Calvary Road Baptist Church

“A FATHER TEACHES THE PURPOSE OF THE CHURCH”[1]

First Thessalonians 2.10-12

 Though today is Fathers Day, I will not bring the kind of Fathers Day message from God’s Word that is usual for me. I typically bring a message that addresses the kind of man a father ought to be, and can only be if he is a Christian man. Not today. Today I bring a message that explains a portion of what a father ought to teach his children, but may neglect to teach his children even if he is a Christian father. In First Thessalonians 2.10-12, the Apostle Paul provides a wonderful job description for dads. It is not a complete job description, but it is a wonderful start for any man who takes his children seriously. Turn there and read along with me, standing when you find the passage:

 10     Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:

11     As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children,

12     That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.

 It is very clear from what we have just read that the Apostle Paul, when likening his own ministry to that of a father, not only saw fathers as responsible to set good examples for their children to follow (verse 10), but also as being careful to properly teach their children (verse 11), so their kids will walk worthy of God (verse 12). If raising sons to be manly and girls to be virtuous, and if raising kids to be patriots is thought to be important to a self-respecting man, raising kids to walk worthy of God is over the top even more important.

There are many things dads need to teach their children, with a father’s role becoming ever more crucial in the life of a child as he or she gets older, unless of course the man is a catastrophe as a dad. However, one topic seems completely ignored in present society, though it is shown by the amount of attention paid to it in God’s Word to be vital. I speak, of course, of the church, the congregation of born again and scripturally baptized believers in Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5.25 reveals to us that Jesus gave Himself for the church. Its importance thereby established, we should ask what is the purpose of the church, of congregations such as this one.

I intend to review what thoughtful and responsible fathers should teach their children about the church they raise them in, what you men should teach your children about this church:

 First, THE PURPOSE OF THIS CHURCH CONSIDERED FROM A NEGATIVE VIEWPOINT

 To keep your kids from being sidetracked and drawn away to nice sounding causes, let me briefly mention six things, which do not and should not describe the purpose of our or any other gospel preaching church:

First, the purpose of this church is not to save the world. In Matthew 13.33, Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.” In the 19th century, many misinterpreted this parable as a picture of the gospel permeating and purifying society, thus turning it into the golden age of the millennium before Christ’s return. World War 1 disabused folks of that naive notion, with the 20th century proving to be the bloodiest period in human history. Contrary to liberal notions of man’s improvements and postmillennial expectations of the leavening influence of the gospel, world events will sour and become much worse before Christ’s second coming makes things better:

 Second Timothy 3.1-7:  1      This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

2      For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

3      Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

4      Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

5      Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

6      For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,

7      Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Second Peter 3.1-5:     1      This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance:

2      That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:

3      Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,

4      And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.

5      For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water.

We will not save the world, and it is not our church’s purpose to try to save the world.

Next, the purpose of this church is not to serve the world. Nowhere in the New Testament is our church told to lobby for stronger pollution laws, to stage “pray-ins” for unpopular wars, or to stand against the evils of capitalism in an effort to bring about social justice. This is not, of course, to say that individual believers should not be involved in certain kinds of social action, but we must remember that we are called to focus our efforts on what is best, the gospel ministry, not on what is merely good. We leave the merely good to those who are influenced by the gospel we preach without being converted to Jesus Christ by it.

Third, the purpose of this church is not to attempt to rule the world, as did some professing Christians during Europe’s Dark Ages. We are a Baptist church. As such, we oppose territorialism, such as is practiced by the Orthodox and Catholic churches, as well as the mainline denominational Protestant churches when they were given the chance. We subscribe to the separation between church and state. This is why Baptists carry the gospel to wherever the gospel needs to be carried, regardless of the prevailing religion or denominational affiliations. We seek not to rule the world, but to reach the world, and have for 2000 years been opposed to any union of church and state.

Fourth, the purpose of this church is not to fight the world. All too often Bible believers fall victim to this error. Although there are those special occasions when congregations simply must stand up and thunder out against immorality and sin, our job is not to expend all our energy fighting sins and promoting traditional values. Our task is to reach into the world and by means of the gospel ministry to pull one sinner as a brand from the fire at a time.

