Why did God create the church? What was its intended purpose? What SHOULD it have become, had it had perfect leadership who properly and impartially enforced the Law of God amongst the membership?
Now, I’m not talking about the spiritual body of Christ, but solely about the physical group of people who are called the church of God, and who have, over the last 2,000 years had some large portion of the truth. The amount has varied greatly with the time and generation, from the Waldenses to the Millerites, to the Anabaptists to the Church at Ephesus to the Seventh-day Baptists to the to the Worldwide Church of God. What did God intend for each and every one of these organizations to do – what was their purpose, and what SHOULD they have become?
The answer has to be given in dual; what the church, ideally, could have done; and what God (knowing that the church would not be run perfectly for very long) expected, and therefore must have intended to happen.
First, the ideal.
2 Timothy 2:1-2 Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
This is the scripture that describes what should have happened. As you recall, Christ personally chose and taught the Apostles, each of whom should have gone out and found others like themselves, and gathered disciples of their own, and each of THEM should have ultimately grown to be just as righteous and faithful as the Apostles themselves, and then taught it to others, ad infinitum! As you can see there, that is what Paul commanded Timothy, one of his own disciples, to do!
And IF the Apostles had not compromised – and yes, they did compromise – and allowed sin to creep into the church later in their lives… in other words, had Christ Himself remained a VISIBLE leader of the church and run it perfectly, the church would have spread out from Jerusalem with God’s blessing and in as little as a few years, spread around the globe and turned the entire world around!
This is what COULD have happened! (Compare Isaiah 2:3, what WILL happen). The church of God truly would have been the salt of the earth, the tiny bit of seasoning that can take a bland earth and turn it into a sensational, beautiful planet!
That is the IDEAL, the GOAL we work towards! Because until you know the ideal, the perfection that it COULD be, you’ll never know how far from that ideal you are, and in what direction to change!
So as I said, that was what God “intended” the church to be, ideally speaking. A sort of pyramid scheme, only with men instead of money. Many scriptures support this, and I’ll quote just one more…
Matthew 28:19-20 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
They were to take what He had given them, and teach others. They, according to Paul, should in turn have taught others, who should have taught others… but you get the idea. If this had been done, in a matter of a decade, everyone on earth would know of the Church of God.
But, back to reality, it didn’t happen. And I’m quite certain God knew that it wouldn’t. Still, it IS what He WANTED, and it’s what He STILL WANTS, because He never changes. And so when you are trying to decide what to do, REMEMBER THAT GOAL!
But obviously, it didn’t happen, and unless God had stayed on Earth and physically led it Himself, it obviously COULDN’T have happened. So we have to determine then, what God (speaking practically now, not ideally) intended for the church to do.
We know for a fact from history that each church He raised up ultimately wound up in apostasy, and fell away from the truth. So clearly, that must have been part of the plan – unless He was so shortsighted as to be SURPRISED when heresy crept into the church! And so, since we’re pretty sure He saw that one coming (Woooow!), let’s start at the beginning.
Acts 2:47 … And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
And in the beginning, God sends new people to the church out of the world, in one fashion or another, and uses the church to teach them about God. And there is MUCH that these people can learn from this church! But there is a problem. One that is not so much a part of the system, but rather a flaw in the men who have administered it.
Sooner or later this church, whichever one it is, becomes the vicar of Christ in the minds of its members. The church becomes the all encompassing entity that the membership serves, and God is relegated to the background (please, TELL me this doesn’t describe your church!) …and the membership begins to look to the ministry almost as if they were gods themselves – and the ministry fosters that attitude! And why not? These men LIKE being worshiped as demigods! But this attitude of – let’s call it “Church Worship” – is why the church has always failed to achieve the ideal laid out at the first part of this article!
But surely God was able to see this coming – after all, He invented man. And the church. And even Paul saw this coming to a church he’d spent years building. Let’s face it, a 12 year old could have seen it coming!
Acts 20:28-31 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.
And so since God built a system that this could happen to, and knew what was going to happen – why did He do it? What could come of such a system? And now we come to the truly astounding and wonderful part!
You see… God must KNOW the moral fiber and the dedication of each and every being ever to have a part in His kingdom! And even more importantly, He must know whether that being worships HIM, or worships the Church! He must know WHERE your loyalty lies! And He must know that you are incorruptible, and undeceivable before He dare trust you with UNLIMITED POWER!
Hebrews 12:26-27 Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.
While specifically speaking of angels, it shows God’s attitude on the subject quite well; He wants to know, nay, HE MUST KNOW that those things which CANNOT be shaken remain – He must know WHO those members are who CANNOT be deceived by soft words from a false minister masquerading as a minister of God!
If you can be deceived by someone telling you “it’s OK to sin, God understands” – GOD WANTS TO FIND OUT NOW, not after He has given you charge of ruling the entire UNIVERSE!! And how better to do this than to offer them chances to sin, handed to them on a silver platter by the very church that initially BROUGHT them the truth!
Zechariah 13:9 And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.
This is how God selects His people! This is how He ensures Himself that those who CANNOT be shaken are the only ones who remain! If you’d rather hear SMOOTH THINGS and be flattered by an eloquent minister than be corrected, if you HATE to be told you’re wrong on any level in your subconscious, GOD WANTS TO KNOW NOW!
The process of refining silver and gold is fairly simple. Silver is brought over a very hot flame and melted until it is something like the consistency of mercury, and then the dross (the impurities, composed of other, less valuable metals like copper and tin) are scraped or poured off the top.
