Jesus said, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh when no man can work” (John 9:4). Later Peter said, “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps” (I Pet. 2:21). The work of Christ is the work of His spiritual body—the church. He said that His mission was to “seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). Thus the mission of the church of Christ is to “seek and save the lost.”
When Jesus commissioned the apostles (and through them commissioned us, His church) he said, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15-16). Matthew 28:18-20 records this event in these words: “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
The church is a place of work. The work of the church is illustrated as a race we must run (Heb. 12:1); a contest where we strive to win (II Tim. 2:5); a battle place where we must be good soldiers (I Tim. 6:12). Thus Paul would write, “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12). He further admonishes us to be “steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” (I Cor. 15:58).
The chief work of the church is to preach the Gospel to the lost world. The church is the ONLY institution that is authorized to do this. It is the ONLY institution that can and must do it! The church is the “pillar and ground of the truth” (I Tim. 3:15). It is through the church that the manifold wisdom of God may be known (Eph. 3:10).
The church of Christ must be active in benevolent activities. The is but one way to fulfill its mission of preaching the Gospel. Jesus said that if we let our light (influence) shine (be seen) that men will turn and glorify God (Matt. 5:16). This work of light (doing good) causes men to turn to God as they hear and learn and obey His Word.
The church of Christ must edify itself. The health of the local church is absolutely necessary if it is to fulfill its worldwide mission. Remember Jesus said that the apostles were to teach the converts “all things” that He had told them (Matt. 28:20). How can a local church of Christ do its work if it does not keep itself pure? This involves keeping its doctrinal teaching and practices pure. Indeed, Paul told Timothy the same. He said, “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (I Tim. 4:16).
The church of Christ still has the same mission it was given by our Lord. If the church does not obey God’s commands as to worship and practice on a local level, its “work” will not be accepted by God on a worldwide level. To be a part of the “bride” that will be presented on that last great day, the local church must keep itself without spot, wrinkle, or any such thing (Eph. 5:27).
-Glenn B. Ramsey
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