Have you taken a blank check and signed it and said, Lord Jesus, here is my life. You fill in the terms. You fill in the conditions.
You fill in what happens. If you will just have me, I will follow you wherever you go. Is that the way that you love Christ? Does the Church exist to teach us to be good in our own right? Is it a place to entertain us with more and more bells and whistles?
Well, of course not. But why, then, does it exist? That's the question Pastor Don Green will begin to tackle on today's edition of The Truth Pulpit. Hi there, I'm Bill Wright. As Don continues to teach God's people God's Word, we're currently in a series titled Key Questions Answered.
And Don, what can we look forward to on this broadcast? Well, Bill, this is a very practical message today. It can help you know what to look for in a church home, my friend. And let me encourage you. Don't look for the biggest church that promises you the best coffee and the most entertaining program.
No, look for a church that exalts God, that teaches the Bible, and manifests biblical spiritual life. What does that look like? We're here to show you today on The Truth Pulpit. Okay, Don.
And friend, silence your cell phone for the next half hour or so and prepare your heart for today's study. Here again is Don Green from The Truth Pulpit. Today I want to answer this question. Why does the church exist? So why does the church exist?
Let me give you the first answer to that question. The church exists to exalt God. To exalt God.
E-X-A-L-T. The church exists to be a reflection of the glory of God. And Scripture is abundantly clear on this. We said that Christ bought the church, that he is the authority in the church.
He is the head of the church. Titus 2, verse 14 says that Christ purchased the church to be his own possession. And so as the possession of Christ as belonging to Christ, as those who are on the receiving end of the mercy and grace of Christ, then isn't it obvious? Isn't it obvious that the very purpose for which we exist would be to reflect back to the one who saved us from our sins glory and honor and thanksgiving?
That having been redeemed out of sin, having been delivered from the eternal consequences of sin, having had the power of sin broken in our lives and being so grateful for the spiritual power and grace and goodness that Christ has poured out upon us, wouldn't it be obvious that, if that's as important as we say it is, wouldn't it be obvious that the primary thing, the primary purpose of life is not that I get my needs satisfied or that I get to do what I want to do, the primary purpose is to give him glory. To help you see that in Scripture, turn to Ephesians chapter 1. And I just want you to see how Scripture makes the exaltation of God the primary focus of the church. 1 Corinthians 10.31 says, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
And so every detail of our life is oriented toward this purpose. Here in Ephesians chapter 1, Paul makes it plain about the very purpose of the church. Look at Ephesians chapter 1 verse 4 where it says that God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before him. He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to himself according to the kind intention of his will. Now, why would he do that? Paul, why? Why would Christ show such kindness to us? Why would God choose us?
Why would he do that? Verse 6, here's the purpose, here's the end to which God did this. To the praise of the glory of his grace, which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. Now, it's not enough for Paul to have said that once in this passage. He says it again. Look at verse 11. He says, we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to his purpose, who works all things after the counsel of his will, to the end that, here is the purpose once more, to the end that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, would be to the praise of his glory. He says it again. To the praise of his glory, verse 6. To the praise of his glory, verse 12. He said it twice, we can move on to something else now.
Oh wait, no, actually we can't. Because he goes on and he repeats it for a third time. Look at verse 13. He said, in him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, having also believed you were sealed in him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who was given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession.
Third time, in seven verses, to the praise of his glory. God called the church into existence. Christ saved a people so that they would be vessels individually and corporately, that the church, that group of people who believe in Christ, would exist with a purpose, understanding that their primary goal is to give glory to the one who chose them, redeemed them on the cross, and in whose hearts the Spirit worked to bring them to true salvation. That's why we exist. We exist to the praise of the glory of our Savior.
That is the defining purpose of the church. Now what does it mean to glorify God? What does it mean to exalt him? What do we mean when we say that?
Well, I'm not going to try to give you a technical definition, but I just want to give you some things to hang your thoughts on. We honor his character. We thank him for his work in our lives. We speak well of Christ. We obey his word. We elevate his word. And we say, without apology, that this book, these 66 books of the Bible, this one book is inspired by the Holy Spirit. It is absolute truth.
