Clearly, the New Testament emphasizes that the church is a distinct people who are called together by God through grace for worship, fellowship, to be trained for the "work of ministry," and then sent by Jesus "into the world" (John 17:18) so that the world may know God and his great love for them that was demonstrated on the cross (see John 17:21–23).

 

We do not await the lost to come to us; we are sent to them and for this work, the Scriptures emphasize preparation.

 

That is the work of the institutionalized church; the church exists for equipping the people of God for the mission of God, the administration of the sacraments, and ultimately the worship of the triune God by those who have experienced his saving grace.

Might this biblical understanding of the church better serve the purpose of reaching the world for Christ? Let's stop watering down the Word, begin equipping the saints, "sanctified in the truth," and go into the world.

 

Rather than men building institutions in hopes that they come, let Christ build his church and obey his command to go to them.

By S. Michael Craven

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