What is the Church’s purpose? Part II – February 25, 2024

Ephesians 4:11-16

11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

The Apostle Paul writes about the purpose of the Church in 1 Timothy 3:15, which says, “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” The Church serves the purpose in the plan of God to be “the pillar and ground of the truth” in the world. How does the Church fulfill that purpose? In Ephesians 4:11-16 the Apostle gives to us three ways the Church fulfills that role that God has given them.

Last week, we learned that the Church is to teach the truth. God has given four gifts and offices to the Church to oversee and equip the Church to carry out this responsibility: apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teachers. The apostles and prophets did so through direct revelation from God in the early Church. While those offices ceased, evangelists and pastors carry forward the task by taking the revelation given to the apostles and prophets in the New Testament and teaching accordingly. This teaching is to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry.” The Church is equipped with all that it needs from God’s Word and God’s Spirit. The Holy Spirit is given to every believer at salvation, but God’s Word must be learned, properly understood, and rightly applied. Paul told Timothy, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

We also learned that the Church must submit to the truth. The truth of God’s Word is not just meant to be heard and understood, but applied and obeyed. In fact, to fail to do so is to be no different that the devil (James 2:19). He knows the truth, but refuses to submit. Believers must obey the truth. When we do, unity in the body of Christ is lived out and every believer grows into what Christ desires for them to be as a part of His body.

In addition to achieving unity, submission to the truth also guards the believer from error. We are surrounded by false versions of Jesus and Christianity today with messages that are very appealing. It is more important than ever for the Church of Jesus Christ to be able to discern truth from error. Doctrine matters. If we are going to tell people about Jesus, we must tell people about the real Jesus, not a watered down, altered Jesus that is catered to worldly desires. If we are going to tell people about God’s will, we must tell them accurately or else we misrepresent God. The eternal souls of people are at stake and God has called the Church to be His faithful ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).

Lastly, God has called the Church to grow in the truth. 1 Peter 2:2 tell us, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.” One mark of a true believer is that they have a natural desire for God’s Word. This is because, like a newborn baby, we crave food so that we may grow. As the truth is spoken in love, the Church “may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.” The Church is built up and grows up into all that God wants it to be through the Word of God. God is in the process of conforming all believers to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29) and one vital means of carrying out that task is the Word of God being taught and submitted to in the local church.

As we said last week, “The goal of the Christian faith and the teaching of God’s Word is not so that people will be impressed with a pastor’s speaking ability. It isn’t to build bigger buildings or see our name made great. Instead, it is about seeing the people of God grow up in the truth of His Word.” Jesus gave us the Great Commission to go and “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). We are the “pillar and ground” of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15). If we do not stand on the truth, teach the truth, submit to the truth, and grow in the truth, how will the world know that God has sent His Son to be the Savior of the world?