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What is the purpose of The Church? Why did Jesus create this entity?

I'm opening this discussion for conjecture and edification. [for us to discuss and grow in understanding].

How do you read it? Please give scriptural explanation, not merely personal opinion.

What has taken place? Please share personal experience and historical evidence, not just theory.

Does The Church have a place in your life?

Has anything changed in the world, for how God wants to use The Church today?

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Scribe,

 

Regarding your question/post I think it is important to identify what Scripture recognizes as the church. The church is not the location or building. Both are simply the place where the church gathers, whether it be a particular city or a particular building within a city. When Paul speaks of the Church at Corinth or Ephesus he is not meaning the structure or physical location. He is referring to the people. Thus, the Bible identifies locations but is referring to the people in that location. The Bible recognizes the local church and the universal (whole) church, which is made up of all children of God on earth. Another point I think worth making is that we are the church, but nowhere does the Scripture refer to the singular person as the church. The church is referred to in Scripture as the literal representation of Christ on earth … the church is His body (1 Cor. 12; Eph. 3:6, 4:4-16, 4:25, 5:23, 5:30 and Col. 1:18). This representation is seen through the local body and the universal body a previously mentioned. The church is not meant to be all about me, but rather for me to become part of the body of Christ and to live out the life of Christ as He lives in us and through individually and corporately.

 

 You asked “What is the purpose of the church?” Again, we need a little detail to help explain this purpose. When we begin to understand that the church is His body on earth and that though there are local representation there is still only one body, we can then ask what would Jesus do if He were here today. The Bible gives us some important information regarding how the body is supposed to interact in order to be healthy, but I want to focus primarily on the outward action. I want to point to two things.

1) The church, as His body, has been authorized to operate in His name and in His power (not that all, or any fully do this). Jesus gave the disciples their marching orders in Matthew 28:19-20 were He told them that He had all authority and in essence was bestowing that upon them (representing the church). We see further expansion of this in John 14:12 where Jesus talks about the fact that He will be going away and that they would do what He had been doing and even greater things. Again this given to the disciples is a directive I believe applicable to the church down through the years. Jesus gives a third piece of instruction regarding this in Acts 1:8. They were not to do this on their own. They were to await the empowerment by the Holy Spirit. 2) The mission is laid out in several parts as well. We see it in what we call the Great Commission (Mat. 28:19-20) and His command found in Acts 1:8. He also gave instructions for worship found in John 4:23-24, Matthew 22:37-40 and other various verses. The Bible gives us of how the early church functioned (Acts 2:42) as well as instructions regarding how it was to operate as seen in First and Second Corinthians, plus other books throughout the N.T..

 

The primary often is stated as we are called to worship, but I think that is an outflow of the direct relationship we have with Christ. I believe the primary purpose is “to be” the body of Christ on earth, the one body with many parts that all need each other.

 

You asked “What has taken place?” That is a big question with 2000 years to cover. I will save that for another time.

 

You asked “Has anything changed in the world, for how God wants to use The Church today?” I don’t think so. I think our call regardless of what era we live is to be the body of Christ in this generation. Neither the mission nor the message has changed.

 

These are my thoughts on this.

 

Lord Bless,

LT

LT, I guess what I'm looking for is more personal testimony than 2000 years of church history. (LOL). Although, I have recently been going through the life of Martin Luther again. Very interesting and helpful stuff to see how he handled himself during a time of incredible corruption and autocratic control over people. 

Again, I'm not looking for some "new mission". That's a given - the mission has never changed. But, what I'm looking to understand is what others are seeing God doing TODAY. Where and how is He at work NOW? Again, borrowing from Luther, i'm wondering if anyone is seeing a new movement, new area of growth, areas of renewal. 

I have recently been attending a new church. I'm seeing some very healthy things that I thought nobody was doing anymore. (I may relate later). It has been helpful to me, during a time of great upheaval in my personal life, to see that God is doing something very very neat in a little church on a hill in the countryside. 

First, I need to grow in my understanding of a few passages of Scripture and how to apply them either to the Body, or to the local assembly.          

Is 1 Corinthians 12, referring to the members of a local assembly, or members of the Body?

Verse 26 says, "If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together" (ESV).

I think in the local assembly of believers where one gathers, if someone in it is suffering, it affects the other believers who are there, but is the Body affected as a whole? It seems like those people in other assemblies would never even realize what's going on with a believer in another assembly somewhere else.

At the same, when I hear of believers even in another nation suffering from persecution or famine and drought, etcetera, it does bother me.

Ephesians 4:11-16 is the other passage. Is each separate assembly supposed to be a miniature Body itself or just a member of the Body?

If each assembly isn't a whole replica of the Body, then how is it each functioning, or how would that member of the Body work, without having the rest of the Body?

Hmmm. I don't think that each fellowship must be a replica of the whole body of Christ. I think that God puts whom He wills where He wills to meet the needs for that community and occasion. I think it's important to see ourselves not as the entirety of Christ, but each group as cells or organs within that body. We do not comprise Him in totality except in our own totality. 

