Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Scriptural Purpose for the Church

How do you know if any invention works? When it is tested, it accomplishes what it was created to accomplish.

God created the church for a purpose. We can never accomplish that purpose if we don’t know what it is. Therefore, the first step to spiritual health is to know why we are here as a church. Then we can test our ministry to see if we are a healthy church body.

The series we have been following at our church, “The Purpose Driven Life”, written by Pastor Rick Warren, has been very timely for us in establishing the scriptural purpose for each of us. Since the church body is made up of individual parts, each of us knowing why his life matters helps us with the big picture of knowing why the church exists.

Jesus was asked what the most important commandment in the law is. His response to that question gives us two main purposes for our existence.

1. To love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength – Worship

2. To love your neighbor as you love yourself – Service or Ministry to others

Worship is a way of life. Romans 12:1 tells us to “present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is our spiritual act of worship.” Keeping myself holy in the way I live is Worship of God. Singing about it is part of the expression, but the music rings hollow in God’s ears when there is no truth lived out to back up what I am singing. In John 4, we find that we are to worship wherever we are in Spirit and Truth. In Isaiah 1, we get a glimpse of God’s view of going through the motions at church, then going back and living the same life of sin and selfishness we have always lived. Worship, then, is living a life of sacrifice to myself, and complete surrender, in love, to God.

Service is a genuine attitude before it is an effective action. We must consider others as better than ourselves if we truly are to serve them in love. If we work as for Christ and not for men, the attitude of service will be one of “being honored” to serve Christ, rather than “being forced” to serve others. Mother Theresa said that she was able to serve the diseased people of India because she envisioned Jesus’ face when she looked at the people she was helping. She was serving God, rather than men. If we love God more than ourselves, we have to love other people more than ourselves.

It was Jesus Who gave us the “Great Commission,” as well. The jobs he gave the disciples to carry out still also ring true for the church.

  1. Go and make disciples of all nations. – Evangelism
  2. Baptizing them – Fellowship
  3. Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded – Discipleship

Evangelism covers not only your local community and people you know, but the entire world. Missions work and local ministry are necessary parts of the church’s effectiveness in the call to evangelism. Getting out of our comfort zone to find the lost ones that God calls is not just a nice idea; it is a command of God for those who would be His true disciples. Luke 15 has three different stories to make the same basic point. Search for the lost until you find them, then celebrate like crazy that they have been found!

How does baptizing new believers relate to fellowship? Well, if you think fellowship means eating together, it doesn’t. But if you understand the personal connection of the family-like relationship of believers, then you know that when one is baptized into the faith, they are becoming part of the fellowship of that family.

When people are baptized, they are publicly saying, “I want to be a part of the church, which is the body of Christ and the Family of God. I want to be known as God’s child.” True fellowship is attained when we see each other as family and care for each other as such. When one hurts we all hurt. When one rejoices, we all rejoice with him. We are the fellowship of believers, joint heirs with Christ, the family of God.

Christ described discipleship with excellence when He told us to teach new believers to obey everything He has commanded. Once they join the family, they need to know what God’s family looks like. They need to recognize His discipline when He is treating us like His own children. We are all learning and growing and becoming like His One and Only Son, Jesus. This is how the Family of God behaves.

Why does the Church exist? To carry out the Great Commission as we follow the Greatest Commandments.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Supernatural Activity

Correct me if I’m wrong, but God is still alive and well, isn’t He? Is He the same yesterday, today and forever? Do the following words come right out of John 14:12-14 in the New International Version of the Bible?

“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”

Jesus said these words, Himself, when explaining to Philip that he could believe in Jesus if for no other reason than because of the miracles He performed. Those miracles were a sign that Jesus was sent by God and approved by God. This reason for miracles is still valid, today. God puts His stamp of approval on a godly person or on a situation by accomplishing supernatural things in our presence – even greater things than Philip had seen Jesus do!

What did Jesus do in the presence of His disciples? (Luke 7:22)

  1. Healed the sick
  2. Gave sight to the blind
  3. Made the lame walk
  4. Restored hearing to the deaf
  5. Cured the lepers
  6. Raised the dead

Will He still do this? Ask Him. His word says He will. Do we believe in Him or don’t we? A spiritually healthy church sees miraculous events take place, when we ask the Father in the Name of Jesus. Does He always follow our will? Of course not! His will be done! But do we ask Him to accomplish His will through miracles like we should? Do we expect that He still might just raise the dead, if He so desires? When did you last ask Him to bring honor to His Name or stamp His approval on us by healing someone?

You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. - James 4:2-3

Why do you want to see miracles? Have you asked God? What are "wrong motives" for miracles? What makes an event "miraculous"? What do you pray fervently for God to do?