Thursday, 03 April 2008 21:24 Jonathan L. Perz
The work of the church can be summarized threefold...
Spreading The Gospel
The Lord commissioned His disciples to go out and preach the gospel to every creature and make disciples of all nations (Mark 16:15-16; Matt. 28:19-20). This is a primary function of the local church (1 Thess. 1:5-8). It is not something limited to the apostles or clergy, as the first century saints engaged in this practice (Acts 8:1, 4). The church also partakes of this by financially supporting gospel preachers and evangelists to do this work (Phil. 4:10-20).
Edifying The Saints
To edify means to build up. This word, as used in the New Testament, always implies spiritual activity (e.g., teaching the word, encouragement, strengthening the saints – Eph. 4:11-16). It in no way infers social, entertainment, and recreation activities. These activities belong to the home. The apostle Paul teaches us that the church is responsible for the "edifying of itself in love" (Eph. 4:16). Each member of the church has a part in this work.
The church is called to see to the physical needs of her own (Acts 11:27-30). This is known as benevolence. There is no authority in Scripture for the church to become a benevolent agency for the entire world—lost and saved alike. This is the work of individual Christians. The Bible makes a clear distinction between the work of the church and the work of an individual Christian (cf. 1 Tim. 5:3-16). The church has a responsibility to provide benevolence for those who are Christians and who are genuinely in need (cf. 2 Thess. 3:10).
All funds for such work were to be laid by in store on the first day of the week (1 Cor. 16:1-3). Fundraisers, bake fairs, burger burns, etc. are not works of the church.
Where the church collectively is limited in its work, the individual Christian is not limited. The majority of what we do as Christians is not as the church, but as His individual ministers.
NEXT: Our Creed