Fifth, the purpose of this congregation is not to imitate the world. It has been sadly observed that today churches are so worldly and (on occasion) the world so churchy that angels themselves could not separate the two. Are we opposed to enjoying the fellowship of the saints? Of course not. At the same time, our purpose is not to entertain, but to evangelize and to train. Thus, our approach to ministry will never seek to emulate by appearance or philosophy the values of the world. Sixth, the purpose of this church is not to isolate ourselves from the world. This is the opposite error from that of imitation. About the time of the Roman emperor, Constantine there arose a new religious trend known as “monasticism.” The philosophy of monasticism was that one could escape the influences of this world by removing himself from the people of this world. We are not to spend our lives in isolated contemplation. We are to be in the world, yet not of this world.[2] Thus, Christians should have unsaved friends, and should be ready to meet and befriend lost people at all times, so we might be useful to God to reach them with the gospel.

 Next, THE PURPOSE OF THE CHURCH CONSIDERED FROM A POSITIVE VIEWPOINT

 One of the most influential Bible teachers of the 20th century was C. I. Scofield (Scofield Reference Edition of the Bible). Though very popular, few who have carefully studied their Bibles can agree with him concerning the purpose of the church. Scofield writes:

 “Much is said concerning the ‘mission of the church.’ The ‘church which is his body’ has for its mission to build itself up until the body is complete (Eph. 4:11-16; Col. 2:19), but the visible church, as such, is charged with no mission. The commission to evangelize the world is personal, and not corporate. So far as the Scripture story goes, the work of evangelization was done by individuals called directly of the Spirit to do that work. Churches and individuals helped the work of these men, but there is no trace of any corporate responsibility attaching to ‘the church’ as such” (Bible Correspondence Course, III, p. 431).

It is almost inconceivable to read such words from the pen of one who sought to influence others’ understanding of the Bible. Scofield got it precisely backwards. The Apostle Paul would not have agreed with him. The driving force behind Paul’s evil actions prior to his conversion to Christ was to destroy churches (Acts 8.3). However, his compelling purpose after his salvation was to start churches (Acts 14.23). The sole reason for his second missionary trip was to establish those churches (Acts 15.36, 41; 16.5). One of his heaviest burdens was for the welfare of those congregations (Second Corinthians 11.28). Of his thirteen known New Testament epistles, nine are directly written to local churches, and three to pastors of local churches. In these letters, he gives detailed instruction concerning the conduct of their worship (First Corinthians 11.1-16), observance of communion (First Corinthians 11.17-34), use of spiritual gifts (First Corinthians 12), and the exercise of leadership responsibilities (First Timothy 3; Titus 1) for local churches.

In view of this, it is difficult indeed to conclude that Paul looked upon the church as an institution without a program, a plan, or a purpose. The facts are that Jesus Christ has literally loaded down His churches with many and manifold responsibilities and tasks.

I list for you thirteen objectives that fathers would do very well to keep before their children:

1.   Churches are to love God. In Revelation 2.4, the Lord Jesus took the church at Ephesus to task, saying, “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” Churches are to love God.

 2.   Churches are to glorify God. Ephesians 1.5-6, 11-12, 14 and 3.21 speak directly to this. Allow me to read Second Thessalonians 1.12: “That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” How are we to glorify God? Congregations such as ours are to glorify God in at least nine different ways:

·      First, through our praise and prayer:

 Psalm 50.23: “Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me . . . .”

John 14.13: “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”

Hebrews 13.15: “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.”

·     Next, through our fruit bearing:

 John 15.8: “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit.”

·     Third, through our corporate giving:

Philippians 4.18: “But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.”

Hebrews 13.16: “But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”

·     Fourth, through our church’s preaching and ministry:

First Peter 4.11: “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”

·     Fifth, through our loving each other in the congregation:

Romans 15.5-6:  5      Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:

6      That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

·     Sixth, through our church acknowledging God’s Son:

Philippians 2.9-11:   9      Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:

10     That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

11     And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

·     Seventh, through our church’s faith in God’s Word, as ancient Abraham also believed:

Romans 4.20: “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God.”

·     Eighth, through our church’s suffering for Christ’s sake:

First Peter 4.12-14:  12     Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:

13     But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

14     If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.

·     Ninth, through our church’s witnessing efforts:

Second Thessalonians 3.1: “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you.”

