Is there immorality, impurity?
Is there greed? Is there silly talk that marks your life? Are you so preoccupied with the things of the world that you hardly have time for the things of Scripture? Well, beloved, if that's you, let this word from Scripture be that which motivates you to change. Welcome back to The Truth Pulpit with Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Hi, I'm Bill Wright. You know, there are so many questions we believers are bombarded with when people we encounter in the world discover we're Christians. And the Bible tells us to always be ready with a defense for our faith. Now, that doesn't mean you have to attend seminary or get a doctorate degree.
In fact, we're getting you off to a pretty good start, we hope, by presenting our current series, Key Questions Answered. Today, Don presents part two of a lesson answering the question, why does the church exist? Last time, Don reminded us that first and foremost, it exists to exalt God. Then also, the church is to edify the saints.
Don has two more reasons for you on this broadcast, so have your Bible handy and let's join him now as he continues to teach God's people God's Word from The Truth Pulpit. When we talk about why the church exists, church exists to exalt God, the church exists to edify the saints, here's what I want you to see. Life in the church is about so much more than being here Sunday morning at 9 a.m. That's a crucial part of it. But life in the church, the reason that the church exists is that 24-7, 168 hours a week, we would be people who are being increasingly transformed, progressively sanctified to be more like what Scripture calls us to be, to more reflect the character of the one who saved us. A biblical understanding of the church totally revolutionizes the way you think about life.
Because you start to understand that it concerns not only Sunday morning, it concerns who you are and who you are becoming. And the church exists to teach, to love one another, to help us all in the progress of moving along that path that God has appointed for everyone who truly knows Christ. We meet together in part to help each other pursue those lofty spiritual goals. Turn to Hebrews chapter 10. Hebrews chapter 10 verse 23, why does the church exist?
Chapter 10 verse 23, let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another and all the more as you see the day drawing near. You want one mark among others of a healthy church? It's when people come together in that body and they're coming in with a mindset, not so much, what am I going to get out of it here today, rather coming with a mind, how can I be a blessing and an encouragement to the persons that I run into?
How can I help them in their life find the path that leads to encouragement and love and good deeds? And when a seeker-sensitive model of ministry is adopted, and you say, we're going to do it the way you want it to be, what you do is you attract, you can attract a whole lot of people that way, but what you attract is a whole bunch of selfish people looking for what they can get out of it. The purpose of the church is the exact opposite of that. We come together wanting to be conscious of how we can stimulate one another to good deeds, to how we can be an encouragement to each other. There is an outward focus to the true church, which has a dampening effect on criticism and on divisive attitudes and behavior, and says, I'm here for everybody else. And in the grace of God, as we adopt that attitude, then he pours out the blessing that we need. So we receive that as a secondary side benefit to pursuing the primary purpose of exalting God and edifying the saints as a corporate body. That's why we exist.
Vertically for him, horizontally for the saints. Now thirdly, the church exists to evangelize the lost. The church exists to evangelize the lost.
We won't spend much time here for the sake of time. We have a mission beyond our walls. This doesn't define what we do on Sunday morning.
It affects why we go out into the world afterwards. We exist to testify to the world about Jesus Christ. Look at Matthew chapter 28. Matthew 28. Matthew 28 verse 18. Jesus came up and spoke to them saying, All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Matthew 28 verse 18. All authority given to me in heaven and on earth.
Verse 19. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always even to the end of the age. The purpose of the church, and we all have different ways and different contributions that we make to this purpose in the various spheres of life that the Lord has given to us in his providence, but another purpose of the church is that we would go out and proclaim Christ so that other people would come to know his glorious name, that other people would come and through the proclamation of our words, through the testimony of our lives, through pointing people to scriptures, that others would come to be disciples of Christ.
Two things about that. One is that this totally revolutionizes a perspective on the church that gets overtly political. Our mission field isn't like-minded conservative republicans.
Our mission field is the nations, those who share our political philosophy but yet are lost, those who oppose our political philosophy and yet are lost. Those political matters become utterly secondary to this great command to go and make disciples. Do you realize that none of us were worthy to receive the gospel? You and I were never worthy to hear it? Do you realize how fully your sinful life before Christ disqualified you from any claim on the grace of God?
