Scripture Reading: John 17:1-21
Memory Verse: “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from evil.” (John 17:15)
Introduction: Understanding the mission of God’s Church requires an accurate concept of the Church. The word “church” is translated from the Greek word “ecclesia,” and means “that which is called out.” While this definition might not seem particularly illuminating to a carnal mind, it reveals much to the truly converted Christian.
The Church plainly meets a great need in this world of sin and darkness. It is a vessel of light, and an example of righteousness in the midst of a wicked and perverse society. The Church brings glory to God by manifesting the difference between His ways and the ways of evil men; at the same time showing the great superiority of God’s way. As Christ in the world showed the great contrast between the higher ways of God and the baser actions of mankind, just so does His body, the Church, carry out the same function today. Jesus prayed for those whom He had commissioned and delegated to carry out this task. He prayed for them to be set apart for this function and empowered that they might perform this glorious work.
Surely it would be scripturally appropriate to say then, that the first and primary mission of the Church of God is to be “called out.” The very first order of business is to be separate and to “… keep ourselves unspotted from the world …” Many things are certainly essential and important but to be separate takes precedence overall. What good is a church that will do what God has commanded if it will not be the instrument that will cause the glory for its actions to redound to the praise of Jehovah?
In a practical sense, we as members of the Body of Christ, need often to examine ourselves, asking if we are truly maintaining the position of individual and personal separation. As a local body of believers, each assembly needs to review constantly its posture and see if it corresponds to God’s desire for a separate people – a “called out” people. Indeed, the Church that Jesus returns for will be a “… glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:27).
- What is the primary reason for the existence of the Church? Ephesians 1:3-12 (Note especially verses 6 and 12).
- Explain how Israel was typical of the Church today. Acts 7:38; Leviticus 20:26; 2 Corinthians 6:11-18.
- How many 21st century Christians remain separate in a world that is moving toward enforced unification? Ephesians 4:17-32; 5:1-11. (Give examples or instances of what your local church or group is doing to show its separation from the world.)
- Who comprises the Church? Acts 2:47; John 17:3; Ephesians 4:4-15.
- Who is the head of the Church? Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:15.
- Name some characteristics of members of the true church. Romans 6:11-18; 1 John 3:1-10.
- Who has the authority to maintain or remove our names from membership in God’s Church? Malachi 3:16-18; Exodus 32:32; Revelation 3:5; Romans 8:38-39.
- What was the price required for the establishment of God’s Church? Acts 20:28; Ephesians 5:25-27.
- Describe the foundation upon which the Church of God is built. Matthew 16:13-18. Harmonize this truth with Luke 6:47-48.
- Is there another reliable foundation, in case this one does not suit us today? That is, can we begin with the “commandments” as our main tenet of faith? 1 Corinthians 3:11.