The Mission of the Church
All men and women have come under the sentence of spiritual death because of the guilt of sin. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe. (Romans 1:16, 17.) The church is the agency by which the gospel is to be preached; it is the pillar and ground of the truth. (1 Timothy 3:15.) These solemn facts should set the heart of every Christian on fire to teach the truth. Christian individuals are under obligation to use their influence and ability at every opportunity to accomplish this purpose. The church in the community is to exert its strength in doing this work. The task has not been accomplished until the whole world has heard the gospel of Christ. Here is the primary challenge of Christian duty; for souls that are damned depend upon it for salvation.
Jesus taught that the word of God is the seed of the kingdom. (Matthew 13:19.) Until the seed is planted, the kingdom cannot be grown either in the life of an individual or in the community. Without the preaching of the gospel, the kingdom of God cannot be extended. Its borders are enlarged only by the teaching of the truth. God depends on no other agency than the church in the propagation of his word. If the church of the Lord does not preach the gospel of Christ, it will not be preached.
In the great commission, Jesus commanded his apostles to go forth and teach. The teaching was to embrace both the world and the church. "Teach all nations, baptizing them.....," he said. Men must be taught before they can be baptized. Men who will not be taught cannot be converted. "For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their hearts, and should be converted and I should heal them." (Matthew 13:15.) If the heart of a man cannot be reached with the truth of God, there isn't any power with which he can be saved. In every case of conversion in the New Testament, the gospel was preached by human agency. It pleased God to save men by that plan in those far off years, and the plan has not been changed (1 Corinthians 1:21).
Once men are baptized, they must be taught to "observe all things whatsoever" Christ has commanded to be observed. People who have become the children of God must learn what their duties, privileges, and responsibilities are. This teaching is also the work of the church. Thus it can be easily observed that the church is a teaching institution or agency. The church cannot accomplish its work and mission in the world by just worshipping or engaging in benevolences. It must give its energy and its strength to the great work of teaching.
The church in New Testament history grew because of its teaching program.. A casual reading of the book of Acts of the Apostles makes this apparent. Observe the following passages:
Acts 2:42--"And they continued steadfastly in the Apostles' doctrine and fellowship and in breaking of bread, and in prayers."
Acts 4:2--The priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees were "grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead." The devil is always grieved when the word of God is faithfuly preached.
Acts 4:18-20--When these Jewish rulers were trying Peter and John, they commanded "them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.'' To which the apostles responded, "Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard."
Acts 5:42--"Daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ." Publicly and privately they taught the people. They went where they were, both in public places and in the privacy of their own homes, to tell men about Christ. Here is the public preaching and personal evangelism. By every legitimate means (legitimate in the sight of God) they continued to spread the gospel.
Acts 8:4 -- "They that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word." Jesus had said, "Ye shall he my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." Then they went out from Jerusalem and in the ever widening and increasing circle, they preached the word of God.
When the angel had gone as far as Antioch, the work of Paul and Barnabas is described by this language, "And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people." (Acts 11:26). From among the teachers in Antioch, Paul and Barnabas were separated to keep the kingdom of God spreading by preaching the gospel to the nations of the world. (Acts 13:1-3.)
The church at Antioch must have had quite a teaching program for we learn (Acts 15:35) that Paul and Barnahas along with many others continued in Antioch teaching and preaching the word of the Lord. This season of teaching came after the first evangelistic tour had been made. Paul continued for a year and six months teaching the word of God in Corinth. For two whole years in Rome, Paul taught the word of God in his own hired house to all that came unto him. (Acts 28:30, 31.)
Thus it can be seen that the primary work of the church in New Testament days was the work of teaching. The growth of the church both numerically and spiritually, at home and abroad, depends upon the teaching and preaching of the gospel. The world cannot be converted to Christ without it, and the church will not be saved unless it is done.
These three missions constitute the sum total of the work of the church of God. God has ordained and designed the church to fill this three-fold mission. The strength of the church should be exerted and spent in accomplishing these purposes. Only thus can the will of God be done. We need again to say that when the energy, money, prayers, and abilities of the church in any community are given to do this work, God's purposes are served. But when they are diverted to serve other purposes, the church of God, divine in design and purpose, is prostituted to serve human aims, and God cannot be pleased. Furthermore, the church is abundantly able to accomplish what God has designed it to do, without the aid of any human institution on earth. What men need to remember is that God has given the church a divine design to accomplish a divine purpose. God's ways are higher than the ways of man, even as the heavens are higher than the earth. Let us do God's work in God's way, and God will be pleased.
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