Does the Church Exist for the World?
The church is the body of Christ (Is 49:3, 6). There are members to this body of people (Eph 3:6). Each member is drawn by God the Father (Jn 6:44, 65) and baptized into the church by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:13). Christ Jesus is the head of the church (Eph 1:22; 5:23; Col 1:18). He is the church’s one and only leader (Mt 23:10). Jesus is building His church, a temple in the Holy Spirit (Eph 2:20–22), and the gates of hades will not prevail against it (Mt 16:18).
Whereas Christ is at the center of the throne of God in heaven (Rev 7:17), at the right hand of the Father (Acts 2:33), the right hand of Majesty (Heb 1:3; 8:1), so the Spirit of Christ is in the world (1 Jn 4:4). The Holy Spirit has been sent from the Father and the Son (Jn 14:26; 15:26). The mission of the Spirit is multifaceted.
In gathering God’s chosen people (1 Pet 2:9), Christ’s church (Mt 16:18), the Israel of God (Is 49:6; Gal 6:16), the Spirit is the wisdom and power behind the preaching of the Gospel (1 Cor 2:4; 1 Pet 1:12). The man of God studies to show himself approved, as one who rightly divides the Word of truth (2 Tim 2:15). His subject is the knowledge of Christ (2 Pet 3:18), and the Holy Spirit is his Teacher (Jn 14:26).
The approved workman is apt to teach (2 Tim 2:2; Tit 1:9), and he is appointed as an elder in the church by the Holy Spirit (Acts 20:28). He serves as a witness of Christ (Acts 1:8) wherever the Spirit leads him to do the work of an evangelist (2 Tim 4:5), to preach the Word (2 Tim 4:2), and to care for the flock of God (1 Pet 5:1–5). He shepherds the sheep through prayer and the ministry of the word (Acts 6:4).
The Spirit-filled preacher proclaims Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor 2:2; Col 1:28). The effect of Christ being faithfully heralded is two-fold. First, there is the reprobate unbeliever who is not of God (Jn 5:42; 8:47; 10:26; Rom 9:22). He listens to the truth, as it is in Jesus (Eph 4:21), and he is hardened in the way of sin and disobedience to God. He does not believe because He is not of Christ’s sheep (Jn 10:26), given to Messiah by the Father (Jn 6:37; 17:2, 6, 24). He cannot hear the voice of Christ, nor can he see the kingdom of God. He belongs to the world (Jn 17:9, 16).
The second hearer of the Gospel preacher is an elect believer who belongs to Christ (1 Cor 3:23). He believes because the Word of Christ has made him hear (Rom 10:17). This is the gift of God, granted by His grace (Eph 2:8–9; Phil 1:29). The Word is implanted in this man by the Holy Spirit (Jas 1:21). The life-giving Spirit (Jn 6:63; 1 Cor 15:45) brings the Word of life into the soul (heart and mind) and causes this one to be born again of God (Jn 3:1–8; 1 Pet 1:3).
Having been made alive in Christ (Eph 2:5; Col 2:13), by being transferred into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son (Col 1:13), the new creation becomes an ambassador for Christ (2 Cor 5:20). He remains in the world, but with his change in citizenship to a better country (Heb 11:16), that is, heavenly Jerusalem (Heb 12:22), the Christian in the world exists for other Christians in the world.
The world hates Jesus Christ, the King of glory (Ps 24; Jn 7:7; 15:18–19). Being at enmity with the world, Jesus refused to pray for the world (Jn 17:9). He warns His followers not to love the world nor the things of the world (1 Jn 2:15–17). The reason is that the world is already judged (Jn 3:18). It is condemned to fiery destruction (2 Pet 3:10–12), under the just wrath of God, already being displayed (Rom 1:18–32), and coming in fullness on the Day of the Lord (Rev 19:11–21).
It is the coming Lord of glory, who delivers His people from the wrath to come (1 Thess 1:10). It is His church, not the world, who readies herself for His second advent, as the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Mt 25; Rev 5:5). On the day of His glorious appearing, Jesus will judge all people ever conceived and resurrected from the dead, some to judgment and some to life (Jn 5:28–29; 2 Cor 5:10; 2 Tim 4:1; 1 Pet 4:5; Rev 20:11).
Ambassadors for Christ are entrusted with the stewardship of this message (1 Cor 4:2; Tit 1:7), to the kingdom of the world (Mt 24:14; Mk 16:15). The Gospel of Christ is considered foolish by the world (1 Cor 1:18), but to those who are being saved by the grace of God (Eph 2:8–9; 2 Thess 2:13), it is understood as the power of God unto salvation (Rom 1:16–17).
The Spirit of Christ indwells the called-out assembly of God (Rom 8:9, 11, 30; 2 Pet 1:10). It is the Spirit-filled assembly that serves as an embassy home and family for each ambassador. The church exists for its members, not for the world. Each member serves in the body with spiritual gifts given by God for the building up of the body (1 Pet 4:10).
The church is the kingdom of God in the world. It is the place of peace, joy, and righteousness in the Spirit (Rom 14:17). Christians understand their identity and purpose in the world, by serving the church in the world. Any notion that the church exists to serve the world or change the world — except to convict the world of sin — is a misappropriation of purpose.
Jesus Christ came into the world for His beloved bride, and she is not a prostitute for the world. The church exists for Christ Jesus, her Lord. She serves Him, as her first and only love because He has demonstrated His love for her at the cross (Rom 5:8), and He has given her, not the world, His token of love, the Holy Spirit (2 Cor 5:5), as a pledge of their marriage day soon coming. His bride needs to ready herself for that event, while laying aside her cares for the world. Are you ready for that?
Spokane Valley, Washington
January 30, 2021