And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, – Ephesians 4:11-13
Ekklesia is the word Jesus adopted to be used for his people. The first time Jesus uses this word is in Matthew 16:18, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” It is crucial to understand that the Church is the property of Christ. He has authority over it. Therefore, the Church must submit to the will of Christ, not the will of man, or the will of government, or the will of culture. Christ is the head.
This leads to the question, what is the will of Christ as it relates to his called out assembly? Grudem breaks Christ’s purpose for His Church into three categories:
1. Ministry to God: Worship
When God calls us out of the domain of darkness into the Kingdom of His Beloved Son (Colossians 1:13), there is an expectation that this salvific act will produce celebration; which only makes sense, for to become a part of the Church means that you have been rescued from Hell, and preserved for eternal joy. In Ephesians, Chapter 1, the Apostle Paul continuously mentions the Church in Ephesus that the immeasurable grace of God produces the praise of His Glory. The people of Christ are to be a people of praise, and this praise is not a robotic praise, but an authentic praise.
2. Ministry to Believers: Nurture
Once a person is born again they are not immediately mature in their spiritual walk. They began as a spiritual infant, and they must be brought to maturity through the teaching of God’s Word. When Jesus prayed for the disciples before his crucifixion he prayed, “Sanctify them in your truth, your Word is truth.” (John 17:17). The Church should be focused on bringing Christians into maturity. This is not just something that just happens, it takes effort on our part and grace on God’s part. If a group of people meet on Sunday’s and they are not teaching the Word, then they are not a Church. I don’t care what it says on your bulletin.
3. Ministry to the World: Evangelism and Mercy
Lastly, before Jesus ascended he said, ““All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:18-19). Jesus has commanded us to go and make disciples. This is a command not a request. This is our job description as a Church, and this should be a team effort. There should be Church-centered encouragement, training, partnership, funding, etc. that goes towards making disciples. This is the primary reason why, upon our conversation, we are not immediately taken into heaven, because we are to remain here and make disciples. So let’s get at it.