul makes this point in 2 Timothy 2:2 when he says, "And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also." That is the way the gospel is to be spread throughout the world!
Christians teach one another by singing. Paul writes in Colossians 3:16, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."
Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, "Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do." Edify is from a Greek word meaning, "build Up" (Strong). How do we edify one another? Paul writes in Ephesians 4:29, "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers." Members of the church edify one another by their speech. We teach, we sing, we exhort (See Hebrews 10:25).
It is also the purpose of the church to help the needy. Paul writes in Hebrews 13:16, "But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased." Communicate is from a Greek word meaning, "To communicate or impart to others; that is, to share with them what we have" (Barnes). It is the responsibility of every member of the church to aid his needy fellow-man. John writes in 1 John 3:17, "But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?"
What is the purpose of the church? When Jesus left this earth, he left the responsibility of teaching the message of His death, burial, and resurrection, and salvation that it affords, in the hands of men. He gave that responsibility to the church. The church is made of sinners who have been saved by the Lord's blood shed on the cross. It is made up of imperfect people, many who are recent converts to Jesus. The church serves to nurture these young Christians, and all Christians, as they grow to become mature in Christ. It serves to "reprove, rebuke, and exhort" (2 Timothy 4:2) with the word of God. And it serves to "warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men" (1 Thessalonians 5:14).
Every Christian should be happy to be a regular, active part of the church, everyday of the week, including attendance and participation in assemblies. Why? Because it is the responsibility and privilege of every Christian to help others to learn the gospel of Christ, and to grow as children of God, and to receive the same from other Christians.
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