The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
God created everything out of nothing. He is the truth and the hope of believers in the Risen Lord Jesus. He has given His people the desire to worship and praise Him. The true God has revealed Himself by what He has made, by the Bible and fully in the Person and work of Jesus Christ, His only Son, the second person of the Trinity. God has ordained and sovereignly controls every aspect of life. Perhaps the most fundamental thought we, His creatures can have is our purpose.
God not only created all things but He has purposed all things. He has given all men a purpose in life. The individual’s God-given purpose is to “Glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” (Ques. #1, the Westminster Shorter Catechism)
Christians, more so than others, seem to question God to discover His purpose for them in life. The Shorter Catechism’s answer to the question of purpose is derived from the Bible. God simply revealed man’s purpose with a simple command, “Be holy for I am holy” Leviticus 11:44 and 1Peter 1:15-16.
God’s command may be simple and understood, but it is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that we are made holy. God’s work of sanctification that He begins in every one He justifies continues throughout our entire life. Perfect holiness is not reached this side of heaven.
As God has given each individual in Christ a singular purpose, He has also given the body of Christ the same purpose. The body that we see is called the visible church. Not every member of the visible church is a member of the body of Christ. Only those who are God’s elect are members of Christ’s body and the elect from all time make up the invisible church. Nevertheless, we know that the visible church is the Kingdom of God on earth, ruled by the Lord and King Jesus Christ and as such is commanded to be holy!
The visible church, the one we see, is defined as all those who profess Jesus Christ as He is offered in the gospel, and their children. Every local church that teaches Jesus is fully God and fully Man; the second person of the Trinity is part of the universal visible church. The Protestant Reformation described the true church, the visible church as every church that preaches the pure gospel, administers the two Sacraments as ordained by Christ and exercises biblical church discipline.
God has chosen to reach the lost through the visible church. Romans 10:17 is the clear affirmation of God’s plan. “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (ESV) But God has also organized the visible church. “He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherd-teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry…” Ephesians 4:11-12, ESV. Every local church that bears the marks of a true church is part of the world-wide visible church of Jesus Christ.
God organized the church, revealed her marks and chose to use her to reach the lost. Therefore, understanding God’s purpose for individuals and the church is critical if the church expects to be used by God to reach the lost.
The purpose of the church is not her ministry, as important as ministry may be. The church’s ministry includes biblical preaching, teaching sound doctrine, liturgy, programs, etc. But the God-given purpose underlies all of the things that the church does. Purpose is concerned with being rather than doing. (The dictionary’s definition of purpose is the reason for existence or being.)
In Chuck Colson’s “Against the Night”, he observed that the church had become or was at least striving to become just like the world. D.L. Moody once compared the visible church to a ship in the sea. He said, “The place for the ship is in the sea, but God help the ship if the sea gets in it. Just as the place for the church is in the world, but God help the church if the world gets in it.” The Bible uses the metaphor of a bride to describe the church. She is the bride of Christ. She is the holy Jerusalem that the Apostle John was allowed to see coming down from heaven. Jesus Christ died for the church, Ephesians 5:25 to make her holy.
My prayer is that you would engage yourself in a local church that understands your God-given purpose and equips you to pursue it!