There is no other truth to be found anywhere in the universe except what God has revealed within the covers of the 66 books of the Bible. But in Psalm 138, it says, that I will give thanks to your name for your loving kindness and your truth, for you have magnified your word according to all your name. And so, because this one true God who eternally exists in three persons has shown love and mercy and kindness toward us in redeeming us from our sins, because of the great intrinsic worth of his character, because of the perfect way that he has revealed himself in his word, and because we are so very grateful to be in union with Christ, to be on the receiving end of mercy, to have been delivered from the power of sin and one day from the very presence of sin to be freed from the penalty of sin, we realize that we have received so much undeserved grace that the one thing, the one preeminent priority that dominates our lives, our thinkings, our ambitions, our motivations is, whatever else happens to me in life, whatever else I think, whatever else I care about, the one dominating passion, the one supreme passion must be for us as a people and for you as a redeemed Christian individually, to say the thing that matters is that my life would be uniquely devoted to giving glory to God. That's the purpose. That is why we exist.
Glorifying God is our supreme priority, and there is nothing else that competes with that purpose, with that motivation. This is not about us. This church belongs to Christ. It doesn't belong to me.
It doesn't belong to you. It doesn't belong to any particular group within the church. The church belongs to Christ, and part of belonging to Him means we exist to glorify Him. By comparison, nothing else matters. Whether I live or whether I die, whether it's in sickness or in health, as long as Christ is glorified, then our purpose is fulfilled, and in that we can find our satisfaction.
That's why we exist. Glorifying God, exalting God, is our supreme priority. Now, lest you think I'm making too much of a single passage in Ephesians chapter 1, turn over to the Gospel of Matthew chapter 10. The Gospel of Matthew chapter 10.
Look at Matthew chapter 10 verse 37 where Jesus said, He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for my sake will find it. The call of the Gospel, beloved. The call of the Gospel. The promise of eternal life.
Hear me on this. The promise of eternal life is exclusively reserved for those who renounce their own life ambition, their own life affections, and say, Lord Jesus, I submit to you, I embrace you, I enthrone you as the unconditional king of my heart, and there is no other who will ever have competing affection for you in my heart. And Lord, if I find in my life bubbling up competing affections for you, I will repent of that. Because what Christ has called us to is a supreme affection for him that transcends every other earthly desire, ambition, or affection.
He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me. And so, this is kind of sobering, isn't it? This makes you examine your heart. Say, what is it that I love in life? What is it that motivates me?
And you know, there's so many kind of unspoken currents that go beneath the surface of what people say and think, it's hard to bring them all out and to address them, to address them all. But when you understand the supreme priority of Christ in your life, you realize that nothing else ultimately matters. It's not that it doesn't matter, but that in an ultimate sense, compared to, this is the thing, compared to Christ, nothing else competes. You realize that there is no other affection that trumps your affection to Christ. That is the mark of the redeemed heart. And so, it's one of the ways that you can assess the reality of your salvation, it's one of the ways that you can assess your understanding of the gospel, is to realize this one thing, is that Jesus Christ, a real living being, one who was a time and space historical man, now exalted into the throne room of heaven at the right hand of God, he who is God incarnate, God in human flesh, that a real person comes to you in the proclamation of the word of God, comes to you in the proclamation of the gospel and says, I have supreme claim on your affections, will you follow me or not?
A person, the Lord Jesus Christ, is claiming your absolute allegiance, your complete surrender to him. And the question is, have you received him on his terms? Have you submitted to him on the call that says, I will be the supreme affection of your heart or you will not have me at all?
Have you responded to him on those terms? Have you, as it were, taken a blank check and signed it and said, Lord Jesus, here is my life, you fill in the terms, you fill in the conditions, you fill in what happens. If you will just have me, I will follow you wherever you go.
I will love you more than any other. Is that the way that you love Christ? Turn to Matthew 22. Matthew 22, verse 36. A lawyer came to Jesus, testing him, said, Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said to him, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
This is the great and foremost commandment. I understand, beloved, that you're like me and that you don't live out your love for Christ perfectly. I understand that you sin and fall short of the glory of God even as a believer in Christ.
But that's a slightly different question than what we're talking about here. The question that we're talking about here is, is the settled allegiance of your heart to Christ and Christ alone? And have you, as it were, declared war on everything within you that would rise up in opposition to that? Do you see Christ high and lifted up, glorified, exalted, and you say, that's where my affection lies is with him?
A person. This is not abstract theological theory. This is not just exegetical data from the Greek New Testament. A living person claims your supreme allegiance on the promise of eternal life on the threat of eternal punishment if you reject him. That is the consequence of the gospel. Those are the terms upon which Christ offers himself to you.
