Monday, August 6, 2012

The Premier Work of the Church

The modern church has put an inordinate emphasis upon soul-winning, moving forward under the banner of what they have called the Great Commission. While over emphasized today, that does not mean that there isn't a kernel of truth that caused the plant to sprout.

What IS the premier work of the church, if not evangelism? The original command to man was “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28). Such a command did not have to be constantly repeated, since the basic biological function occurred naturally. That this biological function would be replaced with a spiritual function was made clear in the prophecy of Jeremiah, “Then I Myself will gather the remnant of My flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and bring them back to their pasture, and they will be fruitful and multiply” (Jeremiah 23:3). And the fulfillment of that prophecy is seen in the fact that “the word of the Lord continued to grow and to be multiplied” (Acts 12:24).

Is soul-winning the preeminent function of the church? Is procreation the preeminent function of marriage? How often do the Scriptures use the bride/bridegroom metaphor? If we – the bride of Christ – are not procreating, then what other premier purpose would we have? To be married is not the premier function of marriage, nor is companionship, nor is the honeymoon, nor are the anniversaries. “Women will be preserved through the bearing of children” (1 Timothy 2:15).

I agree that little is said in the epistles concerning the commands issued by Christ, not because it is not central but because it occurred naturally (God's nature, not man's) within the church. Jesus said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me” (John 12:32) … which is exactly that the church did! “We preach Christ crucified,” said the apostle (1 Corinthians 1:23).

Why was Christ preached? “God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21). God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).

Is soul-winning the premier function of the church? Equally so with the edification of the body, per the authority of our Master. “He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-12). Where in the New Testament is the work of pastors and teachers exalted over the work of the evangelists? Both are fundamental to body function, thus Paul told Timothy, “Do the work of an evangelist” (2 Timothy 4:4).

Lest anyone try to make a case from this that soul-winning is only the concern of those labeled as “evangelists,” may it be said that it is we the Christians who are told to have our “feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15). We are the ones who should show “every consideration for all men. 3 For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures ...” (Titus 3:2-3). We are the “royal priesthood” who should “proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; [10] for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:9-10). If we do not show mercy as the Lord has shown us mercy, how will we stand in the Day of Judgment? “For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13).

So to answer the question as to why the church wasn't specifically told to evangelize after the Day of Pentecost? For the same reason you don't tell sheep in the field to procreate. They will do so on their own, whether you tell them to or not. The same thing occurred within the church, and there are ample Scriptures demonstrating that such work was taking place – and was to take place (i.e., 2 Corinthians 10:4-5; Romans 1:5, 16; 15:9; 1 Corinthians 9:22; 2 Corinthians 2:15; 4:15; 5:11; Philippians 2:15; Colossians 1:27; 1 Thessalonians 1:8; 2:16; 2 Thessalonians 3:1; 1 Timothy 1:15-16; 2 Timothy 2:24-26: 1 Peter 2:12; 3 John 6-8; Jude 22-23).

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.