Thursday, August 13, 2009

Inward, Upward, or Outward?

By John MacArthur

If the average evangelical congregation were surveyed concerning the primary purpose of the church, it is likely that many diverse answers would be given.

Several purposes, however, would probably be prominent.

A large number would rank fellowship first, the opportunity to associate and interact with fellow Christians who share similar beliefs and values. They highly value the fact that the church provides activities and programs for the whole family and is a place where relationships are nurtured and shared and where inspiration is provided through good preaching and beautiful music. A favorite verse for such church members is likely to be, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

At a level perhaps a step higher, some Christians would consider sound biblical teaching to be the church’s principal function, expounding Scripture and strengthening believers in the knowledge of and obedience to God’s revealed truth. That emphasis would include helping believers discover and minister their spiritual gifts in various forms of leadership and service. Like fellowship, that too is a basic function of the church, because God “gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4: 11-13).…

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