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The Church - The Church's Purpose

The purpose of the Church is threefold, upward: inward, and outward:
(1) Upward. The Church exists to bring honor, praise, and glory to God, to worship Him both individually and corporately here on earth. Saucy writes, “The church’s final goal in all of its responsibilities…is the ascription of glory to the One who has created it through redemption in Christ. The predestination of believers in the church to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ and the obtaining of an inheritance in Him all redounds ‘to the praise of the glory of His grace’ (Eph. 1:5-6, 11-14). So amazing is the display of God’s attributes in creating the church and bestowing upon it all blessings in Christ Jesus that the apostle exults in a doxology of praise: ‘to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen’ (Eph. 3:21).[1]
(2) Inward. The Church exists so that the Body of Christ might be edified and equipped for service. Through this edification the Spirit is able to bring us to maturity and can continually conform us more and more to the image of Christ (cf. Eph. 4:13). Saucy states, “The edification of the church, while related to outward growth by the addition of new members, is concerned primarily with the building and developing of the community itself in the life of faith (Eph. 4:13-16; Jude 20; 1 Cor. 14:26)[2] If Christians are going to grow to maturity, there are three things which we need to be actively taking part of and doing, we must be submitting on a regularly basis to the teaching of the Word of God and in time become teachers of the Word ourselves, fellowship, and worship.
(3) Outward. In Matthew 28:18-20 we find Christ Himself telling us why the Church exists, what our purpose is in relation to the world, it is known as The Great Commission, an exhortation repeated just before Christ’s ascension (Acts 1:8; cf. Luke 24:46-48). Chafer states, “The present divine purpose of this age is not the conversion of the world, but rather the calling out from the world those who will believe in Christ to form the body of Christ which is the church…in the present age, never is the individual believer (much less the church) appointed of God to a world-improvement program; but the believer is called to be a witness in all the world to Christ and His saving grace, and through this ministry of gospel preaching the Spirit of God will accomplish the supreme divine purpose in the age”[3] (cf. Mark 16:15; 2 Cor. 5:19).

In addition to the three purposes mentioned above, the Church also has a function toward the Kingdom program: (1) to provoke Israel to jealousy (Rom. 11:11-15), (2) to show God’s grace and wisdom (Eph. 2:7; 3:6, 10), (3) to prepare the Kingdom’s rulers.[4]

[1] Robert L. Saucy, The Church in God’s Program (Chicago: Moody, 1972), p. 97.
[2] Ibid., p. 95.
[3] Lewis Sperry Chafer, Major Bible Themes, revised by John F. Walvoord, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1974), pp. 242-244.
[4] Saucy, pp. 89-90.


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