“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” I Peter 2:9
Upwardly focused, the church is where we believers can exalt the LORD God Almighty. We are to give God what is due Him: honor, praise and glory. The church is very precious to God since Christ loved her and purchased her with His own blood (Ephesians 5:25-27, Acts 20:28). The church is to be a place where believers can observe the Lord’s Supper, remembering Christ’s death and shed blood on our behalf (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). The church preaches God’s Word, sings God’s Word, and prays God’s Word together, as the early church did when they met together to break bread and fellowship. And God added to their number ( Acts 2:42-47).
“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:11-13
Inwardly, the church’s purpose is to be the believer’s spiritual family. We encourage one another as we hold fast to the confessions of our hope (Hebrews 10:23-27). In and through the church, God takes people with different personalities and gifts, unifies them as a single body, and equips them to care for each other and to reach the world. We are not meant to live the Christian life alone; instead, we are to be surrounded by the biblical teaching and loving community of believers (Col.1:28-29).
“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
Outwardly, the church’s purpose is to fulfill the Great Commission. There is no nobler privilege for the church than the ministry of reconciliation: introducing others to Christ (2 Corinthians 5:18-20). We do this in part by making sure we faithfully represent Him, as we become who He has called us to be. As God’s lights, we are to shine for Him through our good works as well as through sharing the gospel with people down the street, across the border, or around the world (Phil.2:15, Matthew 5:13-16).