And you don't get to redefine the terms and say, well I want you here but not there. I'll say it again, eternal life is exclusively reserved for those who renounce themselves and enthrone Christ as king of their hearts. And so I ask you, have you received Christ like that? You quickly see that the terms of Christ are different from the terms of what's sometimes offered. Hey, come down one time, say a prayer, go, and you're all set. That's not it.
That's not it at all. Christ confronts the very seat of our affections and says, I will own you there. And the true believer says, of course you will.
Of course you will! I wouldn't have it any other way! And as individuals gather together and come together as a corporate body of believers, they come together and as it were, they look in each other's eyes and they say, isn't it great that we can glorify the God who saved me and who saved you? Isn't it wonderful that we can just praise and worship and honor his name together? There's nothing else I'd rather do.
You too? Oh, we are in this together. Praise a holy and gracious God! Glorifying God is our supreme joy as a people. It's the call of God on our lives, and it is also our supreme joy to respond with hearts of grateful obedience. And so, when a believer hears that the purpose of his life and the purpose of the church is to exalt God, he responds and says, yes, that's what I embrace.
That's what I want. Charles Spurgeon said this. He says, Christ has done such great things for us, and he has shown so much goodwill toward us, that to pay him reverence seems not so much the call of duty, but as the natural impulse of love. Why does the church exist? The church exists to exalt God. The church exists to exalt Christ who saved us.
And everything else falls under that primary purpose. God in his word has shown us how he wants us to go about doing that as a church, which leads us to the second answer. Why does the church exist? First of all, the church exists to exalt God. Secondly, the church exists to edify the saints, to build up true Christians. A thought that would seem so obvious as you read scripture, but if you only looked at what so many churches are doing today with their seeker-sensitive model of ministry, their seeker-sensitive philosophy, let's just get them in the walls and see what happens, you would think that this was something radical.
No, it's not radical, biblical. The church exists to edify the saints. You see, the church is the realm in which Christians are supposed to grow spiritually. And that is to be one of the primary motivating factors in the way that church structure and church ministry is set up.
That there would be a deliberate, intentional, biblical effort to make it possible for true Christians to come and to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, 2 Peter 3.18. Turn to Ephesians again, chapter 4. What is the purpose of the church? Well, the church exists to exalt God.
The church exists to edify the saints. Ephesians chapter 4. Actually, let's start in verse 11. Ephesians chapter 4, verse 11. Speaking about the church, it says that he gave some as apostles and some as prophets and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers.
Why did he do that? Verse 12, for the equipping of the saints for the work of the service to the building up of the body of Christ. The foundation of the apostles, those men who came after, pastors and teachers today are given to the church for the purpose of building up Christians so that they can live the life that Christians are supposed to live and that they would carry out what Christ has appointed them to do in the power of the Spirit to the glory of God. Verse 12, to the building up of the body of Christ, verse 13, 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 to the fullness of Christ. Verse 14, as a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness and deceitful scheming. But, verse 15, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, here it is again, the focus is on the one who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. We're not to be children, but we're to become spiritual men, as it were.
We're not to stay babes, but we're to grow, to grow, to grow. There is to be a development among those who belong to the church and part of the reason that the church exists is to teach and to minister in a way that people go from being immature Christians to grow and to go down that path toward maturity. That's part of the reason why the standards for spiritual leadership are so high, why you don't appoint a new convert into spiritual leadership. You need the Scripture calls for men who have grown and who have experienced some growth in their own Christian lives before they're ever set up as examples or leaders in the church. Spiritual growth is not merely the addition of biblical knowledge to your head. Spiritual growth is shown in a character that is transformed by the holy influence of the Spirit of God upon their lives and by growing in obedience to the Word of God. It's sobering indeed to ask yourself the question, what is my most powerful desire or passion?
If it's anything or anyone other than the Lord himself, idolatry still needs to be worked out of your life. Today, Pastor Don Green has begun a message titled, Why Does the Church Exist? Part of our series, Key Questions Answered. Next time, Don will conclude the lesson, and we hope you'll be with us then here on The Truth Pulpit. You know, you can hear any part of this series again at your convenience when you visit our website, thetruthpulpit.com.
You can download podcasts or find out how to receive CD copies for your personal study library. Plus, you'll find the link Follow Don's Pulpit. That'll take you to Don's full-length weekly sermons, not subject to the time editing we need for radio broadcasts. Again, that's all at thetruthpulpit.com. And by the way, may we also say thank you for your support of this ministry. Without you, this program would not be possible. Well, now for Don Green, I'm Bill Wright, inviting you back next time as Don continues to teach God's people God's Word from The Truth Pulpit.
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