What Is Church For?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by John of Japan, Aug 9, 2011.

  1. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    I was just reading EWF's very interesting thread, "Dissect This Church." On that thread it was said, "Isn't church about developing relationships?" I was surprised that no one picked up on this.

    I'm here to say that no, church is not about developing relationships per se, though you might find some way to justify this way of phrasing it.

    So what is church for? Here is a start. (I'm sure others can add to this Biblically.)

    (1) An assembly to learn to serve Christ. The job of the pastor and other preachers is to train and fit the believers to serve Christ. Check this out in Eph. 4:11-12. Here is my maybe overly literal translation of the Greek of v. 12: "Towards the perfecting of the saints for the purpose of the work of the ministry, (which is) for the purpose of building up the saints."

    (2) An assembly to "exhort" and encourage one another, in Heb. 10:25. The Greek word for that is parakalew, the verb form of parakletos, the word for the Holy Spirit as Comforter/Encourager in John.

    (3) An assembly to reach the world for Christ. Would anyone deny that the Great Commission is incumbent upon the church? In particular, the Luke 24 Great Commission was given to the 11 and those believers who were with them (v. 33), and that was on a Sunday morning--the church!

    (4) Above all, an assembly to glorify Christ: "20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen" (Eph. 3).

    So, is church about developing relationships? No. That is simply a wonderful benefit of doing the things church is really for.
     
  2. Thousand Hills

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    JoJ thanks for posting this, I'm sure it will be an interesting discussion.

    My question is which one of these four points is the primary goal of the church, it looks like you put most emphasis on #4.

    If a church is doing good at points #1 and #2, but not too effective at #3 is this still a healthy church?

    Or what if a church just focuses on #3 and neglects #1 and #2, is this still a healthy church?
     
    #2 Thousand Hills, Aug 9, 2011
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  3. John of Japan

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    Yes indeed!

    I don't know how a church can be healthy by neglecting #3 but doing well on #2 in particular. What better way to serve Christ than by getting out the Gospel and supporting world wide missions?

    Still not healthy. I think all four points are inextricably linked together. To put it in one sentence, in church we are encouraged to serve Christ by getting the Gospel out to the glory of Christ.
     
  4. freeatlast

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    The purpose of the church is to be a light to the world by by its people conduct themselves and by sharing the truth of Gods' plan of salvation bringing in new converts.

    The gathering of the church is to set under those those who lead and teach while learning of the things of God so as to be better equipped to know what and how to obey God’s commands as we to go into the world and share the good news.
     
  5. stilllearning

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    Hello John

    Nice post.

    I wanted to point out something about #3.....
    I am not sure where you stand on this subject, but years ago I started a thread called “the smoking gun of the Church’s birthday”, that was all about this aspect of “the Church”.

    Yes, Jesus gave the Church the Great Commission in Luke and elsewhere, yet He also repeatedly said.......
    Matthew 16:20
    “Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.”


    But then in Acts Jesus said.......
    Acts 1:4
    “And, being assembled together with [them], commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, [saith he], ye have heard of me.”


    and......
    Acts 1:8
    “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

    --------------------------------------------------
    I agree with you, in that a church is not “the Church”, if it’s not telling people about Jesus.

    Therefore, the idea that the Church started in the Gospels or earlier, is unbiblical.


    I hope you don’t consider this response, as “highjacking” your thread.
    Because I see it as spot on!
     
  6. JesusFan

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    primarily it is the time and place where local body of Christ gathers to worship/praise the Lord, collect weekly offerings, and to be taught how to grow in faith in order to be able to "be the Church" to socierty outside the Building walls!
     
  7. John of Japan

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    Thanks for posting. It would take too long to explain my complete ecclesiology here, but just FYO I believe in a step by step development of the church, with the full and final development being the local church at Jerusalem which began at Pentecost. I am grateful to Dr. Monroe Parker for starting me out right on ecclesiology. And I'll say no more lest the thread stray into uncharted waters. :type:
     
    #7 John of Japan, Aug 10, 2011
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  8. John of Japan

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    I have a colleague who believes that worship is not the purpose of church, but something we are to do all day every day. Can you document biblically that the Sunday service is for the purpose of worship?
     
  9. John of Japan

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    Well said.
     
  10. JesusFan

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    Apostles went back to the temple to worship and praise the Lord, risen Christ...

    Always good thing to worship the Lord in the Bible...

    Worship him by song/spoken word. and in monetary offerings!

    believe there is a corporate aspect, as well as individual basis!
     
  11. preacher4truth

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    I agree it is not about interaction per se myself. It is also a place of worship together in the local body.

    I bolded a portion of your statement, and unfortunately we have a few on here who don't believe what you've said, or that the Church even has a commission to do this at all.

    Of course, I totally reject that idea of theirs. We are to preach the Gospel and are called to take part of the Great Commission today. Equipping the saints is part of this:

    "And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,
    Eph 4:12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;" Ephesians 4:11-12


    and in equipping others can share the reason of their hope:

    but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; 1 Peter 3:15

    Of course, I am certain that those who embrace a "theology" against the Great Commission being our responsibility would take issue with these passages, saying they also are not for us, either. What a sad religion that excuses us from individual accountability for our gifts and the responsibities that come with them, and believe that much of the NT is not for us today. Sad indeed.

