Steven Deaton


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Voices from the Past

The Purpose of the Church


Those who believe the Bible accept the fact that the church is part of God's eternal purpose (Eph. 3:9-11).  It was not an accident or aberration from His will.  The church was planned and purposed before time began, because it is integral to the plan of salvation (Gen. 3:15; Eph. 5:25).  It consists of those who are redeemed by the blood of Christ and is destined for heaven (Acts 20:28; 1 Cor. 6:20; 15:24).  Yet, few men respect the church.  They view it as an institution established and governed by the whims of man.  It even serves their basest desires.

The purpose of the church is to save souls.  It is the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15).  As such, it supports the gospel in the world, spreading the faith to the lost (1 Thes. 1:7-9).  By teaching this truth, it provides men the opportunity to be set free from sin and death (Jn. 8:32).  In other words, the church teaches the gospel which is God's power unto salvation (Rom. 1:16).  When men obey it, they turn from being slaves of Satan to servants of God (Rom. 6:16-18).  However, some do not honor the purpose of the church.

Some men believe the purpose of the church is to fulfill the physical needs of man.  They believe it is little more than a charitable organization.  The Salvation Army is one example.  It spends a tremendous amount of time, energy, and money helping the poor of this world.  Food, clothing, and shelter can be acquired from the Salvation Army in nearly any city of size.  Is this why Jesus died — so man can have his belly filled, his back covered, and his head dry?  Surely, sensible people know better.

The Bible teaches that the church did meet the physical needs of some people.  When a genuine need arose among the saints, churches responded.  This was true for the poor among a local church, as in Jerusalem (Acts 6:1-6).  It was also true for the poor saints living in another part of the world (Acts 11:27-30; 1 Cor. 16:1-3).  However, churches never acted as a charitable organization, helping the poor and needy of the world.  To do so would pervert the purpose of the church.

Further, the church serves as an emotional fix to many people.  They "go to church" to have their batteries recharged.  The sermons they appreciate are filled with humor, anecdotes, and positive-mental-attitude messages.  More and more pure entertainment is the vehicle to "comfort" the masses.  Most denominations have skits, plays, or concerts as a part of their regular work.  As people clamor for more of this, the "productions" are increasingly elaborate.  Not a few churches employ a man or woman to direct these activities year round.  Did Jesus suffer and die so man can be entertained?  Surely, sober people know better.

The Holy Spirit revealed worship must be "decently and in order" (1 Cor. 14:40).  Such occasions are to be reverent, respectful toward God and Christ.  Instead of being emotionally "drunk," that is, distracted and numbed to their sin and guilt, men need to seriously contemplate the word of God.  They need to feel the weight and burden of their transgressions, as well as the thrill and excitement of salvation (Acts 2:23, 36-37; 8:36-39).  To turn the church into an amusement institution is to warp its purpose.

Jesus did not die to establish an institution that entertains and amuses man.  He did not shed His blood to found a body that caters to man's physical cravings.  Rather, the Savior sacrificed Himself to build His church — an organization that seeks to lead men out of the mire and muck of spiritual corruption to a life of purity and holiness.  To pervert the purpose of the church is to rebel against almighty God and reveal a disregard for the eternal well being of man.  For such actions, men will give an account to God, and be found wanting.

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