A Community with a Commission


What is the church?

Now that’s definitely a loaded question. I think if we ask 100 Christians we will get at least 100 different answers.  I also think that if we ask 100 preachers we will also get at least 100 different answers.

What is the purpose of the church?

There is another question like the first one.

The answers to these questions are important because they define our experience as believers in relationship to one another and to the outside world. As important as these answers are, the answers themselves from the followers of Jesus Christ will be extremely varied. They will be varied because of theological differences of opinion. In many cases, they will be varied because of denominational dogma. In many cases, they will be because the person answering does not read or study their Bible.

I will not attempt to give you the “correct” or “biblical” answer to these questions in this message. What I hope to do is to encourage and exhort you from the scriptures concerning what the Bible says about us, the body of Christ.

The first use of the word “church” in the Bible was by the Lord Jesus Christ:

Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.” (Matthew 16:15-19 NLT)

The church is built upon the rock of the revelation that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. It is this foundation truth that binds us together, despite most of our differences; Jesus Christ is our Savior.

All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it. (1 Corinthians 12:27 NLT)

I would like to simply propose that if a person believes that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God and has placed their faith in Him for redemption and forgiveness of sins, that person should be considered a member of the body of Christ by us, the followers of Jesus.

Will there be disagreements?  Absolutely.

Can those disagreements be resolved? Sure, it is possible, but they will most likely not be resolved on this side of heaven.

Do these differences change what the Bible teaches concerning what we as followers of Jesus Christ should be doing with our lives?  Absolutely not.

Here are several scriptures that speak to our commission as followers of Christ.

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 NLT)

 

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these, my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ (Matthew 25:34-40 NLT)

 

This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:12-13 NLT)

 

What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?

So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. (James 2:14-17 NLT)

 

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. (James 1:27 NLT)

 

Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith. (Galatians 6:7-10 NLT)

I would like to boil all of these scriptures down into a simple statement, “We are a community with a commission.”

What are the biblical core activities of the church?

  1. We are to share the message of salvation through Jesus Christ to every person.
  2. We are to care for the hungry, the poor, the sick and the oppressed; relieving the suffering of those who suffer.
  3. We are to love one another in the same way that Jesus Christ loves each of us.
  4. We are to do good things in the earth; to those inside and outside of the church.
  5. We are to train up new believers to do those things that we have be trained to do.

These are the things we do when the Spirit of God lives on the inside of us. These are not good works that we perform in an effort to earn salvation.  These are the things we do because we have received the free gift of salvation when we placed our faith in Jesus Christ.

These activities are not a replacement for individual prayer, praise, devotion and study but rather are the natural result of such activities. We cannot truly read the Word, pray and worship God and not be moved to compassionate obedience to the mandate of the Great Commission.

Questions to stir your thinking

  • Are we, as followers of Jesus Christ, moved with the compassion of our Savior to do something to change the suffering of others?
  • Are we focused upon the study of faith at the expense of living by faith?
  • Are we focused upon the study of the rapture, the anti-Christ or the Tribulation period at the expense of sharing Christ with those who have yet to meet Him?
  • Do all of our Christian activities take place with those who already believe or are we “going into the entire world”?
  • How many of our prayers are prayed for needs of people outside of our family?
  • Is the focus of our faith mainly directed at God meeting our needs and prospering our personal lives or are we asking Him for the nations?
  • Are we a Community with a Commission or are we dedicated to attending weekly worship services?

Jesus Christ did not redeem us to increase church attendance. We are the church and we have a mission. Our mission is a mission of love. Our mission is a mission of compassion. Our mission is a mission of spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Conclusion

  1. We are to share the message of salvation through Jesus Christ to every person.
  2. We are to care for the hungry, the poor, the sick and the oppressed; relieving the suffering of those who suffer.
  3. We are to love one another in the same way that Jesus Christ loves each of us.
  4. We are to do good things in the earth; to those inside and outside of the church.
  5. We are to train up new believers to do those things that we have be trained to do.

If you are not living this New Testament life, I encourage you to follow Christ with all of your heart. If you are stuck in the world of church attendance; I encourage you to shake yourself out of your routine and begin to participate in our Community with a Commission.

The interest of heaven is not focused upon our church attendance or our religious rituals. The interest of heaven is focused upon our living faith in the risen Christ. Let your love for Christ propel you out of the pew and into active life in the Kingdom of God.

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