And then God had mercy on you? When you cried out for salvation, when you came and said, I'm a sinner, please receive me, please forgive me, please fulfill your promise of eternal life, and God did that, don't you understand that you contributed nothing to deserve that? Well, look, as you move along in your Christian life, don't ever lose sight of where you came from so that you never lose sight of the fact that the people that are outside are just like you were, and you overlook secondary differences like political philosophies and skin color and sexual orientation and say, they are a lost sinner just like I was, and I need to share the gospel with them, and if I get opportunity to do so, I will overlook everything else for the one supreme purpose of obeying Christ and teaching them what Christ commanded.
Truth community is not going to be a politically active church because that dilutes and distorts and diverts a congregation from its focus on the gospel. Every sinner out there of the most base kind and those who train their sights to undermine us, we look past all of that. If perhaps God would use our words, our teaching, our lives to be an instrument in which He conveys saving grace to them and they're rescued from sin just like you and I were. That's why we exist.
And we have to come to grips with the fact that worldly ambitions, sooner or later, usually sooner, and not as soon as you recognize, worldly ambitions start to undermine the purpose of the Great Commission if you're not careful. You see, our purpose is evangelism. We exist to testify to the world about Christ. And just like, beloved, just like Christ endured the reviling of his name while he was here on earth, just as Christ endured unjust suffering on the cross, just as He submitted to an unjust trial and an unjust execution out of grace for His people. So we, in like manner, endure mistreatment, insults, compromises of our liberty if only we can speak the Gospel.
That's all that matters. Would you really, would you really, would you really, this will help you understand the priority of the Gospel in your life, in your heart. Would you really want to prevail in a political argument if you knew that the cost of that was that someone would turn away from Christ as a result of it? Are your politics that important to you? That you prefer your politics to the eternal well-being of the soul created in the image of God that's standing right before you?
Where are our priorities? We have to come back. Christ said, go and make disciples of all the nations. Teach them to observe all that I commanded you. And if they spit on us and they abuse us in the process, we'll still keep doing what we're doing. Because our purpose is to exalt God, we exalt him in part through our obedience, and he said, go and teach them.
Okay, Lord, I'm going. This defines priorities for us. Well, how do we accomplish this exaltation, edification, and evangelism?
Final point, point number four. The church uses spiritual means. The church uses spiritual means. We teach the Word of God, 2 Timothy 3. Imagine having a really high-powered sports car, and you disconnected the fuel line so that it wouldn't operate.
Why would you do that? You just defeated the purpose of the car. When we think about the purpose of the church, what we have to understand, what we have to remember, is that our soul power is found in this book. It's found in the Word of God, not in our clever ministries, not in our direct mail programs that promise, really good coffee if you'll just come and be with us. If it sounds like I'm mocking something, I am. I'm mocking a foolish approach to ministry. 2 Timothy 3, verse 14.
You, however, actually look at verse 13. Evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceived and being deceived. Timothy, the environment is going to get worse.
And we can look at that in our present context and say, wow, it looks that way to us, too. It's getting worse. It's getting increasingly hostile. They want to silence Christians. They're deceived, they're being deceived. So much of the deception is going on in the very church. So what do we do? We panic.
No, no, don't do that. Verse 14. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings, which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. The church uses spiritual means. It is the Scriptures alone that give the knowledge and the power that leads to salvation which is in Jesus Christ. When pastors close their Bible and start telling their stories, they are closing people off from the only thing that can save them.
The only thing that can awaken their hearts. Their cute little stories about their cute little kids aren't going to do anybody any good on the day of judgment. Shame on them. Shame on them for exalting themselves instead of Christ. Shame on them for proclaiming themselves when sinners who are dying are in front of them who need to hear the life-giving gospel.
Shame on them. It's the Scriptures that give the knowledge which leads to salvation. That's why we teach the Bible. Paul goes on in chapter 4, verse 1.
I think it's unfortunate that there's a chapter break there. Because what follows is directly tied to what's at the end of chapter 3. Chapter 4, verse 1. He said, All Scripture is inspired by God.
It's profitable. So Timothy, look at this, chapter 4, verse 1. I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead and by his appearing and his kingdom.
Whoa! Do you realize, in light of everything that we've said here today, that when we gather together as a church, when we exist as a body of believers together, that the purpose of the church is of great, momentous, eternal consequence? This isn't a joke!
This isn't something to be treated lightly! The purpose of the church is significant. It is of eternal consequence. God chose us before the foundation of the world. Paul charges us in the presence of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead.
The ramifications of church ministry will echo throughout all of eternity. This is serious. This matters. That's why we don't put clowns up here on stage.
