The purpose and role of the Church.
What it Means
The Greek word used in the New Testament is ‘ekklesia.’ It is a compound work derived from the word ‘ek,’ which means ‘out,’ and the term ‘kaleo,’ which means ‘to call.’ The term literally means ‘to call out.’
The Church is literally those who are “called out.”
In the NT it is used to describe believers who met at a location together. When Paul referred to the church at Galatia, he was referring to the people who gathered together in Galatia.
No where in the NT is the term used to describe a building, a denomination, or an organization. The term is reserved for people. A collective group of “called out” believers who meet together. This is the Church.
Throughout the NT, the church is described in a variety of ways. Scripture frequently uses imagery to communicate a deeper message.
Paul describes the church as the Body of Christ in I Corinthians 12:12. Paul states that the believers, those who are ‘called out,’ are the various members of the Body of Christ. Each person has an important role and is essential to the body.
The body is composed of many members, toes, eyes, kidneys, but it is a single body. The body is designed to function a single unit. Each of the members are important and help the body carry out its function.
We are the members of the body of Christ. As we work together in unity, we allow the body to function as it is designed. The Church is then able to carry out the mission and purpose of Christ.
The church is also described as the Temple of God. In I Corinthians 3:16, Paul ask the rhetorical question, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (NASB). We are the dwelling place of the Spirit of God.
Peter emphasizes this concept in I Peter 2. Peter compares us to the living stones of the “spiritual house.” We are being used to build up the temple of God of which Christ is the cornerstone (I Peter 2:7).
An interesting observation is that a temple is built and finished with all manner of stone. Some of the stones are positioned in places of honor and covered with ornamental coverings, while other stones are buried in the ground as foundation or support. Each stone is important. There are no stones that are insignificant or irrelevant.
Believers are the stones used in the building of the Temple of God. Some stones are used in places of ‘honor’ and others are used for foundation and support. Rest assured, that your position in the temple is designed and ordered by God and that it important and essential to the plan of God.
So what is the purpose of the church? What do these illustrations of the church help us understand about the role we are to have?
First, we are to continue the work of Christ. Since we make up the body of Christ, when we are doing what we are designed to do, we will continue to do the work of Christ. If we are his body, we do his work.
Second, we proclaim his message. As the body and the temple, part of our responsibility is to continue to communicate the message of Christ, the good news, the gospel.
Third, we are to server as an example or demonstration. When people see us and watch how we live, our lives should reflect the character of Christ. If we are his body, we should live a life that is worthy of the name. If we are the Temple of God, the dwelling place of the Spirit of God, we stand as an example of the work of Christ to the world.