The Primary Purpose of the Church

The Primary Purpose of the Church
Author: Ian Young, Middle School Director
The Parables of Jesus - Part 10
What is the primary purpose of the church?

Missionary Bruce F. Hunt shared the following thoughts as he addressed a seminary in Philadelphia in 1957, “The first proposition that I would have you consider is that the work of the church is missions. That is, the work of the church is not primarily self-preservation, the perfection of organization and equipment, the improvement of the membership, or several other firsts that people might propose.”

The primary purpose of the church is to be on a mission to seek those who are lost and lead them to salvation that is found by faith in Christ alone. When we lose sight of that and become an inward-facing group that meets together to listen and discuss everyone else’s need for Jesus, we become more like the Pharisees than the Son of Man, Jesus.

We can see what the Son of Man is like through the three different parables shared in Luke 15. The Parable of the Lost Sheep, The Parable of the Lost Coin, and The Parable of the Lost Son reveal that His heart is to seek and save the lost.

The father ran to his son who was lost, embraced him, was filled with compassion, and without delay threw his son a huge celebration, welcoming him home.

Jesus is sharing these parables in response to the “religious elite.” In Luke 15:2, the Pharisees and scribes were complaining that Jesus was eating with tax collectors and sinners, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” as if eating with them would be any different.

This is why I believe Jesus capped off the first parable in Luke 15 (The Lost Sheep) by saying, “I tell you, in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who don’t need repentance.” (Luke 15:7), or in other words, ninety-nine people who do not think they need to repent and ask for forgiveness. Jesus then proceeds to double down on this with The Parable of the Lost Coin, where He again states a similar message, “I tell you, in the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10).

In the final parable addressing the Pharisees and scribes, The Parable of the Lost Son, Jesus illustrates the joy in heaven and in the presence of God’s angels when someone comes to believe in Him when the lost son comes home after losing all he had by living in a sinful and foolish way.
“So he got up and went to his father. But while the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion. He ran, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I’m no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father told his servants, ‘Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then bring the fattened calf and slaughter it, and let’s celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ So they began to celebrate.”
– Luke 15:21-24
The father ran to his son who was lost, embraced him, was filled with compassion, and without delay threw his son a huge celebration, welcoming him home. Displaying to us how God reacts with compassion and celebration when anyone comes to Him and showing us again His heart to seek and save the lost.

Let us share that same heart, that same desire, putting away our judgments and criticisms of others and go and seek those who are lost and lead them to the merciful and pure love of Jesus.

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