The work of the church
The work of the church is directly related to its purpose for existence.  For the work of the
church, just as the work of any other organization, is to carry out its purpose.  It is necessary in
determining what that purpose is, to recognize that the church belongs to God and to his
Christ. They have the right and the authority to say what that purpose is. It is up to man to
acknowledge and accept the purpose which God has given in his word; not to determine for
himself what the purpose of the church should be. After all, being a Christian means that we
follow Christ, not that we follow our own idea. "And whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all
in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him" (Colossians 3:17).

GOD'S PURPOSE IN THE CHURCH

The eternal purpose of the church is seen in Paul's remarks concerning his ministry: "Unto
me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among
the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all men see what is the fellowship
of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, Who created all
things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly
places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal
purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: in whom we have boldness and access
with confidence by the faith of Him" (Ephesians 3:8-12). The eternal purpose of God for the
church is to make known "the manifold wisdom of God" in Christ Jesus, "In whom we have
redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace;
wherein He has abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; having made known unto
us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He has purposed in Himself:
That in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all things in
Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him: in Whom also we have
obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him Who works all
things after the counsel of His own will: that we should be to the praise of His glory, Who first
trusted in Christ. In Whom you also trusted, after that you heard the word of truth, the gospel of
your salvation: in Whom also after that you believed, you were sealed with that Holy Spirit of
promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased
possession, unto the praise of His glory" (Ephesians 1:7-14). Thus, the purpose of the church
is the reconciliation of man to God through Jesus Christ. The church was bought with the
blood of Jesus (Acts 20:28); and, it is through his blood we have the forgiveness of sins. This
is true not only of the Jew, but also of the Gentile. The mystery of Christ is "that the Gentiles
should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ by the
gospel" (Ephesians 3:6).

Secondarily, the church is to "be to the praise of His glory" (Ephesians 1:12). "Now unto Him
Who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power
that works in us, unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world
without end. Amen" (Ephesians 3:20,21). What the church does, its work, should give glory
unto God through Jesus Christ.

MAKE KNOWN THE MANIFOLD WISDOM OF GOD

The church is to make known the manifold wisdom of God unto all men. Jesus said: "You go
therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and
of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:
and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen" (Matthew 28:19,20; and,
"And He said unto them, You go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He
who believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he who believes not shall be damned" (Mark
16:15,16). All the word, all nations, all peoples are to be taught the gospel, obedience to all
things whatsoever Christ commanded. This means the instruction of both saint and sinner. It
matters not whether he is righteous or wicked; the gospel is the power unto salvation to all
(Romans 1:16).

The gospel is the means whereby all shall be reconciled unto God. This means the instruction
of men of every nationality, every tongue, every race, every social class, and every economic
class.

The church is to make known the manifold wisdom of God to the location it is in. It has the right
and authority to support those who are preaching the unsearchable riches of Christ in its area.
"For it is written in the law of Moses, You shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treads out
the corn. Is God take concerned about oxen? Or does he say it altogether for our sakes? For
our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that plows should plow in hope; and that he that
threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope. If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it
a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? ...Do you not know that they who minister
about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they who wait at the altar are partakers
with the altar? Even so has the Lord ordained that they who preach the gospel should live of
the gospel" (I Corinthians 9:1-14).

The church must not make any distinction between any race or class, but recognize the truth of
the words of Peter when he finally learned this lesson: "Of a truth I perceive that God is no
respecter of persons: but in every nation he who fears Him, and works righteousness, is
accepted with Him" (Acts 10:34,35).

The church should send men out to preach to other locations, whether in the same country, on
the same continent, in the same hemisphere, or on the other side of the world. The manifold
wisdom of God is to be known to all nations, to all the world, to every creature (Acts 13:1-3).
The church has the right and authority to support such men in the proclamation of the gospel
(II Corinthians 11:8).

In making known the manifold wisdom of God, both locally and world-wide, the church has the
responsibility to make sure that it is the wisdom of God that is being preached. "If any man
speak, let him speak as the oracles of God..." (I Peter 4:11). It is the gospel, whatsoever Christ
has commanded, that is to be taught and preached. "Preach the word; be instant in season,
out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will
come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to
themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth,
and shall be turned unto fables" (II Timothy 4:2-4). "But though we, or an angel from heaven,
preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be
accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you
than that you have received, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1:8,9). No man, or church has the
right to preach or teach any thing which is not contained in God's word.

