What the Church Does for God
What the Church Does for God
In Lesson 6, we studied how Christians help each other in the body of Christ. In Lesson 7, we saw some of our responsibilities to unbelievers. The church must do service for itself and others. Also, it must do special service for God.
In Lesson 1, we learned that one of God’s purposes for the church is to bring glory to Himself. How can the church glorify its Lord? What does the church do to obey the Lord? These are some of the things we will look at in this lesson.
Christians who know how to pray should put their knowledge into action. Prayer is a service to God as well as a privilege for us. You know that you should worship and you like to worship, but sometimes you get too busy with other things.
If you are a Christian, you know the joy of obedience to Christ, and you feel guilty when you do not obey. Being obedient honors God. Let us honor Him!
Special Acts of Worship
In our first lesson, we learned that one of the purposes of the church is to praise God. Christians bring glory to God by their godly lives. As Paul said to the church at Philippi, “Your lives will be filled with the truly good qualities which only
Jesus Christ can produce, for the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:11).
But Christians also glorify God by their worship. To worship means to pay respect, to honor, and to obey. We worship by praising God for His goodness. As Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus, “Let us praise God . . . for the free gift he gave us in his dear Son!” (Ephesians 1:6). (See also Ephesians 1:12, 14.)
The Bible says that all believers are to be like priests offering prayer and praise to God. “You will serve as holy priests to offer spiritual and acceptable sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2: 5). The sacrifice that the church gives is praise. “Let us, then, always offer praise to God as our sacrifice through Jesus, which is the offering presented by lips that confess him as Lord” (Hebrews 13:15).
We also worship God by singing. The Bible says much about worshiping God in song. The whole book of Psalms is songs. One says “Sing to the Lord and praise him!” (Psalm 96:2). Paul may have had this passage in mind when he wrote to the church at Colossae, “Sing to God with thanksgiving in your hearts” (Colossians 3:16).
The Bible tells us about another way to worship God: by giving. Yes, giving is an act of worship. In his letter to the church at Philippi, Paul thanks them for their gift. He said, “Epaphroditus has brought me all your gifts. They are like a sweet-smelling offering to God, a sacrifice which is acceptable and pleasing to him” (Philippians 4:18). Because Christians give, needs are met. Because needs are met, people praise God. “For this service [of giving] you perform not only meets the needs of God’s people, but also produces an outpouring of grateful thanks to God” (2 Corinthians 9:12).
We must be careful here. True worship is not simply singing, praying, or giving. These are the outward signs of our worship. True worship is spiritual. We could go to a Christian meeting and sing, but never really worship. Jesus said, “God is Spirit, and only by the power of his Spirit can people worship him as he really is” (John 4:24). Worship is not form or ritual. Worship is spiritual. “We worship God by means of his Spirit and rejoice in our life in union with Christ Jesus. We do not put any trust in external ceremonies” (Philippians 3:3). Let us never confuse the activities associated with worship with its spiritual reality.
The Believer’s Baptism
When we express love to God, we are doing something to please Him. Our love and praise are better than ceremonies. However, Jesus did tell us to observe two ceremonies. These two ceremonies that Christ ordered are called ordinances. The one we will now consider is called baptism.
When a person becomes a Christian, he wants to tell everyone what he has done. Baptism is a way of doing this. Usually the pastor arranges a place for the baptism, such as a lake or stream. The new Christian is lowered into the water and brought up again. This is a picture of what Christ has done for the believer. The Christian is, by means of baptism, identified with Christ’s death and resurrection. Paul explained this to the church at Colossae: For when you were baptized, you were buried with Christ, and in baptism you were also raised with Christ through your faith in the active power of God, who raised him from death (Colossians 2:12).
So baptism is a sign to others that our old, sinful life is buried, and we now have a new life in Christ Jesus.
Baptism is not something done to unbelievers to make them believers. Baptism does not save a person from sin. It is not like magic.
In the early church, people believed in Christ, and then they were baptized. When the Holy Spirit first came upon the church, Peter preached the importance of faith in Christ. And “many of them believed his message and were baptized.”
Later Philip brought the message of Christ to Samaria. The Bible says, “When they believed Philip’s message about the good news of the Kingdom of God and about Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women” (Acts 8:12).
Jesus commanded us to baptize new believers. “Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). It is our duty to obey Him.
The Lord’s Supper
Jesus commanded the church to baptize. But Jesus also commanded us to observe the Lord’s Supper. At this last meal with His disciples, He said “Do this in memory of me” (1 Corinthians 11: 24).
Like baptism, the Lord’s Supper is an ordinance. It is not magic. It is not an empty ceremony. When we observe the Lord’s Supper we honor Christ.
When we share the bread and the cup, we show what Christ has done for us. Paul said that by it “you proclaim the Lord’s death” (1 Corinthians 11:26). By this meal we show ourselves to be one with Christ. It helps us remember that Christ died for us.
Then he took a piece of bread, gave thanks to God, broke it, and gave it to them saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in memory of me.” In the same way, he gave them the cup after the supper, saying, “This cup is God’s new covenant sealed with my blood which is poured out for you” (Luke 22:19-20).
A person should not accept the bread and the cup until he has accepted Christ.
In this action, we are not only identified with Christ but with each other. The Lord’s Supper is not something a person does alone. It shows the unity of the “body of Christ.” Paul said:
When we drink from it (the cup), we are sharing in the blood of Christ. And the bread we break: when we eat it, we are sharing in the body of Christ. Because there is one loaf of bread, all of us, though many, are one body, for we all share the same loaf (1 Corinthians 10:16-17).
The Lord’s Supper shows our faith in Christ’s death, and in the unity of the church. But also, it shows our faith in Jesus’ coming for His church. “You proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26).
The church has a ministry to the Lord. It must obey and glorify the Lord. This work will not be finished until Jesus comes for His church. Then we will be with Him. Until that day, the church is needed to show believers and unbelievers what is the will of God. The church witnesses to the lost and strengthens the believers.
The early church did all these things. My heart is moved each time that I read Acts 2:46-47
Day after day they met as a group they had their meals together in their homes, eating with glad and humble hearts, praising God, and enjoying the good will of all the people. And every day the Lord added to their group those who were being saved.
Can that be said about the church in my area? Or of the church in your area? God wants to use us to help the church. He wants us to do our part.
Every Christian needs the church. “Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage one another all the more” (Hebrews 10:25). The church is important to Christ. “Christ loved the church and gave his life for it” (Ephesians 5:25). Let us do our part in His church.
Aren’t you glad to be a part of His church? Now that we have come to the end of our study, I hope you have a better understanding of the church; its importance in bringing others to Christ; its value for you; its part in God’s plan. Why don’t you take time now to thank God for His church, the body of Christ. Let Him show you ways you can be more involved, and be a part of His plan for the church.