What is the purpose of the Church?  Let’s see:

Dr. Paul Benware (professor of Bible and theology at Moody Bible Institute) on page 96 of Moody Monthly in the March, 1986 issue states: “The local church has three basic purposes. The first is evangelism. The church’s external ministry is to take God’s good news to those who do not know Christ (Matt. 28:19-20). The second purpose of the church is edification – to build up and strengthen believers. This is part of its internal ministry (Eph. 4:7-13; Acts 2:42-47). Along with evangelism and edification, a third major purpose for the local church is purification, also a part of its internal ministry. Where sin persists, the church is to deal directly with that in­dividual (Gal. 6:1).”

Dr. John MacArthur Jr. (graduate from Talbot Theological Seminary and pastor of Grace Community Church in California) on page 48 of Fundamentalist Journal in the November, 1984 issue states re­garding the purpose of the church: “The saints would do the work of the ministry, and the body would be built up – not only spiritually, by edification, but also numerically, by evangelization.”

Dr. Grant Howard Jr. (pastor for many years and now professor of Pastoral Theology at Western Conservative Baptist Seminary) on pages 1 and 8 of his What On Earth is the Church Supposed to be Doing? states that “…the prime purpose of the church gathered was edification. This was to be our internal purpose and program – spiritual growth. Building up the body of Christ. Equipping the saints. Moving people to maturity – Christ-likeness” based on Ephesians 4. And “…evangelism. The right job of the church scattered is evangelism. That’s our external purpose – spiritual birth.”

Dr. Jac Müller (professor in New Testament Exegesis at the Theological Faculty of the Univer­sity of Stellenbosch, South Africa for 30 years) on page 74 of The New International Commentary on the New Testament – The Epistles of Paul to the Philippians and to Philemon states that the one accord/mind/purpose of Phil. 2:2 means “driven by the same urge and desire, and directing their thoughts and endeavour, on that one thing – the cause of Christ and its furtherance through unanimity and concord amongst the believers. ” From the context (Phil. 1:12-13, 27), we see that the cause of Christ is “the greater progress of the gospel” (evangelism) or for Christians to “conduct themselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ by standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.”

Dr. William Hendriksen (former professor of New Testament literature at Calvin Seminary, and a pastor for many years) on page 87 of his New Testament Commentary – Philippians states that “striving side by side for the gospel-truth” (Phil. 1:27) is “mainly in spreading God’s glorious redemptive truth which centers in Jesus Christ and salvation in Him. ”

So the church’s (every Christian’s) purpose (Phil. 2:2) is the spreading of the gospel (Phil. 1:27), in other words, evangelism. And that was exactly Christ’s purpose also for coming to earth – the seeking and saving of the lost (Lk. 19:10; Mk. 1:14, 38; 1 Tim. 1:15). It was the 12 apostles’ purpose (Jn. 17:18; 20:21; Acts 1:8; 10:42; Matt. 28:19-20). It was Paul’s purpose (Acts 20:24; 26:15-18; Eph. 3:8-12; Gal. 1:15-16; 1 Cor. 9:16-17). It was Timothy’s purpose (2 Tim. 3:10; 4:5). It was Barna­bas’ purpose (Acts 13:46-47). It was Peter’s purpose (Gal. 2:7). And, in fact, it is the whole church’s purpose (1 Pet. 2:9; 1 Cor. 11:1 with 1 Cor. 10:33 and 1 Cor. 9:22-23; Acts 10:42 with Matt. 28:19-20; Eph. 4:11-12).

Alan Stibbs (Vice-Principal of Oak Hill College in London) on page 104 of his The First Epistle General of Peter – Tyndale New Testament Commentaries states that the Church (the Christian community) was chosen for the purpose of “proclaiming God’s excellencies” who called these people “out of dark­ness into His marvelous light.” God’s excellencies suggest the actual deeds by which He revealed His character (that is, what God has done in bringing outsiders/heathens into enjoyment of such privilege – light, conversion, or change through the gospel). Dr. Kenneth Wuest (former professor of Greek at Moody Bible Institute) on page 57 of Wuest’s Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, vol. 2, “1 Peter”, agrees with this conclusion.

