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                        "THE CHURCH JESUS BUILT"

                         The Work Of The Church

INTRODUCTION

1. Having considered the organization and worship of "The Church Jesus
   Built", what about the work of the church...?
   a. What does the Lord intend for His church to do in this world?
   b. Are we free to involve the church in whatever work we deem
      suitable?

2. In asking such questions, we should continue to note the distinction
   between the church universal and the church local...
   a. The church universal has no earthly organization in which to do
      its work; what work it does is done as individuals who live and
      work in the world
   b. The church local has organization as we have seen, and as such is
      capable of some sort of corporate (as opposed to individual) work
   -- It is the work of the church local that I am addressing in this
      study

3. The work of the church can be gleaned in some respects from what is
   revealed about the organization and worship of the church...
   a. For the Lord organized His church to effectively carry out its
      work
   b. And the worship ordained would certainly complement the church in
      its work
   -- Look at the organization and worship of the church, and that
      begins to tell one what the work of the church is!

[With that in mind, and turning now to the Scriptures, let me first
stress that the work of the church includes...]

I. EDIFICATION (PREPARING THE SAINTS FOR SERVICE)

   A. IMPLIED BY ITS ORGANIZATION AND WORSHIP...
      1. The local church when completely organized will have bishops
         (elders, pastors)
         a. Their function is to feed and oversee the flock - Ac 20:28;
            1Pe 5:1-2
         b. As they carry out their responsibilities, the church will be
            built up (edified)
      2. The activities of their worship are designed to edify
         a. E.g., singing designed to exhort and admonish, as well as
            praise God - Ep 5:19; Col 3:16
         b. E.g., preaching and teaching which certainly edifies the
            church

   B. EXPLICITLY STATED IN THE SCRIPTURES...
      1. Speaking of the gifts which Christ gave His church - Ep 4:11
      2. Such gifts (including that of evangelists, pastors and
         teachers) are designed:
         a. For the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry
         b. For the edifying of the body of Christ - Ep 4:12
      3. As each person in the church does their part, the end result
         will be the "growth of the body for the edifying of itself in
         love" - Ep 4:15-16

[When one looks at how the local church is organized, what it is called
to do in worship, and the purpose of the gifts that Christ gave His
church, I believe it is fair to say that the primary work of the local
church is edification, i.e., the spiritual development of its members!
But clearly there is more.  The work of the local church certainly
includes...]

II. BENEVOLENCE (PROVIDING FOR NEEDY SAINTS)

   A. THE EARLY CHURCH CARED FOR ITS MEMBERS...
      1. We see it in the church at Jerusalem for its own - Ac 4:32-37
      2. We see it in the church at Antioch for their brethren in Judea
         - Ac 11:27-30
      3. We see in the churches of Macedonia and Achaia for their
         brethren in Jerusalem - Ro 15:25-26

   B. ITS ORGANIZATION AND WORSHIP ACCOMMODATED SUCH WORK...
      1. Deacons were appointed - cf. Php 1:1; 1 Tim 3:8-13
         a. They served the congregation
         b. If the seven selected in Acts 6 were prototypes of the work
            of deacons, they would certainly serve in providing
            assistance for widows and other needy members - Ac 6:1-6
      2. The collection for needy saints was made a part of the weekly
         assembly - 1Co 16:1-2

   C. THERE WERE LIMITATIONS TO ITS BENEVOLENCE...
      1. In Paul's instructions to Timothy - 1Ti 5:9-16
         a. Widows with believing family members were not to be
            supported
         b. Their own families should support them, that "the church not
            be burdened"
      2. Examples of church benevolence are limited to needy saints
         a. In every case of church benevolence, i.e., where money was
            taken from the church treasury, the recipients were
            believers in need - cf. Ro 15:25-26; 1Co 16:1-2; 2Co 8:1-4;
            9:1
         b. Of course, individually Christians are expected to be "good
            Samaritans" and help those in the world as they have
            opportunity and ability
      -- This implies that the local church was not intended to be a
         social agency to cure all the social ills in the world.  It
         has neither the organization nor resources to do so!

[The work of benevolence, while important, appears to take a back seat
to the primary work of the church, which was edification.  But there is
another work of the church, which is a natural outgrowth of equipping
the saints for ministry...]

III. EVANGELISM (PROCLAIMING THE GOSPEL)

   A. THE EARLY CHURCHES WERE INVOLVED IN EVANGELISM...
      1. They sent out preachers to spread the word in new places - cf.
         Ac 13:1-3
      2. They provided support for such preachers - e.g., 2Co 11:8,9

   B. THIS IS CONSISTENT WITH WHAT THE LORD EXPECTS...
      1. For His disciples were to make more disciples - Mt 28:19-20
      2. For His people are to proclaim the praises of God - 1Pe 2:9-10
      3. And among the gifts He gave to His church was the function of
         "evangelists" - Ep 4:11

CONCLUSION

1. The work of the church can be summarized as:
   a. Edification (preparing the saints for service)
   b. Benevolence (providing for the needy saints)
   c. Evangelism (proclaiming the gospel)

2. For such work the Lord designed His church, especially in the local
   sense...
   a. As reflected in its organization
   b. As reflected in its worship

3. When we let the local church do its proper work, it will...
   a. "equip saints for the work of the ministry"
   b. "edify the body of Christ"
   c. "grow up in all things into Him who is the head, Christ"

4. If we are to truly be "The Church Jesus Built"...
   a. Let's be sure to understand what the work of the church is
   b. Let's make sure that we carry out that work in the local church as
      taught in the New Testament

May we today let the church be "The Church Jesus Built", in its nature,
its organization, its worship, and its work!  In this way we can do our
part to fulfill the prayer of Paul:

   "to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations,
   forever and ever. Amen." (Ep 3:21)
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