When activities become routine, it can be easy to overlook their significance and simply run on autopilot. This can happen in many areas of life – including church. We can become so familiar with our traditions that we never stop to consider what the church is and why it exists. In fact, we may even forget whose it is and start to think it’s “our” church.
The first mention of the church in the New Testament is in Matthew 16:18, where Jesus said, “I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” This clearly shows us that the church belongs to Christ, and there will always be conflict involved in the growth. However, victory is assured because it is God’s power at work in the building process.
Although the Lord is the one forming His church, He’s enlisted us to participate in the work. That’s why, before He ascended to heaven, Jesus’ parting words to His disciples were, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). This is the unfinished task of the church, and it is still being accomplished to this very day.
We have a message to bring to the world – that God sent His only Son to earth to pay the penalty for sin with His death on the cross. He did this so those who believe in Him could be forgiven and receive eternal life (John 3:16). Our message is not about a thousand things. We have this one essential truth, and everything we do is because of it. If it’s not, then we are failing to accomplish what Christ called us to do. Unlike so many ideas and philosophies, our message never needs revising. It’s the same one Jesus spoke almost 2,000 years ago, and it still effectively and powerfully transforms people’s lives, no matter their culture or language.
Christ gave His church a mission to accomplish – to spread the gospel to every tribe, language, people, and nation (Rev. 5:9). Even to the church’s teaching and training through sermons, Bible studies, and Sunday school programs exist to equip God’s people. We must know the truth before we can pass it on to others.
Although the gospel is global in its outreach, it’s personal in its impact. No nation or people group is saved corporately. Faith in Christ and repentance from sins are personal issues. Each person must hear and believe the message in order to be saved.
The motivation for the church’s mission is twofold. First of all, Jesus commands us to make disciples and teach them to observe all His instructions (Matt. 28:19-20). If we call Him Lord, our desire and ambition should be to obey Him. Second, the condition of lost humanity should prod us into action. In the Scriptures, God describes the unredeemed as separated from Him, deceived, darkened in their understanding, helpless to save themselves, and hopeless without Him (Eph. 2:12; 4:17-18). How can we possibly keep to ourselves the only message with the power to transfer people from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of God’s Son?
Our methods for spreading the message of Christ are diverse (1 Cor. 9:16-23). We live in the most amazing time in history with multiple avenues available for reaching the lost. Whether it is through Christian radio, Christian films, internet websites and ministries, or just the traditional modes of visiting a church and hearing the Gospel, the way has been opened like never before for many to hear the Good News of Jesus. Let us be thankful for the Gospel and let us be faithful to use whatever means possible to spread the Gospel to those near and far.