Helping the people who have had the change of heart I mentioned in the Message of Christianity become part of a local Church is the Sixth Task of the Teacher in the discipleship process. I want to begin explaining in detail the work the Holy Spirit does to bring the people who have passed through the Order of Salvation into a local Church.
In the presentation, we are going to to talk about God’s purpose for the Church, and examine the three kinds of local Churches available for people to join.
A Christian is a person who has heard The Message of Christianity and decided to trust the eye witness testimony int contains. When a person becomes a Christian, the Holy Spirit begins working to create a community around the Death, Burial and Resurrection of Jesus Christ to support them.
The Church has been divided up by God into two basic parts.
The first part is called a local Church. When a person goes through the Order of Salvation, they are led by the Holy Spirit to become part of a local Church which God has built in whatever part of the world they currently live in.
The second part is called the Worldwide Church. When a person suffers the kind of intense persecution Jesus Christ warned us about, the local Church can send the Christian whose life is in danger to a different part of the Worldwide Church in another city.
God’s First Goal For The Local Church
The first reason that the Holy Spirit brings people into a local Church is for evangelism. We have a responsibility to give other people a chance to hear The Message of Christianity so they can stop being loyal to whatever religious system that Satan and his demons have built into their cultural heritage, and begin following the God of the Bible.
God’s Second Goal For The Local Church
The second reason the Holy Spirit brings people into a local Church is for discipleship. Paul told the Church at Ephesus that God wanted Church leaders “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, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” (Ephesians 4:12-14 ESV)
This reason involves learning God’s survival strategies for hostile environments. There are many parts of the world where it is not safe to speak freely about Jesus, and the local Church exists to help new believers understand how to remain faithful in hostile environments where the Christian Church is a misunderstood and despised minority.
God’s Third Goal For The Local Church
The third reason the Holy Spirit brings people into a local Church is for worship. God wants us to live “to the praise of His glory” according to Ephesians 1:12 (ESV). This can be done by “singing Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” we are told in Colossians 3:16 (ESV), which is why I have personally chosen songs to celebrate the different aspects of the Christian faith when I can share these presentations with others in person.
Worshiping the Lord has a healing effect on the wounds we suffer at the hands of an unbelieving world by lifting us out of our pain and suffering by reminding us of what can be seen when we lift up our eyes to God.
If you want to see an example of this in the Bible, I recommend reading Psalm 73.
The Three Kinds Of Local Churches
Now that I have identified the three goals God has for the Church, I also want to take a good look at the three different kinds of local Churches active in your local community. When I said that, I was not referring to different denominations. I have something completely different in mind right now.
The three kinds of local Churches are 1) false churches, 2) less pure churches and 3) more pure Churches. If you live in a part of the world where the civil government guarantees religious freedom, you can look at all the different local Churches in your area and put each one into one of these three groups.
With that in mind, let me unpack each of them for you.
A False Church is a group of people who gather to participate in religious activities that do not participate in worship, evangelism or discipleship. At least not as I have described worship, evangelism and discipleship in these presentations. I say that including the ones I have not shared with you yet.
I have run into a lot of False Churches in my life, and as a result I can wholeheartedly agree with the Apostle Peter who said “false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.” (2 Peter 2:1 ESV)
The leader(s) of False Churches are people who do not follow the instructions we were given in the Bible about how to nurture faith in our lives. They will openly and constantly say and do things that the Bible says we should avoid, because they assume that as God’s representatives they can change God’s standards any time they want.
I have seen this done many times before. In Matthew 18:15 (ESV), the Bible tells us that Jesus said ““If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.”
The leader of a false Church will skip the part about being alone, and announce the sin of a person publicly in front of the congregation. I have seen this done before. I have also seen the leader of a false church accuse a single man of having a sexual addiction in public because he was not married, and when the single man said no, the leader of the false church accused him of lying about it.
In the book of Jude, verse 16 (ESV), the Bible says that false church leaders “are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage.”
We do well to avoid them. Let’s consider the next kind of local Church.
Less Pure Churches
When I speak of a less pure Church, I am referring to a local Church that meets on a regular basis without helping those in attendance learn how to worship, to do evangelism or how to make disciples.
A False Church is a place where people will not be making progress in all three of these areas, but a less pure Church will normally have one of these activities they are really good at, while their Church members are not learning anything about the other two.
A less pure Church may have a lot of wisdom and insight into worship, but they have no plan on how to do evangelism or making disciples within the city around them. Even worse, a less pure Church can be successful in drawing a large crowd. They can have high attendance numbers for worship on a regular basis while the Holy Spirit’s goals for evangelism and discipleship in the local community are not achieved.
Even worse, a less pure Church can now become popular on the Internet and send their lack of wisdom and insight into meeting the Holy Spirit’s goals for evangelism and discipleship to other cities in their nation and around the world, leaving more local Churches unable to do the work involved in evangelism and discipleship to meet the Holy Spirit’s goals as well.
This is a problem which can be solved by having more of the third kind of local Church.
More Pure Churches
The best kind of local Churches are able to help people learn how to worship, to do evangelism and to make disciples without having fights break out like they did in ancient Corinth after the Apostle Paul left town. In 1 Corinthians 1:11 (ESV) Paul said “It has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers.”
What I am about to say next is not historically accurate, but I hope you will humor me for a moment. The problem the Corinthian Church had was that the “worship” leader wanted to spend more time on the music, which left no time for Gospel preaching and Bible study because they are so busy having a revival.
The worship leader wanted people to feel the Presence of God while they were singing, and believed that all the intellectual stuff about how to read the Bible, learning about the attributes of God, or studying how the covenants actually worked was holding people back.
At the same time, the Preachers and teachers agreed that without all this information, people were completely unprepared to go out into a world where evil spirits are constantly trying to destroy the beautiful design of God’s providence by having politicians and kings destroy the next generation’s understanding of things like gender roles.
In a pure church, the Holy Spirit of God is able to do all of this without having the worship leader(s) and the Preachers and teachers fight all the time over the best way to accomplish the Holy Spirit’s goals.
The Holy Spirit is completely able to accomplish all three of God’s goals for the local Church without the worship leaders, the preachers and the teachers having to compete for control of the direction the Church is headed.
This brings us to the end of my first set of thoughts on the Church. I have more to say about this, but will save the other things I think need to be said for another time.