I. THE PURPOSE FOR THE CHURCH.
A. I was taught and used to believe that the primary purpose of the church was the evangelization of the world.
1. This is the commission of Christ to the church but not the primary purpose of the church.
B. The primary purpose of the church as stated here is:
1. The perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry.
a. Paul began this epistle with the words, "Paul an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God."
b. Take out the name Paul and the word apostle, and insert your name, what will you insert for the word apostle?
c. What are you will the will of God?
d. We are all called to be ministers of Jesus Christ, and our ministries vary. The word minister means servant it refers to our place of service for the Lord.
e. Paul asked, "Are all apostles? Are all evangelists?" the answer is obviously no. But what are you?
f. Have you discovered the will of God for your life?
g. Do you know the ministry he has called you to?
h. The purpose of the church is to perfect you for your ministry.
2. The church is formed for the edifying of the body of Christ.
a. The word edify is to build up, when you come to church you should be built up in the Lord.
b. It is the word of God that feeds our spirits, that is why we place such a great emphasis on the teaching of the word.
c. Paul wrote to the Corinthians,
Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual [gifts], seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.
How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.
but [we do] all things, dearly beloved, for your edifying.
d. In verse 16 Paul will speak of edifying in love.
e. In verse 29 he will tell them to let the words that come out of their mouths serve to edify that they might minister grace to the hearers.
f. To the Corinthians Paul wrote, "Knowledge puffs up but love builds up."
g. We should be encouraging one another, building one another up.
3. The church is formed to bring us into the unity of the faith.
a. In the earlier part of the chapter he speaks of the unity of the Spirit. This is more important than the unity of the faith.
b. There will always be points of disagreement within the body. There are often two possible interpretations to a passage. Sometimes even more.
c. It isn't necessary that you understand all of the scriptures as I do. There should be room for other interpretations, and we need to be tolerant towards another persons viewpoint. If we disagree, we should do so agreeably.
d. I would much rather have the wrong facts and the right spirit than the right facts and the wrong spirit. God can change my facts in a moment. Sometimes that spirit of antagonism follows one throughout their entire lifetime.
4. The church is formed to bring us into the knowledge of the Son of God.
a. This can only be accomplished by the teaching of the scriptures in a complete and systematic way.
b. The whole book is about Jesus, both old and New Testaments. The Old Testament points ahead to Him, and the New Testament tells of Him, and how that He is the fulfillment of the promises of God.
5. The Church is formed to bring us into spiritual maturity. The term perfect man refers to a fully matured man.
a. The book of Hebrews rebukes the readers because at the time when they should be teachers, they still needed to be taught, they were still nursing when they should be eating meat.
b. Paul wrote to the Corinthians and referred to them as babes in Christ, he said that he fed them with milk and not with meat, for they were not able to bear it, nor yet were they able to bear it.
c. It is always a sad thing when people who have been in the church for 25 years or longer are still needing to be bottle fed. They have not experienced any spiritual maturity. They are still as demanding little babies, and if you don't do things their way, they will take their marbles and look for another church.
d. "Unto the measure of the stature of the image of Christ."
1. The Psalmist said, "And I shall be satisfied when I awake in your likeness."
2. Jesus Christ is the model that God is using as He forms and shapes our lives.
3. And we all with unveiled faces as we behold the glory of the Lord are being changed from glory to glory into the same image.
4. As we sang this morning, "O to be like Thee."
e. That we would not be children anymore.
1. Children are tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine.
2. There are so many winds of doctrine blowing through the church today.
3. There are spiritual fads that come and go such as: Slain in the spirit; Sever uncontrollable shaking; The shepherding doctrine; The prosperity doctrines; The latter rain and Joel's army movement; The demonizing of the believer; And now the animal noises and uncontrollable laughter.
4. The people who headed to Toronto, are now flocking to Pensacola, by the end of next year it will be somewhere else.
f. Being deceived by the charlatans who lie in wait to deceive.
1. I feel so sorry for the poor gullible little babes who chase after the spiritual pied pipers.
2. Paul spoke of those who had itching ears and would not endure sound doctrine. 1Tim. 4:3
6. The church has been formed to help people to grow up in all things in Christ Jesus. This is accomplished by:
a. Speaking the truth in love.
1. Sometimes the truth is spoken, but not in a loving way.
2. Sometimes as we present the truths we sound as though we were angry.
3. A little boy was overheard as he spoke to his father as they walked out of church. "I guess God is mad at us again."
b. There are a lot of times that I feel like saying to some of these fellows who spend their time listening to the tapes in order to find some fault. Grow up.
7. The church is the body of Christ, and Christ is the head of the body.
a. I am sometimes asked by strangers if I am the head of this church? No, never, Jesus Christ is the head, I am just one of His flunkies.
b. At our monthly church board meetings the first part of the meeting is spent in prayer as we seek to understand the mind of Christ for the church. We acknowledge Jesus as the head, and we are there to seek orders.
c. He is the one who fits the body together, placing each of us in the body as pleases Him. That we may all function in our place in the body, fulfilling the functions we were created to do.
d. The net result is that the church is increased as we are built up in His love.