Jesus showed his disciples "that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in
His name among all nations" (Luke 24:47). Thus, the church preaches, as did Paul, "the faith
in Christ," speaking "of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come" to those in the
world (Acts 24:24,25). But, it is not only to the world that the church preaches the word of God; it
also teaches and preaches to itself, "that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that you,
being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the
breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passes
knowledge, that you might be filled with all the fulness of God" (Ephesians 3:17-19). "For the
grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying
ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present
world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our
Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and
purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works" (Titus 2:12-14; see also
Romans 6:16-23). Thus, the church grows "in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and
Savior Jesus Christ" (II Peter 1:8-11). "For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you
that you shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But He
who lacks these things is blind, and cannot see far off, and has forgotten that he was purged
from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and
election sure: for if you do these things, you shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be
ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus
Christ" (II Peter 1:8-11).

UNTO HIM BE GLORY

The church is a body of people who "should be to the praise of His glory" (Ephesians 1:12),
and who give glory unto God by Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:21). This is done in worship (Acts
11:18; 21:20; Romans 15:6,9; Ephesians 1:6; Philippians 1:11), in speech (I Peter 4:11;
Philippians 2:11), in conduct in trials (I Peter 4:14), by good works (Matthew 5:16), in body and
spirit (I Corinthians 6:20), and in relief of the needy (II Corinthians 8:19; 9:6-15; compare with
Galatians 6:7-10).

The church gathers together to worship as part of its work in giving glory unto God by Christ
Jesus (Hebrews 10:25; I Corinthians 11:20).

Glory is given to God by the proclamation of the word of God. "If any man speak, let him speak
as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God gives: that
God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for
ever and ever. Amen" (I Peter 4:11).

Jesus proclaimed in the Sermon on the Mount: "You are the light of the world. A city that is set
on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a
candlestick; and it gives light unto all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men,
that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 5:13-
16). Good works glorify God, whether they are done on an individual basis, or as on a
congregational basis. But, what are good works? They are "the work of faith with power" (II
Thessalonians 1:11,12). "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God"
(Romans 10:17). Therefore, good works are the works which are found in the word of God. "All
scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction,
for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto
all good works" (II Timothy 3:16,17). Thus, if it is not in the word of God, it is not a good work
that glorifies God and is not a proper work for the church. It must be found in the Bible to be a
good work, a work of God. Unless book, chapter and verse can be given, it is not the work of
the church.

Taking care of the needy is a good work, it is a work given by God. The weekly contribution was
enjoined especially to take care of the needs of the saints (I Corinthians 16:1,2). "For the
administration of this service not only supplies the want of the saints, but is abundant also by
many thanksgivings unto God; while by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for
your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them,
and unto all men" (II Corinthians 9:12-13). A comparison of II Corinthians 9:6-15 with
Galatians 6:7-10 clearly shows that this good work is to "do good unto all men, especially unto
them who are of the household of faith" (Galatians 6:10).

The church in action is the action of Christians together. The responsibilities they share
together as Christians, they can and do discharge together — in worship or work: evangelism,
edification and benevolence. However, responsibilities they have separately, which are
mutually shared, are not the action of the church. Thus, what I am responsible for as a
husband, wife, father, mother, son or daughter is not the action of the church; it is the action of
the home. I do it because of the special relationship I sustain to the situation as a member of
the family; not because of my relationship to the church. The church may support preachers (7
Corinthians 9:1-14; II Corinthians 11:8), and individuals may support preachers (Galatians 6:
6), because it is a mutual responsibility placed upon all Christians. The same is true of the
responsibility of doing good to all men, it is a mutual responsibility. However, entertainment is
a responsibility of the home in which Christians outside of each home do not share in the
responsibility. Therefore, entertainment it is not the responsibility nor the proper work of the
church.

Just because something may seem to be good to man does not make it a good work, it must
be enjoined by the word of God. Entertainment, sporting events, recreation, business ventures,
secular education, politics, etc. are not the work of the church. Many of these may have the
appearance of "good works;" but, remember, good works are determined by what God has
commanded.

CONCLUSION

What is the purpose of the church to which you belong? Is its purpose to "make known the
manifold wisdom of God?" Does it make sure that it teaches the word of God to all men? Does
it seek to carry out its purpose both locally, and at other locations: Does it give glory unto God
by speaking as the oracles of God? Does it engage only in good works: those revealed by God
in his holy word?

Won't you follow the work which God has given for the church?
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