    I'm glad I instead have a "living" Bible, not a dead one:

    "For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart." Hebrews 4:12

    - Peace
     
  12. preacher4truth

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    [
    John, I believe that in taking the Lord's Supper together, that it, in itself is corporate Worship of the Lord.
     
  13. JesusFan

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    it is sent out as a memorial to jesus and His death at calvary, so indeed act of worship!
     
  14. glfredrick

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    I think that the phrase "developing relationships" and the concept behind "relationships" can be taken in two different ways.

    One is the relational fellowship aspect, where we make earthly "friends" and we learn to love on each other, hang around with each other, etc., as is common to humanity. The church IS called to fellowship, and that aspect IS one of the primary purposes of the church (c.f., Heb 10:25; Acts 2:42; 1 Jn 1:5-8, etc.). Jesus tells us that we are to "love one another"Jn 13:34, etc.). So, relational fellowship can rightly be seen as one of the reasons for gathering together in a congregational setting rather than staying alone and partaking of the Scriptures and sermon material via some form of print or electronic media.

    The other is the relationship that we build with Our Father in heaven, which is the CORE of what it means to be Christians. Jesus instructs us that our Father is "Abba" (daddy) and that He has "everlasting arms" that enfold us (c.f., Mark 14:36; Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6; and Deut 33:27), an OT concept that is carried forward into the NT in the fellowship that believers have with their Father in heaven.

    So, one could see that "relationships" is just a lightweight by-product of the more "religious" aspects of congregation, or one could potentially see that relationships is THE motivating factor that God has set out to redeem since they were broken in the Fall.

    We can see that the enemy has come to break relationships, both between us and our fellow human being, including the radical breaking of the marriage, which was instituted by God, before any other act with newly created humans, to be a one-flesh relationship that most "typed" for us the truth of the Gospel (c.f., Eph 5:32) and with God, Himself, when humans were enticed to rebel against God, and after, hid from Him.

    I have found that relationships, apart from the lightweight version talked over coffee, are the core and key of God's plan, i.e., that we were created to be in loving relationship with Him and with each other (1 John ff) and a large part of the redemptive process is restoring just that relationship.

    That is not to minimize the other purposes for the church, however. They are equally as valid, and actually serve to bolster this main premise of God, that we are all in perfect relationship through agape love with each other and with our Abba Father.
     
  15. John of Japan

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    We're talking about the church, not the temple.

    True of course, but Scripture concerning the church?
    Scripture?
     
  16. John of Japan

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    I agree wholeheartedly, especially about the Great Commission. It seems strange indeed to me that some actually oppose us modern Christians obeying it, in spite of all the evidence that we should in both the Scriptures and church history.
     
  17. John of Japan

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    This makes sense. I'm mulling it over.

    I'm looking for Scripture showing that worship per se is a reason for the assembly called church. I have my own view, on this, but am waiting to see what others say. I think it is bound in the meaning of the word worship.
     
  18. John of Japan

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    Have to run, don't have time to answer your complete post, which is an interesting essay. But some thoughts:

    (1) Are you saying then that yes, developing relationships is a purpose of the church?

    (2) When we are saved, we are automatically put into relationships with God as our Father and other believers as our brothers and sisters. So I don't think there is a need to "develop" those relationships in church, just to rightly relate.
     
  19. Don

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    John, I readily admit your training and experience far outweighs mine. That said, 1 Timothy 5 has been put in my mind with regard to this thread, specifically the first two verses on how to "relate" to our fellow Christians.

    I believe that you're absolutely correct with the "primary" purpose of the Church. I may be speaking without proper scriptural support, but I believe "a" purpose of the church has to do with how we treat each other as members of the body, equipping the saints, etc. Without knowing individual needs, we can't meet individual needs, and thus, strengthen the body. Further, there are verses such as Matthew 18:15-17, and Galatians 6:1, and Ephesians 4-5, that all speak to "how to treat each other"; i.e., interact, or develop a relationship.
     
  20. glfredrick

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    Yes, from start to finish, both with fellow humans and with God.

    True in a sense, at least the possibility for godly relationships is restored. But there is still action on our part beyond the justification and adoption that occurs at the point of salvation.

    And, how does one "rightly relate" if we have not actively loved each other.

    Over the years that I have thought about this issue, searched the Scriptures for the "big picture," and watched what has and is happening in our congregations, I have come to the opinion that relationship, horizontal and vertical, is critical.

    This stems from the fact that God was in relationship in the Trinity, and in creating us, He has made us in His image, for relationship with him, and obviously, with each other, in marriage and in perfect agape love, brother and sister "in Christ."

    That so many in God's work seem to minimize this or even miss the point all together is rather sad. We see it exemplified when Jesus calls His disciples His "friends." And we see it taught, on the whole, in 1 John, where John's concept of sin is "broken relationship" whether with God (first) or man.
     

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