The conversion of individuals (obtaining salvation; becoming a child of God or a chosen person) is a gracious and merciful dealing of God’s. And when we Christians/the Church proclaim the gospel (evangelize), we are proclaiming God’s excellencies (His grace, mercy, forgiveness, love, etc.). So, the Church is chosen for the purpose of proclaiming the gospel (Acts 26:18), which tells of and exhibits God’s excellencies.

Since all the Christians in Corinth were to imitate Paul (1 Cor. 11:1) as Paul imitated Christ (e.g., in seeking and saving the lost – evangelism – as one’s purpose in life – 1 Cor. 10:33; 9:16-17, 22-23; Lk. 19:10; Mk. 1:14, 38), therefore, all Christians are to evangelize as their life’s purpose.

Since the apostles were commanded by Jesus to preach the gospel (Acts 10:42-43), and were also told to teach their disciples all that Jesus had commanded then (Matt. 28:19-20), therefore, all Christian disciples are to preach the gospel.

Finally, we see the purpose of the Church described in Ephesians 4:11-13. Dr. Wuest on page 101 of his Wuest’s Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, Vol. 1, “Ephesians” states that Christ gave gifted men to the Church for the purpose of equipping the saints/Christians for (or in order to do) the work of service/ministry (Christian service) “in order that the body of Christ, the Church, might be built up, by additions to its membership in lost souls being saved, and by the building up of individual saints” (which is best done through discipleship/Christian training).

Matthew Henry (a Presbyterian minister in England and Bible expositor) on page 1130 in his Matthew Henry’s Commentary, Vol. 3, states that the edifying/building up of the body of Christ is both “by increase of their graces, and an addition of new members.”

Dr. William Hendriksen (former seminary professor and pastor) on page 198 of his New Testament Commentary – Ephesians states that the work of ministry/service which all Christians are to be engaged in should include evangelism.

So, we see that the purpose of the Church is to equip all Christians to evangelize the lost (which is building up the Church numerically) and to help believers grow to maturity (which is building up the Church spiritually to Christ-like character and is best done through discipleship/Christian training).

Since evangelists, travelling missionaries both in home and foreign lands who engage in spreading the gospel (Wuest’s, Vol. 1, “Ephesians”, p. 100; Drs. Walvoord and Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, New Testament, p. 635), were to equip all Christians/the Church to do the work of service to build up the body of Christ, then all Christians are to employ their training by evangelizing and thus build up the body of Christ numerically.

SUMMARY

Eph. 4:11-13

God’s purpose for all Christians (the Church) is to equip Christians (in knowledge, skills, and godly character) for the work of service (evangelizing and teaching-training) to the building up of the body of Christ (both numerically and spiritually) until we all at­tain to the unity of the faith (doctrinally/beliefs) and of the knowledge of the Son of God (complete, correct, experiential knowledge of Christ as Lord), to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ (as Lord and Savior so we should be Christ-like in godly character and in the mission of seeking and saving the lost/unbeliever).

Phil. 1:21

Paul epitomizes this purpose of Christ-like character and mission when he says, “For to me to live is Christ…” Then Paul goes on to command all Christians to do likewise in Phil. 2:2 (“be intent on one purpose”) of being godly in character (Phil. 1:27 “conduct yourself worthy of the gospel”) and of evangelizing the lost (Phil. 1:27 “striving together for the faith of the gospel”).

2 Tim. 2:2; 4:5

Paul commands Timothy, pastor of the church in Ephesus (1 Tim. 1:3), to once again fulfill the God-given purpose of building believers (2 Tim. 2:2) and evangelizing (2 Tim. 4:5) that he had once done (2 Tim. 3:10 “followed” Paul’s “purpose” of evangelizing – 1 Cor. 9:16-17; Acts 13:47 and building believers – 1 Cor. 11:1; 4:16-17; Phil. 3:14-17; 4:9) but apparently was now failing to do (2 Tim. 3:10 “followed” is in the aorist active indicative tense meaning once did in the past).

1 Pet. 2:9-12

Peter agrees that the believers purpose is to evangelize (1 Pet. 2:9) and live godly (1 Pet. 2:12).

Matt. 28:19-20

Jesus Himself tells His followers in one of His final instructions to them that their mission/purpose in life was to make disciples/converts of all the nations, and that they were to teach their disciples, in turn, to obey all that He had commanded His disciples (one of which things is to make disciples/converts). Christ further amplifies on this in Acts 1:8, where He tells them to be witnesses in all the world (evangelize).

 

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