The Work Of THE ONE TRUE CHURCH
We see all the time some work or ministry that the various churches engage themselves in. And even though many of these works are good and right within themselves and certainly worthy of being done, we are going to see that they are not THE work of the ONE TRUE CHURCH.
Once again, we suggest that you get your Bible and open it to see what God says on the matter. For if God and Christ are the ultimate Authority in all things related to the church, we will have instruction from them.
We will notice that most works are done by churches to be seen of men. Many, when challenged with the authoritative right, will explain that it shows the goodness of the church in the community, or that they are making for themselves a name and a reputation. Jesus warned of those who prayed in public places to receive the praises of men in Matthew 6:1-7. These churches place themselves under the same condemnation of Jesus when they do things to be seen of men.
This does not take away from the fact that we are to let our light shine, and could possibly be seen as a contradiction. But it is not. The reason is because when people want the world to pay attention to what they are doing, they want the praise and glory for themselves. When we let our light shine, people are to praise God and give Him glory (Matthew 5:16)
Now, let us look at the work of the ONE TRUE CHURCH. We could just as easily say in a few simple words what will take several pages to declare. That the Bible teaches that the work of the church is to save souls. That is the bottom line or the foundation. As we saw in our study on the foundation of the ONE TRUE CHURCH, that Jesus Christ being the Son of the Living God, and also being the Savior of the body is the foundation upon which salvation comes.
The work of the church is therefore accomplished by several methods that we are shown in the scriptures. Each of these methods are given as examples and commands to help the church meet its mission and work. All of these methods used are used for the purpose of saving souls.
Most of the time, however, many churches seek to perform social programs, and participate in all sorts of activities which are not spiritually related.
The church is a spiritual organization. It is not a social organization. It is true that there are social benefits to be realized by its members in their relationship with each other, but that is not the work of the church according to the Bible.
The work of the church is accomplished in two fields or methods. There is also another work that is allowed by the church to perform, but it has its limitations, just like everything the Bible teaches and allows.
We see from the Bible that God had an eternal purpose for the church. We read in Ephesians Chapter One, a grand introduction to the church of Christ, and the benefits afforded its membership.
Ephesians 1:3-14 "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fulness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ should be to the praise of His glory."
So much is here that to detail what is said would take volumes. Paul tried his very best to convey his understaing upon those who read his letters.
Ephesians 3:3-10 "that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. And by referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God's grace which was given to me according to the working of His power. To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things; in order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Wow, what a couple of passages. If you take time to read and understand what is just quoted, you will see that God purposed His eternal purpose in the church. We will now look at the methods the church is to employ to accomplish this work.
Preaching The Gospel
Romans 1:16 "For I am not ashamed of the gospel,for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek."
The power of God for salvation. That is what the gospel does. How is the gospel to do this? It needs to be proclaimed. Once proclaimed and believed, it will effect salvation for those who are obedient to the instructions found therein.
1 Corinthians 15:1-2 "Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain."
Paul addressed the Thessalonians with a compliment for spreading the gospel message.
1 Thessalonians 1:8 "For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything."
It is right to sound forth the word of God. I might also add, if it is not the word of God, it does not need proclaiming. The Thessalonians all were complimented for their teaching. It was not the local preacher that received the compliment (whether they even had a local preacher, we don't know).
So we see the church is to promote the gospel and the message of the cross. A church may purchase space in a newspaper. A church may buy some time on a radio program. A church can distribute leaflets, flyers, or tracts to introduce the church to souls. A church can go door-knocking in the community to find contacts who are looking for the truth. And, as we see here, a church may buy webspace to promote the gospel to the (potential) millions of souls who enter the internet everyday.
By implication we see that a church can and should support the preaching of the Gospel. Yes, it is better if every member would do their part in proclaiming the word of God, but it is also right to support a man who chooses to make preaching the gospel a lifetime effort. Basically, any person who commits to promoting the gospel should be allowed to do so.
Sometimes support come from the membership as a form of encouragement, and sometimes the support comes in the form of money. The money is not paying the preacher to preach, but it is to support a man's needs to support himself and his family so that he can concentrate upon doing God's will and preaching the gospel message.
Thus a church does not have to, but it may support a preacher or it may support several or many preachers by financial means. Notice what Paul wrote to the Philippians about his support from them.
Philippians 4:14-18 "Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction. And you yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone; for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more that once for my needs. Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account. But I have received everything in full, and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God.
Providing for its poor
We see from the early days of the church that a common bond was established within its membership.
Acts 2:43-45 "And everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together, and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions, and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need."
It was their common belief and their sense of cohesiveness that caused them to take care of each other. If we were placed in a similar condition and situation, we would need to do whatever we could to help our needy brethren. Our souls depend upon it. Notice what Jesus said in Matthew 25: 31-46.
Matthew 25: 44-45 "Then they themselves also will answer, saying 'Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of you?' Then He will answer them, saying, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me'."
We do have a responsibility to our brethren. We are one of another and a part of the body of Christ together. If we allow a fellow saint to suffer because we are too selfish, we will hear the words of Jesus of "DEPART FROM ME, ACCURSED ONES"
Notice that the benevolence of the church is limited to the saints, or members of the church. Individuals may see to those needs, and they should, but the work of the church and what the church is commissioned to do is specified in scripture.
Edifying itself, (the saints)
Getting people saved is the result of the gospel being preached. Keeping them saved is the result of edification. If one is not edified, or built up, or lifted up, there is a grave danger that they will give up. This is the work of the church also. Notice:
Ephesians 4:11-16 "And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of dectrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love."
The early church had Divine help in establishing itself. But once that happened, they were given the liberty to choose for themselves at what pace and vigor they would grow up in Christ.
Every Christian has a responsibility to grow in their faith and lives. Peter, in his second epistle, gives two commands about personal growth.
2 Peter 1:5-7 "Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge; and in your knowledge, self-control and in your self-control, perserverance, and in your perserverance, godliness; and in your godliness, brotherly kindness; and in your brotherly kindness, love."
2 Peter 3:18 "but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen."
Growing is a command of God. Each individual must grow in all aspects into Christ. We see that the church can be instrumental in developing this growth. Although, it is not necessary that the church do so, it is of very high importance that a church would develop its members to become leaders and strong faithful christians.
A church that provides the proper education and provides the right spiritual nourishment for its members will continue to be a strong church.
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