The Purpose of the Church

Article XIX of the 39 Articles states:

XIX. Of the Church
The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in the which the pure Word of God is preached, and the Sacraments be duly- ministered according to Christ’s ordinance in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same.

Why do Christians gather? Three reasons: to hear the ‘pure Word of God preached’; for the administration of the sacraments and fellowship.

Scripture states repeatedly that what separates people in the world is according to their faith in the Word of God. Those who believe and do it are Christians and those who don’t believe or do it are not.

Let’s look at some verses to this end:

Matthew 7:21-23: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

Matthew 12:47-50: Someone said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You.”  But Jesus answered the one who was telling Him and said, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.”

Mark 8:38: For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.

John 14:23-24: Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.

Therefore the pure Word is preached to either lead souls into faith or to further a Christian’s faith.

The sacraments are visible signs of the work of Christ either initial faith of an unbeliever, baptism, or the continued faith of the Christian, the Lord’s Supper. This is my opinion but I would offer the Lord’s Supper every Sunday because of the constant visual reminder of what Christ did. You can hear a good sermon from the pure Word and that is sufficient but to couple it with the visible Supper would be a more particular and constant reminder of what Christ did and we are reconciled to God.

Also, with an emphasis on the sacraments baptisms would be equally important to the congregation of how they are reconciled to God initially and that of course is through the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Keep the central matters of our faith ever present before the body keeps it focused on Christ.

Lastly, fellowship. The Apostle loved Jesus and those who loved Him. Thus a congregation is primarily comprised of souls who also love Jesus and therefore love one another. While fellowship can be defined in the way someone is treated or welcomed it is primarily a gathering of new creatures who’ve been baptized into the death of Christ and raised into newness of life. Everyone is there presumably because of what Christ has done for them and too them and thus fellowship represents the depth and details of His work.

Thus the church bears witness singularly to the person and work of Christ; so all we do should be intended to glorify Him and remind ourselves of His mighty work.

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