When we think of the word “church,” we need to understand that it is not a reference to a building, but rather to a group of people—the “called-out-ones”–who were given a specific purpose or commission to accomplish. This task can only be achieved with the help of God, who opens doors and provides opportunities to the church as a group of zealous and dedicated people.
Rightly understood, there is not only one purpose or even one main purpose of the church, but there are quite a few reasons for the existence of the church of God.
One main purpose can be derived from Matthew 24:14, which explains that the gospel of the Kingdom of God is to be and will be preached and published to the world as a witness.
When this has been accomplished, the end of this present evil age and civilisation will come. Christ commissioned His disciples to preach the gospel or good news until He returns. It is the church’s responsibility and duty today to fulfill this command. This is mainly accomplished by the church collectively through tithes and offerings from members and co-workers whom God has moved to support His Work, and also by our individual example of letting our lights shine.
The tools, which are utilized by the church to accomplish this task include radio, Internet programs, sermon CDs and DVDs, as well as written publications in the form of booklets, letters and updates.
The core of the gospel includes the fact that the Kingdom of God will be established and rule on and over the earth; that it is our potential to enter the Kingdom or Family of God as born-again immortal God beings; that Jesus Christ will return to rule the world with the resurrected saints (spirit-born members of the Kingdom of God) during the Millennium and the Great White Throne Judgment period to help others to achieve the same potential, which has been offered to us today; and that we will ultimately rule under God and Christ for all eternity.
The gospel message includes the fact that God, in the Person of Jesus Christ, became man so that man could become God.
The gospel is not only about Christ and His life here on earth, but includes also the message that He brought from God the Father. Christ came to reveal God the Father and to demonstrate through the Bible that God is ONE Family–not just one Being. This fact was clearly revealed in the Old Testament, and the righteous saints such as Abraham, Moses or David knew about it, but in general, neither the Jews nor the Gentiles understood this marvellous truth.
The gospel entails what is required by man to achieve his ultimate goal of becoming God through obedience to God’s immutable laws and statutes. Even though God grants us His gift of eternal life in His very Family by grace, He will not force this gift upon us when we show Him through our disobedience that we do not really want and appreciate it. God knows that a life in disobedience to Him brings only misery and pain, and He does not want to give us eternal life in unhappiness. God can and does only give us good gifts.
Another purpose of the church’s ministry is to baptize those whom God is calling into the body of Christ, which is the Church, so that God can give them the gift of the Holy Spirit. We read in Matthew 28:19-20: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in[to] the name [or possession] of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age…”
Notice also the responsibility of the church to teach those who are baptized. This describes another purpose of the church– to tend and feed the lambs and the sheep; that is, the flock of the church members who through the gift of the Holy Spirit within them are now better equipped to understand the deep things and mysteries of the gospel. We read more about this purpose in John 21:15-17:
“So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Feed My lambs.’ He said to him again a second time, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Tend My sheep.’ He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?’ Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’ And he said to Him, ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed My sheep.’”
This purpose is primarily accomplished through the inspired speaking and counselling of the ministry and others assigned by the ministry to that task.
As individual members, we have the responsibility to grow in Jesus Christ’s grace and knowledge. This can be accomplished by using the tools God has given us, including prayer, Bible study, meditation and fasting, with the goal to develop a close and firm relationship with God who gives us His grace abundantly. Christ’s knowledge is also increased in us through the acceptance of inspired oral and written messages. In fulfilling our individual mission and commission in this way, we fulfill also our responsibilities by being able to give an answer for the hope that lies within us—but we will only do so regarding those who really want to know the truth, and not regarding those who merely ask to so that they can argue with us.
There are certainly additional purposes for the existence of the church, but in this Q&A, we have concentrated on some of the major reasons. To recall, the church is to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God in all the world, to baptize those God is calling, and to teach and spiritually feed those whom God has called.
Individually, church members are to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ and to support the great effort of the collective body of Christ to proclaim the good news to the world in these end times.
If we remain true to this task and responsibility, we shall be given eternal life in the Kingdom of God. As God beings, we will be in a unique position to do so much good for all of mankind, serving them as kings and priests under Christ’s merciful rule.
Lead writers: Rene Messier and Norbert Link