By Larry White
(Originally delivered in Eagle Point, OR. August 11, 1985)
Why are we here? Why am I here? To Glorify God To Glorify God To Perfect the Saints To Reach Perfection To Reach the Lost To Teach Others
I ) Why are we here?
The church was not an afterthought or a stopgap, but predetermined according to God's foreknowledge and will.
To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known through the assembly to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in him.
Since the church, or assembly, was planned from eternity, God must have had a reason or purpose for the church. The church is important and serves a function in the earth.
1.) To Glorify God
The first or ultimate purpose of our church here in Boise is to glorify God.
Now to him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to him be glory in the assembly by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
We glorify him in our work, in our teaching and in our benevolence.
Our total submission and obedience to God - abiding in his word and our doing of his work, causes others to glorify God.
For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you.
Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
When others see the grace of God and the fruits of righteousness in and through us as a group of Christians, then that brings God glory. Without Christ, we will not be able to do anything - people know this. So when they see us grow, that will be a glory to Christ. We have started along this line and we need to keep it going more and more. When other congregations hear about us and what progress we are making then that glorifies God. But we need that to be our emphasis, not glory to ourselves.
2.) The Perfecting of the Saints
The second reason we exist here in Boise is to function as a body - which is growing and building itself up.
And he himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into him who is the head – Christ – from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
So, one of the our primary functions here as a body is to bring us all to maturity in Christ.
We need our view of the church changed in a lot of respects - one is the idea of "playing church". Getting all the necessary accoutrements together and looking like a church, instead of being a living, active, vital, responsive, growing entity.
The reason behind our services and classes is to make each other grow. If we are not growing into what God wants us to be like - then we are wasting our time. That maturing process is vital to the church.
3.) To Reach the Lost
The third thing the church functions in is to reach the lost world around us. Paul commends the Thessalonians for this.
... knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God.
For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake. And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe.
For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything. For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
That is how we could be if we would teach our friends and neighbors. I think a simple thing like getting a inviting someone to services will add contacts and classes. When people hear of our faith, and hear and see our zeal for lost souls then God will be glorified. Let us be like the Thessalonian church - examples of how the Lord wants a church to be. Again, not for us, but to bring God glory.
The church in Boise must be the pillar and ground of the truth. That sounds like a weighty responsibility - but with God's councel and God's provision, and God's strength, we can be just that.
... for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for his good pleasure.
Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.
Our view of the church here needs to be idealistic - not looking at the outward appearance - but looking toward the almighty God who is working in us and through us. Our church is a church that brings God glory. Our church is a church that is growing its saints into the stature of Christ. Our church is a light in the world holding forth the word of life to a lost and dieing world.
That is how we should see our assembly. But how do we see ourselves?
II ) Why am I here?
What is my purpose?
Why did God let me be born?
Why did not I just die in the womb?
What are we living for?
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
For consider him who endured such hostility from sinners against himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.
The Christian's life is a race. The stating line is when you obeyed the gospel. God is the originator of the race and he has set the goal. This is not a competition, but more like one track set for each of us.
So what is the goal of my being on this earth and living the life of a Christian? The reasons are parallel to the church because, what most people forget, we are the church.
Again, we need our view of the church changed. We have inherited a denominational view of the church. We "go to church" don't we? If we seriously consider what membership means, our perspective will be radically altered. We are members of a body. The body functions and works through its members. The arms, the legs, the mouth, the hands are the way the body functions and are members.
It is not something that happens to me. "Church" it is not an experience that I have on Sunday. It is what I am. It is not a club or organization that I attend, it is who I am. We are the church - and anything the church does will have to be done in and by us. If we do nothing - the church - does - nothing.
So what is the main goal of my individual life?
1.) To Glorify God
It is to glorify God in my life.
But if I with thanks partake, why am I evil spoken of over that which I give thanks?
Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Be without offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the assembly of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own advantage, but the advantage of many, that they may be saved.
That is my main emphasis, to have God praised - even by what I do or say. God owns me, he lives in me, and to bring his glory must be my purpose.
Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
2.) To Reach Perfection
Another purpose in my life is to grow into the likeness of Christ.
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose.
For whom he foreknew, he also foreordained to be conformed to the image of his son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
My goal is to reach that perfection, that completeness in Christ. Sure, the church is the main instrument in this process - but it will not be, unless I have that desire and goal, personally for myself - to get as close to God as I can, to be conformed to the image of Christ - to look into the mirror of God's truth, God's perfect law and let it transform me into his likeness from glory to glory. (2Cor. 3:18)
This is what we do for each other also. A lot of times we look at the preacher (or more accurately, the man who gets paid for preaching) as THE Minister. But every Christian is the minister.
And he himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,
Another translation is "to complete the saints for the work of ministry so that the body of Christ may be built up." So our goal is to be like Christ as much as we can and help each other to that goal in the church.
3.) To Teach Others
The third goal of my life is to take as many as I can to heaven with me.
This was Paul's emphasis.
For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, so that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might gain Jews; to those who are under law, as under law, (though not being myself under law), that I might gain those who are under law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but in law of Christ ), that I might gain those who are without law; to the weak I became weak, so that I might gain the weak. I have become all things to all men, so that I might by all means save some.
God has invested something in your life. Why didn't we just die right after baptism? We have got work to do. The church hold's forth the word of life, how? By your hand. By your individual effort to reach the lost.
We feel a certain responsibility as the church and there is a danger of falling into the trap of thinking that we can fulfill that responsibility by our meeting together. That is not entirely true. We need our view of the church radically altered. We are not a social club to make each other feel better, but a work group doing a job in cooperation, and meeting together to further that effort. Each individual here, needs to be actively in pursuit of teaching those around him or her. We had a good start - let us continue growing in that effort by getting Bible classes started with non-members in our homes. How? Speak up!
That is the work of the church - and we are it.
God wants a return on his investment. How are we investing our lives? Or are we just spending them? We need to be buying up the time and using it to God's glory.
We need to change our view of the church - we also need a fundamental change in our self-image as God's people. God can make this church a glory and praise to his name by working in us, and our individual lives can make that happen when we work for him.
This is God's program for the church. We do not need any fancy evangelistic gimmicks or programs. We do not need a building to establish our presence in the community. We just need a deep faith and trust in God, and a burning zeal and love for lost souls. Through our individual and collective efforts many souls will be won to the Lord, the church will grow in the building up of the saints here, and God will be glorified in everything. Let us be about our Father's business.
~ Invitation ~