As a follow up to my post about What makes Church relevant?, I want to hear your thoughts on what is God's plan for the church?
I'll start by sharing my thoughts, then you can share yours.
When I think about God's plan for the church, there are 2 scriptures that come to my mind:
The first one is Matthew 28:18-20:
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Before He left this earth, Jesus gave His disciples some direction as to what he wanted from them. It's often referred to as "the Great Commission". I see Jesus telling His disciples to do 4 things:
Go (to all nations)
Make disciples of all nations
Baptize these disciples in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit
Teach these disciples to obey everything Jesus commanded of His followers
What's the "Go" about?
I think the big deal here is that Jesus was saying that the gospel is for all (Luke 24:47, Galatians 3:28)-so they will want to go tell everyone about it. Prior to Jesus, there was the Law of Moses that had been given just to the Jews. Even during the personal ministry of Jesus, the focus was always on "the lost sheep of the house of Israel." (Matthew 10:5,6). But both the Law and the ministry of Jesus were preparing mankind for the universal gospel (John 10:16, Isaiah 56:6-8). The Law had showed mankind their need for a Savior but was, in a sense, a barrier to gospel. But through Jesus' work on the cross, the Law was removed (Ephesians 2:13-18). The prophet Isaiah told in advance how it would be when he said: "And all the nations shall stream into it." (Isaiah 2:2). Jesus, in the "Great Commission," announced that the time of which Isaiah had spoken seven centuries before had now arrived (Acts 10:34,35, Colossians 1:23).
What is it that we're going to all nations with?
I think it's safe to conclude that the implication is that we are to go to all nations, or to every place, with the gospel. I think it's important to recognize in this discussion that there are many other gospels, but to preach them makes us enemies of God (Galatians 1:6-9). The gospel's message is not pop culture, or psychology, left or right wing social and/or political agendas; it is about convicting of sin, and leading people to embrace Jesus as their Savior and put Him first in their life (Romans 3:22-24,Matthew 16:24-25). It means proclaiming the love and grace of God by which we were redeemed. It means a call to repentance and obedience.
What's a disciple?
Putting one's trust in what Jesus did on the cross and letting Him pay for our sins, and choosing to follow after Jesus, is only the beginning. A disciple is one who follows after another; so as disciples of Jesus, we are people who both believe in Him and follow after Him. Both believing and following require learning some things , experiencing some things, and doing some things. Jesus instructed His disciples to help others in this process of learning, experiencing, and doing.
I almost don't want to touch this one because there's so much disagreement regarding this in today's church. I'll just make it simple; Jesus was baptized (Luke 3:21-22) and God said He was pleased. When Jesus was baptized it looks to me like He was consecrating Himself for His ministry. Then in this Matthew 28:18-20 passage He tells His disciples to go baptize others. I do not see where it says that baptism is necessary to enter into salvation, but that it's part of being a disciple, a follower after Jesus. It's a public proclamation of the fact that a person is choosing to die to himself and his sin (symbolized by the going under water) and rise up (symbolized by the coming out of the water) to a new life in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17, Romans 6:1-10 ).
Now we're back to the whole process of learning, experiencing, and doing. We're even given the curriculum - everything Jesus commanded of His followers. Because of this I see the main thrust of disciple-making to be to teach about Jesus, who He is and what He did, what He commands of His followers, and to engage in what we see Jesus doing.
The second scripture about what is God's plan for the church 1 Corinthians 12:1-26:, specifically verses 7, 12, & 26:
7 - Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
12 - The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.
26 - If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
I find this scripture passage significant because it emphasizes inter-connectedness. That Christ's disciples are to be in the process of following Christ together. That God gives each of them gifts that will be for the group's good. That we hurt and rejoice with one another.
These 2 scriptures, Matthew 28:18-20 and 1 Corinthians 12:1-26 lead me to conclude that God's plan for the church is for His followers to be going out telling others the gospel, baptizing those who embrace the gospel, teaching those who accept the gospel how to be disciples, and participating in life together, helping one another out and sharing in one another's sorrows and joys.
These are just my thoughts on what I see in scripture, what about you - What do you believe is God's plan for the church?
Growing Old - Disgracefully
2 hours ago