But let me ask you – if the silver were sentient, a real living being… do you think it would enjoy this process? No, I think not. Nor is it pleasant when God purifies and “refines” His church.
And when God tries His church, by perhaps sending someone into it who teaches that, say, Christ is not the God of the Old Testament – most of the church (those who actually OWN a Bible) will probably say “Hey. That’s not right!”… nonetheless, there will often be some (those who were probably looking for a way out anyway) who like this idea, and follow off after it. And these people were the DROSS scraped from the top of the SILVER by HERESY!
As God says…
1 Corinthians 11:19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.
God allows heresies in His church to see if YOU – yes, YOU, and your family, and your friends, and everyone you know – WILL PUT UP WITH IT! And anyone who DOESN’T put up with that heresy, or that sin, will stick out like a BMW among Ford Pintos!
And the church was INVENTED so that these things would have a place to happen! And God sends these heresies in many ways, but most of the time He uses men like Diotrephes…
3 John 1:9-10I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.
Notice carefully that John wrote “to the CHURCH” but Diotrephes, a leader in that “church” did not receive him. This man, this false minister, was serving himself, and preventing John from teaching the truth, and THIS MAN SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN FOLLOWED! And those members who understood the truth, and WERE NOT CORRUPTIBLE, had already left, or been put out, and WERE NOT FOLLOWING HIM!
The people who were left in Diotrephes’ church were those who had remained because “after all, you’ve got to go to Church SOMEWHERE…” Those people were the ones who WERE still deceivable, and could NOT MAKE THE GRADE!
How do I know that? Because John said that Diotrephes DID NOT ALLOW THE (TRUE) BRETHREN TO COME TO CHURCH EITHER! And yet this church still pretended to be a Church of God, long after all of the true brethren of Christ had left or been put out!
2 Thessalonians 2:7-9 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
Again, why would God let this happen? Because THIS is how He “shakes” the church, sifts them, sorts them, and this is how He PURIFIES them to prove WHICH of them cannot be deceived!
Verse 10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they RECEIVED NOT the LOVE OF THE TRUTH, that they might be saved.
These people DID NOT LOVE THE TRUTH! They loved UNRIGHTEOUSNESS, deep down, if they had ANY excuse to follow it! And when they saw these LYING wonders, and DECEPTIVE half-truths, THEY LIKED IT!
Verses 11-12 And FOR THIS CAUSE God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
It all comes down to the simple fact that I stated up front – HE MUST KNOW if YOU can be deceived – and if you CAN be deceived, He WILL make sure it happens! He does this so that anyone who, deep down, was NOT committed to this way of life and who, deep down, LOVED and PREFERRED unrighteousness (if they could find any way to justify it) would be condemned for what they are, “that they all might be judged who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness”!
And so, to summarize, God created the church so that people could initially see the truth. And learn to love it. But then, as the church degenerates into inevitable apostasy, these people to whom that church initially taught so much, will see the church subtly change doctrines, and they will then be forced to make a choice.
Most will be carried away by the tide of deception, without even noticing there is any such. These were the chaff, the packing peanuts God fills up the church with to insulate the real prize (perhaps you?) from harm. But a few will notice a problem, and take it to the ministry, who will then tell them that they needed to trust “God’s ministers” and to “Shut up, pay, and pray”.
Most of those will also, sadly, knuckle under to the ministry of the church that taught them so much, not realizing that the church, being composed of men, is imminently fallible. These, too, since they can be shaken loose from the tree of righteousness, are not destined for the Kingdom of God.
Some few stubborn, independent souls, however, will not take “shut up, pay, and pray” for an answer; but will insist that the changes in the faith that they had once been taught are not from the Bible, and, therefore, not from God. These few people will soon find themselves unwelcome in the church, and the thousands of friends they once knew will all act as if they had never existed.
These friends who once might have taken a bullet for them would now act as if these independent thinkers were Antichrist. Depressing scenario isn’t it? Tell me about it! But… as macabre and depressing as it sometimes seems, this is the glorious purpose of the church of God on earth. To sort out those few independent souls who cannot be torn from the words of God through the clever words of soulless minister or silver-tongued devil.
This process is the one used by God to find the SILVER that is on the earth, and to sort out the UNTARNISHABLE GOLD from the billions of people who are spiritually wood, hay, stubble, and tin! It is how God sorts out the men who LOVE HIM, from those who LOVE a church, and this is HOW HE LEARNS WHAT YOUR HEART IS MADE OF!
Daniel 12:10 Many shall be PURIFIED, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.
THIS IS HOW GOD purifies man! THIS IS HOW He tries YOU to discover if YOU are made of GOLD, or MUD!
James 1:12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
And those few people who reject the church, and reject any influence, from anyone and anything that draws them away from God, from those PRECIOUS FEW ENTITIES WILL BE constructed a NEW WORLD GOVERNMENT, one composed of RIGHTEOUS MEN, JUST, HONORABLE men, who have been tried and found incorruptible!
1 Corinthians 3:12-13 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.
1 Peter 1:7 That the trial of your FAITH, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
THAT is the purpose of the Church of God! To teach you truth, to help you learn more, and find others who believe like you – but ultimately, that same church will try to take away what truth it gave you, and demand your SOLE allegiance! And God ordained it to do this, to see if YOU can be SHAKEN from your convictions, or if you really do LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, ALL YOUR MIND, AND ALL YOUR STRENGTH!
Revelations 3:11-12 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.