Nine ways in which gospel preaching and Christ exalting churches glorify God, recognizing that glorifying God is our primary reason for existing, Revelation 4.11.

 3.   Churches are to display God’s grace:

 Ephesians 2.7: “That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”

Ephesians 3.6, 10:    6      That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:

10     To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.

First Peter 2.9: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.”

4.   Churches are authorized by Jesus Christ to evangelize the world (Matthew 28.19-20; Mark 16.15; Luke 24.47; John 20.21; Acts 1.8).

 Gordon G. Johnson writes: “One day Dr. Wilfred Grenfell, medical missionary to Labrador, was guest at dinner in London, together with a number of socially prominent British men and women. During the course of the dinner the lady seated next to him turned and said, ‘Is it true, Dr. Grenfell, that you are a missionary?’ Dr. Grenfell looked at her for a moment before replying. Then he said, ‘Is it true, madam, that you are not?’ (My Church p. 88).”

5.   Churches are authorized by Jesus Christ to baptize those we are persuaded are qualified for baptism as believers, Matthew 28.19: “baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”

 6.   Churches are authorized by Jesus Christ to instruct believers:

Matthew 28.20: “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.”

Philippians 4.8-9:  8      Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

9      Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

First Timothy 4.6:    “If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.”

 First Timothy 5.17:     “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.”

Second Timothy 2.2, 24-25:   2      And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

24     And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,

25     In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.

7.   Churches are authorized by Jesus Christ to edify believers:

 First Corinthians 14.26:  “. . . Let all things be done unto edifying.”

 Ephesians 4.11-12, 16:      11     And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

16     From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

First Thessalonians 5.11:   “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.”

Second Peter 3.18:   “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.”

Jude 20:  “But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith . . . .”

8.   Churches are authorized by Jesus Christ to discipline believers.

There are three kinds of New Testament discipline, in addition to the discipline crucial for the proper rearing of children:

First, of course, is self-discipline. In First Corinthians 11.31, Second Corinthians 7.1 and First John 3.3, we are told of our individual responsibility as believers to judge ourselves, to cleanse ourselves, and to purify ourselves.

Second, there is sovereign discipline. In John 15.2, Acts 5.5 and 10, First Corinthians 11.30-32, Hebrews 12.9-10 and First Peter 4.17, we are informed of our Lord’s purging of believers, we read about God taking the lives of Ananias and Sapphira for lying to the Holy Ghost, we are told of Corinthian Christian’s lives being forfeited by God’s chastisement, we are told that the goal of God’s disciplinary measures is personal holiness in the life of the Christian, and that it is only right for God’s judgment to fall first on those in His own household.

Third, there is the discipline the Lord Jesus Christ authorized for His church. Matthew 18.17 speaks of issues of sin between church members being told to the congregation so corrective action can be taken. Romans 16.17 warns us to mark and avoid those who cause divisions in our congregation. First Corinthians 5.1-13 is a case study of church discipline. Galatians 6.1 shows that the goal of our discipline is restoration. Second Thessalonians 3.6 and 14 instructs us to identify and withdraw from those who continue to disrupt our unity. Titus 3.10-11 calls for the same measures to be taken; only using stronger language. Second John 10 does the same thing once more.

How important must a congregation be in God’s eyes if whatsoever we bind is bound in heaven and whatsoever we loose is loosed in heaven, Matthew 18.18? Surely, fathers should teach these things to their children.

9.   Churches are authorized to provide fellowship for believers:

 Acts 2.42:  “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”

First Corinthians 1.9:  “God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Second Corinthians 8.4 and 13.14:  4      Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.”

14     The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.

Philippians 1.5 and 2.1:     5      For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now.

1      If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies.

First John 1.3 and 6-7:   3      That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.

6      If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:

7      But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

Should it not be pointed out by a father to his child that the camaraderie experienced in every combat platoon, the team spirit enjoyed by every sports team, the delight that is experienced in every Boy Scout Troop, and the cooperative spirit so helpful to the service clubs adults are involved with, is actually an imitation of the fellowship that God has provided for every Christian, to be enjoyed in Christ’s church with his brothers and sisters in Christ? People only miss that who are not born again, and seek to find their group satisfactions in these other ways.

