We Are The Church
In the Epistle of Ephesians we read Paul instructing this church: “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”Ephesians 2:19-22
When I read this – I think about the church. I wrote in the margin my Bible – “sounds like the church”. These are words about us: “Ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.” This is talking about me. Do you recognize yourself here? Thank God. We are saved already. This is just one of the metaphors about the church as it is revealed throughout the New Testament. Another is “the family.” Another is “the temple”. And another “the body”. One thing is certain, the church is a living organism.
And we are built together in it and the Holy Spirit lives in us. We are the church! But that is not all. As the church …
We Have A Mission
Look at the first words of Ephesians 3:1 – “For this cause …” The reason why we are the church is because we have a mission. The church has a mission given to us by our Commander in Christ, Jesus Christ. This mission is revealed and declared in many places – Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:48; John 20:21; Acts 1:8. We also see this mission revealed here in Ephesians 3:6-12.
“That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.
Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.”
We see that the Gentiles were to become fellow heirs with the Jews. We were all to be a part of the same body. All of us were to be partakers of his promise.
The mission of the church is to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ. (verse 8) It is to make all men see this fellowship that is being revealed through Christ and his followers. (verse 9) THIS IS BIG! The mission of the church is to make known the manifold wisdom of God and the ETERNAL PURPOSE of God. (verse 10-11) The mission of the church is to be a BOLD and confident ministry that is accomplished through our trusting in Christ. (verse 12) Finally in all this Paul, by the Spirit gives some simple, yet absolutely necessary steps for the church to follow if we are going to successfully obey and complete the mission He has commissioned. Here are the …
Steps To Success
The first thing, and the very atmosphere for us to accomplish our mission is prayer. This is what Paul did first! (Ephesians 3:14) “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” He prayed for success. We must pray for success in accomplishing our mission as the church. Are you praying for the success of your ministry – of your church? Look at the prayer he prayed in verses 16-21.
“That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”
It is an amazing prayer. In it he unashamedly asks for strength for their inner man, for Christ to be at home in their hearts, for greater love and understanding of Christ’s love and for ability to fulfill all that was required in the mission – “exceedingly abundantly” – through the power of Christ working in them. And finally that all they accomplish simply and clearly be for the glory of Christ in the church. So PRAYER is huge in Paul’s life and my dear friend it must be HUGE in ours as well.
But then there are some vital steps, that are to be taken while within this atmosphere of prayer – very practical and absolutely necessary steps to fulfill our mission. If they are neglected – we will be mediocre at best and quite certainly fail at the worst. What are these needful steps? Look at Ephesians 4:11. “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers.” God gave the gift of these servants listed in verse 11 to his church. Likely, if you are reading this you may be one of these. I am. So if I am one of these in verse 11 what must I do? Look at verses 12-16 “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:” – STEP ONE – “perfect the saints”. STEP TWO – “for the work of the ministry” STEP THREE – “for the edifying of the body of Christ” (the church).
To give a clarification this is simply stating we MUST be involved in discipleship, (1) step by step doctrinal instruction of those who are saved toward the goal of preparing them to be (2) actively and productively involved in the ministry so that (3) the body of Christ, the church will grow. When this is happening correctly in our churches we move to the place where our ministry will be at “full throttle” (verses 13-16) and we can come in the unity of the faith, grow as Christ wants us to grow, be no more children or just babes, but maturely working to the accomplishment of the mission Christ has saved us and called us to accomplish and those trained go on to train others. This then is the genius of New Testament ministry. May God help us to faithfully be His church, working at His mission by taking the steps revealed in His word.