That's why we're not trying to do interpretive dance. This is too important to trivialize it. What did Paul say after he made this solemn charge and invoked the presence of God and the Son of God and invoked eternal judgment as his witness? Timothy, I charge you in light of all of this! I better pay attention here. Verse 2, Preach the Word.
Be ready in season and out of season. Whether people want to hear it, whether they don't. Reprove, rebuke, exhort with great patience and instruction. Timothy, preach the Word because, verse 3, the time will come when they won't endure sound doctrine. But they want to have their ears tickled.
They will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires. They'll turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. Does that describe American culture today or not?
Well, look, beloved, don't you see? Don't you see that that reality that we all read about and see in the news and see happening all around us? That's not for us to become militant and hostile against those who are propagating it with a hateful spirit. It's not for us to retreat into isolation.
It's not for us to fall back in fear. No! No!
That's not it at all! That's not what we do at all! We embrace the fact that God has appointed us for such a time as this, and we say this is the divinely appointed time in history where God has brought us together and we will simply band together and we'll preach the Word and we'll let God worry about the consequences of it.
We preach the Word! We're not afraid! Why would I be afraid of anything? I'm going to heaven!
Christ has saved me and put His hand upon me. Why would I fear the loss of earthly things? Not that I'm looking for that, not that I'm asking for that, but I'm not living for this world.
Neither are you, if you're a Christian. So we just have to have the perspective, and what defines the perspective is understanding why the Church exists. We exist to glorify God, to edify the saints, to evangelize the lost, and how do we do that? We use spiritual means.
We teach the Word. We have nothing to say except what's in the four corners of the Bible. And yet, Scripture says it's more than enough. God will honor us.
One way or another, God will honor those who honor His Word. And so in verse 5 there in 2 Timothy 4, Paul says, Timothy, you be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. We use spiritual means, not fleshly means. As we do that, we observe the ordinances of the Church, baptism, communion, which are part of what the Lord has appointed to be an ongoing testimony. We use our spiritual gifts to minister to one another. We don't exist to please the world, we exist to evangelize it.
We don't exist to get comfortable in the world, we exist to honor the God who saved us out of the world. And Scripture says, don't be surprised if the world hates you. Of course they're going to hate you. They hated Christ and crucified Him.
Nothing has changed in the intervening 2,000 years. If we're Christians, we're going to be on the receiving end of hostility. And so knowing that makes us bold. Knowing that makes us courageous. Knowing that makes us thankful. Knowing that makes us want to come together and honor the purpose for which God saved us.
Closing with Charles Spurgeon. He said, and I quote, The Church is not formed to be a social club, a political association, or to promote its own opinions. It is a body created of the Lord to accomplish His own ends and purposes, and it exists for nothing else. End quote. I don't know about you, beloved, but for Christ to have called me out of the world to be a part of that purpose is so marvelous, it's so wonderful.
If I could go back, I never would. And I know that most of you wouldn't either. What strengthens us in that resolve is understanding the purpose of the Church and loving each other enough to come together to serve the purposes of Christ together for as long as He gives us breath. And if we're ignored and isolated and marginalized, that's okay. Because you know what's going to happen in heaven? All of that ignoring and marginalization is going to be reversed as Christ displays His manifold glory on those who have been the objects of His affection. We get to live for Christ today.
We get to live with Him throughout all of eternity. We are a church triumphant. We are a church optimistic. We are a church committed to the purposes for which God has appointed us. And I am grateful to God that there are so many sweet, tender-hearted people together who share in that same great affection. It's a mark of the work of God in your heart individually. It's a mark of the work of God in our church. And we praise Him for that.
That's Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, with part two of a message called Why Does the Church Exist? part of the series Key Questions Answered. Next time, Don tackles a question that's relevant to literally every person on earth, past, present, and future.
What happens when we die? Don't miss a moment. Right now, though, Don's back in studio with a special invitation for you. Well, friend, if this message has made you want to find a church like what you've heard described, why not visit us this weekend at Truth Community Church? We're a young church. We're not very big.
But we do want to become something like what you heard today. We're easy to find in person or on the website. Bill will help you find us in either place. Thanks, Don. And friend, all you need to do is visit thetruthpulpit.com. There you'll find address and service time information, a link to Don's Facebook page, details about free CDs of Don's messages, and much more. Once again, that's all at thetruthpulpit.com. Now for Don Green, I'm Bill Wright. We'll see you again next time as Don continues to teach God's people God's Word in the Truth Pulpit.
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