 10. Churches are charged to care for our own in time of need.

We see this in Paul’s efforts to raise a special offering for saints in Judea, in Second Corinthians 8-9, in the instructions he gives Timothy in First Timothy 5.1-16 for the care of qualified widows, and the care for widows and orphans spoken of in James 1.27. What society is catching up in trying to do for the last 150 years, we have been doing for the last 2000 years, when no one else in the world was giving a thought to widows or orphans. We are to care for those whose lives and testimonies persuade us we will spend eternity with.

 11. Churches are charged with preparing rulers for the millennial kingdom.

Do you read the news on the Internet or on television and not recognize that what is happening in the Middle East, the rise as a world power of China, the reawakening of the Russian bear to the north, and the consolidation of the European Union while the USA grows weaker by the minute, sets the stage for the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy in the eyes of all but the blind? Jesus is coming again, in power and in great glory, to establish His millennial kingdom. Romans 8.17 declares that we are heirs, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ, and that our suffering for the cause of Christ will lead to us also being glorified. The result of this? Second Timothy 2.12 reads, “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him.” Thus, when the Lord Jesus Christ returns to establish His kingdom on earth for one thousand years, those in our congregation, brought to Christ, baptized, taught, discipled, edified, embraced in fellowship, and encouraged as believers, are promised we will reign with Him.

12. Churches are authorized to act as a restraining and enlightening force in this present world.

In Matthew 5.13-16, a portion of our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, we are described as the salt of the earth and the light of the world. In Second Thessalonians 2.6-7, reference is made to the evil restraining influence of the Holy Spirit, Who most commonly works through Christians in congregations like ours. As Abraham pleaded with God not to destroy Sodom, Genesis 18.22-23, and as Lot’s presence preserved Sodom from judgment until angels removed him, Genesis 19.12-25, so will the saltiness and the light bearing congregations that hold up the gospel message and serve God restrain evil and shed gospel light until our time on earth is done.

13. Churches exist to and are charged to promote all that is good.

 Galatians 6.10: “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”

Evaluate us by the world’s standards and we will usually be judged failures. However, hold us up to the standard established by our Savior and all that is required of us for success is faithfulness.[3] Who else prays for those who despitefully use them?[4] Who else ministers the Word to those who would kill them? Who else can by losing his life bring life to the spiritually dead who heeds our gospel imperative to come to Christ? Consider every institution and organization that exists on earth, from your marriage and family to your country that you are so proud of. Such institutions are temporal, of importance to you only until you are dead. No dead man is a patriot, a husband, or a father in eternity. However, the church is eternal, and someday churches and their members will be gathered in heaven. Hebrews 12.23 refers to “To the general assembly and church of the firstborn” in heaven. Then won’t folks wish they had spent more time emphasizing the importance of church.

 

In summary, it may be said that the job of a church is to make as many people as much like Jesus in the shortest time possible. No one else is assigned that important task, but this church and churches like this church. God the Father is so much in love with His beloved Son that He desires to populate the entire universe throughout eternity with those individuals who resemble Jesus Christ (First John 3.2), but He desires to start the work in repenting sinners down here right now, through the ministry and message of the church.

Dad, your child needs to know these things about the church. As you teach these vital truths to your children as they mature to adulthood, you will find yourself becoming the father you ought to be in order to address the issues that arise in connection with what you teach your kids. You will be faithful on your job, because at church people are taught that if a man does not work he should not eat. You will love your wife, because at church people are taught that a man is to love his wife as Christ loves the church and gave Himself for it.

If you do this right, when you are old your kids will honor you, because they will be taught in church to honor their father and their mother. Your sons will marry good women and your daughters will marry good men, because both you and they will be taught that Christian men cherish and honor their wives, so their prayers will not be hindered.

I could go on all afternoon, but you get the point. Being the big dog is not enough. You need to teach kids about church.



[1] A great deal of the material for this message is derived from Harold L. Wilmington, “The Purpose of the Local Church,” Fundamentalist Journal, January 1983, pages 50-51.

[2] Philippians 2.15

[3] First Corinthians 4.1-2

[4] Matthew 5.44; Luke 6.28



Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org