Regarding the New Testament church—i.e., the collective body of Christians in the first century A.D., that we read about in the New Testament—which Jesus promised to build (Matt. 16:18), which God established in Him (Eph. 2:22; Col. 1:13; Rev. 1:6; et al.), and purchased with His precious blood (Acts 20:28)—so far we’ve seen that the Bible teaches that it was God’s eternal purpose (Eph. 3:9-11); that there is only one (cf. Eph. 4:4; 1 Cor. 12:12ff; cf. 1:10); and that it would “stand forever” (Dan. 2:44)—and thus be identifiable throughout the centuries between its establishment—i.e., Pentecost, A.D. 30 (Acts 2:1-4) and the end of time, when the Lord returns to usher in the end of the physical universe (1 Cor. 15:24; cf. Matt. 25:31-46; 2 Pet. 3:10-13).
We’ve also looked at how to properly identify the church we read about in the New Testament—i.e., by either finding, or else becoming, a body who “continue[s] steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching” (Acts 2:42; cf. Gal. 1:6-9; 1 Cor. 4:6; 2 John 9; Col. 2:23; et al.).
Thus, we now move on to another question:
If the church was God’s eternal purpose (Eph. 3:9-11), it stands to reason that God must have likewise had a purpose for that church. So what is the purpose, or mission, of the church of Christ?
The NT presents a pattern of operation by the Lord’s church that can be summarized and categorized into three general areas of “work” in which they partook:
In the next few installments, we’ll break down these three areas in which Jesus’s church was involved, and thus learn what (among other things) we should be doing if we aspire to be His church.