That makes sense. The human body has many parts and it has some cells that consist of even smaller units and those units may never venture outside of that single cell and, yet, are important to its well-being at least, and that cell is important to other cells, and so on and so on. What we call a cell group within the Church might be a lesser part of the Body but is important.
I like how GotQuestions covers so many aspects: http://www.gotquestions.org/purpose-church.html

The sad part is, today's church probably does only 10% of this. The encouraging and comforting seems to be a thing of the past. Most church members won't even discuss what they're going through for fear of pious platitudes or rebukes over their feelings. And the church can't effectively disciple the congregation to spread the Gospel if the "love one another", "encourage and lift each other up" parts are missing from their teaching. Cause the Gospel of Christ is founded upon God's love for us. But how can we proclaim God's love if we can't show it to our own brothers and sisters? How do we show it to a sinner?

Seek, I sense your discouragement about the 90% that seems to be missing - and I understand it. However, a major part of why we do not have that 90% (I believe) is that most Christians are not involved, engaged. We are more spectators than participants, which is not what God intended at all. 

"But how can we proclaim God's love if we can't show it to our own brothers and sisters? How do we show it to a sinner?"

To answer your question(s), I think you just do it. You make the conscious decision not to wait for someone else. You and I have to make the decision to engage in the process and not wait for some program or policy. We are the body. We must do it. 

 

Scribe, there were so many times I needed that encouragement but what I got instead when going for guidance to an elder or or long time Christian I felt should be able to help me understand for was to die to self, surrender, and the one that hurt most: you have to tithe or God can't/won't bless you, and yet in doing so, I ended up unable to pay my rent.

I've seen first hand that wasn't true and some of what I see in scripture doesn't always quite line up. A lot of these beliefs were formed in their minds from teaching they went through. And while they may well have seen God provide while they continued tithing, they don't know God's mind. So some assumed perhaps there was some sin I was engaged in was why God wasn't blessing me. And these "helpful" pieces of "encouragement" tore me down not lifted me up.

And I see others now that I didn't even realize went through these same questions I had. Two in my Saturday night Bible study have opened up and expressed their fears that since they don't feel God's presence the way they understand it that maybe they've blasphemed God and they've questioned their salvation. And some of the sermons have left them questioning as they had me. I was able to answer their questions on these. To top it off, the next day the Pastor preached and said even if you don't agree with everything said that we're all still there to corporately come together and worship God and maybe this message isn't for you but you might still take something from it.

I know there are others who sit Sunday after Sunday questioning and yet we don't know because it's not taught. They don't know who to go to or worry their questions are silly or will be met with disdain. The church needs to send a message of being there to answer such questions and not patronize. They need to answer the deeper questions people don't voice.

This is just a passion God instilled in me early on, to help new converts and those struggling with questions of this nature and I keep praying for an opening for the church to start a group or class for just this purpose. One of the elders asked me one day what do I feel our church is missing and I expressed this and he agreed...so maybe.
You asked, "But how can we proclaim God's love if we can't show it to our own brothers and sisters?"

I've had so many questions similar to yours and to others and hearing them being asked makes me feel not so foolish for having asked them.

The word "family" doesn't mean the same to everyone.

Families can be a safe harbor for some but for many people families harbor conflict and some of the worst things possible that can be done to you can be done by one of your own relatives.

Additionally, I have experienced failures, misunderstandings, and even cruelties from a family of fellow church members as well.

It's part of the reason that I'm reluctant to become involved in a traditional church. It will just end in failure, too.
Not true. Just because some end in failure doesn't mean all will. As you said, some families can be a safe harbor. Though it might be hard finding the one that's a fit for you, don't stop looking.
The church I joined July 7, 2013 has nothing to do with the bad church experiences I was speaking of. 

After joining it, in the car, afterwards, my son said something that made me feel both remorseful and thankful at the same time. He said, “Mom, this is so much better than before, where it was all gray inside and everyone was hostile.” I was sorry for having stayed in such an environment for so long and glad to finally leave.

We attended up until the new year and then my husband's work schedule changed due to a job change. I think we attended about three Sundays since then, this whole year. At the same time, though, I must admit that I'm reluctant to get enmeshed in any church due to past church experiences, particularly relating to doctrine. 

One of the things I'm concerned about is mentioned in Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God by Timothy Keller where he states, 

Edmund P. Clowney wrote, “The Bible does not present an art of prayer; it presents the God of prayer.”We should not decide how to pray based on the experiences and feelings we want. Instead, we should do everything possible to behold our God as he is, and prayer will follow. The more clearly we grasp who God is, the more our prayer is shaped and determined accordingly. Without immersion in God’s words, our prayers may not be merely limited and shallow but also untethered from reality. We may be responding not to the real God but to what we wish God and life to be like. Indeed, if left to themselves our hearts will tend to create a God who doesn’t exist.
PS What did Noah have to learn before building the Ark?

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